Interview with Brad White, Founder of Changing the Face of Christianity

There’s a new Texas-based non-profit group called “Changing the Face of Christianity” — their mission is “to reverse negative Christian stereotypes in the world.”

Well, that sounds all well and good. There are certainly many stereotypes about Christians… but they’re usually well-deserved, right? In the book UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, the authors wrote about the terms people most often thought of when they heard the word “Christian”:

Homophobic.

Hypocritical.

Too political.

Judgmental.

Having a “must-save-you-or-else” mentality.

Sheltered.

Now, Changing the Face of Christianity is trying to fix all that and they definitely have an uphill battle.

Brad White is the founder and president of the organization. He answered a few of my questions about the organization via email. I know it’s long, but I urge you to read what this reformer is trying to do… and see if you think he gets it:

Are Christians aware that people think of them this way [with those stereotypes]?

Some are, but unfortunately many are not. There IS a growing movement in this country by like-minded people to take back the church, so to speak, from those that choose to live in an UnChristian way absurdly in the name of Christ.

There are many who feel like they are doing a service by condemning and ridiculing homosexuals. This is both homophobic AND hypocritical and their intentions don’t justify their means. Just like most people at least subconsciously know they are selfish to the core, I believe that many Christians subconsciously realize they are often hypocritical and judgmental. However, since it’s not on the surface, they refuse to see it or do anything about it. Our agenda is to change that status quo. We are shining light on the problems within our Christian faith, to convict believers to take action and work on themselves.

You’ll enjoy this. I spoke at a morning Christian devotional meeting last year and I asked people to tell me the first word that came to their mind when I said “Christian.” To my surprise, out of 20 or so people, 3 immediately said “hypocritical.” Another 2 said “judgmental.” And to be fair, many others said “loving,” “compassionate,” etc. My point being that there ARE Christian followers that acknowledge the problem. Our mission then is to help these people move from A to B, status quo to Christian transformation… to put aside judgment and bring their behaviors in line with their beliefs.

Have we earned the negative stereotype of having a “must save or else” mentality? Yes. This is a conflicting issue for most Christians. I loved what outspoken atheist comedian Penn Jillette says on this issue: “If you truly believe I’m going to hell, and you truly believe you have the answer, and you DON’T tell me, then you must really hate me.” That’s the difficulty. Many who have this attitude do care for you more than you know, and because they care, they are sharing the gospel with you. Now, as a former atheist, and someone who has discussed this issue with many current atheists, what these well intentioned Christians don’t understand is that you have heard it many times before. I admire those who are so convicted by their faith that they share it without regard for how they come across. What they don’t realize is that the “save you or else” attitude generally produces the opposite effect. Instead of a warm fuzzy feeling, it enrages you.

This is where Changing the Face of Christianity steps in with a strong message to Christians. STOP! For those Christians well versed in the Bible, we have to accept that whether anyone comes to Jesus Christ or not is truly out of our hands. It’s God’s job.

Here is what we recommend to these people: If you truly love and care about that person, then simply love them unconditionally. Don’t befriend them with ulterior motives just to try to save them. Just love them. If you can’t love them for who they are, then you don’t really love them. And be open to listening to them and their beliefs. Again, not with an attitude of trying to change their mind. People who truly listen and give their time to someone else with no strings attached… those are people who love others as God calls us to. Said in a way like Jesus likely would say it, If you truly want to save them, then love them, feed them, serve them, humble yourself before them, give your life for them. We don’t do that very well. Over time, we hope to change that.

On the Too Political and sheltered stereotypes, I don’t believe many in our faith see it at all. Let’s first define the terms. Too political in our context means using politics to force our beliefs on others through legislation. Sheltered, which we call “superficial” on our website, means that we live in a Christian bubble and rarely seek to engage with the rest of the world or learn new things like advances in science. Again, these are difficult issues to wrestle with. Everyone involved in politics is fighting for their own beliefs and values. Christians fighting in the political arena to end abortion are doing so because of strong convictions. Homosexuals fighting in the political arena for gay marriage are doing the same thing. Where Christian behavior needs to be more consistent with our beliefs is in how we treat those NOT in the majority. We must not use our political influence to subordinate or withhold rights from others that we enjoy. When it comes to being sheltered or superficial in our understanding of the world, again we are guilty as charged. Part of our mission is to help Christians understand advances in science, and learn how to integrate those advances into our faith. We may disagree, but I strongly believe that science and religion/faith CAN coexist. So instead of fearing what there is to learn there, we should embrace it and seek to learn more.

If even most “liberal” Christians remain opposed to gay marriage, how can you really change the perception of Christians as homophobic?

To me, it all comes down to how homosexuals are treated by Christians one-on-one, either face to face or website comment to website comment. What’s my attitude toward homosexuals? When we address that in a positive, constructive way, over time I believe the perception will start to reverse.

Now, let’s talk about the issue of gay marriage. This is a HOT issue at least in the USA. I’m going to answer this the long way to explain my personal opinion.

I saw a comedy routine several years ago called “Defending the Caveman.” Google it. It essentially talks about why men and women have such as hard time relating and communicating. It’s because we speak a different language. Men speak to Men…and everything is ok. Women speak to women and everything is ok. When Men speak to women, WE speak as if we are talking to a man, and the women hears us as if they are talking to a women. It fails. Then we sleep on the couch!

Ok, so why the metaphor. I think the HUGE problem with this debate is a matter of language and interpretation. When Christians talk about gay marriage, we are talking about what we perceive as Right vs Wrong. When LGBTs talk about gay marriage, they are talking about dominance and control vs. equal protection and rights. When Christians oppose gay marriage, are we using politics and religion to dominate and control? Yes. And we (Changing the Face of Christianity) believe that such dominance and control is wrong.

Ok, so what is the big problem with language then? In our opinion, It’s around the term “Marriage.” This is going to sound contradictory but it’s truly not when you understand the language, from a Christians’ perspective. I support a homosexual’s right to a “civil union” but not to “marriage.” How can that be? Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman. To allow “Marriage” to be redefined as an act between two men or two women, or to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

Now, am I ok with two men or two women having a civil union in a government sanctioned civil court? Absolutely! I’m perfectly fine with it. Would I prefer to see a homosexual couple in a committed civil union relationship or an uncommitted one? In a committed one. I’ve personally witnessed a lesbian couple who had a child through a sperm donor, bonded with the child, and then broke up, just like in heterosexual couples. The birth mom had legal custody of the child. The other lady had absolutely no rights under the law. Lots of issues there, but saying it briefly, it would have been better for the child to have both women with custody. They both heaped love on the child, and the child deserved better.

So why all the fuss over gay marriage? I don’t presume to speak for the majority of Christians on this. However, I strongly believe it’s because homosexuals are fighting for “Gay Marriage,” even if all they are really seeking equal rights to are “Civil Unions.” It’s incredibly unfortunate, but we simply can’t talk to each other any better than men and women can’t talk to each other after eons of trying.

Changing the Face of Christianity officially started in 2010. How we engage with homosexuals is one of 6-7 major issues we are bringing to the forefront within Christian churches and communities. We will certainly say more on this topic on our website over time. So stay tuned as we work within Christian circles to improve the dialogue and mutual respect between heterosexual Christians and homosexuals. And regardless of what we do, we will have strong opposition within our Churches. This is a mission that I expect will take an entire lifetime to see to completion and we’ve only just begun. We would welcome your support and encouragement.

Do you consider being gay a choice?

First, and possibly most importantly, I am a heterosexual and I can’t possibly walk in the shoes of a homosexual. So, all I can do is express my beliefs based on what I’ve seen, heard, and observed. I don’t claim to have any special knowledge in this area.

Short answer: I’ve seen conflicting evidence and passionate arguments from both sides. So for me, the jury is still out. That is, until someone can help resolve the conflicts or show me the irrefutable evidence. Until then, I’ll have to place my faith in what I’ve seen so far. I am very open to reading and learning more on the subject. So, if you have any suggestions, please reply back with your recommendations.

Long Answer: I’ve seen strong evidence that it is a genetic pre-disposition. That’s tough to debate. I can recall kids as early as age 10 [who] were stereotypically effeminate, and very likely went on to BE homosexual after puberty. I’ve also personally known several heterosexuals who later Chose to be bi-sexual or homosexual. I don’t know what you call them, so I simply call them “switchers.” Another person I’ve not met but I heard about a while ago, who was a very active and vocal PRO lesbian her whole life but switched later in life, shows evidence that regardless of any genetic pre-disposition, it can still be a choice. Here is the link to her site. You can read her personal story here.

So, what do I believe? If I had to take an educated best guess, I’d say that homosexuality is something you are genetically pre-disposed to and yet it’s still a choice.

Let me give you a non-homosexual metaphor. I’ve heard that alcoholics are born that way (genetically pre-disposed to alcoholism). They don’t know it until their first drink. For most, you drink and you can easily take it or leave it. But for alcoholics, you take the first drink and you are hooked. It’s an addiction. You can’t stop. It becomes a part of you. Someone says, why don’t you just stop drinking? And the response is, “Do you think I would choose this? It’s not a choice. I can’t stop even if I wanted to.”

So, in either situation, whether it’s alcoholism, homosexuality, or anything else you want to compare it to, the question our organization would ask is: How should YOU as a Christian treat that person? And the answer would be: love them, support them, and encourage them. Do NOT reject them and for heaven’s sake don’t condemn them as if they are somehow worse than yourself.

You say you want to tackle Intolerance within the Christian community. What would be an example of a “tolerant” Christian? Are there examples of well-known Christians who fall in the tolerant camp?

Intolerance is one of the 6-7 major issues we are trying to reverse within Christianity. So, again, we welcome your support in our mission to reverse Christian intolerance.

Now, I hope this next part doesn’t disappoint you. Intolerance is a big word with many definitions. As we’ve shared our message of tolerance, we have encountered some reasonable backlash. For example, many people believe that “tolerance” means the same thing as “agreement” or “approval.” People that believe in that definition oppose us and for good reason. We aren’t seeking that kind of tolerance. That’s not how we define it.

Tolerance as we define it is more like “disapproving but not being jerks about it.” “Disagreeing without attempting to force our beliefs on you.” But communicating those distinctions [is] an uphill battle.

I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong) that most Atheists want our agreement that God doesn’t exist, but [would rather we] just leave you guys alone to live in peace! E.g. “Tolerate you.” Just as we want you to tolerate us (not disrespect us for having different beliefs).

Certainly some radical atheists would rather see all Christians, all believers of any religion (and the lawyers, too) drowned at the bottom of the ocean (which is it’s own bit of intolerance). But the vast majority of Atheists I’ve encountered simply want to be left alone and to have respectful conversations about beliefs.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Atheist sites and having conversations with Atheists. Having been a former atheist myself, I empathize with you. I CAN and HAVE walked in your shoes on that one. Atheists don’t want to be “saved,” “prayed for,” or “preached to.” It’s sad that so many Christians are blinded by a desire to “save” someone that they end up irrecoverably pissing off the very people they are trying to “save.”

So, as an organization, we seek the kind of tolerance that will allow Christians and non-Christians, Christians and atheists, Christians and Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, etc. to be able to sit in the same room together having a polite and sometimes passionate conversation with the other side, without disintegrating into rude, disrespectful, and demeaning, close-minded debate. Can’t we both share our beliefs, disagree, and still go have a beer afterwards as friends? Even if Christians are in the majority, can’t we allow other religions equal freedoms under law? I would hope so. The USA is not a theocracy, nor do mainstream Christians desire a theocracy. We just want the freedom to practice our religion, just as others want the freedom to practice their religion or lack of religion. That’s the kind of tolerance we seek. Tolerance even in the face of disagreement.

An example of a Tolerant Christian then, according to our definition, would be one that can engage in conversation with people who have strongly differing opinions, keep the tone civil, be open-minded to learning about the other person’s view, and not come across with an arrogant attitude. Not simply talking to someone with an agenda to convince them, but to have mutual sharing.

I know many tolerant Christians, most of which you probably wouldn’t know. And unlike “I am second,” we aren’t trying to compile a list of such people. So, the best I can do is suggest a few authors that have written great books that we really relate to that seem to have the attitude we seek. Drew Dyck, author of Generation Ex-Christian is one. Another well known figure is Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill church and author of several books. [Hemant's note: Rob wrote the foreword to I Sold My Soul on eBay]

May I ask you or your readers the same question? What would be a good example of a tolerant atheist, and who is your best known tolerant atheist? Who do you believe best represents the best of what atheism can be?

Will your organization call out specific examples of Christians who are guilty of perpetuating the stereotypes? I see atheist blogs doing this all the time, but it would mean a lot more if the same criticism was leveled from other Christians.

Absolutely. That is definitely part of our plans. There was a “Pastor” of a church in the Dallas, TX area who was recently arrested and charged with the theft of property from one of her former church members. It’s scandalous! At this point, she is “alleged” to have committed the crime, and I’m sure at some point will be convicted. But until the ruling is made official and she is found guilty, it would be irresponsible of us to come out publically.

Enough press has already been given to the Catholic bishops and arch-bishops charged with pedophilia and their subsequent attempts to cover it up. Both are regrettable examples of hypocrisy. Another great example is the folks at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. They are the group that protests the funerals of USA armed forces personnel, because they believe their deaths are signs of God’s judgment because of rampant homosexuality in our country! They are the ones that take the position that “God hates fags.” There are two words in their name that I have great disagreement with: Baptist and Church. They are a very intolerant, hypocritical, homophobic, and judgmental bunch. I hesitate to even call them Christians. I believe on God’s judgment day he will look in their faces and say “I didn’t know you.”

How will your organization address popular pastors who are guilty of being homophobic, overly political, etc.?

Over time, I can see us taking positions against parts of their ministries which are too political or homophobic, etc… But to be clear, we are not a “witch hunt” organization. We will first and foremost accept them and love them, and seek to offer them a different way of looking at the situation. If you want to provide us with a list of such pastors and what problems you see, we would be happy to investigate the issues and come out with a formal stance on them. It may be hard to see, but many of these pastors are also doing very positive things. It would be hypocritical of me to say to any one of them that they must step down because of a moral failure or because I disagree with their approach. All humans, including pastors, are broken and need compassion and mercy on an ongoing basis. So, the opportunity I see is that we could approach these pastors, share our mission and passion on the topics, help them see the damage that they sometimes cause, and ask them to move in our direction. Change would be a long term goal.

