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10/27/2010

Maggie's reliably myopic glimpse at faith-based bullying

by Jeremy Hooper

For the second time in as many weeks, Maggie Gallagher has dedicated her syndicated column to the matter of bullying and suicide, with an underlying intent of absolving the climate cultivated by anti-LGBT groups like her National Organization For Marriage outfit of any role in gay teens' troubles. Here's a snip from the latest:

To break with central tenets of one's family culture or with one's religion is no doubt deeply troubling for parent and child alike. Parents who reject or abuse their gay children do appear to increase the risk of suicide.

But Americans, with the help of the media, seem to be painting the charge against religion with a pretty broad brush.

Given what I know about religion and suicide risk, it seemed to me at least an open question. Religion could be the source of distressing family conflict. But in general, religion appears to be remarkably good for mental health, and in particular for protecting against the risk of suicide.

Keep reading: DOES RELIGION KILL? [Maggie's Syndicated column via Yahoo!]

Maggie goes on to cite stats claiming that kids of regular churchgoers actually try suicide less often, paired with the idea that religion's condemnations of self-inflicted death decreases its occurrences in faith-based homes. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But in limiting her frame in this way, Maggie once again overlooks the macro problem by micro-ing in on the wrong things.

The key idea that Maggie overlooks: That religious condemnation of LGBT people affects every single person on the globe, regardless of chosen faith. Because every last anti-LGBT teaching -- every last one! -- stems from biblical interpretation. So it doesn't even matter what house of worship a certain statistical percentage did or did not attend -- the issue is the sweeping usage of faith to deny rights, freedom, wedding rings, and an overall peace of mind!

One need not be Catholic to be wounded by the Pope's labeling of homosexuality as an intrinsic evil. One need not be Mormon to feel the 201010271707effect that the LDS Church had in passing Prop 8. One need not be Christian to be mind-fucked by the idea that Christian conservatives nationwide run "reparative therapy" conferences telling gay people that they are spiritually and mentally wounded. That's what's so enraging about the far-right social conservatives' bent sense of religious freedom on this issue: THAT NOBODY IS FREE FROM WHATEVER THEOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR THE "PRO-FAMILY" PLAYERS HAVE CHOSEN FOR THEMSELVES! We are all forced congregants of a far-too-church-infused state!

So Maggie -- someone who's on record saying that "the absence of desire for the opposite sex represents, at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility," calling homosexuality "a sexual disability," instructing gays that they "can always control" their "unfortunate" behavior, and accusing gay marriage activists of "striking at the heart" of Genesis and committing "several kinds of sins" [*source for all quotes] -- can try all she wants to disconnect butts in pews from depression in minds. But in trying to do so, she needs to be a little more honest about faith's far-reaching effects. Because while she may not literally drag us in the confession booth with her, Maggie Gallagher is flat-out lying if she denies how fully she'd like our bedrooms to atone for what she sees as our sins. Or even if she personally doesn't, her "protect marriage" cause certainly does. The same "protect marriage" cause that no credible study will ever show as helping even one gay kid's mental peace.

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