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Maine, Gay Rights, and Religion: Can Gay Rights Groups Overcome Their Achilles Heel?

Guest Commentary

Justin Lee

November 4th, 2009

[Justin Lee is Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network, an interdenominational nonprofit organization serving LGBT Christians and changing attitudes in the church. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.]

Last night, gay marriage advocates suffered yet another defeat in Maine, in spite of tremendous efforts and optimism.

Today, many of them are asking, “What went wrong?”

The legislature had already passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, and the governor campaigned in favor of it. Gay marriage supporters, motivated by last year’s defeat in California, had outspent their opponents and worked hard to get out the vote and keep the message positive. Voter turnout was higher than expected, and everyone was optimistic.

So why, in a progressive state like Maine, in a country that so values civil rights, in a world where gay people are highly visible in the media and daily life–why did people turn out in droves to vote against what so many in our community see as a basic civil right?And why have they done so every other time it’s been on the ballot, in 30 other states across the nation?

There’s no single answer, but the simplest one can be summed up in one word: religion.

Religious organizations have poured millions of dollars into campaigns against same-sex marriage. Pastors preach against it every Sunday in churches across America. Ask people who oppose gay marriage why they do so, and you will regularly hear religious arguments and Bible quotes. In the aftermath of Prop 8 in California, much was made of the apparent racial divide in how people voted, but more telling was the impact of the Mormon Church and other religious groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Already, pundits are noting that 37% of Maine’s population is Roman Catholic, a statistic that likely influenced the outcome.

Frankly, anti-gay religious beliefs are the number one obstacle to almost every measure gay rights groups tackle. The single skill that could turn the tables in their favor is the ability to effectively reach people of faith.

So why are so many gay rights groups so shockingly ineffective on matters of faith?

Part of the problem is that many of us in the LGBT community have been so beaten down by religion that we now want nothing to do with it. Worse, some of us have come to see religious faith itself as the enemy.

But even if you have no faith of your own, if you think you’re going to take on American organized religion and win, you’re dead wrong. The vast majority of Americans believe in God, most subscribing to some version of the Christian faith. For many of them, their faith is deeply ingrained and a major influence in their lives. If we allow any issue to be set up as a contest between people’s faith and fair treatment of LGBT people, then we’ve lost already.

The Human Rights Campaign recognized this in 2005 when they created a “Religion and Faith Program” following crushing defeats in 11 state constitutional-amendment battles. Other LGBT groups have also reached out to faith communities in recent years. But it’s not enough. For real change to happen, there are four things the LGBT community must do.

1. Engage people of faith.
Anti-LGBT faith leaders want us to think this is a contest between faith and us. Don’t believe them. There are plenty of devoutly religious Americans who support the LGBT community, and we need to engage them and make sure they’re part of the discussion. Avoiding the subject only hurts us.

And it’s not just our supporters we need to engage, either. We must reach out to those who disagree with us. Remember Stephen Covey’s aphorism, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”? Even those who condemn gay relationships as sinful may still find common ground with us on civil issues if we take the time to understand them and help them understand us.

I should know. I grew up Southern Baptist, came out of the closet, and have spent over a decade building bridges with conservative evangelical Christians, a group many of my LGBT peers have written off as a “lost cause.” The truth is, they’re not homophobic monsters. There are many good, intelligent people in even the most conservative faith groups, and interacting with LGBT people is the only way they’ll grow to understand us.

In his 1993 book A Place at the Table, gay author Bruce Bawer wrote of some gay activists, “They think that their enemy is conscious oppression and that their salvation lies in the amassing of power, when in fact their enemy is ignorance and their salvation lies in increased understanding.” Sixteen years later, the observation is just as true.

2. Think beyond politics.
Yes, some LGBT rights groups are already reaching out to supportive faith communities as part of their overall strategy. But it’s not good enough to simply start with a political goal (say, a piece of legislation) and then shoehorn the faith community in. Those of us in the faith community are good for a lot more than just helping get out the vote.

Think for a moment: If the LGBT community truly has an “agenda,” isn’t it really for current and future generations of LGBT people to be treated fairly, able to live as we see fit, without fear of harassment, violence, and discrimination? That’s a big goal, and achieving it will take more than political action.

To be sure, legislation is an important part of changing the future for the better. But no bill or ballot initiative can eliminate homophobia, hate, or prejudice. Increasing the penalties for hate crimes won’t stop them if churches are preaching hate. And federal marriage rights won’t stop a gay kid from being pressured into a loveless straight marriage by his parents or church.

If we want to make the world a safe place for the next generation, we must do more than change the laws. We must change the culture. So instead of thinking of people of faith as just another voting pool, we need to think about all the ways that faith impacts culture, and how supportive people of faith can help make those changes. Because even if your goals are exclusively political, it’s worth noting that culture shapes the political landscape in big ways.

3. Listen to faith leaders.
As executive director of an LGBT-supportive Christian nonprofit, I’m often in contact with supportive faith leaders from across the country. Over and over again, I’ve heard stories from faith leaders who want to make a positive difference for the LGBT community but feel that their input or support somehow isn’t valued by leaders in the broader movement. But if anti-LGBT religious beliefs are one of the biggest obstacles we face, shouldn’t these supportive faith leaders be some of our top advisors?

Too often, we treat faith leaders as pawns in a political chess game, bringing them out for a photo opportunity or asking them to sign a letter in support of a cause. They are capable of so much more. They have insights into how people within their faith group think, and they could help us build strategies to reach those people. In some cases, they may already have strategies in place that need our help to be implemented. We just need to ask them and sincerely listen to what they have to say.

4. Tailor the message.
A politician running for office doesn’t just give the exact same speech over and over; he or she tailors it to the audience. A union representing blue collar workers in the deep South has different concerns from a group of wealthy business leaders in Los Angeles.

The same holds true for people of faith. Different faiths, denominations, and sects have different beliefs and different concerns. Reaching each of them requires learning to understand them and speak their language.

A common mistake many LGBT groups make is to simply put together an interfaith “panel” of leaders to represent many different faith traditions, then have them give a joint statement of some sort and think they’ve reached the faith community. But this approach is most likely to appeal to those who already supported the cause in the first place, not to win new converts.

Instead, it’s important to work within different faith traditions individually. A devout Mormon needs to hear from other devout Mormons, not from a Catholic priest. Even within the same faith, people care much more what leaders in their particular sect have to say; not all rabbis are equally influential with all Jews, for instance. This is why it’s so important to work directly with many different people of faith, because each can change minds that others can’t.

Yes, the world is changing. And we can build a brighter future for the next generation. But among other things, it’s going to take a more deliberate effort by the LGBT community to reach people of faith.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I have said repeatedly that the failure of these campaigns rest squarely on the failure to address three issues: children, religion, and prejudice.

Children were addressed in this campaign– finally. But unfortunately, not fully. And that allowed the bigots to exploit it.

As far as I can tell, there really wasn’t much talk about religion, prejudice, and especially, religious prejudice. And why the religious beliefs and freedom of conservatives are important, but not those of gay people.

Until we start doing this, we can continue to lose.

And yes, I donated, even though I thought it was a waste of money I don’t have right now.

Timothy Kincaid
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Well said, Justin. Let’s hope that this is advice which our community will take to heart.

----
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

The majority will never side in our favor until we get religious bias out of the way.

Many of you will criticize me for saying this, but rather than trying to kiss up to their fairy-tale nonsense, it would be more practical to attack the beliefs of Evangelical Christians and fanatical Catholics by pointing out the fallacies in the Bible and in their idea of what a marriage is (most of them have little knowledge in REAL history and social sciences). It’s good to start with the younger groups who get sucked into the NOTW crap.

It wouldn’t hurt that the atheists, agnostics, and assorted freethinkers organized, went directly to people, and told them to get their heads out of whatever religious book they adhere to and START. THINKING. FOR. THEMSELVES.

Don
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks Justin,
I needed a little optimism and direction to wrap my head around last night. Your observations are spot on.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I’ve been reading articles, and even the NOM newsletter announcing the news all day. One thing I keep hearing is that we had the advantage, that we were defeated by the little guy. Nothing could be farther from the truth here.

The Yes on 1 campaign, while not as well funded as the No on 1 campaign, had a very significant advantage. Every Sunday across the state, they had churches preaching to their congregations telling them to vote yes. These are essentially campaign rallies, done for free. No advertising needed, no big setups, and the congregation, for the most part, would do anything their pastors suggested.

This is why getting involved with the religious community is so important. If we ever want this chain of Prop 8 style losses to stop, we need to start getting these congregations to understand our plight, and perhaps to identify with us.

Otherwise, there’s little hope for a victory by way of the voters.

Justin Lee
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for the positive feedback, guys. Elliot, I couldn’t agree more.

To the unsigned commenter above, I definitely understand your frustration, but I don’t think that attacking “their fairy-tale nonsense” is going to get you anywhere. If you’re suggesting that LGBT equality is dependent on eliminating religion (or even certain religious groups), then you’re going to be waiting a very long time.

