Posts Tagged ‘homosexual’

Dan Savage, not for the first time, is mostly right.

His plea in this video is to those Christians who consider themselves in the liberal and tolerant subset of their religion, who keep reminding him that not all Christians are bigoted homophobes.

The problem, as he points out, is that they issue these reminders by emailing him personally, much more often than they do so by publicly denouncing other bigoted or homophobic Christians. He wants them to do more to join non-religious types in condemning the extremists, and do some good while boosting Christianity’s credibility as a source of tolerance and compassion.

And I think it is worth trying to bring some liberal Christians onto our side here, and to ally with them to some degree in combating values that we both find abhorrent.

(We’re still going to think your faith is ridiculous. Fair warning. But that doesn’t need to be constantly on the table while we’re talking about stuff like gay rights or abortion.)

The thing to remember, though, is that these abhorrent values are unequivocally Christian values. The history of Christian progressivism or fundamentalism has been a complex and bumpy one, but The Good Atheist is right to suggest that “hijacking” is an over-simplified description of what the conservative fundamentalists are up to. Their justification for bigotry comes straight from the same Bible that liberal Christians find their inspiration to be compassionate and charitable.

One thing that’s different, though, is the claim to speak for all Christians. That is something you only here from the right-wing nut side of things, and this is to the liberals’ credit. But Dan’s right to point out that, a lot of the time, the end result amounts to “silent complicity” by the latter group of the former’s prejudices.

A lot of the liberal Christian reaction is limited to emailing complaints to people like Dan Savage for their unfair characterisation of Christianity as being wholly bigoted and homophobic. But members of the bigoted and homophobic wing of the religion are out there debating with him on national TV shows, and this is the kind of thing responsible for defining the public face of Christianity. If that face is one of intolerance and hate, whose problem is that? Who should it fall to to correct the imbalance, to stand up for a compassionate, tolerant, liberal Christianity, to make sure this is a view that’s also heard and appreciated and understood?

Not mine. Not Dan Savage’s. We’re not part of that movement. We can’t be responsible for its PR.

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Some impressive writing I’ve come across recently:

– David Allen Green on sex working and criminal law, making a lot of sense about the simplistic “there ought to be a law” attitude that commonly holds sway on matters of undesirable behaviour.

[T]o “ban” something is not to eliminate it; it merely means that future incidents of it may be attended by different legal and other consequences than it otherwise would have.

This is actually really important. There are certain activities which most of society would rather people didn’t do. But if the solution is to simply make those things illegal, it’s a complete illusion to suppose that they’ve all now been neatly tidied away and aren’t really happening any more. For some behaviours, there’s absolutely no reason to assume that they’ll happen any less just because you’ve banned it. And in fact you’ve just created a huge number of criminals out of nowhere, which is even more of a problem in itself.

Obviously some things need laws against them, but the assumption that that’s going to be enough to fix something over-reachingly social and complex – anything to do with drugs and sex, for a start – doesn’t appear to be founded in reality, judging by the extent to which these problems still exist.

– The problem of gay teens committing suicide reaches much farther than the playground. Young people suffering because of their sexual identity – from both their own guilt, and the taunts or attacks of others – is directly related to the attitudes of politicians and public figures across the country. However much more enlightened the western world is supposed to have become about this, policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the number of government officials who think a person’s sexual preferences matter a damn to something like whether or not they can teach a class of kids, all add up to a constant message to gay people that they are inferior, or broken, or not fully human. That message isn’t just coming from other teenagers, and needs to fuck right off.

– Speaking of not fully human, did you know test tube babies have no soul? It’s true! You might not expect much sensible, rationalist insight from the “Faith and Reason” section of USA Today, but they’ve got that little factoid right on the money.

Where it falls down, of course, is that they seem to think this makes such children different from the rest of us somehow.

This is where magical thinking can lead you. Invisible, unknowable, non-existent essences become more important than people, and articles get written in major national publications suggesting that the continued existence and lives of millions of people might be an affront to God, worthy of “ethical condemnation”. Here’s PZ at his best:

And it’s incredibly offensive to go further and suggest that the parents of these children, who have gone to extraordinary expense and trouble to conceive, are mere “shoppers”, as if people who get pregnant in a casual evening’s rut are somehow necessarily conscientious ethical philosophers and serious about their children, while someone who sinks $10,000+ dollars into invasive medical procedures and subjects their body to a few months of stressful hormonal treatments must be getting pregnant on impulse.


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