Magister Ludi Magisteria

By Sarah Braasch

In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (1/28/86 – 02/02/10)

Masters of the shell game have been swindling and duping the overconfident and the ignorant for millennia. The game operator places a “pea” beneath one of three “shells”. The operator then shuffles the shells in front of the player before asking the player to guess at the pea’s location. Unbeknownst to the player, the operator has removed the pea via a sleight-of-hand technique. It is impossible for the player to best the operator. The operator is in complete control of the outcome.

Cultural relativists and obscurantists employ a similar sleight-of-mind technique to maintain control over human rights discourse and to deflect attacks from activists and the international community. They like to play a rousing game, which I like to call the Religio-Cultural-Racial Shell Game. The goal of the game is to hide the human rights violation by removing the violation from the discourse and entrancing any malcontents with the hypnotic effect of shell shuffling. The three “shells” in this game are comprised of the unholy trinity of Religion, Culture and Race.

If someone wishes to defend a practice, it is best to describe such a practice as a religious tenet, thereby bestowing upon it the greatest degree of protection from condemnation. It is almost enough to boggle the mind – the resulting effluvia of apologetics, if one only claims religion’s bigotries as religious liberties.

However, some practices are beyond the pale, even by gods’ standards, which are exceedingly capacious. The most horrific practices are becoming intolerable and unjustifiable, even in a world that pays the utmost obeisance to religious idiocy. This is the case with respect to such misogynistic practices as honor killings and female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced girl child marriages.

In such cases, it behooves the religious to disown their former bread and butter. They admit the existence of the practices in their societies, but impute it to the unorthodox work of culture’s unwieldy and nefarious ways. They thereby immunize themselves against attack. This is the now all-too-familiar “it’s not religion; it’s culture” switcheroo. Of course, some religious diehards will remain unswayed by reformation, no matter how politic. And, unflappable cultural relativist purists will be undeterred by the pejorative connotation of the attribution.

But, the cultural relativists have an ace up their sleeve, a magic trick long employed by the obscurantists. And, even the religious are beginning to take note. Besides the potent defense mechanism of screaming cultural imperialism, one may artfully dodge any accusations of having perpetrated human rights violations by obscuring the issue with indictments of racist intent. The stultifying effect of such a charge has been duly noted by the religious. They have wasted no time in doing their utmost to attempt to equate religion with race.

The greatest operators of the Religio-Cultural-Racial Shell Game move the pea as it suits them, beneath whichever shell of obfuscation that happens to serve best in the moment. Thus, they leave the human rights activist bereft of options. It’s not religion; it’s culture, unless we wish to claim it as religion, but, regardless, if you attack it, you will be accused of racism.

Case in point: the burqa. It’s not a religious tradition. It’s a cultural tradition. How dare you impugn Islam or Allah as commanding such an odious practice? Except when it is claimed as a religious tradition under cover of religious liberty. How dare you deny a woman’s free choice to express her religious faith? And, if you attack the practice, you will be charged with racism against Arabs, and, surprisingly, or not, Muslims, as if Islam were a race and not a religion.

Of course, all of these shenanigans are nothing but a ruse comprised of fetid, putrid smoke and shards of broken mirrors. Religion and culture are NOT non-overlapping magisteria. Religion is culture. To say that religion has some objective or absolute meaning or objective or absolute doctrine when wholly removed from its cultural context is asinine. This is simply an attempt to bolster the idea that religion bears some objective or absolute truth. This is false.

Religion has no meaning when removed from its cultural context. Religion was born from culture. Culture exists without religion, because humanity exists. But, without culture, religion ceases to exist. To pretend otherwise is to buy into the delusion of the objective or absolute truth of religious doctrine.

Religion is not the realm of divine values while culture may lay claim to the realm of human values. And, even if such were the case, no mere human is able to divine the distinction between the divine and the worldly. This fact has been borne out by the ages of human history, so I would be quite wary of the charlatan operators claiming to be able to do so now. Our understanding of what lies inside the realm of the divine evolves and fluctuates according to the whims of human culture. Strange that.

