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Pullen Baptist bans marriages

Timothy Kincaid

November 21st, 2011

The little old men and women of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, have taken a position on same-sex marriage. By unanimous vote, they prohibited their pastor from conducting weddings.

All weddings, gay or straight. Or, at least until the state changes its laws. (newsobserver)

The congregants said in a formal statement that current North Carolina law – and the language proposed for a vote next year on an amendment to the state Constitution – discriminates against same-sex couples “by denying them the rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.”

“As people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination,” the church’s statement says.

They will continue to observe holy unions – mixed or same-sex – at this traditionally progressive church. But if you want the government’s stamp of approval on your marriage, you’ll have to get it elsewhere. Because Pullen Memorial isn’t in the discrimination business.

Comments

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Andrew
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

It’s sad churches like this never make it to news stations and websites.

Rob in San Diego
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

Marriage is a religious right, it’s just that our government has meddled to far in it. Which forced us to demand equal rights. If the church does not want to officiate any weddings, same sex or straight then that is their right. So long as they are being equal about it then that’s fine. Let their heterosexuals suffer, now they know how we feel.

msrowena
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

You’re “pullen” my leg! This is actually pretty heartening. We hear so much about the roadblocks in MSM and elsewhere, that sometimes the small voice in the night is so welcome.

Argo
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

From the linked N&O article:

The vote was unanimous and brought tears to the eyes of some of the 100 or so members who stood to vote in favor of the “statement on marriage ceremonies.”

It also brought a tear to my eye; unanimous—bless them.

Lindoro Almaviva
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

Rob:

Marriage has not been a religious right since the first civil marriages were perfiormed in france during the french Revolution. I am not sure i agree with your assertion that the government had meddled into something, given how they run their own marriage institution and thus have the right to change it and modify it as they see it fit.

In my opinion, the mistake that was made was to allow religious figures to “kill two birds with the same stone”. If people had to go to the justice of peace before they had to go to their pastor, people in this country would actually realize the difference.

Soren456
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

A rare useful statement to Christian bigots.

It is so tiresome to read Christian apologists, in response to some new Christian outrage directed against us, insist “well, that’s not MY Christianity; we’re not ALL like that.”

And there it ends.

At least these people have the character and the integrity to turn from apology and to face their bigot brothers with a statement that can’t be ignored.

Timothy Kincaid
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

Soren456,

I share your frustration.

For far too long, moderates and mainline Christians have let the radical extremist conservatives dominate the conversation. They’ve taken an attitude of tolerance and been reluctant to publicly rebuke a fellow Christian.

It is way past time for moderates and mainliners to stop just saying, “oh, well I see it differently” and to start saying, “your hate-filled position is contrary to everything Jesus taught and your lies about gay people are inspired by Satan”.

They need to stand up – like the UCC pastor in Raleigh – and denounce homophobia and bigotry and lying and do so in terms that make it clear that treating people with contempt is not an option for Christians.

Fortunately, it is beginning to happen. Just in the past couple of years, I’ve seen real change. No longer are city council meetings and school board gatherings a battle between the “militant homosexual activists” and all of Christendom. Now it seems that the advocates for equality and dignity are more often the pastor of a church than from a gay community center. And when that happens, we win.

David
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

There’s just no pleasing bigots.

Atheism is a prejudice, like homophobia and racism.

Priya Lynn
November 21st, 2011 | LINK

David, atheism is not a prejudice as with religion there is no evidence to judge.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

No,David. Atheism is a belief system. And just like a theistic belief system it can be casual or committed, sincere or lazy, and principled or unethical.

Yes there can be atheists who are hateful and bigoted just like there can be Christians who are hateful and bigoted. But the belief that there are no deities and no supernatural is not, in itself, bigotry.

Ivan
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

@Timothy Kincaid.

No.

If atheism is a belief system then by the same reasoning bald is a hair colour, “off” is a TV programme and not playing football is a sport.

Humanism is a belief system) based on how to live a good life based on evidence, rationalism and reason without recourse to the supernatural) but atheism is simply a non-belief in gods and has no other characteristic, good or bad, whatsoever.

Ben In Oakland
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

More accurately, Ivan…

Atheism is a lack of a belief system. It’s a demand for evidence, which is somehat the oppositre of belief.

There is no “system” to it, any more than there is a system to not believing in Santa claus or the Easter Bunny.

Erin
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

“There’s just no pleasing bigots.

Atheism is a prejudice, like homophobia and racism.”

