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Dr. Minor is often a contributor to the opinion page of Kansas City's major daily newspaper, The Kansas City Star. The following are recent published contributions in their unedited form as well as recent references to Dr Minor's work in The Star.

Overcoming religious addiction in the GOP

By Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist
November 24, 2008

Kathleen Parker is on the right track in her recent column fingering religion as the culprit behind the hobbled state of the Republican Party.

But she didn’t go far enough. Robert N. Minor does in his 2007 book, "When Religion is an Addiction." Minor is a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.

Minor writes that the marriage of right-wing religion and politics “fulfilled the progressive needs of the religious addiction,” and the election of George W. Bush as president added to “the list of the addiction’s pushers.”

Minor calls the addiction to religion a “process addiction.” Other examples are addictions to gambling, sex and work. But an addiction to a faith causes some people to become “religiously righteous.” Minor says the feeling is “similar to the high of cocaine.”

“Like the experience of the high in other addictions, the high of being righteous and on the side of goodness and the Divine numbs one against the worries, insecurities, threats and pain of other life experiences,” Minor writes.

“The high affirms momentarily the rightness, goodness and acceptability of the believer by no less than the Universe itself. And it distances believers from those other unrighteous people whom they would otherwise experience as threatening, as sinners who could challenge the religious and moralistic beliefs that the religious believe save them.”

Religious addicts see themselves as the persecuted victims, and they constantly seek a more intense high in promoting their righteousness cause. GOP politics and the election of Bush have been great outlets for the faithful.

Minor noted that “the feeling of righteousness could be restored and intensified by political victories, as if these victories proved they were okay.”

“Addictions, remember, are progressive and usually fatal to the addict.”

Bush’s popularity sinking and breaking apart like the Titanic also took down the religiously addicted base of the Republican Party and John McCain’s candidacy for the White House. The GOP, it appears, is going through some serious withdrawal symptoms.


"As I See It," June 17, 2006, The Kansas City Star

The federal marriage amendment again defeated in the Senate should be put to rest permanently because it threatens religious freedom protected by the First Amendment.

The long legal history in this country of religious leaders performing marriage ceremonies has enmeshed religion and marriage. The language of marriage as “sacred” invokes religious images. Most marriage ceremonies are performed by clergy.

The arguments behind the amendment are essentially religious even though its proponents try to couch them in terms of inaccurate history, poor science, rejected psychological theories and statistics unsupported by the social sciences.

Based on misguided understandings of the Bible, tradition and God, proponents argue that same-sex marriages don’t suit a traditional model of one man and one woman. The fact that even among the patriarchs and kings in the Bible polygamy was common must be explained away to make the argument. In an ultimate irony, the Mormon Church has been a major funder of amendments claiming that traditional marriage is between one man and only one woman.

But there are many religious people who believe that the Bible, tradition and God require them to confirm same-sex commitments. Their doctrines of marriage demand that they recognize loving commitment wherever it is found. They believe that government has no business telling God and two consenting adults whom they can and cannot love.

Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Christ, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and others have spoken from their faith to testify that affirming same-sex marriage is a response of true belief.

An amendment to forbid the practice of these religions to perform same-sex marriages, therefore, is government establishment of one religious position while forbidding the religious practice of others. It’s religious discrimination.

The marriage amendment is anti-American, then, not only because it would be the first amendment to write discrimination of a group of people into the Constitution.

It’s also against religious freedom because it forbids the religious practice of clergy, denominations and faith communities that believe they are divinely called to affirm the love of two adults who happen to be of the same gender.

Teach design's other side

"As I See It," October 19, 2005, The Kansas City Star

By Robert N. Minor, Special to the Star

As a student, I was never taught that biological evolution was anti-religion. The Genesis creation stories didn't force me to choose between God and evolution.

Pope John Paul II agreed that a Christian could be a theistic evolutionist. Right-wing Protestants such as commentator Cal Thomas then accused the Polish Pope of embracing communism

Not one public school teacher in the whole county spent any class time arguing that evolution proved there was no God. The urban legends were missing.

