Column: Beliefs, Condemnation & Relationships

October 13, 2015

[Opinion column written by Quinton Berkley Butterfield]

Public meetings were held recently which followed a petition being given to the Bermuda Government in support of same-sex marriage. After the petition was presented, there was some media coverage, which included an interview with a pastor.

In her interview she said that while the advocates were concerned with being “on the right side of history”, she only concerned with being “on the right side of eternity.”

She also went on to say that government could not change “divine marriage” and that she has been married for 30 years and gays will “never have that.” I would like to interject here that there are some same-sex couples that have been together longer than her 30 “divine” years.

In conversation with a friend, my friend said that this pastor lacks in expressing compassion for the number of couples that have loving, long-standing relationships that, if left up to people like the pastor, will never be recognized and celebrated in the same way this pastor’s relationship is.

It doesn’t make hers better – it just highlights how quickly some humans can dismiss the lives and feelings of others. My friend also said that same-sex marriage advocates want equality through marriage enabling all to receive the full rights that everyone claiming to be heterosexual freely enjoys in our society.

Quinton Berkley Butterfield quote Oct 2015

So what am I getting at here? My question is, what happened to the concept of a personal relationship with God? Dictionary.com defines personal as “of relating to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private”, or “intended for use by one person.”

So why is it that some religious people say that they have a personal relationship with their God, but constantly try to inject their beliefs into other people’s lives, specifically, using the law?

And when I say beliefs, I am not talking about a high level view of a general philosophy; I mean the nitty-gritty, “Thou shalt or thou shalt not” types of beliefs. Some are quick to point out to others that they are sinners, worthy of death and need to repent [they even say this to other Christians]. I have even heard someone say how a person who had recently died deserved it because they were not living a “righteous, Christian life.”

We in Bermuda live in a diverse society. There are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheist, and the list goes on. Yes, I will admit that in the 2010 census 70% of respondents stated that they were affiliated with some type of Christian denomination [or non-denomination].

However, nine percent responded that their religion was “other” and 19% were not affiliated with religion at all. On top of that, “other” grew by 56% between 2000 and 2010, while “not affiliated” or “nones” grew by 34% during the same time period.

The respondents that identified with a Christian denomination decreased by 12% from 2000 to 2010. It is obvious that the religious landscape in Bermuda is changing. With more “others” and “nones”, you would hope that the religious would be more cognizant of this fact, but there continues to be the push to interject beliefs into other person’s lives by some, including through the law of the land.

Do not get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but this constant barrage of judgments, condemnation and/or evangelism is not fair to those who live their lives another way. Trying to keep certain laws in place because they are seen as “God’s law” is infringing on the rights of people that do not believe the same.

For example, do you remember the prohibition of alcohol sales on Sunday? As times have changed, this law became outdated. It was once put in place to enforce some religious belief that not everyone followed or agreed to.

Just because some think it is “sinful” to drink on Sunday, doesn’t mean that everyone should adhere to that belief. If you don’t think you should drink on Sunday, well, don’t drink.

In order to live up to the ideals of the cosmopolitan society we are striving to build and maintain here in Bermuda, there has to be a level of understanding and acceptance that everyone is different, and everyone has a different set of beliefs.

There also needs to be an understanding that just because we believe our principles are the “right” ones for us, that does not mean that everyone else should follow them. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind, to be able to entertain a thought, without accepting it.”

I believe that everyone has the right to pursue a philosophy in life that makes them happy and adds value to their lives, as long as it does not infringe on other people’s lives in a negative way. For some it’s religion, for some it’s education or personal development; there are many ways for people to enrich their experience and live their lives to their fullest potential.

If you have a personal relationship with a God and have a set of personal beliefs, why not keep it just that, personal. If there are rules that you have personally agreed with your deity to live by, then you live by them.

Do not expect everyone to follow your rules; they are yours and yours alone.

- Quinton Berkley Butterfield

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Comments (46)

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  1. feel the love says:

    very well stated

  2. Yamon says:

    Good piece

  3. Cow Polly says:

    Well said sir.

