Black Lives Do Matter

Those who enforce the law should also be held accountable. It is outrageous how long we have allowed police brutality, particularly against African Americans, to go on. There needs to be a comprehensive and constructive conversation between leaders and politicians, police officers and activists about how to fix what has already completely shattered. Police officers should be respected and obeyed, but that does not mean that, for whatever reason, they are above the law and are excused from complying with it. Officers should be vigorously trained to stop unarmed people in a way that does not involve shooting them several times, especially when they are already being pinned down or only have minor traffic violations.

There is no victory in defeating the powerless. What is occurring is simply an abuse of power among police officers who have a strong sense of hatred and aggression towards the black community. And that is a fact every citizen needs to realize and come to terms with. Acknowledging that our country has a problem with racism and police brutality is not unpatriotic. Rather, it is unpatriotic to actively witness injustice and do nothing to change it.

This, of course, does not mean that all police officers are racist or abuse their power and authority. However, we should not ignore what keeps happening at a rather constant and rapid rate just because the majority of officers are just and good. Allowing this to continue will only further divide our country. Black lives do matter, and unless we start holding officers accountable for their actions, that will become less and less clear to black people across the nation.

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To Unrelenting Opponents of the Same-sex Marriage Ruling

So here’s the thing:

The United States government is one that specifically separates church and state, or rather religion and law. As a U.S. citizen you have the right to practice any religion and visit whatever place of worship is available to you. However, there seems to be a very common misconception that this country is a “Christian nation.” A majority of the founding fathers were deists, not Christians. For those of you who may not know, deists believe that a divine being, most commonly referred to as god, exists but is not active in the affairs of humans and nature. Aside from this, there is no mention of a national religion or dependence on god in the constitution. This is because the U.S. has freedom of religion, and does not only allow Christianity to be practiced. In fact, the phrase “In God We Trust” was not added to American currency until the 1950’s, which is obviously nowhere near when the country was established.

Many evangelical christians, catholics, and the like have always been secure in their opposition to homosexuality in general, let alone same-sex marriage. A few months ago, there was a bit of an issue in Indiana concerning religious liberty and discrimination against gay people. That battle has not ended despite the recent legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. Many religious people feel that they need to fight for their religious right. But the thing is, they have not yet lost anything. They still have the freedom to believe whatever they want, say whatever they want, and worship at any available place of worship. There is an outcry over this ruling because they want to maintain the ”right” to be prejudiced against other people and to legally discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation. Of course, the main support of their argument is that the Bible denounces homosexuality in multiple passages, but they fail to remember that theirs is not the only faith that exists. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Confucians, etc, yet no one is standing up for their religious rights or liberty.
Regardless, the United States does not allow any law to be established on the sole basis of any religion or religious belief because obviously not everyone shares the same faith, and allowing any single religion to be at the basis of government and the establishment of laws is not what a democracy stands for. However, the notorious Taliban uses the Qu’ran and the Islamic religion to dictate their laws and how those laws affect citizens. Different religion, same concept. Most Americans don’t think of the Taliban as a governmental aspiration, but the same structure is what many anti-gay Christians are in favor of. Yes, it sounds extreme at first because the Taliban is big and scary and violent and our country tends to have an aversion to muslims in general, but the concept is very similar.

So when a Catholic priest publishes a video about how fellow Catholics need to defend their religious liberty in whatever way they can or that the law of god is greater than the law of man, I cannot help but wonder if they actually believe what they’re saying, because there a lot of other things in the Bible that God apparently approves of that aren’t so acceptable anymore. There’s the obvious opposition to wearing clothing with mixed fabrics or eating shellfish, but there’s also the approval of the stoning of adulterers, selling ones daughters as sex slaves, raping one’s father while he remains unconscious, and polygamy. Oh yes, remember polygamy? It was the most common form of marriage in the Bible, yet the most common argument against same-sex marriage is that marriage was meant to be between only one man and one woman. It may be a nice sentiment, but it’s not exactly how things actually happened in the Bible and in actual history, such as the civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece. Of course everyone loves to pick and choose what they believe is important in the Bible and just hope no one else has actually read it so they don’t have to come up with a defense or engage in an educated discussion.

In addition, the Catholic and Christian religions are in no way endangered or negatively effected by same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry civilly. No one is suddenly demanding to have their big gay wedding in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. No one is insisting that the Catholic church welcome gay couples with open arms. It is quite the opposite. Christian business owners want to legally reserve the right to turn away customers of minority sexualities because it is their personal religious belief. Anti-gay clerks want to challenge the recent supreme court ruling by refusing to give same-sex couples marriage certificates. It is very clear who is the oppressor versus the oppressed, yet religious zealots love to paint themselves as the victims in order to continue to get away with their obvious prejudices and efforts to legalize discrimination.

The Fight Against Gays

       Religious liberty is attempting to make a most unflattering comeback in the United States. Mike Pence, Republican Governor of Indiana, recently signed a Religious Liberty Bill modeled on the former Religious Restoration Act. The bill will legally allow business owners and the like to refuse goods and services to LGBT individuals on the basis of religious freedom. While Pence later went on to “fix” the bill, the fix does not directly apply to religious groups and LGBT individuals are still unprotected by Indiana law. The fix was simply a way to make the bill more palatable to those opposed to it. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia are also in the process of enacting their own Religious Liberty bills, further enhancing the threat to LGBT Americans. The bill in question goes way beyond upholding religious liberty. It allows for discrimination on the grounds of faith. Many religious people argue that they should not be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding or serve same-sex couples and individuals because they believe it is sinful and unnatural. And of course these same people go on to implement the ever popular “it’s say so in the Bible” excuse. Anti-LGBT christians do not want to knowingly aid those of that “lifestyle”. But in what way is discrimination supposedly Christian? Of course no one who supports this bill is willing to admit to what it actually does, that it legally allows someone to discriminate against another person. Of course they deny it. Read the news articles and watch the videos. They cannot outwardly admit to it.

        Interestingly enough, no one is preventing Christians from practicing their faith, going to church, praying, wearing whatever religious garments and accessories they choose to. Yet many still claim that is in fact the Christians who are being discriminated against. However, the Christians are not the ones being denied service, and that is the very important difference of the matter. One cannot infringe upon someone else’s rights, call it religious liberty, and then act as if they are the real victim in question. It is completely unethical. It is also uneconomical. Businesses will only end up losing profit by turning away paying customers on the sole basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Big businesses like Apple will take a stance against states in which the bill is enacted, which will certainly not be a loss for the billion dollar corporation, but rather for the various local Christian-run eateries and flower shops. Hopefully, it is this argument that will turn some heads because apparently money is much more greatly valued than the rights of other people. Needless to say, there are many Christians who strongly disagree with using religion as an excuse for homophobia. However, it is the Anti-LGBT Christians whose voices overpower the non-discriminatory ones.