As we evolve away from religious idiocy, more and more barbaric religious customs and traditions will be relegated to the cultural realm and disowned by their respective religious forebears. Like a child who refuses to relinquish its disintegrating security blanket, the faithful are loathe to give up their cults. Instead, they are shedding tenets and customs and traditions and doctrinal commandments like a molting diseased emu, most of whose brethren are long extinct. The religious hang onto an illusory distinction between religion and culture as if their beliefs depend upon it. And, they do.

In the game of Hide-the-Human-Rights-Violation, cultural relativism is religion’s bitch. The religious are not cultural relativists. They are not moral relativists. They believe that they possess an objective and absolute moral truth. Their gods are supposedly infallible. So, when their religious traditions and tenets and doctrines and beliefs fail to live up to the most rudimentary human formulations of moral behavior, how to respond?

Well, those faults must be the result of imperfect human culture intruding upon the sacred and divine and pure religious space. So, of course, if one discovers that culture, including human, all-too-human frailty and cruelty, has set up camp in the campground of divinity, it has to be expunged.

But, this is all just lip service. All of those so-called cultural practices are staples of the diet upon which the world’s major religions feed. Misogyny, bigotry, slavery, genocide, rape, torture, racism and the list goes on and on. If those “cultural” practices go away, the world’s major religions will shrivel up and die, turning into emaciated carcasses to rot upon the garbage heap of dead religions.

This is cultural relativism’s raison-d’être: to do religion’s dirty work. And, isn’t that always how religion operates? Privately dependent upon that which is publicly disowned. Isn’t it ironic that those who proclaim moral absolutism rely upon those who aver moral relativism to protect those practices without which religion has no purpose and cannot survive?

And, religion protects culture, as the ostensible linchpin of any given culture, by bestowing an aura of respectability and sanctity. It’s part of their culture, but, at the same time, it’s their religion, so show some respect.

The same may be said for the race shell. Religion breeds racism, as does cultural relativism, yet both rely upon most persons’ abhorrence for racism as protection.

So, if you buy into the game, if you agree to play, as so many human rights activists do, out of western imperialist and colonialist guilt, what result?

If you refuse to acknowledge, for example, the role that religion plays in the subjugation of women, what are you saying as a human rights activist? You are saying that those societies that perpetrate the most egregious atrocities upon their female populations are sadists or idiots or both. You are saying that they are incapable of grasping the concept of human dignity or don’t care. And, you are perpetuating the religious patriarchy that created the problem in the first place. In other words – you have been duped. Thanks for playing.

Can we call a farce a farce already? Can we expose the little wizened man pulling the levers behind the green curtain? Or, must we continue, blind, deaf and dumb, politely and purposely oblivious to the sufferings of our fellow travelers?

I, for one, am no one’s mark, and I’m not religion’s bitch anymore.

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.

  • Katie M

    I’m afraid I’m a cultural relativist. I’m of two minds about it-on the one hand, I consider the burqa to be restrictive and demeaning. On the other, there are some women who would rather wear the burqa and feel comfortable in it . . . it gets confusing sometimes.

  • Polly

    I love the analogy of the shell game. It’s a perfect metaphor.
    My problem with attempts to impose our superior culture on others is when the government plays its own shell game with US:

    We’re not after their natural resources, it’s to give them democracy.

    But, you just installed a brutal dictator and are now supporting him.

    We work with what we’ve got. Besides, our first duty is to protect America and this guy’s in our pocket, clamping down on religious fanatics/communists/mimes.

    As a result of our meddling in the internal affairs of other countries we’re getting the backlash in the form of terrorism on our own soil – which is unprecedented.

    We have a commitment to our allies in the region. What would it say about America and what would it do to America’s standing in the world if we reneged on our duty? The stability of the world depends on us acting like a superpower.

  • http://noonebelievesingod.com Roy Sablosky

    Katie M, a burqa covers your entire body, so you never get any exposure to sunlight. Women “who would rather wear the burqa and feel comfortable in it” do not exist, unless they are mentally ill. A scarf around your head is different. I can understand one might have been told so many times that the hijab is a beautiful thing to wear, that one has started to believe it. But a cloth bag that covers your whole body? That is abuse. That is slavery. That is brutality, and don’t believe for a second that the wearing of the burqa is not enforced by relentless violence, both physical and emotional. The women who have been enslaved in this manner are not to blame — their husbands are — but make no mistake, they are enslaved. And when a slave tells you, “Oh, it’s fine, I have a happy life,” it us your humanitarian duty not to believe her.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The religious are not cultural relativists. They are not moral relativists.