  4. Blankman says:

    Very well written. Unfortunately you’re preaching to the converted because the people that really need to understand the message contained here won’t read it.

  5. Some Beach says:

    I expect to pass this way but once, any good thing therefor I can do,or any kindness tha I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now,let me not defer or neeglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
    Also…
    Kind words can be short and easy to speak,but their echoes are truly endless;- Mother Theresa.

  6. chip says:

    poor children of the world will be lost and no future wow really

  7. Vulcan Trash Cleaner says:

    religious zealots are responsible for more Murders and Wars than evil dictators in have been

  8. David says:

    I cannot help but think: What if all these so-called Christians (I say “so-called” because they seem to enjoy select-quoting the Old Testament more than they do Jesus Christ) put their efforts into promoting marriage in Bermuda vs preventing people from getting married.

    It’s just my observation that so much injustice and inequality on this island is a result of single parents with no partner to help raise/discipline/provide for/set an example of what it takes to hold down a committed relationship. And so, since this is what the children witness, the cycle continues. If anything, our social ills appear to be exacerbated, not from an abundance of all sorts of people getting married, but by too few positive examples being set.

  9. judas says:

    Well said. Also another food for thought : its not as traditional marriages are perfect as well isn’t divorce rates at an all time high?

  10. hmmm says:

    The pastor who boasts of a 30 year marriage appears drunk on herself and thinks the churchgoers are praising her words, not God. Her followers need to remove her from the church role and rescue her from narcissism.

  11. Mike Hind says:

    Well put. Very well put.

    There will be no response from the literalist religious folks. That’s how well put it is!

  12. Bermy Realist says:

    You made some really good points, but I have to disagree with same sex marriage and homosexuality because the basis of this union completely destroys humanity and we would all cease to exist if we were all that way, and also its a very confusing concept for impressionable children to understand. I will not argue but I have to disagree. I appreciate this article though and thanks for your valid points. Also I am not a Christian, but I believe we all have to evolve ourselves to a God’s Conscientiousness to truly appreciate humanity.

    • Mike Hind says:

      That’s why no one is forcing everyone to be “that way”. That point of your post is invalid.
      As for kids, it’s not hard for them to understand. Most of the time, in my experience, they go “ok. Ok.” When told that sometimes boys love boys and girls love girls. It’s not a difficult concept. What you might be talking about is grow ups having a hard time explaining it, because of all the preconceived notions and misinformation they’ve been fed.
      Here’s a helpful tip:

      Just tell kids “Sometimes people fall in love with each other and it doesn’t matter to them what gender the other person is”

      It’s that simple.

      As for your belief in God: as the article says… That’s your personal choice and no one is trying to stop you from having that. Most folks are just saying “Believe whatever you want, but don’t demand that anyone else abide by the rules of that belief”
      That’s it.

  13. Truth (Original) says:

    Here is the crux of the conflict, as far as I can tell.

    - Some are for and some are against same sex marriage. Fine.
    - This distinction is not only drawn along religious and non-religious lines.
    - Our society is made up of all kinds of people.
    - As such, anything that impacts/changes/alters the society in which we all live, entitles the occupants of that society the right to voice their opinion. for or against said change.
    - Any effort to silence individuals through shaming, name calling or any other such method of intimidation is just wrong ..and this true going either way.
    - We all need to accept that this issue is not just a personal issue. It impacts everyone as we all share and live in the same changing society.
    - Christians are entitled to voice their opinions on the subject, just as those who do not live a life according to those principles are entitled to voice their opinions.

    - Debate it in a robust and healthy way and as in any democracy, the majority decides.
    - If your position is not successful, you have more work to do.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Exactly right. Christians are allowed to voice that opinion. And others are allowed to voice theirs and point out hypocrisy and, most importantly, say “You can believe that all you want. It’s just not fair to demand that anyone else should follow the rules of your belief”

      Which is the crux of the problem.

      Marriage Equality doesn’t really affect anyone else except for the folks who will eventually be allowed to share rights and privileges afforded to the rest of us, some of whom will finally be allowed to share a life together in the same country.

      • Truth (Original) says:

        Your argument that redefining marriage as a union between a man and woman to include same sex couple will make no difference to society is disingenuous.