Working with people of faith is not only possible; it’s happening already. It just needs more support from the broader LGBT community to be as effective as we all need it to be.

Justin Lee
Executive Director
The Gay Christian Network

Lee
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

—-, I don’t think you understand the power of religion in people’s lives. If we followed your lead we’d get no where.

Eshto
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Faith is the enemy of reason and reality – always – even if it’s not necessarily opposed to gay rights. Some religious people support equality, but for secular reasons; or for religious reasons that are just as arbitrary and meaningless as those used to justify homophobia.

Religion is stupid. I’m not going to pander to superstition and fairy tales.

This comment above puts it nicely:

“rather than trying to kiss up to their fairy-tale nonsense, it would be more practical to attack the beliefs of Evangelical Christians and fanatical Catholics by pointing out the fallacies in the Bible and in their idea of what a marriage is (most of them have little knowledge in REAL history and social sciences).”

This is absolutely true. We are dealing with superstition and ignorance. A vast majority of people believe in an invisible sky wizard, they worship a magic book, they have no grasp on science, history, or civics.

We need to fight the stupid, not work with it.

wackadoodle
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Um, am I the only one who looked at the numbers for Maine and Washington? The law repealing domestic partnerships got 4% less support than the law repealing marriage, 4%. When you completely remove any reference to marriage or anything possibly related to religion only 4% change their mind.

This has absolutely nothing to do with religion, its just a convenient excuse. 96% of them just hate us and want to take our rights away.

Eshto
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

P.S.

@Lee:

How the hell do you know that? You haven’t even tried.

You’re afraid to criticize people’s beliefs just because they happen to be their “religious” beliefs, and you don’t want to offend them. Where is that getting us?

Eshto
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

wackadoodle:

99% of all homophobia in the west is rooted in religion. They hate us because they believe homosexuality is a “sin”. That’s why they don’t care whether it’s marriage or domestic partnership – because in their minds, homosexuality is immoral and offends their deity either way.

And you have it backwards. Ignoring religion and pretending like it isn’t the primary cause of anti-gay sentiment, that is the cop-out here.

wackadoodle
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

So who wants to bet someone will tell Eshto to stop ‘insulting’ religions when just afew weeks ago this site had two articles on why scientology is a horrible cult?

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Eshto, as an atheist who has experience in dealing with, and (at one point) trying to forcefully deconvert christians for the same reasons you have outlined in your posts, I’d like to let you know that what you’re proposing will only lead our movement to ruin. You won’t change any hearts with the attitude you have now, I can guarantee you that from experience.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Wackadoodle,

This site has also posted several articles bashing specific Christians for what they believe. Or have you just skipped over every LaBarbara award on here?

Steve
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

To me, the faith issue goes hand-in-hand with the education issue.

Knowing without a doubt now that every civil rights campaign will have to battle back against “the gays are coming after our schoolkids” arguments, it would make sense to me to adjust the response.

My thought: We’ll need to be more explicit about what kids will be exposed to in school.

Second-graders, at most, are going to learn that some of the peers have two moms or two dads. And, that’s about as explicit as it’s going to get. It will be no different from them learning that some of their peers go home to a mom and a grandparent, or a mix of parents and step-parents.

My gut says this needs to be well-developed, including video of classrooms, video of college instructors guiding future teachers, interviews with teachers. These hands-on materials need to demonstrate the attention and sensitivity that good teachers already devote to family, religious, and cultural diversity among their students.

When the NOM crowd squawks about what kids will be taught, they demean competent, professional teachers, implying that every chalkboard is a pulpit and every lesson is ideologically based. It seems to me that the counter-message by marriage equality proponents — No, we don’t want to change anything about education — falls flat with many folks who already distrust teachers and public schools, and perhaps with seniors who recall autocratic, sermonizing teachers.

As a result, thoughtful Catholics in Maine apparently walked out of their churches without an accurate picture of how competent public education systems deal with diversity. We didn’t give them the alternative pictures of what is already in place in their local classrooms.

We also didn’t appeal to the Catholic traditions of welcoming non-Catholic kids to their schools and treating their families with dignity and respect. We didn’t nudge them to think about how including those families in their communities didn’t destroy the fabric of Catholicism or interfere with the Catholic exercise of faith.

These aren’t easy things to encapsulate in 30-second spots, but as Justin makes clear, this is about developing deeper conversations.

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“Religion is stupid. I’m not going to pander to superstition and fairy tales.”

No, but homoeroticism is irrational. I sincerely doubt you have considered the various philosophical arguments for the existence of God (I suspect you lack the native intelligence to truly comprehend any of them.) Rather, you don’t want to be bothered with anyone pointing out the irrationality of two people of the same sex trying to copulate. You are a fine example of the sort of people Dante had in mind when he wrote about the damned who had “perduto il ben de l’intelletto” (i.e., “Lost the good of the intellect.)

wackadoodle
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“I sincerely doubt you have considered the various philosophical arguments for the existence of God”

Strange how 90% of the time this ‘intense philosophical inquiry’ leads the person to decide the one true religion is the one they were born into and everyone they know follows, and that every single other religion they’ve had relatively little exposure to is completely and utterly wrong.

AdrianT
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I think the unsigned person above has a point, and an uncomfortable one for religous people. Even the AFA and the crackpots at AnswersInGenesis.com are showing real concern that young people are leaving organized religion in their droves. Non-believers who identify themselves as such (there must be many more than that in reality) in the USA make up a sixth of the population and rising. The LGBT community should be reaching out to non-believers, who are by far the most supportive and open minded of all belief groups.

It wouldn’t hurt to be more critical of people in holy orders. Especially if the same organisations finding yes on one are funding similar campaigns elsewwhere in the USA with the aim of denying the most basic rights to GLBT people. 10% of the funds came from Focus on the Family which, through its spinoff FRC, defended the criminalization of homosexuality in Lawrence vs Texas just 5 years ago. The good people of Maine should have known about this. It might well have made them think twice about voting Yes. The people funding NOM really do have an agenda. Today: no gay marriage; Tomorrow: prohibition? That’s the kind of evidence-backed advertising you need to be scaring people with.

Religiosity is falling but will take a long time. People who believe the universe is 6000 years old are just not going to stop believing overnight. It’ll be at least another 30 years or so to see church attendance to drop to the levels we see in Europe. Still, smug religious leaders rubbing their hands over the win in yesterday’s skirmish might consider that they will only deepen alienation from the younger generation.

Vickie
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Justin happens to be Christian, and so am I. We know whereof we speak in this matter b/c of our own real experiences. We know the power of faith in our own lives. We know the power of religion and faith in the lives of our supporters. And, we know the power and influence of faith in the lives of those who oppose us.

We know what has worked for us, in shaping our own beliefs, and in seeing the effects on the beliefs of others.

There are many Christians, even some evangelicals, who truly believe that God blesses same-sex relationships the same as hetero ones. It’s not just a civil issue with them. They truly believe that love between two people of the same gender is just as real and just as valid.

They can be an incredibly valuable asset, and source of support.

And, insulting the beliefs and intelligence of people who are on your side – people whose support can benefit you – isn’t exactly the smartest idea in the world, either.

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“Religiosity is falling but will take a long time. People who believe the universe is 6000 years old are just not going to stop believing overnight.”

Many Christians (and other religionists) are quite content to accept a billions old universe and earth. (I am one such person.)

“It’ll be at least another 30 years or so to see church attendance to drop to the levels we see in Europe.”

What else has your crystal ball revealed to you, Miss Cleo?

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“There are many Christians, even some evangelicals, who truly believe that God blesses same-sex relationships the same as hetero ones.”

Many people who call themselves Christians, anyway. Unfortunately for them, the proscriptions against homoerotic acts in both testaments are quite clear.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin,

You seem to be operating under the delusion that copulation must result in reproduction in order to be rational. Copulation is also a social construct, and is considered a bonding ritual. Not only that, but the fact that there are people who are naturally attracted to the same sex would make it irrational for anyone to refrain from for anything but a sound, compelling reason.

As for philosophical arguments for god, every single one of these can only go so far as to support the existence of a deistic god. There is no philosophical argument that specifically supports the god of the bible, or the quran, or the torah.

There’s plenty of literature on this subject that I’d be more than happy to point out to you.

Bearchewtoy75
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Unsigned,

I love what you’re saying, but atheists are more of a hated group than we are!

The question is how do you convince people who believe that a talking snake telling a naked lady to eat an apple is responsible for all sin in the world that marriage equality will not be the downfall of mankind?

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“You seem to be operating under the delusion that copulation must result in reproduction in order to be rational.”

No, but it must _potentially_ result in copulation. (That includes infertile couples, btw.)

“Copulation is also a social construct…”

What a load of ****. Is your background in the social “sciences?”

“As for philosophical arguments for god, every single one of these can only go so far as to support the existence of a deistic god.”