What does Atheism have to do with this article? And also…you’re trying to say anyone who doesn’t approve of those who use religion to harm and discriminate against others are just being anti-religious bigots and hate all religion. Sorry, that logical fallacy has been pointed out time and again. No one here is falling for it. Gay acceptance is not the opposite of religion. Many religious people practice it all the time. If you want to comment on the article, go right ahead. I for one, am not going to fall for your attempt to divide us by bringing up the Atheism vs religion argument. That is an argument for another day and another website.

Priya Lynn
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Well, I think that about sums it up.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Good points. True, atheism is not necessarily a belief system. Though, as practiced, it can meld with humanism into a structured way of ethical living. (and I distinguish between uncertain or doubtful agnostics and those who are commited to their beliefs about deities)

And I suppose I could argue that a great deal of self identified Christians and other theists also lack any system. So I’m not sure my answer fails entirely.

But we can agree that atheism, whatever it is, is not inherently bigotry.

Priya Lynn
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

David says that because atheism assumes belief in a god is wrong that that makes it bigotry, intolerant of religious beliefs and an attack on freedom of religion. Somehow it doesn’t occur to him that by that logic belief in a god assumes atheism is wrong and that makes christianity bigotry and an attack on freedom from religion.

From what I’ve got from David it seems he believes that in a just and tolerant society no one is allowed to believe belief in a god is incorrect.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Yes, the logic is the same.

But where did David make that statement? Was it another thread?

In the context, was it in an offensive and attacking way that would be a violation of our comments policy? We don’t want atheists to feel that participation here will result in abuse any more than any other group.

If BTB can insist that we be respectful to conservative Christians, we certainly can insist on being respectful to atheists. There’s a big difference between an exchange of ideas and an exchange of insults and we’d rather have ideas.

Priya Lynn
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Yes, it was in another thread. He’s made several long comments along those lines and has specifically said that atheism is by definition intolerant because it says belief in a god is wrong. If you want I can do some searches for “atheist” and “David” and find you some examples.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Priya,

I tracked back all of his statements over the past year and didn’t find long comments expressing what you say. Perhaps it was earlier. But in what I did find, it seemed to be strongly opinionated, but part of a back and forth thing. I didn’t get the sense that it was abusive.

But if it happens again and you feel it is abusive, please bring it to our attention. I try to read every comment, but sometimes I can miss something and I don’t want to be one-sided or unfair here.

Priya Lynn
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

I did a quick search for “David” “atheist” “definition” and here’s the first post I pulled up:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/03/27/21493

“Atheism is the specific belief that God does not exist.

Which means that it is intrinsically a negation, a repudiation, a denial of all religious beliefs, and a derogatory judgment about all people of faith. Religion, after all, is simply the accumulated experiences, testimonies, and expressions of human beings experiences of the Divine. Atheism is intrinsically anti-semitic, anti-hindu, anti-buddhist, anti-wiccan, anti-jain, anti-christian, etc.

Atheism insists that all of those people, the majority of all humanity, are simply wrong about their own experiences. That is an explicit expression of contempt, at the very least. Like so many prejudices, it dismisses the experiences and testimony of those it targets as irrelevant to its preconceived, derogatory impression of them and their livesIt states “everyone else in the world is wrong, our lack of experience invalidates everyone else’s experiences”. Just like when homophobes say “I’m not attract to my own gender, so no one really is”…Further, it is not uncommon for atheists on the ‘net to articulate their desire for a world free of religion, to label people of faith “delusional” or “a threat to humanity” – paralleling the abuse directed at GLBTQ people. Just like the way homophobes frequently articulate their desire for a world free of homosexuality…The fact is that atheism articulates a tremendous contempt for not only religion, but for all people of faith, and is essentially nothing more than a prejudice that targets the majority of all human beings…That is the terrible irony of atheists on the ‘net posting as GLBTQ civil rights advocates. The moment they articulate their prejudice against religion, atheism, they intrinsically reinforce, nurture and sustain all prejudices, including homophobia.”.

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/12/30/28774#comment-85914

“Atheism is intrinsically bigotry, so your accusation about Christianity is ironic.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of all support from civil equality for GLBTQ people comes from people of faith, including Christians, not atheists.”*

*not true:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/128291/americans-opposition-gay-marriage-eases-slightly.aspx

“These political differences in support for gay marriage may stem from even larger differences by religion. Americans who say religion is “very important” in their lives oppose legal same-sex marriage by 70% to 27%. In contrast, Americans who say religion is not important to them support gay marriage by just as wide a margin…Notably, 81% of Americans who claim no religious affiliation favor legal same-sex marriage. That compares to 48% support among Catholics and 33% among Protestants (including those who identify as Christian but do not specify a particular Christian denomination).”.

