Tuesday, August 6, 2013

ASA Response to Stirm in the Star

Posted August 6th, 2013
I carefully read Scott Stirm’s insulting reply to my letter appearing in your Sunday, July 21, 2013 edition.

Stirm attempts to insult me personally by saying that I am a homosexual. I am, and I have no more of an apology for that than I do for being right-handed, bald, or having blue eyes. He attempts to insult me by stating that I am married to a man. I was, indeed, legally married to Thomas J. Brady, M.D. five years ago, after having made a life together for the prior 33 years. Our marriage is legal under the laws of California and the United States Government. I have no apology for my married status. It offers us the legal protections, health care rights, tax benefits, financial obligations to one another, and the protection of our estate that traditionally married couples have without asking for it. We have no issue with our marriage not being recognized by various churches, synagogues, and mosques (although it is by some); ours is a civil marriage, not holy matrimony governed by the church. And Stirm attempts to insult me and my home town of San Francisco (the city where the United Nations got its start) by calling it the “epitome of debauchery” and ascribing to me excitement over a fringe festival I never attend.

I have offered Pastor Stirm several opportunities to get to know me as a person through dialogue and correspondence, but he refused any communication with me other than that which would convert me to his cause because he only has “the time for someone who is asking questions and wanting to change.” He would prefer to hold onto his straw man image of me in favor of the person I am. While I have been subjected to much worse treatment in my own country, such treatment occurred in the 1970s when the Dominionist agenda was first being pushed in the U.S., the same agenda Pastor Stirm is, using in his word, “weaseling” into Belizean society. Fortunately, U.S. citizens of all faiths soon saw both the mendacity and the danger of that movement, and it has been losing adherents consistently since that time. That U.S. failure is why this hidden agenda is now being sold overseas in places like the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America.

The danger here is not directly from Scott Stirm, who I believe is quite sincere in his beliefs of what is right and necessary for Belize. The danger lurks in the Dominionist agenda that informs his beliefs and actions.

Dominionism, also known as “Seven Mountains” or “Seven Pillars” theology, or Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to establish control and domination by a particular fundamentalist Christianity over seven broad areas of society: (1) media, (2) arts and entertainment, (3) business, (4) education, (5) government, (6) family life, and (7) religion in all the nations. It is not that Pastor Stirm seeks to lead people to a Christian path that is dangerous; it is that he sees his particular path as the only way of being a “true” Christian. I have found that when one person or one group thinks that they possess the only truth in the world, danger and violence too often follow. Think of Jim Jones in Guyana, David Koresh in Stirm’s Waco Texas, Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, or even the Spanish Inquisition. People get hurt in these environments. People get killed.

But even that picture is not what gives me fear for Belize. Back in the 1970s in San Francisco (and at the beginnings of the Dominionist movement in the U.S.) the situation was similar to that today in Belize. The LGBT community were openly advocating for justice and equality before the law, and the anti-homosexual religious community openly resisted with the exact same slanders and libels currently used by Scott Stirm and the other Belize Action leaders: they’re after our kids, they will ruin the country, they can’t reproduce so must recruit, they are the camel’s nose under the tent of moral decay, they are sick deviants, and so on and so on. The city was divided into warring camps of for and against.

Then something terrible happened. Dan White, who was a county supervisor, resigned his office, decrying the moral and cultural decline of his city. One day, in a fit of anger and with a loaded revolver in his pocket, he crawled through an open window in city hall to avoid the metal detector. He proceeded up to the office of Mayor George Moscone, and emptied the gun into Moscone’s head and chest. Then he reloaded his gun and walked into the office of Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first gay public official in San Francisco, and proceeded to assassinate him as well. With a “friendly” prosecution by the district attorney, White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than premeditated first degree murder and sentenced to a seven year prison term. The day that sentence was announced was followed by a night of rioting.

The first was by a hurt and outraged LGBT community, who stormed city hall screaming “he got away with murder” while breaking every ground floor window the building, overturning and burning several police cars, and attacking the police with rocks and bottles. The second was later that night when several hundred police marched on the gay neighborhood in a phalanx with their billy clubs at the ready. They surrounded the two blocks of the neighborhood so that no one could get away, and started beating people over the head. Several people were seriously injured. Then they broke all the shop windows and went into one gay bar and restaurant and tore it to pieces.

That was the turning point. All of the various communities of San Francisco—LGBT, people of faith, Asian, African-American, Hispanic, non-believers—seemed to ask themselves, “Is this the kind of community, of city, of society that we want to live in, that we want for ourselves and our children?” And all residents started to leave their particular ideological corners and talk to one another and ask how we could find a way to accommodate all the citizens of San Francisco, not just those we agree with.

I fear for Belize because I see it heading in the same direction I saw in San Francisco. I fear that people will not wake up to the real danger, not of LGBT and their mythical agenda, but of tragedy and violence fomented by people who think they know the only right way for other people to live.

It took the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King to awaken American to the danger of vile injustice of Jim Crow laws in the south. It took the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church and the death of four little black girls to awaken Alabama to the danger of the injustice of a completely segregated society. And it took the assassination of Moscone and Milk and the subsequent riots to change us in San Francisco. What will it take for the citizens of Belize, who have a long and well established tradition of “live and let live,” to wake up to the danger of the discord and strife used by Dominionists like Scott Stirm to advance their control over how all Belizeans must believe and live?

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