The Mormons and the Spaghetti Monster

Right now, as a lesbian in California, it’s hard not to feel religiously persecuted, or at least persecuted by religion.

After all, the group working hardest to repeal the marriage rights of same-sex couples in California is the Mormon Church.

Hello? Are religious extremists that work to remove the government-granted rights of individuals now tolerated in California? Isn’t this part of what we supposedly oppose, as a nation, all over the world?

One of my favorite responses to religious involvement in government, born in response to the idea of teaching “intelligent design” in public schools, is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Followers of the FSM call themselves Pastafarians, and before you dismiss them as pure silliness, check out this story in the Arkansas Times about how they recently stood up, in protest, to one of Rev. Phelp’s deplorable demonstrations.

Rock on, Pastafarians!

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8 responses to “The Mormons and the Spaghetti Monster

  1. ah i love the pastafarians

  2. Not all Christians are opposed to marriage equality for gays and lesbians! All six Episcopal Bishops whose sees are in the state signed a letter opposing the ballot measure. The statement says in part:

    “As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote ‘No’ on Proposition Eight. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. . . . We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights. We believe that this continued access promotes Jesus’ ethic of love, giving, and hope.”

    I understand why you feel persecuted by religious people. Please recognize though that it is only some religious people–many of us are for you!

    Read my post about this here.

  3. Jacob! What’s a nice Christian boy like you doing hanging around Geek Porn Girl? Do your parents know you’re here?

    All joking aside, my post was about the Mormon Church, a theology that is apart from most Christianity as we know it. (Under The Banner of God, anyone?) This is a group that was — not that long ago — arguing that its members should have the right to multiple wives. Actually, some of the Mormon sects make WAY better daytime television guests than a simple gay marriage.

    Yes, Jacob, the Episcopalians are rockin’ too!

  4. Don’t same-sex couples already have equality under the law with domestic partnerships? I have yet to hear someone explain what rights they are actually missing out on if they can’t get married. I don’t believe it is legal equality that gays and lesbians are seeking through marriage, I believe it is moral equality. How can you force moral equality on a majority that doesn’t agree with it without infringing on freedom of religion and free speech?

  5. Chouchou,

    I think you raise an issue that lots of people are wondering about (and I intend to answer it more fully in a post soon).

    The short answer is this: Equal legal rights gained under different categories and circumstances are not the same thing as equality.

    For example, would be it be truly equal if California voters decided that interracial couples now had to be joined as domestic partners, but couldn’t be married in the “normal” way? Of course not.

    It’s not that far-fetched, really, if you consider that interracial couples haven’t always had the right to marry in California.

    I think the biggest concern for all Californians right now shouldn’t be whether same-sex couples are marrying, but whether any religious or political group should be able to effectively buy (through the initiative process, fundraising, and advertising) changes in government-granted civil rights to suit their beliefs. Voting “yes” on Proposition 8 is potentially opening a gateway to changes that could affect the civil rights of any protected group: the elderly, children, people with disabilities, people of color, and — yes — people with specific religious beliefs. Voting “no” on 8 is a vote for the civil rights of all individuals.

    Everyone needs to remember that same-sex couples have already been granted the right to marry in California. Proposition 8 isn’t about giving people the right to marry, it’s about changing the state constitution to remove that right.

  6. “Honestly, Chouchou, I believe in equality. I’d never stand in the way of any religious organization’s practices as long as they don’t affect me or my own personal freedom. That’s the issue at hand.”

    In responding to your e-mail, I wanted to focus on this particular comment. I feel that we, on both sides of the issue, are fighting for the same thing. I agree wholeheartedly with the above statement! I also feel that legalizing same-sex marriage facilitates infringing on religious rights.

    The only right that proponents of prop 8 are trying to remove is the right to hold a little piece of paper that says you are “married” instead of “domestically partnered.”

    Unfortunately, numerous examples exist of lawsuits aimed at removing freedom of religion.

    Adoption services: Catholic Charities in Massachusetts refused to place children with same-sex couples as required by Massachusetts law. After a legislative struggle — during which the Senate president said he could not support a bill “condoning discrimination” — Catholic Charities pulled out of the adoption business in 2006.

    Housing: In New York City, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a school under Orthodox Jewish auspices, banned same-sex couples from its married dormitory. New York does not recognize same-sex marriage, but in 2001, the state’s highest court ruled Yeshiva violated New York City’s ban on sexual orientation discrimination. Yeshiva now allows all couples in the dorm.

    Parochial schools: California Lutheran High School, a Protestant school in Wildomar, holds that homosexuality is a sin. After the school suspended two girls who were allegedly in a lesbian relationship, the girls’ parents sued, saying the school was violating the state’s civil rights act protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination. The case is before a state judge.

    Medical services: A Christian gynecologist at North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, and he claimed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. (The doctor referred the patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment.) The woman sued under the state’s civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May 2008, and legal experts believe that the woman’s right to medical treatment will trump the doctor’s religious beliefs. One justice suggested that the doctors take up a different line of business.

    Adoption services: A same-sex couple in California applied to Adoption Profiles, an Internet service in Arizona that matches adoptive parents with newborns. The couple’s application was denied based on the religious beliefs of the company’s owners. The couple sued in federal district court in San Francisco. The two sides settled after the adoption company said it will no longer do business in California.

    Wedding services: A same sex couple in Albuquerque asked a photographer, Elaine Huguenin, to shoot their commitment ceremony. The photographer declined, saying her Christian beliefs prevented her from sanctioning same-sex unions. The couple sued, and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found the photographer guilty of discrimination. It ordered her to pay the lesbian couple’s legal fees ($6,600). The photographer is appealing.

