Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America’s religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.

Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title “The Old-Time Gospel Hour”, and in 1971 he founded Lynchburg Bible College, later to become Liberty University. Today, Liberty University has almost 8,000 full-time students, including a law school dedicated to training lawyers who will fight for Falwell’s vision of a theocratic, Christian America.

In the 1970s, Falwell became involved in politics, and in 1979 he founded the so-called Moral Majority to encourage Christian conservatives to be more politically active in causes such as outlawing abortion, censoring pornography, and dissolving the separation of church and state. Falwell’s group claimed credit for the 1980 election of President Ronald Reagan and took in millions of dollars in its prime, though he dissolved it in 1989 to focus on other activities. Falwell also briefly took over the PTL Club evangelistic organization from fellow religious conservative Jim Bakker after the latter’s public disgrace in a sex scandal and fraud conviction, in what some alleged was a hostile takeover. However, he permitted the PTL Club to go bankrupt just months later after apparently realizing the depth of its financial woes.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Falwell was the de facto face of the religious right in America. By the first decade of the 21st century, he had receded somewhat from the public eye, but remained a well-known and highly influential figure. Probably his most infamous remark was made on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club in the days after September 11, 2001, when Falwell asserted that God permitted the the terrorist attacks of that day to punish America for allowing abortion and non-Christian religions, granting equal rights to women and homosexuals, and separating church and state:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for an American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, “You helped this happen.”

Falwell was vehemently denounced for these remarks, and he later backpedaled and apologized, though he never explicitly retracted them and in fact stated that he still meant and believed what he had said and only regretted having said it “where a secular media and audience were also listening” (source).

As incidents like this show, Falwell tended to be a lightning rod for controversy, making numerous statements that displayed the religious right’s ugly face of hate and intolerance and their open desire for a theocratic state. From his open hatred of the feminist movement and homosexuals, to his fundamentalist opposition to evolution, climate change and other well-established scientific theories, to his desire to tear down the wall of separation between church and state, he stood for all that was wrong and abhorrent about conservative Christianity. Though he is now deceased, his legacy lives on, and his individual passing will probably make little difference in the grand scheme of things. For that reason, it would be foolish to express glee over his death. I opposed everything he stood for, and I still do; but if we who are on the side of right will ever triumph in this cultural battle, we will do so through persuasion and the power of ideas, not by waiting for our opponents to die. It saddens me that he spent his life consumed by hatred and the desire to oppress those who think and believe differently from him, but our efforts are now best spent working to keep others from making that same mistake.

At the time of Falwell’s death, the power of the religious right in America was and still is on the decline. However, we secularists and defenders of religious freedom underestimate them at our peril. Their power tends to rise and fall cyclically, and they have regrouped before. Though it is to be hoped that their current decline is permanent, it is far too early to assert that with confidence, and for that reason we must never take them for granted. I hope Jerry Falwell’s death does not inspire friends of liberty to relax their guard, but rather to man the barricades all the more vigilantly, to be tireless in our effort to defend what we know is right.

LATE-BREAKING UPDATE: Fred Phelps has announced plans to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Grim irony? Religious hatemongers eating their own? What say you, readers?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Chris

    if we who are on the side of right will ever triumph in this cultural battle, we will do so through persuasion and the power of ideas, not by waiting for our opponents to die.

    Unfortunately, I think we’ll do so through persuasion and the power of ideas and waiting for our opponents to die. I doubt that any persuasion or ideas could have reached Falwell’s mind, armored in ignorance and hate.

    We must prevent people like Falwell from influencing young minds to become more people like Falwell, but some older people may be past redemption. We don’t have any magic saviors – in order for someone to stop being hateful they have to *want* to stop being hateful; and usually, they don’t. Hate is too addictive and there is no known effective rehab. We can’t expect reason to reach everyone.

  • Jeff T.

    The fact that Falwell made that statement following 9/11 should not surprise anyone. In fact, these arguments are repeated and implied over and over again in the Bible. At least Falwell was being honest about his faith’s teachings. One need look no further than Genesis to get the impression that God brings destruction upon the secular.

    I appreciate the wisdom that Ebon shows by warning against joy at this event. Death is a bitter pill to swallow for the surviving loved ones. This is one of the many reasons why we need to show love and compassion even to those who fail to understand the truth of atheism.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I agree, Chris, not everyone is reachable. That old saying about scientific theories only becoming prominent because the older generation that opposed them eventually dies has some truth when applied to politics. I doubt any argument would have changed Falwell’s mind.

    Fortunately, we don’t have to persuade everyone – only enough people to make the difference. The old guard that continues to cling to yesterday’s dogmas can do so with my blessing, as far as I’m concerned, as long as they don’t interfere with the progress made by the rest of society.

  • CalUWxBill

    Wow, Phelps really knows how to make anyone look like a saint in comparison.

  • Alex

    Falwell also apparently claimed that the statement you quote was taken out of context. I’m trying to imagine a context one could put that in that would make it not insane.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    The only context that would make those words mean anything different would be if they were followed by, “Ha ha! Just kidding!”

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Well done on striking a balance. While I respect everyone’s right to express themselves freely, I think that many atheists on the web have gone over the top in their celebrations of Falwell’s passing. I was accused, rightly or wrongly, of being too soft on my blog. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in your analysis.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “Fred Phelps has announced plans to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Grim irony? Religious hatemongers eating their own? What say you, readers?”

    Fred Phelps is, and has been for some time, a fringe even to the fringe. He is seriously mentally ill. Even other far-right Christian nutjobs think he’s a nutjob. He gets on the news a lot, but it’s not like he has a lot of followers.

    As to Falwell’s post-9/11 comments being taken out of context: Nope. Here’s a transcript of the interview. Right there in context.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “Fred Phelps has announced plans to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Grim irony? Religious hatemongers eating their own? What say you, readers?”

    Fred Phelps is, and has been for some time, a fringe even to the fringe. He is seriously mentally ill. Even other far-right Christian nutjobs think he’s a nutjob. He gets on the news a lot, but it’s not like he has a lot of followers.

    As to Falwell’s post-9/11 comments being taken out of context: Nope. Here’s a transcript of the interview. Right there in context.

  • Doug

    “his individual passing will probably make little difference in the grand scheme of things. For that reason, it would be foolish to express glee over his death.”

    Sorry to play devils advocate, but is that the only reason it would be foolish to express glee?

    Doug

  • Doug

    “his individual passing will probably make little difference in the grand scheme of things. For that reason, it would be foolish to express glee over his death.”

    Sorry to play devils advocate, but is that the only reason it would be foolish to express glee?

    Doug

  • anti-nonsense

    Fred Phelps is going to picket JF’s funeral! That is too rich!
    yeah, Fred Phelps is a reprehensible nutjob. When the Christian Right thinks you are a nutjob, then you are REALLY a fucking nutjob!

    And re: celebrating his death, I have to admit that I am doing that a little bit, but I think it’s rather inappropriate to celebrate anybody’s death, even if they are an asshole and the world is better with them dead. Jerry Falwell surely had family and friends that will miss him and I feel sorry for their grief, so I’m trying to at least celebrate quietly because I wouldn’t want anybody celebrating any of my loved ones’ deaths.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    @ anti-nonsense

    Jerry Falwell surely had family and friends that will miss him and I feel sorry for their grief, so I’m trying to at least celebrate quietly because I wouldn’t want anybody celebrating any of my loved ones’ deaths.

    I agreed with your comment on my site and I agree with this. I’m no hypocrite, and I’m not pretending for one second that I, personally, am grieving Falwell’s death. I’m not, I will not shed a tear, I can’t even feel remotely sorry for him that he’s dead, or that the world is worse without him. But he has a family, and whatever their beliefs were and whatever shortcomings they may have themselves, his crimes were not theirs. Of course, through my love of freedom of speech, I would not dream of censoring anyone’s words in the hours since Falwell’s death, but I personally will be waiting a while before I condemn him (I’m not criticising Adam here, I think his article hit exactly the right tone for the moment). As I said on my site:

    make no mistake, when I criticise Falwell, which I intend to do in the not too distant future, my words will be as harsh and cutting as anything you have read anywhere tonight. But there is a time for such words, and standing over a still-warm dead body, is not it.

  • Alex Weaver

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to celebrate the fact that Falwell can no longer do any direct harm. Really, given his role in fomenting the religious right’s destructive lunacy and driving it to gain power, his campaigns against women’s rights, gay rights, the separation of church and state, religious freedom, and science education, his role in preserving the perceived legitimacy of bigoted ignorance as a political stance, and the fact that his social movement is largely responsible for bringing us the disastrous Reagan and Bush presidencies, this man has done more damage to America than Osama bin Laden could ever dream of doing. It’s unfortunate that he dedicated his life to inciting hatred, promoting ignorance, and preaching bigotry, and that he never came to his senses and attempted to atone before he died, certainly, and it’s unfortunate that there are people foolish, gullible, and twisted enough to regard him as a hero and an admirable person, who will doubtless be grieving for his death along with his family (who have my deepest sympathies, both for their loss and for bearing the shame of being related to such a villain in the first place).

    But as for me…”Quick! The hydra’s lost a head! Someone pass me a torch!”

  • Alex Weaver

    (Note: I am not contending that Falwell’s actions are more evil than Osama’s terrorism, but rather that their practical effects have been more far-reaching and more destructive of the happiness of the American people as a whole.)

  • Pi Guy

    Wrote it elsewhere, repeat it again…

    That Falwell actually lived to 73 is conclusive evidence, to my mind, that there is clearly no god. If there were that homophobic, misogynistic, racist scrotum sack would’ve been struck down decades ago.

    Good riddance!

  • http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/ vjack

    As much as I despise Falwell, picketing funerals because of one’s hatred for gays just shows how influential the guy really was.

  • http://www.celebblog.org/2007/05/16/jerry-falwell-farewell-2-minutes-prayer-for-his-peaceful-soul/ Zola

    Being a human, we have no right to celebrate any one’s death.
    I believe one carves the route for his/her destiny. But before death…..it’s inevitable.
    and when nothing can happen if the person is gone then why scream or yell and loose 2 kgs of our weight or 24 bottles of our blood.

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org Pedro Timóteo

    That Falwell actually lived to 73 is conclusive evidence, to my mind, that there is clearly no god. If there were that homophobic, misogynistic, racist scrotum sack would’ve been struck down decades ago.

    Well, what if there was an evil god? For instance, the one described in the OT…

  • Chris

    As I wrote at Pharyngula:

    I almost wish karma was real, so he could be reincarnated as the lesbian daughter of an illegal immigrant prostitute. It might teach him that the people he spent all *this* life hating are human beings too.