If your vision comes true, what do you hope to accomplish with your organization? (I ask this because, even if Christians were “true to Jesus” and not guilty of the stereotypes, most atheists I know wouldn’t be any closer to accepting Christ. We aren’t Christians because there are intellectual reasons against it, not because Christians don’t live up to Jesus’ standards.)

Our mission IS what we hope to accomplish. We are working to reverse Christian intolerance, hypocrisy, homophobia, judgmentalism, and other negative Christian stereotypes, by helping Christians to be more like Jesus Christ. Christian maturity is defined as becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. To mature takes desire, education, and assistance. By pointing out the damage we sometimes cause in the world, we hope to instill the desire for change. We seek to educate Christians on HOW to live and love others as Jesus calls us to. And we will work to assist Christians in this change.

Now, here are few byproducts of that change we welcome and expect over the long term, but again to be clear… this is not our purpose. When someone hears the word “Christian,” we want that to be a sweet sound to the ear. Truly! If the majority of Christians you encountered lived lives you appreciated and respected, because of the love they directly showed to you, we would hope the image of Christianity in your mind would be changed for the better. Just like Atheists don’t like being looked at with disdain, neither do we. We don’t like a “bad” Christians giving a bad name to Christianity, and so it would be nice to have a positive reputation.

I don’t believe that WE can convince an intellectual atheist to become a Christian. As a former atheist, I can tell you that no argument could ever convince me. It’s God’s job to do that in His own timing. However, given the stereotypes we are trying to reverse, our lives don’t often offer a very compelling example of what Christ can do in the life of a believer. So, why would you even be interested in the first place?

I don’t have to tell you that there are many types of Atheists, just as there are many types of Christians. Some atheists would be convinced of the existence of God if they truly “saw” God working and moving in people’s lives in a good and positive way that defied all “human” reason. If we can help in that area, as a byproduct of our mission, then we welcome that. For those atheists that need undeniable evidence, we could only pray and ask God to provide that evidence for those who are truly open and willing to see it.

How will your organization reach out to atheists? (I think a lot of atheists distrust Christians because there are usually ulterior motives at play when Christians say they want to work with us.)

There is an incredibly well-earned amount of distrust between atheists and Christians. For most Christians, it’s hard to put down the desires to “save them” long enough to just be in relationship with atheists. So, we lead with our agenda and you can see it coming a mile away. Beyond the question of “does God exist?”, if we actually took the time to get to know each other, we might find out that we actually like each other in spite of our differences. To be fair, my experience is that most atheists lead with their own agenda of deconversion when talking with a Christian.

So, the way we would prefer to reach out to atheists is in the form of open-minded, agenda-free dialogue. I ask you questions about what you believe, you respond, you ask me questions about what I believe, I respond. If we can leave our agendas at the door, we might actually learn something about each other. That sounds simple, but you’ve got to know how incredibly difficult that proposition is. From my experience, everybody wants to be right, and everyone wants you to know they are right.

On most blogs, I see believers and non-believers fighting it out. Everyone is doing a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. Someone famous said “you can’t learn anything while you are talking,” and I agree. So, we would aim to talk with you, but do a lot of listening.

Again, I KNOW you won’t be convinced by anything I could say. So, why waste my breath and your time? We either must learn to just leave each other alone, learn to talk about everything BUT God, or learn to listen and learn from each other with civility and mutual respect. We’re working on the third option… engaging you with civility and respect, and seeking to learn from you, not to convert you. Is that tough? Yep. But I believe it’s worth enduring through the lack of trust long enough to repair trust, build bridges, establish areas of agreement, and simply talk as friends who truly care for each other.

So, with that in mind, It’s my turn to stop and listen. How would you WANT us to reach out to you?

And one more question. Will you support what we are doing?

Do I support what they’re trying to do? Sure… I applaud anyone who can hold a mirror up to the church so it can see itself the way most of us do.

But it’s clear that, in some cases, Brad just doesn’t get it. And if that’s true, then I don’t think he’ll get very far.

Like the gay marriage thing. It’s really not just a matter of different definitions. “Married” couples simply have more rights than couples with just a “civil union.” All states recognize marriage, but not all of them will recognize a civil union from another state. There are tax breaks married couples get that those in civil unions do not. There are hospital visitation rights for married couples but not domestic partners.

Christians don’t have dibs on the word “marriage.” If marriage is truly Christian-God-ordained, as Brad said, then I guess all non-Christians should be stripped of their right to marry, too. (Sorry, mom and dad.)

But. I don’t think any of this is what Brad intended to say. I think his intention was that he’d be fine with gay couples getting equal rights under the law. As long as they refrained from the word marriage.

Again, this is a problem. I don’t care at all if some church pastor refuses to marry a gay couple. He doesn’t have to and I wouldn’t want him to. No pro-gay-marriage initiative has *ever* mandated that a pastor officiate a gay wedding. But the government should not be in the business of defining marriage in a Christian way. They should not be saying, “You can marry this person, but not that one.”

Gay couples (and straight allies) are fighting for equal marriage — with that term, because separate but equal isn’t truly equal — under the law. No one’s telling your church what to do or how to act.

Also, please never compare being gay to being an alcoholic. You’re never going to win any arguments with us that way.

As for the Christians Brad “calls out”… it’s a nice start, but going after Westboro Baptist Church is like shooting fish in a barrel. Going after a pastor who may have stolen from her own church? Easy. The Catholic Church? Really? (Are any churches defending these people?) I’m not interested in Changing the Face of Christianity calling out jackasses, alleged criminal, and pedophiles. That’s easy to do. None of that takes any real courage.

What about the statement that “some radical atheists would rather see all Christians, all believers of any religion (and the lawyers, too) drowned at the bottom of the ocean (which is it’s own bit of intolerance)”?

Wow.

None of the “radical atheists” — I presume Mr. White’s referring to people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and PZ Myers — have ever said we’d be better off if the religious people were dead, or anything even remotely close to it. Seriously, give me a citation for that…

We don’t need to resort to that because logic, evidence, and all of reality is on our side. “Radical atheists” want to convince you you’re wrong with our arguments. (Radical followers of religion, however, have no problem killing abortion doctors or flying into buildings in the name of martyrdom.)

By the way, not all the “radical atheists” would get rid of religion if they were given the option, either. We don’t want to “force” people into atheism any more than we want to live in a theocracy. They have to come to that decision on their own.

That was an irresponsible thing to say, and I hope Brad understands why.

Bottom line: Brad still has a lot to learn. But I sincerely think Brad seems to be open to getting educated about it. That’s a good first step.

So let’s educate him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    I tried. The Christian reporter twisted my words a bit, but I couldn’t expect much better:

    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110107/bible-believers-cant-shake-intolerant-image-says-atheist

  • mkb

    Tell Brad that working to outlaw abortion and working to legalize gay marriage are not equivalent. One is trying to impose your religious beliefs on other people, the other is fighting for the right for people to live their own lives in the manner they believe is best.

  • Narvi

    I agree with mkb.

    The one thing a lot of Christians don’t seem to realize about gay marriage is that it doesn’t FORCE you to marry someone of the same gender. All gays want, is the FREEDOM to do so.

    They also don’t seem to realize that marriage was a secular institution for centuries before the church tried to muscle in, but correcting two misconceptions at once might break their fragile little minds.

  • http://twitter.com/achura Rooker

    Well, you already addressed most of the problems I had with what he said.

    Speaking out against Westboro and the cover-up of child abuse by The Vatican is just swinging a stick at the low-hanging fruit. If he wants my suggestion for a Christian group to speak out against, I suggest the C Street cult in Washington DC (aka the Family). They are extremists of the worst sort, they helped to produce a proposed law in Uganda for gay genocide and they are actively trying to undermine separation of church and state in the US. Those people are dangerous and they need to be stopped.

    On the subject of homosexuality and gay marriage, he drove right off the rails. Comparing being gay to being an alcoholic? Alcoholism is a disease. You go to a doctor to treat it. The only people “treating” sexual identity as if it were curable are scam artists bilking people out of money.

    People cherrypick two or three lines out of the Bible and use it as justification to indulge their discomfort and dislike of homosexuals. They need to acknowledge that, learn to treat them as the regular people they are and stop trying to impose their own sense of morality on them.

    Another thing I noticed is that he seems to take for granted that Christians are the majority and that they should restrain themselves from abusing that situation. They need to understand that they won’t always be the majority – just look at England. The numbers are dropping and I don’t see that turning around. They’d be far better off learning now to live with everyone else as equals instead of trying to assume a position of tolerant, benevolent dominance over everyone else.

    That aside, I liked most of his other answers and I wish them luck with that.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    Supposing that “marriage” is a religious concept that just cannot be brokered for gay people, would Brad instead be willing to fight for the removal of marriage’s recognition by any American government (whether federal, state, or local) on account of its discriminatory nature that fails to pass scrutiny tests?

    Would it be ok to make civil unions everything that marriages currently are (e.g., federally recognized and “fungible” across states as well), and to make marriage a completely private, nonrecognized affair?

    Or would that be unacceptable to Brad?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    On the subject of coming across as judgmental I’d offer the following advice from St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.”. In other words, don’t tell me how to live, actually show me a better way of living. If Christians can be kind, helpful, non-judgmental, honest, well rounded, charitable, “good” people then acting in that way may well be worth exploring. Whether or not I can believe in the basis of these positive actions doesn’t matter because I’ll see that they are functionally worthwhile.

    On homophobia I’d offer the advice to review why you consider the “gay lifestyle” (whatever that means) to be so bad. Then again I’d suggest looking at all their beliefs sceptically. Is it scripture or your pastor that tells you that being gay is bad. How does that marry up with other parts of scripture? Scripture certainly isn’t without fault or contradiction. Could it be that these couple of lines aren’t relevant given the context in which they were written?

    Even if you end up still thinking of homosexuality as a “sin” then what bar is sin to marriage? Do you allow thieves and adulterers to marry? Do those who lust marry? Do those who deny gods still marry? Of course they do so why not gay people?

    Overall these are simple matters of extending more tolerance to others by Christians. However I do think that there is something fundamentally broken about many branches of Club Christian. The science and history deniers for example are just coming across as completely ignorance tools. They need to accept evidence for what it is and change their views to fit in with reality. I don’t care if your views are sincere or deeply held. If they don’t conform to reality then they are wrong and need to change.

    Another branch of Club Christian that could really learn a lesson is Catholicism. My advice to them: Stop raping children and covering it up. What you have done and are no doubt still doing is bad. Stop it.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    “That is, until someone can help resolve the conflicts or show me the irrefutable evidence. Until then, I’ll have to place my faith in what I’ve seen so far.”

    I kind of get what he’s trying to say, but I find it fascinating that he promotes faith as a virtue, but he demands irrefutable evidence that being gay is a choice in order for him to change his position.

  • coyotenose

    “I don’t believe that WE can convince an intellectual atheist to become a Christian. As a former atheist, I can tell you that no argument could ever convince me.”

    Presumably by accident in his choice of words, he manages to insert the premise that atheists are merely stubborn and dogmatic (and thus rely on faith… )

    A more truthful statement would be, “I can tell you that no convincing argument exists.”

  • http://personman.com Danny

    To mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

    I’ve heard this before and I really don’t get it. Is anyone proposing that Christian pastors be forced to marry gay couples? As I understand it, they have the right to refuse to marry any couple. Catholic priests can refuse to marry non-Catholics and divorced people now. I don’t think anyone is suggesting we take away that freedom.

  • Ashlyn

    This is exactly the kind of ridiculous crap I think of when I hear the word Christian so I don’t have huge expectations for his organization

  • Justin

    Hemant,

    If his statement about “radical atheists” (whoever they are) bothers you, then ask him to clarify what he meant. As far as I can tell, he wasn’t alluding to Dawkins, Hitchens, or Myers. Or are you seeing something in his response that I’m not?

  • http://quichemoraine.com Mike Haubrich

    All right, so he has opened a dialogue but he really needs to be able to make it a “two-way.” If marriage is in his mind, a religious institution then the government shouldn’t recognize it at all, whether gay or straight marriage. The government should only be involved in civil unions, and let religion take care of marriage.

    Of course that can’t happen, because marriage is too much intertwined in our legal system to make that change.

    His neighbor deserves the freedom to have the same rights as he does, the right to call someone a spouse and to grant to that person all of the legal rights that a heterosexual spouse should have.

    And the right to have a nice ceremony to start it off.

    Separate but equal was tried once in the US, but didn’t work so well.

  • http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com Brad White

    Too all who have commented so far, 1) thanks for reading the interview, and 2) for sharing your honest thoughts.

    This “fragile little mind” (thanks narvi) has never claimed to know everything, but yes…I’m willing to hear you and learn from you.

    I was not aware of the differences between civil unions and marriage when it comes to equal rights. So, in response, yes, I’d be happy to see civil unions have equal rights when compared to marriage.

    And I think you may have missed the point (just slightly). I attempted to explain why most christians react so violantly to the issue of gay “marriage”. I wasn’t defending an anti-gay marriage position.

    And thanks (rooker), I’ll check out the C Street cult in Washington DC.

    For radical atheists, e.g. the ones who don’t want to coexist in peace, I invite you to read an incredibly long thread of comments (160+) on http://www.thinkatheist.com in response to a conversation I started there last year called “tell christians what you think about them” (link follows). To be fair, many were congenial, many were rude and disrespectful, and a good handful wanted us wiped from the face of the earth :-). http://www.thinkatheist.com/xn/detail/1982180:Topic:297166

    Anyway, I know I have much to learn…we all do (including atheists). We’ve only just begun and I recognize this is a long term mission, but I know it’s worth it.

    If you want to address me specificly, or ask me a question, or share info you want me to consider, especially as rooker did with Christians that need to be faced, please start by emailing me (brad@changingthefaceofchristianity.com). I’ll likely respond more quickly that way…as I don’t regularly visit your site. Thanks, Brad.

    ps-yes…I don’t always “get it”. I’m trying real hard though. Thanks for helping me in this area :-)

  • Villa

    He comes off as immensely distasteful.

