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What are anti-gays on?

Timothy Kincaid

November 17th, 2009

rick scarboroughYesterday a collection of the nation’s most obnoxious anti-gay activists showed up in Washington DC to have a showdown with the government. They were there to defy the new law criminalizing preaching against homosexuality and to be arrested for preaching the gospel. (Christian Post)

Conservative pastors rallied outside the Justice Department on Monday to test the limits of the newly expanded hate crimes law.

Calling the new law – which broadens the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation and gender identity – a clear threat to religious liberty, the group sought to defend their freedom to proclaim biblical truths.

They were certain that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal. And they were there to be martyrs for their faith.

But there were no arrests. No one had to join the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther King by writing from the jail cell to proclaim God’s glorious truth.

Police were present, just as they are at all such public demonstrations. But, as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post noted they had better things to do:

Anything other than sex “between a male and his wedded wife,” announced the Rev. Paul Blair, “is a perversion, and the Bible says that homosexuality is in fact an abomination.”

No arrest was made.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, quoting Scripture, listed “homosexual offenders” along with thieves, drunkards, swindlers and idolators as those unwelcome in the kingdom of God. “To fail to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and come to Jesus is the highest form of cowardice and sin,” he said.

No charges were filed.

“Had people listened to our plea, there would be tens of thousands of people who had not died of a dreaded disease,” contributed the Rev. Jim Garlow. “This breaks our heart to see people die of AIDS.”

No hands were cuffed. In fact, the few cops in attendance were paying no attention to the speakers, instead talking among themselves and checking their BlackBerrys.

And, indeed, the cops were not interested because no crime was being committed. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act does not infringe on religious liberty or ban preaching against homosexuality or anything else they fear. The only time a minister need fear the law is if he is actively instigating violent attacks on gay people.

But this reality is wasted on these activists. Even though their bait drew no bite, they remain convinced that Christianity is being criminalized. (Citizenlink)

Gary Cass, president and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, said pastors who preach from the Bible could be held accountable if someone hears their sermon and then commits a crime against a gay-identified individual.

“It puts the burden on the minister to have to read the minds of the people that are listening to him and be able to predict the future,” he said. “It has a very chilling effect on the minister’s speech, because the safest thing is to just say nothing.”

And Janet Folger trumpeted her warning on WorldNetDaily

janet folger

Unfortunately, it’s too late for our freedom of speech, as so-called “hate crimes” legislation already passed Congress and was signed by Barack Obama into law as a part of the defense budget. That is why I stood with pastors like Rick Scarborough of Vision America, Mat Staver and Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, Oklahoma Pastor Paul Blair, San Diego Pastor Jim Garlow, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Bishop Earl Jackson of Stand America, and others on the steps of the Department of Justice yesterday afternoon speaking out against the law that has already laid the foundation for the Criminalization of Christianity, as I warned about in my book by that same title.

It can be difficult to understand exactly why these activists ignore the opinions of legal scholars who assure them that no such arrests will be made. It is odd that Christian voices calling for reason are ignored. It seems incomprehensible that a simple reading of the Constitution and the language of the law itself (which specifically excludes anti-gay preaching and teaching) would not assuage their fears.

But then something began to seem familiar.

You see, I’ve tried to have a conversation with a crystal methamphetamine addict who hadn’t slept in days. He explained why there was tinfoil over the windows and even the shower vent. He was worried that there might be a man hiding behind the stereo which was flush with the wall. Even though on a conscious level he knew and could sheepishly admit that his fears were baseless, the meth in his system compelled a paranoia which he simply could not ignore.

With him, there was a logical reason to explain his irrational thinking. It was chemically induced.

But why are these anti-gay activists convinced, against all evidence to the contrary, that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal? How do we explain their irrational thinking and baseless paranoia?

Surely they aren’t all meth-heads.

Right?

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

“Gary Cass, president and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, said pastors who preach from the Bible could be held accountable if someone hears their sermon and then commits a crime against a gay-identified individual.”

What could they possibly say now that they haven’t said already thousands of times? If they are so worried about it, you might have to wonder what the content of their preaching might be? What could they say that would incite murder and mayhem?

werdna
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Glad you included Ms. Folger’s shameless plug of her own book in your quote. Besides being funny, it might be part of the explanation for this dishonest fear mongering: you can make a good living stirring up baseless fears and promising to fight the good fight…

Priya Lynn
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

But why are these anti-gay activists convinced, against all evidence to the contrary, that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal?

Obviously they aren’t convinced, its just a convenient lie to help continue the opression of gays. Lying is standard operating procedure for these people.

Eddie89
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Perhaps the effects of extreme religiousness are similar to that of crystal meth and other drugs.

Stay on this “natural high” for too long and you start to become paranoid.

That’s my theory.

Free your mind of paranoia, stay off drugs and religion!

AJD
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

I would actually be a little more forgiving if these people were on drugs.

All that happened was, they tried to make a scene, but just ended up failing and humiliating themselves.

KZ
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Is that Scott Lively in the background of the picture?

Jim Burroway
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

KZ

Great catch. I just looked at the larger version of the photo on the Christian Post web site. It most definitely is Scott Lively in the background, second from the left next to Gary Cass.

Richard Rush
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

But why are these anti-gay activists convinced, against all evidence to the contrary, that preaching against homosexuality is now illegal? How do we explain their irrational thinking and baseless paranoia?

The entire belief system of fundamentalists involves believing a multitude of things that are “against all evidence to the contrary,” so that type of thinking feels normal to them. Reason and evidence are enemies that are “of the world,” and are not to be trusted. While it is tempting to say they are lying, couldn’t it really be their profound delusion? Is there a hard line or a gray area where delusional statements end and lying begins?