    But in our universe he’s beyond teaching.

  • RiddleOfSteel

    While I respect everyone’s right to express themselves freely, I think that many atheists on the web have gone over the top in their celebrations of Falwell’s passing.

    The behavior of some atheists regarding the death of Falwell is disturbing – bordering on ghoulish. Perusing some of the blogs and viewing what is being written, it’s evident that holding a disbelief in god does not in and of itself prevent one from acting creepy.

    Some people here occasionally get on Ebonmuse’s case for not sticking to what they see as a “strict constructionist” view of atheism as simply a lack of belief in a god or gods. But I commend him for his many examinations of the important question: “So you are an atheist – then what?” What are the implications and how should one act? I think today atheists would do well to ponder these issues, because some of them are acting poorly.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hello All,

    I have not checked this, but I heard on NPR this morning that Faldwell accepted different people into his “Moral Majority” to include, aside from Protestants, Catholics, those of the Jewish faith, and even some atheists. This piqued my curiosity because I have found that most atheists tend toward the liberal side. Are there any conservative atheists here or ones that anyone here knows of? Also, are there any atheists here who think that abortion, homosexuality, or radical feminism are not good ideas, or does anyone here know any atheists who do think that way?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    One further question:

    Does anyone see a difference between Jerry Faldwell implicating certain groups of people as contributing to the events of 9/11 and the sometimes asserted theory that religious people are behind the moral decline found in modern society, particularly here in the United States? To restate, what are the differences between these remarks:

    1) The abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for an American Way contributed to, or “helped” the events of 9/11.

    2) The religious people are responsible for the moral decline found in the United States.

    I think they are both of the same kind. Neither are expressions of hate, although both are likely expressed with negative feelings. Both are statements of fact, in the mind of the one making the statement, therefore the one making the statement feels justified in the statement.

    I will also say that the assessment that the Christian faith teaches that people should hate homosexuals, feminists, or other people who disagree with the teachings of Jesus is incorrect. Jesus’ behavior towards such people and his teachings are expressly against this. Current mainstream church tradition is also opposed to such hatred.

    I also do not think it is accurate to characterize Faldwell as a hateful man because he feels that certain things are morally wrong and should not be done. At this point I would like to point out that there is a difference between being “wrong” and being “hateful”. Faldwell may be wrong in saying that homosexuality is morally incorrect, but this does not necessarily entail that he hates homosexuals any more than he may hate someone who steals or commits adultery. He certainly would condemn such actions , but that does not necessarily entail hating the idividual.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Another thought:

    It is important to note the difference between hating a person or group of people and denouncing what they do as morally wrong. For example, some people who post on this website may denounce what certain religious people do as morally wrong, but they do not hate the people. Many of you are strongly against religion because you feel that it has very grave consequences for an individual and society. If you denounce religion for this reason, it is not out of hate of people, but out of concern for people! I submit for your consideration the idea that Faldwell did not hate homosexuals or feminists, or the ACLU, but actually felt that their behavior truly held grave consequences for the individual and for society. Please consider that he acted and spoke as he did out of concern and not hatred.

    I do not personally know the man, but I do know many people who do disagree and speak out against things which they think are bad for the individual and society. They speak and act out of concern and sense of duty and not hatred.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Alex

    I seriously doubt that Falwell accepted atheists in the Moral Majority, given his transparent hatred for such people, not to mention the fact that the organisation described itself as a Christian evangelical lobying group.

    As for conservative atheists: lack of belief in deities is not incompatible with the belief that laisez-faire capitalism is a swell idea (ask Ayn Rand) or the idea that people are in desperate need of authortarian social control (Thomas Hobbes springs to mind); or indeed homophobia (Rand again). Most frequenters of this particular blog, however, subscribe to some version of secular humanism, a fairly left-wing philosophy.

  • Polly

    @ Matt R: So glad you asked. I consider myself pretty conservative and it seems like I’m in the minority.

    I have found that most atheists tend toward the liberal side. Are there any conservative atheists here or ones that anyone here knows of? Also, are there any atheists here who think that abortion, homosexuality, or radical feminism are not good ideas, or does anyone here know any atheists who do think that way?

    I am very much against abortion; that includes the “right” to abortion. Obviously, there are exceptional circumstances, but there are studies (easily googled), that show 90%+ are neither for health, rape, nor incest.
    I am heavily capitalistic and I don’t feel Reagan’s administration, for whatever its weaknesses, was “disastrous,” and in many ways was very beneficial.
    I’m not into gun-control, i.e. I like (and own) guns.
    I am more-or-less neutral regarding other people’s sexual practices and I think the government ought to be also.
    I am rabidly anti-affirmative action, i.e. race-based quotas.
    I vote the straight Republican ticket.

    Well, in the interest of not turning this into my own, personal soapbox, I’d better stop. But, I will say that I often feel that some political positions that I hold to are casually presumed to be “evil” and only the result of the religious right’s interference with government. I was eager to respond so that people don’t think all atheists are godless liberals. Some of us are godless conservatives! :-D

  • Polly

    @ Matt R: So glad you asked. I consider myself pretty conservative and it seems like I’m in the minority.

    I have found that most atheists tend toward the liberal side. Are there any conservative atheists here or ones that anyone here knows of? Also, are there any atheists here who think that abortion, homosexuality, or radical feminism are not good ideas, or does anyone here know any atheists who do think that way?

    I am very much against abortion; that includes the “right” to abortion. Obviously, there are exceptional circumstances, but there are studies (easily googled), that show 90%+ are neither for health, rape, nor incest.
    I am heavily capitalistic and I don’t feel Reagan’s administration, for whatever its weaknesses, was “disastrous,” and in many ways was very beneficial.
    I’m not into gun-control, i.e. I like (and own) guns.
    I am more-or-less neutral regarding other people’s sexual practices and I think the government ought to be also.
    I am rabidly anti-affirmative action, i.e. race-based quotas.
    I vote the straight Republican ticket.

    Well, in the interest of not turning this into my own, personal soapbox, I’d better stop. But, I will say that I often feel that some political positions that I hold to are casually presumed to be “evil” and only the result of the religious right’s interference with government. I was eager to respond so that people don’t think all atheists are godless liberals. Some of us are godless conservatives! :-D

  • LogicalCon

    Matt: Conservative atheists? Define conservative.

    As a gun-toting, pro gay marriage, pro-abortion, pro-GWOT, Bush-voting anti-Bushie, aggressively atheist, capitalistic, small government, FSM supporting, anti-’truther’, Protein Wisdom blog reading, former evangelical father of two small girls, I prefer to think there are many like me who don’t fit neatly into the over-simplified categories society is so fond of. You might define all that as something akin to a “classic liberal”, but YMMV. I’ve held my nose and voted “R” in the past for various reasons, though that’s become harder each election. If that makes me a conservative, so be it.

    Both you and Alex are correct that most atheists appear to be to the left of that, but it’s all good.

  • Pi Guy

    …it’s evident that holding a disbelief in god does not in and of itself prevent one from acting creepy.

    I do not believe that people are making that claim. Claiming that being faithful doesn’t imply morality (atheist’s claim) isn’t the same as saying that being a non-believer automatically implies that we do (your claim). Non-sequitor.

    Atheists simply don’t have the option of copping out and citing scripture as support for our bad or hurtful behavior. But that’s precisely the sort of thing Falwell did on a regular basis, sowing the seeds of hate while claiming that god wished it so or some such bull muffins. If anything, Falwell is the exemplar of what we assert all of the time: that being a person of faith has no bearing on one’s actual sense of ethics.

    However, if you see it from the atheists’ point of view, this is pretty much a “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” moment. Even Dorothy wasn’t sad to see the Witch die. Perhaps she was nicer than we’ve been but she’s fictional and never actually had to live in Oz.

    We, OTOH, we live in a country where the Witch has the ear of the Great and Powerful Oz, telling him that the Munchkins are the reason that the house fell out of the sky, and the Oz is just too stupid (I suddenly have this image of Bush walking around the Ovel Office singing “If I Only Had a Brain”…) to realize that the Witch is lying.

  • Pi Guy

    …it’s evident that holding a disbelief in god does not in and of itself prevent one from acting creepy.

    I do not believe that people are making that claim. Claiming that being faithful doesn’t imply morality (atheist’s claim) isn’t the same as saying that being a non-believer automatically implies that we do (your claim). Non-sequitor.

    Atheists simply don’t have the option of copping out and citing scripture as support for our bad or hurtful behavior. But that’s precisely the sort of thing Falwell did on a regular basis, sowing the seeds of hate while claiming that god wished it so or some such bull muffins. If anything, Falwell is the exemplar of what we assert all of the time: that being a person of faith has no bearing on one’s actual sense of ethics.

    However, if you see it from the atheists’ point of view, this is pretty much a “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” moment. Even Dorothy wasn’t sad to see the Witch die. Perhaps she was nicer than we’ve been but she’s fictional and never actually had to live in Oz.

    We, OTOH, we live in a country where the Witch has the ear of the Great and Powerful Oz, telling him that the Munchkins are the reason that the house fell out of the sky, and the Oz is just too stupid (I suddenly have this image of Bush walking around the Ovel Office singing “If I Only Had a Brain”…) to realize that the Witch is lying.

  • Pi Guy

    Hi, Matt:

    Ultimately, atheism isn’t a political statement. As there is a relatively strong correlation between conservatives and belief, that might be their basis for their (conservatives) typically being anti-abortion, etc., rather than actually having to have thought much about it.

    Without definitively choosing a particular politcal or theological ideology, the non-believer must do their own research and then heed their own thoughts and feelings to form an opinion rather than simply assuming the one held by the team. In some ways, it’s a challenge to keep up as you must be do a lot of your own leg work and be prepared to change your initial belief if the evidence warrants.

    As Polly points out, there’s more than one dimension to being liberal or conservative. One could be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, an ideology commonly referred to as Libertarianism or Objectivism. And it’s obviously not limited to just those two dimensions. There are many, many more. If anything, again, a man like Falwell illustrates the harm that done by such absolute “Us and Them” divisiveness.

    The diversity of ideas, like the diversity of adaptive traits found in species, increase the likelihood of our species survival. Falwell and his aim to eliminate diversity. If evolution teaches anything it’s that that is the sure path to extinction.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Atheism doesn’t necessarily entail beliefs about abortion, homosexuality, etc, but I think eventually it does tend to guide us towards the left. Personally, I was pro-life all my life, and remained so for a long time after I became an atheist. Eventually, after a lot of reading and thinking, I re-evaluated the evidence and defected to the pro-choice camp.

