A Christian Speaks Out Against the ‘Family’ Research Council

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins recently wrote an On Faith post titled, “Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality”:

The media has recently been filled with reports of several recent suicides by teenagers who are reported to have been victims of “anti-gay” bullying. Some homosexual activist groups lay blame at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong, as well as pro-family groups such as Family Research Council which oppose elements of the homosexual political agenda, such as same-sex “marriage.”

Andrew Marin, a Christian who has tried to bridge the gap between Christians and gay people, has some strong words for Perkins:

I am a straight, white, male, evangelical Christian, just like Tony Perkins. Mr. Perkins, you don’t speak for me or a number of conservative evangelicals who are worn out and sickened by the same old battle cry you believe we should join…

In his post, Mr. Perkins uses scare quotes in the phrase same-sex “marriage,” as if the label dictates whether LGBT couples live together and raise families. He does the same with the phrase “anti-gay” bullying, as if the bullying of those gay kids who committed suicide was merely alleged to be anti-gay…

If it’s indeed true that “religious faith and… traditional family values” are the solution, then I wonder what Mr. Perkins’ excuse is? Bullies do attend church, Mr. Perkins — you’re one of them. I’m not saying that because I believe Tony Perkins should be affirming LGBT politics or theology. That is not the case. Until Jesus comes back there will always be an ‘opposite’ or an ‘other.’

Dammit, Andrew, when you write things like that, you make me want to fully support what you do. But I’m not there yet. (And only partly because you think Jesus might actually come back…)

I’m waiting for your foundation to admit that homosexuality is not a sin or immoral. “Nice” Christians love to say that homosexuality is no more a sin than any other sin, but that makes the word completely meaningless. If everything is a sin, then nothing’s a sin.

I’m waiting for you to tell the churches that they should fully support marriage equality. It’s not enough that they don’t rage against it. We need Christians openly supporting it and voting for it.

Your website rationalizes the non-responses away as if it’s a “strategic” decision:

… The Marin Foundation will never give anyone the answer they want to hear. There is no “yes” or “no” in The Marin Foundation’s vocabulary, and a specific part of our training and classes and programs deal directly with these issues and responses. Bridge building is all about dialogue and understanding, not polarization and debates. Opinions cause dissention, bridge building brings life.

Building bridges is nice and useful — it’s certainly good PR.

But there’s a right and wrong answer to these questions and it’s cowardly to hide behind a smokescreen of ambivalence.

Why waver when the right answers are so damn obvious?

A true “compassionate Christian” would have an immediate answer to the question of whether gays should have the right to marry: “Yes.”

Don’t waffle and then claim you’re helping the cause.

What churches need are people within their own ranks telling them the hard truth: they’re wrong when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. Even the “nice” Christians aren’t doing enough by standing around apologizing for what other Christians have done. Real change will only occur when more Christians take a stronger stance on the issue.

Andrew’s letter to Tony Perkins is a start — I’ll give him credit for that. I’d love to see more Christians writing similar letters on their blogs and Facebook walls and saying these things to their pastors and small groups. Bonus points if they’re saying it to people who disagree.

  • http://thewisdomofadistractedmind.blogspot.com/ Dan

    Someday, maybe Christians will begin the long and difficult work of apologizing for the vast amount and years worth of hatred and fear and sadness they bring to the innocent people of this world.

    Until then, I don’t care what they say, and any attempt they make at building so-called bridges is really little more than yet another attempt to create an opportunity to puke their filth at and proselytize to people. I don’t know if Andrew is on the right track or not. The delusions that separate him from reality are the same as those that have created people like Tony Perkins, and these beliefs are all too easily bastardized to foster more and more hatred, fear and sadness.

    We’ll see, I guess.

  • Claudia

    They don’t even have to go as far as recognizing homosexuality as ok. They are religious, and just as Catholics don’t ordain women and therefore enshrine the inferiority of females, they can also enshrine the inferiority of homosexuals. And I can keep as far away of both of them as I possibly can.

