Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Beliefs Can Kick Your Beliefs' Asses


A Colorado baker refused to sell a couple a wedding cake because doing so would violate his religious beliefs. The engine of commerce was chugging along right up to the frosting and sugar roses but as soon as he put the little figure of the two men in tuxedos on the top he felt he would be crossing a line that God had been very clear to him about. Why, you might as well ask him to drive the tour bus to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Elsewhere, the owners of a craft store chain kicked up a fuss over providing insurance to their employees if it meant some of them could get birth control, which violated their religious beliefs. If there was any chance their benefits package might result in a sperm not fulfilling its destiny, they would have no part in it. God had been very clear about his interest in human overpopulation. It would be crossing a line.

It would be like forcing me to sell bed linens to a Klan member, who might decide to make grand wizard duds out of them. Or sell whole cloth to a fundamentalist, who might decide to make divine instructions out of it. All of our precious individual souls are at stake, and we all expect to be indulged and accommodated, even if my blood sacrifice is of your sacred cow.

It would be one thing if everyone agreed on a god to listen to, but it's pretty clear that there is a whole pantheon of them out there, each with its own bizarre bailiwick--this one in charge of what you get to eat, that one in charge of who you get to kill. You spend enough time paying attention to everything that violates someone's religious beliefs, you realize you're in the company of schizophrenics. Everyone's hearing voices.

I always wondered if my eyes could roll back in my head so far they snapped off, but I gave them a good whirl the other day, and they don't. Some woman woke up recently to discover her husband was trying to suffocate her with a bag. Once in custody, he admitted he tried to kill her because he thought she was leaving him, and he didn't think he could live without her. "And it's against my religious beliefs to kill myself," he said.

That's enough. I have strongly held beliefs too. I believe war is a shitty way to make peace. I believe this planet has been rumpling its covers for billions of years and we should not take earthquakes personally. I believe we've managed to squander so many of our limited resources that we are on the verge of making the world fit only for insects and bacteria. If I just went ahead and said God sent me all that on a tablet, could I win a court case?

72 comments:

  1. Oh Murr, you're singing my song. As a veteran of the fundamentalist mindset and also of learning to be gay in a hostile world, it's very clear to me that one's religious beliefs are for regulating one's own life - not everyone else's. I cannot understand why so many folks find that a difficult concept but I'm sure glad our founders understood it. I'm also grateful that you have been able to explain it so well.

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    1. You must've eaten some of that Gay Cake, huh?

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    2. Apparently the Gay Cake is like Persephone's pomegranate -- if a Christian eats any, he's lost to the dark side forever, bwa ha ha....

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    3. Even Persephone only got in trouble four months out of the year.

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  2. Great piece, Murr. It's a damn shame that the people who need to read this probably won't.

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    1. You have no idea HOW many people won't read this!

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    1. I had to embiggen your thumbnail to see that it wasn't the Sistine Chapel.

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    2. "embiggen" = wonderful coinage! And yet another of your posts that I am about to share.

      P.S. when I first typed that word as "winderful" the autocorrect suggested both "wonderful" and "windsurfer" - awesome, Dude!

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    3. "Embiggen" is not mine at all--neither is my favorite, "apatheist." Embiggen is Lisa Simpson's word. Pretty widespread now.

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  4. These people need to understand my fundamental belief: when they die they will come up against the billions and billions of souls that went before them. You're only one soul, man, you'll be crushed by everything you didn't believe in. Give them all a pass and there will be room for you.Simply fundamental, I calls it.

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    1. Oh man, I only wish there'd be an official comeuppance, but I can't quite believe that. Crushed by billions of souls!

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  5. Funny thing, isn't it. If you believe something because evidence and logic support it, that has no special standing. But if you say you believe it because an invisible sky fairy said it -- or better yet, because a compilation of old desert folk tales says an invisible sky fairy said it -- then suddenly your belief is worthy of enormous respect and you have the right to act offended and even break the law if anyone challenges it.

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  6. Maybe we should all be "God for a Day" just for something different to do. Personally, I always thought Odin was cool, getting to ride an eight legged horse and all. I can be whatever religion gives me the most days off work for my own convenience. It's always nice to know I am not alone in my real beliefs. Thanks for that!

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    1. Now I am trying to figure out what I'd do if I were God for a day. I think I'd work on a big salamander resurrection.

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    2. I saw a photo of an actual eight-legged horse once. It was from a far that had gotten some of the fallout from Chernobyl. Funny way for an old myth to come true.

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    3. If I ever rode on an eight-legged horse and it busted into a trot, it would shake the snot right out of me.

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    4. If I were God for a day the world would be free of dental decay and arthritis. I'd probably need a couple of extra days to cover everything else that needs changing.

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    5. I'd like to know what you've got for #3.

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  7. Perfect!!!
    I wish this post could be published far and wide!
    Is there a God for that?

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    1. Yes! That's his green "share this" button at the bottom of the post.

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  8. This is wonderful. My smart, funny, curious daughter, who was born a skeptic, is being bullied at her middle school because she doesn't believe in god. So the lovely children have decided that not believing in god equals being a satanist. These mini *christians* labelled a bottle "Holy Water" and threw it at my daughter and her other satanists friends.

    One day a boy was insisting that god exists because it said so in the bible. My daughter's response was perfect, "It's written in the Lord of the Rings that there are hobbits, but I don't believe in those either."

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    1. She's a sharp one. But does that mean there are no hobbits either?

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    2. Stop messing with my head, Murr. I'll tell Peter Jackson on you :p

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    3. I was in New Zealand last year and he never found me. Ain't that preciousss!

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  9. I'd say you're preaching to the choir, here, except I pretty much associate choirs with church ... but you get the picture.