    First, his position on gay marriage is an outright blasphemy. Marriage (the thing gays are fighting to get) is a civil contract granted by a civil government. His position that that any act of legislature could impact Spiritual Unions (the thing god grants) makes God subject to the will of the US congress.

    From a christian perspective, God will grant spiritual unions to gays, or not. Granting gays a government sanctioned marriage will make no difference.

    And, his position on proselytizing is incoherent. It’s like he wants to say “Don’t proselytize”. But instead ends up arguing both, “proselytize, but do it effectively,” and “it’s not something we should worry about.”

    It seems like he’s looking for a simple re-branding of traditional positions. And that would be fine. Who doesn’t want a more polite Christianity?

    But, he seems to fail at understanding that we object to mainstream Christianity’s substance in addition to its rhetoric.

    In doing so, he ignores Gnu Atheism’s real objections.

  • JulietEcho

    “Welcome to the newer, friendlier Christianity! Great new look, with the classic heathens-burn-in-hell and Bible-knows-best flavor you’ve been enjoying for years!”

    Some of these ideas would be real improvements, but most of them just represent a nice paint job designed to lure more people to the fold and enhance Christianity’s reputation.

    And yes, the “we want the word marriage all for our Christian selves” part is very telling as to what these concerned Christians do and don’t understand.

  • Villa

    Also, please never compare being gay to being an alcoholic. You’re never going to win any arguments with us that way.

    I think this is an interesting point. If we were talking about alcoholism, we wouldn’t see the endless verbal wriggling.

    If we charged a Christian with (to butcher a term) ‘Alcoholism-phobia’ The christian position would be, “Sure. Alcoholism is wrong, and it’s harmful because because of A, B and C, so you should also be alcoholism-phobic.”

    But when the homophobia charge, they just dance around the point endlessly.

    It’s like they realize that their position comes down to nothing more than outright bigotry and don’t want to admit that. But, at the same time they won’t change their stance.

    I think I’d respect them more if they owned up to their convictions. (And would respect them most if they changed their convictions to something less abominable)

  • exe

    Wow — he has a problem with definitions, and it sounds like he’s saying a lot of Christian people do too. Why not use “church-marriage” for what Christians are talking about, and “civil-marriage” for marriage recognized by governments. I would think, then, that everyone who has had a church-marriage also has a civil-marriage. Marriage for all, Christianity shouldn’t have a corner on the market for it, or be the only ones allowed to define it. That’s just the same old “Christians are the only ones who should have rights” mentality.

    Also, I don’t know where he gets his information, but I’ve never met an atheist who wished that Christians or any other theists would die.

    Nope, I think he doesn’t quite get it. Maybe he’s after improving Christian PR superficially, but…

  • asonge

    I have met atheists who were as stupid and intolerant as mentioned…and as they do exist, let us separate them from the radical by calling them fringe.

  • ACN

    But, he seems to fail at understanding that we object to mainstream Christianity’s substance in addition to its rhetoric.

    In doing so, he ignores Gnu Atheism’s real objections.

    This is on point.

    No amount of re-branding addresses the central issue here. There is no evidence that this superstition is anything but.

  • Samiimas

    ugh, another BS ‘changing Christianity from the inside’ thing.

    Sorry but I don’t see how this guy is any better than the usual bigots except that he’s less upfront about it. He think us gay people are evil sinners no better than alcoholics and that the reason we don’t have equal rights is because we need to stop being so uppity and accept that we’re second class citizens who only deserve civil unions.

    I hope someday their will be a serious attempt to challenge Christianity’s homophobia, not just an attempt to whitewash the church of any responsibility for it’s anti-gay campaigns. One that’s willing to actually stand up and state as a fact that homosexuality is in no way whatsoever sinful or wrong, that homosexuals deserve equal rights in every area and that anyone opposed to either of those is a bigot who can go whine about it with the bigots who think racemixing is a sin. Sadly I doubt that’s gonna happen anytime soon.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    I agree that his position on gay marriage is wonky. I choose to believe his allusion to alcoholism was a poorly chosen one and that he was simply saying that being gay might be both genetic and choice the way alcoholism is, without intending the negative connotations (i.e. that its a disease, bad for you, etc). Maybe he could clarify…

    As for calling out the bad apples, he certainly chose the easy ones, but should he not. These are the most visible and vile of the lot, he certainly should call them out. Groups like The Family are far less known. Which of course means that they need more of a spotlight on their murky business, but i don’t fault Brad ford listing lesser known groups. He mentioned groups that are a) vile and b) we are aware of. I have no problem with that, at no point did he say this was all they would do.

    Personally i’d be thrilled with christians who were nicer, more decent people and less in-your-face with their faith (not to mention in-your-legislation). I’d certainly respect them a lot more. Much as I respect a vegetarians choice to not eat meat, even though its not for me (i am a carnivore by nature), i can respect their choice if they refrain from being preachy.

  • Alice

    Heard it before. I think he overestimates his ability to empathize with atheists. As a former Christian, I’ve found that since leaving the faith my understanding of the intentions and beliefs of Christianity has atrophied. I have to take the time to separate stereotype from experience when I make statements about the church. Brad should invest more energy in understanding atheists rather than assuming he’s an expert.

  • Arachobia

    Sometimes I feel like Christians are much like journalists. No matter how much white-washing they try, it seems that someone taught them some very nasty behaviours at some point in their lives that they just can not shake off.

    Look, there are huge tracts of biblical scripture in the bible that nobody attempts to follow today. I do not know why it was so easy to cast of stoning, tips on sacrifices and rules about not eating ostriches but try get them to cast of homophobia and they act like you ask them to cut off their own limbs.

    I know niether all journalists nor all pastors behave badly as if its an addiction. I know at least 1 Christianpastor who is ok with gay marriage and I know some pretty responsible journalists. So why do we keep getting the misbehaving ones, even if their trying their best not to, in the public spotlight?

  • http://myschola.blogspot.com/ L

    I have to admit to a little prejudice myself. When he prefaces his ideas with, “I USED to be an atheist…” I have to wonder if he really was. How deep was his non-belief? Was he just not brought up religious and later “saved”? Or did he actively seek the truth? Because I don’t see how anyone who has seriously studied and become an atheist could ever unlearn what they know. The irony is that this same accusation is leveled at former believers as well: “You just didn’t pray/believe/surrender enough.”

    Unfortunately this clouded the rest of his answers for me. Sounded nice in a blah, blah, blah, we’ll be nice, blah, blah, blah kind of way, but I don’t think it’s the least bit realistic.

  • Samiimas

    http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com/homophobia/

    So, what more should we do than what Jesus would do himself? I say, let’s not endorse or condone their homosexual behavior, and let’s not condemn the person. Instead, let’s love the person and share how Christ’s love can save them, just as he can save “us” sinners.

    Well it took a whole 5 seconds on their site to find this. He’s a bigot who thinks gay people are sinful and evil and that we can be ‘saved’ from our ‘sin’ of homosexuality.

    Like I said, I’d love to see an actual movement that challenges the bigotry and homophobia in Christianity. One that’s actually willing to stand up for gay people and say their human beings just like anyone else, that theirs nothing sinful or evil about them and that they deserve full equal rights. This isn’t that movement.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I think that the “face of Christianity” could greatly improve if Christians actually viewed God as loving instead of some kind of intolerant bigot. (Gays, atheists, and all believers in other faiths go to hell). If you believe God is basically an all-powerful intolerant bigoted asshole, then you will have no choice but to try everything in your power (including legislative coercion) to try to get people to not fall victim to the punishment of that all-powerful hateful being.

    On the other hand, if you actually believe in a loving deity, you can adopt a more “live and let live” attitude. I think the change needs to come in the internal Christian notion of God. I also think this change is already under-way. It just has a ways to go. It should be recognized, though, that the “fear of damnation” is an effective means to keep people in the pews. Take away that fear and church attendance will drop off. Therefore, many churches will keep the fear alive to keep themselves alive.

  • http://www.thinkatheist.com/profile/Johnny Johnny

    My skepticism tends to go into overdrive whenever someone says “I used to be atheist.”

    I understand that there are many different types of atheists. Counting the default position (of hasn’t been influenced, hasn’t yet investigated) that we are born with, as “I used to be atheist” is silly. Also counting a break away from a church (due to disagreement with the church or your god), and the interlude until you find a new church, as “I used to be atheist” is intellectually dishonest to yourself.

    My first assumption to someone saying “I used to be atheist” is that they never truly examined that atheism or the reason they held that stance. I know that sounds a bit like the Christian claim that “he must not have been a True Christian then.” But for every atheist I’ve ever met, once you let the cat out of the bag and reach that point of no belief, there’s nothing that will get that cat back in the bag.

  • Mr Z

    Well, I’ve never felt the need to soften the blow or moderate my speech to be softer than what I feel about a subject. If I’m excited about something you hear it. If I’m angry about something you also hear it.

    “Bottom line: Brad still has a lot to learn. But I sincerely think Brad seems to be open to getting educated about it. That’s a good first step.”

    I disagree. Brad still has everything to learn. To claim he was an atheist and is now a Christian sets off alarm bells in my head. How exactly does one start out understanding the world and the truth of it and move on to become a delusional crackpot? Obviously he is unhappy with some parts of his faith group being hypocrites and thus being associated with them. Too bad. It’s a choice he made on his own. Choice! Think about that for a second. He chose to be Christian and now does not like some other folk who CHOSE to be Christian. Exactly where in that comedy of errors am I supposed to feel empathy for him?

    He compares sexual orientations to alcoholism. I’d say that religion was closer to alcoholism than sexual orientation. In many ways, trying to be a good/tolerant/acceptable Christian is like trying to be a good/tolerant/acceptable/non-practicing rapist. It’s not just the outlier whackos that give the stigma to Christianity, nor the ‘we must save you’ mentality. What they believe is delusion. Straight up crazy, illogical delusion.

    They ignore the facts. Do not know the history of their own faith. Refuse to even acknowledge that the facts do not agree with their ‘faith’ and yet they claim to be the bastion of morality. THAT stance will NEVER work out for them… unless they live in a theocracy.

    As an anti-theist, I basically don’t care what they believe. What I do care about is that our public servants (including those who write/approve text books) are not delusional whack-jobs. To remain true to what I understand of the world, my world view, I cannot say “oh, well… a little bit of delusion is okay” but that whacky guy over there is too much. No, I must say that any of that delusion is too much because its very foundational principles demand they spread it around. It’s not like they will keep it to themselves and only practice it at home. It is against their ‘faith’ to be that kind of tolerable to the world.

    Not only does he not ‘get it’ but he will NEVER ‘get it’ while professing to be a Christian. I’m not sorry to say that either. You are either willing to believe facts or you are not. He is not. Anyone that does not live a life of ‘faith’ and who hears voices in their head is generally institutionalized or medicated. Why is faith different? Why is that delusion tolerated but others not?

    If he were trying to convince us that he is going to make a group of people more tolerant of the world but that group happened to be people that believed invisible blue swine were running around protecting us and in the process causing deja vue, near misses, and such warnings as help us to change our ways, would that be acceptable? Would we be even considering talk this through with him? WTF? Crazy is crazy. Deluded is deluded. Stupid is stupid. More often than not, a banana is just a banana.

    He is a Christian. For him to shed the accessories of Christianity which make them unacceptable to me would mean his de-conversion from Christianity. It would not make him or ‘them’ more tolerable nor more tolerant, but it is their ‘faith’ and attitudes around it that make them both intolerable and intolerant.

    If he wants to change things he should start by introducing actual FACTS to Christians. At that point I might begin thinking that he ‘gets it’

    Shame that won’t happen

  • Claudia

    Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman who are both Christians and marry in a Church.

    There, fixed it for you. When I see “nice” Christians opposed to civil marriage in any form, I’ll believe this argument. Until then, it is 100% unadultered bullshit, since the Christian dictionary definition (I was unaware they owned this term) is “oddly” only used when it comes to excluding “teh gays”.

    I get his point about tolerance not meaning that we have to agree, but sadly the barriers aren’t that cut and dried. I disapprove of homosexuality, but I have no problems with homosexuals personally does make you a better person than anyone in the WBC (but then, so is being a mammal) but it isn’t without it’s problems. Here, try this: “I think blacks are of lesser intelligence, but I don’t have a personal problem with them”. Yes, it makes you nicer than a “kill them blackies!” KKK member, but it still means you’re racist, and that’s still a problem.
    If Christians are willing to support the full civil equality of gays and lesbians, the same they unflinchingly support for, say, Hindus, then what they believe about homosexuality would be much less of a concern to me, though I would continue to worry about the children brought up in homes that see them as fundamentally broken and where their natures are seen as choices they can change.

    Certainly some radical atheists would rather see all Christians, all believers of any religion (and the lawyers, too) drowned at the bottom of the ocean (which is it’s own bit of intolerance).

    Really? Name one.

    What would be a good example of a tolerant atheist, and who is your best known tolerant atheist?

    Hmmm, I think Daniel Dennett is one of my favorites.

    Who do you believe best represents the best of what atheism can be?

    Impossible to answer because atheism cannot, by nature “be” anything, as it’ss defined as the absence of a thing, that being a belief in god/s. This may be a mere matter of Mr. White being unfamiliar with the terminology however, so I’m going to suppose he means “secularism”. Out of an exceptionally crowded field, I’m going to pick Neil de’Grasse Tyson, for sheer awesomeness on all levels.

  • http://twitter.com/jtradke jtradke

    Well, he started out well, but then I got to this part:

    When Men speak to women, WE speak as if we are talking to a man, and the women hears us as if they are talking to a women. It fails. Then we sleep on the couch!

    …and I rolled my eyes so hard I now have double-vision. Perhaps I should keep reading so that I roll them back into place.

  • Samiimas

    Certainly some radical atheists would rather see all Christians, all believers of any religion (and the lawyers, too) drowned at the bottom of the ocean (which is it’s own bit of intolerance).

    Really? Name one.