        For any conversation to be productive, you have to have honesty on both sides.

        • Mike Hind says:

          How is it disingenuous? How will marriage equality affect anyone else, other than those it affects?
          You can’t come in here and hypocritically tut tut me for dishonesty without backing up your claim.
          I notice you don’t tut tut the folks telling outright lies about this whole thing. Odd that.

  14. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    I’ve said it before and ill say it again…give them their rights…They have a RIGHT to their lifestyle…and I have a RIGHT to dislike it…cased closed…They won’t be judged by me or you…but there WILL be a judge.

    There’s also been some talk in the global theater about legislating rights for pedophilia. ..because they didn’t choose that life…They were BORN that way…so its NOT all about you.

    Go ahead open that can of worms…hope you can swallow that as you’re demanding heterosexuals do.

    • Mike Hind says:

      When? Where? Where is this talk happening? Who is saying this about paedophiles?
      Back up these claims, please.

      • Quinton Berkely Butterfield says:

        It’s amazing what people will believe without doing their own search. I admit I have fallen for this same trap a time or two, but I also and friends with Google so I am usually set straight.

        Although this article is prefaced with same-sex marriage it is really speaking to the false perception that everyone is required to follow the teachings, dogma and faith of others. This is a false assumption. People follow their own paths. If they want to be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., that is their choice but they have to realize that not everyone is restricted to the rules of people personal choice of belief. There are no problems with having these beliefs, but as you can tell they encourage people to make up wild tales of pedophilia rights, or stories of a doomed society spiraling towards extinction. Or that people who drink or smoke weed are immoral. Or women who have children out of wedlock should be scorned. Or people that have premarital sex are creating “soul ties.” Or you have to give 10% of your income to the church, or else you are stealing from God. We could go on and on about the condemnations leveled against people, even people that belong their own faith.

        My message to anyone that has sex outside of marriage, that is gay, that likes a drink or a puff of a spliff. These people will judge you to death if you let them. They will call you names and make up stories about you. But you are still good people, navigating this life just like anyone else and if you are doing things that not hurting anyone, if there is concent and if it is not destroying your own life, carry on and don’t let people get you down because they feel like you should be just like them! Live, laugh and love life my friends! We are all human!

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        W0w my kind…you really are ignorant to facts aren’t you…yet you trailblaze here on bernews like you are the Messiah of logic…people that follow your limited intelligence really need to snap out of your fairy tale indoctrination…reality has no mercy…political correctness is killing humanity.

        • Mike Hind says:

          So… Nothing to back up your false claims, then? That’s what I thought.

          When your position is so weak that you have to lie in order to make it, you should really just give up that position.

          • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

            Just Google legislation of pedophilia. ..you numbnut ..wat makes you people so daft..?

            • Mike Hind says:

              Sigh… You don’t get it, do you?
              YOU made this false claim. The burden of proof is on you.
              YOU have to prove that you aren’t lying in order to push your hateful agenda.

              That’s how it works.

              So, please stop attacking and show some evidence of your claim…

            • Mike Hind says:

              You people?

            • Mike Hind says:

              And, by the way, I DID Google your false claim… And found nothing to back it up.
              I DID find some pretty thorough debunking of other people, Rep. Allan West, for example, making similar claims.

              So, you are either ignorant of the facts and are spreading other people’s lies or are aware of the facts and are actively lying yourself. Which is it?

              • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

                You are wreaking of a shill….bbrrr. so convicted aren’t you?…you go boy.

                And back to the meat of this waste of time …you did Google…you did see…you still in denial..?

                Don’t ever call me a liar again…and next time stick to the subject.

                • Mike Hind says:

                  Wow. You seriously didn’t even read my post!

                  You are so convinced that this lie you are pushing is true that you can’t even bring yourself to read an entire post!

                  I DID Google what you said and found nothing. Not a single shred of verifiable evidence to support your claim.

                  That is why you are dishonest. You made this up – or are passing on someone else’s lie without researching whether it’s true – and, when challenged, lash out with ridiculous ad hominems and hypocritical, nonsensical “stay on topic” arguments.

