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Why Family Research Council was so furious to be called a hate group

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

January 18th, 2011

In December, the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of Anti-gay Hate Groups to include the Family Research Council and gave honorable mention to the National Organization for Marriage and Concerned Women for America. This did not go over well with the nation’s social conservatives.

Not much attention has been paid in the past to SPLC’s gay hate list. Most, like Traditional Values Coalition or MassResistance or any of Scott Lively’s three groups were so extreme and out of the mainstream that there wasn’t much defense that could be raised. And further, some were led by leaders like Lou Sheldon and Brian Camenker that, frankly, come across in public as not quite sane.

And some haters are convenient. Social conservatives can point at the Phelps family and say, “Thank God that I am not like that hater” and suggest that anything this side of a “God hates” sign is moderate and reasonable.

But this time SPLC’s announcement was not greeted with rolled eyes or casual disregard. Instead, social conservatives – from pastors to politicians – took to the media with harsh rhetoric and a desire to discredit SPLC. Family Research Council’s online petition drew a Who’s Who of religious extremists from Lou Engel to Linda Harvey to Brent Bozell. If anyone had every written a newspaper op-ed which railed against “the homosexual agenda” or put the word “gay” in scare quotes or called you a “degenerate” or a “pervert”, then they were there. So too were a couple dozen politicians including congressmen, governors, and a few potential presidential candidates.

The Family Research Council is well connected, and its spokesman, former LA state legislator Tony Perkins, has become the voice of the far right social conservative movement. Accusing him of hate is accusing the entire anti-gay industry of hate. And throwing in such activist groups as Concerned Women or NOM suggests that even mainstream anti-gay activism has hate involved.

But still, the response was so loud and angry. The religious right was furious and their reaction was way out of proportion to SPLC’s rather quiet announcement.

But if you understand Christian theology, you can see why. It’s because, by definition, a Christian group cannot be a hate group.

This is not just a “we good Christians don’t hate” sort of explanation or some “no true Scotsman” logical falacy. It’s not even a distracting platitude like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Rather, the idea that a Christian group cannot be a hate group is definitional. And the authority for this definition can get no higher.

In the Gospel of John, written within the first century, Jesus is credited with setting up an amazing qualifier by which one either was or was not one of his followers. Further, he empowered this with a commandment.

John 13:35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

By the words of Christ, one can either be his follower or be a hater. But not both. You may call yourself “Christian” and have all sorts of views about theology, but the one indicator that is a non-negotiable criterion is that you love.

And while this is in keeping with the overall theme of Jesus’ message as reported in the four gospels (love your neighbor, etc.), it takes a particular twist that can be quite troubling to those who operate as do FRC. Oddly, here, Jesus put the responsibility – indeed the right – of discerning who were his true disciples not on his followers, but on outsiders. The “everyone” here is not Peter and Andrew but, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

So to be told by the SPLC that you engage in hate is to be told that you are not a follower of Christ, that your protestations of morality are, indeed, a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, and that rather than being the Christian you think you are, you are really working for the Enemy of Christ. It is small wonder that that Family Research Council and their supporters are furious.

[In future commentaries, we will discuss the Christian definitions of love and hate, whether the SPLC got it right, and whether FRC or other conservative religious individuals and organizations can rightly be described and discussed using either word]

Comments

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Richard W. Fitch
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

When Perkins started the FRC, one of his first items of business was to purchase the mailing list of David Dukes(KKK). Any organization founded on this demographic should be questionable to a rational human being.

Tony Konrath
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

I think it’s important to point out that the commandment was not”say that you love” but to love.

I approach christians who say they love me with the statement that I look at what people do, not what they say. What they do is filled with hate and it doesn’t matter how many words or how often they profess to love they don’t actually do any loving.

gordo
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Tony Perkins was a Lousiana legislator; not a Congressman.

But good article. Thanks.

AJD
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Interesting perspective. I think you make a good and valid point, and I look forward to your future posts on this subject. These right-wing Christians get pretty huffy and puffy when they’re accused of being haters, and that’s because they truly believe they aren’t and that their “love the sinner, hate the sin” thinking is a genuinely logical position and, at worst, tough love for unsaved and unrepentant sinners. But I also think the reasons for the FRC’s umbrage are much simpler.