But some want that changed. Unable to get sectarian Christian creationism taught, their think tanks substituted "intelligent design." They want public school science classes to present "evidence" for the fact that the human body, for example, is so well and intricately made that an "intelligence" must be responsible.

A new discussion will take place. Teaching evolutionary theory as a scientific explanation to understand and predict biological change is no longer enough.

Schools will be required to present "both sides" of the question: Does evidence such as the human body, for example, actually prove an "Intelligence" designed it?

Some assume a "yes." It's a classic religious argument — the universe is so ordered to conclude that there is a designer.

But, the mandate would require teachers to also present classical theoretical arguments against the existence of an Intelligent designer. Is the "design" flawed enough to also conclude that there is no designer or that the designer was sometimes asleep at the switch, mentally flawed by designing lapses, short-sighted, or plain stupid?

On Aug. 1, President Bush answered: "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

Teachers now must present theories explaining "design" flaws: the human spine, the appendix, the susceptibility of humans to viruses such as the common cold, the fragility of certain body joints, the fact that bodies eventually flip into a non-renewable mode.

Some faiths may explain these as the result of sin, a devil or a designer's wish to make us fragile or mortal. But those explanations are dogma, not science.

The atheist explains them as the result of chance or proof that there is no designer. So, fairness will require that the "intelligent design" mandate also means schools must begin teaching the theory that there is no designer.


"Faith and Beliefs" By Vern Barnet
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Charlie Kreiner died last week.

The first time I heard him speak was at a workshop in Oregon in 1989. I remember him saying then that “spirituality is sensing that all things are connected.” I have never met anyone more charismatic.

During a break in that workshop, a rabbi told me that Kreiner was expressing the essence of Judaism. A Christian minister said he was conveying the teachings of Jesus for our time. A Buddhist said, “If the Buddha were alive today, he would be saying what Charlie is saying.”
Maggie Finefrock, then head of Harmony, now of the Learning Project, said, “When we sponsored him as a speaker through Harmony in a World of Difference in 1990, someone skeptically asked me who would show up for a class titled ‘Homophobia, Racism and Oppression.’

“That night there was standing room only. Charlie’s clear perceptions and skilled responses to violence in our society have inspired many of us to examine our own lives and leadership and carry on community work with more courage, compassion and skill.”

In University of Kansas religion professor Robert Minor’s book, Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human, are these words: “I owe my initial inspiration to an international men’s workshop leader, Charlie Kreiner. His fingerprints are all over this book.”

The Rev. David E. Nelson, past convener of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, says, “In my identification of who I am, I often say, ‘I am part of the human liberation movement.’ I first heard that line from Charlie Kreiner. It belongs to him, but it also belongs to any of us whose spiritual practice involves working for the liberation of all human beings.”

Kelly Gerling, a leadership development consultant, recalled Kreiner’s insight that the differences among people are not the reason for prejudice but rather the excuse, and that “to remove the motive to find an excuse to think of others” with hostility and to abuse them “requires a process of healing that he so skillfully demonstrated and lived.”

Thomas F. Edgerton, who attended a Kreiner workshop in Kansas City, says, “I have never met any one man who so wanted each of us to prosper, to heal, to hope and to share the healthy vibrancy of the human condition with others.”

Leadership, Kreiner said, is not a role or holding a position but an activity that frees other people. To lead others, one must be able to lead oneself. To lead oneself, one must heal from the ways one has been hurt. To heal, he asked this question: “What is keeping me from loving every person on the planet?”

Vern Barnet does interfaith work in Kansas City. Reach him at ©2007 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Frightened voters sell out their own best interests

Friday, April 8, 2005

The Rev. Louis Carney called with great insight on why people now vote as Kansans did Tuesday to ban same-sex marriage.

Kansas became the 18th state to add the restriction
to its constitution. Missouri was among 13 states to do so last year. President Bush wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Carney, with Reach Out Ministries Inc., explained why Americans are turning on their gay neighbors and voting against their own best interest by backing Bush and other Republicans. The elections have been framed to make personal, economic concerns seem as insignificant as pennies.

