I watch a good deal intellectual and thought-provoking television, and once in a while a show will come along that really piques my interest. Morgan Freeman’s Through The Wormhole (Discovery Channel) was one of these shows, and I can’t deny watching an entire season of Glee (Fox) in one sitting. Recently I got hooked to a journalistic-type show called Vanguard on Current TV. And one episode in particular struck a chord with my gay-self. The episode was Missionaries of Hate and details the recent anti-gay legislation which has emerged in Uganda as a result of far-right, evangelical influences. So I did a little research.
According to this NY Times article, three American evangelical Christians are at the forefront of this hate campaign. Scott Lively is a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, Caleb Lee Brundidge is a self-described former gay who now leads “healing seminars,” and Don Schmierer is a board member of Exodus International (fun fact: this organization was the inspiration for the spoof Rectodus Society episode starring yours truly at NextDoorBuddies.com).
Apparently, these evangelists saw how easy it was to sink their “righteous” claws into the hearts of the Ugandan people. They saw how easily they could coheres them into a state of homophobia in order to secure their power and profits – all of these speakers, by the way, have written short books with their mindless grins plastered all over, and have sold out lectures and sermons in Uganda at the cost of what an average Ugandan earns in a month. These evangelists feel no guilt because they are profiting tremendously from spewing hate and fear, and they have a golden ticket; it’s all in the name of “God.”
I’m not suggesting that people from Uganda are incapable of thinking for themselves. It is only when an entire nation of people are stressed by famine, poverty, and sickness (namely AIDs), that they become so susceptible to such baseless fears, intolerance, and scapegoating. Just look at Germany post-WWI and in the midst of the Great Depression. We cannot continue to put Hitler and the Nazi’s in a separate box, claiming that the Holocaust occurred under different circumstances. The very same ingredients are all around us and always will be.
Luckily, the rest of the world is catching on and taking a stand against this anit-gay campaign in Uganda. Donor countries, including the United States, demanded that Uganda drop the proposed legislation which would give repeat offenders of the anti-gay law the death penalty. Uganda has since backed down - a little - replacing the death penalty provision with life in prison.
The main ingredient we have to worry about is ignorance. Unfortunately, people believe what you tell them, and people are not always told the truth. Humans, however, have recently evolved a sophisticated set of skills which allow us to draw worthy conclusions from our own experiences and deductive reasoning.
In fact, humanity has only done so well in the past few centuries because we have finally harnessed our logical abilities. Thousands of years ago, we didn’t have much control over our fate nor did we understanding how we may better our situation. We lived in the here and now and didn’t think much about the future at all. Coping with sudden misfortune or loss became a necessity, and religion offered a positive method of coping; it brought communities together, gave people hope, and brought closure to those who needed to know their loved ones were waiting for them on the other side.
But what has religion done for us lately? For the most part, it has separated humanity by waging wars between entire regions of the globe. We must recognize as civilized and intellectual creatures that religion’s time is waning in light of new concepts and technologies.
Overall, religion is not science. Only science gives us a framework to establish validity and improve upon our theories whenever possible. We cannot look to religious institutions to educate us on subjects which have been studied, documented, and objectively analyzed by academia and the scientific community.
(For further information, check out this article from the Huffington Post.)