    It is true that they claim to be moral absolutists, most of them; but they are as morally relativistic as is possible.

    They hold the evils of their god to be good when he performs them, and crimes when humans do.

    That is the essence of subjective morality.

  • XPK

    On the other, there are some women who would rather wear the burqa and feel comfortable in it . . .

    …because if they don’t wear it they will be raped, have their noses and ears cut off, and/or be killed by their own relatives.

    I’m not entirely sure how loosely I want to define “feel comfortable”.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    This is a masterfully put argument. I do wonder however whether the shell game is being played “knowingly” by the religious or whether it is just another manifestation of their cognitive dissonance.
    Cultural relativism is a luxury for observers from liberal cultures to indulge in and is unlikely to be found in theocracies. Victims of genital mutilation don’t get to rationalise it away.
    @Katie

    On the other, there are some women who would rather wear the burqa and feel comfortable in it

    The only women I have ever heard say they are comfortable in it are western converts to Islam, which is not to say they are the only ones, but the point is they have a choice.

  • Katie M

    Okay, I may have worded my argument badly.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Katie M, a burqa covers your entire body, so you never get any exposure to sunlight. Women “who would rather wear the burqa and feel comfortable in it” do not exist, unless they are mentally ill.

    Let me play devil’s advocate on that one, Roy: do you think a woman can voluntarily choose to wear a headscarf and be comfortable with it? How about a veil? Where do you draw the line?

    I don’t deny that women usually wear the burqa because of fear or coercion, but I’m not prepared to claim that it’s impossible for a woman to choose it for herself. Take the woman in this video, a Western convert:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9184353144432289069#

    How should we deal with a case like this? If it’s slavery, it’s self-chosen slavery. We can and should free people from external captivity, but when a person’s chains are all in their own mind, the issue of “humanitarian duty” becomes much murkier. Trying to pry them free against their will isn’t likely to have a good outcome, however well-intentioned it may be.

  • Jim Baerg

    If the traditional women’s clothing in a culture restricts physical movement more than the men’s clothing, then that clothing is both a symbol & instrument of the oppression of women.

    Part of the way it is an instrument of oppression is that she can less easily fight or run from an attacker, both directly because of the clothing & indirectly because she has had less physical exercise to build up her strength & speed.

    Although the burka is the most extreme example I am aware of, this also applies to a lesser extent to long skirts in western culture.

  • jemand

    @Jim, that argument fascinates me as I notice young males with lower and lower pant lines, such that they must hold their pants whenever they wish to run, and when it is bunching up while doing so and slowing them down.

    Truly reminds me of my fundamentalist days when I often wore a long skirt and would have to do the same hand actions if *I* wanted to move quickly as they do… And yet I am pretty certain there was never any concerted effort to reduce the physical activity of these young men. And yet I tend to think it has some validity when applied to the historical dress of women… just that perhaps this trend is becoming somewhat unmoored from sexism a little bit?

  • http://www.ooblick.com/weblog/ arensb

    I think this is headed toward “at which point do we decide that a given behavior is no mere eccentricity, but evidence of insanity?” What sorts of things should people be allowed to do in the name of freedom, and which should they be prevented from doing, perhaps for their own good?

    (PS: Oof. That comment went through way too many revisions. I hope it winds up making sense.)

    If you pay a dominatrix to whip you because you get a sexual thrill out of being beaten, that’s one thing. But if you want to be whipped because it’ll cleanse the engrams from your chi and cure your psoriasis, that’s crazy.

    So I guess it comes down to motivation. I think we all agree that women should not be forced to wear the hijab, burqa, or anything else. But for those who choose freely to wear it, are they choosing for good or bad reasons? That is, have they chosen because they want to be Muslimer-than-thou, or because they’ve been brainwashed into believing that if they don’t, they’ll be condemned to hell?

  • Eurekus

    I love being an atheist, I no longer have to separate rationality with my belief. We just say it the way it is. This brilliant post is a perfectly honest description of what religion really is all about.

  • http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/ Ian Andreas Miller

    Excellent as usual (although my Inner Latinist would love the title amended to “Magistri Ludi Magisteriorum”).

    As for your bother, my condolences to you.