Burr
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

If only he could have taken the mic so they could have taken even more of a hit to their reputation.

Lindoro Almaviva
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Gary Cass, president and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, said pastors who preach from the Bible could be held accountable if someone hears their sermon and then commits a crime against a gay-identified individual.

And I actually hope it does happen. These people stand on a pulpit and get people riled up with their hatred. They SHOULD be held accountable for their words if they incited someone to attack a gay person; just as a bartender is responsible if someone who (s)he served too much alcohol kills someone in a drunken crash or an HR person knows someone is being harassed and keeps quiet.

Patrick
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

You can’t reason with the irrational.

Enough said.

David
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

“Perhaps the effects of extreme religiousness are similar to that of crystal meth and other drugs.”

Well. To be accurate, that requires a very limited and very specific definition of religion and religiousness. Other people’s experiences of religion lead them to the opposite effect – to fight for equality, to fight against oppression, to articulate the truth, to live compassionately and graciously.

I suspect that what we really see in these very visible, vocal religionists is spiritual desperation.

I suspect that they do not actually experience much if any true religiousness at all, that they have little experience of the Divine, the absolute, God, whatever word you want to use.

I think they exhibit paranoia because they are convinced that they are missing out, about to be left behind; not on sex, but on God, and it terrifies them. Everyone else is experiencing something, except them, even ‘teh gays’.

It seems obvious they are not having the kinds of spirituality they think they should have or that they believe others are having. If they were having powerful experiences of the Divine, they would talk about that instead of lying about us.

The fact that they are so fixated on everyone else’s presumed relationship with God, when spirituality is essentially intrinsically personal, indicates to me that there is very little going on spiritually in their own lives.

I think that many believe that when/if they make the world manifest their vision of God, then they will finally experience God. And it is not working, and the more it doesn’t work, the more desperate they become.

John
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t think this was irrational at all. In today’s politics people deliberately tell lies as often as they can, because some portion of the population will believe them.

It is important to this group that people continue to believe that Christian ministers have been victimized by this law. Even though nobody was arrested in this publicity stunt, I suspect that as the story makes the rounds enough, some people will come away thinking some of these ministers actually went to jail.

Just think back to the non-existent connection between Sadam Hussein and 9/11. Many Americans still believe that Sadam was in on it. This tactic, if properly executed works.

Lynn David
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

I’m not a psychologist, but I have talked with a few, so I’ll make a diagnosis of overt self-righteous narcissism with a splash of sanctimony.

Lynn David
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

BTW…. An Oklahoma state senator plans to offer a bill in the spring legislative session that would give the state of Oklahoma the power to opt out of federal requirements for carrying out the newly amended hate crimes law. This would be based on the 10th amendment (if you remember the spate of laws that some conservative states past stating their sovereignty under the 10th amendment earlier this year).

http://www.oudaily.com/news/2009/nov/17/okla-senator-propose-bill-counter-hate-crimes-law/

AdrianT
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

The thing I find most offensive from Janet Folger was her ridiculous film ‘Creation or Evolution’. The most banal video on YouTube, it makes Carrie Prejean sound like Voltaire, and wonderfully ridiculed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUSTbb4DBk8

Here in the UK, we have a problem with Islamic extremists, who call for shariah law to be implemented. You can imagine what they say about gay people. However, a group of secular muslims announced a counter demo, with slogans that ridiculed the extremists. As a result, the extremists called their demo off.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bZTC0FqHbA

In most cases, the answer is to expose your opponents to be the idiots that they are. Laugh at them. I commend the dignified show of defiance by the protesters in the background by the way. If only I were there to wave a copy of Origin of Species at Mrs Folger… ;-)

tavdy79
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

“I suspect that they do not actually experience much if any true religiousness at all, that they have little experience of the Divine, the absolute, God, whatever word you want to use.

I think they exhibit paranoia because they are convinced that they are missing out, about to be left behind; not on sex, but on God, and it terrifies them. Everyone else is experiencing something, except them, even ‘teh gays’.”

— David

In other words, they’re in a permanent state of spiritual cold turkey.

A key theological point of the Bible is that God (or the divine) is love. Since love and hate are mutually exclusive, since they cannot exist in the same place, their hate blocks them from relationship with the divine, and the longer their hate blocks them, the worse the comedown symptoms become and the harder it is for them to recognise that their hate is the root of their problem.

Christopher Waldrop
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

Lindoro said, “They SHOULD be held accountable for their words if they incited someone to attack a gay person; just as a bartender is responsible if someone who (s)he served too much alcohol kills someone in a drunken crash or an HR person knows someone is being harassed and keeps quiet.” And I couldn’t agree more.

What I think is often missed by anti-gay activists and other bigots is that the law doesn’t quell freedom of speech, but freedom of speech, like other freedoms, must be used responsibly. As Ben also said, “If they are so worried about it, you might have to wonder what the content of their preaching might be?” If they were thinking rationally they’d realize that they’re not losing their right to state their beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be. What is instead happening is that they might be held responsible for what they say.

Of course if anti-gay activists were thinking rationally they probably wouldn’t be so afraid of being held responsible.

TerenceWeldon
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

The “highest form of sin”? Higher than, say, abortion, or genocide, or promoting atheism? or incitement to murder? Come now.

The Bible does not say the homosexuality is an abomination – or anything else. Neither the word nor the concept existed in Biblical times. The idea that is says anything at all is the result o sloppy translation and sheer, bloody minded bigotry.