  • Polly

    I re-evaluated the evidence and defected to the pro-choice camp.

    Tobe: I’d really be interested in hearing about that.

    Hmm…Therein lies the difference. I welcome new ideas fearlessly and invite people to give me reasons to change my mind. All I have to lose is my ignorance. THAT, I think is really what being a rationalist is all about – FREEDOM to pursue every idea under the sun and then select the one that makes the most sense.
    And, THAT is exactly what the religious right stands absolutely opposed to. They want to shove pseudoscience down kids’ throats, they want to stone people for personal choices (in the most extreme), and they want to bully the population into becoming Xians. They just don’t trust humans to find wisdom on our own. I do consider myself a humanist, and by definition I can only be secular. They denigrate humanity and in doing so they take a stand that can only be termed “Anti-human.”
    Anti-human culture, anti-human science, anti-human achievement (think, tower of Babel) anti-human love(many hardline Xians don’t believe there’s any love without their god getting in the middle of it) anti-human imagination, and so on.

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Two other thoughts:

    1) Falwell took a lot of heat for saying that homosexuals, lesbians, the ACLU, et al. that they helped cause 9/11. How is that different than another person blaming religious people for the problems we face in modern society?

    2) There is a lot of talk about the hatred that Falwell harbored toward certain groups of people. May I ask you to consider that it is possible to denounce something morally without hating the people who do it. For example, many who post here denounce religion as a social ill that causes problems, yet I think that few if any of you actually *hate* religious people. Perhaps this is the case with Falwell. Perhaps he does not actually hate homosexuals, etc… but feels that their behavior is legitimately harmful and thinks it should stop.

    *Disclaimer*

    I am speculating on Falwell’s alleged hatred. I am not acquainted with the intimate details of his life. My intent is to show that it is possible for someone to denounce certain practices without hating those who practice them. I seek to temper the knee-jerk reflex to call someone a “hater” when they voice an opinion about a moral matter.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Falwell took a lot of heat for saying that homosexuals, lesbians, the ACLU, et al. that they helped cause 9/11. How is that different than another person blaming religious people for the problems we face in modern society?

    There’s a pretty obvious difference, I should think: when we criticize religious people, we do so because they explicitly desire harmful, oppressive outcomes and actively work to bring about those outcomes – removing gays from the protection of anti-discrimination laws, lobbying to be granted public tax money to support their sectarian aims, pressuring politicians to ensure Mideast violence continues, etc.

    On the other hand, what Falwell and his ilk were saying is that people who did not want harm to come to the U.S., and were not working toward that end, nevertheless cause us to suffer harm as punishment for their actions. This isn’t criticizing them for their actual desires, but rather trying to threaten and intimidate them into silence using supernatural blackmail, and implying that they bear the blame for actions they had no part of and did not wish to occur.

  • norman ravitch

    Many are upset with Falwell’s ungenerous attitudes towards gays, non-Christians, and others. OK. But the worst thing about Falwell and all the redneck Christians is the way they take the bible as true. No one not brought up to regard the bible as true or terrorized into so believing could accept the nonsense the bible proposes for belief. Christians should blush with shame at the stupidities and childish beliefs they have accepted. Someone who believes the moon is made of cheese is more rational than a Christian.

  • Jeff T.

    I went to http://www.godhatesamerica.com/ (the link referenced in the update by Ebon) and it upset me because there are people who actually rejoice in the idea of eternal pain and agony.

    For any religious readers out there, let there be no mistake about this, I reject the notion of god because of the very idea of hell. Even if I am wrong and there is a god who has created hell—I will not kneel to it and I will not be intimidated by threats similar to the one on this site. I would be ashamed to write and promote the ideas promoted on that site.

  • Alex Weaver

    Matt R:

    In addition to Polly, I’m aware of two other anti-choice atheists, one whose website is linked to from the Links section on Ebonmusings, and one by the name of Ian Spedding who is vocally opposed to abortion and habitually jumps into often tangentially relevant discussions on Pharyngula to express this viewpoint. His semi-coherent and question-begging arguments can be examined at (Herculean) length in this thread (I’m Azkyroth on Pharyngula, for the record ^.^)

    Polly: I’m almost afraid to ask, but on what grounds do you feel qualified and justified in denying a woman the right to control her own body?

    Adam: I may have occasion to post this review somewhere else. Do you object to my posting the actual text elsewhere, with proper attribution and a link back to your site?

  • Alex Weaver

    Err, not review. Eulogy. Article. Whatever. x.x

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    No objection.

  • tommy

    About damn time he died. When I was still coming to terms with being gay, and also at the same time losing my faith in christianity, the type of hate he spewed was really rough on me and caused a lot of tears and unnecessary pain. If more people like him would just hurry up and die the world would be a better place.

  • terrence

    Alex, I’m almost afraid to ask, because I enjoy so much your articles and comments, but would the decision not to terminate the life of a viable very young human being, i.e., making that choice, disqualify one from membership in the pro-choice club? Would that decision be a valid “choice?”

    Polly: Could you and I start the germ of that most despised minority — a conservative atheist humanist movement? Just askin….

  • Alex Weaver

    Alex, I’m almost afraid to ask, because I enjoy so much your articles and comments, but would the decision not to terminate the life of a viable very young human being, i.e., making that choice, disqualify one from membership in the pro-choice club? Would that decision be a valid “choice?”

    Assuming that one means, by “very young human being,” a pre-viability human embryo, that depends on whether you’re making the decision for yourself (or you and your partner, togehter, by mutual agreement) voluntarily, or for someone else against her will. In the former case, yes, it’s a valid choice; in the latter case, no, it’s a violation. The same is true of the decision to have an abortion, for that matter.

  • Alex Weaver

    Err. Re-read that; spotted the “viable” this time. If by “viable” you mean “able to survive outside the uterus, including with medical assistance” then no, that doesn’t make one non-pro-choice. My position on this scenario is summarized in this comment, the relevant parts quoted below:

    As for the bit about 39 week old fetuses, I believe the majority of pro-choice advocates are actually opposed to elective abortion in the third trimester, or, more specifically, past the point of fetal viability, so finding yourself unable to support them doesn’t make one non-pro-choice. I, for instance, generally oppose them; the situations in which I would consider abortion acceptable are:
    1) If it is necessary to protect the health or life of the mother
    2) If the fetus is discovered to have severe birth defects which would dramatically impact the resulting child’s quality of life and the ability of its parents to care for it without extreme hardship
    3) If the woman can demonstrate under burden of proof that she intended to have a legal abortion earlier in the pregnancy but was prevented from doing so by fraud, threat of violence, abduction, or other forms of coercion

    I would argue that this last is defensible solely as a partial deterrent to the use of fraud, threat of violence, abduction, or other forms of coercion to prevent women who wish to have a legal abortion from doing so–some anti-choice organizations masquerade as women’s health clinics and then give patients the run-around until they can no longer have an abortion legally (source [lead to here]), and while I’m not aware of any specific cases, does anyone doubt that the same people who bomb clinics and shoot doctors with high-powered rifles are morally capable of kidnapping women to prevent them from seeking abortions?

    -Azkyroth

    I wish abortions were never necessary, and I wish that circumstances were such that the third exemption above were not necessary x.x

  • Alex Weaver

    ARGH; made the same error twice now. :( Should read “the situations in which I would consider abortion acceptable past the point of fetal viability are:” x.x

  • RiddleOfSteel

    I do not believe that people are making that claim. Claiming that being faithful doesn’t imply morality (atheist’s claim) isn’t the same as saying that being a non-believer automatically implies that we do (your claim). Non-sequitor.

    If you choose to set up that claim as literal and then argue against it, that is your business – but don’t drag me into it.

    However, if you see it from the atheists’ point of view, this is pretty much a “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” moment. Even Dorothy wasn’t sad to see the Witch die. Perhaps she was nicer than we’ve been but she’s fictional and never actually had to live in Oz.

    From the atheists’ point of view? Perhaps you can fill me in on how to act – apparently I am not doing it correctly. How about this: “Ding Dong the hypocritical, ignorant, fat f*ck is dead.” “Enjoy your dirt nap you ***hole!” I went over to the Richard Dawkins web sight to learn more about the atheist point of view. I will try to be a better atheist;)

  • terrence

    Who decides what is “viable?” Do extreme preemies qualify? They’re viable with help, fuggedaboutit without.

  • Polly

    @terrence: LOL! Sure, we can start a softball league with the logcabin Republicans. :-D

    @Alex Weaver: *sigh* the condescension comes through even in writing. What argument could I possibly provide that you haven’t heard already? Obviously this conversation only ends in 1 of two termina, the fetus is not a human and therefore doesn’t need protecting OR the fetus is human life and deserves protection. It’s simple, I believe the latter. As a human myself I value human life over choice. Even though the embryo hasn’t attained consciousness, it is still human life. Killing a living, developing human for convenience (and let’s be honest here that’s the vast majority of cases) is wrong.

  • terrence

    Polly, I’m not sure what a logcabin Republican is though the term seems vaguely familiar. I just hope you ain’t disparaging one of the giants of all time, Mr. Lincoln, locked in a perpetual tie for first for “Greatest American of All Time,” Mr. Clemens.

    And speaking of Republicans, even if for some reason you think he was Satan incarnate, can anyone refute Mr. Reagan’s observation:

    “100% of all those in favor of abortion have already been born”

  • Alex Weaver

    Terrence: preemies would be included under “those who can survive outside the uterus, including with medical assistance.” This is emphatically untrue of an embryo at the point in the pregnancy where the vast majority of abortions are performed.

    Polly: I apologize for the tone; as you might have noticed, I’ve been engaged with a particularly tiresome subset of this argument for quite some time. This, while not really an excuse, is at least a partial explanation x.x

    As for the two termina thing, I don’t think it’s quite that simple. First, as I expanded on in this comment, I don’t consider a genetically human organism which lacks a functioning brain to be a *person*, particularly if it also lacks a biologically independent existence (somewhat loosely defined), even though, in a purely technical sense, it could be considered a “human life”–after all, by the same criteria, a tumor or the malformed blob of random tissue that shared a uterus with my daughter could also be considered “human,” which is plainly absurd. Second, even if we did agree that a fetus is a “human being” (in the sense synonymous with “person” rather than merely “genetically human and biologically alive”), it remains to be demonstrated that it is ethical to force another human being to allow it to live essentially as a parasite within her body, against her will. So far as I am concerned, a person necessarily has the right to control his or her own body, and prior to the development of both a functioning brain and the potential for a biologically independent existence in the fetus (I believe I defined this at more length in the post I linked), the only *person* with a body of their own to control in the equation is the pregnant woman.