I agree.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“the proscriptions against homoerotic acts in both testaments are quite clear.”

There are also verses in those testaments that state that homosexuals must be put to death. So, unless you’re willing to cast the first stone, I don’t think you should be touting these bible verses in such a way.

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“There are also verses in those testaments that state that homosexuals must be put to death.”

In the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament, yes. But not in the New Testament.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“What a load of ****. Is your background in the social “sciences?””

Not specifically, but I have been educated on the subject. And yes, copulation is possible between two men as well as two women. (I’m thinking that maybe you’re getting copulation mixed up with conception? You seem rather confused here…)

At any rate, copulation can be a form of bonding between two mates no matter what gender they are, and this bond can form whether or not it results in offspring.

So, no, it’s not a load of ****…

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“But not in the New Testament.”

Well if you’re not going to take anything in the old testament seriously, why even mention that there are verses that prohibit it?

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“And yes, copulation is possible between two men as well as two women. (I’m thinking that maybe you’re getting copulation mixed up with conception? You seem rather confused here…)”

Yes, it is. When I was responding to you I meant to write ‘No, but it must _potentially_ result in [reproduction].’

“So, no, it’s not a load of ****…”

Referring to copulation as a “social construct” is a load of ****. In fact, just about any claim that contains the phrase “social construct” is going to be a load of ****.

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“Well if you’re not going to take anything in the old testament seriously, why even mention that there are verses that prohibit it?”

1. I didn’t say I don’t “take anything in the old testament seriously.”
2. The New Testament proscribes homoerotic acts as well.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Eshto said “99% of all homophobia in the west is rooted in religion. They hate us because they believe homosexuality is a “sin”.”.

I think most of them hate gays because gay sex is icky and religion is merely an excuse or justification for their bigoty – they want to be able to say they’re not bigots, they have a “valid” reason to oppose gays. I’ve heard a lot of people who normally have no use for religion in their lives bring up religion as a reason to oppose gay relationships and marriage.

Elliot said “There are also verses in those testaments that state that homosexuals must be put to death.”

Brennin replied “In the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament, yes. But not in the New Testament.”.

You’re wrong Brenin, the new testament says the same thing and you know it, stop trying to mislead people:

Romans 1:26-32

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet…Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Brennin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Try reading for comprehension. Paul saying that people guilty of sodomy are worthy of death is not the same as commanding that they be executed, now is it?

Incidentally, I meant to comment on something inane you posted to another thread. Just because the Pericope Adulterae may not be original to John’s Gospel does not mean it is not an authentic remembrance.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“Referring to copulation as a “social construct” is a load of ****. In fact, just about any claim that contains the phrase “social construct” is going to be a load of ****.”

If you wish to sit there and deny that there is a major human need for sex without reproduction, then you’re welcome to that, and I wish you all the happiness in the world.

But if you want to look all around you at all the advertisements that are surrounded in sex and all the products in the world that are centered around non-reproductive sex, and tell me that the only purpose humans have for sex is for reproduction, then you’re kidding yourself.

TJMcFisty
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“No, but it must _potentially_ result in copulation. (That includes infertile couples, btw.)”

Why? Are we dying out from lack of breeding? To me, it looks like we’ve got plenty of multiplying going on–oh, wait, we’re actually televising those that do a LOT of multiplying.

Love the shout out to infertiles–oooh, they’re so cute when they try. Such potential.

Alas, by your logic, it’s irrational for them to get it on, too. Nothing living will come out of the act so they should just keep their legs crossed or find new partners.

Anyway, so…why? What’s so important about “potential” of making babies? No one should be allowed to get it on for funsies?

AJD
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with this post.

Yes, if we want to change people’s minds, then we need to engage religious people. But using that method to swing the vote on the gay rights issue would take forever and probably produce as many failures as successes.

Bear in mind that by current statistics, at least 150 million people in this country still think we should be denied the right to marry, many of them adamantly so, and many of them wish far worse things upon us. I mentioned my partner’s fundamentalist Christian brother — he knows we’re not bad people, yet he still thinks we’re “immoral,” while his 21yo son proudly declares himself a fan of Mike Huckabee on his Facebook page and his daughter will soon go off to Liberty University. Do you see these people voting “No” on any constitutional amendment to ban us from marrying? I sure as hell don’t. As someone once said, you can’t reason out what wasn’t reasoned in. Martin Luther King didn’t secure civil rights by passing out cookies at a Klan rally.

The way we’re going to win is by finding a way to prevent our rights from being subjected to the whim of voters in the first place, regardless of what religious people think about us and what we do in bed.

The Civil Rights Act and the Supreme Court’s overturning of anti-miscegenation laws didn’t end racism in America, as we saw from that recent flap in Louisiana. But what they did do was make racism unacceptable and eliminate the ability of racist people to enshrine bigotry as law.

Timothy Kincaid
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin,

As has been said many times on this site, the “proscriptions against homoerotic acts in both testaments” are neither clear nor without question as to application.

That you find them so is probably more a reflection on the way that you choose to read those particular verses than it is of what they actually say.

And considering the extent to which Christendom has found a way around many far more direct Scriptural declarations, many of us find the emphasis that some place on these very few potential references to be based in something other than a desire to please God.

I am not inviting a debate over the meaning of scripture on this thread – and I will remove comments that go there on this thread.

But let us be clear that Christians are not of one mind on the matter of the sinfulness of all sexual expression of same-sex love. And declaring that those who disagree with you are not really Christians is a most foolish argument.

Alan
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I wouldn’t worry too much about strategy. Just look at where we were 30 years ago and where we are today. It seems obvious which way the country is headed, regardless of the way a given vote goes.

Or just look at how much things have changed since the California vote…remember, it was supposed to stop the drive for gay marriage?

The long-term trend is for increasing diversity of family types. The Christianists and their Republican allies can’t win this.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I think AJD makes a good point, people didn’t win the right to marry interracially at the voting both, it was in the courtroom. At the time of Loving vs Virginia 70% of the population opposed interracial marriage. It was after it was forced on the population as the right thing to do that most people came to accept the right to interracial marriage.

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

“Paul saying that people guilty of sodomy are worthy of death is not the same as commanding that they be executed, now is it?”

Not technically, no, but it’s definitely in the same spirit.

I wonder, if homosexuality became criminalized once again, and anyone convicted of an offense was immediately put to death, would you speak out against it?

If you agree with Paul that homosexuals deserve death, then you’re no better than the executioner.

AJD
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I think AdrianT is absolutely right: We need to be willing to scare voters.

I’ve long thought that part of the reason we keep losing is that we’re too damn nice to the other side. We forget that in politics, the object isn’t to make yourself look nice or take the moral high ground; the object is to WIN. But for whatever reason, we’re afraid to play dirty. We don’t owe the religious right anything but contempt, and while we should continue to be honest, honesty doesn’t preclude “stooping to their level” and using negative advertising.

We should have had ads that pointed out the FRC’s support for sodomy laws, the NOM’s cozy relationship with them and stated outright that the people behind Question 1 are theocrats who want to force everyone to live according to fundamentalist Christian morality and that gays are just the start of the “fundamentalist Christian agenda” to strip all Americans of their freedoms.

Timothy Kincaid
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I think most of them hate gays because gay sex is icky and religion is merely an excuse or justification for their bigoty – they want to be able to say they’re not bigots, they have a “valid” reason to oppose gays. I’ve heard a lot of people who normally have no use for religion in their lives bring up religion as a reason to oppose gay relationships and marriage.

Priya Lynn is right. Religion can become a very convenient excuse when looking for a reason to justify what is otherwise not justifiable.

That is why I think Justin’s commentary is so important. If we are able to work with communities of faith in a way that removes that excuse, that appeal to religious bigotry, then some folks may find that their emotion-based objection to gay folk without convenient excuse.

And for those who think that this is impossible, I ask you to look back over the past few years.

Regular readers will know that one of the subjects we cover here at BTB is religion and the way in which communities of faith are currently struggling to reconcile ancient prejudices with science, honesty, decency, and compassion.

We know that there are those who, like Brennin, start from a position of certainty and look for confirmation in their holy texts and there are others who seek to read Scripture through the lens of the Christian principles of justice and mercy.

And this difference in perspective is playing itself out across denominational battles and schisms that will mark our era as one of great religious upheaval. We are living in the middle of one of the greatest clashes of faith and most of us gay folk don’t even know the extent to which we have become the center-point of the conflict.

If you recall the dozens of articles and stories we’ve covered, you’ll be reminded that Christianity in America is vastly different on the matter of gay people than it was just a decade ago.

And if you watch closely you’ll see that not only are people of faith becoming more accepting, many are doing so with the conviction that a moral and godly life requires that they do so.

Justin is right. We must utilize these allies. And we must find a way to let go of our prejudices against them and accept them as well.

Ken in Riverside
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

@AJD: I agree entirely with your last post.