Like your paranoid meth addict, the belief that Christianity is opposed to homosexual attraction or expression, is the result of paranoia. The traditional teaching of the Church has followed, not led, popular bigotry and is based in simple prejudice.

There is nothing at all in Scripture, or the teaching of the early church, which is against loving homoerotic relationships, and much that supports it.

See “Countering the Clobber Texts”, and “The Homoerotic Catholic Church” at Queering the Church for more.

homer
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

These people already fervently believe in a magic book in which a woman is made from a man’s rib, a serpent talks, a deity speaks froma burning bush, every animal is crammed into a boat, and a zombie rises from the dead. Not very hard to understand why they live in a fantasy world.

Priya Lynn
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

Tavdy said “A key theological point of the Bible is that God (or the divine) is love.”

I must have a very different bible than you. Any being that creates imperfect people knowing that they will fail to live up to his ambiguous and contradictory standards and that it will eternally torture them for being exactly as it created them is not in any way, shape, or form, loving.

Jason D
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

I think they’ll rationalize their lack of arrest as the government being afraid of a constitutional challenge, or being too scared to take on these “christian warriors”.

I think some of them knew perfectly well that they had no reason to fear arrest. They just did this for publicity and attention.

I really wish someone from the state department had either showed up at their protest to say, or issued a statement saying:

“Isn’t it great that we live in a country where people have the right to say whatever they want to? There will be no arrests from this group so long as you continue to keep this gathering peaceful like it’s been up until this point. There’s nothing illegal going on here.”

tavdy79
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

Priya, the greatest display of love is forgiveness of imperfection, error or wrongdoing; if humans were created perfect, God would not be able to show love in that way.

ravenbiker
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

It’s nice to see them waste their time.

Priya Lynn
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

Tavdy, eternally torturing someone is far from a display of forgiveness or a demonstration of love. Very, very, very far.

cd
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

A key theological point of the Bible is that God (or the divine) is love. Since love and hate are mutually exclusive, since they cannot exist in the same place, their hate blocks them from relationship with the divine, and the longer their hate blocks them, the worse the comedown symptoms become and the harder it is for them to recognise that their hate is the root of their problem.

That’s the mystical notion/experience of God.

These peoples’ notion of God is as Divine Order, i.e. as authoritarian Nature theism. Which is the central theology of the ancient European religions which Christianity nominally replaced/surpassed, aka paganism. Law, how ever arbitrary or situationally unwarranted or cruel, before love.

‘Conservative Christianity’ is the messy fusion of the two theologies made in Roman times and claimed to be The One True Religion. It was claimed that authoritarian Nature theism is Biblically supported. By people who apparently read the canon with pagan eyes. Modernity has slowly undone that bias, has by way of Science dislodged authoritarian Nature theism. Now it’s slowly fading away in the hearts and minds of people.

The anti-gay activists we have before us now are the living champions of the core of an ancient, by the measures of our time inhuman, compassionless religion- a residue from a crueler, more brutal, age. They rage because the world demands of them compassion which they do not have.

At some level one has to have pity. In some way these morally ugly people are all wound up with social cruelties of the past of their own. They demand that their own particular pains be healed and needs (often ego needs) met before they will allow the world to improve anyone else’s condition.

But on the other hand, the world does not see their inner incapacity, the insistence on priority out of turn, as moral. Like the enforcers of Puritan theocracy, royalists, slavers, anti-suffragists, and segregationists before them, their stated motives will be obscene and their arguments absurd to the generations of the future.

WMDKitty
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they -were- all meth-heads. They certainly ACT like they’re on meth!

David
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

Tavdy

As you’ve just seen, there are people as committed to making false claims about spirituality, as Janet and company are to making false claims about homosexuality.

Just as homophobes create false constructs about human sexuality and the experiences and lives of GLBTQ people, so to do some atheists create false constructs about religion.

In neither case do they actually address the reality of people’s experiences, of either sexuality or faith, choosing instead to argue their strawman fantasy.

Both types of folk are caught in the desperate experience of feeling left out. They don’t address the real experiences people actually have, because that would require letting go of the fantasy that makes them feel special.

Nathaniel
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

We in Sweden actually have this kind of hate-crime legislation and get this…it protects us in the gay community as well as Christians or any other religion!

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Nathanial

That’s the ironic part of the sham outrage of homophobes in the U.S. – the language used in the revision protects heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

So if someone were attacked and called “dirty het” or something, it would now qualify for enhanced sentencing. Not that such a crime is likely, which is why homophobes, though they claim victimhood, were able to oppose the amendment.

The amendment also added protections for disabled people, but many of the conservative denominations that opposed the amendment also teach that illness and disability is punishment from God.

Priya Lynn
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

David said “Tavdy As you’ve just seen, there are people as committed to making false claims about spirituality, as Janet and company are to making false claims about homosexuality. Just as homophobes create false constructs about human sexuality and the experiences and lives of GLBTQ people, so to do some atheists create false constructs about religion. ”

Huh, I must of missed those false claims about spirituallity and false constructs about religion, can you point them out to me and explain how they are false?

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

David,

I’m pretty familiar with the teachings of most Christian denominations. But I don’t know of any that teach that illness and disability is punishment from God.

Can you please list these denominations for me?

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy

Sure.

Conservative denominations of the Lutheran church teach it, as do conservative portions of the Baptists, to name two.

Additionally, there are congregations/denominations that teach ‘prosperity gospel’ which explicitly teach that material success is the reward for “right living” and by implication, any misfortune or lack is punishment for sin.

