Georgia teen recorded his family’s “pray the gay away” attempts

September 1, 2014

This is a hard video to listen to and the comments below it are awful and kind of sad. I quote one:

The kid is so disrespectful almost to the point where it is more vile than the parents’ actions. In addition, the people posting rude comments saying “fuck god” or “he’s not real” disgusts me. Stop blaming religion for every single thing that goes viral; it is clearly the family not religion. The family is living their lives based on what they perceive religion to be. Until there is realistic proof that god is not real; I will argue against you. 

“Scientific proof trumps the word of God,” the teen says in the video early on, “in my opinion.” His mother (stepmother?) disagrees with him but he’s still right. Scientifically speaking, it may be mostly his mother’s faut that he’s gay, but not because of his upbringing.

Researchers from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis have said the genetics that makes a person more likely to be gay are passed from fathers to daughters and mothers to sons.

They suggest the answer lies in epigenetics, or how the expression of genes is controlled by ‘temporary switches’, such as how a gene behaves, known as epi-marks.

Gender-specific epi-marks are usually ‘erased’ from generation to generation, but when they do not and they pass from a parent to a child, it can result in homosexuality.

William Rice, the lead author of that piece, thought at the time that it might have something to do with testosterone levels and the release schedule within an embryo.

…these epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone, when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, ‘it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males.’

With the theory, Rice believes it could also be used to explain the occurrence of identical twins.

The researchers have not tested yet on parents, and as the epi-marks are ‘highly variable’ it can be difficult to assess. However Rice said it is the most ‘plausible explanation so far’.

‘We’ve found a story that looks really good,’ Rice said. ‘This can be tested and proven within six months. It’s easy to test. If it’s a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order.

That line there is what makes everything awesome about science. If it turns out they’re wrong, they can try something else. The point is to find the more likely answer. An answer others could arrive at with similar experiments and study.

That article was published at the end of 2012 but at the end of May 2014, charismanews.com reported on the Royal College of Psychologists who were ready to put down on record their willingness to claim that People Are Not Born Gay. At which point, I say, what the fuck? I don’t normally write in swears here, so you know this is serious.

Core Issues Trust (CIT), which is campaigning against a ban on therapy being offered to people who want to move away from a homosexual lifestyle, says the latest statement by the Royal College admits what it previously denied.

“They now say that the causes of homosexuality are a combination of ‘biological and postnatal environment factors.’ So, if a child does not encounter such postnatal life experiences, he or she will grow up heterosexual,” says the director of CIT, Mike Davidson.

This just makes me want to say fuck psychologists, what the fuck do they know!? Maybe I should quiz my psychologist Freethinker friend and see if he concurs with their stance.

That said, “biological” winds up being another way to mean nature as opposed to nurture. It sounds more like these psychologists are actually hedging their bets and admitting they have no repudiable facts to back up their position on whether or not a person can be born gay.

My dad has a couple cousins from the same parents who both got married to people of the opposite sex but later decided to end those marriages because they were gay. The guy cousin has been with his partner since at least 1992. I can’t speak for the girl cousin because I’ve only met her once or twice in my life that I can recall and never with a partner. I don’t know about my great-uncle, but I think my great aunt was fairly religious during their upbringing, as in, regular protestant church goer. (Her health fails her now in terms of attendance.) I have my doubts that either child has set foot in a church beyond weddings and funerals for a very long time but I’d be overstepping to assume that to be the case. (The one cousin did train to be a Justice of the Peace, though. I briefly considered asking him to officiate our very atheist/agnostic wedding ceremony.)

The Telegraph notes that a gay gene may have some influence in gender identification, but those scientists claim only 40% worth of assurance there.

Dr Bailey said: “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice. Our findings suggest there may be genes at play – we found evidence for two sets that affect whether a man is gay or straight.

“But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. “The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation.

“Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome.”

Dr Alan Sanders, associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University, who led the study said that it was it was an ‘oversimplification’ to suggest there was a ‘gay gene.’

“We don’t think genetics is the whole story. It’s not. We have a gene that contributes to homosexuality but you could say it is linked to heterosexuality. It is the variation.”

Again, this is what makes scientific inquiry so damned awesome. Nobody really says they’re right. They’ll say, “this is what the data seems to suggest” and then other researchers are free to try to duplicate or disprove those findings. People like Ken Ham see this as a flaw in the scientific method whereas the rest of us see this as proof that it works like it’s supposed to work.

Back to Daniel Pierce and his video that prompted this post.

Pierce’s boyfriend started a GoFundMe account to raise money for living expenses after he was told to leave the house.

“When you watch the video and then you hear what my blood relatives said, and then you look at the comments (online)… it was just crazy,” he said.

Pierce feels overwhelmed by the entire situation. He says he is still trying to process everything and has some counseling sessions set up. He is not alone, and is staying in the care with a friend he considers “chosen family.”