  • Jim Baerg

    Jemand (#10) I suppose my argument only applies to situations in which there is intense social pressure (or even laws) against those who decline to wear the restrictive clothing.

    Your observation about young males pants reminds me of a hypothesis about the reason for such impractical things as the peacocks tail. “Look I’m so fit I can survive *despite* this ridiculous appendage”.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    There is timely and relevent piece on Pharyngula

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com D

    @ Sarah (OP): I like the metaphor of a shell game, distracting onlookers with the speedy shells so they lose track of what’s really going on. I’m familiar with the ways in which religion can breed racism, but I’m not so savvy on how cultural relativism does – in my experience, cultural relativism has been used for undue allegations of racism, but hasn’t caused it. Could you clarify for me?

    Good job of pointing out how the religious ask for the benefits of cultural/moral relativism for themselves and their gods, but do not confer those benefits to others. Silly theists, if you eat your cake then you won’t have it any more!

    @ Thumpalumpacus (#4): Agent relativity isn’t the same thing as moral relativism. For example, someone’s parent or lover is permitted to perform a wide range of actions which strangers most certainly are not. The moral status of actions is often colored by the relationships between the actors, and religions who give special dispensations to their gods are just a special case of this because of the relationship they posit between the gods and humanity.

    @ Steve Bowen (#6): I’d say there’s a spectrum between those who play it knowingly and those who do not. Given the propensity of most people to believe what the authorities tell them to think, I would say that most people just regurgitate the arguments automatically without really thinking deeply about them. At the extreme end of the bell curve, there are a few cynical sophists who are pumping the shit out deliberately – saying whatever they think they need to say to get the herd to agree with them (see Polly’s distillation in #2). The herd then repeats it mindlessly. Complicating matters even further are the moderates who act as passive enablers, who don’t buy the shoddy argumentation and think the ringleaders are all corrupt, but still believe in the institutions out of cultural inertia.

    @ arensb (#11): As jemand illustrates in #11, there’s sometimes no accounting for fashion. Voluntarily succumbing to institutionalized pressure tends to make lines fuzzy when we try to sort out what harms are inevitable and what we ought to actually be railing against. I mean, high-schoolers are always going to have to deal with fashion snobs who have social power, with “non-conformists” who want to identify and fit in with each other just the same, and with conventionalists who think the weirdos need to be taught what’s what. Those who don’t grow out of their high school form of bullshit will slide down from “silly nonsense that nobody cares about” into “dangerous lunacy that ought not to be tolerated,” with smooth gradations at every stage of the process. Trying to prevent them from crossing that line in principle is reactionary and authoritarian, to my mind – until they’ve crossed it, no wrong has been done – but at the same time, letting things get out of hand also seems irresponsible.

    Jeez, governance is hard.

  • Chris Bracken

    Nice article, but what have you got against emus? The noble beastie is on our national coat of arms, if you don’t mind.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    This is cultural relativism’s raison-d’être: to do religion’s dirty work.

    Worth quoting!

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Agent relativity isn’t the same thing as moral relativism. For example, someone’s parent or lover is permitted to perform a wide range of actions which strangers most certainly are not. The moral status of actions is often colored by the relationships between the actors, and religions who give special dispensations to their gods are just a special case of this because of the relationship they posit between the gods and humanity.

    Indeed, the morality is being valued relative to the actor. This is exactly my point: and absolute morality holds true in all situations, including those where the actor has changed.

    The special pleadings of the faithful aside, this is true in the case of god(s) as well.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    Indeed, the morality is being valued relative to the actor. This is exactly my point: and absolute morality holds true in all situations, including those where the actor has changed.

    Not exactly. You can have an absolute morality that states certain actions are permissible to priests but not the general populace, to men but not to women, to adults but not to children (it might not be fair, but that’s a different question). Similarly, actions may be permissible to gods but not to mortals. It’s moral relativism if it changes on an individual basis, cultural relativism if it changes on a cultural basis. Absolute morality, applied absolutely to all individuals in all cultures at all times, can make room for priests to have authority over other citizens and for gods to have authority over mortals. The lines are fuzzy, of course, because all of this was made up by humans. But they’re still different things.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

    I want to let everyone know that I have a piece coming out soon, which directly addresses the burqa, including the anticipated burqa ban in France.

