Religious Liberty


This a phrase that I quite often here out of evangelical and other vocal christian circles, mainly in the US. Most recently, I seen the American Family Association’s facebook page use it in the context of a post about someone fired from Harvard for apparently speaking the truth about homosexuality. I will link the article below, but the caption was “Every time homosexuality wins, religious liberty loses. We as a nation must choose between homosexuality and Christianity because we cannot have both”.

It looks like the Doctor in question (Dr. Paul Church) was canned for posting what the AFA calls medical truths about homosexuality on an internal portal only accessible internally by medical personnel, in response to the medical centres (in his view) mindless crusade to normalize homosexuality. A small sample of what he shared:

He quite correctly pointed out that homosexual conduct leads to a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS, STD’s, hepatitis, parasitic infections, anal cancers, and psychiatric disorders

First of all, so as to make this not a mere ad hom against an educated bigot, lets dig into his claims.

1.) HIV/Aids

Sexual risk behaviors account for most HIV infections in gay and bisexual men. Most gay and bisexual men acquire HIV through anal sex, which is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV. For sexually active gay and bisexual men, the most effective ways to prevent transmitting or becoming infected with HIV are to be on antiretroviral medications (to either treat or prevent infection) and to correctly use a condom every time for anal or vaginal sex. Gay men are at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and CDC recommends that all sexually active gay and bisexual men be tested at least annually for these infections and obtain treatment, if necessary.

Having more sex partners compared to other men means gay and bisexual men have more opportunities to have sex with someone who can transmit HIV or another STD. Similarly, among gay men, those who have more partners are more likely to acquire HIV.

As many scientists would say, correlation does not necessarily imply causation. And indeed it does not. Since the risks can be alleviated with simple steps that even hetrosexual couples should be using.

And then there is this.

Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination may place gay men at risk for multiple physical and mental health problems and affect whether they seek and are able to obtain high-quality health services.

2.) STD’s/STI’s

The LGBT+ community is at higher risk for STI’s.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been increasing among gay and bisexual men, with recent increases in syphilis being documented across the country. In 2012, men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 75% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States. MSM often are diagnosed with other STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common STD in the United States, is also a concern for MSM. Some types of HPV can cause genital and anal warts and some can lead to the development of anal and oral cancer. Men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men. Men who are HIV-positive are even more likely than those who are uninfected to develop anal cancer.

But again, correlation is not causation. As it is again, preventable with care.

How can I prevent STDs?

For anyone, choosing to be sexually active means you are at risk for STDs. However, there are many things you can do to protect your health. You can learn about how STDs are spread and how you can reduce your risk of getting infected.

Get Vaccinated: Gay, bisexual and other MSM are at greater risk for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). For this reason, CDC recommends that you be vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also recommended for men up to age 26.

Be Safer: Getting tested regularly and getting vaccinated are both important, but there are other things you can do to reduce your risk for STDs.

Get to know someone before having sex with them and talk honestly about STDs and getting tested—before you have sex.Use a condom correctly and use one every time you have sex.Think twice about mixing alcohol and/or recreational drugs with sex. They can reduce your ability to make good decisions and can lead to risky behavior—like having sex without a condom.Limit your number of partners. You can lower your risk for STDs if you only have sex with one person who only has sex with you.

Know Your Status: If you know your STD status, you can take steps to protect yourself and your partners.

I was going to go though each item on Dr. Paul’s list individually, but most can be easily rebutted, with what you already have read. So lets skip ahead to the outlier.

3.) Psychiatric Disorders

This one seem blatantly obvious to me (as it should be to anyone with a brain and an even moderate amount of real education). But as always, lets consult the experts.

Population-based studies

Several large population-based public health studies are discussed in the November American Psychologist (Vol. 56, No. 11) by Susan Cochran, PhD, an epidemiologist in the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, who authored or co-authored many of the studies. Specifically, the studies find:

Higher rates of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and substance use or dependence in lesbian and gay youth.

Higher rates of recurrent major depression among gay men.

Higher rates of anxiety, mood and substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts among people ages 15 to 54 with same-sex partners.

Higher use of mental health services in men and women reporting same-sex partners.

Gleaning this type of information on LGB people has never been possible in general surveys before, Cochran notes. However, because the surveys on which these studies are based examine HIV-risk factors, including psychiatric problems and sexual behavior, they include questions on sexual orientation and sexual partners, she says.

Its interesting that this information has not been possible (well, easily) gathered before (it seems the mental health status of the gay community is not on par with the straight community). But I didn’t need a study to tell me that (look at the society they live in!). On that note, on to the next point.

Discrimination and mental health

In a study that examines possible root causes of mental disorders in LGB people, Cochran and psychologist Vickie M. Mays, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people. The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two.

Again using data from one of the large public health surveys, the team compared how 74 LGB and 2,844 heterosexual respondents rated lifetime and daily experiences with discrimination.

They looked at particular instances of discrimination, such as not being hired for a job or being denied a bank loan, as well as feelings of perceived discrimination, such as the sense that people treated them with less respect. The team also assessed rates of mental health disorders in both groups.

LGB respondents reported higher rates of perceived discrimination than heterosexuals in every category related to discrimination, the team found.

While the findings do not prove that discrimination causes mental health problems, they take a step toward demonstrating that the social stigma felt by LGB people has important mental health consequences. That again points to the need for tailored mental health treatment, in particular therapy that includes ongoing discussion of how discriminatory experiences may affect stress levels, they note.

The findings are reported in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 91, No. 11).