I know there are a lot of other examples, but unfortunately almost every one of the entries in my search referred to “David Benkof” so I was not able to sift through them to find the others.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

I didn’t google but did a search in the comments database by date and only went back a year.

In the March 2010 example, David clumped all atheists together and assigned them attributes and condemned them for the judgments he assigned.

But the comment that you quoted isn’t an out-of-the blue comment. Rather it was his response to a challenge and questioning of his statement. As such (and not a stand alone comment) it is not objectionable. And it is not an inaccurate assessment of the views and expressed opinions of some atheists.

What is objectionable – and which I failed to adequately moderate – was his conflation of ALL atheists into one box.

In your first example I probably could have done a better job.

In your second example, from December 2010, David was responding to a previous comment which included because from what I can see “Christian” is fast becoming synonomous with “Asshole” and “Bigot.” You left that part out.

I didn’t see the anti-Christian comment as being inappropriate(or all that inaccurate) in the context and with teh caveats with which it was written. But a rebuttal also wasn’t inappropriate. I disagree with his assertion, but it wasn’t an attack presented out of the blue without provocation.

The second example was acceptable, I believe.

It’s probably a bit late to be debating the accuracy or merit of the “more Christians than atheists” comment, but you are probably both correct. A far larger percentage of atheists (and Jews) than Christians support LGBT issues. But (without cranking the math) it is probably true that in total numbers, because self-identified atheists are a small percentage of our population, the majority of people who support LGBT issues identify as “Christian” to a greater or lesser degree. I guess it all depends on where you put the “non religious but kinda believe in God I think” people.

Ben In Oakland
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Niot that it is all that relevant, but I gotta love this:

“Atheism is intrinsically anti-semitic, anti-hindu, anti-buddhist, anti-wiccan, anti-jain, anti-christian, etc. ”

Judaism is intrinsically anti-hindu, anti-buddhist, anti-wiccan, anti-jain, anti-christian, etc.

Hinduism is intrinsically anti-semitic, anti-hindu, anti-buddhist, anti-wiccan, anti-jain, anti-christian, etc.

Christianity is intrinsically anti-semitic (and that is a demonstrably historical truth), anti-hindu, anti-buddhist, anti-wiccan, anti-jain, anti-christian, etc.

Just because you have a keyboard and can write a complete sentence doesn’t mean that you have the slightest business sharing your thouights.

Or, as i like to say, don’t believe everything that you think.

Timothy Kincaid
November 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Ah, but

The Universal Life Church Monastery is intrinsically pro-semetic, pro-hindu, pro-buddhist, pro-christian, pro-muslim, pro-wiccan, pro-jain, pro-atheist and pro-antitheist.

(Yes, they are pro-antitheist as they “are looking to change the negative perceptions of religion, faith and spirituality, by encouraging people to take control, stand up and speak truth to power by fearlessly stating their personal religious beliefs.”)

Universal Life Church Monastery wins. And as an extra bonus, you too can become an ordained minister online.

And, if ya think about it, the Universal Live Church Monastery is one of the largest religious organizations in the country. I’m sure all of us know one of their ministers.

Erin
November 23rd, 2011 | LINK

Why should you moderate comments just for having logical fallacies? It’s not like he was throwing around hateful and obscene slurs. If his argument doesn’t work the rest of us can call him out on it, like we already did with his last comment.

Donny D.
November 23rd, 2011 | LINK

Why are we even being diverted by this, originally a two-line post by someone who hasn’t stuck around to say any more. The situation of mainline Protestants versus the Fundamentalist Right is so much more interesting.

If you read the book unChristian, the authors establish that the 40% of young people aged 16-29 that were “unchurched” had some very negative things to say about “Christians”. The authors go into distinctions between all Christians and fundamentalists (the authors are both), but came up with findings that the “unchurched” young people had a large number of specific, negative opinions about Christians.

This carries over outside the Fundamentalist milieu. I’ve been hearing ever larger numbers of young people who declare ignorantly that “I don’t like Christians” for things that only the Christian Right believes in or does.