That GoFundMe account has raised more than $88,000 in just two days. He hoped for $2,000. Pierce says he plans to donate some of the money to LGBT support groups, including “Lost and Found Youth.”

I’m glad for him, and I’m glad for the support. Locally, in terms of gay youth, there’s something called fYrefly which runs a summer camp and other activities for LGBTQ kids.

Camp fYrefly-Saskatchewan is an educational, social, and personal learning retreat for sexual minority and gender variant youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning, and allied). It focuses on building and nurturing their leadership potential and personal resiliency in an effort to help them learn how to make significant contributions to their own lives and to their schools, home/group-home environments, and communities. The camp is designed for sexual minority and gender variant youth between the ages of 14 and 24.

The worst thing a person can do to these kids is tell them something is horribly wrong with them. It’s great to know that a support system exists in this country to help these kids and help them find other kids with a similar life history.

If it turns out that the Little Man is gay, I won’t give a damn, his dad won’t give a damn, and I know his mother won’t give a damn either. Gay or Bi or Straight– he’ll know that he is loved and cared for by all of us and he’ll know his life choices are respected. We’ll teach him to treat his loved ones properly, no matter what gender they wish to identify by (if any). It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is how people treat the people they like and love. That’s it. Nothing else worth saying in terms of that.

But, like every time, I welcome comments. Anything to add or argue about here?


Atheist Scruples 2014: women and boobs

August 31, 2014

A couple different issues trigger this one. First, should women be allowed to go topless like men can? I think the answer should be yes but that doesn’t mean I’ll want to be one of them. I’m pro-choice in many ways.

In Saskatoon last August a woman got charged for going topless on the sandbars by the river.

Danielle Forget was tanning at the sand bar near Spadina Crescent Thursday when she decided to go topless. The move offended at least one other beach comber, and the police showed up at the beach.

“It’s a public place, a kid and a family friendly place. We don’t need that here,” said Jenelyn Ong, who called the police about Forget’s topless tanning.

“My nephew is 13, going into high school. He’s never been exposed to anything like that,” she said.

Oh, you sweet, ignorant woman. Of course he has. And if he hasn’t, he may as well see it now so he’s not surprised later. Women look like that with their tops off, kid.. Use it as a learning experience and be the cool aunt, not the crochety old bag he’ll complain about spending a summer with later on in life.

John Gormley is a local talk radio host I don’t listen to, but I found a facebook page where this news story was getting discussed. Most of the comments leaned toward, “They’re boobs; get over it.” It’s natural. It’s not unseemly. It’s not wrong. It’s natural.

The strange UFO cult called the Raelians recently picketed in Montreal for the right of women to go topless.

There were about two dozen women at the protest, along with several shirtless men showing support by wearing bras.

Onlookers taking cellphone pictures of the topless women outnumbered protesters.

Go Topless Day was founded in 2007 by Rael, the spiritual leader of the Raelians, and Sunday’s event was the second Go Topless rally in Montreal.

Clearly I don’t keep up with topless news on a regular basis. Never heard of this.

Also recently, also Montreal: Read the rest of this entry »


Recipe for a Saturday

August 30, 2014

Ingredients

1 day drizzle (or double this for Sunday leftovers)
1 energetic kid
1 inventive mother figure

First, divide the day into randomly shaped segments and take turns filling them with ideas. Warning: do not let child think he can get away with filling his segments with nothing but boredom or episodes of Green Lantern the Animated Series

The Man’s working Friday – Monday, sadly, leaving the Little Man and me to fend for ourselves.

I took the day off work yesterday, partially on account of that but also because of a new sofa delivery (yay!). Yesterday afternoon we walked to a couple close garage sales. I managed to pick up two of the three Indiana Jones movies worth watching (the seller couldn’t find his copy of Temple of Doom to include with the set, unfortunately) and he borrowed a couple dollars out of my pocket so he could afford a collection of well-used Beyblades and an “arena”. Do you know to build a Beyblade? I do now…

Today’s a bit up in the air on account of rain and more is expected tomorrow. We may miss out on hitting more garage sales but he has rain gear so he can’t use the intermittent drizzle as an excuse to stay inside watching movies all day.

We also have a lot of games around like Uno, Battleship, Skip-Bo and now a game called Harvest Time.

First, gardens are planted. Then everyone rolls the special die. to do the harvesting. The job is to harvest the gardens before Winter comes. Will we get them all? Maybe, if we remember to help each other out.

Don’t think it’s a ripoff of Farmville or something; it’s a cooperative game that’s been around since 1980 and “draws the most fan mail.” The Man played it quite a bit as a boy and was glad to find it still at his folks’ place the last time we were there. I’ve never heard of this company but since Christmas is only a few months away, their website might offer you some options that big box stores can’t match. I’d say, “Tell them 1minion sent you,” but they’d just reply with “Who’s 1minion?”