    Back on topic, I think it’s important not to confuse our being glad that Falwell’s ability to directly cause suffering is ended with “ghoulishness.” Would anyone here not have been gladder if he’d had a change of heart and did his best to atone, before simply dropping dead?

    Note: Adam, your preview function doesn’t seem to like anchor tags in URLs. Testing to see whether this shows up correctly on the page; if it doesn’t, is there anything that can be done?

  • Alex Weaver

    Terrence: preemies would be included under “those who can survive outside the uterus, including with medical assistance.” This is emphatically untrue of an embryo at the point in the pregnancy where the vast majority of abortions are performed.

    Polly: I apologize for the tone; as you might have noticed, I’ve been engaged with a particularly tiresome subset of this argument for quite some time. This, while not really an excuse, is at least a partial explanation x.x

    As for the two termina thing, I don’t think it’s quite that simple. First, as I expanded on in this comment, I don’t consider a genetically human organism which lacks a functioning brain to be a *person*, particularly if it also lacks a biologically independent existence (somewhat loosely defined), even though, in a purely technical sense, it could be considered a “human life”–after all, by the same criteria, a tumor or the malformed blob of random tissue that shared a uterus with my daughter could also be considered “human,” which is plainly absurd. Second, even if we did agree that a fetus is a “human being” (in the sense synonymous with “person” rather than merely “genetically human and biologically alive”), it remains to be demonstrated that it is ethical to force another human being to allow it to live essentially as a parasite within her body, against her will. So far as I am concerned, a person necessarily has the right to control his or her own body, and prior to the development of both a functioning brain and the potential for a biologically independent existence in the fetus (I believe I defined this at more length in the post I linked), the only *person* with a body of their own to control in the equation is the pregnant woman.

    Back on topic, I think it’s important not to confuse our being glad that Falwell’s ability to directly cause suffering is ended with “ghoulishness.” Would anyone here not have been gladder if he’d had a change of heart and did his best to atone, before simply dropping dead?

    Note: Adam, your preview function doesn’t seem to like anchor tags in URLs. Testing to see whether this shows up correctly on the page; if it doesn’t, is there anything that can be done?

  • terrence

    One last thought before retiring: why should it be that this debate should go on and on and on and on and on and on….I don’t think there are any comparable debates on “Slavery-pro and con” or “Santa is real-pro and con”…..

  • terrence

    One last thought before retiring: why should it be that this debate should go on and on and on and on and on and on….I don’t think there are any comparable debates on “Slavery-pro and con” or “Santa is real-pro and con”…..

  • Alex Weaver

    There’s a pretty obvious difference, I should think: when we criticize religious people, we do so because they explicitly desire harmful, oppressive outcomes and actively work to bring about those outcomes – removing gays from the protection of anti-discrimination laws, lobbying to be granted public tax money to support their sectarian aims, pressuring politicians to ensure Mideast violence continues, etc.

    On the other hand, what Falwell and his ilk were saying is that people who did not want harm to come to the U.S., and were not working toward that end, nevertheless cause us to suffer harm as punishment for their actions. This isn’t criticizing them for their actual desires, but rather trying to threaten and intimidate them into silence using supernatural blackmail, and implying that they bear the blame for actions they had no part of and did not wish to occur.

    Meant to address this: I think there’s another obvious, and perhaps more important, difference: except in specific cases where tangible harm to other people can be demonstrated, we aren’t trying to have our distaste for the opinions and choices of Falwell and his ilk written into law.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Before we get into another debate on abortion, I’d like to take this time to point out that Michael Weiss of Slate has linked to this piece in an article collecting bloggers’ reactions to Falwell’s passing. Thanks, Michael!

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Polly said:

    Tobe: I’d really be interested in hearing about that.

    As Ebonmuse has pointed out, we’ve gone way off topic, so I’ll drop you an email later about this. In short, I agree with pretty much everything Alex said, but I’ll tell you how I got there.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Polly said:

    Tobe: I’d really be interested in hearing about that.

    As Ebonmuse has pointed out, we’ve gone way off topic, so I’ll drop you an email later about this. In short, I agree with pretty much everything Alex said, but I’ll tell you how I got there.

  • Polly

    @Alex Weaver: First off, no worries.

    I don’t consider a genetically human organism which lacks a functioning brain to be a *person*, particularly if it also lacks a biologically independent existence

    I value “human” almost the same as “person.” A “functioning brain” as a fait accompli is not a requirement for human status to my way of thinking (that would put most of Congress in jeopardy).

    I also can’t equate a mass of undifferentiating tumor cells with a developing embryo whose cells are still unspecialized and hold all the potential of the entire human organism. Unless it can be shown that a tumor will eventually develop into a human being WITHOUT hurting the cancer patient, there’s really no comparison in my mind.
    Independent existence, I find to be the weakest argument of all. This is a completely arbitrary limit. Why should an organism be penalized for being helpless? In the absence of alternatives to breast-milk even newborns are “dependent” on their mothers’ bodies. Think of breasts as external umbilical cords.
    In terms of ethical considerations, I don’t think a developing baby is in any way like a parasite. Aren’t parasites always of a different species from the host?
    As for forcing a woman to carry to term, as I’ve already stated, I value human life more than I value the right of the mother to choose. When values conflict, they must be weighed and the greater good/lesser evil ought to be the default. I think it’s incumbent on someone to show how Life is inferior to Choice. It seems self-evident to me that Life should be preeminent since the former is a necessary prerequisite to even enjoy the latter.

  • Polly

    @Alex Weaver: First off, no worries.

    I don’t consider a genetically human organism which lacks a functioning brain to be a *person*, particularly if it also lacks a biologically independent existence

    I value “human” almost the same as “person.” A “functioning brain” as a fait accompli is not a requirement for human status to my way of thinking (that would put most of Congress in jeopardy).

    I also can’t equate a mass of undifferentiating tumor cells with a developing embryo whose cells are still unspecialized and hold all the potential of the entire human organism. Unless it can be shown that a tumor will eventually develop into a human being WITHOUT hurting the cancer patient, there’s really no comparison in my mind.
    Independent existence, I find to be the weakest argument of all. This is a completely arbitrary limit. Why should an organism be penalized for being helpless? In the absence of alternatives to breast-milk even newborns are “dependent” on their mothers’ bodies. Think of breasts as external umbilical cords.
    In terms of ethical considerations, I don’t think a developing baby is in any way like a parasite. Aren’t parasites always of a different species from the host?
    As for forcing a woman to carry to term, as I’ve already stated, I value human life more than I value the right of the mother to choose. When values conflict, they must be weighed and the greater good/lesser evil ought to be the default. I think it’s incumbent on someone to show how Life is inferior to Choice. It seems self-evident to me that Life should be preeminent since the former is a necessary prerequisite to even enjoy the latter.

  • Polly

    Drat: We all seem to be ON at the same time this evening. Didn’t see your post.
    I’d like that.

    @Adam: I’ll cut the abortion debate if you want.

  • bassmanpete

    Completely off topic but, in light of previous comments, I had to have my say. All over the world animal & plant species are being driven to extinction because there are already far too many humans on the planet. Because of this, fully grown, and conscious, whales, seals, gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers, etc. are slaughtered on a daily basis for greed (you can call it commerce if you like but it’s really greed.) Not to mention the (probably) not-so-conscious fish, insects, crustaceans, plants and so on. But in the opinion of so many people, just one incompletely formed human is far more important than all these fully functioning other species. Such arrogance beggars (my) belief!

    We are NOT separate from nature. If you don’t believe that, go and check out the status of honey bees in the USA – and what is likely to happen if they all disappear.

  • bassmanpete

    Completely off topic but, in light of previous comments, I had to have my say. All over the world animal & plant species are being driven to extinction because there are already far too many humans on the planet. Because of this, fully grown, and conscious, whales, seals, gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers, etc. are slaughtered on a daily basis for greed (you can call it commerce if you like but it’s really greed.) Not to mention the (probably) not-so-conscious fish, insects, crustaceans, plants and so on. But in the opinion of so many people, just one incompletely formed human is far more important than all these fully functioning other species. Such arrogance beggars (my) belief!

    We are NOT separate from nature. If you don’t believe that, go and check out the status of honey bees in the USA – and what is likely to happen if they all disappear.

  • Polly

    Fred Phelps has announced plans to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Grim irony? Religious hatemongers eating their own? What say you, readers?

    Just goes to show, DELUSION is asymptotic. For every religio-nut spouting condemnation, there will be another, more extreme hell-fire-spewing nut right behind him. And it’ll go on in an infinite progression never yielding to a final, “absolute” CRAZY, but merely inching toward that perfect psychosis with each new generation outdoing the previous one.
    So, who’s going to picket Phelps’s funeral? I’m laying odds on someone from within his own movement/family. Someone who will inevitably decide that mere picketing is just too warm and fuzzy. And that’s when we’ll see hatred in full, crimson bloom.

  • Polly

    Fred Phelps has announced plans to picket Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Grim irony? Religious hatemongers eating their own? What say you, readers?

    Just goes to show, DELUSION is asymptotic. For every religio-nut spouting condemnation, there will be another, more extreme hell-fire-spewing nut right behind him. And it’ll go on in an infinite progression never yielding to a final, “absolute” CRAZY, but merely inching toward that perfect psychosis with each new generation outdoing the previous one.
    So, who’s going to picket Phelps’s funeral? I’m laying odds on someone from within his own movement/family. Someone who will inevitably decide that mere picketing is just too warm and fuzzy. And that’s when we’ll see hatred in full, crimson bloom.

  • goyo

    Polly: I am glad to hear your views. I also thought I was the only “conservative” atheist out here. My economic philosophy has nothing to do with my deconversion. I simply came to the realization that religion is, like all superstitions, not real. I have Carl Sagan to thank for that. Other than that, I am pretty much the same person I was before. Like you, I am open to other views, and searching for truth. Do you have a blog? I would like to contact you.

  • http://auniversenambedbob.com Matt R.

    Ebonmuse,

    There’s a pretty obvious difference, I should think: when we criticize religious people, we do so because they explicitly desire harmful, oppressive outcomes and actively work to bring about those outcomes – removing gays from the protection of anti-discrimination laws, lobbying to be granted public tax money to support their sectarian aims, pressuring politicians to ensure Mideast violence continues, etc.

    On the other hand, what Falwell and his ilk were saying is that people who did not want harm to come to the U.S., and were not working toward that end, nevertheless cause us to suffer harm as punishment for their actions. This isn’t criticizing them for their actual desires, but rather trying to threaten and intimidate them into silence using supernatural blackmail, and implying that they bear the blame for actions they had no part of and did not wish to occur.