I am surprised how quickly the meme ‘AIDS is punishment for sin’ has been forgotten, though so many denominations, including the Catholic Church, preached it for a decade or more.

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

David,

You have not named two denominations… or any denominations. You have used vague descriptions assuming that I will either let it pass or do the research myself.

Sorry, this site doesn’t work that way. You made the assertion so you get to back it up or retract it.

So again, I ask that you name the denominations which “teach that illness and disability is punishment from God”. Please also provide a link to support your assertion.

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Priya

Perhaps you should read your own posts.

The frequent characterizations you post about spirituality and Christianity are false. Your remarks about spirituality have consistently been abusive, degrading, malicious, and false.

The ironic thing, Priya, is that just as homophobes insist that homosexuality is not about love, utterly dismissing the experiences of millions of people, you did the same about people’s experiences of the Divine.

Your point “not in any way, shape, or form, loving” is exactly the same one homophobes routinely make about homosexuality, and, like homophobes, it is completely divorced from, and inhumanely contemptuous of, the real life experiences of the people you abuse.

You articulated a fantasy that based entirely on your misunderstanding, and claimed it as the definition of everyone’s experience, just as homophobes do to GLBTQ people.

The vision of Christianity and spirituality that you routinely articulate here is as divorced from the reality of the experiences of people of faith, as the claims of Phelps, Folger, Perkins or any other homophobe are divorced from the reality of the lives of GLBTQ people.

Just as homophobes do, you cherry-pick concepts, rip them out of context, warp them almost completely out of recognition, and then insist that these constructs of yours define the subject.

As a gay Christian, as someone who has deeply experienced both anti-gay prejudice and anti-religious prejudice and compares the two from an over-abundance of evidence,

in complete sincerity,

I’m telling you that your statements about faith and Christianity and spirituality are identical in motive, accuracy and malice to the rhetoric homophobes use.

The only difference between your claims, and those of homophobes,

is who you target.

Even your dismissal mimics the dismissals that homophobes rely on.

It need not matter to you that in your statements about religion you’ve employed the same methodology that homophobes use to malign GLBTQ people.

However, given that this thread was about the dishonesty and “irrational thinking and baseless paranoia” of one set of bigots, it is worth recognizing that those same traits appear in other forms of bigotry as well.

Ultimately, the core problem is bigotry itself, not the excuses and justifications for any particular prejudice, but the core trait of denigrating and dehumanizing people based on a shared trait they possess. When someone articulates one prejudice, as you do about religion, they also intrinsically affirm all prejudices, including homophobia, because all bigotry, all prejudice, is the same flawed, malicious process,

only the target changes.

Defend or embrace one prejudice, Priya, and you nurture them all.

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy

I answered your question. I posted from my experience in a conservative Lutheran denomination, and from the experience of my partner in a conservative branch of the Baptist denomination. I posted from nearly 50 years of studying Christianity in depth from the inside, across both historical and geographical ranges. I even provided a very recent and explicit example.

I provided what I deemed the appropriate level of answer for a minor, off-topic question. Since I’m not on your payroll, that’s enough in my opinion. You don’t have to like the answer, but don’t pretend I didn’t provide one. You are, of course, free to delete my post.

Just don’t expect me to meet a standard that Priya and other anti-religionists are not held accountable to here.
You accused me: “assuming that I will either let it pass or do the research myself.” I, in fact, made no such assumption whatsoever.

I simply expected to believed as much you, presumably, expected to be believed when you wrote: “I’ve tried to have a conversation with a crystal methamphetamine addict . . .”. Your account doesn’t match my experiences with meth users, but I took your word for it.

Of course, you don’t have to believe what I said from my experience and education, as I don’t have to believe you. But, how then will you criticize homophobes who refuse to believe what GLBTQ people say from our experiences?

This is a real integrity issue for non-religious people, atheists, when they rebuke homophobes, because anti-religion idealogy explicitly rejects the testimony of people of faith. Homophobes don’t believe the testimony of GLBTQ people about their lives and experiences, non-believers don’t believe the testimony of people of faith about their lives and experiences.

If you don’t believe other people’s testimony about their experiences, live, education, then you can’t expect others to believe you in return when you speak from your experience, life, education.

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

David,

I take it then that you have no support for your claim that the official teaching of some Christian denominations is what you claim that it is, other than to state that your personal experience substantiates the claim.

I am happy to entertain anecdotes. But only as such. I will believe stories of experiences and life education, but I do not equate such stories to evidence of hard fact.

Unlike my personal anecdote (which did occur as I stated it, incidentally), denominational doctrine is specific and exact and not subject to personal translation or interpretation. A denomination is not “some church I attended” and doctrines are not “well that’s what I heard”. And the name of a denomination is not “a conservative Lutheran denomination”.

Denominations are organizations, with by-laws, conventions, and structure. Their doctrines are the result of consideration and vote and are written and exact. Either a denomination (which has a name, by the way) has a teaching or it does not.

To the best of my knowledge – which is not inconsequential – there are no Christian denominations that “teach that illness and disability is punishment from God”. Indeed, that would be a most peculiar teaching in that it is directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture.

If there is such a denomination, I would like to know about it. Not that someone said it exists, but the name and website of the denomination. I have an interest in such things, especially when they are outside my experience or expectation.

In matters of anecdote, I’ll be happy to believe you (ie. that someone taught you that belief), but as a matter of assertion of fact about the doctrine of a denomination, I expect proof. I expect it from anti-religionists and I expect it from you.