Mainline Protestants can practice the cowardice that they fool themselves into believing is good manners as much as they want to, but if they want to survive as churches and denominations, they can’t have large portions of the youth population thinking they’re a bunch of cynical bigots and prosyletizers. The average population of mainline churches will get older and older, and their denominations will shrink catastrophically, and many churches will have to close. So the only way they can hope to not turn their future congregants against them is being going out BEYOND current Christendom and tell “the World” that “We aren’t like them!, while in some clear way indicating the fundamentalists. They could advertise in a way that straight people would get that they welcome gay people to their churches. (That was the statement the authors of unChristian found “unchurched” young people agree with most often (91%), that “Christians are anti-homosexual”.) Mainline Protestants might find that their position toward gay people will be seen by many young straight people as a proxy for a lot of other things these young people are in favor of, like a generally accepting, non-censorious attitude. But mainline Protestants will never know for sure if they don’t get out into the public arena and in some way or another challenge or contradict the Fundies.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 23rd, 2011 | LINK

Donny D,

Fred Clark (slacktivist) points out that the Evangelical mainstream is not so different from the Religious Right.

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
November 23rd, 2011 | LINK

Erin,

Perhaps you misunderstand. You can debate the merits of whatever you do or don’t believe. But you can toss out hateful slurs or do whole scale attacks on others’ beliefs.

So “Muslims are taught to advance their faith without regard to other so I have a hard time trusting Muslim.” would be ok. It’s an explanation of what you feel and why -even if it is based in stereotype and false and would be immediately challenged. What you cant say is “Muslims are all terrorists”.

So in some contexts saying that atheism is bigotry would not be at all okay. It’s not a logical fallacy, it’s a slur

Donny D.
November 24th, 2011 | LINK

Just to be clear, Timothy (TRiG), by mainline Protestants I intended the usual meaning for that phrase, which does _not_ include fundamentalist Protestants. I could also have used the phrase “theologically liberal Protestants”, which is close enough to being synonymous for my purposes.

The Evangelical mainstream’s problems with being identified with the Religious Right aren’t what I was writing about. I have no doubt that many Evangelicals don’t buy into what the Religious Right is selling, but as your link pointed out, all too many do.

I think the objecting Evangelical mainstream’s problem is a more intense version of the mainline Protestants’s problem: neither of them want to take on other Christians in a way that will get out to the world beyond those they consider Christian. I can’t say about the Evangelical mainstream, but mainline Protestants don’t have a viable choice in this. They can continue their refusal to engage in open theological conflict with the Fundies and continued to be tarred with the “all Christians are bigots” brush, or they can step up and explain to the rest of us how they are different from the Fundies. And if that can’t be all mainline Protestants, it could be those denominations who don’t have enough homophobic or otherwise narrowminded clergy or laity to cause them problems with this course of action. Of course they’d also have to not be afraid of whatever retaliation the Fundamentalists might attempt, and would have to be willing to duke it out with the Fundies in the public square, including being ready to debate them on radio and television.

Timothy Kincaid
November 25th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D,

Very well said.

Much of the problem is that Christians have the same problem that gays have or any group that has opponents has. They dont want to attack a brother. Just like our community walks a bit softly while publicly chastising our own -when we do – the Christian community also tries to keep it “in the family”.

We know that any criticism of our own will not gain any points with those who dislike us and will only give fuel to the LaBarbaras to say “even militant homosexuals admit…”. So too are Christians aware that interdenominational criticism wins no one and helps anti-Christian voices.

Additionally, most mainline churches probably think that they HAVE told the world what they believe. After all, they’ve been the subject of articles quoting every dissident who broke away due to their ‘appeasing the godless homosexuals and deserting the bible’. To them it must seem like common knowledge.

Of course it is not. Read comments here and you soon see that even BTB readers are not aware of the increasingly vocal pro-gay positions of mainline churches. And we cover this stuff more that any gay website I can think of.

It is changing. And I think it will continue to change at a rapid pace.

Mainline Christendom is beginning to see this less as a matter a doctrinal disagreement (about which it would be unchristian of them to dispute publicly) and more as a matter of justice. In matters of justice, they are faith-bound to act.

I really am optimistic about the role and voice off mainline Christianity in the next few years. I don’t think unduly so.

Donny D.
November 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid wrote,

Much of the problem is that Christians have the same problem that gays have or any group that has opponents has. They dont want to attack a brother. Just like our community walks a bit softly while publicly chastising our own -when we do – the Christian community also tries to keep it “in the family”.