    I’ve heard the same thing with people claiming theirs ‘radical atheists’ calling for religion to be banned. Never seen one of them actually name who these radicals are and what they’ve accomplished. The last time I argued this I spent an hour or two demanding the person making this claim provide an example, the only example they could find of an atheist promoting violence or intolerance was Hitchens saying that if Iran gets nuclear weapons we should nuke them first.

    Yep, their one and only shred of evidence of this ‘radical atheism’ was that Hitchens had taken a political stance already held by about half the GOP.

  • bernerbits

    Brad gets off to a good start. First of all, I think Brad is very close to the truth here but slightly mistaken:

    Long Answer: I’ve seen strong evidence that it is a genetic pre-disposition. That’s tough to debate. I can recall kids as early as age 10 [who] were stereotypically effeminate, and very likely went on to BE homosexual after puberty. I’ve also personally known several heterosexuals who later Chose to be bi-sexual or homosexual. I don’t know what you call them, so I simply call them “switchers.” Another person I’ve not met but I heard about a while ago, who was a very active and vocal PRO lesbian her whole life but switched later in life, shows evidence that regardless of any genetic pre-disposition, it can still be a choice. Here is the link to her site. You can read her personal story here.

    Yes, there are people who can choose. The accepted term is bisexual, but these hard-and-fast labels of straight, gay and bi are not really accurate enough to describe reality. Brad, do yourself a favor and google the Kinsey Scale – you should realize that very few people are 100% straight, 100% gay, or 50/50 bisexual.

    However, that does not indicate that most people aren’t very strongly predisposed to one or the other. I myself identify as straight but I actually fall somewhere around a 2 on that scale. I’m essentially functionally straight—I find the female form intoxicatingly beautiful, and I’m married to a wonderful woman with whom I have a very healthy and satisfying sex life—but at the same time a picture of a semi-nude man with a great body can be titillating for me.

    That some people can choose is not grounds for attempting to cure them. If I were not making the choice willingly, it would feel very uncomfortable and unnatural being pressured to pursue a homosexual relationship and I can only assume the same would be true of a predominantly gay person being pressured to pursue a heterosexual one.

    Now Brad, you also compare homosexuality to alcoholism. I get that you’re trying to wrap your brain around the “choice” aspect, but to get a feeling for why it’s a very bad analogy, imagine a world where homosexuality is the norm (and if you’re hung up on the reproductive issue, let’s say natural births are “strange”, and most couples reproduce via sperm donation and surrogacy). Now imagine you live in this world and imagine how you’d feel as a straight person when religious leaders constantly preach that straight is an abomination. When they fight tooth and nail in the political arena to keep marriage between one man and one man, or one woman and one woman. When you come out to your friends and family as straight and they disown you, or worse, try to enroll you in religious programs that force you to turn gay. Or when a religious apologist, in an effort to be more understanding of straights and build bridges between his faith and straight people, compares being straight to being an alcoholic.

    To allow “Marriage” to be redefined as an act between two men or two women,

    We are advocating the rights of all consenting adult relationships to have access to the institution of marriage, not its definition. “Redefinition” is a distractionary scare tactic reminiscent of Orwellian Newspeak.

    I wonder if you would advocate passing a law prohibiting gay or polyamorous couples from representing themselves as married, since you believe the very definition of marriage is sacred. Probably not, since you seem opposed to “dominance and control,” but therein lies the inconsistency. It’s cool to let gays have their civil unions and call themselves married, but it’s “unconscionable” (not “dominance and control”?) for governments to recognize marriages which your faith does not?

    If the government completely stopped recognizing the institution of marriage and recognized legal unions (whether gay, straight or polyamorous) equitably, and people were free to use the marriage label however they saw fit, then I think most of us would have no real problems. However, this is not the same as “marriage no, civil union yes.” The government does recognize marriages as “separate but equal” to civil unions, and as long as it recognizes them inequitably, we will fight against that inequity.

    to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God

    Brad, you talk about warning Christians not to piss off those capricious atheists, but you go right ahead and piss us off anyway with an argument that I think you know is flat out insulting. Christian ministers and Christian photographers being “forced” to officiate and chronicle gay weddings is a talking point of the religious right, a completely fictional accusation against the left, and patently offensive to those of us who take the first amendment very seriously.

    You undermine your entire case by resorting to this rhetoric, and it gives me quite a bit of cognitive dissonance after reading these statements:

    I’ve spent a lot of time on Atheist sites and having conversations with Atheists.

    I am very open to reading and learning more on the subject.

    If you’ve spent as much time speaking with atheists on the internet as you say you have, yet you’re still making arguments that have been systematically picked apart thousands of times by atheists on the internet, I question either your willingness to learn, your faith in the efficacy of your arguments, or the level of interaction with atheists you claim to have had.

    I also want to point something out:

    Having been a former atheist myself, I empathize with you. I CAN and HAVE walked in your shoes on that one.

    You repeatedly play the Former Atheist card to try and gain our empathy, but try to understand that we get zero traction when we try do the same with Christians. You see, it’s frequently the Christian position that “once Saved(TM), always Saved(TM)”, and therefore if you’re a Christian-turned-atheist, you’re either not really an atheist now, or you were not really a Christian before. This is smug and condescending, yet these same Christians will elevate to celebrity status anyone in their ranks who says they used to be an atheist.

    Bottom line, we don’t care what you used to be. We don’t award merit badges. If you want to talk to us, talk to us and we’ll be more than happy to discuss matters of faith and politics. But don’t assume that you have any more clout with us because you used to be “one of us.”

    Certainly some radical atheists would rather see all Christians, all believers of any religion (and the lawyers, too) drowned at the bottom of the ocean (which is it’s own bit of intolerance).

    Brad, this is fucking bullshit. If you don’t know that, you are, by your own definition of intolerance, just as intolerant as the Christians you’re so eager to admonish.

    You’re trying, and I give you points for that, but if you’re really willing to learn, I implore you to spend some time around here, and maybe that way we’ll both learn a little something about each other.

  • Ann

    I appreciate that he’s well intentioned, but he really has no clue. Honestly, I wish the whole country would just do away with the term “marriage” and change everything to “civil union” so that the religious folk can stop using religion as an excuse and just fess up to being hateful.

    Also, as a radical atheist, I do not wish that all religious folk would die in the bottom of the ocean. I just wish that they become a whole lot more logical and open to dialogue and debate.

  • Sean

    As a Catholic, I am ok with non-sacramental unions recognized by the state. But it’s simply unconscionable to use the word ‘marriage’ to describe the union of a baptized person with an unbaptized person.

  • Revyloution

    Does Brad White know that there is a word for reforming a church?

    It’s called ‘schism’.

    Any time you want to fix a church, or take it in a new direction, there is always a sizable group that wants to keep it right where it is. So it splits. This is why there are so many religions in the world. This is why there will never be one world religion.

  • The Captain

    The idea of forcing pastors to marry people is getting really tired. I’m getting sick of the argument some “christians” make that somehow letting gays get married is infringing on their religion. I’m mostly sick of it, because it is so easy to counter and never is. Every time a christian takes this line of reasoning, the next question should be “what about churches that think its O.K. for gays to marry?”. Every time that should be asked!

    I was astonished when watching the prop 8 debate how obvious it was that gay marriage is really a freedom of religion debate, that no one seems willing to have. Most of the gay marriages where being performed… in a CHURCH. So why do these christians who are against gay marriage get to send the government into other churches and tell them who can and can’t get married in that church? That’s the question that never gets asked of them.

    Gay marriage s fundamentally no different then jewish marriage, catholic marriage, of hindu marriage, in respect to the freedom of religion. It’s about time people make a stink over that.

  • Samiimas

    This is why there will never be one world religion.

    Not until everyone accepts the one true faith, The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism.

  • David W

    Wow – “men and women speak different languages” – really?

    Citations, please! (And “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” won’t cut the mustard.)

  • Remus

    How does anyone become an ex-atheist? I’m genuinely curious as to how one can denounce logical deduction and rational behavour. I mean you’ll have to be allagorical about 80% of the bible for it not to be contradicting to know sience, history and archeology.

    For fucks sake it’s not like we choose to be atheist, we’re just incabable blind faith in an improperable (if not imaginary) god.

  • bernerbits

    I tried. The Christian reporter twisted my words a bit, but I couldn’t expect much better:

    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20110107/bible-believers-cant-shake-intolerant-image-says-atheist

    Ugh. Brad is reported as saying you “can’t grasp the complexity” of the Bible because you’re an atheist. How utterly hypocritical of him to then claim that being a former atheist enables him to understand atheism.

  • Rich Wilson

    @Danny

    Is anyone proposing that Christian pastors be forced to marry gay couples? As I understand it, they have the right to refuse to marry any couple. Catholic priests can refuse to marry non-Catholics and divorced people now. I don’t think anyone is suggesting we take away that freedom.

    You’re exactly right.
    I don’t recall which of these 3 videos has it http://ldshomosexuality.com/?cat=12 but one of them details the fact that the California court that decided gay marriage was constitutional, (which in turned lead to Prop 8 ) addressed this specifically. They stated that no person would be forced to perform a marriage against their conscience.
    It is the single reason my Mormon cousin has stated in her support of Prop 8. And it’s an utter bald faced lie by the LDS elders.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    what i want to know is why hate on the gays, now? for a long time, they just didn’t talk about us, and pretended we were distasteful reminders of satan’s power in the world and taboo topic for delicate xtian ears. today, we’re their number one issue, and the timing couldn’t be worse, in terms of how it makes them look to the upcoming generation. obviously it’s bothering this kid; i’m sure in his own ears he sounds very “liberal.” but homophobia is going the way of racism, it will be unfashionable to a large majority very soon. it saddens me that the kid doesn’t understand why “separate but equal” doesn’t work with “love thy neighbor” but it doesn’t surprise me. ya gotta love the assumption that xtians deserve to mold society for all of us. i wonder if he’s ever thought of what it would be like to live in a hindu majority state, for example.

  • mike

    Does anyone else think that “changing the face of christianity” is like rearranging furniture when the roof is on fire? shuffling the deck chairs on a sinking ship?
    Secondly, addiction is not a disease. Try quitting cancer.

  • Rich Wilson

    As to ‘choice’
    I have two thoughts.

    I can’t possibly walk in the shoes of a homosexual

    If it’s not a choice for you, then it’s probably not a choice for anyone else.
    And
    WTF does it matter? And this goes to Hemant even asking the question. I think I’d prefer, “Does it make a difference if homosexuality is a choice?”
    And here’s my reason. If there was a pill to make black people white, would that change Loving vs. Virginia?

  • Claudia

    How does anyone become an ex-atheist? I’m genuinely curious as to how one can denounce logical deduction and rational behavour.

    Don’t forget that not everyone gets to atheism through rational thought. Some people are merely atheists by default given that they were brought up without religion, but were also not brought up with the healthy skepticism needed to keep supernatural beliefs at bay.

    Also, some people call themselves “atheists” without actually going through the process of identifying god-belief as irrational. There are a small minority of self-identified atheists who misunderstand the term to mean “opposing religion” and hence they actually believe in god all along, but identify as atheist as an expression of their anger or disdain towards organized religion. Thus, if they reconcile with their religion or find a more agreeable one, they can cast off the label, which they were misusing all along.

  • http://thebigreason.com Mark Eagleton

    Could you follow up with Brad on the issues you have with his statements? It would be nice to hear what he thinks of them.

    Would you also ask him how old he was when he chose to be strait?

  • ACN

    Don’t forget that not everyone gets to atheism through rational thought. Some people are merely atheists by default given that they were brought up without religion, but were also not brought up with the healthy skepticism needed to keep supernatural beliefs at bay.

    This is quite true. It is why folks like the gnu atheists, sam harris in particular really hammers this point home, are so vocal in encouraging rational thinking over any particular ideology. We want everyone to practice rational thought and healthy skepticism in their everyday life, and we’re confident that by rigorously applying these things they will burn away supernatural hogwash.

  • Villa

    @Ann

    Honestly, I wish the whole country would just do away with the term “marriage” and change everything to “civil union”

    Let’s go another way. I say we keep the term ‘marriage’.

    Let’s give them ‘Religious Unions’, since that’s really what they’re talking about. For instance, a catholic divorcee can get a second marriage. They just can’t get another religious union.

  • Steve

    That started out really promising. I truly thought he got it, but then the interview turned to “is being a gay a choice” and marriage and disintegrated into pure nonsense. He is just the stereotypical Christian in a nicer, more deceiving a wrapping. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    There is some evidence that sexual orientation can actually change. Female sexuality in particular is more fluid than men’s. But where he immediately leaps to the “choice” conclusion, it just seems to happen involuntarily.
    And most people who end up in opposite-sex marriage and later come out as gay just took longer to realize or acknowledge their sexuality. They don’t just suddenly change.

  • cat

    Let’s count which marks on his bad list White manages in his email:

    1) Homophobic. Yep, big check on that one. For the reasons stated by others, and for the slippage into bullshit effeminate=gay stereotyping.
    2) Hypocritical. Also yes. I’ll put the fact that you fit every flaw on your list as the nicest piece of evidence here.
    3) Too political. Well, we do have explicit apologism of violation of seperation of church and state (re abortion and queer rights) as well as whinging about a contentious political issue he admits in the comment thread he knows jack squat about. So yes on that one as well.
    4) Judgemental. Yes again, with that comment about drowning Christians, with the crap about trying to fix queer people,etc.
    5) Having a “must-save-you-or-else” mentality. Check, because you go into massive apologism for just this purpose. Your argument here is nothing more than “you’ll save more my way, so be more subtle about your arrogance and bigotry”
    6) Sheltered. Check. You are completely ignorant of the political and social issues you discuss, yet you expect to be treated as an expert.

    Wow, I think White is confusing ‘stereotype’ with ‘accurate generalization’.

  • Simaramis

    What about the sexism in Christianity? Is it just so pervasive and accepted that its not even an issue?

    Well for me it is. Any organization that prohibits women from leadership, control and decision making should be continually forced to defend its outdated bigotry.

    Homosexuality may be an important issue, but women’s rights are much larger. Its interesting how White conflated male homosexuality with effeminate behavior.