    You have accurately detailed a difference in the contet of the remark. You also have asserted that the validity of the remarks are different. May be. There is a good chance that I would side with you in saying that Faldwell was in error with his remark.

    To clarify my meaning, I think that there is little difference in the motivation of the remark. I think that Faldwell completely believed that God used 9/11 to punish the United States for, among other things, accepting homosexuality and secularization. Based on this, I think that it is very reasonable to take Faldwell’s remark as a statement of what he perceived as fact and not as an expression of hatred toward the people groups in question.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenambedbob.com Matt R.

    Ebonmuse,

    There’s a pretty obvious difference, I should think: when we criticize religious people, we do so because they explicitly desire harmful, oppressive outcomes and actively work to bring about those outcomes – removing gays from the protection of anti-discrimination laws, lobbying to be granted public tax money to support their sectarian aims, pressuring politicians to ensure Mideast violence continues, etc.

    On the other hand, what Falwell and his ilk were saying is that people who did not want harm to come to the U.S., and were not working toward that end, nevertheless cause us to suffer harm as punishment for their actions. This isn’t criticizing them for their actual desires, but rather trying to threaten and intimidate them into silence using supernatural blackmail, and implying that they bear the blame for actions they had no part of and did not wish to occur.

    You have accurately detailed a difference in the contet of the remark. You also have asserted that the validity of the remarks are different. May be. There is a good chance that I would side with you in saying that Faldwell was in error with his remark.

    To clarify my meaning, I think that there is little difference in the motivation of the remark. I think that Faldwell completely believed that God used 9/11 to punish the United States for, among other things, accepting homosexuality and secularization. Based on this, I think that it is very reasonable to take Faldwell’s remark as a statement of what he perceived as fact and not as an expression of hatred toward the people groups in question.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://n/a Jonathan

    I like that Fred Phelps is going to picket at Falwell’s funeral! With any luck, dear old Fred and his followers will fall into Jerry’s open grave and be burried with him!!

  • http://n/a Jonathan

    I like that Fred Phelps is going to picket at Falwell’s funeral! With any luck, dear old Fred and his followers will fall into Jerry’s open grave and be burried with him!!

  • andrea

    I’d personally like to see the WBC and the Falwellians get into fistfights. a great thing for national TV.

  • andrea

    I’d personally like to see the WBC and the Falwellians get into fistfights. a great thing for national TV.

  • valhar2000

    Well, considering how violent and brutal fundies often are, it will be interesting to xee how Falwel’s sycophants react to Phelps and his gang. I will stock up with pop corn to watch (metaphorically speaking, of course).

  • ex machina

    To clarify my meaning, I think that there is little difference in the motivation of the remark. I think that Faldwell completely believed that God used 9/11 to punish the United States for, among other things, accepting homosexuality and secularization. Based on this, I think that it is very reasonable to take Faldwell’s remark as a statement of what he perceived as fact and not as an expression of hatred toward the people groups in question.

    But what could motivate one to be so thoroughly wrong but hate. Falwell was not a stupid or sheltered man, and he had as much access to the data and mental processes necessary to rid oneself of such delusions as anyone else. But in the end he choose not to use them.

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.–2 timothy 4:3-4

    Ugh . . . Iloves, what about this do you imagine will be persuasive to the readers of this blog?

  • Polly

    Once again for the sake of fairness I’ll play Devil’s advocate (and I do mean Devil).

    I don’t deny their are fundies who really do hate, but I contend that they are a small minority. I never heard/watched Falwell, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he really wanted to do right, even by the people he bashed. I’ve heard that he backpedaled when called on his more egregious statements, so I doubt he was honest and was probably just looking for a following. though.

    But, having been a fundamentalist Xian as I’m sure a few others here were, too, I can tell you my perspective as well as many others was definitely NOT one of hatred.
    I denounced the sin of unbelief, homosexuality, premarital sex, etc. but I hoped against hope and prayed that non-believers would convert through the winsome influence of God’s Holy Spirit.
    I was fearful for people’s futures. I saw a world headed for judgment and my job was to get as many people acquitted as possible by putting them in touch with a really good, Jewish lawyer (JC).
    Lest you think that I was alone, this was not just my view, but that of those fundies around me. I rarely met one who reveled in the idea of eternal torture (I know they exist). Most lamented it, but felt helpless before an omnipotent god and gave the only reply their dogma would allow them:
    “we all deserve hell/God is just and his ways are above ours/ We’re lucky to be receiving his mercy/they’re CHOOSING hell/” etc.

    It does absolutely no good to call literalist preaching, “hatred.” They simply don’t see it that way and in a very real sense it IS a strawman. It’s as bad as saying atheists are really rebellious theists at heart. Because, it is the opposite of how most fundies feel, depite what their words sound like to outsiders. How pissed do you get when others try to tell you what’s in your heart?

    It’s not just liberal Xians who have hearts. The fact that atheists don’t see it in the fundies is a testament to fundie ignorance and their misguided zeal. I hear people blaming literalists for Hell…laughable!…as if they had anything to do with it. They don’t have a choice. Somehow they’ve gotten it into their heads (because others put it there)that heaven is hanging above and hell below and that’s just the way it is.

    It is, in every sense of the word, a DELUSION, and it runs fathoms deep!

  • Alex

    ILJ, you are hurling a fire-and-brimstone Bible quotes at a bunch of atheists. Do you have any idea at all how asinine that is? If not: try to imagine somebody somebody telling you that your afterlife is screwed because it says so in the Bhagavad Gita.

  • Polly

    @Amador-de-Jesus:
    I’m all for free exchange, but you’ve got to work with us, here. It just seems like random Bible quotes. Is there a pattern? Are you trying to say something? Are they watching you? blink twice for YES, once for NO.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Please note: I don’t mind theists commenting on this site, but I insist that all comments contain some form of independent thought. The mindless recitation of Bible verses is not a legitimate comment but spam, and will be treated as such. If necessary, I will enforce this policy by banning persistent violators. Just a friendly warning.

  • Old Viking

    Maybe at this hour I’m too punchy to comprehend. Is it being argued here that accusations are not hateful if the speaker sincerely believes in the concept he expresses? If so, it seems to me that the German guy with the little mustache (and his merry followers) is off the hook. You know the one I mean? Started World War II and all that stuff. Sincerety carries the day?

  • Alex Weaver

    I think the argument is that someone isn’t “hateful” unless they’re actually feeling what they would regard as “hate,” rather than simply acting in a fashion that in a sane person would imply the motive of hatred. This argument fails in that it severely underestimates the capacity of the deeply religious for self-delusion, even about their own motives, and the seemingly epidemic reluctance towards introspection in much of the general populace. :/

  • Ilovesjesus

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables This is where the world is going, and it is coming to, that is why i say this, it comes from God’s word. You claim to be Athiest’s you believe there is no God, well you have to believe there is one, to not believe in Him.

  • bassmanpete

    You claim to be Athiest’s you believe there is no God, well you have to believe there is one, to not believe in Him.

    That’s a wonderful piece of logic. Says at lot about the way you think.

    Have you ever considered questioning your beliefs or do you just accept what others have told you from when you were little? I have no problem with people having spiritual beliefs as long as that belief is their own. When someone else says “This is what you should believe” it’s time to ask “What is this person after?” (it’s usually power/control over you.) Better still, just run rapidly away!

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    ‘Ilovesjesus’,

    Like many (although of course not all) other atheists, I base my notion of morality on human happiness and fulfilment. Jerry Falwell has done much to damage the happiness and fulfilment of many human beings who themselves had done no great wrong.

    He was initially involved in preaching against black civil rights.

    He said all manner of things against homosexuals. I’m sure that won’t convince you of anything, ‘Ilovesjesus’; no doubt you believe that homosexuality is wrong. From our point of view, though, that’s just a prime example of how religion is warping your sense of morality beyond all recognition.

    Whether or not you agree that homosexuality is wrong, though, there are more and less hateful ways of communicating such a belief. I have a friend who claims not to be homophobic. He says he just believes in following the New Testament, and Paul said it was wrong. I believe him. But saying that a church that accepts homosexuals is “ vile and satanic” is definitely one of the more hateful ways of explaining that one believes homosexuality to be wrong. Saying things that promote hatred seems to go against what some would consider the most important teachings of Christianity (certainly some of the least morally objectionable teachings of Christitanity!).

    Then, too, he wasn’t all that happy about equal rights for women, either: “Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home.”

    The Bible says that Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” As an atheist, I agree that peace is a good thing. Falwell was no peacemaker, but one who promoted discord and inequality. Don’t tell me God is against equal rights for blacks and women and gays. Don’t tell me God would be on-side with expressing such views in hateful ways. If God existed, and if he were truly good, he wouldn’t be.

    By the way, if you look, you will see that Ebonmuse did actually leave a note explaining why your other posts were deleted.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    “ILovesJesus” has indicated that he will not comply with the comment policy and has asked to be banned, so I am obliging him.

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    To Valhar2000

    Well, considering how violent and brutal fundies often are, it will be interesting to xee how Falwel’s sycophants react to Phelps and his gang. I will stock up with pop corn to watch (metaphorically speaking, of course).

    I’ve heard that metaphorical popcorn is lower in saturated and trans-fat than actual popcorn. I think it has some anti-oxidants or something in it too. Good pick for a healthy treat!

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Old Viking,

    Maybe at this hour I’m too punchy to comprehend. Is it being argued here that accusations are not hateful if the speaker sincerely believes in the concept he expresses? If so, it seems to me that the German guy with the little mustache (and his merry followers) is off the hook. You know the one I mean? Started World War II and all that stuff. Sincerety carries the day?

    Some of Faldwell’s accusations can definitely be construed as “hateful”. However, I do not think it is accurate to characterize Faldwell as a man consumed with hate for certain people, as some have done.

    Did faldwell say hurtful things which I disagree with, Yes. Do I think that he was driven by hate for homosexuals and others who disagreed with him, no. I think he saw their behavior as a threat to morality.

    I think the argument is that someone isn’t “hateful” unless they’re actually feeling what they would regard as “hate,” rather than simply acting in a fashion that in a sane person would imply the motive of hatred. This argument fails in that it severely underestimates the capacity of the deeply religious for self-delusion, even about their own motives, and the seemingly epidemic reluctance towards introspection in much of the general populace. :/

    Here I would like to stress the difference of saying a commet which can be called “hateful” and actually being consumed with hate for a certain group of people. I think faldwell made remarks which could reasonably be called “hateful”. I think it is unreasonable to characterize faldwell, as a person, to be full of hate for homosexuals.

