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Religion Poisons Everything. 
25th-Jun-2008 03:09 pm
Go Obey Your Husband You Stupid Republic
I'm a fan of the show 30 Days on the FX network. I believe it is the best reality TV program available. My favorite episodes are those that deal with religious differences and socioeconomics because they are topics I'm interested most in. The episode where the Christian man goes to live with a family of Muslims in a largely Muslim community (Muslims & America) was fascinating and enlightening, mostly because the man got the most he could out of his learning experience and came away with understandings he never would have had on his own. The cornfed boy next door guy who went to live in San Francisco with a gay man (Straight Man In A Gay World) and immersed himself in gay culture was also very good, you had the opportunity to see someone evolving in much the same way. In the first season (we're not halfway through season 3) the show's creator, Morgan Spurlock (whom most will know from his documentary Supersize Me) and his fiancee had to live on minimum wage - to include ALL of their living expenses (rent, utilities, healthcare, food, transportation, everything) for 30 days (Minimum Wage). It was amazing. This season alone they've done a remarkable episode where a former NFL Cornerback had to live in a wheelchair for, you guessed it, 30 days (30 Days In A Wheelchair).

Last night's episode absolutely gobsmacked me. I have cried myself into a headache over it. It was about a gay couple and their three adopted sons who have a Mormon woman come and live with their family. The woman's name is Kati, and she is virulently opposed to same sex adoption. lolasenvy posted a scathing response about it, and I have to say that I feel essentially the same way she does.

Once again, as evidenced by this show, you see how religion poisons everything - to quote Christopher Hitchens. Episode synposis:
30 Days - Season 03, Episode 04: Same Sex Parenting
RESIDES - Fullerton, CA
OCCUPATION - Substitute Teacher
AIRDATE - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kati believes that children should be raised by a mother and a father and not by same-sex parents. As the mother of two adopted sons Kati believes that she has ample experience to determine what kind of environment is conducive to healthy, successful adoptions. In fact, Kati was adopted as an infant herself.

For 30 Days, Kati will live in Ypsilanti, Michigan with domestic partners Dennis and Thomas Patrick and their four adopted sons: Josh, 11; Paul, 8; Joey, 8; and Raul, 6. The Patrick's have been together for 10 years, and in 2001, Thomas legally changed his last name to Patrick. Kati will attend church with the family, help the boys get ready for school each morning and talk candidly about her views on parenting and gay adoption as she observes how the Patrick's parent their boys.

Kati will volunteer and travel to the state capitol with the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality (CARE), a children's advocacy group lobbying for legislation to legalize dual-parenting rights for same-gender couples. She will socialize with women from the Lesbian Mom's Network, a group that connects lesbian mothers and their children with families like their own. She will also meet with former foster children who talk about what it's like to grow up without parents or a permanent home and the need for more foster parents.
It's not available just yet on Hulu and I'm not sure when it will reair on FX, but if you're impatient and don't want to wait you can download the torrent here. I highly reccommend having this episode handy and sharing it with as many people as possible. Once you've seen it, I'm interested to know your thoughts.
25th-Jun-2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
That episode is scheduled to re-air on 6/29 (Sunday) at 11pm on FX. I've just set the VCR to tape it then (since with my connection a torrent would likely finish *after* the show has already re-aired) Thank you for the heads up on this.
25th-Jun-2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Let me know what you think!
29th-Jun-2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Turns out the show was on last night at 11pm so since I was up and it was still too hot to sleep, I watched.

Initial impression: I feel really sorry for Katie. Being unable to even consider the other side could even *possibly* be right takes either complete blind obstinance or some particularly long-term brainwashing. The latter is my guess given what I know of the LDS church's dogma.

On the flip-side, I was really impressed with how well the two guys handled their family. Love, respect, attention ... by gods, I was jealous watching that because little of that stuff was evident in my family when I was a kid. It made me cry. I want parents like that in my next life.

I'm glad to see that loving parents still exist.
25th-Jun-2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Tom and Dennis are good friends of ours. See my post from a few days ago to get my take on it.
25th-Jun-2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
I did see your post - and you're part of the reason I made wrote this, just so you know. Because if I had been anywhere near that woman in the presence of you and your child, that beautiful baby girl of yours, I'd have gone after this bitch's jugular. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Whether right or wrong, I'd have told her precisely what a vicious, hateful thing it is to be so completely blinded by narrowness and bigotry to the point that you make others' lives about you and others' choices a moral indictment about you and your own family.

The most ironic thing of all was how truly immoral her position was that children should remain in foster care rather than be taken in my capable, loving same sex parental figures - and unbelievably naive that there were so few of them waiting that heterosexuals would literally have no problem getting them. Because it's not a problem and never has been, I suppose she imagines in her linear, isolated worldview.

These people completely sicken and horrify me.