    My standards are so low that it would be enough for me to see them say, as a regular commenter here (I forget her name) that they support the exact same civil rights for gays as they do for atheists. I want an open affirmation that they don’t believe their religious beliefs (no matter which they are) should be imposed by law. They don’t even have to tell me what those beliefs are, just say you support civil equality. If they can’t go that far, then they are not worth our time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    I’m with Claudia. Just live and let live and leave the judging to who you are supposed to and the rest of us won’t have to worry since that’s a fictional character.

    I actually think this is progressive of him as that is exactly what he seems to be calling for. He’s asking the likes of Tony Perkins — hell he’s asking Evangelicals for that matter — to not be bullies. That is freaking progress and cudos to him for it.

    However, next step to realizing that your church is doing wrong is to realizing there’s something fundamentally (no pun intended) wrong with your church.

    I’m waiting for your foundation to admit that homosexuality is not a sin or immoral. “Nice” Christians love to say that homosexuality is no more a sin than any other sin, but that makes the word completely meaningless. If everything is a sin, then nothing’s a sin.

    But it is. Just as not honoring your parents is. My parents were abusive assholes who I cannot honor just as gays can’t help being gay. It’s still a sin. Fortunately, I am not prosecuted for it though there are times (and not just from the religious) that I am frowned on and even condemned for disowning my parents.

    I often heard that stupid old canard while they were alive that I’d be sorry when they’re dead if I didn’t make amends with them before they died. Well, they’re dead and I’m not sorry. I’m relieved they’re dead. I feel I spared myself much emotional pain as an adult and spared my daughter too. (Perhaps even physical pain since my mother did haul off and hit one of her other grandchildren.)

    What kills me is he’s right. It’s a sin just like any other according to the buybull. So why is this particular sin given so much more attention than others? That’s the root cause to get to the bottom of.

    Hemant, how do you make a leap from saying one sin is no more a sin than any other sin to everything’s a sin? Grant you, my mother often made me feel like freaking breathing was a sin but to say this is a sin the same as other sins is not saying everything’s a sin. Is praying a sin then? Going to church? Saving yourself for marriage? Etc.

  • Narvi

    According to the Bible, praying in public is a sin. So yeah, praying and going to church are sins.

    Marriage is also a sin according to Paul (though less so than sex outside of marriage), so saving yourself for marriage is therefore also a sin. On the other hand, in Genesis we are told to go forth and multiply, so not having sex is also a sin.

    In conclusion: Yes, according to the bible, everything is a sin. Therefore, the word is meaningless.

  • Erp

    A few Christians do come out and say it is not a sin: Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire (and a fair number of other Episcopalians, it is one reason there is a bit of a schism going on in that church); quite a few British Quakers considering that their general meeting is petitioning the government to permit same-sex civil unions to be solemnized in Quaker meeting houses in the same fashion opposite-sex civil unions (aka marriages) can be; a local Methodist church near where I live flies several rainbow banners outside.

  • Steve

    Gene Robinson is gay himself. That hardly counts.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

    The problem with people like Tony Perkins is that they confuse “allowing homosexuality” with “endorsing homosexuality.” I’d describe the gay rights movement as a push for the right to be left alone.

    Of course, a lot of Christians would say that it’s sinful to leave the sinners alone, like you’re abandoning them to their horrible fate. Some will try to politely engage you, but ultimately live and let live; and others take it as a duty to legislate for the good of the masses. Maybe we need to show religious people a point where “you’ve done enough.”

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    I thought this site was about atheism, not gays.

    Because, it’s not like religion is causing other problems in the world.

  • SecularLez

    Until more Christians come out and support gay rights, the sooner the GLBT movement can gain some ground in this country.

    I’d love to see more Christians speak out in support of laws that protect gay people from being fired simply because they’re gay. I’d love to see more Christians speak out in support of anti-bullying laws that are inclusive.