If a group as prominent as the FRC can be labeled a hate group, then it effectively discredits the entire religious right, as far as its perspective on gay people are concerned. The SPLC’s “scarlet letter” is a reminder that bias against gay people is no longer fashionable and that the religious right is at risk of becoming irrelevant and even taboo, much like the KKK.

Timothy Kincaid
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

thanks for the catch, gordo. I made the correction.

Regan DuCasse
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

This is where I get into trouble with avowed Christians by reminding them of that very obligation. And putting it in the historical context, and very recent history, on how many people were denied that love and treated badly as a means of justifying NOT treating them as the human beings they obviously are and assuming their needs are the same.
This is why kindness, regardless of how small a gesture, makes us feel so tremendous and wonderful. A real act of it, not one given in expectation of a reward, especially that of one in Heaven.
You do a kindness because it’s the right thing to do. Period. You share what makes you happy and do well by another person for the same reason.
And especially actively brutalizing them, when they acted in no such way in the same manner.

This is why I mentioned that those Christians that say that the natural disasters are or will be God’s punishment and teach that, are doing a disservice to the principle of a test of one’s morality or a nation’s.
Disasters test our humanity and compassion for each other. What we will do when someone is hurt.
Point a finger and decide they deserved it?
Or help them and give them what they need to survive and be comforted?
Particularly when this is wholly an ‘act of God’ so to speak and of no choice of the individual.

Lots of those Christians hate me for calling them on their lip service.
Who have decided without asking you, what you are, what you deserve and they’ll decide what you should do and have. As if talking with a blank brained child or a dog.

The good Christians, the ones who sincerely want to please God, do so by pleasing their fellow man and asking specifically where they can do the most good.
They ASK questions, they LISTEN and allow the other person to reach their own individual understanding without being dictated to about it.
Bad people make bad Christians, and don’t like being humbled into THEIR place. They chose that life, they can damn well do right by it or they make it hard for the others.

The good ones, are modest about it. You don’t even necessarily know they are people of faith.
They’ve already done their good deeds without saying why.

Ben in Oakland
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

I think you are giving them far more credit than they are entitled to.

they are furious because no one likes being called out on hypocrisy, and the SPLC is endangering their their revenue stream, their power base, and the always feel-good of self-satisfied self-righteousness.

Not to mention, if George Rekers is any kind of an indication…

Tom in Lazybrook
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

One of the questions that I’d like answered is this….Is the FRC really that different from Westboro Baptist?

Lets recap.

1) Westboro Baptist’s theology is that God will punish the USA because of its’ tolerance of Gay people. This to me, at least, seems to be rooted in dominionism, which also appears to be the underpinning theory behind many of FRC’s positions.

2) I’m not aware of any, repeat any, difference on public policy issues regarding LGBT rights between FRC and WBC.

It seems to me that Westboro dropped the stick porn and stopped protesting funerals, their rhetoric would seem very similar to FRC’s. Sure FRC doesn’t say that Matt Shepard is in hell out loud, but it seems to be consistent with their rhetoric. Their overall worldview (dominionism) appears to be similar. The both make outrageous comments (see Sprigg at FRC) and have ties to extremism (see Perkins’ campaign payment in the thousands to David Duke when he was running for Senate).

Another FRC link that you may wish to review is their involvement with the World Congress of Families. WCF appears to cheerlead publically the actions of Iran and Syria when they seek to avoid UN condmenation for executions of Gays. I suspect that this is the vehicle by which the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the LDS/religious right/FRC strategize about international anti-Gay advocacy.

Soren456
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

A quite nice article. Thank you.

The “everyone” twist is especially important.

I think that for these conservative, right-wing believers and the groups they form, Christianity is a closed system.

The trouble is that they don’t realize that that’s how they see it.

They believe wholly in The Great Commission, but are blind to its nuances. They believe that God loves mankind, but can’t see the simplicity of it.

Their religion is like a reversible figure: the old woman or the vase (but not both). There’s truth and untruth, and no important tones of gray; you know it or don’t; you’re in or you’re out.

So when an “Everyone” calls them on the hypocrisy and hatefulness apparent to observant outsiders, they are at first “misunderstood,” then they are angry, then they are “persecuted.”