    An example, there are some very disparaging comments leveled here against theists. I find them to be hateful, however I do not think that those people who post them actually are full of hate for theists, I think they get carried away by emotion or do not think about the effect of their words.

    Is that more clear?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Alex

    Here I would like to stress the difference of saying a commet which can be called “hateful” and actually being consumed with hate for a certain group of people. I think faldwell made remarks which could reasonably be called “hateful”. I think it is unreasonable to characterize faldwell, as a person, to be full of hate for homosexuals.

    Falwell promoted homophobia, preached that homosexuals were a load of degerate perverts, celebrated in his belief that such people were going to be tortured by satan for all eternity and encouraged others to share his belief on a frightening scale. You are asking the question “But did Falwell, deep down inside, really hate homosexuals?”. The answer is: who gives a flaming rat’s ass? He acted like he hated homosexuals, talked like he hated homosexuals and encouraged others to hate homosexuals. How he felt in his heart of hearts doesn’t concern me.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Alex said:

    The answer is: who gives a flaming rat’s ass? He acted like he hated homosexuals, talked like he hated homosexuals and encouraged others to hate homosexuals. How he felt in his heart of hearts doesn’t concern me.

    I’d go one step further. The answer, is Hell yes, yes, a thousand times yes, he really hated homosexuals. Matt R, if you don’t agree, what more, precisely, could Jerry Falwell have done that would have made you believe he hated homosexuals?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Matt, an atheist will never tell religious people that their town was destroyed by a hurricane or a tornado because they voted to ban the teaching of evolution in their schools.

    An atheist will never tell you that you are going to burn in hell if you don’t embrace secular humanism.

    There is a big difference between atheists ranting in blogs, most of which are little known outside a few hundred, or at most a few thousand people, when compared to a man with the title of Reverend who has a television program that reaches millions of people and who is often a guest on other television programs that reach even more people than that. It is about power and influence, whether convincing people which candidates or ballot initiatives to vote for, or influencing elected officials to sponsor a bill or vote yay or nay for particular pieces of legislation or nominees to the Federal courts.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Alex,

    Was it *what* falwell said, or *how* he said it that makes you think he hated homosexuals. I think that the content of his message gives no certainty of hate, but the phrasing gives me pause. I view the content as “homosexuality is morally wrong and detrimental to society”. That does not necessarily mean that the one making the statement hates homosexuals.

    Now, to say that someone is “degenerate” or a “pervert” is another matter. During the course of our discussion, I have looked at a few of the quotes from Falwell and I agree that the way in which he worded some of his comments was unkind and hurtful. But, to be fair, a lot of people say careless hurtful things repeatedly against people groups when they don’t actually hate them.

    So I guess I have two points.

    1) I think that one can be opposed to homosexuality as a moral stance without actually hating homosexuals. I am quite certain of this one.

    2) Falwell, although speaking in an irritating and hurtful manner, probably did not hate homosexuals. I will certainly concede that I could be wrong about this, especially considering some of the things he said. I am less certain of this point.

    I think the strongest point of the argument that falwell did hate homosexuals is by far the careless and hurtful phrasing which he used to address them.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tobe38,

    If he spoke against them outside of the realm of morality, it would make me think that he actually hated them and did not just see them as morally wrong. Everything I saw dealt with homosexuality as morally wrong.

    Also, the unkind way he phrased things in some of the quotes I read, which I will not repeat due to their offensive nature, made me rethink my position and back off a little bit.

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tommykey,

    You make a good point. There are things that theists say which they shouldn’t, Falwell included. I do not wish to “sweep it under the rug”, only to moderate some of the more extreme accusations leveled against him. Some people portrayed him as a man consumed with hate for homosexuals and I do not think this is accurate. I know he was morally opposed to homosexuality, and that he said insensitive and hurtful things towards them and he should not have. I do not think this qualifies him as “consumed with hate”.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Let’s not forget Falwell’s support for apartheid and his crusades against the AIDS epidemic (thus helping to kill untold numbers of Africans.) He hated blacks too.

    And, it’s very hard to say that he didn’t hate homosexuals when he called them abominations and blamed them for such things as the destruction of New Orleans. C’mon. How can you possibly try to defend such actions? The man was only interested in money and he fleeced countless Xians in order to do it. That you still defend him only underscores how much of a con man he really was.

  • Alex

    I view the content as “homosexuality is morally wrong and detrimental to society”.

    Yeah, see, even if Falwell didn’t transparently hate gays, that viewpoint makes absolutely no sense without a healthy dose of homophobia backing it up.

    Falwell, although speaking in an irritating and hurtful manner, probably did not hate homosexuals.

    Again, who cares?

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    How can you possibly try to defend such actions? The man was only interested in money and he fleeced countless Xians in order to do it. That you still defend him only underscores how much of a con man he really was.

    I am not defending “such actions”. I am trying to encourage some charity towards Rev. Falwell. I am trying to make a case for looking past the rhetoric of polarizing issues and seeing that perhaps he is not actually a hateful man. I freely admit I could be wrong because I have never met the man and do not know much about his activities.

    Please do not suggest that I support killing africans, or supporting apartheid. I do not.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Alex,

    Again, who cares?

    I agree. Let’s let this one die. I think its time has come.

    Have a nice day!

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Matt

    Are you saying that homosexuality is immoral?
    .

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    The focus of my posts was not to establish the morality or immorality of homosexuality but to encourage a more fair consideration of Rev. Falwell’s motivation for his actions. If you are asking my personal opinion of the morality of homosexuality, it is complicated and I fear that a simple yes or no answer would not adequately explain my position.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Dear Matt

    Here is a direct quotation from you, May 21:

    …”So I guess I have two points.

    1) I think that one can be opposed to homosexuality as a moral stance without actually hating homosexuals. I am quite certain of this one. …”
    .
    Since you are “quite certain,” can we assume that you regard homosexuality as a moral question?
    .

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Harvard,

    What I was trying to saying there is that I was making two points in my posts. The first one, which I was certain was accurate, is that one can oppose homosexuality without hating homosexual people.

    It is accurate to state that I regard homosexuality as a moral question.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Can one oppose black skin color on people without hating them? I suppose one technically could, but how absurd to think that anyone would. The reason Falwell opposes homosexuality is because the Bible teaches hateful things about homosexuals. The Bible told him to hate them, so he did. End of story. You can’t claim that AIDS is god’s punishment on homosexuals and this country for harboring them without being hateful. You simply can’t. And, don’t give me this BS about loving the sinner but hating the sin. The “sin” in this case is being born with an inclination for same sex partners. It’s like having the “sin” of being born black. Falwell was a racist, homophobe, sexist con man that took people’s money and made them smile about it. Apparently you fell for him hook, line, and sinker. How sad for you.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Do you hate terrorists?

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    It just occurred to me that my posts may be offending or angering you. Your last post reflects rising emotions. Believe me, I understand the frustration of being told that the way I live my life is foolish or wrong. If this discussion is becoming counterproductive, I would rather that we end it.

    Please know that I am not in this to prove Falwell right in the hurtful things he said, but that I have the tendency to give the benefit of the doubt and like to encourage people to think outside of their preconceived ideas. I feel that I have done that and I am happy with the outcome of this discussion, even if I have not changed anyone’s mind.

    Regards,

    Matt

  • Harvard

    Dear Matt

    Is it immoral to be born a hermaphrodite?
    .

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Matt said:

    Please know that I am not in this to prove Falwell right in the hurtful things he said, but that I have the tendency to give the benefit of the doubt and like to encourage people to think outside of their preconceived ideas. I feel that I have done that and I am happy with the outcome of this discussion, even if I have not changed anyone’s mind.

    I’ve been keeping my eye on this for a few days now. I applaud you for wanting to challenge what seem like obvious conclusions. We do it to, it’s called critical thinking. Wanting to see the good in people is also a virtue. But sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.

    To be Wildesque about this, I can tolerate anything except intolerance. Matt, can you see just how hard you’re having to work, how far backwards you’re have to bend, how much contrary evidence you’re having to try to rationalise to make a case for your claim – that Jerry Falwell did not hate gays? Initial conclusions are not always correct, but they are most of the time. That’s why they are the initial conclusion. We have to be on our guard against them, but I think, here, you are simply over-complicating a very simple question.

    Language is very subjective. We could talk all day about what hate means to me, what it means to you, what it meant to Jerry Falwell and what it means to Harvard. But there has to be some conformity in the middle of all that. Falwell’s words and behaviour regarding homosexuals are almost an exact fit of almost any accepted definition of hate. He hated gays. All you are doing is splitting hairs.

    You are right to think critically about this, there was nothing wrong with you challenging us on our conclusions, but now that you’ve done that, now that we’ve thrashed this issue out over quite some time, please answer these questions honestly: don’t you think you’re trying just a bit too hard? Don’t you think that maybe our initial conclusion, that Falwell hated gays, may just have been right after all?

  • Polly

    If I may jump in. First off, I am NOT defending Falwell. And, (B)I don’t regard homosexuality as a moral question.

    A different example might be bring more clarity: The Bible teaches that adultery is a capital offense (death by stoning), but no one ever accuses fundies of being “adulteraphobes.”
    Why not?
    Because most of us agree that cheating on one’s spouse is wrong (barring swingers. Because we agree with the fundies on this issue, we don’t throw epithets at them.

    The tendency, the ORIENTATION if you will, to crave multiple sex partners even while in a committed relationship, is completely natural and common. But, to act on that tendency would be wrong and damaging to one’s relationship and family. According to fundie reasoning, ALL human beings are “born that way” when it comes to ANY sin. Everyone just has a different set of weaknesses. To them, homosexuality is a sin just like adultery, but they don’t hate gays and love other sinners. They see it as their job to warn sinners away from hell. In that they see themselves as doing THE most to help sinners.
    I disagree completely with that view but, I refrain from slandering the character of those fundies I know personally with the conversation-ending “homophobe.” I hate any word that automatically puts an end to the debate of an issue by thrusting your opponent into a category that renders them unworthy of respect.

  • Polly

    The question about “hating sin, loving sinners” is of interest to me because I think it’s an important distinction outside the realm of religion. You can hate the lies and crimes committed by a drug-addict, but still love that addict, especially if he/she is your child, spouse, sibling, etc. Semantics aside, hating the “sin” and loving the “sinner” is what being a compassionate humanist while maintaining an orderly society, is all about. A lot of “bad” people need help. We need to do our best for them, while minimizing or preventing the damage caused by their particular malfunctions.