    “Christian” marriage is about the woman submitting to the man. And that’s just the start of the subordinate roles that women are expected to accept in the common practice of Christianity.

  • Steve

    Oh and as for his example of the lesbian who turned straight. I clicked on the link, skimmed it and then immediately read something like “I was gay my whole life until I found the power of Jesus”

    Really? Really?! Is that how you want to convince atheists? That simply sounds too much like the typical ex-gay quack to take seriously. I’m not saying that such people don’t exist, but it would be a better idea to find a purely secular example.

  • Rich Wilson

    How does anyone become an ex-atheist? I’m genuinely curious as to how one can denounce logical deduction and rational behavour.

    Kirk Cameron and Peter Hitchens come to mind.

  • Troglodyke

    Brad, thanks for coming to the comments and addressing some of the issues that have been brought up.

    Like many of the commenters here, I am gladdened that you are open-minded and willing to have a discourse with people you probably find distasteful. Also like many here, I think you are confused on several levels, but previous commenters have pointed this out better than I.

    I would love to have you address your “former atheism,” too, as I am completely befuddled as to how someone can go from a true atheist position to believing. Since I am firmly convinced that the majority of “soft believers” (e.g. progressive/liberal educated Xtians and others who focus on the good stuff about faith and do not outwardly judge us gays and atheists) are really only believers because of the ancillary benefits, or because of tradition, or because they are too intellectually lazy or ambivalent to analyze the facts and make a judgment one way or the other, I am curious about this.

    Here’s what I really wanted to address, though. So, what do I believe? If I had to take an educated best guess, I’d say that homosexuality is something you are genetically pre-disposed to and yet it’s still a choice.

    In a way, you are absolutely right. Firstly, it really shouldn’t matter at all if it’s a choice, but I also believe it is to a degree.

    I “knew” I was different before puberty, but I still “went steady” with boys in junior high and beyond, dated boys, and was even sexually active with them until age 18, when I finally came out and had my first relationship with a woman.

    So, I believe I was born bisexual, and chose to not express my feelings for women because it was taboo. When I graduated high school, it was a little less taboo, so I explored it. I have called myself a lesbian since that age (I’m 45 now), but I would not be against the idea of sexual explorations with men, so I’m probably technically bi. (I prefer women, though.)

    But I chose to live the way I do. To me, you can’t choose how biology will make you feel, but you can choose whether to be true to yourself, or to live a lie. I could have chosen to get married and live a straight life, but I would have been miserable. So I chose to be true to myself.

    So, it’s a choice. Sort of. And I’m glad to have the choice. I would be even gladder to be able to have the choice to be wed and have the exact same rights as heteros, too. That would cost the heteros nothing and would enrich the lives of so many people.

    The stigma of homosexuality is indeed fading. Want to know why? The truth is right in front of you! For millenia, the churches have railed upon us as horrible outcasts, sinners, destroyers of society. The faithful sat inthe pews and nodded, knowing it must be true because the pastors and priests and imams and rabbis said so.

    Then the world became smaller through technology, and those faithful began to actually MEET some of us, and they learned, by seeing us with their own eyes, that we were not any of those things. Sure, every group has its bad apples, but the general picture began to shift. Most of us wanted what THEY wanted: peaceful lives, children maybe, comfortable homes, not to be harassed.

    The flock saw, from Monday to Saturday, that gays are, as a group, much like themselves. How could good people continue to demonize us? we were their friends, their sons and daughters, their parents, their coworkers.

    That’s why the stigma is fading, and why it still has a stronghold only really in the most fundamentalist areas. You cannot deny what you see with your own eyes.

  • http://carpescripturum.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

    Brad definitely has a lot to learn and I agree with all the points listed at the bottom.

    One question I would like to have seen him answer is this: How does his organization defent *their* definition of what is “Christian” or “Christ-like”? We get a lot of talk about how Christ was so great and wonderful, but the New Testament doesn’t really bear that out. There’s some stuff about turning the other cheek, but there’s also stuff about being here to bring a sword, not to bring peace. The majority of the most hateful, disgusting, vile Christian groups out there have plenty of scripture to back them up – Phelpsians included. So if he’s going to call himself a True Christian and say that these other groups are UnChristian, he’s going to have to back that up. Until he does so, I’m going to go ahead and keep thinking that Christianity is, at root, the problem and not just what certain adherents happen to do with it.

    Secondly, I picked up on the same thing you did, Hemant. If “marriage” is a Biblical/Christian term and shouldn’t be used for gays, why are there no pushes for legislation barring Hindus from marrying? Or Atheists? I call BS. Marriage is a legal contract that many cultures/religions ALSO associated with whatever mystical phroo-phroo appeals to them, but no one religion owns the word. I think that Brad knows this perfectly well (or, as I said, he would be trying to get the word removed from use by Jains). The fact that he neglects to say this out loud tells me that he’s either just armchair philosophizing and hasn’t really given his opinions much thought, or he’s just trying to hide that he’s as much anti-gay as the Christians he’s so busy tossing under the bus.

    I like the rhetoric of trying to work towards peaceful dialogue and tolerance, but that’s all it seems to be – rhetoric. Brad hasn’t demonstrated that he’s actually doing anything to put his money where his mouth is and, as in the example of his comments about gays and atheists, seems to be organizing just another hypocritical Christian group. I’m going to need more than the content of this post to convince me otherwise.

  • Jantien

    Unrelated to this post:
    i’m getting en malware warning at the site, could you check for “HTTP FakeAV Scan Webpage 2″ please?

  • The Captain

    I just reread Brads comments and found this to be interesting “So, in response, yes, I’d be happy to see civil unions have equal rights when compared to marriage.” Well what I want to know, is who are you (or anyone) to tell someone what to call their “civil union”?

    What Brad and many fail to see is that there are CHURCHES who want to marry gay people. Why should their religious freedom be imposed on by the government? Are Brad and other christians really saying that only certain religious weddings would be allowed the title of “marriage” by the government while other religious wedding must be called “civil unions”?

    Are those churches who believe gay marriage is fine, not as entitled to the same religious freedoms as ones that don’t? It would seem the people who support “civil unions” only, think so.

  • A Portlander

    Remember, Kirk Cameron “used to be an atheist” too.

  • Gliewmeden

    Greta Christina says it all in her “Atheists and Anger” post.

  • http://sacredriver.org Ash

    Another point for Brad to consider:

    I do not have a problem with religious people being “political” in principle. Political action is largely grounded in our worldviews, and Christians have every right to influence politics to reflect their values and beliefs. Atheists very often disagree strongly with their positions (although not always) and that is why political debate exists.

    What atheists in general do oppose as matters of principle are (a) violations of church/state separation, (b) politically active religious groups being exempt from paying taxes, c) wealthy religious groups pushing legislation from behind the scenes using funds given by parishioners as “charity”, and (d) civil servants creating policy based on faith rather than secular reasons (i.e. science and logic).

  • Jos

    I don’t know why Kirk Cameron ever brings up his former atheism. After all, he admits (or claims) he was an atheist because ‘he wanted to be seen as an intellectual’.

    He must know that this admission doesn’t earn him any ‘street cred’ with most atheists. But then, perhaps he only says so to flatter the Christians. Perhaps he’s saying that atheism isn’t really the smart position to take (unlike Christianity, of course) and that atheists really only do it to be hip or something.

  • JSug

    I didn’t read the whole thing. I got about half way through. But looking through some of the comments here, I feel like that’s a lot more than most people read.

    Brad’s positions seem pretty reasonable for the most part. Is gay a choice? His position is that genetic predisposition is a strong influence, but it’s not that simple. Which as far as I know, is pretty close to the truth. Nobody knows what all the factors involved are, or to what extent choice plays a part. And furthermore, he goes on to say that it doesn’t really matter, that people should be treated with love and respect whether they have a choice in their sexuality of not. I don’t see anywhere that he promotes treating gays as “curable”.

    He conflates the word “marriage” with a religious union, but I can excuse that, because he makes it very clear that he thinks gay couples should have equal legal rights. If the wording is his only hangup, then that’s at least a reasonable place to start a dialog. I think he’s wrong, because the term “marriage” is so tightly integrated into our legal systems that whether or not it is religiously ordained has lost all meaning.

    Basically, he’s telling other Christians to stop being bigoted jerks, and stop using their majority power to bully everyone else. I think that’s a message we can all get behind, even if we don’t agree with his personal opinions on other matters.

  • MikeW

    I wonder how Christians can continue to distinguish Marriage and a Civil Union. As was stated

    Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman.

    Yet I’m an atheist and I’m married. I made sure “God” had absolutely no part in my marriage. Does that mean that I’m no married? That I don’t have any rights in regards to my spouse? Is being married to a woman good enough? Also then how can you also say that 2 Buddhists are married if a marriage must be God-ordained? This is a horrible argument to keep gay couples from being allowed to marry.

  • Gliewmeden

    @ Jantien
    “Unrelated to this post:
    i’m getting en malware warning at the site, could you check for “HTTP FakeAV Scan Webpage 2? please?”

    I too am getting “site unsafe” messages from Norton.

  • Rich Wilson

    Anyone who thinks we can have ‘separate but equal’ civil unions and marriage needs to watch Bill Moyers’s interview of Olson and Boise (the two lawyers on the opposite side of Bush v Gore and the same side against Prop 8)

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2010/06/whats_next_in_the_marriage_war.html

    I used to be a supporter of having a state based civil union that everyone gets, and ‘marriage’ be a religious ceremony that any church is free to perform or not. Olson and Boies changed my mind.

  • Jonathan

    Whether Brad White used to be an atheist is irrelevant. I used to be a Christian. I’ve met several Christians who tell me that I was never a “real Christian” because once you’re exposed to the Truth, why would you reject it? I think when people say, “You weren’t a ‘real Christian/atheist.’” What they mean is, “You weren’t a Christian/atheist like I’m a Christian/atheist.” Seems to me that judging another person’s motivations usually takes us to some bad places.

    Also, it doesn’t seem like Mr. White is all that interested in appealing to us anyway. It seems like he’s more interested in cleaning up his own house, whatever that means to him.

    The one thing Mr. White said that I really do appreciate is that he advocates Christians getting up off our backs a little bit. And what he says about that is true; if the Christian god is real, it would take that god revealing himself to us for us to believe.

  • Steve

    @JSug
    It certainly sounds benign, but I’d have to say what he says in the interview doesn’t quite mesh with it says on the website.

    I say, let’s not endorse or condone their homosexual behavior, and let’s not condemn the person. Instead, let’s love the person and share how Christ’s love can save them, just as he can save “us” sinners

    That’s just rude and disgusting. And it clearly flies in the face of everything he claims to stand for. Not just about homosexuality, but about the whole proselytizing and saving thing. Didn’t he say that Christians shouldn’t go tell people that they want to “save” them all the time? Yet, here he does it.

    Then he goes to say that “love the sin, hate the sinner” isn’t perceived as real. Duh! Then why use it at length? And no, please don’t claim you actually mean it. The whole tone of the piece belies that.

    What he says comes across a very thin veneer of civility covering the standard Christian MO. The goal is merely to find a better way to convert people and “save” them. Find out what they are offended by, avoid that and be more subtle in the spreading the “good word”.

    I also suggest you read some of his posts in the ThinkAtheist thread he linked to above. It’s just the typical theistic drivel that has already been refuted for thousands of years. Logical fallacies like claims from ignorance abound. He also didn’t know some of the most basic standard arguments in the whole debate.

    So it’s not really any surprise that he also falls into the standard trap of not knowing the difference between civil or religious marriage or that marriage is something that Christianity appropriated and redefined itself in the middle ages, when it was a private contract for millennia. However, that makes him as a person even less convincing and trustworthy.

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

    It’s a common argument mainly from theistic circles that even if homosexual attractions result from genetics, hormones, and what-have-you, acting on it is a choice. Well, sure it’s a choice. So?

    When a man is attracted to a woman, he can choose to acknowledge and perhaps act on that attraction. Even if he wants to, he can choose not to act on it, deny to himself that there is attraction, even choose to go after other men he’s not actually attracted to, to try to deny and hide his actual desires.

    But in that hypothetical (absurd) homosexist world, is this any less unhealthy than a gay man in our heterosexist society who denies his attractions to other men? Does it mesh with what he really wants? Does it not foster cognitive dissonance?

    Similarly, it does no good internally for bisexuals to deny their various realattractions to one or the other sex. Many will still do it, facing stigma from heterosexists and homosexists (ironic but real). They face accusations from both extremes that they are truly gay or lesbian, unwilling to own up to being gay or lesbian, unable to make up their minds, indiscriminate sluts.

    The morality of any particular sexual orientation does nothing to invalidate or solve that cognitive dissonance. It isn’t a lack of desire to pursue an attraction, but actively denying there are attractions you want to act on, that is so unhealthy.

    And one more thing about bisexuals and “switchers.” In many cases, no doubt, bisexuals aren’t obvious because we only notice their attraction to one particular sex, and assume they’re gay or straight. Dating a succession of people from one sex, even marrying, doesn’t erase a bisexual identity, and it shouldn’t be assumed that a wo/man who’s dating someone opposite from the sex s/he usually dates has “chosen” to “switch.”

    That being said, there are lots of people who will tell you that sexuality can be fluid (i.e., that you can go from being heterosexual to bisexual, or homosexual to heterosexual, or any other such change). I have to agree. It’s easy to imagine that at different points in your life you may be attracted to one, the other, or both sexes; and how does it invalidate your present sexual orientation, that in the past your orientation was different? The fact my favorite sports car used to be the Corvette has no bearing on the fact I now want to drive a Camaro. We like different things (and people, and types of people) at different times; and some people, too, will always be solely gay or straight or Corvette fans.

    Kudos to Brad for trying to reach out to both atheists and the gay community, and I hope I’ve done my part to illuminate him on the latter. A bit of Googling around will produce all sorts of surveys and explanations of sexual orientation versus sexual expression, fluid orientation over time, and so on. It sounds like his misconceptions about orientation are mainly just failures of the imagination; he doesn’t quite “get it” but he sounds a lot more reachable than many. Just keep reading, Brad.