Edited at 2008-06-25 08:23 pm (UTC)
26th-Jun-2008 01:13 am (UTC)
We did our best to remain cordial. We talked with her for quite a bit. She was really interested in two dads with a daughter. that ended up on the cutting room floor. I didn't know that they were going to put that part with the two foster kids (now adults) in the piece. It broke my heart.
26th-Jun-2008 01:34 am (UTC)
I think all in all the whole show was one big heartbreak, and felt like it set back so many things by giant leaps. Of course that's all emotion and I know that collectively we're moving forward, but still.

What I find matters most is that your friends remained true to themselves and their chosen family, and that this woman's toxic views didn't serve to do anything but reaffirm their existing ones that they're doing all of the right things - no matter who sits in hypocritical judgment of them. To be that centered and wise is really priceless, especially when you've been told all your life by scores of people that something is wrong with you or that you're morally deficient and you carry on knowing that they're wrong. Their children, family, and friends are incredibly lucky people.
26th-Jun-2008 10:39 am (UTC)
I have said it before, but it bears repeating. Those two are saints. The boys that they have adopted are great kids, but they are challenging, as any kids are. They have created an amazing life for the boys out there in Ypsilanti.

I am in awe of what they have done.
25th-Jun-2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
I take it she didn't change her mind after 30 days?

25th-Jun-2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
No. Adding insult to injury, she wouldn't even own her hypocrisy about it either. Not even when the birth parents and extended biological family of one of the adopted children made it clear to her that their son was in the best possible home and family he could have been placed in, and they're friends of this family now as a result of what stellar parents, men, and human beings the Dads are.

Edited at 2008-06-25 08:25 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jun-2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
ROFL - yes, he's quite yummy. But that kind of guy is a dime a dozen around here - not that I'm complaining! We're well stocked with that type of hotness here in southwest Georgia!
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jun-2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Georgia is home, yes - I did live in Atlanta for a time, but settled back here in my early 20's.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jun-2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've had several of those as well. We do have an excellent selection!
25th-Jun-2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
I am from Michigan and actually had two friends on the show last night that are married and have adopted a young girl. They are two of the nicest guys and my heart goes out to them and many others who want the rights we all should have. I fight that for our community everyday. It was a great show, powerful and moving.
25th-Jun-2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yup, prisoncitybear is on my friendslist and is part of the reason I wrote this post. This episode did a number on me, I still have a slight headache from crying about it all earlier. I'm still mindboggled that after all was said and done she still managed to make herself the victim, the cunt...
25th-Jun-2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
I agree, I was hoping for a different outcome.....it was a powerful piece.
25th-Jun-2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
The show's concept is interesting, but knowing the ending, I don't think I could watch it. That'd just hurt my heart.

re: your subject line, however -- that's a pretty broad brush you're painting with there. If you're going to say 'intolerant fundamentalist Christianity poisons the minds of people who might otherwise have been tolerant, reasonable members of society', that's one (quite specific) thing, but when you imply that allegiance to any religion I can possibly name is an automatic ruiner, you're sort of spitting in the faces of a lot of people and things I love. Including, to no small degree, me.

I say these things to you because you know I love you, and because I'm fairly certain you mean me no disrespect. And you know I rage against consdervative Christian hatemongers as much as you do. But the solution is not to allow your beef with that 0.1% to make 99.9% of us targets.

I'll get down off my little soapbox now and go look at some soothing gay porn. Yes, that will be nice.
25th-Jun-2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
Glad you brought this up, actually. Because I do see how it could be taken to mean something I don't intend.

It's been pretty clear and well understood by most (you specifically as we've talked about these things for a long time now) what my position is on fundamentalists. It's more to the point to say that it is what the extreme views taken by these extreme hardliners as a means of promoting an antiquated agenda do that I take most issue with, but at the end of the day, my view of religion is pretty static. Religion is a thing, not a person. Not even a group of people, but a thing - a set of philosophies and rules and guidelines. All in all, religion is a completely dormant thing until people turn on a switch somewhere and activate it. In that way it is not unlike a virus, really. The word virus itself is Latin and means poison, or toxin.

Consider that a virus particle is a dormant entity that is neither alive nor dead until it comes into contact with a host, and then it switches on and replicates - making copy after copy of itself until it is killed off (fever, antiviral medicines, etc) or until it kills its host. This is an extreme view of viral amplification, but the point is that when taken to its extreme, it is a deadly thing and results in catastrophe if left unchecked. That kind of dangerous potential makes it extremely lethal and otherwise dangerous. So it's not necessarily the people intrinsically but rather the poisonous, virulent nature of the thing.

Sure, a lot of good is done in the name of religion - but that's good done in name of something that could just as easily be done without it, and it's about the people really - not the name, idea, philosophy, or guideline. It is PEOPLE that do the good, not the religion. In a way, it is always about the result in that case, not the methodology. Conversely, there is nothing - NOTHING - that gets used as much (and as effortlessly) as a means of legitimizing discrimination and intolerance as religion does. That's why I find it as dangerous as others may find it inherently good, because of the huge and sometimes inevitable potential for disaster. It's not people I'm making targets out of (until they become the hatemongers we see so much of), the target is what makes them hatemongers - the source.

