It was only a matter of time before the Mormons became the subject of a post. After all, the Scourge lives in Phoenix, perilously close to the Mormon Mecca, Salt Like City. Just the other night, two smiling youths knocked on his door (one of them black…didn’t anyone tell him this is white people’s foolishness?) and complimented the Scourge’s art collection before asking to share the message of Jesus Christ. How he wished for a Mapplethorpe photo on his wall.
All this comes on the heels of a not-so-shocking story in the New York times where young women at Brigham Young University are disinclined to report rape, because the circumstances surrounding sexual assault can go against the university’s “Honor Code,” a document each attendee must sign before stepping foot on campus. The Honor Code delineates certain behavioral expectations the university has of its students, professors and staff, including the standard faith-based nonsense condemning sex, homosexuality and having a mind of one’s own.
Several women from BYU told the New York Times not only of their rapes, but subsequent investigations into their behavior by a university ethics committee who hope to discover whether or not the rape victim violated the honor code by drinking alcohol, taking drugs or having consensual sex before marriage. (Because girls who get raped clearly have loose morals. Otherwise, they wouldn’t provoke such behavior in men, right?)
Madi Barney waited for four days after being raped to report it to the authorities, because she was terrified of being expelled from BYU. The police report made it into the crabbed hands of university officials (after the man charged with raping her gave it to a Utah county sheriff’s deputy who then passed it on to the college), and once the Honor Code committee found out about the rape, the college opened an investigation into her behavior.
BYU’s general counsel e-mailed Barney’s lawyer and said that while the college hadn’t sought out the police report it was still “under an obligation to itself and to its students to investigate credible reports of Honor Code violation.”
Polish up the Star Chamber! It’s time for a trial!
More latter-day news comes from the Advocate. The LGBT publication reported on the staggering number of homeless young people in Utah and, subsequently, the high numbers of LGBT homeless youths, clocked at 42% of the homeless population. Many of these kids are kicked out by parents, who, like good Christians, are following church rules. Given their sheltered upbringing, Mormon youth fare particularly poorly on the streets and often end up in sex trafficking rings.
Some particularly savvy Scourge readers might recall how the higher-ups in Utah’s government and church (tomayto, tomahto) agreed on an LGBT anti-discrimination bill in the past couple of years, a surprise turn that had even hardened critics nodding their heads appreciatively. But let’s not get it twisted, people: the bill had significant clauses whereby religiously affiliated non-profits, including schools and even hospitals, were exempt from legal action should they engage in LGBT discrimination. (Oh, and the same went for discrimination towards women. Homophobia and misogyny go hand-in-hand. A message missed by Carly Fiorina who’s decided to play Queen of the Damned to Ted Cruz’s Lucifer.)
In November of 2015, the Mormon church sent out a secret edict to church leadership in 30,000 congregations worldwide saying that children raised in same-sex households were not to be blessed, baptized or ordained, and they were not to serve as missionaries (a clear win in the Scourge’s book, but still). Also, church members in same-sex relationships were apostates and subject to excommunication (good riddance to your unflattering underwear).
After the text of this document was leaked to the press, the monthly tally of reported suicides among LGBT kids in Utah topped out at 32 – the usual average for a six-month span of time in the state. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – this religion business is bad news for queer people.
For too long, criminals, tyrants, bigots, masochists and murderers have committed atrocities only to turn the other cheek and point a pallid, trembling finger to their sovereign right to do whatever the fuck they want because their religion tells them so.
In the case of the Mormons, this behavior shouldn’t be surprising; it’s been a part of the culture from the get-go. After receiving golden tablets from angels written in an archaic unknown language, Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who was a convicted con man, deciphered said-tablets with the aid of magic stones. Once the tablets were translated and Smith had a new holy book in his hands, the tablets vanished.
After Smith went from carnival charlatan to new world prophet and led a bunch of his followers westward-ho, he was visited by an angel three times and commanded – commanded, I tell you! – to take multiple wives. Smith protested, at first, but then succumbed. After all, god told him to fuck a lot of bitches. Who was he to deny the word of the Almighty?
And there’s the problem, kids. Whenever you believe some invisible force is omnipotent and infallible, you have rich soil for a charismatic kook to plant poisonous seeds. After decades, centuries and even millennia of entrenched madness, institutionalized cruelty is de rigueur in religious hegemonies worldwide. A university can slut-shame a rape victim. A church can blithely proclaim sweeping punishments for people who have sex, especially sex they view as abhorrent. A government colludes with the church or, at the very least, sits idly by while religious mountebanks ignite culture wars over bathrooms, women’s bodies and sexuality. An entire culture chooses to give people a pass for their religious beliefs, because it’s part of the founding charter of a white, straight, male, Christian nation founded by religious extremists.
While kids are killing themselves, women are getting raped and people are living in tent cities and eating tree snails for breakfast, vast swaths of Americans go on protecting freedom of religion, even the so-called liberals who wring their hands over appearing politically sensitive instead of taking up torches and pitchforks against the rabidly arrayed fundamentalist mobs. Open criticism of America’s religious idiocies and their deleterious effects on millions of citiznes is long overdue in public spaces.
Instead, we have timid candidates going to church in antic disposition, showing the groundlings that they’re good Christian soldiers. Consumers gluttonously purchase doodads at big box stores that offer sales!sales!sales! so that religious corporate goons can use their profits to fund blackhearted think tanks. “Don’t talk about politics or religion” is a respected dictum by a populace more concerned with politely rolling over than defiantly standing their ground.
The faithful aren’t staying out of your living rooms, bedrooms, hell, even your bodies, so why on earth are you staying out of their sanctuaries? Playing defense just wears you out. Offense gains you ground. When the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholics, the Hare Krishnas, the Muslims, or anyone seeks to indoctrinate you into their slave morality, don’t just put out your wrists to be shackled. Do not go gently into a benighted ideology where rape victims are criminals, gays are abominations, women are the devil, thought is wicked and the world is an illusion.
One of the Scourge’s favorite political actions he’s ever seen (albeit far removed through video; he wasn’t of age at the time it occurred) was when gay men struggling against government indifference and religious complicity fought to be seen, heard and helped during the AIDS epidemic. At St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York City, ACT UP members went into the church during mass, lay on the floor as if they were dead and shouted “stop killing us” while good Catholics were trying to devour the body of Christ without actually digesting his message.
We don’t have the luxury of playing patty cake with people who are playing war. Religion is a blight on the human spirit, and it’s time we tear it out.
Until next Sunday…the heretic’s day.
In other news of the faithful:
A rash of Bangladesh killings by Muslim extremists has the country on edge. Recent deaths include a Hindu tailor and two LGBT activists who were hacked to death. Sure, it’s hot as shit in Bangladesh, but it might be time to break out Medieval suits of armor for day wear.
China has created a robot monk to cruise around a Buddhist temple and even answer spiritual questions. Aren’t all monks robots?