  • Vas

    If you want to provide us with a list of such pastors and what problems you see, we would be happy to investigate the issues and come out with a formal stance on them.

    Alright let’s start off nice and easy. Please investigate and provide a formal stance on the pastors and religious leaders, (i”ll stick to Christians only). I’ll pitch you mostly softballs, so you can warm up.

    Pat Robertson
    Bob Larson
    Rick Warren
    Benny Hinn
    Paul Crouch
    Thomas S. Monson
    Kevin Odor
    Roger Mahoney
    Jerry Falwell Jr.

    Let’s see if YOU see any problems with this lot. Go ahead Mr. big in the pants. Do you even have the gumption to make a public statement on the above listed Christians. go ahead, disavow as many as you think appropriate, and wrap your arms around the rest. Let’s see where you really stand.

    Also as to this little gem…

    “All humans, including pastors, are broken”

    How very kind of you to tolerate all the broken people. Man you can go fuck yourself, you come here and make it clear how broken we all are and think you can just say “oh yeah, I’m broken too” and get by with that load of crap. And let me guess you know the fix for everyone’s broken ass… we all have a god shaped hole in our hearts. I got news for you pal, I’m not broken and I’m not a sinner either. You know what Brad, you’re an asshole, Oh yeah, and I’m an asshole too.

  • Josh

    This is like the hundredth group like this I’ve seen. Another wishy-washy, “We love everybody but still believe the same crap” organization.

    Yawn.

  • Pingback: Brad White on Christians and the gays « Mad Hominem

  • JSug

    @steve:
    The problem is that you’re taking that quote out of context. It’s right below the part where he says not to comdemn them for their behavior. He still believes it’s wrong, and he won’t endorse or condone it, but he’s not going to single out gays as more sinful than anyone else. And that really is the basis of his belief: that everyone is equally sinful. I agree with you, that this is a silly belief to hold, but he’s at least reasonable in the sense that he doesn’t think his belief entitles him to force others to agree.
    My point was that this guy seems to sincerely want to address these issues reasonably, and it may be short sighted to give him the brush off because he chooses to cling to some fanciful beliefs. Isn’t this what many of us have been looking for when we ask “Where are the Christians standing up for gay rights?”

  • Korny

    Brad – hopefully you’re still reading.
    So you’re saying that two devoutly Christian men who love each other, are faithful to each other – emotionally, spiritually, sexually – have shared finances, have joined their families to each other and are raising children (say, from a previously relationship) – what you’re saying is that in your opinion, that their marriage and their relationship will never ever be approved by God?
    If that is what you honestly, truly believe, then you’re as bad as the rest of them. And if that’s not what you really believe, then grow a spine and stand up and say so.

  • Silent Service

    I support a homosexual’s right to a “civil union” but not to “marriage.” How can that be? Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman. To allow “Marriage” to be redefined as an act between two men or two women, or to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

    The minute you uttered this crap Brad, you lost me. There has never been separate and equal. You don’t get to own the word marriage. By attempting to keep that one word only for straight people you show that you are as much a bigot as every other person trying to prevent us from marrying the person we love. On this one point, ABSOLUE EQUALITY (yeah I’m shouting) there is no compromise. You can have your marriage in your church and we’ll have our marriage in any church that will have us or in a court house if we must, but you must accept that it is marriage or we are not being accepted as equals. Are we equals Brad?

    Until then you are as much a bigot as Fred Phelps and deserve exactly as much contempt from us.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    Ugh, no, no, no.

    To me, it all comes down to how homosexuals are treated by Christians one-on-one, either face to face or website comment to website comment.

    That is one thing, but most of us are smart enough that we can see past a facade. I just can’t really get behind an organization which is only interested in making Christianity look good, while leaving the core substance intact.

    Christianity’s homophobia is not just about gay marriage, I’m afraid it’s much more holistic than that. The problem is a complete failure of understanding on the most basic of issues. Christians are stuck on trivial issues like gay marriage and whether orientation is a choice. If the most you can manage is a grudging acceptance of gay marriage, that is not acceptable. Just imagine a gay person growing up with these beliefs, and tell me that they aren’t oppressed.

    I am also interested in issues of gender and non-standard orientations, but I consider it hopeless to ever bring this up with Christians like White. They only care about one non-standard orientation, “switchers”, but don’t have a very pleasant understanding of it, and blind themselves to anything which is less flattering to them.

    When Christians talk about gay marriage, we are talking about what we perceive as Right vs Wrong. When LGBTs talk about gay marriage, they are talking about dominance and control vs. equal protection and rights.

    No, you’re wrong. Lots of LGBT people think gay marriage is about right and wrong. It is wrong to prevent people from marrying, to refuse to recognize their relationships as equally valid. Not just a little wrong, it’s scandalously wrong. Is your little hangup about terminology of scandalous proportions? No? Then shut the hell up about it.

  • Villa

    My question for all of the Christians who think homosexuality is a choice.

    “Are you really saying that, as a heterosexual, you could make the choice to be attracted to, and sexually interested in, other men?”

    As a straight person, I just don’t see how that would work.

    And it seems like a person who could go either way would be a bisexual, even if they were a bisexual who only had opposite-sex partners.

  • Rich

    Does he not realize that he holds the same opinion as most Christians? It’s only the outspoken, bigoted Christians that we hear from most of the time. If you speak with Christians, most of them hold the exact same views as he does, and that is the problem.

    Most of the points have gone over here in the comments already, but I think it bears repeating. If you say that you’re opposed to gay marriage because it will change the definition it is total BS. Legally atheists, Buddhists, people of different religious beliefs; all of these people’s unions are viewed as marriage by the government, but surely not by his religion. If your church decides it does not want to perform a gay marriage that is fine by me, but to deny a gay couple the same benefits legally (and separate but equal does not work) is imposing your beliefs on that couple. That is exactly what he says he is against.

    Just in that statement alone he is 4 of the 6 things he listed that he is trying to fight against. With views like this, he is not trying to change anything.

    If he really wishes to take a stance against these things, then he will need to change his opinions first. Otherwise this will go no where, as it’s not changing anything.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Brad White

    I was not aware of the differences between civil unions and marriage when it comes to equal rights. So, in response, yes, I’d be happy to see civil unions have equal rights when compared to marriage.

    Why should there be any difference?

    For radical atheists, e.g. the ones who don’t want to coexist in peace, I invite you to read an incredibly long thread of comments

    It is really simple. Believe what you like. Don’t try to impose that belief on others and don’t use it to justify harm.

    Anyway, I know I have much to learn…we all do (including atheists). We’ve only just begun and I recognize this is a long term mission, but I know it’s worth it.

    It isn’t a mission. We’re not a project. If your Christianity is broken then feel free to fix it. I’m not interested in joining an organisation that is based on a myth. I might lend a hand if you actually do something worthwhile but don’t bet on it.

  • Samiimas

    He still believes it’s wrong, and he won’t endorse or condone it, but he’s not going to single out gays as more sinful than anyone else.

    So is it okay for me to claim racemixing is a sin that I refuse to endorse or condone just as long as I don’t treat interracial couples differently from others?

    Will you run to my defense against the people calling me a bigot just for holding the belief that anyone who dates outside their race is a sinner?

    Seriously, how can you claim he’s not a bigot when he admits that he thinks homosexuals are sinful and evil? He thinks homosexuals are not moral, righteous human beings unless they give up their evil sin, which we can apparently choose to do at any time, and become good decent heterosexuals. Even if we buy the crap about hating the sin and loving the sinner that still doesn’t explain this:

    to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

    If he’s a supporter of gay rights as he claims why is he using talking points straight from NOM and the Family Research Council? No church has ever or could ever be mandated to officiate a marriage they didn’t want to, same reason no one’s been able to sue the catholic church to hire women as priests. I find it hard to believe someone who claims to support gay rights would be repeating a piece of propaganda that’s been debunked by every single gay rights organization and website. I also find it interesting that someone else already pointed out that this was completely untrue and he didn’t even address them in his comment.

  • The Pint

    What about the sexism in Christianity? Is it just so pervasive and accepted that its not even an issue?

    Seconded. I’m highly disappointed that out of all the things that Brad pointed out as things he saw as a problem in Christianity’s image/public perception, there was not a word, NOT ONE, about the underlying current of sexism inherent in many branches of Christianity. Of course, discussions pertaining to women’s rights and sexism within Christianity almost invariably lead to discussion abortion rights, and it’s obvious that Brad is highly uncomfortable with examining that issue.

    (And as someone else pointed out, his equating the fight for equal marriage rights for gays to the attempt to outlaw abortion is flawed, as the former attempts to convey the freedom to make a choice, while the later seeks to eliminate the freedom to make a choice. Although both the objection to gay marriage and the objection to legalized abortion are couched in Christian beliefs, which are beliefs, I may point out, that are not shared by EVERYBODY in this country.)

    However, I’d be willing to let the abortion issue lie because there are many other issues connected to sexism in Christianity – spousal abuse, not supporting equal pay/equal treatment of women in the workplace, not allowing women to hold positions of authority in a church because they are to be submissive to men (although again, I do realize that there are certain sects that do allow and encourage women to lead congregations) and so forth. It is very troubling that Brad did not deem these issues worthy of mention in his list of “what is wrong with Christianity.”

    There’s a lot in Brad’s response that I had problems with – his verbal gymnastics at trying to explain his position on being ok with gay civil unions but not marriage was particularly entertaining and like other posters have said, it’s where he really began to lose any credibility with me, but many other posters have stated quite eloquently what the inconsistencies and issues are with his particular position there, so I won’t rehash it.

    I will give him credit for wanting to engage in what seems to be honest and sincere (if not logically consistent) dialog with atheists, but I remain skeptical as to whether or not Brad means his organization to truly tackle the rot growing in his own house or merely spackle it over so it appears shiny and new.

  • Cthuhlu

    It will take a lot of work before christians can even start to get rid of the stereotypes that surround their religion. As a gay atheist all i see is hatred and intolerance from Christians. For example the majority of states that banned same-sex marriage also banned anything that could be similar to marriage. So that means even if civil unions gave all the same benefits Christians would sue and say that violates the ban on same-sex marriage. Then there are the members of the “family values” group here in my own state of Wisconsin that are suing over the domestic partnership law that gives same-sex couples 43 out of 200 protections given to “married couples”. Not only that but you also have the federal DOMA that prevents gay couples from receiving 1,138 incentives and other rights from the federal government. I have argued with others before that just shows Christians don’t just care about “protecting marriage” but also want to make sure that gay couples know that they are inferior according to them and to make sure that gay couples don’t get any rights at all.

  • Jeanette

    Christian guy that is not making Christians look any better (seriously, I know my Christian friends would have quite a few things to say to this guy)…I have just one comment: NO, you are not communicating poorly with gay people because you “speak a different language” (funny, I’ve always communicated very well with all the men in my life, including my brothers who very much shaped who I was. You sure there’s not a better explanation for your problems with that, like the “you’re a raging sexist” one?), you are communicating poorly because you are actively treating them like shit. That is all.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Yeah, Brad doesn’t get it.

    I find it interesting that he also seems to regard his form of Christianity (the conservative evangelical kind, obviously) as the only true kind. You can’t exactly “change the face of Christianity” when Christians are so diverse. Brad has little in common with progressive denominations like Quakers, the United Church of Christ, and others who tend to be Christian Universalists. Even though I don’t agree with their supernatural beliefs, those groups are already non-sexist and non-homophobic. They don’t have an image problem like Brad’s form of Christianity does. If Brad wants me to have positive feelings about his group, he should try getting rid of the positions that most of us find repugnant. It doesn’t mean I’ll start to believe what he believes, but at least I won’t consider his group bigoted and immoral.

  • Kimpatsu

    Ok, so what is the big problem with language then? In our opinion, It’s around the term “Marriage.” This is going to sound contradictory but it’s truly not when you understand the language, from a Christians’ perspective. I support a homosexual’s right to a “civil union” but not to “marriage.” How can that be? Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman. To allow “Marriage” to be redefined as an act between two men or two women, or to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

    OK, he DOESN’T get it. Marriage is a legal contract, that’s all. I have no more time to waste on this organisation. It’s still just more disavowal of human rights, cloaked in the rhetoric of “hate the sin, love the sinner”. These people must be opposed.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com CycleNinja

    Since Mr. White is obviously reading the followup comments, I’ll address him directly:

    Mr. White,

    I am straight male who was raised Roman Catholic and who is now an atheist, just to set the table. I would like to make a few observations.

    First, you stated,

    “To me, it all comes down to how homosexuals are treated by Christians one-on-one, either face to face or website comment to website comment.”

    Sorry, but no. It’s no good to be courteous to one’s face while stabbing them in the back in the voting booth or on the pulpit. We’ve seen too much of that, and we don’t buy into the polite facade. It’s my personal opinion (albeit expressed by others) that Fred Phelps and his merry sociopaths reflect the attitude of many conservative Christians in that gay people are going to hell. WBC is simply uncouth enough to say it out loud. And if you let your anti-gay bias dictate your actions in the voting booth, then “love the sinner” be damned.

    And as Dan Savage points out, if you tacitly condone looking down on gays, your children will pick up on that attitude and bully their gay (or even a little fruity) peers. And we’ve seen the body count when that happens, haven’t we? This link messes up when I try to embed it, but read here: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=5135029

    Next,

    “I’ve also personally known several heterosexuals who later Chose to be bi-sexual or homosexual.”

    And so on. Let’s clear something up: There are two factors that define one’s sexuality–orientation and self-identification. Orientation is how you’re wired (who you’re naturally attracted to) and self-identification is how you describe yourself (whether or not it’s actually true). My orientation is straight, because I’m most certainly attracted to women, but I could just as easily identify as gay, even if I never once act on it. And as Ted Haggard and many others prove, how you see yourself can bear no resemblance to your actual hard-wired attractions and tendencies.

    So when you say someone chooses to “be” bisexual or homosexual, what they’re choosing is their self-identification. They might have actually been bi or gay all along, but simply chose to stop living a lie. And the lady you cited who chose to return to being straight–well, she wouldn’t be the first woman (or man) to return to the closet. Or to actually identify as gay and later realize they were more straight than gay. Where they naturally fall along the gay-straight spectrum is, indeed, genetically pre-determined. How you call yourself is where the choice lies.