We know that any criticism of our own will not gain any points with those who dislike us and will only give fuel to the LaBarbaras to say “even militant homosexuals admit…”

It sounds like you have some specific objectionable behaviors in mind here.

So too are Christians aware that interdenominational criticism wins no one and helps anti-Christian voices.

I can’t imagine denominations going to war against one other. But I can see Fundie denominations going off against non-Fundie denominations and Religious Right tendencies within denominations squaring off against their non-RR tendencies. I don’t think Fundie interdenominational harassment has gotten past a few nasty remarks here and there (most often it seems against the Unitarians, or beyond Protestantism, against the Catholics), but for all I know it might just be a matter of time before that gets bigger and worse. As to intradenominational conflict, that’s already happening, as with the Religious Right breakoff from the worldwide Anglican body. But the anti-Fundie, anti-Religious Right response I’m thinking of is large Protestant bodies coming out strongly for LGB and maybe also T equality in all things within themselves. Given their grotesquely huge sense of entitlement, that would be considered an attack by the Fundies, and they would counter-attack in some way. I don’t think I’m being unfair to Protestant Fundamentalism when I say that (unfortunately).

Additionally, most mainline churches probably think that they HAVE told the world what they believe. After all, they’ve been the subject of articles quoting every dissident who broke away due to their ‘appeasing the godless homosexuals and deserting the bible’.

Maybe within Christian community media. But anywhere else? You may know differently, but I don’t think the mainstream media ever report unhappy religious conservatives denouncing those things and leaving unless it’s a whole dissident tendency like the Anglican church splitoff. Which is hardly a common thing. I don’t think every denomination has had something like that (or if they have, no one in secular media has cared about it, because no church other than Anglican ones are the “Power Church” in the English-speaking world).

To them it must seem like common knowledge.

Of course it is not. Read comments here and you soon see that even BTB readers are not aware of the increasingly vocal pro-gay positions of mainline churches. And we cover this stuff more that any gay website I can think of.

I think you’re right, BTB has covered this kind of thing more than any other prominent LGBT blog.

But in the case of those BTB readers who remain unaware of the increasingly vocal pro-gay positions of mainline churches, in the case of some, it’s because they don’t WANT to know, because they want to be able to be angry at all Christians without the care that qualifications about types of Christians would entail.

It is changing. And I think it will continue to change at a rapid pace.

Mainline Christendom is beginning to see this less as a matter a doctrinal disagreement (about which it would be unchristian of them to dispute publicly) and more as a matter of justice. In matters of justice, they are faith-bound to act.

I really am optimistic about the role and voice off mainline Christianity in the next few years. I don’t think unduly so.

I can understand many LGBT people being pissed that the progress hasn’t been faster, or that ordination of lesbian or gay people is still a matter of controversy in some “liberal” churches, let alone same sex marriage. But I think you’re right to be optimistic about this based on the evidence.

The reactiveness of the Fundies in punishing anyone in their religious bodies who show the least slackening of official homophobia (as you’ve reported here) has a decadent feel to it, like that of an authority polity that is on the verge of losing control of its subjects. Due to their success at keeping intra-milieu disagreements hidden, we might in not too long see some surprising things come from the Fundies as well.

Timothy Kincaid
November 29th, 2011 | LINK

Donny,

It sounds like you have some specific objectionable behaviors in mind here.

No. Not really. But time and again if someone in our community says something that is in any way critical of a group, the Peters latch onto it and spin it.

I can’t imagine … when I say that (unfortunately).

I think your analysis in this paragraph is astute.

Maybe within Christian community media. But anywhere else?

It was covered a lot. All the big papers and many of the smaller ones had stories about the ECA.

And when the ELCA had it’s “schism” last year, and about 200 churches left rather than condone with Teh Ghey, it resulted in about 200 local paper articles, each giving “both sides” (one side of which is “we hate to see our brother leave us” and the other of which is “they are consorting with evil and no longer believe the Bible”).

Obviously, it didn’t reach most people. But when you’ve been called a “compromiser with evil” 200 times, you tend to think that its ubiquitous.

I can understand many LGBT people being pissed that the progress hasn’t been faster, or that ordination of lesbian or gay people is still a matter of controversy in some “liberal” churches, let alone same sex marriage.

Yes. I agree. And also, when you’ve been badly hurt, you may want your torturer to stop hurting others… but it still can annoy to see him get praised for stopping what he never should have done in the first place.

As for the Fundies… yep it’s coming. I have struggled for at least 3 months with how to analyze, much less tell, of an SBC conflict.

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