I agree with Priya’s observation that “a lot of people who normally have no use for religion in their lives bring up religion as a reason to oppose gay relationships and marriage.”

This isn’t a religious issue. To the extent that we allow them to frame it as one, we’re going to lose. It’s not a Black issue either, contrary to reactions after Prop 8.

This is a civics issue. It’s about allowing us access to the same legal protections that are undeniable to our fellow citizens. Legal protections which provide security and stability that far too many take for granted. Freedom and equality.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think religion is without blame, it provides cover to bigots and as such is often part of the problem.

Martin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

AJD: “The way we’re going to win is by finding a way to prevent our rights from being subjected to the whim of voters in the first place, regardless of what religious people think about us and what we do in bed.”

This, I think, is key. Civil rights have NEVER been won by appealing to voters, and the notion that these rights should be doled out by the electorate is, in fact, antithetical to the very notion of what civil rights ARE.

Having said that, I do think it’s worthwhile to engage religious people on this subject. Not to win their approval, but to counter the lies that prominent religious figures and institutions feel so free to promulgate.

Richard Rush
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

While I concede that it’s worthwhile to engage religious people to achieve our goals, I believe it’s essential for non-believers to come out of the atheist/agnostic closet and articulate their views. As a non-believer, I consider it a responsibility to contribute in some small way toward weakening the stranglehold of religious mythology and superstition.

Pete
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Ya’ll play too nice. Fight fire with fire.

Paul
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Perhaps the real answer is to ensure TRUE separation of church (religion) and state. I suspect this will ensure equality of rights faster than any other initiative!

Emily K
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I’ve been carpooling with an evangelical friend of mine and telling her the things I know so well, but that she doesn’t – for example the denial of visitation to the lesbian woman whose wife had a brain anyeurism and despite legal papers was still treated like non-family.

She said that when she performed “The Laramie Project” at her Christian (but still liberal) college, it “blew her mind.” Because of the conversations that exploded out of the production across campus, for the first time she considered that maybe being gay isn’t a sin afterall – at least not in the strictest sense that her Pastor father brought her up to believe until that point.

And maybe in being friends with me, she can learn more about how we gays live and what we are looking for. Why equality means so much to us and why we are not yet equal.

AdrianT
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin – if we really must talk about crystal balls – I’ll answer that if you tell me, why God sat and watched 245,000 years of human suffering before revealing himself – to palestinians as opposed to more advanced cultures, who could have spread the message much more effectively? ;-)

AJD – is it really playing dirty, to tell it like it is? just look at whom maggie shared a platform with at the voters’ values conference. i’d love to know, who would she refuse funding from?

Gentle Lamb
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

I would have to disagree wih Justin…

There was a chinese person from china working in a gay pub in Singapore. He said that there was something very strange in this bar because there was no fighting not realising it was a gay bar.

The reason why we lost is because we were too nice when the oppositon in spite of their religious affliation is very nasty and can lie, cheat and steal and rationalise it as God.

Surely, we can’t be like them just to win.

Love, from Singapore.

Christopher Waldrop
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Emily, your experiences carpooling with an evangelical friend give substance to a point I’ve made again and again: it’s harder for someone to oppose rights for GLBT people when they know someone, or some couple, that is directly affected. I realize there are people in Maine and in other places who said “I have gay friends/family members but I’m going to vote to deny them rights anyway”, but at least there’s an opening to talk to people like that. There’s a chance to ask them, “If you have gay friends or family members, why do you think they deserve fewer rights than you?” Making people understand the effects of discrimination is key to changing minds.

Don
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

My partner and I have attended an American Baptist Church which is fairly progressive for the last 21 years (We spend so much time and energy explaining to gay folks that not all Baptists are the hateful Southern Baptist kind). Our church has hosted a retreat for people with AIDS for 20 years, hosts monthly drag queen bingo fundraisers, and hosts rehearsals of the local Men’s Choir. But the greatest thing about our church is that the gay members are just part of the furniture. They are no big deal. We mix with seniors, straight families, kids in daycare, AA groups, etc. and it’s all good.

As an openly gay couple, we are just one part of the larger church family. But when issues do arise, our straight allies in the pews are the first ones out there to defend us (let me tell you, seeing a 76 year old straight woman shout down a God Hates Fags picketer outside the church does wonders for your self worth!).

I believe there is real power, leverage, and networking to be gained by integrating into the faith community.

And can I put a shout out for the rural churches in rural counties (where gay initiatives get hammered in the polls). These areas are full of older religious folks (who are the most unfamiliar and uneducated to our needs, and the most prone to distorted religious messages). Often a small rural Church is the default community center, social service provider, and a big part of peoples daily lives and history. We need a relationship with these folks if we are ever going to change their minds.

Jim
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Engage people of faith? Really, isn’t that what’s going on with nearly all of us most days of our lives?

Don’t those of us who have evangelical family members have every range of experience from love and kindness to extreme violence as evidence of that engagement? What has it gotten us?

Just as so many others have said, you cannot reason with someone regarding their religious faith.

“But among other things, it’s going to take a more deliberate effort by the LGBT community to reach people of faith.” When you are viewed by people of faith as being sub-human, it’s seems a bit of a stretch of the imagination that one could possibly “reach people of faith”.

I believe we are all wasting our time thinking that there can be some way to change the thinking and minds of the majority of Christians.

Sherry
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Wow..some pretty strong language out there against Christians or people of faith. I read each and every comment. There is a list of things God has labelled as an abomination, some of which I am guilty of myself. We’re all in the same boat (even though I get it that you feel discriminated against, I totally get that), everyone of us falls short of the glory of God, not one among us is to point a finger (do you remember where Jesus said to the crowd ready to stone the woman caught in adultery – he said something like ‘He who among you is without sin…”) It’s not that we hate you, that is the furthest thing from the truth. Perhaps you didn’t realize that Christian people produce gay children as well? I do understand that there are those among us with that holier than thou attitude, which, if I remember correctly, is an abomination before the Lord. You cannot take something that the Lord has declared wrong and put a stamp of approval on it. That’s not a good thing. God is never wrong…He doesn’t always seem fair and someday I’m going to take that up with Him. You know, He loves gay people just as he loves straights and bisexuals … I would love to see more and more of your community in church learning about God, right alongside me. Come to church to learn about God and leave your agenda at the door. Come to truly learn about God and what you work out is between you and Him and no one else. Myself, I’ve committed adultery…hey, that’s in the 10 commandments! At least I didn’t see homosexuality mentioned there! It was a love so strong I felt like I could’ve died for it…. but it was wrong. Do you understand what I’m saying? I totally understand and sympathize that being gay is perhaps not a conscious choice you have made….it seems cruel to be born gay but then not accepted. I get that. I don’t have the answers here and I don’t pretend to but God does. God understands all, he sees all, and he knows all. Please understand, it’s not about you and it’s not about me or my child or whatever…it’s all about Him…that’s what you’re up against…whether you want to believe it or not…and seperation of church and state, that’s asking me to be just a Sunday Christian. I totally understand that you don’t want my beliefs forced onto you…but the thing is, we outnumber you….that’s neither my fault nor yours…it’s just the way it is… I’m am sorry for the disappointment, but I would much rather disappoint you than Him.

Hello to the handsomest couple I know, Ricky and John!!!!

CB
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Turn-a-bout fair play…

http://u1.imgupload.co.uk/1257292800/79ab_abomination.jpg

Sherry
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

http://www.glow.cc/isa/abomination.htm

Wonderful dissertation regarding what the Bible says written by a gay Christian…by the way…the lobstah thing was just too funny!!!

Martin
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry: “I get it that you feel discriminated against….”
No, Sherry, you DON’T get it. Gay people don’t “feel” discriminated against. Gay people REALLY DO SUFFER from discrimination. Give us a call after you’ve spent hours, or days, trying to get a hospital to give you information about your husband, because they don’t want to tell you anything because you’re “not family.”

“I totally understand that you don’t want my beliefs forced onto you…but the thing is, we outnumber you….that’s neither my fault nor yours…it’s just the way it is”
No, Sherry, you DON’T understand. It most certainly IS the fault of you and of people who think like you. Look up “tyranny of the majority.” Alternatively, consider the saying, “Without protection of the rights of minorities, Democracy is simply three wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.”

“Hello to the handsomest couple I know, Ricky and John!!!”
What, exactly, is the point of this? Is this your way of saying “See, I have gay friends!” Perhaps you should ask Ricky and John for their perspective.

This is why I think it’s time to stop trying to persuade people to abandon their religion-based objection to equal rights for gay people. No amount of rational discussion is going to make someone like Sherry understand (or care) that by allowing her religious beliefs to dictate civil law, REAL PEOPLE are harmed. Notice that Sherry’s post is full of “I understand” and “I get it” but conspicuously lacking in anything that shows that she cares about the impact of her actions on real, live people. Yeah, she understands, and she sees no reason to change anything at all.