  • OMGF

    @Matt R.

    Do you hate terrorists?

    Are you saying that gays or blacks are terrorists?

    It just occurred to me that my posts may be offending or angering you.

    Nope. I just feel sorry for you. You sound like you’ve been taken in by this con artist, just as you’ve been taken in by the con of Xianity.

    Believe me, I understand the frustration of being told that the way I live my life is foolish or wrong.

    Falwell didn’t do that though, did he? He said that the way they were born is sinful and wrong. Your statement would be like telling black people that the way they live their lives as black is foolish or wrong. Yet, they were born black, they did not choose it.

    @Polly,

    The question about “hating sin, loving sinners” is of interest to me because I think it’s an important distinction outside the realm of religion.

    And those are valid points. The difference in this case, however, is that being gay is not quite the same as drug addiction. Being gay is like being black, something one is born with. It is NOT compassionate to try and tell gay people they are wrong or need help.

  • Polly

    @OMGF

    It is NOT compassionate to try and tell gay people they are wrong or need help.

    Compassion, is in the eye of the beholder (OK, I’m being flippant)

    While you and I agree that there’s no danger from eternal damnation, a person suffering under the false premise that gays are hell-bound, will quite rightly (morally speaking), given their frame of reference, want to convince them to save themselves from the coming wrath. The best tack, IMHumbleO, is not to condemn their acts of “compassion”, but to attack the false premise itself. Please remember, when I say “compassion” I’m only speaking of a believer’s desire to “save a wandering soul from Hell.” And, none of this applies to those people who sport picket signs at public events with the words “God hates gays” scrawled on them. Those people, I would contend, DO indeed HATE gays in every meaning of the word and probably everybody else besides.

  • Polly

    @OMGF

    It is NOT compassionate to try and tell gay people they are wrong or need help.

    Compassion, is in the eye of the beholder (OK, I’m being flippant)

    While you and I agree that there’s no danger from eternal damnation, a person suffering under the false premise that gays are hell-bound, will quite rightly (morally speaking), given their frame of reference, want to convince them to save themselves from the coming wrath. The best tack, IMHumbleO, is not to condemn their acts of “compassion”, but to attack the false premise itself. Please remember, when I say “compassion” I’m only speaking of a believer’s desire to “save a wandering soul from Hell.” And, none of this applies to those people who sport picket signs at public events with the words “God hates gays” scrawled on them. Those people, I would contend, DO indeed HATE gays in every meaning of the word and probably everybody else besides.

  • OMGF

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Falwell would have been out there with a “god hates fags” sign himself if he thought there were some money in it.

    I agree that it is more effective to attack the false premise, but it is still somewhat effective to point out the hate that the person expresses and to point out that it’s akin to hating blacks or any other minority who is born that way. That said, I still think it is hateful, rather than compassionate. Hate is usually born from ignorance and fear, and what is more ignorant than to condemn a whole swath of people simply because you can’t be bothered to try and empathize or look up some facts. It is simply hateful to go around condemning people for being who they are. It is hateful to tell someone that they must deny their very nature else they will go to hell. If one says that they think another might go to hell for biting their nails, that could be seen as compassionate. Telling another they will go to hell because of their skin color or their sex or their sexual orientation is hateful.

  • OMGF

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Falwell would have been out there with a “god hates fags” sign himself if he thought there were some money in it.

    I agree that it is more effective to attack the false premise, but it is still somewhat effective to point out the hate that the person expresses and to point out that it’s akin to hating blacks or any other minority who is born that way. That said, I still think it is hateful, rather than compassionate. Hate is usually born from ignorance and fear, and what is more ignorant than to condemn a whole swath of people simply because you can’t be bothered to try and empathize or look up some facts. It is simply hateful to go around condemning people for being who they are. It is hateful to tell someone that they must deny their very nature else they will go to hell. If one says that they think another might go to hell for biting their nails, that could be seen as compassionate. Telling another they will go to hell because of their skin color or their sex or their sexual orientation is hateful.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tobe38,

    I think that you could very well be right. Falwell may have been an outstanding con-man who was driven by hate and not a conviction of what he thought was right for people and society. I also think you could be wrong. I think that a careful examination of falwell’s life would reveal what sort of person he is. I am very comfortable with you or anyone else continuing your opinion of Falwell. As I said before, it is the knee-jerk reaction of “disagreeing with homosexuality equals hating homosexual people” that I was really focusing against. I think I did a pretty good job of bringing good arguments against that idea.

    I feel like one of the reasons I am working so hard is that people are not addressing the points I am actually trying to make and because they are drawing non-sequiter conclusions from my questions and posts. I think this is because of the emotional volatility of the subject matter.

    IN all fairness, though, if I were trying to defend falwell, some of his remarks would make that very difficult. I think that would make me work hard as well.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tobe38,

    I think that you could very well be right. Falwell may have been an outstanding con-man who was driven by hate and not a conviction of what he thought was right for people and society. I also think you could be wrong. I think that a careful examination of falwell’s life would reveal what sort of person he is. I am very comfortable with you or anyone else continuing your opinion of Falwell. As I said before, it is the knee-jerk reaction of “disagreeing with homosexuality equals hating homosexual people” that I was really focusing against. I think I did a pretty good job of bringing good arguments against that idea.

    I feel like one of the reasons I am working so hard is that people are not addressing the points I am actually trying to make and because they are drawing non-sequiter conclusions from my questions and posts. I think this is because of the emotional volatility of the subject matter.

    IN all fairness, though, if I were trying to defend falwell, some of his remarks would make that very difficult. I think that would make me work hard as well.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Matt R said:

    As I said before, it is the knee-jerk reaction of “disagreeing with homosexuality equals hating homosexual people” that I was really focusing against. I think I did a pretty good job of bringing good arguments against that idea.

    I agree. Disagreement with the morality of homosexuality is not the same as hatred of homosexuals. For example, people could think gay sex is wrong on the grounds that it’s not natural (although I can’t stress enough just how fallacious that argument is!), but that would probably not incite actual hatred of homosexuals. I just happen to think Jerry Falwell hated homosexuals as well as thinking that they were morally wrong. That’s just my opinion, but I think an examination of Falwell’s views and comments throughout his life bear it out.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    Matt R said:

    As I said before, it is the knee-jerk reaction of “disagreeing with homosexuality equals hating homosexual people” that I was really focusing against. I think I did a pretty good job of bringing good arguments against that idea.

    I agree. Disagreement with the morality of homosexuality is not the same as hatred of homosexuals. For example, people could think gay sex is wrong on the grounds that it’s not natural (although I can’t stress enough just how fallacious that argument is!), but that would probably not incite actual hatred of homosexuals. I just happen to think Jerry Falwell hated homosexuals as well as thinking that they were morally wrong. That’s just my opinion, but I think an examination of Falwell’s views and comments throughout his life bear it out.

  • OMGF

    I disagree with tobe38. Saying that homosexuality is immoral is like saying being black is immoral. And, no, Matt R, this is not a non sequitor, for the reasons I’ve already established a few times now.

    I think that a careful examination of falwell’s life would reveal what sort of person he is.

    And that examination shows us a lot of hate for blacks, gays, women, etc. Face it, it’s be examining his life that we know he hated so much.

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tobe38,

    I think that is a very reasonable point of view. I think that one good lesson we can learn from Falwell is how not to speak about people. I cringe when I hear some of the things he said.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Tobe38,

    I think that is a very reasonable point of view. I think that one good lesson we can learn from Falwell is how not to speak about people. I cringe when I hear some of the things he said.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Actually, the non-sequiter remark which I was referring to was this:

    Matt R. Said: Do you hate terrorists?

    OMGF Said: Are you saying gays or blacks are terrorists?

    That response is, I think, non-sequiter. It does not follow logically, especially within the context of our conversation.

    I will pose the question again:

    Do you hate terrorists?

    This question is relevant because I think that most people condemn, sometimes very strongly, the acts of terrorists. Despite this condemnation, I think that most people also do not actually *hate* the terrorists.

    This example is to support my assertion that it is possible to condemn the actions of a people group without hating them.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Actually, the non-sequiter remark which I was referring to was this:

    Matt R. Said: Do you hate terrorists?

    OMGF Said: Are you saying gays or blacks are terrorists?

    That response is, I think, non-sequiter. It does not follow logically, especially within the context of our conversation.

    I will pose the question again:

    Do you hate terrorists?

    This question is relevant because I think that most people condemn, sometimes very strongly, the acts of terrorists. Despite this condemnation, I think that most people also do not actually *hate* the terrorists.

    This example is to support my assertion that it is possible to condemn the actions of a people group without hating them.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Polly,

    You have explained the point better than I have. Well done.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Polly,

    You have explained the point better than I have. Well done.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Your statement would be like telling black people that the way they live their lives as black is foolish or wrong. Yet, they were born black, they did not choose it.

    This is where your argument that condemning homosexuality as immoral is the same as condemning being black as immoral breaks down. Here you even show that it is the actions, not the physical trait, which are important. The point of contention with homosexuality is not the genetic inclination toward homosexuality as a physical trait, but the moral consequences of the action of homosexuality.

    Perhaps this is where the misunderstanding lies with disagreeing with homosexual behavior without hating homosexuals.

    Now, whether you want to classify homosexuality as morally right or wrong depends on what system of morality you choose to adopt and how you assess and classify the outcomes of the behavior.

    I would like to stress that I do not think a natural inclination towards a type of behavior is sufficient to make said behavior morally right. Some people have natural inclinations toward alcoholism. Are we, then, to declare alcoholism morally acceptable despite it’s grave consequences.

    When speaking of the morality of homosexuality, it is far better to examine the consequences of the behavior, and not the origin. The consequences and not the origin are in the realm of morality, I think.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Your statement would be like telling black people that the way they live their lives as black is foolish or wrong. Yet, they were born black, they did not choose it.

    This is where your argument that condemning homosexuality as immoral is the same as condemning being black as immoral breaks down. Here you even show that it is the actions, not the physical trait, which are important. The point of contention with homosexuality is not the genetic inclination toward homosexuality as a physical trait, but the moral consequences of the action of homosexuality.

    Perhaps this is where the misunderstanding lies with disagreeing with homosexual behavior without hating homosexuals.

    Now, whether you want to classify homosexuality as morally right or wrong depends on what system of morality you choose to adopt and how you assess and classify the outcomes of the behavior.

    I would like to stress that I do not think a natural inclination towards a type of behavior is sufficient to make said behavior morally right. Some people have natural inclinations toward alcoholism. Are we, then, to declare alcoholism morally acceptable despite it’s grave consequences.

