Learning how to break free from America’s religious conformities is not as easy. While watching a recent Podcast on Current TV, I was reminded of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, who was allegedly murdered for being a homosexual. Even though the two men who murdered Matthew were convicted of the crime, evidence never confirmed if this was the actual reason these men acted out so hatefully and violently. Yet, seeing the photos, personal belongings, as family and friends embraced, shedding tears, erupted emotions inside of me I did not know existed.
Ironically, I was inspired by Romaine Patterson, one of Matthew’s college associates, who prepared the Podcast in an effort to promote her book The Whole World is Watching. Witnessing her tenacity and ambition, empowered me with a zest to succeed. Something I willfully lost, during my extensive time researching biblical scriptures and its many revisions on homosexuals.
When I initially heard about Matthew’s death, I didn’t feel anything. After all, growing up in America, I have learned how to block out such tragedies because such things are a norm. I have even had friends of my own who were murdered for clothes, money, cars, and simply for the color of their skin. So hearing about someone being murdered due to their sexual preference just seemed normal; even though it angered me.
Being raised with a religious background, I was always taught that being gay or a homosexual was a sin. Over the years, I learned to keep my sexual identity hidden. And like so many others, who too feel the same, this state of mind derives from religious up-bringing.
That’s why I was completely distraught after discovering the term homosexual was added to the bible in 1976, and then removed in 2001 and 2006, without any consideration to the many victims who committed suicide or were murdered because of their sexual preference of homosexuality.
As you know, throughout history, many people have died under the false pretenses associated with religious rituals and its beliefs. As a matter of fact, many people were even enslaved due to the scriptures written in the bible. Living in a society that forces religious structure upon its citizens is challenging enough, especially to anyone who desires to live outside of those religious conformities. But to hear of people taking such religious rituals and beliefs to the extreme of murdering someone, the very religious structure that orchestrated such hatred. Then later, to find out that the very term that fueled the flames of hate towards homosexuals, was omitted, completely baffles me.
It troubles me to live in a world that has allowed religious structure to embed so much hatred within our minds and actions, towards one another.
Growing up, I always knew I was gay. Regardless of how much my family and I attended church, or how many bible study classes I took, I knew being gay was something I was suppose to keep hidden. I was very young when I told my parents I was a homosexual. After doing so, I carried the burden of being the black sheep. Simply because, I was taught that being a homosexual was wrong because the bible said so.
Even today, at the age of forty, I still carry the burden of being a homosexual because of religious conformities. Sadly enough though, the publishing company that initiated this mental war against homosexuals has never attempted to apologize to Matthew Shepard or anyone else who lost their life, because of their malicious negligence and strict liability violations.
What troubles me most is how the United States Court system has refused to sincerely take an interest in controlling the malice and Duty of Care violations these publishing companies are willfully disobeying, as representatives of religious sacred laws and its order.
Seemingly, the Vatican has even held its own reservations on the many revisions conducted on the bible. Yet to date, no one has taken the initiative to file a complaint against these bible publishers, who are mandating such fraudulent religious laws that help promote such hate and violence, being acted out in our communities and around our world. In order to overcome injustice, you must fight for justice.
So, on Tuesday, June 17, 2008, I walked into the Eastern District Federal Court Clerks office and filed a civil rights complaint against one of America’s leading Christian Publishing companies.
Matthew Shepard’s family and friends should not have to endure such pain. No parent should have to bury their child, especially a child who was murdered because he or she was gay.
In an effort to bring this form of hate to the public’s attention, I compiled an enormous amount of research and biblical data into a compact study guide. Introducing facts that destroy all theories concerning the bible and what it says about homosexuals.
Overcoming religious injustice in America may seem far-fetched to the common man, but to a man who believes God is love, striving to make each religious right wrong, is a quest—I have taken on with a passion. Religious injustices such as the Matthew Shepard case, should strike a cord in you. Many people hate and dislike homosexuals because they are taught through religious structure, that being such a person is wrong. And since discovering the terminology, homosexual was removed from the bible in 2001, and then again in 2006, I have removed myself from anything religious orientated. Any religious structure that advocates hate and violence is not a religion built on the love of an American God.
Even though I am unable to share these words of inspiration and enlightenment with Matthew Shepard or any other victim of a hate crime, under religious structure, due to their sexual identity and preferences, I will not cease my fight to overcome the darkness, religious injustice has forced upon my life, and those around me.
Overcoming religious conformities is not easy, but trusting that God loves you and me no matter what, makes fighting for religious injustices like this, worth fighting for.