Mike
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Justin Lee makes great points. Loving people of faith and gay people of good will ought to be able to align. The vast majority of us ought to be allies.

I think it’s time for a new consensus among people of faith and no faith, straight and bi and gay. And a rallying around a new ideal.

The ideal is that each of us be as celibate as possible outside of a monogamous, loving, committed relationship.

When someone falls short, we do what Christ did: we respond with empathy and compassion toward those who cheapen themselves sexually.

And so everyone, gay and straight, is encouraged and affirmed in their monogamous, loving, committed relationship.

This is best for society. And best for almost every individual. Best for our fulfillment and happiness. Best for our souls.

And together, we can stand against every dehumanizing, degrading subculture.

I think people in their 20s are moving this direction. Let’s hope so.

Thanks, Justin. Great points. You’ve got us thinking.

Amicus
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Justin,

What are the specifics to ‘engaging’?

Changing hearts takes true, individual witness, mostly likely. One-on-one. Someone above wrote about 21 years in the same Baptist pews. How can that kind of interaction be achieved in the time we have to do it, or, put another way, on a political timetable?

Do you see individual Churches asking ‘Christian gay rights activits’ to visit, to explain “things” to them? How likely is that to happen? It’s not as though Catholic priests, say, are going to get a ‘fiarness’ award for inviting heretics to speek to their flock.

Can engagement occur via braodcast, via advertising? What do you do about the scripture issue?

What are the goals of these engagements, exactly? Is it to get people to vote against “doctrine”, within the confines of the private voting booth? Is it merely to break some sterotypes or force someone to re-evalute a prejudice? Does that translate into ‘success’? Is it to raise doubt over dogma?

Are there force multipliers? I mean, it’s almost impossible for 5% of the population to ‘engage’ with 95% in any way that isn’t a at-distance summary, right?

Elliot
November 4th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry,

Do you really feel that you have the right to inflict religious laws on a society that does not necessarily share your religious views?

AdrianT
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry, “God understands all, he sees all, and he knows all.”

- How do you know this information? Are you personally in touch with this Mind?

“and seperation of church and state, that’s asking me to be just a Sunday Christian. I totally understand that you don’t want my beliefs forced onto you…but the thing is, we outnumber you….that’s neither my fault nor yours…it’s just the way it is…”

- Actually, that’s exactly what the constitution demands you to do, to keep your faith a private matter. Christian beliefs have no special status. The fact that you outnumber ‘us’ is not a coherent or moral reason to justify imposing your brand of superstition on anyone else. Being in the majority does not make you right, as Galileo realized. Actually, your comment, the inspiration for mob rule, could easily have been applied in 1930′s Germany.

Christopher Waldrop
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry, you read the “pretty strong language out there against Christians or people of faith”, but you seem unaware that some people of faith–both Christians and people of others faiths–use some pretty strong language against GLBT folk. You seem to think that criticism of people of faith is unjustified, that it’s coming from nowhere, but the truth is it’s inspired by people like you who insist that you who claim “totally understand that you don’t want my beliefs forced onto you” and yet insist on forcing your beliefs on the rest of us.

And separation of church and state is not asking you “to be just a Sunday Christian.” It’s asking you to respect those of us who don’t share your faith. Just because we don’t believe the same things as you doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the same rights as you.

Ken in Riverside
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Blessed are the humble, Sherry.

Assuming that your interpretation of scriptures is the correct one strikes me as pride of the most dangerous kind.

Blessed are the merciful, Sherry.

Others have rightly pointed out that you seem to be missing the most important factor in all of this: real people are suffering because of unequal access to legal protections

And your assertion that the laws of America must be 100% in harmony with your interpretation of the laws of God or else you’re just being a Sunday Christian is false and absurd on the face. All people of faith are required to live in a world which doesn’t always reflect their faith.

Make no mistake of it, we are not up against Him. We’re up against those of you who misunderstand His message and who lack the humility and mercy to see how people suffer from unequal access to legal protections.

Priya Lynn
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry said “Wow..some pretty strong language out there against Christians or people of faith.”.
There’s a reason for that Sherry, Martin said it best:

“Sherry’s post is full of “I understand” and “I get it” but conspicuously lacking in anything that shows that she cares about the impact of her actions on real, live people. Yeah, she understands, and she sees no reason to change anything at all.”.

Given your “I understand and I’m not going to stop oppressing you” attitude, strong language should come as no surprise to you.

Sherry said “You cannot take something that the Lord has declared wrong and put a stamp of approval on it. That’s not a good thing. God is never wrong”.

Sherry, many of us don’t believe in your imaginary god. If you want to follow the bigoted dictates of your fantasy you’re welcome to, but don’t expect people like me to do the same.

Sherry said “Come to church to learn about God and leave your agenda at the door.”.

You don’t leave your agenda at the door Sherry, why should gay peopole leave their’s? Not all Christians agree with you, what makes you right and them wrong?

Sherry said “and seperation of church and state, that’s asking me to be just a Sunday Christian.”.

No, its not. If you think gay relationships are wrong you can avoid getting into one 7 days a week just as you can live your life according to your beliefs 7 days a week. But you have no right to dictate how any life should be lived other than your own.

----
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

See? We still lose because we aren’t harsh enough with people who believe in a book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of individuals who didn’t know anything about science. That’s also why we have public schools teaching “Intelligent” Design and abstinence-only sexual education.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Sherry,

You epitomize what is wrong with Christianity today.

Rather than see your religion as a faith that guides your actions and behavior, you see it as a mechanism by which your can control my actions and behavior.

You say that all are sinners… yet the only civil restrictions you seek to apply are those which do not effect you. You are an adulteress, yet I don’t see you calling for laws that call for taking away the children of adulteresses. I don’t see you support attempts to deny adulteresses the right to marry. And, incidentally, both the social and the religious arguments for those two positions are stronger than the arguments against gay people.

And when Christ called for justice and mercy, you call for civil domination because, well, you can. You seek to impose your faith not only on the civil community, but on those churches with whom you disagree. You oppose not only personal freedom but religious freedom as well.

You see, Sherry, you aren’t following Christ. He refused to engage in the politics of Sin and Punishment. Rather, you are following the spiritual descendants of those who sought to push Christ into rigid “the Bible say” rules of condemnation and punishment.

Those who follow Christ no longer live under the Law of Sin and Death. You do.

I understand and get it that this sounds harsh. But it isn’t that I hate you, that’s the farthest from the truth. I care for you and want you to repent of your arrogance, self-righteousness, and cruelty.

Leave your anti-gay agenda at the Cross, Sherry, and let Christ’s love fill you for the very first time. It can change your life. You can become a lover of peace and freedom and joy and harmony and find yourself newly minted as an advocate for justice and mercy, just as Christ called you to be.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“- Actually, that’s exactly what the constitution demands you to do, to keep your faith a private matter.”

The Constitution of the Soviet Union perhaps, but not the U.S. Constitution.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Your antinomianism is quaint Mr. Kincaid, but it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. People like you always seem to ignore the caveat “Go and sin no more.”

Priya Lynn
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, maybe in your philosopy an act that harms no one is a sin, but to rational and decent people everywhere any act that harms no one is by definition moral.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“…but to rational and decent people everywhere any act that harms no one is by definition moral.”

Fancying yourself rational is not the same as being rational. I’m not sure if you are decent, but you are definitely not rational. (You are pretentious, though.)

Incidentally, don’t quit your day job (if you have one) to become a dictionary contributor or a moral philosopher.

Ken in Riverside
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, what do you suppose Jesus would do if he were around today. Do you suppose he would say “make homosexuals and their families less secure and more marginalized because they are sinful?”

Priya Lynn
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, anyone who thinks behavior that harms no one is wrong isn’t too bright and most certainly isn’t moral or rational – that’d be you. If you got outside of your box once in a while and did a little philosphizing you might realize that.

Christopher Waldrop
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, I’m amazed that you won’t make a substantive argument and can’t be bothered to look up the difference between “copulation” and “procreation” and yet you tell someone else, “don’t quit your day job (if you have one) to become a dictionary contributor or a moral philosopher.”

As for decency, you obviously can’t give anyone else lessons in that either, since you seem to be here solely to throw insults.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin,

I find it amusing that those who quote “go and sin no more” think that applies to everyone but themselves.

You are ready to legislate my sins… but you and Sherry have no interest in inspecting your own. Because you live under the Law of Sin and Death, and delight in applying it to others.

You believe that spiritual failings should be subject to civil punishment. And further, you believe that your understanding of what is or is not a spiritual flaw should be the determinant as to whom is punished or denied civil equality.

It seems that every generation has those who are ever mindful of the flaws of others. But this was precisely what the ministry of Christ was about, showing that obedience to religious Law and punishment of Law-breakers was not God’s ultimate Plan.

But you wouldn’t have liked Christ much. Jesus clearly was a Law-breaker and morally suspect and his teachings were certainly closer to antinomianism than to legalism.