    Of course I’d like to see less Christians and more Atheists but I know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    Christians who concede that their views on the sinfulness of homosexuality shouldn’t be enshrined as law represent a step forward. Marin doesn’t actually get there, however. All he’s willing to do is shout “be nice to the sinners!” (and yes, if he won’t disown the sin position, that’s implied). Well, thanks all to heck, Andrew. I’m sure GLBT folks appreciate the condescending pat on the head. When you’re ready to throw your voice behind equal civil rights under the law, give us a call.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    @OneSTDV

    Kids are dying due to anti-gay bullying and an entire segment of the adult public is denied a fundamental civil right due to religious bigotry against gays. How is that not relevant to atheists or a large enough concern to devote significant space to?

  • Pingback: Seth Sorts Things Better: Why Gay Isn’t Anything At All To Worry About « Seth's World

  • Claudia

    Gene Robinson is gay himself. That hardly counts.

    Gene Robinson is a bishop in a 2 million member strong church, so it does count. Sure its not surprising to hear a gay man say being gay is fine, but the key is that he’s a bona-fide high ranking religious figure, which makes his support for gays relevant, whether or not he’s gay himself.

    @OneSTDV, the reason atheists care about religion is because of the damage it does through its actions. Sure religion does more damage in the rest of the world, but this is a US-centric blog and hence the issues are going to be about the sorts of issues that arise out of religion here; creationism, gay inequality etc.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    I never said religion doesn’t hurt gays (though the cited statistic of, what, 10-20 recent suicides is almost laughable).

    What I’m saying is this site focuses any incredibly disproportionate amount of effort on combating religious hatred of gays. When the consequences of religion can be so grave (i.e. Islamic fecundity basically taking over Europe), this relatively tiny problem affecting a relatively tiny population shouldn’t get anywhere near the amount of time it does amongst (liberal) atheist sites.

  • Liz

    @OneSTDV

    also this is mostly Hemant’s blog…so he could write whatever the fuck he wants. It’s not like you’re paying to get only religious articles.

    Obviously homosexual rights are important to Hemant and he knows they are important to many of his readers…except you apparently?

    “this relatively tiny problem affecting a relatively tiny population shouldn’t get anywhere near the amount of time it does amongst (liberal) atheist sites”

    seriously? If you have problems with this start your own blog and talk about what you want, but i’ll bet you Friendly Atheist will continue to have more readers than you, because Hemant cares about EVERYONE and homosexuality in America just so happens to be a very important issue to him and his viewers

  • cat

    “fecundity basically taking over Europe” Congratulations, that was the most xenophobic shit I have heard all week. Because brown immigrants having babies is the real problem, not brutal violence against queer people? Go fuck yourself.

  • Rich Wilson

    Just in case anyone on here doesn’t also follow richarddawkins.net:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/536785-hang-them-uganda-paper-publishes-photos-of-gays

  • http://www.meaningwithoutgodproject.blogspot.com Jeffrey A. Myers

    Actually, if you are a scriptural literalist, everything IS a sin. Shellfish is a sin. Raw meat is a sin. Sex during mensturation is a sin. Homosexuality is a sin. Charging or paying interest is a sin. They’re all sins. In fact, all the foregoing are ‘abominations.’

    They just selectively choose which sins to get riled up about.

  • Stephen P

    When the consequences of religion can be so grave (i.e. Islamic fecundity basically taking over Europe)

    Maybe you should try getting your information from someone a bit more reliable than Wilders or Dewinter.

  • Rich Wilson

    I thought this site was about atheism, not gays.

    Because, it’s not like religion is causing other problems in the world.

    Because, it’s not like we can think about more than one problem at a time.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    OneSTDV, somehow I’m not surprised that you can’t see how opposing religiously-inspired hatred is relevant to atheism.

    Regarding Andrew Marin’s response:

    I’m not saying that because I believe Tony Perkins should be affirming LGBT politics or theology. That is not the case.