    Wedding facilities: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of New Jersey, a Methodist organization, refused to rent its boardwalk pavilion to a lesbian couple for their civil union ceremony. The couple filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The division ruled that the boardwalk property was open for public use, therefore the Methodist group could not discriminate against gay couples using it. In the interim, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked a portion of the association’s tax benefits. The case is ongoing.

    There are more. Can you still assert that religious rights are not being infringed upon?

  7. Chouchou,

    I can’t speak to the details of all these cases, although it’s apparent you’ve put lots of effort into collecting examples.

    You’ve got to realize you’re sort of preaching to the wrong group here. I’m a lesbian. I have a long work history in serving people in need. I’m certain that the vast majority of my readers are gay, and don’t feel that having equal rights will in any way impinge on anyone else’s civil rights.

    In many of the examples you’ve provided, I feel more compassionate toward the plaintiffs, at least the way you’ve outlined these.

    I think civil ceremonies should be held on properties open to the public, and gay teenagers need the support of their school more than they need to be disciplined and shamed. I think if a parent-less child needs a home, a loving gay couple will provide a far better life than the possibility of being bounced around in the foster-care system.

    I wonder what’s wrong with people who can’t put their discomfort aside to make someone else happier, more comfortable, or healthier.

    I’ve worked for a few organizations in human services. Some of them have been secular, and some of them religious (a Catholic hospice agency, for example). All of them have been committed to their causes, and haven’t displayed any bias of religion, ethnicity, etc.

    I have a hard time with organizations that set out to “do good” but only within the tenets of their own faith. It seems to defeat the purpose, frankly. That’s just my personal feeling.

    I know there are lots of difference styles of manifesting religion. Some of them are based in selfless service, others do good works as a way of spreading their particular gospel.

    Organizations that get funding from state or federal sources shouldn’t discriminate, regardless of the organization’s belief structure. That’s a classic example of separating church and state. These two get mixed up frequently and I suspect some of the examples you’ve provided are in this category. A medical organization that receives governmental funding can’t decide what services, and to whom, it will provide them based on the recipient.

    Likewise, an adoption agency doesn’t “own” a child, and should be more concerned with the overall welfare of the child it is trying to find a home for than whether the child will be raised with the group’s particular beliefs.

    Most schools, medical facilities, and human service agencies receive some funding directly, or in the form of grants, that make them responsible to the public in non-biased way.

    So, I’m guessing there are complicating factors in most, if not all, of the examples you provided.

    The lawsuits against small private businesses are misguided. A wedding photographer shouldn’t have to shoot anything he or she doesn’t want to. The mistake was in how she turned down the assignment, or how she offered her services initially.

    You know, as well as I do, that some people will get high and mighty about their religious beliefs at the drop of a hat. They won’t have the restraint to say, “I’m sorry, I forgot I’m committed to another assignment that day” (a photographer), or “Let me consult with my colleague” (in the case of a doctor), and politely back away. They feel the need to make it clear *why* they’re refusing. It’s a form of prothlesizing. And, they’ll feel better about being able to state this than they will about providing the requested service. I think that’s too bad.

    And, of course, some people will always sue. I’m pretty sure — statistically — more annoying lawsuits are filed by straight people than gay people.

    A privately-owned women’s gym near my home was eventually forced to close because a guy sued for membership. He apparently hadn’t found a men’s gym he wanted to belong to. He then pursued them because they hadn’t provided him with equal shower facilities. They closed their doors rather than remodel to meet his needs, as ordered by the court.

    This is an example of civil rights run amok, in my opinion.

    But here’s the principal thing. When it comes to human service, the civil rights of the client should, ideally, supercede the beliefs of the person or group providing the services.

    When I’m working with a person with AIDS, or a person who is dying, or a teen mom giving birth, I can’t let my belief system affect the person I’m working with. I try to manifest comfort or caring, or what the moment calls for, but I try to suspend any judgment that would color my service.

    I think right now, we’re breeding a climate of judgment and fear in our society. Everyone is so worried about what they might lose, that they’re forgetting now to be *nice* to each other… how to act in ways that make other people feel accepted and at ease. How to spread love (I mean this for real).

    And, Chouchou, you have to realize that not one of the examples you provided is the direct result of legal same-sex marriage.

    GPG

  8. Though I’m not one of this blog’s gay readers, I agree with the content of GPG’s last post.

    I think that she has a good point that many of these lawsuits are misguided. You probably don’t want to force a photographer to work at your wedding who doesn’t want to be there and will have to restrain his or her disapproval of you and many of your guests (though I suppose the main purpose of that suit was to make a statement about discrimination and use the money gained to pay another photographer).

    I think a lot of suits, even those that are sound on the merits, should be avoided if at all possible (hire another photographer, rent another venue, go to another doctor). That would make it harder to gay rights opponents to feel and paint themselves as victims and would reduce the number of news stories dealing with homosexuality in a divisive way. I think that’d hasten the rate at which society comes to fully accept its gay and lesbian members.

    If I may make a second point, I think it’s a strong indictment of the church that nonChristians often view us with suspicion and concern that we’ll be judgmental and condemning. If we actually followed Jesus and lived like Jesus–instead of simply patting ourselves on the back for believing things about Jesus–then people wouldn’t wonder why we’re concerning ourselves with their difficulties; instead they’d say “Thank God you’re here; we’re in great need and we knew that you’d come.”

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