People view their votes instead as a matter of conscience over their pocketbooks. Carney said folks have told him they followed their faith, believing they wouldn't get into heaven if they voted for gay marriage or abortion rights.

Republicans are capitalizing on that godly alignment by planning national and state cuts in programs for the poor and people with mental illness and disabilities.

People were told this would happen. Some books add to the minister's analysis on why working class folks would use their votes to hurt themselves.

Thomas Frank writes in his book, What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, that conservatives clearly have defeated the moderates, the liberals and the progressives in the values war. Frank said it's part of the “Great Backlash,” “summoning public outrage over everything from busing to unChristian art.”

“Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regime of low wages and lax regulations,” Frank said. “Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country's return to a 19th-century pattern of wealth distribution.

“Thus the primary contradiction of the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working-class people.”

Wedge issues such as gay marriage and abortion play pivotal roles. Fear is a key driver bringing God and heaven into the picture.

“Heterosexuality and the straight role are enforced by fear and terror at every turn,” said Robert N. Minor in his book, Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People And Why It's So Hard to Be Human.

“Liberation movements disturb the system,” he writes. “So they are accused of ‘stirring up things' and ‘creating trouble.' A common reaction to women's suffrage, civil rights, migrant workers' rights, women's equality and gay liberation movements was to blame ‘those people' for bringing up the issue and ‘causing trouble and division.'”

That was obvious in the “Protect Marriage” signs that popped up in Kansas before Tuesday's vote
Such skillful political acts create an enemy and one-issue voters. They then elect candidates who pushed the hot buttons but later sell out the economic interests of those who lifted them into office.

Mary Frances Berry touches on that in her book, The Pig Farmer's Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice: Episodes of Racism and Sexism in the Courts from 1865 to the Present. “What we can see, overarching all else, is the law preserves class privilege, which usually means white-male class privilege,” Berry wrote.

Faith joins race as a 21st-century wedge issue. Thandeka writes in Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America, “As we have seen, the constructed racial identity of the poor white is not the product of an act of love and respect by a ruling white elite, but rather is the result of upper-class race ploys for the purpose of social control.”

She quotes social theorists Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary D. Edsall, whose book, Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics, notes a “race obsession in white American politics that makes white working-class and middle-class Americans vote as if their economic interests are identical to those of the rich.

“This voting pattern, the Edsalls suggest, is ‘all the more remarkable' because these voters' political allegiance to Republican party economic strategies benefits not them but rather the voters in the top half of the income distribution,” Thandeka writes.

Gay marriage is just the latest diversionary wedge getting voters to sell out themselves as well as everyone's future.

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Star's Editorial Board. To reach him, call (816) 234-4723 or send e-mail to
©2005 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Taunts can't mask lack of leadership


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The girlie man label is a propaganda tool pushing people to accept Republican domination.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's “girlie man” label recently landed on me.

I was not surprised. California's Republican governor used the slur on lawmakers in his state in July because of budget delays, and he never apologized for the remark.

Schwarzenegger spat the insult again at the Republican National Convention in New York saying, “To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say, ‘Don't be economic girlie men.' ”

Callers and letter writers put the label on me after columns I wrote this month criticizing President Bush for limiting stem-cell research and for getting America to turn corners leading to economic, political and international trouble.

The girlie man labels made me laugh out loud. The juvenile taunts ranked down there with some people calling me a “communist” for not supporting Bush and his senseless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But seriously, the girlie man insults show how national media buzz phrases get picked up and regurgitated by everyday people as if they were original thoughts. That same concept surfaced in the film, “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.”

Former Fox News workers and media analysts described the network and Murdoch as having a strong Republican allegiance. Fox also forces its talking points onto the airways and into people's minds, said U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

“Clearly on the Republican side what we do know is that for years they have coordinated what they call their message of the day,” Sanders said in the film. “So you'll hear on the floor of the House, you'll hear on Rush Limbaugh, you'll hear on Fox and Rupert Murdoch's network the issue of the day, which they will pound away at, which then creates the echo chamber, which resonates throughout America.”