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Incidentally, David, my religious background is probably more conservative on matters of illness and faith than the vast majority of our readers.

I was raised with the teaching that God divinely heals those who ask in faith. Relying on the hand of man (doctors) was an evidence that you just didn’t trust enough in the hand of God.

Having experienced the completely predictable consequence of such teaching, I am far from apologetic about such aberration. I am not at all seeking to defend or protect anyone.

But I also don’t want things stated which cannot be supported.

Priya Lynn
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

David, that was a nice long whiny rant, but it was totally devoid of any explanation as to how eternally torturing someone demonstrates forgiveness or love. I’m not surprised that you don’t want to attempt that.

You say “Just as homophobes do, you cherry-pick concepts, rip them out of context, warp them almost completely out of recognition, and then insist that these constructs of yours define the subject”.

Utter BS David, eternal torture is a central feature of many christian belief systems, that’s far from cherry picking, if you think saying that’s not love or forgiveness is “ripping it out of context” how about you put eternal torture of non-believers or gays in context and tell us how its not evil?

Spare me your talk about the “reality of experiences” of people of faith – the reality is you have no experiences with with characters you merely imagine exist.

You say “in complete sincerity, I’m telling you that your statements about faith and Christianity and spirituality are identical in motive, accuracy and malice to the rhetoric homophobes use.”.

You’re not sincere in the slightest. The homophobes seek to deny gay people equal rights, seek to force them into living a life of denial, and believe they deserve eternal torture. I most certainly make no attempt to deny religious people equal rights, nor to deny them their religion and I most certainly don’t think they deserver eteranal torture for their beliefs – there is no comparison between me and them and you couldn’t be more dishonest in claiming there is.

However, if Christians like you think I am going to remain silent while you mischaracterize Christianity by claiming a god that eternally tortures people merely for having the wrong beliefs is love, you’ve got another thing coming.

Unlike the homophobes I’ll fight for your right to be equal and to live life as religiously as you want so take your outrageous lie that I’m in anyway like them and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine.

You want to sugar coat the evil concepts like eternal torture that are at the heart of many christian churches, by all means do so, but don’t expect me to refrain from pointing out the logical reality of the situation – a loving and just god that eternally tortures his imperfect creation for being exactly as he knew they’d be when he created them simply cannot exist.

Priya Lynn
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy said “To the best of my knowledge – which is not inconsequential – there are no Christian denominations that “teach that illness and disability is punishment from God”. Indeed, that would be a most peculiar teaching in that it is directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture.”

No, I don’t think so. In John 5:1-14 Jesus heals a crippled man and tells him “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”. Clearly the implication is that illness and disability is a punishment from god.

Paul
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

I support David’s assertions. Fundamental evangelicals have for decades preached this type of ‘gospel’ – and coming from a Plymouth Brethern background, I can assure you, Timothy, not all churches script all that is preached from the pulpit in bi-laws, denominational theological treaties, or other forms of official documentation.
And I am very surprised by your confrontation manner in this matter. Sometimes you need to accept personal experience as a valid argument.
Lighten up!

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Paul,

Again, what David said was clear. He said,

“The amendment also added protections for disabled people, but many of the conservative denominations that opposed the amendment also teach that illness and disability is punishment from God.”

I come from a very fundamentalist evangelical background with extremist views about illness and healing. And even so, illness was not taught to be a punishment from God.

That some church or other said it, or hinted around it, is undoubtedly true. That some churches viewed some illness (AIDS for example) as an evidence of God’s wrath in incontrovertible. But that illness and disability was in general a punishment, if that is a doctrine of any denomination, I’ve yet to know about it.

If you have any denominations you’d like to present that have this teaching. Please do so.

Timothy Kincaid
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Priya Lynn

That you “don’t think” that this doctrine was directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture doesn’t surprise me.

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

“I take it then that you have no support for your claim ”

You can imagine any fantasy you like, Timothy. But personal attack does not lend credibility to your unsubstantiated challenge.

That I haven’t bothered to address your demands means nothing more than I find your demand unreasonable, inappropriate, and bias-driven. Given the selectivity of your standard, and the abrasive manor in which you conveyed, why should I, or anyone, answer more fully?

Essentially, with your definition of denomination you are simply playing parsing games, the way homophobes do about the word marriage. It isn’t honest when they do it, and it is not honest when they do it.

Of course, you are ignoring the very specific example I gave – the Catholic Church, among others, teaching that AIDS was punishment for sin.

Are you really going to claim that the Catholic church, a denomination of Christianity, did not preach that AIDS was punishment for sin?

Further, the ‘illness equals punishment from God’ idea has its roots in some sects of Judaism.

“But I also don’t want things stated which cannot be supported.”

And yet you have posted many such things, both about me personally, and in your essays here. In fact, though you’ve challenged my statement, you have not supported your own contention that my statement is false. You’ve simply tried to bully me into retracting something factual and accurate, something for which I gave an explicit example.

David
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Priya

That was a predictable empty dismissal, well aligned with the tactics that so many homophobes use when criticized.

And just as homophobes do, it is loaded with derogatory assumptions about my character, in place of addressing the material actually presented.

Remarks like “I’m not surprised that you don’t want to attempt that.” fall right in line with the language of homophobes. You don’t know what I want, yet you create a derogatory fantasy about me and present it as reality.

Even here, GLBTQ and het supporters get very irate, rightfully, when Cameron or Folger and company assert a false picture of the lives and experiences of GLBTQ people, but now, again, you are doing it to me.