But never do they seriously question what they believe, or how they handle and apply it.

And that’s the problem: They won’t assess, so they won’t question. Some don’t have the capacity, others don’t possess the integrity. And all resist the intellectual sweating that rises after questioning God.

I’m not sure what I’m saying here. I guess I’d agree with Ben, above: their self-righteousness is punctured, and it doesn’t feel good — especially as more and more of them can’t escape the fact that they have been punctured.

Tone
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

I know almost no words from their holy book, but I do know that more than once in that book they are commanded to love their neighbors as they would love themselves.

I mention that frequently because if it indeed is their greatest commandment, as their messiah said it is, then wholly ignoring it must be their greatest failure.

truthteller
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Excellent post, Timothy!

SteveInMI
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Best post I’ve written in a LONG time. Well reasoned and well explained. Thank you for this!

T.J.
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I love the simplicity with which you bring out the message of Jesus. I should add to your point that in the first epistle of John, the apostle says that if we don’t love our brother who we can see, then we don’t love God who we cannot see. The implication of what he is saying (and he’s the same author of the gospel text you quoted) is that not only are they not following Jesus, but they are not loving God either (the two are one and the same). It is ironic that they think their lack of love is faithfulness to God when, in reality, it is the exact opposite. Great post!

Bernie
January 18th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you Timothy, for explaining in respectful detail why I, and many others, are so offended by these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. As a Christian gay man I take great umbrage at the putrid lies that Tony Perkins and his ilk spew. They are the antithesis of what it means to be a Christian.

MIhangel apYrs
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

“John 13:35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ”

Legalistically, this could be construed that Xians (TM) only have to love each other, not those they consider outside of their Xianity.

It could thus be said that they are following the commandment, albeit not in the way they try to convince us they do

JCF
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

The difficulty, as always, boils down to definitions of “Love” and “Hate”.

To the FRC (as w/ all Christianists), “Love” is defined as “acting towards my neighbor in the way I think will result in him ‘making a decision for Christ’, and thereby be rewarded w/ Heaven/not be doomed to Hell” [There are, moreover, certain assumptions as to what constitutes---as w/ a "True Scotsman" (!)---making a TRUE decision for Christ. "Homosex" usually being DEFINED as mutually-exclusive to it].

Really, this is very little different (philosophically) from the medieval Roman Catholic view of “Love”: burning was permitted in the Inquisition process, because one was “destroying the body to save the soul.”

Love = What Gets One Into Heaven
Hate = What Dooms One to Hell

In this construct, what the recipient of this “Love” perceives (“Please, You who ‘love’ me, this fire you’re burning me in seems hatefully hot!”) is irrelevant. Humans NEVER know what’s in their best interest, that’s why you need an “infallible” authority (Pope, or w/ the FRC, the Bible—as interpreted by Tony Perkins!).

When “Love” and “Hate” are SOLELY defined by faith-claims, apart from any more “humane” analysis (“If you love me, you won’t deny my beloved my health-insurance benefits. That would cause my partner pain, illness and sooner death”), it’s very difficult to breakthrough this closed system.

Love is what FRC says it is. Hate is NOT what FRC says it isn’t…because FRC wants to get you to Heaven (“And you ignorant queers don’t know you’re going to Eternal torment in the Lake of Fire, by your own faulty definitions of Love&Hate!”)

Disclaimer: I’m a Christian—an Episcopalian. Several years ago, my Church placed a priority on defining its “Love”, via the UN’s “Millenium Development Goals.” (Google ‘em) For that, of course, we gained Christianist scorn: “You’re just a social service provider! What about saving souls for Christ?!” {Sigh}

Mark F.
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

I love the Christian cherry picking of the Bible! The fact is, it contradicts itself!

MIhangel apYrs
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

following “Ben in Oakland”‘s comments,

what ever happened to Recker? Did he sue for libel or whatever…?

Paul in Canada
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Furious because of the accusation they are hypocrites, or frauds (read false prophets in biblical terms)??

Calling them out on the fundamentals shines a light on who they truly are, and it ain’t followers of Jesus!

Paul in Canada
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Ghandi wrote: “I like your Christianity, but not your christians”.