An example used in “Outfoxed” was the “flip-flop” label put on Democratic presidential challenger, Sen. John Kerry. The indecisive tag often used as a stereotype for women is a GOP code designed to make Kerry look effeminate.

Combined with the gay marriage wedge issue, the masculinity question is a Republican weapon of mass destruction against Kerry and Democrats. Meanwhile, GOP spin doctors keep injecting Bush's image with megadoses of testosterone and steroids, showing him on battleships, in flight gear and with U.S. troops.

That “who's man-enough” bravado no doubt will strut cocksure on stage with both candidates during the first presidential debate Thursday at the University of Miami.

Neither Bush nor Kerry can afford to look like a flip-flopper or a girlie man.

Robert N. Minor in his book, Scared Straight, explains why. “In our national culture, ‘masculine' traits define our ideal of leadership,” Minor wrote.

So the GOP code feminizes Kerry as an inept leader and labels his followers as girlie.

“‘Masculinity' is in charge of our public life,” Minor wrote. “Our institutions, from the military, to government, to corporate board-rooms, are identified with conditioned masculinity.”

Boys and men who are chastised for “not being man enough” must respond to disprove the accuser. “To recover from the shame of the initial threat to his manhood, he feels it is necessary to display an even more ‘manly' reaction than the one that threatened him,” Minor wrote.

But that also shows how the girlie man label is a propaganda tool pushing people to accept Republican domination.

Media corporations like Fox and conservative talk shows have been more effective than Pravda in skillfully manipulating the public to play along. That also was a strong point made in “Outfoxed.”

Bob McChesney, author of The Problem of the Media, said: “The first rule of being a great propaganda system and why our system is vastly superior to anything in the old Soviet Union is to not let people think they are being subjected to propaganda. If people don't think that, they aren't looking for that, they're much easier to propagandize.
“And that's the genius of our media system. It's a system of ideology, of control compared to an authoritarian system.”

No doubt the masculinity issue and who's man enough to lead the military and run the country will continue through the November election. But the public shouldn't be fooled.

People need to realize that codes and name-calling are the last resort for those who've failed the true test of leadership.

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Star's Editorial Board. To reach him, call (816) 234-4723 or send e-mail to © 2004 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Summon courage on gay-marriage vote

Friday, June 11, 2004

Missourians must holster their emotions before deciding whether to restrict peoples' rights. …Missourians must act on facts. More informed voters make better judgments.

High emotions electrify the same-sex marriage issue.

The voltage likely will increase in the buildup to the Aug. 3 primary election when Missouri voters will decide the fate of a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The Missouri General Assembly in May voted to put it on the ballot.

It would restrict marriage, according to the state constitution, to being between one man and one woman. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court set the election date for August instead of November. The judges were right to side with Gov. Bob Holden instead of Secretary of State Matt Blunt. The constitutional issue was destined to spark a large turnout, influencing other outcomes in the general election.

But Missourians must holster their emotions before deciding whether to restrict peoples' rights. They also must ignore President Bush's statement seeking a gay marriage ban in the U.S. Constitution.

Missourians must act on facts. More informed voters make better judgments. History helps.

Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and professor of law and history at the University of Pennsylvania, offers some perspective in her book, The Pig Farmer's Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice: Episodes of Racism and Sexism in the Courts from 1865 to the Present.

She wrote: “Before the mid-19th century, when their story was closeted — those who engaged in same-sex sex neither sought public acceptability nor threatened the values of marriage and family — their behavior evoked no sustained public attention and few attendant demands for legal intervention. Homosexual conduct was practically invisible in the courts before the 1880s.”

But the laws and court decisions changed. “In 1953, the Eisenhower administration barred gays and lesbians from all federal jobs,” Berry wrote. Police actions against gays and lesbians were “reminiscent of the Red scare” with intelligence investigations against unmarried men and women.

Change started to occur in 1974 when the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality “does not constitute a psychiatric disorder” and “implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or general social or vocational capabilities.” That resulted in the U.S. Civil Service Commission ending its ban on hiring gays and lesbians.