    Love your last paragraph.

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    1. Choir's the only thing I miss about church, and I do miss that.

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  10. It is Sunday here, and I am worshipping at the Church of Murr whose truths make my heart sing. And, for a non religious person that is quite a shift. Perhaps I will be more comfortable calling it Club Murr. Yes, that's it.

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    1. Club Murr! Fun! Hey, as long as you're in the future, can you tell me the latest race results?

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  11. There are completely bonkers nut jobs all over the world.Why, then, does America seem to have more? Better press agents, I think.

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    1. Americans have no reticence. You don't notice the quiet nut jobs.

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  12. Well said. I've never understood why those with "religious" beliefs trump my beliefs. Why do they say it isn't right that their taxes should fund things they don't believe in, like abortion or birth control, while I don't have a right to say that my taxes shouldn't fund the machinery of war? Why are their beliefs more respected? It makes me crazy.

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    1. I've said the very exact same identical thing. I was thinking the other day that in the spirit of compromise, the nut jobs should be able to agree to abort only gay fetuses. That should lead to some fruitful discussion.

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  13. Wish I had time to read all the comments and replies. Yes, you are correct. Most people cherry pick their religious beliefs to fit their actions and lives. Most of Gods are now looking the other way out of total embarassment

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    1. I'm a huge fan of the Greek gods. They were just all messing around in the sky and doing whatever they felt like and appropriating the odd handsome human boy for fun when they felt the need; it didn't work out for most of us down here, but isn't that a lot more realistic? Because things DON'T always work out for us down here.

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  14. Replies
    1. We've decided against Church Of Murr in favor of Camp Murr. So, Kumbaya.

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  15. As a waitress and as a retail clerk I have had to deal with people who have been offensive, disruptive or verbally abusive . I feel uneasy with the idea that I can not refuse service to anyone. Can we draw the line at how you behave, and never mind who you are?

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  16. The religious simpletons are sincere in their notion that their right to be a bigot is superior to your right not to be judged as an inferior citizen by a total stranger.

    But I cannot shake the suspicion that this a prodding of resolve by those whose only true religion is money, and only heaven is one in which they are not accountable to any law at all.

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    1. Speaking of afflicting the comfortable, how 'bout that pope?

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    2. Ah the current pope…
      Yes some people I don’t like don’t like him.

      Apparently the church was beyond reproach when it was busy covering up for the mass abuse of children, but now that it has a problem with poverty the Right have decided anti-Catholicism needs a revival.

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  17. Probably depends which court you go to and who the judge is....
    It's my very firm opinion that religion should have no part whatsoever in business. Or Government.

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    1. Although certain ceremonial sacrifices might be entertaining.

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  18. Like Tyron Lannister I worship the god of tits and wine.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  19. I celebrated Ukraine today by having 1 1/2 pieces of Chicken Kiev. I usuaLLy never have discussions about religion eXcept to teLL people that I refuse to discuss religion.

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    1. Anything can be well celebrated with the right food. Later today I might celebrate IceCreamia.

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  20. I am so with you on this crap, Murr. I hate how everyone co-opts "God" in order to support their own bigotry and bullshit. Love the Klan reference. Another great piece. Off to share.

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    1. I swear, that comet these people are supposed to ride on can't come soon enough, Jayne.

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  21. Great post, love it, should be required reading… thanks to Jayne Martin for sending me over here!

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  22. As a devout Domino-ican, I can tell you this: you can prize my pizza from my cold, dead, sauce-stained fingers. I believe in the separation of church and plate.

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    1. May you ever be sprinkled with the Parmesan of happiness.

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  23. Great post. But you know the research says that proving people wrong just makes them defend their crazy beliefs harder. So I doubt you'll change any minds. But it's nice to know we are not alone.

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    1. I guess the purpose of a rant is never to persuade. But I feel momentarily better.

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  24. A holy trinity of evangelical women at work thought they would pray for the gay man in their office to help him back onto the path of righteousness. In their fervour, they followed him to the lunch room. He was trying to be so polite and nonviolent, so I decided he really did need saving. I asked them if they knew the sin for which Satan got expelled from heaven. No, no they didn't. Well it was the sin of pride. Did they know what form that pride took? No? Well, it was for claiming to know the mind of God. So dearies, sez I, in claiming that God doesn't approve of homosexuality, you are claiming to know the mind of God. I have a bad feeling that you just blew your chances of getting into heaven. Three shocked faces, three open mouths, three hasty exits from the lunch room. One of my finer moments.

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    1. Man! That would be anyone's finest moment! I'm totally stealing that. I've found that there is a lot of good ammunition in the Beatitudes.

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    2. I totally owe that one to studying Milton's "Paradise Lost" with Prof. Balachandra Rajan at the University of Western Ontario.

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    3. I am so proud to know Ms. Tiffin. Met her in person and everything. And I'm stealing that one too, by gum.

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  25. Let me guess, you're an FFRF member. So am I. You're in Portland; I'm in Eugene. You're a dirty-dog infidel. Me too. I've been married 42 years, but finding your blog--through Lotta Joy--can only mean that God is telling me that I'm married to the wrong woman, so as soon as I get up from here, I'm hitch-hiking to Portland to join you, Honey. I don't know how to find you of course, so I'll just stand at the end of the last I-5 ramp before Washington, and you can come get me. I'll be the one who would look like Brad Pitt if Bad Pitt was old, ugly, and impoverished.

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    1. I've always thought I haven't arrived until I get my own stalker. Fortunately for you, you don't even have to be all that good a stalker. I'm real easy to find. I leave clues everywhere. I keep hoping someone will come and bring beer.

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