Am I making any sense? Also, I love you too, and I'm glad you brought this up so I could have an opportunity to explain it.
26th-Jun-2008 12:38 am (UTC)
I agree, from a sociological perspective, about the viral nature of religion. But if you're going to make that argument about religion, you kind of have to make it about culture too, and I don't get the impression that you're the kind of guy who's ready to call all of human culture 'poison'.

When you say it's people that do the good, you're absolutely right -- but if you're going to divorce those people from the systems they interact with, you could just as easily say there's no good in politics, or cultural heritage, or even queer pride, if the context and motivation have nothing to do with the outcome. And by that same token, it's hard to see how religion can be responsible for everything bad religious people do, but for nothing good they do.

Being as I am something of a scholar of language and texts, I think it's important that people call their terms as precisely as possible. Would you be comfortable making a post titled Judaism Poisons Everything? or Wicca Poisons Everything? or Navajo Religion Poisons Everything? Because that's a not-insubstantial part what you're implying here -- while your beef in this particular post is, in actual fact, with modern ultra-conservative American Christian thought. Your larger contention with religion as a memetic, cultural phenomenon definitely has a valid starting point, but your working definition of 'religion' seems more narrow than the word itself might imply.

I'm hardly asking you to 'take it back!' or anything kindergarden like that. But my job every day is quite literally to be a sounding board, and to tell my students when what they mean and what they say aren't lining up. While you know well what you want your words to mean, what they sound like to my ears doesn't match.

(woo, I must've taken my rantypills today)
26th-Jun-2008 01:27 am (UTC)
To the point that I think most Americans are really lame, stupid sheep and that by and large culture here = crap trends, then yeah - gettin' pretty close to critical mass!! I think that humans are less viral and more bacteria though - that I'll own.

I see your point, but I specifically meant that the good in the case I referred to could have easily been as successfully accomplished without it being cloaked in dogma. It's less about the motivation, more about the outcome from my vantage point. It's not about the good or even the bad, it's about the potential for both and the misuse of it all to legitimize behaviors - questionable or otherwise. The responsibility ultimately lies with the people, so in that context the motivation does merit consideration I suppose, but my core point is that you can be perfectly capable of goodness, morality, and scruples without religion.

I personally find no real merit in any religion that couldn't as easily be attributed to something else, general humanity, and considering the life I've led I base this on my own experience and worldview - which is my opinion, so it is neither universally right or wrong. I certainly think that some religions have more destructive qualities than any you mention, and am conversely more critical of them (Islam, Catholicism, hell - ANY branch of Christianity when you get down to brass tacks) but I do find Orthodox Judaism very oppressive in many respects. While my experience is more inline with Christians; my bias, prejudice, and predisposition is in objection to organized religion in general. For me, personally.

I'm a firm believer that words mean things and that it is easier to have standards than it is to maintain or live up to them. I didn't get the impression that you wanted me to take back anything. If anything, you wanted me to be clear on where I'm coming from, and I'm always happy to oblige!

I know a thing or six about them rantypills, but then I idle at ranty...

Edited at 2008-06-26 01:37 am (UTC)
25th-Jun-2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
My urge to choke a bitch is rising.
26th-Jun-2008 01:35 am (UTC)
Preaching to the choir, babe!
26th-Jun-2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
I know but if I vocalize it the urge dissipates somewhat.
26th-Jun-2008 11:04 am (UTC)
That episode was amazing, but REALLY difficult for me to watch. Especially towards the end.... She gave away a TON of info about herself, though, when - at the beginning - she said something like, "I rely on my religion and my church to tell me how to feel about things". A sheep if there ever was one.
26th-Jun-2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
That crying jag she went on after having the polite conversation at the BBQ/picnic, when the older lady was nothing but polite with her, was proof how ridiculous she was. She actually started thinking and considering that she may not be right (she even said as much at one point) but wouldn't budge even when fact, testimony, and common sense challenged or threatened to contradict her religious view. Which is SO insane to me. Then again, she's living up to her own standards, and however wrong I believe they are, I have to admire that kind of tenacity. It is always easier to have standards than it is to maintain and live up to them. The problem here is that hers are ultimately hypocritical and her bottom line is not in keeping with her other assertions - which, I think merits mention here - she conveniently used "god" to legitimize, as if that's a valid answer in this argument.
27th-Jun-2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
I remember seeing one episode of Wife Swap (I think it was called?), a reality show in which couples swap wives for a certain period of time for a similar see-how-the-other-half-lives experience.

In that episode, one of the couples was a lesbian couple. At the end, when both couples came together to say what they had learned, the straight mother (who was a Christian fundamentalist) basically came out and said she believed that the other couple was going to hell - which pretty much left them in tears. So much for learning anything.
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