Monday, August 06, 2007


I found this post written by my blogmaster Keith Boykin.
Sadly informative but enlightening, I believe it to be one of those "must share" blog entries.

Take the time for a "reality check" and focus on GOD and MAN, the final paragraphs.

Why We Separate Church and State
By Keith Boykin
Thursday, August 2 2007

What you are about to read is heresy. Or treason, depending on your perspective. If I wrote this article in Tehran, I could be in jail by the end of the day, charged with "activities against national security" and "publicity in favor of the regime’s opponents." If the police found out I was gay, I could be sentenced to death and executed in a public hanging. Iranians and visitors to Iran can also be hanged for other crimes, including rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, drug trafficking, pederasty, adultery, prostitution, treason and espionage. In fact, just yesterday, the government of Iran hanged 9 people in what it called a crackdown on "thugs.

Every time I hear the Christian fundamentalists in America talk about putting (their) God back into public life, getting tough on crime, and executing criminals, I am reminded of the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The dangers of intermingling church and state are still vividly on display in that country, and I don't want it to happen here.

Injustice In Iran

Not long ago, Sina Paymard, an 18-year-old Iranian musician, was set to be executed for a murder that took place during a fight. Standing on the gallows, the young man's last request was to play a Middle Eastern flute called a ney for the last time. After his performance, the family of the victim was so moved by his music that they granted Paymard a last minute reprieve. Families of victims in Iran have to power to stop an execution and demand monetary compensation instead. In this case, the family asked for 150 million toumans (over $US 160,000) as compensation, and Paymard’s family then struggled to raise the funds.

By the end of the deadline, Sina Paymard’s father reportedly said that he had sold everything in order to raise US $70,000, but the victim's family rejected the settlement as insufficient. After an international fundraising campaign from human rights groups, the family was able to raise the remainder of the money and the execution was halted. That's the kind of "justice" that takes place in Iran.

Amnesty International reports that Iran executed 177 people in 2006 and 143 people so far this year. Armed with cameras and camcorders, men, women and children jostle for position behind security barriers, determined to get the best view of the main event.

A few years ago, Americans objected to the Taliban, the authoritarian religious government in Afghanistan. In that country, women were not allowed to show any part of their bodies in public, men were required to sport short hair cuts, and opposition to the religious government could land you in prison or in the death chamber. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attack, the Taliban government fell, but religious fundamentalism remains a threat to freedom in the world.

These are just some of the recent news reports from Iran.

A 17-year-old girl was sentenced to death by hanging for defending herself against three rapists.

Two teenagers were executed, reportedly for the crime of homosexuality.

Two Kurdish journalists were sentenced to death in Iran for possession of Kurdish flags, videos and photographs of a family trip to Iraqi Kurdistan.

The government of Iran hanged 12 men convicted of various offences including rape and kidnapping after showing their last minutes of life on television.

A woman and two others were hanged in Iran as spectators shout "God is great."

God and Man

There is a small but influential segment of society in our culture and in others that wants to impose religious order on public life. This is a dangerous step backward.

I believe in God, but I don't believe in using God or religion as a device to make me feel better than you. My vision of God may not be the same as yours. I don't care. I just don't want you to impose your vision on me and I won't impose mine on you. At least not in public policy.

Of course, my political beliefs are often informed by my faith. My faith is what teaches me that capital punishment is wrong. I took it seriously when the Ten Commandments said "Thou shalt not kill." And I took it seriously when Jesus said to turn the other cheek. I know that those principles are very hard to live up to, and that is part of the reason I am troubled by the Christians who cite their faith as a justification for wars, weapons and murder.

I don't want religion dictating marching orders to our public officials. I don't care what religion it is, I don't want it in my government. I don't want the Ten Commandments hanging in the county court house. I don't want public school teachers instructing my children how and when to pray. And I don't want those teachers teaching religious theories to substitute for science.

I have seen the damage caused by religious fundamentalism in the Islamic world, and I do not want the Taliban here in America. Even if they come bearing a cross.


Keith Boykin is one of the most dynamic new voices in American media, politics and literature. He is a host of the BET television show "My Two Cents," a New York Times best-selling author of three books, and a regular commentator on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now."

Educated at Dartmouth and Harvard, Keith attended law school with U.S. Senator Barack Obama, and in his work and travel across the globe, he has met with everyone from Bill Clinton to Nelson Mandela.

A former White House aide to President Clinton, Keith was once the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Clinton White House. He also helped to organize and participated in the nation's first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and leaders of the gay community.

Each of Keith's three books has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, including his most recent book, Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America. Keith won the Lambda Literary Award for his second book, Respecting The Soul, while his first book, One More River to Cross, is taught in colleges and universities throughout the country.

A founder and the first board president of the National Black Justice Coalition, Keith has been actively involved in progressive causes since he worked on his first congressional campaign while still a student in high school. A veteran of six political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns, Keith was named one of the top instructors when he taught political science at American University in Washington. He has traveled extensively from Africa to Europe to North America and South America, and in 1997, President Clinton appointed him to the U.S. presidential trade delegation to Zimbabwe, along with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King and Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

Keith has spoken to audiences, large and small, all across the world. He delivered a landmark speech to 200,000 people at the Millennium March on Washington and he gave a stirring speech about the AIDS epidemic in front of 40,000 people in Chicago's Soldier Field for the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Gay Games.

In 2004, Keith launched his media career as a star on the Showtime television series "American Candidate." Since then, you may have seen him on "The Montel Williams Show," "Anderson Cooper 360," "The O'Reilly Factor," "Tony Brown's Journal" or "The Dennis Miller Show." Or you may have heard him on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," National Public Radio or on Sirius Satellite Radio, where he served as a frequent guest host of the "Michelangelo Signorile Show." Keith has appeared on

From: Keith Boykin


BostonPobble said...

I am terrified that this is where we are going. Only I doubt we will ever get *here*. Instead, we will get somewhere far more subtle and insipid that allows ordinary people to rationalize it ~ and the result will be just as bad.

D-Man said...

The image of the two gay men that were hanged for being gay was seared into my memory. I stared at it, unable to look away, for a long time. It's so easy for many of us to take for granted that we can be out and safe.