    All of which is just an intellectual exercise. EVERYONE deserves the right to marry, and to live free of discrimination, regardless of whether they call themselves gay, straight, or Martian.

    I’m sorry your experience in atheist forums has been met with the kind of hostility that led to people expressing a desire for mass drowning. If that is really the case, please remember that the internet provides all sorts of opportunity to be an asshole via anonymity. Or, if you like, don’t mistake a “radical” atheist for a run-of-the-mill troll.

  • sagansong

    I find it interesting that he also seems to regard his form of Christianity (the conservative evangelical kind, obviously) as the only true kind. You can’t exactly “change the face of Christianity” when Christians are so diverse. Brad has little in common with progressive denominations like Quakers, the United Church of Christ, and others who tend to be Christian Universalists. Even though I don’t agree with their supernatural beliefs, those groups are already non-sexist and non-homophobic. They don’t have an image problem like Brad’s form of Christianity does. If Brad wants me to have positive feelings about his group, he should try getting rid of the positions that most of us find repugnant. It doesn’t mean I’ll start to believe what he believes, but at least I won’t consider his group bigoted and immoral.

    Says exactly what I wanted to say but better. If Brad wants to change the face of christianity he should become more like the people in some of these denominations. He seems focused on trying to be TOLERANT of beliefs and lifestyles that he abhors. He should try being more ACCEPTING.

  • Deepak Shetty

    I find it mildly amusing that most of us have kept pointing out flaws in some of Brad’s positions(Yeah i know). But atleast he seems to be making a few steps towards our positions. Perhaps we should be telling him to come on over, the waters fine.

  • Jacques

    I like his idea. Maybe he can tell Christians the obvious things we’ve been trying to tell them. I really really hate talking about evolution. It’s not an interesting topic for me, yet I keep running into people who believe in talking snakes. If he can convince Christians that evolution isn’t going to make people run out and rape the closest person, and that it’s an accepted scientific fact based on sound evidence, then we can finally stop talking about it. Noah also didn’t happen.

    There are pastors that tell their flock of sheep that they should pray first, and only go to the doctor if things get much worse. That’s a dangerous idea, and he needs to convince Christians not to rely on faith healing. They can pray as much as they want AFTER going to a doctor.

    He should speak out against the Christian organizations that deny global warming and see environmentalism as a force for evil. For obvious reasons. We are not allowed to fuck up the earth because Jesus is coming in 2012. There is only so much natural resources. Churches have been preaching that the end is nigh since 33AD, and it gives Christians free reign to plunder the earth. There are many who want to “hasten the second coming”, who are glad when wars break out, because it might just be Armageddon. Speaking of end times – Obama is not the antichrist.

    Maybe point out that televangelists are scam artists? (Opposed to ordinary ministers who I’m convinced are often sincere.)

    Get the Catholics to protest more. Pedophile priests might be fish in a barrel for the rest of the world, but Catholics are remarkably silent on the issue as long as it’s not their own parish.

    Convince Christians that the average Muslim is not a terrorist. Especially not the ones living in the west.

    He should introduce the churches to the tipes of debates that biblical scholars have, and the things that have been accepted as fact in those circles. It puts the bible in a very different light.

    Quick tip on the gay issue – people who likes using the word homosexual rather than gay usually disapprove of gay people. Exceptions abound, but that’s usually a strong indication about how someone feels.

    On tolerance – I’m more than OK with both sides calling each other flat out wrong. As long as we recognize that we think the other person is wrong on one issue, and not a bad person even if we think they are wrong. I really don’t give my Christian friends grief over disagreeing with me on this one thing.

    I understand that he doesn’t want to go on a witch hunt, but there is a lot of obvious things that go unsaid in the Christian world, which lets the far right control the rhetoric.

  • JohnFrost

    I’m kinda surprised by the vitriol from our side. A lot of you seem to be hung up on his Christian beliefs– yeah, ok, he’s Christian. That’s a given. Obviously, we’d like him to change, but assuming that’s not going to happen, I’d much rather have Christians like him around than the ones I know. The Evangelicals around here all very much fit the homophobic, hypocritical, judgmental, etc., stereotypes, and it makes me sick.

    However, I have had relationships with evangelical Christians who better fit Brad White’s definition of tolerance and–y’know what?– we were able to get along pretty ok. Even though we both believed the other was dead wrong in many areas, we were able to put that aside and have an amicable relationship, and even discuss our beliefs politely from time to time.

    Brad, I say more power to you. Good luck.

  • Richard Wade

    Mr. White, there are 89 comments ahead of me, and I’m sure that several have already touched on what I want to say, perhaps better than I will here. But maybe one slightly different angle on it will help you to see what you’re missing.

    I appreciate what you’re trying to do, and I’m sure you are being sincere, but I think you have an issue with, as they say, a beam in your own eye while trying to remove a mote in the eye of Christianity. I’ll explain later. I was feeling encouraged for a few paragraphs of your interview, with only slight reservations until you said this:

    This is going to sound contradictory but it’s truly not when you understand the language, from a Christians’ perspective. I support a homosexual’s right to a “civil union” but not to “marriage.” How can that be? Christians believe that “Marriage” is God-ordained and is DEFINED by God in the Bible as a sacred and holy act between a man and a woman. To allow “Marriage” to be redefined as an act between two men or two women, or to mandate that a Christian church or pastor officiate such Marriage as a sanctioned act of God, is simply unconscionable.

    FULL STOP! I’m sorry, Mr. White, although you qualify it as “what Christians believe,” the implication and the application is dead wrong. Regardless of what they want to believe, Christians did not invent marriage, nor did the Jews before them. They did not, do not, can not, may not, and will not define marriage. They didn’t even coin the word “marriage.” They do not own any copyright to the practice or the word. If they did, then only Christians would be married, and they’d be squabbling over which one of their thousands of jealous and petty sub-sects owns the “real” rights to the rites. By your argument, I as an atheist am not married, I only have a “civil union,” and the woman I’ve lived with for 38 years is not my wife, but my “civil partner.”

    This is exactly the kind of myopic, chauvinistic, Christian-centered arrogance that so embarrasses you Mr. White, and here you are doing it in a big way. Like so many other things, Christians have tried to co-opt marriage, re-writing history into a pack of lies, trying to give themselves historical, moral and even legal claim to the concept, the custom, the practice, the institution, and even the name of marriage.

    Just because you and other Christians want to believe this does not give you or them any right to force into law a prohibition against using the term “marriage” to describe any legal pair bonding contracts that are granted by the states, rather than by any church.

    I don’t think you realize that your condescending concession that the gays can have “civil unions” but not “marriage” is reminiscent of the southern slave owners letting their African slaves form pair bonds by a ceremony called “jumping the broom.” The slaves had to invent their own rites because the slave owners were certainly not going to allow any kind of legitimacy or even full humanity be implied by letting them enter into something called “marriage.” In a similar way, you’re trying to have it both ways. You want to grant all couples legal rights, but to some not an equal social standing. First class couples would get to be called “married,” while second class couples would have to be satisfied with being called “civilly united”?

    This is the beam/mote issue I mentioned. Built into your position which is hung up on trying to have exclusive control of the term “marriage” are at least three of the six stereotypes that you wish to change about Christians: homophobic, hypocritical, and too political.

    Until you admit to and repudiate the hypocrisy in your position of letting same sex couples have legal equality but not the social legitimacy that is conveyed by the word “marriage,” which again, you do not and never will own, then the rest of your efforts to reform Christianity will be for nothing. This is because anti-gay attitudes, including your vision of a two-tier system of couples’ legitimacy is the biggest single reason why young people are falling away from Christianity and religion in general at an accelerating rate.

    “Changing the face of Christianity” should be more than putting on some makeup. I really do wish you success, but please start with your self deep inside.

  • Erp

    Few thoughts,

    1. If you are going to consider innate predisposition for sexual orientation and want something similar, use handedness: right handed, left-handed, ambidextrous.

    2. Consider the religious including some Christians that are fully accepting. People like Desmond Tutu. I know Christian (and other) ministers who are more than willing to join in matrimony same-sex couples and who spoke loudly against prop 8.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    I don’t care what kind of sanitized, friendly language you use, Brad White. If you consider homosexuality to be a sin and heterosexuality to be god’s preferred path, then you are still establishing a hierarchy where heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality. In any situation where one group of people is considered to be superior to another, discriminatory treatment inevitably follows. You are trying to repackage the usual religion based prejudice in a more marketable form.

    When you and your group decide to actually challenge Christianity on the anti-LGBT prejudice that is embedded in Christian ideology and embedded in scripture, we can talk. Until then, we have nothing to talk about.

  • trixr4kids

    For radical atheists, e.g. the ones who don’t want to coexist in peace, I invite you to read an incredibly long thread of comments (160+) on http://www.thinkatheist.com in response to a conversation I started there last year called “tell christians what you think about them” (link follows). To be fair, many were congenial, many were rude and disrespectful, and a good handful wanted us wiped from the face of the earth

    Brad, I read that entire thread. I did not read one single post by someone who “didn’t want to coexist in peace”. Vigorous disagreement =/= “not wanting to coexist”–if it did, my libertarian and left wing friends would have gone to war by now. As far as wanting [Christians] “wiped from the face of the earth”, one person clearly expressed a hope that religious belief would someday be “wiped out” (more accurately, he wanted to see them become obsolete–through people voluntarily abandoning them!)and I’m sure a number of others felt the same way. But to say they wanted [you guys] “wiped off the face of the earth” is a misleading and incendiary way of putting it.

    I think you read a bunch of feisty and outspoken critiques and opinions about your religion, and have had trouble not taking them personally. If you open a dialog with atheists and ask for honesty, sooner or later you’re going to hear what we think about religion. It’s not going to be easy to hear, I get that.

    “Rude and disrespectful”, sure. I think I get where you’re coming from, and I sympathize. But you need to understand that most of us are coming from a freewheeling, outspoken internet culture where the rhetoric is a lot more direct and, shall we say, colorful, than you’re used to.

    Though there may be some mistrust, there is rarely any actual, personal hostility in it. There is a clash of cultures involved that might be worthwhile to look at and talk about as you go forward with your project.

    Ultimately, I do wish you luck, but, like Hemant, I am skeptical. Sooner or later any dialog between religious people and atheists is going to come up against the philosophical issues that divide us, and at that point you’re either going to have to say “Oops, we can’t talk about this! Feelings will be hurt! Everybody, isn’t this nice cake?” or face the music.

  • Drew M.

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but did anyone else hear something like, “Them uppity niggers have their own damned lunch counter. Why the hell do they want to sit at ours??

    Brad, I appreciate the effort, but you are stil severely lacking. Pro tip: Christianity doesn’t have the exclusive rights to “Marriage.”

    ETA: Better pro tip: Read Richard Wade’s reply. Then read it again. After that, read it once more. If it hasn’t sunk in, go ahead and read it again.

  • trixr4kids

    there is rarely any actual, personal hostility in it

    Re my comment above: I should clarify–there is certainly hostility towards religion. But that isn’t the same as hostility towards you, personally.

    We all identify with our beliefs and have difficulty making those distinctions, though. I myself am quite thin skinned at times, but hanging around atheists and skeptics is one way to get over it fast!

  • DA

    For all those who think you can’t go from atheism to theism, with all due respect I think you’re simply mistaken. I was raised a Christian, became a pretty strong atheist from age 14-22 and then started getting more “spiritual” during a couple of weird years, eventually ending up as a fundamentalist Muslim. I came back to my old atheism recently, in fact I’m a stronger proponent of it than ever, but it could just as easily have gone the other way if some things in my life hadn’t changed considerably. People are complex and atheism isn’t some kind of unshakeable intellectual fortress.

    And speaking of which, I don’t doubt that this guy’s heart is in the right place, broadly speaking, but that biblical Christianity is a dead end for any kind of truly compassionate life. You really have to twist Christianity (or for that mater, any religion including the ones that often get a pass like Buddhism, jainism, etc) far beyond recognition to make them reasonable or harmless.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Just for the record, here is Changing the Face of Christianity’s statement of faith:

    We believe that the Bible is the absolute authority in matters of faith and practice, and that it is the inspired, error free, word of God.

    We believe in one God; eternally existing in three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); in the creation of all things, including man, as the direct act of God; in the fall of man who brought destruction on himself when he chose to sin against God through Satan’s temptation; in an eternally secure salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; and in His bodily resurrection; that Jesus Christ was both fully man and fully God; in the personal, bodily, imminent return and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    We believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell.

    We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead.

    We are not affiliated with any particular Christian denomination or church congregation, but support all Christian denominations which are rooted in biblical teaching and who view Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life.

    We have a Christ-centered, Biblical world view.

    Error free? So, which “error free” parts of scripture do you pay attention to and which do you ignore? What about those parts of scripture that declare women to be subservient to men? Do you listen to those “error free” verses, too? Obviously, you listen to the “error free” verses that declare homosexuality to be a sin. Where do you draw the line?

    I also see that you believe in a deity that tortures non-Christians for all eternity after they die.

    I’m sorry, but how are you changing the face of Christianity? Your face looks terribly familiar.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    Brad, you come off as homophobic and hypocritical as the rest of the Christians you are trying to change, sorry.

  • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

    Here’s a quote from our interview with Dan Merchant, a real life tollerant Christian who really seems to get it. Brad, I think you need to talk to Dan.

    “I don’t quite understand the legal argument against same sex marriage. Some judges in California and a dozen or so other states would seem to agree as some version of same sex marriage exists there. Most of the Christian arguments “against” seem to revolve around “it’s always been this way” or some sort of “slippery slope” argument – the worst form of debate – or the arguments forget, outright, we don’t live in Jesusland. And even lawyers in Jesusland would have a pretty good argument against discrimination, based on Jesus’ teachings. But even if I thought gay marriage were the worst thing EVER for America (it’s NOT) I don’t understand the legal argument against it.”

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Hooookay, I’ve done a little rummaging around on the internet.