    Please rest assured that I have nothing but the utmost admiration for the noble creature that is the emu. But, some varieties of emu are extinct while others have survived to this day.

    Steve, thank you for the Pharyngula link. That is a perfect example. Millions of young women and girls are having their genitals hacked off in the most barbaric fashion, and for the most barbaric reasons, causing untold physical and psychological pain, but we’re supposed to be careful to use neutral language when describing this practice, lest we offend their cultural and religious sensibilities. WTF?!?!

    I just want to say that being anti-cultural relativist is NOT the same as being a cultural imperialist or ethnocentric.

    Cultural relativism means that you think that people have different human rights based upon the culture in which one was raised.

    It means that you think being human means something different in Iran than it does in Ghana than it does in Canada.

    Being a universalist means that you think being human means the same thing all over the world.

    In my opinion, cultural relativism breeds racism by perpetuating illusory divisions within humanity and an us / them, in group / out group, human / subhuman dichotomy.

    Polly: I may have misinterpreted your comment (please let me know if I did), but I can’t help but feel that this comment is a textbook example of obscurantism. Your comment appears to be largely true and eloquent, but I have to ask — is American imperialism an adequate justification for turning away from human rights violations being perpetrated on a massive scale? (Which isn’t to say that American imperialism is not a human rights violation in and of itself.)

    I have to admit, as a human rights activist, I do sometimes wish I didn’t have to carry around the weight of being an American. It’s so much baggage. It’s an obstacle to me getting down to the business of doing real human rights work.

    But, people do generally seem to expect Americans to be naive about foreign affairs and policy and history and their own government, which can sometimes be an advantage. Europeans — not so much. Everyone seems to expect Europeans to know how bad they’ve been.

  • Polly

    is American imperialism an adequate justification for turning away from human rights violations being perpetrated on a massive scale?

    My point was that governments (any governmet, not just the US) use ideals to achieve their own ends that have nothing to do with human rights; don’t get suckered into foreign adventures with the military. I thought your analogy was great and applied it to my own view to see how it fit. So, my comment was tangential.

    But, to play devil’s advocate in response to your question…

    Do human rights workers enter a country, critique everything they aren’t comfortable with and turn the country upside down wihtout offering a comprehensive plan for another way of life that would be an acceptable alternative given the firm mindset of the majority. There are awful governments out there that are hated by the populace, but that’s a political problem, not a cultural one.

    To illustrate my point, imagine a frenchman coming to the US and demanding American beaches be topless, chiding us for our childish and prudish taboos of covering up women’s breasts. Imagine if he argued that the rights of women who want to walk uncovered were being violated. “Think of the unnecessary and pointless tan-lines!”

    Or take the more serious issue of cliterectomies, which I find abhorrent. How would we Americans feel about visitors from another country telling us that circumcision (which is widely practiced on Jew and Gentile alike in America) is a human rights violation against baby boys? What if some international court decided we were HR violators? Do you think most of us would give a rat’s ass what some foreigners think?

    What if NOT punishing rapists with death, without exception, was viewed by others as being tolerant of rape?

  • jemand

    If circumcision were determined by a human rights court to be a crime and internationally illegal, I’d cheer. If someone came in and said that topless laws on beaches be applied evenly to men and women, I’d cheer. These aren’t really hard questions, and it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about ‘my’ culture or some other one.

    The rights of individuals are pretty much always ignored when we’re playing the “cultural sensitivity” game, it keeps in place power structures which destroy people and stamp on the underdog. A culture is actually much less important than the person that culture’s norms determine to be the least valuable.

    Incidentally the idea that adults are empowered to determine exactly how a child is allowed to relate to his or her identity culturally is as offensive to me as labeling a child after a particular religious brand is to Dawkins. It’s not a parent’s right to determine life-long how their child will experience and react to culture anymore than religion, and decide which parts of it they will consider relatively more or less important, or be allowed to borrow from another culture, etc.

    Thus, I don’t believe a parent is entitled to mark a child life-long into the culture, whether with circumcision, or tattoos, or other body modifications. Those things can be done by adults if they determine they wish to relate to those aspects of a cultural tradition in that fashion and to that extent. Cultures may never ethically be promoted through force, they should become a sort of secular version of religion with law staying out of it. In fact, laws banning harmless things for cultural reasons should be as immoral as those banning them for religions reasons– we need another “wall of separation” in all legal systems in order to protect *everyone’s* rights. Religious freedom is good for religions, cultural freedom *will* be awesome for culture as well.