                  I HAVE stayed on topic. I DID what you said.

                  There is no evidence of your claim. I have found none and you have provided none.

                  Therefore, you are spreading lies.

                  If your position is even a little bit legitimate, why do you need to lie in order to defend it?

                  You want to talk shill? That would be you, spreading misinformation in your sad, evil attempt to deny rights to your fellow citizens.

                  • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

                    I see you are stuck on stupid…not one shred of my initial comment was against anyone’s human right…I made a documented comment…you went on your high horse of Mr. Humanitarian blaring your misinformation…like I said there is talk in the global theater about legislation for pedophilia whether you like it or not…so if you still think my statement was untrue I’m here to tell you that you are a sad excuse for an intelligent human and your credibility is shattered to any subject you decide to bleat on.

                    • Mike Hind says:

                      But… it’s simply not true!

                      You can keep saying it is, but there is absolutely no evidence to back up your claim.
                      No matter how pathetically and desperately you lash out at me with baseless, ridiculous personal attacks about my credibility (a rich accusation coming from someone too cowardly to use their real name!).

                      The only misinformation in this conversation – if you can call it that! Someone freaking out and spewing bile and venom because someone dared to ask them to back up a claim… and then doubling down and making the same false claim again!.. isn’t really a conversation, is it? – is coming from you.
                      Nothing you’ve said has even a grain of truth to it.

                      It’s amazing to me that it’s this difficult to get you to show an ounce of integrity and give evidence of your claim. I mean… I know WHY you can’t show the evidence! It’s not there. But the fact that you don’t do what the rest of the cowards on your side do and run away when proved wrong is baffling.

                      You talk about bleating on… that would be you, sir.
                      Or madam.
                      Who knows? You don’t have the courage of convictions to show who you are.

                      So, I ask again…

                      If your position is valid, why do you have to lie in order to support it?

                    • Mike Hind says:

                      What’s worse is that your whole life has no place in this discussion, as paedophilia has absolutely nothing to do with this topic! and bringing it up is just another hateful way to attempt, dishonestly, to denounce people because of who they happen to love.

                      It’s truly vile.

                    • Mike Hind says:

                      Not “life”… That was autocorrect.
                      Should be “lie”…

  15. The Truth shall set you free says:

    Prophecy is being fulfilled right in front of our faces. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
    For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away
    We are living in a godless society therefore when it states without natural affection it pertains to the promotion of this homosexual agenda. Individuals with someone of the same sex is abnormal/immoral (without natural affection). They want to make this abnormal/immoral lifestyle acceptable and normal. This abnormal/immoral behavour has always been acceptable in Europe. The Caribbean and Africa nations and wherever the people are majority of colour do not accept this abnormal/immoral behavior. Because as a people we are spiritual and godly. All throughout history Europeans have proven to be ungodly for example slavery and now modern day slavery which is rooted in vicious predatory capitalism. Which greatly effects people of colour. What they are doing is legalizing sin, therefore you might as well legalize stealing etc. When they talk about love, we need to be mindful love comes from God. And his word states this lifestyle is an abomination. Therefore it is not love it is lust.

    • Mike Hind says:

      None of this is true. You need to stop spreading hate.

      • The Truth shall set you free says:

        Nothing I said is hateful, it is called not agreeing and not accepting this abnormal lifestyle. The tactics those of you who agree with this abnormal lifestyle are using is to project what you feel on those who do not agree with. You hate the fact we do not agree with you. You want to force this down or throats. The fact that the godless USA has made this lifestyle legal, is an proof that bible prophecy is being fulfilled. That is the tactic of you individuals who are promoting this lifestyle saying individuals are being hateful because they disagree with this abnormal behavior. To discredit what is said about this abnormal lifestyle. What is hateful is the policies that are being implemented by the UBP (and no I did not make a mistake and say UBP). For example the immigration policy, which is to keep them in power. We are the only group of people who allow those of European descent to rule over us, and take their ungodly advise. Psalm 1:1 Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to evil advice, who don’t live like sinners, and who don’t join those who make fun of God. No European country has ever had a person of colour rule over them and they never will because they have always been racist and always will. As a matter of fact the entire system that the world is under was implemented by slave owners of European descent. Any policies they implement have always been detrimental to people of colour.