Dismissals like “utter bs” united with overly simplistic, and essentially dishonest versions of theology simply mirror the way homophobe create gross distortions about GLBTQ people to advance their prejudice.

“Spare me your talk about the “reality of experiences” of people of faith – the reality is you have no experiences with with characters you merely imagine exist.”

Here again you are doing what homophobes do – denying to me the existence of my experiences, experiences you had no part in whatsoever, and were not present for.

You don’t know my reality, Priya, but like any homophobe, you are certain that your fantasy supersedes what I have actually experienced. Homophobes claim that same-sex sexual attraction is imaginary, a delusion, a mental illness; you claim that my experiences, of which you can know nothing about unless I tell you, are imaginary. It is abusive when homophobes do it, and it is abusive when you do so as well.

You have simply declared that you are not interested in the truth, in what people are actually experiencing and feeling and thinking – you have your derogatory fantasy, and reject anything that challenges it.

“You’re not sincere in the slightest. ”
Your personal attack, in its attempt to portray me as a liar about something you cannot know – my feelings – is abusive, and it mirrors exactly what homophobes do all the time. GLBTQ people say ‘our love is real’, and homophobes insist ‘no, it is not’.

Your denials mean very little, Priya, when you engage in exactly the same verbally abusive, dismissive and domineering behavior that homophobes use on a regular basis. You have used all of the dismissive, degrading, dictatorial tactics that homophobes use when their prejudice is exposed and rebuked.

They insist that they know what GLBTQ people really feel, you do the same to people of faith.

When the shoe you made fits, Priya, it isn’t fair to blame others for noticing.

However, I honestly did not expect you to actually acknowledge the striking, pervasive and explicit similarity between how you express your prejudice about religion and religious people, and the way homophobes articulate their prejudice against GLBTQ people.

I do hope that other participants will get the message though – that employing bigotry and prejudice, and the tactics of dishonesty, irrationality, deceit and domination, against any group of people, including Christians, intrinsically validates and supports prejudice and bigotry against anyone and everyone.

Lastly, I’m stopped trying to prove to homophobes that GLBTQ people experience love in our relationships; homophobes do not listen, they have a fantasy that makes them feel superior. So why bother with your false vision of other people’s lives and experiences of God? It is just as false, just as driven by prejudice and just as thoroughly defended by contempt and malice. You’ve already pre-dismissed my testimony and the lives and experiences of people of faith, so it is safe to conclude that you will dismiss any other, any less intimate and personal evidence as well.

My point remains: acting out any one prejudice, including that against people of faith, intrinsically validates and supports all prejudices.

Désirée
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Nice rant David, but you still didn’t answer the basic question of how it is “love” for God to create people who can’t live up to his standard and condemn them to eternal torture for this shortcoming unless they beg him for “forgiveness” for not being perfect. That’s not love, that’s blackmail. God should be asking us for forgiveness for not creating us up to his standard. Sorry, there is simply no love involved here. That you *feel* love is irrelevant to the doctrine you profess to believe in. Priya didn’t ask how you felt or dismiss it. She asked how such *doctrine* could be construed as “loving” and you have done a bang-up job of avoiding that question.

Richard Rush
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

David wrote:

Just as homophobes create false constructs about human sexuality and the experiences and lives of GLBTQ people, so to do some atheists create false constructs about religion.

One thing that is false is the equivalence you see between the experiences of GLBTQ and religious persons. And thus, the equivalence you see between negative expressions toward homosexuality and religion are also largely false.

The reality of sexual attraction exists entirely within each individual person. The are no independent external issues involved. And this reality occurs uniformly in all cultures, although its apparent degree of expression differs due to social forces.

But the reality of religion involves independent external issues in addition to the experiences occurring within individual persons. The question of a god’s existence is not answered by these experiences. There is an objective factual answer out there somewhere – a god either does or does not exist. The number of people believing one way or the other without empirical evidence contributes nothing toward answering the question. And unlike sexual attraction, there is little uniformity of religious belief among different cultures, other than just the existence of some form of religion.

David, your apparent expectation that religion should be immune from questioning and criticism (or even mockery and ridicule) is unreasonable. As long as religions insist on extending their controlling tentacles into all aspects of people’s lives, there is going to be backlash. And some of that backlash is going to strike at the foundational beliefs that underpin the presumption of religion’s authority. So instead of just lashing out at atheists, time would be better spent by discovering and providing empirical evidence to support religious beliefs.

In today’s morning newspaper (yes, literally paper) there is a timely article about Muslim countries seeking an international treaty banning blasphemy. So I wonder, why does a religion require a ban on blasphemy?

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy said “That you “don’t think” that this doctrine was directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture doesn’t surprise me.”.

Uh-huh, well let’s see it then. You talk about others not supporting their assertions let’s see you support yours.

I’ve posted the passage that shows Jesus saying illness and disease are punishment from god, let’s see your passage (if it exists) that would merely contradict that and once again show the bible to be a contradictory mishmash that leaves people without any clue as to what to believe.

Richard W. Fitch
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. (John 9:1-3)

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

David flooding your comment with unsupported accusations of my alleged wrongdoing is precisely the sort of tactic homophobes use to slander gays and which you accuse me of.

Let’s get back to your original complaint which you’ve dishonestly dodged:

You said “The frequent characterizations you post about spirituality and Christianity are false. Your remarks about spirituality have consistently been abusive, degrading, malicious, and false.”.

You’ve utterly failed to support this claim. Show us an example where I’ve falsely characterized spirituality or Christianity. Your constant rants that I’ve done so without any examples are childish and an example of the abuse you falsely accuse me of.