    However, unlike personal freedoms and decisions that can be made differently by different people without imposing on other’s rights and freedoms, a justice system of necessity will need to be society wide. Thus, it will be affected by culture, but should be affected as little as possible. There can be some legitimate disagreements among countries with different popular cultures as to what the best response to particular crimes should be, but even this discussion is constrained, punishments must fit the crime. Still, your rape example is categorically different from the others, just because a functioning civilization needs a common legal system that everyone can count on, but it is obviously clear just from modern examples that countries protecting individual freedoms of dress are doing quite fine.

  • http://protostellarclouds.blogspot.com/ Mathew Wilder

    Well said, Jemand. Sorry I have nothing more to add to the discussion right now.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Jemand,

    Thank you for responding so beautifully, as I have to duck out for awhile.

    And, Polly, thank you for your contribution as well.

    This conversation really gets to the crux of the matter.

    Later.

  • Chris Bracken

    When it comes to relativism, I believe we are in danger of philosophically throwing the baby out with the bathwater. As a philosophical materialist, I believe everything exists in its relationships (relative to) everything else that exists. Even when a scientist describes (say) an oxygen atom, she is inherently relating it to everything it is not (not a hydrogen atom, not a carbon atom, etc). Those relationships are what give a thing its identity and function within the universe.

    ‘Cultural relativism’ (studying a particular human behaviour in its context) has acquired a bad name because of idiot hypocrites who slide over into ‘moral relativism’ (an inherently absolute value). When an anthropologist describes female genital mutilation in its context, examining its history and function within that society, trying to understand the practice, that is no bar to the same anthropologist believing the practice to be vile, evil and something to be fought on every level.

    There seems a commitment (and again its source is confused relativists) to the notion both that everything is relative, with which I agree, and that therefore everything is equally true or false, equally good or bad, which is absolute nonsense.

    When we make ethical judgements, we make them relative to a standard we have chosen. I’m looking forward to Sam Harris’s new book on ethics, but in the interim what he has written about the book indicates both his attack on ‘relativism’ generally and the fact that his work is faithfully relative. That is, he has chosen a standard, ‘human wellbeing’, against which to make ethical judgements. My own standard is quite close to his, but a little more specific (while still being woolly). That standard is ‘the survival of the entire human species in increasingly pleasurable circumstances’. My choice is based on where I find myself in my society at this historical moment. Having chosen a standard, however, one must be prepared to argue for its benefit.

    Islamic societies, in my opinion, are generally poor and violent because they are Islamic. People in those societies make ethical judgements against (inter alia) a chosen standard based on an inherently violent and repressive religious context. Whether those people are ever aware of having a made a choice is irrelevant. They can choose otherwise.

    No less, when Christians make ethical judgements against their religious standard, they frequently do things I consider deeply unethical. The same can be said for every religion precisely because they all claim access to absolute truth and absolute moral imperatives. They are wrong, but if we abandon relativism entirely, we put ourselves in the same boat.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    No less, when Christians make ethical judgements against their religious standard, they frequently do things I consider deeply unethical.

    On the contrary, I find that when Xians make ethical judgements against their religious standard they frequently act in more ethical ways. Take gay rights, women’s right, etc for examples.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    OMGF
    I don’t think Chris Bracken meant that the way you’ve read it. I got: “when Christians make ethical judgements [measured]against their religious standard”.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Not to be contrary, and not to drag the thread off topic, but I’m just not seeing the distinction.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I think he’s saying that when Christians make ethical judgments based on biblical texts, like “gays are bad” or whatever it says in Ezekial, they are behaving unethically. In other words he thinks the same way we do.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Ah, I see now.

  • Chris Bracken

    Thanks Steve. Sorry OMGF, I should have been clearer.

  • Jim Baerg

    Here is something I stumbled across that relates to my suggestion above that clothing that restricts women’s movement & and so their ability to exercise is an instrument of women’s oppression.

    The author appears to be fundamentalist Christian & is arguing against women’s participation in sport, partly because of the ‘immodest’ clothing.