I’m not exaggerating in saying that I have never before seen with my own two eyes a contemporary preacher who lived down to the worst caricatures of hatred and poison-spreading religiosity as what I saw in this disgusting video. Even in my Evangelical “homosexuality is a sin” days, this would have turned my stomach something fierce (via Pam’s House Blend):
(Sadly, the video has been taken down from YouTube.
Fortunately, there are far less hateful and far more constructive readings of the Bible to compete for the minds of religious people in the future. Although,even then it would be a far easier task to persuade people to think more humanely, inclusively, and constructively if we didn’t have to figure out first how to convince them that their religious texts already say the humane, inclusive, and constructive things that they should think. It would be nice if the obstacle of convincing people that their holy texts and traditions agreed with reason were removed and we could simply reason with people straight up.
And, seriously, to believe in a good God who is so incompetent that he is unable to keep self-righteous hatemongers like this from positions of authority over those seeking him is just pure nonsense. You can make the argument that “it happens because God allows free will” all you like, but what is the point of this alleged all-powerful and all-good God going to all the trouble to supposedly create institutions that represent him if those very institutions will not be any different whatsoever in keeping out the worst malignities and ignorances of the species but rather consistently be emblematic examples of some of our worst traits and be led by individuals who are similarly steeped in wickedness of character? It is evidence that nothing but the normal human instincts created and sustain these institutions and that some of our worst instincts play a significant role in propagating them. And of course, the whole human history of religion provides ample evidence of its human, all too human character—more than enough evidence to conclusively rule that it’s not a divinely guided practice that is yet still fallible for its human component but a humanly guided one through and through and not even guided by the best humanity has to offer.
If there really was an institution specially claimed and guided by God it would be filled only with the most talented thinkers, the shrewdest, most humane, and noblest ethical guides, the most visionary artists, etc. That’s the only kind of evidence that would make anyone think that any super-natural transformation was even possible from an otherwise from an entirely ordinary human looking institution. But, instead, we are supposed to believe God uses the foolish to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong, while clearly enough in front of our eyes we see the foolish attempting to destroy knowledge itself and the hateful trying to shame the loving and inclusive. Of course the committed Christian must remain blind to this clear evidence and protest on cue about the difference between the truth of Christianity and the imperfections of Christians. I’d rather they applied one of the Bible’s few bits of actual wisdom to the Church and simply accept the truth about the Church: “you will know them by their fruits.” The Church’s fruits are all indisputably human fruits. It’s a human tree, not a divine one. Accept it already.
And a final way of putting this, so that it is abundantly clear and beyond possible confusion: this is not to say that all Christians are bad people necessarily for being religious. It would be prejudicial to judge most religious people entirely badly on the simple fact of their religiosity or bad theology. Some religious people can clearly live overall better lives than some atheistic ones. And not only can religious people be equally good or sometimes better than some atheists, they are also not necessarily any dumber than the average atheist when all things are considered. I know some ethically wonderful and intelligent religious people and I’m manifestly proud to be close friends with some of them. But the point is that when you claim to be a specially divinely created and guided institution, being “not all bad” is not enough to prove your ridiculously grandiose claims for yourselves.