You got all offended when I pointed out to Tavdy that eternal torture is anything but an example of love and forgiveness, so as Desiree suggested stop using your tedious tirades as an excuse to dodge the question and explain how eternal torture is an example of love and forgiveness.

Your false indignation about me pointing out your insincerity impresses no one. If you were sincere that I’d “mischaracterized” christianity you’d be falling all over yourself to explain how eternal torture is an example of love and forgiveness. You fail to do so because you know you can’t make that case.

You’re using the same tactic the homophobes did after prop 8 passed. They claimed there were all these examples of violence against christians but provided no examples. You similarly rant and rant about how I’ve mischaracterized christianity but you provide not examples. Either s**t or get off the pot David.

Your insincerity is once again demonstrated by your repeated claims that I’m just like the the homophobes. I’m not trying to deny religious people the right to marry or not get fired from their job or evicted from their home for being religious, I’m not trying to criminilize religious behavior, I’m not trying to force religious people to live according to my dictates. That’s what the homophobes do and your suggestion that I bear you the same malice they do is preposterous and utterly dishonest BS. Your insincerity couldn’t be more blatant.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Very good Richard. Once again the bible saying to utterly contradictory things, now there’s a surprise.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

After some thought, it occurs to me that the passage Richard posted doesn’t necessarily contradict the one I posted. John 9:1-3 merely says in this particular case the blindness wasn’t because of sin but Jon 5:1-14 shows that often disease and illness are because of sin.

Désirée
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Illness/disability as a punishment from God was a Jewish notion, thus the many rules about those with skin disease (leprosy) being unclean and not allowed to take part in the holy rituals. Jesus went against this teaching rather clearly. It takes a strained reading to think otherwise.

Richard W. Fitch
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Priya – Good catch! I had the same thought when I posted, and I also found it interesting that both are in the book of John. Since I don’t take a literal interpretation of the Bible, it is possible to find inconsistencies without discounting the whole thing.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Desiree, if Jesus went against this teaching rather clearly then how do you explain John 5:1-14?

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Its going to take a pretty strained reading of John 5:1-14 to say Jesus isn’t suggesting illness is a punishment from god.

Timothy Kincaid
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Priya,

I do not play the warring cherry-picked Scripture game that is such a favorite of evangelical atheists.

Christian theology is pretty consistent that sickness is not evidence of sin (though it is generally nuanced in recognizing that some behaviors result in some sicknesses, etc.) based on the totality of Christ’s teachings. But if you want a selected little narrative in particular, John 9:1-3

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

I’m sure this will neither satisfy nor convince you. Which is fine, I don’t really seek to do either.

I really don’t find it productive to debate scripture with those who read it as though it were the California vehicle code book.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Yes, I heard that one already Timothy. You haven’t made the case that the verses I quoted are any more cherry picked than the one you quoted. Once again (did you even read all the comments?) a consistent reading of both suggests that John 9:1-3 merely says in this particular case the blindness wasn’t because of sin but Jon 5:1-14 shows that often disease and illness are because of sin.

Your attempting to insult me by applying a religious label to me doesn’t add any weight to your, at very best, merely contradictory argument.

Timothy Kincaid
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Whoops… I see that this story was already posted.

You are quite right. It is a cherry-picked answer. And, as I stated, such cherry-picking yields nothing of value.

Priya, yes, scripture is not a consistent litany of rules and stories. It is contradictory and complex, a document that cannot be understood by selecting a few verses here or a few verses there to build either a doctrine or to challenge its worth.

Scripture does not easily lend itself to a mindset that wants exact answers and precise lists of sins and righteous deeds. Perhaps that is why it is such a troubling document to both dogmatic atheists and dogmatic Christians.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy said “You are quite right. It is a cherry-picked answer. And, as I stated, such cherry-picking yields nothing of value.”.

And yet that is what you do anyway.

You say scripture is not “consistant” and that it is “contradictory” – I couldn’t agree more. You acknowledge that and yet somehow want to claim your interpretation is clearly correct and mine is not – that’s not rational or consistant.

The passages we both quoted speak for themselves. You have a very weak case when you claim that Jesus contradicted the idea that disease and illness are not the result of sin. Pompously insisting that you’re right and I’m wrong in light of these two bible passages does your credibilty no service.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

OOps, that should have said “You have a very weak case when you claim that Jesus contradicted the idea that disease and illness are the result of sin.

Désirée
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Jesus did not claim the sickness would befall the man if he sinned. He warned that worse would happen if he sinned. This can quite easily be interpreted to mean “separation from God” since that is what a Jew would take to be the result of sin. “If you continue to sin now that you have seen the power of God, God will cast you out, which is worse than being paralyzed.”

I guess if you want this particular passage to contridict the other, you could take it that way, but I think in this case you are reaching. There are far more and better places to show the illogical of the Bible.

And for Timothy: what is a “dogmatic atheist”? Dogmatic means “Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles.” Since all atheist state “there is no God” and all Christians state “there is a God” wouldn’t they all be “dogmatic”?

You are attempting to apply a word that can apply to Christians in terms of how they interpret scripture but atheist have no such holy writ to assert or interpret. Just the simple statement: There is no God. How can one not dogmatically adhere to that if one professes to be an atheist?

Timothy Kincaid
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Priya,

You say scripture is not “consistant” and that it is “contradictory” – I couldn’t agree more. You acknowledge that and yet somehow want to claim your interpretation is clearly correct and mine is not – that’s not rational or consistant.