    Frankly, Hemant, I’m surprised this didn’t stand out to you. It could be interpreted a couple of different ways, I suppose:

    1. I’m not saying this because I think we should be affirming LGBT politics or theology – I do, but I’m saying this for other reasons.

    or

    2. I don’t think we should be affirming LGBT politics or theology, so that’s not why I’m saying this.

    Like you, I’d love to have Andrew clear things up and just say what his position is. This idea he has that you can build bridges between people without mentioning their positions is a bit fatuous. If their opinions are never voiced, you can’t even know where the ends of the bridge need to be placed.

  • Heidi

    this relatively tiny problem affecting a relatively tiny population

    Where do you get that from?? I’m not gay, but the issue most certainly affects me. It affects all of us, at least in the United States. Evangelical Christianity, by and large, comes right out and says, “if you had been born this way, you would not be worthy of equal rights.” How does that not affect me?

    My sister is gay and lives in California. So even Prop 8 directly affects my family. I have gay friends in committed relationships who live in states where they are legally denied equal protection under the law. That affects me.

    If you have no gay friends or family members, or if you care so little about them as to say their civil rights are irrelevant to you, then I feel sorry for you.

  • Sean

    Because, it’s not like religion is causing other problems in the world.

    Whether intentionally or unintentionally (and I grant that it’s usually unintentional), this is one of the most effective ways of trolling any cause. It’s rather meaningless to say that something other cause is more important and people should spend time on that instead. Unless you’ve identified The Most Important Issue In The World, there’s always an argument to be made that something else is more worth spending time on.

    But I don’t think trying to criticize or shame people into changing focus to a more important cause is a great strategy; what you’re doing, in practice, is to put down all the people who were at least active and altruistic enough to try to have some good effects, while letting everyone else off the hook. If you want to promote some other cause, go promote the cause in and of itself. Don’t disparage people for trying to do good things other than the ones you want to do.

    The “10-20 recent suicides” you mention are only the tip of the iceberg, by the way. This is a problem known to be endemic in gay teens in the US for a long time, and which is only now getting attention because several cases happen to have made the news at once. And part of the reason it’s important is that it’s a sign of a wider problem; it’s not just the suicides themselves (not that we know about every gay teen suicide; some GLBTs may kill themselves in part to avoid ever coming out).

    Don’t waffle and then claim you’re helping the cause.

    I agree, but my first reaction was a bit different. I’m not so worried about the waffling in and of itself; people are allowed to be uncertain about things, at least for a time. But my big concern is that policy is either in effect, or it isn’t. That means that the issues need to be worked on and eventually settled, and that until they are, GLBTs are going to be plagued by all kinds of problems while the moderates and the undecideds laboriously ponder what to do.

    It’s OK to work on “dialogue and understanding” throughout, but in the meantime the legal and public policy issues are very pressing and need to be addressed.

    It’s also important to realize that often the biggest factors in young gay people’s lives have to do with their families and churches. (In fact, I’ve worked with several gay teens, some of whom were depressed or suicidal, and family was the top stressor for every single one, usually followed by a fear of lifelong discrimination.) A “let everyone come to their own answer” deal seems nice and tolerant, but given that there are intolerant families and churches out there, shouldn’t one be worried about what happens when someone comes to a very anti-gay answer, and then has power over gay kids? Especially given that many seemingly “tolerant” people have a NIMBY attitude? Wouldn’t it be good to take a position a little bit stronger than “don’t be mean to gays”?

  • AxeGrrl

    Liz wrote:

    @OneSTDV

    also this is mostly Hemant’s blog…so he could write whatever the fuck he wants. It’s not like you’re paying to get only religious articles.

    Obviously homosexual rights are important to Hemant and he knows they are important to many of his readers…except you apparently?

    “this relatively tiny problem affecting a relatively tiny population shouldn’t get anywhere near the amount of time it does amongst (liberal) atheist sites”

    seriously? If you have problems with this start your own blog and talk about what you want, but i’ll bet you Friendly Atheist will continue to have more readers than you, because Hemant cares about EVERYONE and homosexuality in America just so happens to be a very important issue to him and his viewers

    You nailed it Liz. Kudos :)


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