Another option of enjoyment for the weekend will be baking. We can throw some cookies together. He enjoys helping with that kind of thing. For one thing, it’s kind of fun. For another, he can eat them later. I have a hankering for shortbread, myself, but we have the fixings for several types around. I like having a well-stocked pantry.

Well anyway, this is the only post out of me today. Have a video. I should bring this movie home again sometime. Haven’t seen it in ages.


Saturday snicker: “Pardon me, demon. I have to take this phone call..”

August 16, 2014

Ah, haha.. An exorcist has just begun his attempt to cure this man of whatever demon ails him when the phone rings…

The accent is hard to for me to understand and also the sound quality is cell phone poor so all I can hear is, “I’m fine… I’ll call you… bye bye…” before he hangs up and we see he’s willing to start flailing around again and continue the “exorcism”. Clearly the exorcist is kind of pissed at the interruption, though, and I can’t make out what he says to the man once the call finishes. Certainly nothing went as expected there.

(h/t: liberalamerica.org)

This happened to be a funny exorcism attempt and makes me wonder if either of the people involved actually believe in possession. Is the guy in the suit a charlatan? Maybe deliberately, maybe ignorantly – at least in terms of thinking these kinds of methods release anyone from anything besides their money. The flailing victim seems totally ordinary once his phone rings, like he was willing to be in on the act and pretend something was happening just so the suit guy wouldn’t feel silly acting alone up there. Again, who knows.

Unfortunately, they aren’t always a show on a stage.

On Christmas Day 2010, a fifteen year old boy named Kristy Bamu died in a bathtub after three days of being attacked and tortured by his older sister, Magalie, and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, during some kind of exorcism attempt.

During the trial, jurors heard Kristy was in such pain after three days of attacks by Bikubi and Bamu, who used knives, sticks, metal bars and a hammer and chisel, that he “begged to die”, before slipping under the water.

Kristy had been killed while he and his siblings were visiting Bikubi and Bamu for Christmas, the court was told.

During the stay, Bikubi turned on them, accusing them of bringing “kindoki” – or witchcraft – into his home.

He then beat all three of them and forced other children to join in with the attacks, the jury heard.

Kristy got the worst of it, though, tortured and ultimately forced to confess to sorcery and witchcraft.

Magalie later tried to claim she was also a victim in this but nobody bought it. Others testified with enough detail to poke holes in her story. Bikubi’s defense tried to lower his sentence by stating he was mentally ill due to lesions on his brain (scans seemed to suggest that) but that plea failed.

Met Det Supt Terry Sharpe said: “Child abuse in any form, including that based on a belief in witchcraft or spirit possession, is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faith, and is never acceptable in any circumstances.”

Kristy’s family said they hoped comfort could be drawn from his death through raising awareness “of the plight of children accused of witchcraft or spirit possession and promote the need to safeguard children’s rights”.

The couple was original from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A documentary put out by BBC3 in 2013 covered the prevalence of child witchcraft accusations there. At the time of filming, 50,000 children had been accused of witchcraft in the country. If you can find Branded a Witch anywhere, it might be worth a watch. If not, look around Youtube.

I’m not snickering anymore…


“Pope was misquoted” — yeah, and I’m sure Jesus was, too

July 14, 2014

Well, if there was a Jesus. There really is a Pope, though, and Francis made some comments about pedophilia on the weekend to a journalist but the Vatican PR department has since done a bit of quick foot backpeddling to wave away was it was he was quoted as saying — that 2% of priests are pedophiles.

2% maybe doesn’t sound like a lot but the article breaks it down in a way that’ll help visualize it: 1 in 50. That’s a lot.

“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

“… it does not hearten me…”

I would hope not.

Part of me feels bad for the guy because he’s inherited a whole kettle of stinky fish. He seems nice from what I’ve seen of him. But admitting to the fact that there are pedophiles isn’t going to be enough here. He has to commit to actions that will stop them, not do like his predecessors and continue to endorse secrecy or plans to move them around to new parishes and new victims.

If prayer hasn’t “fixed” this problem yet, maybe they ought to try something else.


Nate Phelps gave an interesting talk last night

June 15, 2012

He gave the audience a run down of his upbringing under the demanding and watchful eyes of Fred Phelps, creator of the Westboro Baptist Church. He described some of the abuse he and his mother and siblings went through when he was growing up and how the ludicrous theology they lived under could continue to be maintained, and is still maintained now – clever reinterpretation of the King James bible to create “the world” and “the saved” as only the people of Phelps’ flock. God’s love is extended only to those chosen few, as is salvation. They have no desire to convert or change anyone (beyond the ones who might dare marry into the family); they just want to advertise the fact that everyone who isn’t them will be automatically destined for hell upon death. And, for some reason known only to the senior Phelps, it became important to focus the bulk of that attention on the gays and their supporters rather than picket adulterers or murderers or others who’d break the rest of the commandments without much thought.