And isn’t it a pity that Christ came? If He hadn’t offered redemption freely, if he hadn’t replaced adherence with relationship, if he hadn’t condemned the morally smug religious folk for their lack of justice and mercy, then it would be soooo much easier. You could just follow a set of rules and proudly declare that those who didn’t are reprobate and deserving of the mistreatment you dish out to them.

And the whole message of “neither do I condemn you” and including the Samaritans and of dining with sinners and with working on the Sabbath and breaking the cleanliness code and refusing to do what was clearly in the best interest of The Church and of Society and of, especially, corrupting The Children, well my goodness he had to go. Right?

And I very much suspect that you would have been among the crowd crying, “Crucify him”. Perhaps even going to the first century equivalent of websites (the town well, maybe?) to rail against the evildoers and their godless leader Jesus and calling for the Law’s clear punishment for him.

All for the glorification of God, of course.

Priya Lynn
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

If He hadn’t offered redemption freely…

Being told to redeem yourself or be eternally tortured isn’t exactly what I’d call free.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin,

If we were to look at the religion that you call Christianity and compare it to that which it was to have replaced, what are the differences?

Christianity, as you observe it, is based on the premise that there is a prescribed list of rules and an itemization of things that offend God and that doing those things deserves punishment. The most significant distinction between your Christianity and the form of Judaism that preceded it is that the Jews had to sacrifice for their sins. It cost them something.

From a practical point of view, if your version of Christianity is correct, then the real lives that were saved were those of sheep and bulls.

I propose, rather, that Christ brought a different message. His message (though already a Jewish belief) was much more difficult than following a list. Much tougher. Much more demanding. But, ultimately, more freeing.

And this new message is one that calls for maturity, wisdom, and selflessness. And it is one that much of Christendom simply cannot fathom.

His message was this: treat others the way you want to be treated.

And that is soooo very difficult for Christians today. They simply cannot comprehend a life in which gay people were treated the way they want to be treated. It’s anathema to them. It is perverse. It is abhorrent. And they aren’t even going to consider it.

So you turn to a handful of ambiguous scriptures as an excuse for why you refuse to follow Christ. You slap an asterisk on Christ’s commandment and say, “yes, but you’re a sinner”.

But it is oh so very hard to get over the fact that Jesus said that ALL the law, even Leviticus, even Paul’s comments in Romans, everything, it all hangs on this one commandment.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Brennin, I’m amazed that you won’t make a substantive argument and can’t be bothered to look up the difference between ‘copulation’ and ‘procreation’…”

I’ve made substantive arguments and I know the difference between the two words, thanks.

“You are ready to legislate my sins… but you and Sherry have no interest in inspecting your own.”

That is an assertion that begins and ends with you.

“You believe that spiritual failings should be subject to civil punishment.”

Not necessarily.

“But you wouldn’t have liked Christ much. Jesus clearly was a Law-breaker and morally suspect and his teachings were certainly closer to antinomianism than to legalism.”

Uh, no. This is a simplistic view of Jesus Christ that does not match the evidence.

Luke 5:12-14

12While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

I’m afraid your hippie-dippie Jesus is a fabrication. Yes, he abrogated certain religious laws but he also upheld plenty and went further than some.

“And I very much suspect that you would have been among the crowd crying, ‘Crucify him’.”

No.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Ken,

I imagine Jesus would say, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Raycol
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

I agree with Justin’s views. In our engagement with people of faith, we can point out that while the Bible does prohibit sex between men (homosexuality), it can nevertheless be shown that the prohibition does not apply today when the sexual activity causes no harm. Also the prohibition does not apply today because it applied only to the ancient Israelite and Roman cultures. The Bible criticizes, but does not prohibit, sex between women. Full reasons for these conclusions are given on the Gay and Christian website (www.gaysandslaves.com).

Christopher Waldrop
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, you claim to know the difference between the words “copulation” and “procreation”, so was it merely a mistake that you used “copulation” when you meant “procreation”, or were you misusing the term to make some point?

I’ve made substantive arguments>/blockquote>

Just because you say it doesn’t make it true, Brennin. I’m afraid your claim that the “hippie-dippie Jesus is a fabrication” is nothing more than your personal interpretation, backed up with a few cherry-picked verses.

You seem to be intent on promoting the ultimate simplistic view, which is that you are the only one who could possibly be right regardless of what the facts are. The fact is that you’re using your own interpretation of a religious belief to justify your prejudice.

----
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“I imagine Jesus would say, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)”

Yet you probably have no quarrel with divorces.

Speaking of which…

“If any man come to me, and not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yet, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

Burr
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

“”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

Christopher Waldrop
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Another way to put “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” might be, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.

The latter statement in particular may be applicable in this case, since the religious beliefs of a particular individual or group provide no basis for preventing the government from treating same-sex couples as equal under the law.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin,

I don’t speak of a hippy dippy Jesus. I speak of one who had a message that was so very difficult, so troubling, so controversial that he was killed by the religious authorities for it.

You would have us believe that religious leaders killed Christ because he supported strict adherence to the Law. That is absurd.

Jesus (the real one, not your retro-legalistic imaginary one) was revolutionary. He preached that it wasn’t the following of rules that was important but the way you treated people.

He was so very dangerous that his one commandment is one that you and those who believe like you downplay it as much as possible. For all of your fondness of rules and law, this is one you just can’t support. It’s found in Matthew 22

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus himself said it. If you want to have your marriage respected, respect the marriage of your neighbor. If you want adoptions rights, support them for your neighbor. If you want to serve your country, allow your neighbor. If you want to be free of discrimination, don’t discriminate against your neighbor.

And you will love your neighbor as yourself if you love God. Because to love God is to adopt His nature, the nature of justice, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love.

And you know the funny thing, Brennin? If you don’t get this one right, it doesn’t matter how many of the other laws you get right. Because they ALL hang on these.

Emily K
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

I speak of one who had a message that was so very difficult, so troubling, so controversial that he was killed by the religious authorities for it.

Yup, the god-forsaken fu**ing JEW YORK KIKES did it.

…except that everything he said had already been said in the Talmud no less than 100 years BCE.

Emily K
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

It’s ok. I’ve done my best to get used to the supersessionist superior-than-thou Christian attitude. Hey you guys, you Christians (gay and straight) can TOTALLY bond over the fact that my Jewish ancestors were staunch religious literalists that had zero skill for scholarly, just, and poetic interpretation of scripture, and we totally missed the obvious when Jesus came around. Which is why we killed him. We didn’t even “recognize” our own “messiah.”

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“…except that everything he [i.e., Jesus] said had already been said in the Talmud no less than 100 years BCE.”

The Mishnah was not written down until 200 AD/CE. In what parallel universe can you claim anything therein predates Jesus’ teachings?

Moreover, the idea that the Mishnah or the Talmud as a whole contains all of Jesus’ teachings is pure flatulence.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Emily,

Don’t go finding insult where none exists. You will note that I already said that Jesus’ message was a Jewish message:

I propose, rather, that Christ brought a different message. His message (though already a Jewish belief) was much more difficult than following a list. Much tougher. Much more demanding. But, ultimately, more freeing.

And you’ll also note that I place the blame for the officially sanctioned murder of Jesus where it belongs, with religious leaders who felt that his teachings were threatening. I didn’t call them “Jewish religious leaders” and knowing that your faith tradition views 1st Century Pharisees differently than my faith tradition, I did not identify which sects found Jesus most threatening.

Nothing that you are ranting about was in any of the above comments. And you do not have the right to insist that no one ever mention the fact that the man Jesus was killed because his views offended and threatened others. You do not have emotional veto power over the mention of this historical (and religious) event.

Brennin
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“You would have us believe that religious leaders killed Christ because he supported strict adherence to the Law. That is absurd.”

I didn’t claim that at all. I wrote:

‘Yes, he abrogated certain religious laws but he also upheld plenty and went further than some.’

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

“he abrogated certain religious laws”

That law-breaker. Just like the gays.

Lois S.
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

As a heterosexual female, long- married, fully supportive (as is my husband) of gay equality in all areas, including/especially marriage, here’s what I’ve learned after joining the conversation daily, for 15 years, in ‘religious’ chat rooms:

Anti-gay attitudes are not based on anything so much as fear/hatred/ disgust for a skewed perception of ‘what gays do.’ Push a ‘macho man’ to tell why he’s anti-gay and you’ll get either knee-jerk Bible quotes, or a torrent of words our moms never taught us, or an ignorant-albeit-graphic description of ‘what gays do.’

This ‘doing’ is always related to gay men, never to lesbians. Ask these same men if they have a problem with ‘pretty lesbians’ (emphasis on ‘pretty’) and you’ll hear ‘Absolutely not!! Pretty gals? *I* can convert them to heterosexuality … and would love to try!’ And bear in mind, these are ‘religious’ folks … churchgoers who spout ‘holy words’ as then damn gays and lesbians in the chat rooms and in society in general.