Gay and lesbian youth and suicide

An article in the December issue of APA’s Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology points to a possible cause of seemingly higher rates of suicide among LGB and transgendered (LGBT) youth: discrepancies between what gay youth report about suicide attempts and what they’re actually doing.

The article, by Cornell University’s Ritch C. Savin-Williams, PhD, reports on two studies that conclude that even though sexual-minority teens are more likely than heterosexual youth to report suicide attempts, half of those reports are false–that is, the young people had thought about suicide but hadn’t acted on it. In addition, Savin-Williams found, many of the true attempts the young people reported weren’t life-threatening.

“When you ask in-depth questions about suicide attempts, the responses you get account for the rate differences between heterosexual and sexual minority youth suicide,” Savin-Williams says. “The heterosexual youth had hardly any false attempts, while those with same-sex attractions had a lot of them.”

In one of the studies, 23 percent of 83 young sexual-minority women said they’d attempted suicide at least once. On further questioning, though, 29 percent of the reported attempts turned out to be false, and 80 percent of the true attempts were not life-threatening, Savin-Williams writes. The one exception was a small number of young women who were part of a support group, whose rate of actual suicide attempts was much higher than others in the sample.

In the other study, Savin-Williams compared reported suicide attempts in 126 young sexual-minority young people and 140 young heterosexual men and women. Again, while sexual-minority men and women were far more likely to report suicide attempts than heterosexual subjects, the two groups showed similar rates of true suicide attempts.

The findings suggest that gay youth are vulnerable to the media’s and researchers’ well-meaning but negative depictions of gay youth as highly troubled people heading on a collision course with life, Savin-Williams maintains.

“There’s a script we have in our culture–a ‘suffering suicidal’ script–that these kids have picked up on,” he says. A better approach for researchers, teachers and other youth workers, he believes, is to treat all young LGBT people as ordinary kids with great potential, unless they show research-based or visible indicators of suicide risk.

This seemed obvious, but there are those that believe otherwise, so there is the proof to back my argument.

Though I got sidetracked from the original post in my quest to expose the ironically named Dr. Church for the bigot that he is, we will now get back on track. Onto the concept of religious liberty.
These are words that I have previously, not given much thought to. When I hear (or see) them, I usually have the same reaction as anyone else without a delusional persecution complex (“Oh brother, here we go again . . .”). But having seen how the AFA utilized them today (which is a typical stance of that hate group), it made me do some mental evaluations.

One of the first things that occurred to me, was the oxymoronic nature of the combined terms. It does not matter if you use the political or philosophical definition of Liberty, it is contrary to rules, regulations and bondage entailed much of the time by religion (CERTAINLY so with Christianity, the religion most commonly associated with those that use this argument).
But I suppose that by this, they mean the liberty to practice religion. Specifically Christianity (lets be honest here!).

But even that, does not add up. To date, no government in the US has ever tried to stop a person from being (or proudly showing off their inner) Christian, or any other belief. Even the most militant of these guys, the Westboro Baptist Church, has had their right to spew all kind of hateful and crazy rhetoric backed by a court of law.

It is not a crime to be a militant christian, or to hold (or express!) such viewpoints, factual or not. But (as is the case above), you run into a whole new ball park in the private sector.
Its just like complaining about not having free speech rights when it comes to some topics on social media and other platforms online. Free speech means the government will not prosecute you for a given viewpoint. However, on private property (or on a privately owned server, or in a privately run group), such “laws” do not apply.
Not fair? Well, suck it up. Or start your own social media platform that is based in free speech and expression (or in Dr. Church’s case, build (or go work for) a more christian medical centre).

And this argument that “When homosexuality wins, religious liberty looses” . . . What the fuck are you even talking about?!

Indeed, as the world (and the United States) is gradually being dragged into the 21st century by the activists of good, holding traditional views on things like homosexuality, is becoming less and less popular. And such views are also becoming less and less acceptable in many social situations.
But again, this not equate to lawful persecution.
There was once a time where the word nigger was also socially expectable. But society has (for the most part) moved on. Though it would help a lot if many black people would quit treating it as a patented word (Is it offensive and derogatory, or not? PICK ONE!), its no longer socially acceptable. Not ILLEGAL, just not socially acceptable. Big difference.

Now that we have established that no one’s religious liberty’s are being stomped on here, we must read between the lines. These people can say whatever they want. And they know it to, even having television channels devoted to such material (the AFA has such a channel. Which can at times be a comedic gold mine, whilst Bryan Fischer gets going on some batshit topic).

Though the truths in this piece do not matter much to these persecuted types (guaranteed freedom of speech and such), I sense something deeper. That this goes beyond just being able to SAY what they want.

It seems that these guys want to put this all into practice. Or (as the case seems), put this all BACK into practice. In the case of Dr. Church, what other reason could he have for wanting his messages in those internal staff archives for? He was worried about the liberal views of homosexuality, so he tried to change that. And the centre responded by kicking his ass out into the street. And all the christian homophobes came running, eager to exploit his story to continue the drumbeat of religious persecution.

Its amusing that these people see homosexuality as a threat to religious liberty, when these people would wipe away any and all rights of homosexuals if they had the chance. And it shows, in how this christian anti-gay cancer has been spreading to third world Africa. Though anti-gay american evangelicals (including some senators!), the message that homosexuality is wrong and harmful (even punishable by death!) is actively fostered. To the point of being adopted as law by an increasing number of these small, ignorant nations.

Though not all of this group (anti-gay evangelicals) is a part of this inexcusable mission of murder, I shed no tears for any of you. You have had control of the nation for long enough. Its about time things have changed.

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