    When speaking of the morality of homosexuality, it is far better to examine the consequences of the behavior, and not the origin. The consequences and not the origin are in the realm of morality, I think.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Matt R,
    The reason that it was not a non sequitor is because your analogy falls well short of the mark. Is being a terrorist the same as being black or being gay? Being a terrorist takes a conscious decision of the individual, and it is OK to condemn conscientious choices. Being gay is not a choice.

    The point of contention with homosexuality is not the genetic inclination toward homosexuality as a physical trait, but the moral consequences of the action of homosexuality.

    Pardon my french, but we both know that’s a load of BS. Denying the part of the human that makes us sexual is denying the human itself. You can say, “Oh, it’s OK to be homosexual, but don’t act on it,” and think that’s a moral way of handling the situation, but it is not. You are essentially saying, “Oh, it’s OK to be born the way you are, but don’t be a human as well or else you are wrong and going to hell.” This is not compassion nor moral. It is hateful.

    When speaking of the morality of homosexuality, it is far better to examine the consequences of the behavior, and not the origin. The consequences and not the origin are in the realm of morality, I think.

    A) By dodging the origin, it makes it much easier for bigots like Falwell to spew their crap.
    B) What consequences are you talking about? That they have to put up with the bigotted likes of Falwell? OK, but is that their fault? Should they have to change? No, Falwell should have to change. You don’t blame the victim, you blame the oppressor. I can think of no other consequences, except that a gay person may be able to live their life happily in whatever manner they choose. Gee, who would want that?

    This also gives the lie to your alcohol analogy, which I already dealt with. Homosexuality is not a “problem” that needs to be solved or leads to other problems like drug addiction and alcoholism. If it does lead to problems that look similar, it is invariably due to the bigotry around the gay person in question. Again, don’t blame the victim.

  • OMGF

    Matt R,
    The reason that it was not a non sequitor is because your analogy falls well short of the mark. Is being a terrorist the same as being black or being gay? Being a terrorist takes a conscious decision of the individual, and it is OK to condemn conscientious choices. Being gay is not a choice.

    The point of contention with homosexuality is not the genetic inclination toward homosexuality as a physical trait, but the moral consequences of the action of homosexuality.

    Pardon my french, but we both know that’s a load of BS. Denying the part of the human that makes us sexual is denying the human itself. You can say, “Oh, it’s OK to be homosexual, but don’t act on it,” and think that’s a moral way of handling the situation, but it is not. You are essentially saying, “Oh, it’s OK to be born the way you are, but don’t be a human as well or else you are wrong and going to hell.” This is not compassion nor moral. It is hateful.

    When speaking of the morality of homosexuality, it is far better to examine the consequences of the behavior, and not the origin. The consequences and not the origin are in the realm of morality, I think.

    A) By dodging the origin, it makes it much easier for bigots like Falwell to spew their crap.
    B) What consequences are you talking about? That they have to put up with the bigotted likes of Falwell? OK, but is that their fault? Should they have to change? No, Falwell should have to change. You don’t blame the victim, you blame the oppressor. I can think of no other consequences, except that a gay person may be able to live their life happily in whatever manner they choose. Gee, who would want that?

    This also gives the lie to your alcohol analogy, which I already dealt with. Homosexuality is not a “problem” that needs to be solved or leads to other problems like drug addiction and alcoholism. If it does lead to problems that look similar, it is invariably due to the bigotry around the gay person in question. Again, don’t blame the victim.

  • OMGF

    BTW Matt R,
    When you do your careful examination of Falwell, would you let us all know whether scapegoating gays, women, liberals, etc. for the events of 9/11 is an act of love or hatred?

  • OMGF

    BTW Matt R,
    When you do your careful examination of Falwell, would you let us all know whether scapegoating gays, women, liberals, etc. for the events of 9/11 is an act of love or hatred?

  • http://auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Well, it looks like we probably are not going to come to any sort of consensus on this one! It has been good discussing this with you, though.

    Take Care,

    Matt

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    OMGF said:

    I disagree with tobe38. Saying that homosexuality is immoral is like saying being black is immoral.

    I’m not arguing that homosexuality is immoral. I can’t describe how strongly I oppose that view.

    It isn’t the same as thinking it’s immoral to be black. Some Christians think that homosexuals are making a choice. They may be wrong (and I think they most certainly are) but some people are victims of that delusion. Whereas no remotely sane person could believe that black people chose to be black.

    I’ve even heard some Christians say that gay people may not have any choice about who they’re attracted to, but they should abstain from gay sex because it’s morally wrong. Again, I think they’re completely wrong and deluded, but they still believe it. But that doesn’t mean that they hate gay people. It’s not the same thing, the two don’t have to go hand in hand.

    Race is a constant, but sodomy is an act in which one can participate at different times. The person may always be gay, but they will not always endulge in gay sexual activity. Some people may believe it’s not wrong to be gay in sense of orientation, but wrong to participate in actual homosexual activity.

    It’s perfectly reasonable that someone can find something wrong, and object to people doing it without actually hating the people who do it. I just don’t think Falwell falls in to this category. Not by a long way.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    OMGF said:

    I disagree with tobe38. Saying that homosexuality is immoral is like saying being black is immoral.

    I’m not arguing that homosexuality is immoral. I can’t describe how strongly I oppose that view.

    It isn’t the same as thinking it’s immoral to be black. Some Christians think that homosexuals are making a choice. They may be wrong (and I think they most certainly are) but some people are victims of that delusion. Whereas no remotely sane person could believe that black people chose to be black.

    I’ve even heard some Christians say that gay people may not have any choice about who they’re attracted to, but they should abstain from gay sex because it’s morally wrong. Again, I think they’re completely wrong and deluded, but they still believe it. But that doesn’t mean that they hate gay people. It’s not the same thing, the two don’t have to go hand in hand.

    Race is a constant, but sodomy is an act in which one can participate at different times. The person may always be gay, but they will not always endulge in gay sexual activity. Some people may believe it’s not wrong to be gay in sense of orientation, but wrong to participate in actual homosexual activity.

    It’s perfectly reasonable that someone can find something wrong, and object to people doing it without actually hating the people who do it. I just don’t think Falwell falls in to this category. Not by a long way.

  • OMGF

    It isn’t the same as thinking it’s immoral to be black.

    Sure it is. Both are “conditions” (for lack of a better word) that the person is born with.

    Some Christians think that homosexuals are making a choice.

    That they are delusional doesn’t really excuse anything in my opinion. They are willing to condemn a whole swath of people without even finding anything out about them?

    Some people may believe it’s not wrong to be gay in sense of orientation, but wrong to participate in actual homosexual activity.

    That’s what I was talking about above when I spoke of denying their humanity. You can be gay, but you can’t do what it is that makes you gay? You can’t have sexual relations, you can’t do what all normal humans do because if you do then you go to hell. That’s hateful and a load of crap.

    Look, I know you don’t support this stuff, but I would disagree that these people are acting out of compassion. They quite simply are not.

  • OMGF

    Well, it looks like we probably are not going to come to any sort of consensus on this one! It has been good discussing this with you, though.

    Such a shame. I was so hoping you would enlighten us all on the “consequences” of being gay.

  • OMGF

    Well, it looks like we probably are not going to come to any sort of consensus on this one! It has been good discussing this with you, though.

    Such a shame. I was so hoping you would enlighten us all on the “consequences” of being gay.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    OMGF said:

    Look, I know you don’t support this stuff, but I would disagree that these people are acting out of compassion. They quite simply are not.

    You’re right, I don’t. But I never said they were acting out of compassion. I agree that they are not. All I’m saying is that you can disagree with something without actually feeling the emotion of hate about it, nothing more, nothing less.

    I think downloading music illegally off the internet is wrong. But I don’t hate the people who do it, I just think that they’re morally wrong. Whether I’m right or not is irrelevant, the point is that I’m disapproving without hating.

  • OMGF

    tobe38
    I’m not disagreeing that someone can dislike an action without hating the individual behind it. I’m making a specific argument about the case of homosexuality, however, which is different from illegally downloading music from the internet. Disliking the actions of a homosexual is tantamount to either disliking homosexuals or dehumanizing them which is just as bad.

  • OMGF

    tobe38
    I’m not disagreeing that someone can dislike an action without hating the individual behind it. I’m making a specific argument about the case of homosexuality, however, which is different from illegally downloading music from the internet. Disliking the actions of a homosexual is tantamount to either disliking homosexuals or dehumanizing them which is just as bad.

  • http://aloadofbright.wordpress.com tobe38

    OMGF,

    I think we’ve gone way beyond splitting hairs. Dislike? Yes. Hate? Not necessarily.

    I’m leaving it there. Even if we haven’t hit a stalemate or reached agreement, I don’t think it’s important enough to carry on.

  • OMGF

    That’s unfortunate, because I’d like to see a time when it is no longer acceptable to use the “Hate the sin, not the sinner; I’m just compassionate about not wanting those people to go to hell,” canard. We should not be enabling those who hide their hatred behind such nice-sounding rhetoric. We should confront them and point out their hatred and their underhanded tactics.

  • Vicki B.

    Surely the point isn’t whether Falwell “really” hated homosexuals or not, but that he and his ilk managed to convince a sizable portion of the public that there was a “gay agenda” out to undermine “family values” – a paranoia that helped Bush win the last election.

  • Vicki B.

    Surely the point isn’t whether Falwell “really” hated homosexuals or not, but that he and his ilk managed to convince a sizable portion of the public that there was a “gay agenda” out to undermine “family values” – a paranoia that helped Bush win the last election.

  • Alex Weaver

    Belated, but I think PZ Myers’ response to Mel Gabler’s death applies equally here:

    “The evil that men do lives on long after they’re gone, and he has left an enduring legacy. It’s awfully hard to dance on a grave when you’re still battling the corpse.”

    As for tobe…

    1) I think the point that is being made is that hatred for an action is separable from hating the people who perform it, while hating an element of a person’s identity is much less so if at all.
    2) I take it you were pretty disappointed with the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, since the “hero” of the story not only got very little screen time, but died at the end?

  • Alex Weaver

    Belated, but I think PZ Myers’ response to Mel Gabler’s death applies equally here:

    “The evil that men do lives on long after they’re gone, and he has left an enduring legacy. It’s awfully hard to dance on a grave when you’re still battling the corpse.”

    As for tobe…

    1) I think the point that is being made is that hatred for an action is separable from hating the people who perform it, while hating an element of a person’s identity is much less so if at all.
    2) I take it you were pretty disappointed with the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, since the “hero” of the story not only got very little screen time, but died at the end?


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