“Coming out became increasingly popular, but a vocal, well-organized resistance continued,” Berry wrote. Gays and lesbians publicly insisted “that their relationships receive endorsement.”

“In doing so, they disputed the assumption that heterosexual marriage and family were the only acceptable lifestyles,” Berry said. “Their position went well beyond hidden homosexuality, which most people tolerated or ignored.”

To understand that, Missouri voters should visit the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Westport as I have. They should've gone to the 26th annual Kansas City Gay Pride Celebration over the weekend at Liberty Memorial as I did with my family. At the very least they should go to mainstream services at places like Trinity United Methodist Church, which embraces gays and lesbians.

But to do all that and vote rationally, Missourians also will have to overcome their fears of gays and lesbians. Robert N. Minor wrote about that in his book, Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to be Human.

“Like it or not, these roles of male, female, straight and gay were installed in us through cultural conditioning,” said Minor, a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas. Heterosexual or straight roles are rewarded and nonheterosexual roles are punished.

“The institutions of our society profit from these coping mechanisms,” Minor said. The system is reinforced in homes, schools, churches, work and in the media. “We ridicule and dismiss those who suggest any alternatives.”

The heterosexual role is also maintained through violence, threats, humiliation, isolation and rejection. “Conditioned heterosexuals, at a fundamental level, fear each other,” Minor wrote.

Ending the fear and rejecting the gay marriage ban will require courage from everyone.

Minor wrote that “love should be honored wherever it is found and however ineloquently it might be expressed in order to counter the fear-based nature of society and its conditioning. The real issue should be love, not fear.”

Voters must take that to the polls on Aug. 3 and reject the backward ban on gay marriage.

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Star's Editorial Board. To reach him, call (816) 234-4723 or send e-mail to
© 2004 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Sodomy Ban Should Have Ended Sooner

"As I See It," July 14, 2003

By Robert N. Minor, Special to the Star

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision Thursday striking down Texas’s law banning same-sex sodomy was over-due.

Though the justices declared the law unconstitutional on the grounds of the right to protect all consenting adults from law enforcement intrusion in their bedrooms, the objections to the court taking this action seem archaic and uninformed.

The past half-century of study has shown that arguments used to maintain discrimination against gay people are little more than leftovers from days of ignorance and prejudice. Yet they are often couched in religious, traditional or scientific terms.

The Court couldn’t accept arguments from psychology. All mainstream professional psychological organizations removed homosexuality from their list of disorders over a quarter of a century ago. Those who continue to promote “conversion” or “reparative therapy” face accusations of unprofessional conduct, lack of evidence of their effectiveness, and refusal to understand the psychology of sexual orientation. The American Psychological Association admitted: “Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness because mental health professionals and society had biased information.”

Biblical arguments against homosexuality are losing their appeal to religious people. Biblical scholars have shown that anti-gay interpretations of Biblical passages are based more on current prejudices than on historical readings of the texts. Those who continue to use the Bible refuse to admit that their understanding of the Bible is only one possibility.

Arguments that “Judeo-Christian” religious history is thoroughly against homosexuality conveniently ignore the diversity of Jewish and Christian teachings and practice since the first century. One can find anything one wants in the history of Christianity: crusades, inquisitions, the burning of witches, arguments for slavery, or rejection of women’s leadership. The US’s largest Protestant denomination was founded in 1845 on a “states’ rights” platform to maintain slavery.

"Tradition" itself no longer holds the value it did as people note that what we call traditional is only a discriminating picking from human history what one wants and ignoring what one doesn’t. If anything is traditional it’s prejudice, bigotry, and cockroaches. Justice Kennedy was informed by solid scholarship: “there is no longlasting history in this country of laws directed at homosexual conduct as a distinct matter.”

That’s why Justice Scalia’s complaints against the majority opinion seem so pitiful. They arise right out of backward rhetoric that continues to promote prejudices. The Court has “signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda…taken sides in the culture war’ he opined. And in the tried and true fashion of someone who wants to maintain discrimination, he even had to say “I have nothing against homosexuals….But….”