Priya Lynn
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Mark said “I love the Christian cherry picking of the Bible! The fact is, it contradicts itself!”.

Yes, again, again, again, and again.

JandyA Says
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

VERY VERY NICE Timothy. I love the way you broke things down and allowed an understanding AND A CHOICE by your readers of seeing the TRUE TRUTH, or NOT.

I was once caught-up in the fire and brimstone theology of the Independent Fundamental Baptists, I enrolled in one of Universities, and I appropriately HATED the people who they hated.

The only problem for me was that I AM called upon to HATE my own self, because I am a Gay individual. I have always been Gay, and was aware of it long before my “religious conversion”.

It is it was that same passage from the Bible to which you made reference that helped liberate from the hatred and self-hatred I had always known.

I realized that as long as I followed The Truth in my personal life… it was nobody’s business as to the intimacies of my Love. It is nobody’s business who I love or do not love. And it saved my life to finally attain to this knowledge and understanding in my life, because I was ready to END the life of this “self” whom I hated.

And within the fundalmentalist sect of religion… it IS self hatred and hiding they demand and preach.

Thank GOD He delivered me from these A-holes.

JandyA Says
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Sorry for the typos in my previous post. But hopefully you understand the content of what I wrote.

Aeval
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

“love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Is there any biblical basis for that cliché?

I know that my sexuality doesn’t define me, but I’m constantly defined by my sexuality by others and the society, so is it really possible, for those who believe in such thing as “sin”, to distinguish between sin and sinner when it comes to homosexuality?

ps. I’m natural born atheist. ;)

JandyA Says
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Geez, I’m really sorry to post yet again, but I just wanted to share another verse from the Bible which was an immense help in finding my Way to The Truth.

Look at Ephesians 2:14-16 …

I AM – a homosexual being. Being what? Being LOVE-ing toward my neighbor and loving toward myself. It really IS that simple. BEing LOVEing.

The Beginning for me was my identifying within. An identifying with who I AM and with how I LOVE.

Scott
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Richard @ #1
Minor correction, Perkins ordered the David Duke list while on a political campaign for Woody Jenkins, not at the FRC.

However there are photos of him talking to CCC groups after joining the FRC that Perkins denies doing.

Graham
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

“love the sinner, hate the sin.”

great. send the “sin” to hell then.

beachewtoy75
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Ok, I am the last person to be defending the FRC, but… it’s it a bit misleading to have a post about them and feature a pictures of the Westboro Baptist Church?

And, yes the WBC is different from the FRC, mostly because NO ONE takes the WBC seriously. Hell, even the most homophobic right wing nut jobs don’t even want anything to do with them.

FRC, on the other hand is most dangerous because they have more support and can always hide behind the word “family”.

BlackDog
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t know that the word “family” being in a name is all that much protection. I see that in a name of an organization and I immediately become skeptical of their motives.

Not to mention in the real world there’s nothing family friendly about Fundamentalist Christianity, anybody with ears to hear or eyes to see and a mind to think can tell that much.

tavdy79
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

@ beachewtoy75, I don’t know that it’s misleading at all: WBC are generally thought of as the benchmark for homophobic hate organisations.

As Tom in Lazybrook noted, FRC’s ideology is actually virtually indistinguishable from that of WBC – the major differences between the two are in style rather than substance. WBC is up-front and in-yer-face while FRC is deceitful and subversive, but they both have basically the same message.

Tom in Lazybrook
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Beachewtoy75,

Obviously, FRC isn’t exactly the same as WBC. But really, once you strip the style (the stick porn, and protesting funerals, etc.) from the substance (dominionism and extreme anti-Gay political positions) the question is IMHO a fair one. On what political positions does WBC and FRC differ? I’m not aware of any issues (other than FRC opposing WBC protesting funerals). On what religious positions do they differ? They are both dominionists.

Obviously, the point is that FRC is considered acceptable in some quarters, while WBC is not. I’d argue that it is a question of how they differ on how they present their message, rather than the message itself.

And I don’t think I’m cherry picking here. I’d love for the FRC to have to answer the following questions. How do you disagree with WBC on Gay public policy issues? How do you disagree with WBC on theological grounds?