Again — after 15 years of fighting for gay equality I’m confident that this is the sad secret of why voting against gay marriage has been so successful for the anti-gay side. They stir up followers with the ‘what gays do’ mantra … they talk about ‘the Bible’ … they put fear into older people (most of the anti-gay votes seem to come from the older generation) about ‘what gays do’ … then mention ‘children’ in the same breath to bring in the younger folks. A no-lose situation, this.

How to get beyond it? I don’t know, although I’d bet that if more and more heterosexuals came out publicly for gay equality, the tide would turn. When whites joined in the civil rights battle, change happened. And yes, this IS a civil rights battle. God is always on the side of justice and equality, and God WILL have the last words, i.e., JUSTICE and EQUALITY.

Emily K
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Brennin, since the Talmudic tradition was established the same time the Torah was established, they are the same age, and cumulatively keep growing with every rabbi who makes commentary.

“The Mishnah was not written down until 200 AD/CE. In what parallel universe can you claim anything therein predates Jesus’ teachings?”

Because they were SPOKEN until then. That’s why it’s called the “Oral Torah.” My exact quote was:

had already been said in the Talmud.

the crustybastard
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Imagine God was just a guy named Bob.

Bob is the maximum leader of a third-world country called Bobzimbwe.

Bob requires all the people of Bobzimbwe to take a special loyalty oath that elevates Bob above everyone and everything, even the person’s children. Absolute fanatical loyalty to the death is the #1 law of the Bobzimbwe, and all other laws derive from it.

A long time ago, Bob got really mad at the people because they weren’t following the #1 law, so he murdered everyone but a single family. Lucky for Bob, that family was quite fecund, and promptly repopulated Bobzimbwe. Bob has since given public assurances he’ll not to do that again.

Bob has indeed limited his destruction to a few cities, the firstborn of his political enemies, and a genocidal campaigns on few neighboring countries.

One day per week is dedicated to honoring Bob and donating property to him. Bob is an obsessive micromanager, who tells people what to wear, what to eat and what hairstyles they may sport.

If a Bobzimbwean is guilty of committing a crime against Bob, his relatives and children may be subject to punishment for many generations. Slavery is encouraged, as it is the appropriate punishment for the crimes of the slave’s ancestors.

Bobzimbwe law encourages child-marriage and obtaining wives by raping virgin girls. Marriage is between one man and any number of wives and concubines. Women are male property and barred from any position of leadership. Adultery is punishable by death, and remarriage is absolutely prohibited except where the woman’s spouse has died. Men are required to marry their widowed sisters-in-law and have children with them.

QUESTION: Would any sane person find Bob an admirable leader or want to move to Bobzimbwe?

ANSWER: No, but they worship a God that does all this crap, and revere a book full of this and even more nonsense.

That’s not worthy of respect. It’s depressing.

Will B.
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Huge applause to Justin, not only for this excellent news piece, but also for the great work he and others do with GCN. Hurdles are hurdles and brick walls are brick walls. This latest and disgusting display of bigotry in Maine is a hurdle .. not a brick wall, and I feel confident that we will ultimately win this battle. Further kudos to Lois S. for such fine and encouraging words. There are, indeed, a growing number of non-gay people who are our friends; who are solid supporters, and the truth is that we are all in this together.

cowboy
November 5th, 2009 | LINK

Lois S.,

Very well said. Thank you. The more and more heterosexuals who will come out for gay equality are the younger generation that will soon replace the dogmatic older generation.

Ben in Oakland
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

I was going to stay out of this interchange between the Humans and the Evil Homobigot and his sidekick, Little Ms. Sonshine. But it’s a rainy day, and since I have a lengthy polemic to write as to why we lost another one that we should have won due to a not-as-but-nevertheless-still closeted political campaign, I need to sharpen my pen a bit. So here goes.

It never ceases to amaze me as I watch the religionists enact and re-enact their homo-hatred, finding always some way to express their antipathy towards people they do not know, know nothing about, and who have done them no harm– well, I should say no DEMONSTRABLE harm, apart from offending them by existing. And of course, it is even more offensive when they must rationalize the damage they do to gay people as a show of faith and virtue. It erases the fine and necessary line between hypocrisy and sarcasm, for as Rochefoucauld noted sarcastically, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

Or, as Mark Twain so ably put it, nothing needs minding so much as other people’s business.

The Evil HomoBigot (EHB) has AUTHORITY for his pleasures. He has his bible clutched firmly in his left hand, proclaiming his divine and moral authority to stop the Doers of Manly Evil, though lesbos are hawt. And the Scalia-stained fingers of his right hand, cupping both urbis and orbi, proclaim his legal authority. Both hands combine to say, “We can do whatever we want to you because we believe everything we think, and there are more of us than there are of you.” All this to keep someone else’s rampant homosexuality in check lest it turn everyone queer. Or something.

After all, it worked so well for Larry Craig, Bob Allen, Ted Haggard, Lonnie Latham, and a good portion of the non-heterosexual clerics. Dare we say their taste is catholic?

Little Miss Sonshine (LMS)? Well, she basks in the Eternal Sonshine of Her Spotless Mind. She doesn’t hate or despise or devalue or think less of or denigrate anyone, just like Jesus. She loves everyone, just like Jesus. She doesn’t want to control anyone, or deprive them of anything except their sins. And she knows, of course, all about other people’s sins. She only wants you to know Jesus like she knows Jesus… and oh, oh, oh what a girl! And certainly, she is not judging anyone. She’s just reporting the news, just like Jesus.

There isn’t even the faintest whiff of judgment anywhere, because that would make her very much not like Jesus, and her mind would no longer be spotless. She might have to think, to be conscious that she does very real harm to people whom she does not know, and whose lives and happiness have no effect on hers. As Jesus himself would have noted, spotlessness is simple, especially when it is purchased with the easy coin of other people’s lives. It wouldn’t even cost 30 pieces of silver. Just a smile and a vote. Ask Miss CarriePornia.

Actually, Jesus did note that simplicity every time he said, “Judge not!” or “Scribes. Pharisees. Hypocrites.” And I’m sure he would have added fundamentalist Christians to the list, had he known any– or wanted to.

EHB and LMS form the pattern and ground, if you will a literal yin and yang, of a single object– anti-gay prejudice, or homohatred– that is both the cash cow (Naggie Gallagher) and the pornography (The Peter) of the Religious Reich, and its bastard child, the anti-gay industry. It’s very appropriate to compare pornography and the anti-gay industry, because both make a lot of money from the fascination we have with all sex in our deeply puritanical culture. EHB and LMS, like that other yin and yang, Naggie and Peter– now there’s an image you don’t want comin’ atcha in the middle of the night– believe, without question, and possibly sincerely, that they might possibly understand something that might possibly be about homosexuality, as least as far as it was understood by desert tribes 2000 years ago and 8000 miles away, in a book that some people think has divine authority, in one or another of its legion of versions. A book that has gone through 2000-2600 years of translation, interpretation, redaction, editing, confusion, retranslation, reinterpretation and– dare we say it?– MISUNDERSTANDING. Also, the only authority for that claim of authority is said book and the beliefs of people just like EHB and LMS, despite all contradictions and disagreements, and this despite the fact that 2/3 of the world’s population thinks this book is utter nonsense.

As an entirely relevant aside, 1/6 of the world knows FOR A FACT that the Midianite Storm God formerly known as El was neither Prince (of Peace) nor incarnate Son of God. Jesus was just a prophet, as his church is just for profit. Allahu akbar!!! The final revelation of El was given to yet another desert dweller with an agenda for the Ages, and a sword to enforce it. Inshallah!! Just bend over and face the east.

If the majority is supposed to win because there are more of them and they say so, I think we can see the future of Christianity… if we were ever to have a popular vote on the subjects on the true nature of god, of who it is that god doesn’t approve of, or who he wants us to hate, or whose lives and relationships and families are worthy of social support and rewards, and whose are not. Not that we would. We would never have a vote on other people’s participation in and value to society. We would never force our religious beliefs on other people. We would never persecute them and make their lives as difficult and unpleasant as possible, hounding them from New York to the middle of the uncharted west, say, for example, because we didn’t like their religious beliefs and marriage practices.

In fact, Scientology and mid-19th-century mid-Western unpleasantness aside, we would never have a vote on whose religious beliefs are going to be enforced by social policy and constitutional law in a society which claims it is egalitarian, free, secular, and committed to truth, justice, and the American Way. We wouldn’t do it because it would be wrong, because we want to do unto others what we would have them do unto us. Or something.

Unless it’s about gay people.

Not to mention the corruption of our nation, of our principles, our morals, and our laws, that is inherent in the process of cherry picking from the Bible what is useful in the service of the political, cultural, and social agendas of religious and political conservatives, to instill fear in their followers in exchange for their votes and their cash, or for keeping a job (you know who you are, AC), or exorcising your very own personal demons.

Or exercising them, if you’re a certain class of priest, politican, or youth minister.

