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Commentary Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 00:56:36

Hardaway scores in Russia and Nigeria; game almost over at home
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 22, 2007, 00:52

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Former NBA star Tim Hardaway made headlines on Valentine�s Day -- in the middle of Black History month -- when he proudly announced, �I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don�t like gay people and I don�t like to be around gay people. . . . I�m homophobic. I don�t like it. It shouldn�t be in the world or in the United States� [italics added].

�It.� Human beings reduced to an �it.� Karl Terry pointed out the obvious:

NBA basketball star Tim Hardaway�s anti-gay comments prior to the All-Star game point up bigotry is alive and well in our country and shows up in all colors, backgrounds and economic situations.

Hardaway is a black man in a country where black males have historically been the target of more bigotry than probably any other group. You would think with a successful career and a national stage the last thing Hardaway would want to spew from his mouth would be hatred for any [minority] group.

But Hardaway scored with some Russian and Nigerian lawmakers.

On February 12, Deputy Nikolay Kuryanovich introduced legislation in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia�s parliament, that would revivify an old Soviet law and recriminalize homosexuality. Kuryanovich�s bill would provide a five-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of homosexuality and make it a crime for gays to congregate. The proposed legislation �has widespread support from former Communists and parties allied to the Russian Orthodox Church.� That Communist-Church alliance is as odd as a black man saying he hates another denigrated minority.

But no doubt Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, is pleased with the Communist-Church alliance. Prison sentences echo Sheldon�s proposed �cities of refuge� (a.k.a. concentration camps) for gays and HIV+ adults and children. But just as Rev. Lou knew about and covered up Rev.Ted Haggard�s homosexuality (and its expression) while continuing to rant and rave against gay people, the Russian military also has its own version of hate-but-use gays:

February 13, 2007, 2:46 PM

Russian Soldiers Sold For Sex?

By Tom Zeller Jr.

Russian authorities are investigating claims this week that young military conscripts have routinely been forced into prostitution, according to several reports. It is the latest in a string of scandals that have plagued the Russian military, this one brought to light by the Soliders� Mothers group, a human rights organization dedicated to exposing abuses in the military.

According to The Associated Press, a member of the group in St. Petersburg, Lyubov Yezheleva, learned about allegations of sexual abuse from a 20-year old conscript:

�He said he was forced into male prostitution by fellow soldiers who beat him and demanded that he earn money for them,� Yezheleva said. She said the conscript was serving with the interior troops unit No. 3727, in the center of St. Petersburg near the renowned Hermitage art museum.

Hardaway also scored with some lawmakers in Nigeria. They�re playing the same lethal game:

Nigeria Moves Forward On Bill To Outlaw Virtually All Forms Of Gay Expression

by The Associated Press

Posted: February 14, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Abuja) The National Assembly held public hearings Wednesday on a bill to ban gay marriage and criminalize virtually all forms of gay expression in Nigeria.

The bill lays down penalties of up to five years for anyone watching or reading material deemed to be pro-gay either in public or in their own homes, and even would forbids meetings between two gay people.

In part, the proposed bill reads:

�Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of five years imprisonment.�

Backers of the legislation said gay acts, which are already illegal in Nigeria, run counter to cultural and religious mores in the deeply traditional West African country.

Cultural? Homosexuality is as common in the history of indigenous African cultures as anywhere else in the world. One need only view the prehistoric rock paintings left by the San people in modern day Zimbabwe to be convinced of that.

And who is one of the strongest, most vocal backers of the Nigerian legislation? Archbishop Peter Akinola, the leader of Nigeria�s Anglican Church. Perverted religion rears its ugly head yet again to foster hate and intolerance and promote persecution.

Let�s be honest. Gays make an easy target for people in need of a scapegoat or someone to hate, and �religion� provides them the perfect deceptive cover. The leaders of America�s Christian Right know that well and have used it to make names for themselves. But more and more people are seeing what they�re really selling and doing. In his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America Chris Hedges exposed them and their game:

These false prophets -- the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons -- clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in the process they elevate themselves above us. . . . But once we . . . accept their authority, we become enslaved and they become our idols. And idols, as the Bible never ceases to tell us, destroy us.

Self-appointed spokesmen for God such as Don Wildmon, James Dobson and Louis P. Sheldon are losing their grip on Christians who don�t follow false prophets that set themselves up as demigods. Every time Pat Robertson says another stupid thing, every time Jerry Falwell argues for the literal truth of the Bible �in areas such as geography, science, history,� every time Lou Sheldon vents his hatred of gays, every time Don Wildmon launches another boycott against a company that treats all its employees equally and with dignity and respect, Americans -- especially young Americans -- see ever more clearly the insidious fraud and farce.

A recent Gallup Poll reported in USA Today documented the trend. Under the heading �Percentage who consider homosexuality acceptable� two results were listed, first by year and then by age group. In 1982, the percentage of those who considered homosexuality acceptable was 34 percent. The percentage had grown to 54 percent by 2006, with the largest increase occurring between 1997 (42 percent) to 2002 (51 percent). Is it coincidental that this jump coincided with the Christian Right�s cranking up its anti-gay rhetoric?

The age group results further demonstrated the move away from faith-based bigotry and intolerance. In the 30-39 year-old group, 57 percent considered homosexuality acceptable. But in the 18-29 year-old group, 62 percent considered homosexuality acceptable. The youth are indeed the future.

Similar evidence that younger Americans are rejecting bigotry based on religious fundamentalism came from Matt Friedeman in his article for Wildmon�s American Family Association�s Agape Press: �A Youth Exodus From Church -- What Are We Doing Wrong? Youth are leaving -- do we need to change something?�

AgapePress has reported that Dr. Frank Page, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is disturbed that many students are leaving the church once they graduate. Indeed, the Convention�s Council on Family Life reports that some 88 percent of children from evangelical homes are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school.

Do fundamentalists and evangelicals need to change something? You bet they do. Beginning with fundamentals.

Stop claiming to know God�s will and how everyone should be and live. Recognize the Bible for what it is: a highly edited compilation of stories and myths, not absolute literal Truth. Recognize that humanism and the idea of civil equality for all people are inherent parts of Christian philosophy, not its enemies.

And then, dump the false prophets and idols who preach nothing but hate and make a mockery of �Christianity� and religion in general.

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