Alex 0_0
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

Tim you give the cynics at FRC way too much theological credit. The real reason they’re pissed about SPLC hate-group designation is that it makes corporate contributions and corporate employee-match contributions nearly impossible. Few American companies will contribute money or services to a designated hate group. The only theology FRC cares about is the Gospel of $$$. Tony Perkins does hates on gays for a living, same with Bryan Fischer, Fat Maggie, and the rest: it’s their job, and SPLC just hurt their cash-flow situation.

Throbert McGee
January 19th, 2011 | LINK

I wonder if the outrage from conservatives would’ve been the same if NOM (and CWA, but NOM especially) had not been listed on the page along with the designated hate groups. (SPLC stopped short of calling NOM a hate group, but it did group NOM with hate groups.)

In other words, are people coming to the defense of FRC specifically, or is FRC benefiting from the desire of conservatives to protect the “moderate” image of NOM? Would conservatives be slower to circle the wagons around FRC if the public perception of NOM weren’t at stake?

Timothy Kincaid
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

tavdy, tom, etc.

There are theological differences between WBC and FRC; huge theological differences that go to the core of faith. That they agree on gay marriage says little about their commonality. They also agree with orthodox Jews, and Muslims, and secularists in Russia, but that does not mean that all of these share the same theology.

We do not serve our cause well by conflating the two; we convince no one and only leave religious people wondering how we can be so ignorant.

Timothy Kincaid
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

Alex,

Please don’t use slurs for nicknames. We don’t do that here… well, we do have one exception, but Porno Pete is special.

John D Poynter
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

The names of the hate groups that contain ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ are in the business of hating gay people. They also represent a feature of the right wing groups in America that I would characterize as ‘fertility cults’, which includes the Roman Catholic Church, innumerable Christian fundamentalists, and the Mormon Church. John Poynter

Throbert McGee
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

John, why don’t Muslims make your “fertility cult” list?

Obviously, they’re a pretty small group in America compared to Roman Catholics, but their numbers are in the same neighborhood as the Mormon population.

Muslim tradition also puts a premium on relatively large families (and resisting the modernist “secular” ideal of having only 1 or 2 children), though as far as I know, Islamic scholars aren’t as totally opposed to artificial birth control as Catholics are.

Jason D
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t anywhere in the bible. According to this:

http://www.ehpchurch.org/folder/060505.html

It’s actually a quote from Ghandi.

Jason D
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

from the same article I quoted above (sorry this just struck me as hilarious)

H. G. Wells. He said, “Moral indignation is just jealousy with a halo around it.”

Throbert McGee
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

There are theological differences between WBC and FRC

Perhaps more to the point, FRC is officially a multi-faith group, and thus (in theory) doesn’t have a defining theology, even though its leadership may be overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of Evangelical Protestants.

Throbert McGee
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

@Jason D:

While “love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t in the Bible, a little Googling suggests that it was originated by St. Augustine the Hippopotamus in the early 3rd century AD.

Augustine’s phrasing in Latin:

Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum

…actually means “With love/affection/esteem for human beings and hatred of sins,” and thus does not contain a specific exhortation to “love the sinner.” (Except insofar as Christian theology takes for granted that “humans” and “sinners” are essentially interchangeable terms!)

The familiar modern form of the phrase does indeed come from Gandhi, though it’s impossible to know for sure if Gandhi devised his version independently, or if he had heard Augustine’s quotation from a Christian source.

Alex 0^0
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

Tim- gotcha, “Porno Pete” is fine, but no reference to the 350lbs glutton who makes $500k/yr hating on gays. Understood.

Throbert McGee
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

What does Maggie Gallagher’s weight have to do with her political activism?

(And why does Alex care whether she’s fat or not?)

Tom in Lazybrook
January 20th, 2011 | LINK

Tim,

Perhaps it might be useful for someone to explain the difference between the theological underpinnings of the dominionist movement between the different anti-Gay actors such as Ms. Shrinav, Tony Perkins, the WCF, and Phelps.

To me I see them all (AFA, FRC, WBC, WCF) as dominionists, who wish to use their interpretation of the Bible to make public policy to deny Gay people basic (such as equal protection, etc.) citizenship. Perhaps you could help us see some of the nuances. Perhaps that’s because their output (public policy positions) appear to be exactly the same.