        • Mike Hind says:

          More hate and denial… And a bizarre attack on a political party that doesn’t exist.

          Is there nothing you don’t hate?

          I’ll ask you this…

          Do you believe that everyone should have to follow the rules you choose to follow from the religion you choose to follow?

          Answer that and we can have a conversation. Continue with the nonsense and the silly ad hominem attacks and we can all know that you’re just desperately trying to continue to push your hateful and hate filled agenda.

        • mj says:

          @the truth shall set you free—Amen! some people confuse the truth with hatred, proving your point 2Timothy3-1-15…2timothy4:3–For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

          • Mike Hind says:

            These are quotes from your personal choice of religions.

            Should other people have to follow the your personal choice of religions?
            Would you be ok with someone else forcing you to follow their religion?

            Never mind. You won’t answer this.

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        And what pre tel make YOU such an authoritarian when it comes to social ills…you obviously only know what you have been taught by the very same people who have things they don’t want you to know about…you are so deep in the pack of lies that can’t see the truth or feel pacified enough to even want to know the truth…your best bet is to be quiet until you’ve exhausted all avenues of research…f#@&&%$ blind leading the blind.

        • Mike Hind says:

          This is a nonsensical ad hominem, lashing out because you have nothing substantive to say.

          You wanna talk social ills? How about the social ill of denying people access to equal rights and privileges, based on someone else’s personal choice of religion.

          • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

            Keep to the subject of my comment being untrue…that is the crux of this particular thread…oh by the way…you didnt mention whether you Googled and saw what I said…If you haven’t the knowledge then you really shouldn’t be partisipating in meaningful dialog.

            • Mike Hind says:

              As mentioned, the burden of proof is on you. You made up your claim, you have to show the evidence. If you don’t (or in this case, CAN’T), we can all dismiss your claim as the desperate, hateful lie that it is.

  16. the truth will set you free says:

    I meant to say I do not watch local news and have not for the passed 8 years. Mark Hinds to you and others that think like you if someone disagrees with this abnormal/immoral lifestyle those that think like you are automatically going to say they are hateful, it is a given. Did Frank Luntz a Republican public opinion guru, pollster and political consultant come to Bermuda and have a secret meeting with people that accept this lifestyle? And tell them what words to use to make people have sympathy for this abnormal/immoral lifestyle. To portray those who disagree as hateful. They have focus groups that Mr. Luntz is a part of in the yet to be United States that determine what words to be used over and over again so that the masses accept what is being said. And as far as the UBP still being in power, I am not confused, I say the UBP because I am not easily deceived, I have been an honest seek of truth, knowledge, wisdom, righteousness and godliness since I was 14 years old. My mother instilled my African history from young. They changed the 3 letters to deceive the people but they still have the same mindset as the oppressor. It is a known fact that Fahy wants to get the permanent residents certificates processed as quickly as possible for the next election. Because he knows that those of European descent will vote for people who look and think like them. But as soon as a person of colour comes to the Island to enlighten people they are labeled as hateful. The UBP’s policies are hateful. A quote by Howard Zinn: History is important. If you don’t know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Seriously?
      You only know my name through reading it and you not only couldn’t get my surname right, you couldn’t get my first name right! If you can’t even do that, how can we take you seriously?
      You then go on to talk about some republican guy that I have no knowledge of, spinning up a conspiracy theory whole cloth out of key phrases and triggers.
      I use the word hate because that’s what it is. What other reason is there to deny a group of innocent people access to right and privileges enjoyed by the rest of us, based SOLELY on cherry-picked rules from your personal choice of religions? Why else would the arguments be so specious and weak and dishonest?

      The rest of your post is ridiculous, racially biased political nonsense that has nothing to do with the topic.

      Try having an honest, open, REAL discussion, one that makes sense, and we might be able to move forward.
      Continue spreading misinformation, lies, discrimination and hate and you will continue to be exactly what is wrong with society.