No. I don’t claim that my interpretation is correct and yours is not. You are entitled to your own interpretation.

You are not, however, entitled to tell me (or other Christians) what our interpretation is in order to then attack the interpretation which you assign us.

Timothy Kincaid
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Desiree

And for Timothy: what is a “dogmatic atheist”? Dogmatic means “Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles.” Since all atheist state “there is no God” and all Christians state “there is a God” wouldn’t they all be “dogmatic”?

No. Not all Christians nor all atheists are characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assumption. Some are. Many of our commenters are either Christian or atheist and are not dogmatic or evangelical in their faith.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Desiree said “Jesus did not claim the sickness would befall the man if he sinned. He warned that worse would happen if he sinned. This can quite easily be interpreted to mean “separation from God” since that is what a Jew would take to be the result of sin. “If you continue to sin now that you have seen the power of God, God will cast you out, which is worse than being paralyzed.”

Thanks for that strained reading Desiree, you didn’t disappoint. The implication of the story WAS that sickness would befall the man if he sinned. The implication of saying “sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you” was that this had come upon him because of sin. Particularly in light of what you mentioned, the jewish idea that illness/disability is a punishment from god, that is the natural meaning that follows from the story, the one you assign to is decidedly much less likely and certainly at the very least you don’t make a case that my interpretation has any reason to be dismissed.

Timothy said “No. I don’t claim that my interpretation is correct and yours is not. You are entitled to your own interpretation.”

Yes, you did claim that you said “it is directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture.”.

You did not say “my interpretation is that it is directly contradicted by Christ in Scripture”, you said “It IS contradicted” – statement as though it were fact, no conditional. You have made an extremely weak case to support your assertion that your interpretation is correct.

Timothy said “You are not, however, entitled to tell me (or other Christians) what our interpretation is in order to then attack the interpretation which you assign us.

I never told you what your interpreation was, I merely stated that your interpretation in light of John 5:1-14 is at worst completely wrong, or at best merely contradictory of that passage.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Further to Desiree, if in John 5:1-14, Jesus wasn’t suggesting that the man’s illness was the result of sin, his raising the issue of the man’s sinning was a total non-sequitor – there was no reason for Jesus to bring it up, its totally out of place in the story. That’s why the interpretation that the man’s illness was the result of sin is the natural, or more likely reading of the story and your interpretation is inconsistent with it.

Timothy Kincaid
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Priya,

I never told you what your interpreation was, I merely stated that your interpretation in light of John 5:1-14 is at worst completely wrong, or at best merely contradictory of that passage.

You are entitled to believe that, if you so chose.

I find no value in debating theology in the manner that you enjoy.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Its not a matter of belief Timothy, its a statement of fact, no where in this thread will you find me telling you what your interpretation was – you quite simply and dishonestly made that up. That you can’t admit the truth when its obvious makes me think less of you.

Désirée
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

wow, one atheist debating another over a Bible passage… my life just gets weirder and weirder…

“go and sin no more” is like Christianese for “farewell and good luck.” Taking it, as we have, as a single passage and ignoring the entire context of Jesus’ teachings, sure, your reading makes sense, but to claim it is the only interpretation or even the best interpretation is simply bad scholarship. And be assured, yours is an *interpretation* based on how you read the text and what you want it to say, not what it actually says or what the intent of the entire book is.

The funny thing is, I actually agree with you, in that I also believe the Bible is contradictory and has no more validity as a book of truth than the Illiad or Odyssey does.

Priya Lynn
November 20th, 2009 | LINK

Desiree said “Taking it, as we have, as a single passage and ignoring the entire context of Jesus’ teachings, sure, your reading makes sense, but to claim it is the only interpretation or even the best interpretation is simply bad scholarship.”.

Yes, a couple of people have alluded to some nebulous teachings of Jesus that allegedly makes it clear that illness/disease is not a punishment from god, but other than John 9:1-3 (which does not make this clear) we never seem to see examples of these supposed teachings.

My interpretation may not be the only one, but for the reasons I’ve mentioned it is the best one and you’ve given no reason to suggest it is not.

As I stated, given the Jewish belief you mentioned, that illness/disease is a punishment from god, it would be a total non-sequitor for Jesus to say “go and sin no more lest a worse thing befall you” unless he was suggesting the man’s illness was a result of sin. Given that people typically believed this at the time, it simply isn’t credible that Jesus would bring up the man’s sinning for no reason, especially knowing that a typical Jew of the time was likely to assume he WAS suggesting his illness was a result of sin. If Jesus wasn’t suggesting the man’s illness was a result of sin, why is this story even in the bible, why not simply have him telling a healthy person “go and sin no more lest something bad happen to you”?

If Jesus was intending to suggest to the man, as you said, “go and sin no more lest you be cast out from god” why wouldn’t he have specifically said that instead of leaving his words open for being misunderstood as suggesting further sin would result in further disease as he must have known a Jewish person of the time would be likely to think? Your interpretation is decidedly less likely than the one I’ve presented.

If Jesus wasn’t trying to say sin caused disease it makes no sense for him to have suggested sin would result in “a worse thing” befalling the man and leaving it open to the assumption that disease was one of those “worse things”, certainly he gave no reason to believe that this wasn’t his meaning and if as you suggested he didn’t want the man to think that was his meaning it makes no sense for him not to have been specific about sin causing, for example, a seperation from god, rather than “something bad”, which does not rule out disease.

Once again your interpretation is a possible one, but in light of the context it is decidedly the less likely one and it is quite simply wrong for you to say claiming mine is the best interpretation is “bad scholarship”.

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