For example, Is it that they both think that Gay people should be criminalized, but FRC doesn’t celebrate the death penalty for Gays? Is it a question of degree of penalty?

Is it that they both believe that God’s law (as defined by them) should be the public policy of the land, but FRC doesn’t interpret the Old Testament the same way that Phelps does?

Where is the line between an obvious (to everyone) hate group like Phelps and Perkins? Is it because they harrass straight people too? Is it because they use stick porn? Is it because FRC doesn’t say that Matt Shepard is in Hell publically?

Phelps doesn’t bother to try to justify his policies with anything other than his interpretation the Bible. The FRC does (poorly).

Obviously Phelps is an unvarnished hate group. Is FRC? I think the SPLC got it right with them and with AFA.

FRC isn’t some broad based group, such as the Catholic Church. It exists primarily to ensure that public policy treats Gays with discrimination (with minor activity on the abortion front)

You are right, it is a serious charge levelled at the FRC.

Obviously, WBC is more extreme than FRC. But are they both hate groups? I’d argue yes. But I look forward to your comments.

Thanks

Tom

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2011 | LINK

Tom,

Theology is a tricky subject and one that requires far more time and effort than can be expressed here.

Just accept that the cartoon versions that non-believers have are about as accurate as the impressions about gay people that a 1950′s housewife in Iowa had. We know the difference between a drag queen, a transvestite, a transgender person, and a gay man, but she likely didn’t. And she didn’t even really have a starting point from which to begin to understand.

I’ll be discussing further my thoughts about hate and love and Christianity and I’ll address whether I think FRC (or others) are hate groups.

But for now, please just accept that – unless you are a seminarian or theologian – your understanding of various Christian differences may also have a bit lacking.

I fear that sounds condescending. Please don’t take it as such. It’s just that this is a topic that people dedicate their life to studying and far too often those who know almost nothing at all about the subject demand bumper sticker answers.

Priya Lynn
January 21st, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Theology is a tricky subject and one that requires far more time and effort than can be expressed here. Just accept that the cartoon versions that non-believers have are about as accurate as the impressions about gay people that a 1950′s housewife in Iowa had…It’s just that this is a topic that people dedicate their life to studying and far too often those who know almost nothing at all about the subject demand bumper sticker answers.”.

The vast majority of christians haven’t read their bible let alone done any studying of theology. Its a red herring to say there is this sophisticated theology people have spent their lives studying, they are not at all like the typical christian who doesn’t have any such understanding. As far as the typical christian goes bumper sticker answers are about right on.

Jason D
January 21st, 2011 | LINK

Priya has a good point. There’s a significant difference between the leaders of a theological movement and what the actual lay people think and moreso how they behave.

Catholics are a perfect example. I have family that go to church, their kids were confirmed, everywhere Catholic symbols, Advent Calendars, the easter palm leaves, all of it. But from day one they’ve all been accepting of my partner. My grandfather INSISTS on giving him a hug whenever we come to a family event. Nothing from Rome about gays seems to sway my family in the slightest. No one has ever attempted to shame us, or suggest we were doing anything remotely wrong.

So while the Catholic Church may say “NO! NO! NO!” Actual Catholics may say “Sure, why not?”

Conversely I’ve seen instances where a more progressive religious group has laypeople who feel their leaders are “too soft” on certain issues. Granted they tend to leave the group for something better, but not always.

Richard Rush
January 21st, 2011 | LINK

Jason, your assessment of Catholics is entirely consistent with my anecdotal observations (I was not raised Catholic, although my partner was). The pronouncements emanating from the top of the Vatican just seem to lose steam as they filter down through the power structure to the priests and nuns who seem like little more than employees. There is a Catholic TV station here, and its most memorable characteristic is that it is b-o-r-i-n-g. The most amazing thing is that every night they play a video of nuns saying the rosary, and they show zero enthusiasm while looking like they are nodding off and will fall off their seats. It’s truly fascinating.

On the evangelical Protestant side are charismatic preachers “on fire for God power” who know how to whip people into a frenzy. And these preachers are often entrepreneurial religious businessmen, not just employees of an organization with its corporate headquarters thousands of miles away.

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