I heard recently from our amazing 2011 summer intern Soraya (she did a great job with establishing this blog's GLBTQ Biography and Memoir Bookshelf)
Soraya's off at college now, and told me about The Facebook Status Debate...
Here's what happened, in her words:
I don’t usually engage in political or religious arguments on Facebook. I prefer looking at pictures of puppies or talking to my friends about new music we’ve discovered. A few days ago, however, I was saddened to have seen a status update from a younger friend of mine in San Diego who is openly gay. His status read, “I'm not going to apologize for this. This is just a warning: If you feel the need to chastise me for my beliefs, don't do it on the Internet. Do it in person. Where you're actually responsible for the repercussions. Calling my beliefs false is not very ‘Christian’ of you. I put up with your b******t, the least you can do is ignore me if you don't like me. Thank you very much.” I asked him what exactly had transpired, and he told me that it centered on his church’s gay pride day. He held up a sign that asked, “what if Jesus was gay?” and he received a lot of flack for it. But the judgment of his sign soon led to judgment of his sexual orientation and how his sexuality affected his religion."The less bystanders we have in this world, the better."
This was an issue for which I could no longer stand idly by. I had to get involved, and I had to do it in the nicest, most honest way possible. My first comment questioned why this whole ordeal was going on. Christianity, I continued, and all religions were based around a group of people coming together, with love and acceptance, to find hope in a bleak situation. I always thought the point of a lot of religions were to support one another and the people within it. Even though I am an atheist, I’ve never had a problem with other peoples’ religions. The problems only arise when people try to use religion to ostracize others.
The “Facebook Status Debate” went on for about an hour. Quite a lot transpired in that hour, and I saw a lot of maddening ignorance. However, I’m extremely proud of myself. I never once offended the other side’s religious beliefs. I only forced them to question their own. And honestly, this would not have gone so well if I did not have a great education and a love for knowledge. I’ve read a lot of the Bible and know a lot about the parts I haven’t read, so I knew what to expect from the opposition. I also used a lot of science that I learned in my physics, chemistry, and biology classes to point out why certain inferences were incorrect. And thanks to the debate classes I took long ago in middle school, I made connections between all the things the opposition said to point out how contradictory their own statements were.
By the end of the night, I received many texts from friends and Facebook messages from people I didn’t know, all of whom thanked me and congratulated me for sticking to my beliefs and standing up for a friend, without worrying about how I would be judged by others. I’ll also point out that I was pretty excited to see that most of my comments had received on average, 25 likes. That’s a lot of support. I just felt really good after the whole thing. I was really happy to have defended such a good friend of mine and to have silenced the harsh words of others, even if the silence is only temporary. At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I really hope that many others continue to do the same. The effect may seem small, but if more people do it, it will feel bigger and bigger. It is truly an amazing feeling to know that you have made people feel loved while at the same time getting their attackers to question themselves. It is definitely good to pick and choose one’s battles, but the less bystanders we have in this world, the better.
Thanks Soraya! I'm proud of you!