Let’s talk religion…
I never thought I’d say that here! Though I’ve mentioned my own personal situation and the fact that I work part time for a church in passing on this blog, it’s never been my intention to espouse either virtues of religion nor has it been my intent to rail against those who would condemn the LGBT community on the basis of it. What I have done though, is offer up a platform to those who offer pro-LGBT arguments in the name of organized religion and to those who otherwise offer something of support to our community without condemnation because of whom we love.
In light of the recent video trailer release for a movie that attacks the religion of Islam and the Muslim prophet Mohammed, and the violence this video has wrought in Muslim countries among a few who are eager to take out their outrage and frustrations with America on random Americans, I introduce today’s book with no small amount of trepidation. If a 13 minute video by an unremarkable man who was previously unknown to most of the people on earth can incite violence and bloodshed, this book, widely disseminated, could be a cause for war.
The book is the June 2012 book release by Khepra Ka-Re Amente Anu (an East Arfrican, not Muslim/Islamic name) is, Lifting the Spiritual Self-Esteem of the LGBT Community: A Critique of Fabricated, Discriminatory, Judgmental, and Sexist World Religions. Keeping that title in mind, I have to say that I found Anu’s book to be less about support for the LGBT community and more about debunking every religious myth, surrounding every major world religion ever, and arming defenders of civil rights and of marginalized people of all ilks against the onslaught of religious rhetoric spewed by those who claim to be following the will of God.
Anu is a heterosexual, African-American male in a traditional marriage. Currently residing in the Cleveland, Ohio area, He was raised in the Christian faith in the American south and came of age during the Civil Rights movement. He knows persecution because of “beliefs” driven by the mixture of prejudice, politics and religion. He’s been a longtime student of Astronomy and African/Kemetic/Egyptian/Anu/Ethiopian history and he’s currently a teacher of it. He’s imminently qualified to write the book that he’s written.
This is nearly 200 pages of scholarly text with a full bibliography. Should you want to use this for it’s intended purpose (debunking religious arguments condemning members of the LGBT community and opposition to same sex marriage or to point out the imperfectness of religion – any religion) it’s also completely indexed. Anu argues that all religions are fabricated. He explains that they are all based, in part, on each other and further that most have evolved from beliefs and stories passed down in the previously mentioned African/Kemetic/Egyptian/Anu/Ethiopian cultures. He then goes on to prove his thesis with painstaking examination of texts from Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. He points out EVERY similarity and EVERY instance where wording is exactly the same though, supposedly, from a completely different source whether it be human or divine. It’s deep reading but quite full of ongoing revelations.
To use just a few examples; the similarities in the creation stories, divine birth and savior stories and so forth are so strikingly similar it’s almost as though the authors did something like sitting down around the dinner table one night with each other to discuss a possible book and laying it all out. After dinner, in this scenario, I picture each aspiring author going off on his own to name his characters and write the book as he saw the story unfolding in his own mind. What evolved were the guiding texts of each of the major religions of the world. We know that didn’t really happen, of course, but it’s quite evident after reading this that there was a whole lot of copying and ‘borrowing’ going on!
Interestingly, Anu makes his strongest points, not when he’s pointing out obviously copied text, but when he is pointing out the practices of the major religion that would give anyone pause to wonder how they can possibly claim to be a moral authority over anyone given instructions in their own texts. For example, in the Jewish Talmud, the Christian Bible and in the Koran, explicit instructions are laid out for the keeping and treatment of slaves. Those three major religions now condemn slavery (though female servitude is alive and well in one) yet, it’s written into their driving texts which, when they want to point to what they perceive as the moral corruptness of lesbians and gays, they find passages to readily site. Anu’s point is that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t site a text that makes you morally superior and authorized to stand in judgement on one issue when the same text is so literally wrong on another. These points seem to be either unknown or conveniently overlooked by those looking to pound home their points about how certain things are condemned by the Bible and the Koran and other ‘holy’ texts.
We can debate this book for days. In all honesty, I’m not a student of religion. I call myself a Christian and I do work part time for a church but I’ve always been a skeptic about the whole myth of the ‘story’. This book confirmed some of that skepticism for me. Still, I’ll remain here because I get other things from being here that are of value to me as a person. I’m where I need to be.
Continuing with full disclosure, I didn’t go behind the author and fact check his findings or his translations of texts from other languages. He could have made some of this stuff up… but why would he? Let me put it this way, if even 50% of what is in this book is true with regard to both copied text, similarly worded text and practices like condoning slavery, then organized religion of any type is both in a lot of trouble and also in no position to be telling those of us in the LGBT community – or really anyone who ‘they’ find displeasing - what is morally acceptable.