Sunday Sinner Guest Post by Al Stefanelli — Equality: You Keep Using That Word…
Al Stefanelli is an author, writer, journalist and civil rights activist. He serves on the Board of Directors for The Clergy Project, and is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc. He is the author of “Free Thoughts – A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist” and “A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World – The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth.”
Al is a journalist for a Google news service, and hosts his own blog on the WordPress network called “A Voice Of Reason.” He began writing in 1985 with the New York Times, and in 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His work won a North Carolina Journalism Award in 1998, and his writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print.
Al currently co-hosts “The God Discussion Show” and “Reap Sow Radio,” both of which are live Internet radio broadcasts. He has made numerous appearances on radio and television programs, and contributes articles to several venues. He produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast for three years in the 1990s. In 2004, he founded the United Atheist Front, Inc., which functioned as a civil rights organization and is one of the largest, privately run atheist communities on Facebook, with nearly 10,000 members.
Al is also a former Ordained Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties.
As a Parkinson’s patient, Al asks that you support the National Parkinson’s Foundation, as well as stem cell research for the cure of a variety of autoimmune diseases. He and his wife live in the Atlanta Metro area.
Equality: You Keep Using That Word…
As an atheist, I take particular notice of when religion oversteps its bounds with respect to government. As an activist, I operate primarily in the arena of constitutional law, attempting to stem the growth of the ever-present barrage of legislation that is foisted upon the citizenry that violates the separation clause.
Thus, I do not generally get involved in specific efforts from a grass roots perspective. From my perspective, my battles are for equal rights for human beings. Period. It’s not that I can’t be bothered with or don’t care about the plight of disenfranchised groups. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a matter of using my time as efficiently as possible, and to concentrate my efforts on the things that I am most able.
Sometimes, however, the efforts of some make it more difficult for those of us who are fighting for equal rights. Specifically, groups who wish to gain their rights by usurping the rights of others, or groups who wish to gain an advantage by having greater rights than others. This is not equality, and as much as someone would like to think so, it is not helping the situation.
No one demographic deserves to have more rights than another, no matter how poorly they have been treated in the past, or how they are being treated in the present. This is why I have consistently been against Affirmative Action. Some people have misconstrued this, and have called me a racist. I find this amusing, even when I am wearing my Panama hat.
In fact, because I do not reason that any human being should have more rights than another, I have been also called a misogynist, a homophobe and a few other choice names. I find this disturbing, because it would appear to these individuals that the desire for equality among humanity at large is something they do not want.
I understand the need for recognizing some of the more disenfranchised groups in the context of activism. The groups that advocate for the LGBT community are doing wonderful work to bring to the attention of the masses that Lesbians, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender people are no less than anyone else, and deserve to be treated with the very same privileges that the Constitution provides. The same goes for groups that advocate for black people, Latinos, women, etc.
However, the efforts to bring these groups to equality not just on paper, but in practice in the real world, should not be done by disenfranchising the demographic that has been in the majority. If you listen to some of these people, you would think that every person in the United States who is white is a racist, and every person who is male is a misogynist, and every person who is straight is a homophobe. The fact is, nobody deserves preferential treatment based on race, religion, gender, etc.
Bigotry is bigotry, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a white person who discriminates against a black person, a male who discriminates against a female, a heterosexual person who discriminates against a homosexual, a black person who discriminates against a white person, a feminist who discriminates against men, or whites, blacks, Latinos, Eskimos, Asians, etc., who discriminate against each other because, for some reason – valid or invalid – they perceive that everyone else is somehow beneath them. These people are all part of the problem.
It’s not enough with some of the more radical groups that they are brought up to speed, so to speak, with the rights that other groups have enjoyed without molestation for generations. They want to take it a step further and be granted special privileges. Some black activist groups want to reverse slavery. Some LGBT groups want churches to be forced to perform same sex marriages and ordain gay ministers. Some feminist groups want to emasculate all men. This is not equality. It’s revenge. But the revenge is not being sought out on those who have wronged them, but on every single member of the demographic.
With these groups, the word ‘Equality’ has taken on an Orwellian definition, that all are equal, but some are more equal than others. For me, I’ll stick with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
You can’t have it both ways. You are either for equality for everyone, or you want more for yourselves. The former is a virtuous goal. The latter is something else, entirely.