I didn’t attend the pub chat afterwards and won’t be at the lunch today, either, but it was worth going to see. He’s an example of someone who grew up in an incredibly strict and fundamentalist regime and found himself unable to continue in it. Fred Phelps teaches that reason and rationality are the Devil’s tricks, messing with a faithful mind by making it want to question instead of believe blindly. Much of the family is still living under that perception but Nate couldn’t quell the doubts, and that’s part of why he left. He told us a story about how his kids were asking about heaven once and where people who don’t get to go to heaven go. He had to explain what hell was and what eternity was and all the kids started crying. “I want to believe in god! I don’t want to go to hell!” He recalled his own reactions to these “facts” as a child and then and there vowed to be a different kind of dad. Now he considers himself an atheist and refuses to indoctrinate his own children. If they want to buy into a religion later in life, they can choose for themselves, he said. He’d rather teach them the skills to think critically and question what they hear and read. The more they question and seek factual answers, the better off they’ll be down the road.

Younger members of the church have started to drift away, too, and Nate offers himself up as a mentor if any of them should want to seek him out, but he knows they’ll be in weird places mentally for a while, just like he was. It won’t help to tell them how badly screwed up they are after years under the church’s influence. They’ll hopefully figure that out for themselves and start making headway on fixing it.

Here’s hoping.


Linkskrieg! (Second pass)

June 11, 2012

More things I never made time to write about.

1. “Unnecessary conflict” between science and evangelicalism:

This is not to say that I want to reject reason or science – quite the contrary! My point here is that understanding distinction between these truths of mythos and logos points the way towards realizing the compatibility of scientific and religious thought. We need them both. They don’t have to be enemies, as they represent different aspects of the human search for truth.

2. Live Science’s article on the extremes between the religious and the atheist:

Psychologists, sociologists and neurologists continue to study why some gobble up religion as profound truth while others reject it as superstition.

“This whole area [of research] teaches us something about the human mind and brain,” said Andrew Newberg, director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and author of “How God Changes Your Brain” (Ballantine Books, 2009).

“There are a lot of philosophical and theological implications of this work and about how we understand the world,” Newberg added.

3. More about earthquakes and the Dead Sea’s “proof” that Jesus died on Friday April 3rd, 33AD:

In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”

“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.

(I’m always amused by people who turn to science in the hopes of proving their religious texts aren’t just a bunch of made up hooey.)

4. Japanese Jesus tomb a big tourist draw:

Some 500 tourists attended a festival Sunday in the village of Shingo, Aomori Prefecture, where women in kimono danced in a circle around a cross erected on a spot that locals believe is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Village legend has it Jesus survived his crucifixion and secretly came to Japan and lived out his natural life and died in the village, which used to be called Herai, a word that apparently came from the word Hebrew.

5. Pastor accused of beating kids:

Officials say the boy told deputies that the day before, his mother took him and his brother to see the pastor after church to talk with him about their misbehavior during services at the church on Ames Blvd.

“They were misbehaving in church, and usually, according to the mom’s statements, she would let the pastor discipline the kids following church,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Glen Boyd.

Investigators say the 10-year-old told them it was during that session when Smith, a Gretna resident, beat them with a belt.

6. Do secular TV shows offer enough morality lessons for Christian kids?

here’s where I tend to differ from many Christian parents I know: I’m not protective because I fear the moral damage television might do to my children. I’m protective because I want my children to stay children and not have to watch people being killed or hurt or harassed. I don’t want them to see how awful people can be to each other—not yet. I’m protecting their outlook on humanity.

7. Pastor accused of swindling an elderly woman out of property worth a fortune:

Abakporo, who owns a home in the wealthy part of Jamaica Estates in Queens, N.Y., is also a pastor at Deeper Life Bible Church, investigators said.

Instead of turning the checks over to McCarther, who prosecutors say was in declining physical and mental health, they deposited the rental checks into their own bank accounts.

Federal prosecutors say Abakporo and Pierce further tangled McCarther in a “web of lies” and ultimately persuaded her to sell them her property for $3.1 million. But instead of giving her real money, they paid her in phony checks, prosecutors said.

8. A bill in California has been offered banning conversion therapy:

The bill would ban anyone under age 18 from receiving sexual-orientation change efforts (SOCE). It would also require adults seeking SOCE to first sign a statement warning that that SOCE is “unlikely to be effective,” could be harmful, and is not recommended by mental health professional groups.

Efforts to change sexual orientation are “junk science, and it must stop,” said Democratic state Sen. Ted W. Lieu, the bill’s author.


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