Subtext is everything. How can you say “I HATE QUEERS” without actually having to say “I HATE QUEERS”, especially if your religion tells you it is wrong to hate anyone? (Except, possibly,of course… actual QUEERS.) Why, if you’re LMS, you call it love, smile cheerfully, and congratulate yourself on your direct line to your very own Heavenly Substitute for Personal Responsibility. You wave goodbye to your handsome gay friends who will, unfortunately, burn in hell forever for their sins, and support efforts to strip other people who have done you no harm of the benefits for their families that you claim for your own. Too bad for them all. You’re just reporting the news, after all. It’s not like you actually care.

If you are the EHB, you grip that big ol’ club hard in both hands and start shaking it at every sinner you see, except for the ones you don’t actually care about in some way for reaosns that you owuld probably prefer not to articulate. Scampi lovers (OT) and adulterers (NT) need not fear the stroking of your mighty club. And then you enthusiastically support efforts to demonize and marginalize people whom you do not know and who have done you no harm.

I don’t know why. I only know there is no truth you and your kind will not distort and promulgate, no lie you will not tell or believe, no fear you will not excite in yourself or invoke in others, no dagger cut that you will not cheerfully deliver to someone, in service to that end. It actually reminds me quite a bit of the closet itself. The closet is about living a lie. It IS a lie, it is based on lies, and it engenders lies. It distorts, perverts, and debases everything it touches, as the sorry life of Ted Haggard will attest.

For you and your kind– I just love the power and superiority I feel when I say that! Don’t you?– the desire of gay people to end this vile, vicious, and wasteful prejudice is an affront and a threat. Homophobic heterosexuals, conservatives, right-wing Christians, and village idiots don’t have to question any of their assumptions, whether religious, social, political, or sexual– especially sexual, because that scares the living bejeesus out of them–don’t have to actually solve problems of divorce, adultery, family breakdown, and child abuse, don’t have to care about the waste of time and energy and money, don’t have to look in the logs in their own eyes, can continue to use The Children (TM) as pawns in their fear-based culture war, because they are fightin’ (other people’s) sins and expressing the clear will of God. And what an added bonus if your goal is power and/or money and/or eternal glory while you’re washing, swimming or backstroking in the Blood of the Lamb! What better way to ingratiate yourself with your concept of The Almighty One than to hate exactly what you have convinced yourself that he hates? And you get even more points if you can convince yourself that you love those sinners as he would have loved them, except for the part about, you know, ACTUALLY loving them in a way that doesn’t feel like an assault to them.

Pardon my zoological anomaly, but when did the Lamb of God become a scapegoat, Little Miss Sonshine? Evil HomoBigot, in service to what has the Word of the Prince of Peace been converted to a weapon? That to me is the great irony. The innocents and the minority are punished, the sins of the majority and the guilty are conveniently forgiven. How could a right-wing, literalist, bible-believing, homo-hating Christian not get a bang out of that, even without a sex-video and the personal attention of The much-married Donald?

What did Jesus have to say about homosexuality? Somehow, this subject escaped him. Or perhaps it was left out of one of those many translations and interpretations and editions of the bible. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was particularly important. After all, there are only 7 passages in the entire bible that may possibly have something to do with what possibly might be homosexuality, and well over 250 telling heterosexuals what they will burn in hell forever for. He was quite specific about adultery and divorce for virtuous heterosexuals, but you can bet neither LMS nor EHB are going to start any political campaigns against offenders. you can bet it is fine with them for any adulterer to get married and divorced as often as they can afford it.

What did seem to get him going? Love god. Love one another. Keep your religion to yourself. Do as you would be done by. Judge not. Feed the poor. Heal the sick. Homo obsession? Just not there.

You and your kind– God, I love saying that– now pursue and attack, slander and annoy gay people with exactly the same moral certainty that you are doing and expressing what god wants with which your spiritual ancestors justified the burning of witches. How many innocent women died long and horrible deaths for being what everyone but Pat Robertson and some sub-Saharan savages know do not actually exist? 1600 years of officially, biblically, and theologically sanctioned anti-Semitism eventually resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews. Martin Luther, that prince of a man, thought that Jews were devils.

Of course, Little Miss Sonshine will cry out that the people who committed those atrocities were ignorant or evil or sinful, or something. People Like Us don’t do Stuff Like That anymore, except to gay people. EHB finally has it right about who is going to be the object of god’s wrath and who is going to be the instrument of his might and anger. Not that either would murder us or anything like that, because you love the sinner and hate the sin, and Scalia-like, the Law will solve The Problem. But you are absolutely fine with other people hating us. You just get to follow along, and your mind remains spotless, your heart as vacant as your smile. Hence, few Christian voices raised in protest as gay people were slandered as threats to family, children, religion, marriage, freedom, and god, for daring–DARING– to ask for an end to the prejudice and to be treated as the law abiding, productive, tax-paying,contributing members of society that so many of us are, as equal members of society.

Equal, in fact, to any two heterosexuals who met five minutes ago and have and $50 for a marriage license and enough alcohol to spend it. Equal to night stalker Richard Ramirez who married a woman he had never met while in prison for his crimes against women; ironically, this occurred on the very day Our Previous Fierce Advocate signed the Defense of Marriage Act after getting Monica’d-while-married in the Oval Orifice.

People Like Us don’t do Stuff Like That anymore? No, you still do exactly as you have always done, for exactly the same reasons, and with exactly the same results. It’s just that homohatred plays and pays, and in a certain evangelical’s case, lays so much better. Only the truly iggerunt and fearful believe in witches any more, and they are usually over-weight, tease their hair, and dress poorly. And Jew-hating is no longer fashionable, and certainly not acceptable if it’s out loud, even among Baptists. It’s impolite. After all, it was more than 30 years ago that F. Baily Smith proclaimed that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” You’ve tried attacking the Muslims, but they have all that oil and money and suicide bombers and atomic technology and everything. The Mormons used to be pretty good as victims, but they also have money and organization, and Elder Bob is just so cute in his white shirt and black badge bearing the inscription “Elder Bob.” Who could resist that corn-fed smile?

And besides, despite all of your profound theological differences and disagreements on the nature of god and his message to the world, despite all the murders and misery and war those differences have caused, there is one thing you can agree on: get those dirty homos. And that is enough.

Jesus had nothing, not one word, to say about homosexuality, as understood in either his own day or in ours. He did say, and clearly, “Feed the poor.”

So here is my question to you two good Christians: how many children died of hunger in Darfur, in Iraq, in Zimbabwe, in Congo, in Bangladesh while you spent your resources blocking my access to civil marriage? How many children are suffering from horrible diseases because they have no medical care, in the favelas of Rio or the slums of Mexico City, because your money and energy is used to attack my family, without even the shabby excuse of a benefit to your own? What’s truly sad is that it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to you in either case, because ultimately, you don’t care about us or them.

How much pain, misery, and suffering do you endorse for others while you obsess over what makes MY dick hard?

Wayne Besen
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

What we need is a coalition of free thinking people of faith and non-believers to counter the worldwide deleterious influence political fundamentalism.

In other words, skeptics, nonbelievers and the God Loving vs. the God Fearing.

Political fundamentalism (of all types) is a cancer. It breeds war, famine, and spiritual, economic and cultural impoverishment wherever it takes root. No place that embraces fundamentalism treats gays (or women) as equals. From Wahhabi Islam to the current Pope to the Southern Baptist Convention to right wing Jewish sects. They are all about power, controlling, manipulating and oppressing people.

We must steer people into God Loving religious traditions (Yes, there are many) or into no religion at all. Whatever suits the individual’s conscience. But, we can no longer give right wing fundamentalism a pass. We do so at our own peril.

We should always, as a core principle, respect their right to believe whatever they want. But, we do not have to respect beliefs that are backwards and opposed to science, education and realty. We must be very clear that religions that strive for the Middle ages, rather than the modern age are detriment to American society and the world.

But, it is not adequate that we simply oppose these barbaric and discriminatory views and religions. We must – with great clarity – say what we stand for and articulate our vision of the world.

We ought to be able to say what principles we represent as clearly as we can say why we are opposed to Pat Robertson. When we succeed at this, we will begin to win.

Wayne Besen
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

One more thing.

The Christians commenting on this site – who I share a great respect for – do not share the same religion as James Dobson or even Rick Warren. You only share the same title. As soon as you come to grips that your faith differs as much with these guys as it does, with say, the Moonies, you’ll be in a much better place to address these issues from a faith perspective.

But, let’s stop pretending that there is anything in common with intolerant bigots. The divide is too wide and the gulf too deep. You are not going to close this divide. Period.

What you can do is convince someone to leave a fundamentalist tradition or they can convince you to become a fundamentalist.

Or, you can agree to disagree and not use the political system to oppress one another. But, thinking that you can find real common ground is not going to be successful.

Why? Because, as I have pointed out, the God Loving do not share the same God as the God Fearing. The only shred of commonality is the Christin label.

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