    This is taken from Brad White’s bio at the Changing the Face of Christianity website:

    His home church is Grace Community Church, which is a Bible-based, non-denominational community church in Plano, TX. In his church, Brad has had the privilege to launch and lead several ministries, including “Grace to Go” (a mid-week blog/email review of the prior Sunday’s sermon with an action plan for applying the sermon to our daily lives). He has led a church-wide study of Focus on the Family’s “the Truth Project”, and annually leads a 20 week, biblically-based, leadership development class for his church’s top leaders. He has also enjoyed being a member of and leading several church community small groups.

    The Truth Project is:

    The Truth Project is a DVD-based small group curriculum comprised of 12 one-hour lessons taught by Dr. Del Tackett. This home study is the starting point for looking at life from a biblical perspective. Each lesson discusses in great detail the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life.

    Here is lesson number 5 of the DVD set:

    Lesson 5 – Science: What is True?

    Science, the “systematic study of the natural world,” brings to light innumerable evidences of Intelligent Design. But Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy. (Part One)

    A careful examination of molecular biology and the fossil record demonstrates that evolution is not a “proven fact.” Meanwhile, history shows that ideas, including Darwinism as a social philosophy, have definite consequences – consequences that can turn ugly when God is left out of the picture. (Part Two)

    Here are lesson numbers 9 and 10:

    Lesson 9 – The State: Whose Law?

    Of all the social spheres, the state, to which God grants the power of the sword for the punishment of evil and the preservation of the good, has the greatest potential to go awry if it oversteps its authority. The civil magistrate must always remember his place under the sovereignty of God – otherwise, havoc will ensue.

    Lesson 10 – The American Experiment: Stepping Stones

    America is unique in the history of the world. On these shores a people holding to a biblical worldview have had an opportunity to set up a system of government designed to keep the state within its divinely ordained boundaries. Tour #10 follows the history of this experiment and explores what happens to freedom when God is forgotten.

    It is important to note that The Truth Project was created by Focus on the Family. Here is a synopsis of Focus on the Family’s political positions and activities. Focus on the Family has a convenient search box in the upper right-hand corner of its website. Feel free to use it to examine their position on any number of issues.

    Finally, here is an announcement for The Truth Project in the October 17th announcements for Brad White’s church:

    Truth Project
    October 20 and 27 from 7-9:30pm
    Cost: Free
    The Truth: Part I: The Government’s Role The Truth: Part II: The American Experiment The Truth Project, sponsored by the Focus on the Family organization, shares a biblical worldview of reality based on seven social systems – Family, Church, God and Man, State, Labor, Community and God, the Trinity. Each of these systems are created by God and have distinct roles and responsibilities for the members within the sphere. What is a biblical worldview? A formal worldview based ultimately upon that nature, character, and being of God as it is expressed in His infallible Word and His creation. What is the alternative? The arguments and pretensions of the flesh that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, against His nature and His word. And in some cases we have bought into the lies of the world without even realizing it. Come join us for the biblical worldview as it relates to our Government just in time for the upcoming elections.

    Gotta love that last line. It certainly reminds one of the connection between a “biblical worldview” and its effects upon the government, its officials, and the laws those officials create.

  • Serenity

    I was kind of struck by the fact that he didn’t acknowledge that some Christians are LGBTQetc. I felt like he was putting LGBTQetc people in the “other” category. Which can lead to the us vs them mentality. :(

    When Christians talk about gay marriage, we are talking about what we perceive as Right vs Wrong. When LGBTs talk about gay marriage, they are talking about dominance and control vs. equal protection and rights.

    Oh and except for the above quote I love his poetic use of “homosexual” throughout his talking about LGBTQetc. -_-

    Christians don’t have dibs on the word “marriage.” If marriage is truly Christian-God-ordained, as Brad said, then I guess all non-Christians should be stripped of their right to marry, too. (Sorry, mom and dad.)

    I agree.

  • Steve

    Biblical literalism? Lol. Just another nail in the coffin and proof that he isn’t really serious.

    Any attempt to reform Christianity needs to acknowledge that the Bible is merely literature written by men. Maybe say it was inspired by god if that makes you happy, but you need to acknowledge that has been re-transcribed and re-translated many times over the centuries, that many parts are ambiguous and that some parts are simply irrelevant (which Christians actually do. They just don’t admit it).

  • Bill

    Sorry if this came up in the very long thread already.

    Dan Savage already hit the choosing-to-be-gay nail on the head, and I’d love to see Brad’s rebuttal to this, because there is none:

    “You think being gay is a choice? Then choose it: Suck my d*ck. Show me how it’s done. You choose it—suck my d*ck—right now, and I’ll videotape it, and then we’ll put the proof that being gay is a choice on the internet for the whole world to see. Deal?”

  • Robert W.

    I have read through most of the comments on this thread but I am only going to address those that say in one way or another that in order for there to be any real change in the perception that atheists have of Christians then we need to change our beliefs on homosexual behavior. In other words, accept that homosexual behavior is a valid moral choice in your religion and then we will talk, otherwise don’t bother.

    Christians true to their religious beliefs will not agree that homosexual behavior is a valid moral choice. The bible treats it like a sin just like it treats adultery, stealing, murder, greed, slander, anger, etc. as sins. It teaches us that all of us are sinners and that all sins must be repented.

    It also teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and not to judge each other. The lack of judging does not mean we are to ignore sin when we see it nor are we to tolerate sinful behavior, but we need to understand that the judgment belongs to God, not us. This leads to the “love the sinner but not the sin” idea that most of your laugh at and say is impossible. I understand how you can find that hard to believe based upon your worldview but it not a concept that is impossible to a Christian worldview.

    So, I agree with those here who say that Mr. White’s attempt at changing the perceptions of Christianity will most likely fail, particularly with the homosexual community, but for a different reason then you have expressed. It won’t be because of his failed attempt to change the language or the rhetoric. It will be because despite your call for equality and equal treatment, you will not give that same benefit to Christianity and instead, you will expect our beliefs to change to fit yours and anything short of that will not be accepted.

    Frankly, if that is what it takes for you to have a different perception of Christianity, then I would prefer to keep the Christian faith intact and leave you to your perceptions.

  • Vas

    Brad White Said…

    If you want to address me specificly, or ask me a question, or share info you want me to consider, especially as rooker did with Christians that need to be faced, please start by emailing me (brad@changingthefaceofchristianity.com). I’ll likely respond more quickly that way…as I don’t regularly visit your site. Thanks, Brad.

    WTF Brad? Is it your habit to run into a room full of people and fart and then run away? Who cares if you don’t regularly visit this site, it might be a good idea to at least keep up on this one thread. You want dialog, here it is, right here. Not many people want to send you an email and get our email address nabbed by some bigoted kook with some half assed xtian agenda, we don’t need xtian spam from the likes of you lot.

    Speak up boy, we’re all waiting… Here is your forum, plenty of atheists here. Come on now let’s hear how you can possibly defend/justify your hateful statements. Come on out Mr. “rude and disrespectful”, you just slagged off around +- 8.8 million Americans, (or use any number you like pal, it’s undeniable that we are talking about millions of people) and you can’t be bothered to see how they feel? You think it’s their problem? If they don’t like it they must come to you?
    SAY SOMETHING BRAD.

  • ACN

    So, I agree with those here who say that Mr. White’s attempt at changing the perceptions of Christianity will most likely fail, particularly with the homosexual community, but for a different reason then you have expressed. It won’t be because of his failed attempt to change the language or the rhetoric. It will be because despite your call for equality and equal treatment, you will not give that same benefit to Christianity and instead, you will expect our beliefs to change to fit yours and anything short of that will not be accepted.

    I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    You think he is going to fail because atheists don’t provide equality to christians?

    I don’t know what we’ve said or done that makes you think we want to strip christians of equal protection under the law or equal rights to free speech. Maybe I’m misunderstanding you?

  • ACN

    WTF Brad? Is it your habit to run into a room full of people and fart and then run away?

    Also, that was really funny :)

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Robert W,

    I think Christianity has been moving towards a “God is love” view of God for quite some time and is slowly moving away from the whole notion of divine judgment where certain benign behaviors or beliefs can keep you out of some kind of eternal afterlife. I think you will turn out to be on the wrong side of Christian history on this one.

    for example, in a few more generations, most Christians will probably stop paying attention to those couple of anti-homosexual passages in the bible (just like they no longer pay attention to those anti-eating shell fish or anti-mixed fiber passages). This is what I have noticed among the trans-generational Christians I have known.

    I don’t really expect that many current Christians will change their viewpoint… only that their children will have moved more towards the “God is love” viewpoint. And their children will move even more towards it and so on. Those that latch on-to certain passages that support their own views on such things as homosexuality will tend to represent a diminishing percentage of the whole of Christianity as time goes on. That is my prediction.

  • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

    Jeff P, I love how Christianity improves as it evolves. Kind of like everything else, isn’t it? It drops what it doesn’t need, turns it’s emphasis on what keeps it alive and thriving. Christians will one day accept homosexuality, because if they don’t, the religion will eventually fade away as the rest of the world moves past it.

    Society will eventually dictate the direction of Christianity. It always has, and it always will. This is why it’s very important that those of us not tied down by religion express the treatment of homosexuals in black and white terms. It’s wrong to discriminate against ANYBODY, period.

  • Korny

    Guys, I’ve been wasting some time over at his website. A civil discussion on the relevance of an article on genomics has been removed. I left a long (and very civil, although possibly a bit patronising) comment with legitimate suggestions on how he might work towards “getting it” – it failed moderation. Based on website behaviour, he’s not actually interested real discussion.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    What Jeff said. :)

  • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

    I envision a day where man and man, and woman and woman can marry each other if they like. A little farther down the road, maybe a time where Atheist’s rights are acknowledged and separation of church and state are understood and honored by all peoples. Ultimately, the final frontier of tolerance and respect will be upon us when a teenaged ginger no longer fears the question: “does the carpet match the drapes?”

  • http://religiouscomics,.net Jeff P

    Richard had some wise words about Christians not owning marriage. I would add to that that the evangelicals do not own Christianity. Christianity is a fluid social force that indeed evolves with the times. Granted it is usually an impediment to social evolution, but it evolves never-the-less. I think the whole evangelical movement is just a reaction to the fact that Christianity is slowly evolving into secular humanism.

  • Korny

    Hey, a reply to my comment to the website on what he might do in order to aid “getting it”. My comment was removed from the website though.

    Thanks for your comment.
    May I ask you a question? By “Getting It”, do you mean agreeing with your opinions?
    In other words, I can hear you and understand you….but many times I just don’t agree. Is that ok?

    Is it possible that the IT that we are trying to GET is simply different than your IT?

    I have spent many many many hours talking and commenting with non-believers, and will continue to do so. Saying I haven’t is like jumping on a new blog and commenting without doing a lot of reading first. (sound familiar?)

    How much time have you spent trying to “get” believers?

    Most of the comments from atheists on our site don’t seem to “get” it either. Instead, they read a headline, flame, then miss the entire point of an article with a knee jerk response.

    What could you do within your own atheist circles to create a constructive dialog with believers? I’d like to hear your opinions on that.

    Brad

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Jeff, from what I’ve read over the years, evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity has also been a reaction to the social upheaval that came out of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I include the 50s because that marks the start of the civil rights movement in the US. Many subsequent political movements of the 60s and 70s were inspired by the civil rights movement and/or shared many of the same activists here in the US. This is ironic, given that the civil rights movement relied heavily upon African American churches as an organizing tool during the 50s and 60s.

    Certainly, evangelicals/fundamentalists do not own Christianity and it would be nice if they swallowed their pride and stopped acting like they did. It’s almost as though branches of Christianity such as the United Church of Christ, Quakers, and the Episcopal church worship a different god and read from a different religious text. They are as different from evangelical Christianity as night and day.

    I’ll be blunt. The Christians I want to talk to and work with as allies are not of Brad White’s ilk. I’d be more than happy to share a conversation with folks of John Shelby Spong’s persuasion or perhaps Desmond Tutu. Interestingly, Spong has written upon his fears that the public face of Christianity will continue to deteriorate in the years to come unless some serious reforms are made to Christian practices and beliefs.

  • Robert W.

    ACN,

    I am not referring to equal treatment under the law or free speech. I’m referring to equal treatment in the right to believe as you see fit and yet still have a respectful and productive conversation. It would be like saying to a person- think the way I do and we can become equals, otherwise there is no need to talk. People expect that of Christians but won’t do it themselves.

    Jeff P.,

    People through out the centuries have been predicting the demise of the Christian faith. It is also true that at different times the method or mode in which we worship has changed ( for example I go to a church that plays rock music for the service and growing up I would have never thought that would happen). But that doesn’t mean that the core beliefs should change. I’m all for emphasizing the grace, mercy and love of God, but I would be surprised that in the future there will be a mainstream Christian faith that supports that homosexuality isn’t a sin. I maybe proven wrong.

  • Drew M.

    @Robert W.

    Christians true to their religious beliefs will not agree that homosexual behavior is a valid moral choice. The bible treats it like a sin just like it treats adultery, stealing, murder, greed, slander, anger, etc. as sins. It teaches us that all of us are sinners and that all sins must be repented.

    Honestly, I’ve never seen this answered, so I’ll ask it yet again.

    Leviticus is the book that is most often quoted by those who call gays, “sinners.” It is also the book that has chapters devoted to animal sacrifices and even guidelines for proper handling of slaves (You cannot enslave an Israelite, but Gentiles are fair game!).

    I’m sure that you folks don’t condone owning any slaves or killing helpless animals as a sacrifice fit for God. I want to know why you think that book’s thoughts on homosexuality is applicable when the other stuff isn’t.

    I also hear claims that Sodom was punished because of all the gay lovin’ going on. Hell, it’s even called “sodomy” after the city. However, Ezekel 16:49 gives a laundry list of their crimes and homosexuality isn’t one of them. Why is that fact ignored?

  • http://www.youratheistneighbor.blogspot.com keystothekid

    The problem I have with this is simple. The Bible is supposed to be a holy book, a guide to which you’re supposed to arrange your life. How can such a holy book be so contradictory in many places? One minute you have love and acceptance, the next you have slavery and genocide. If you are knowingly saying that these evil parts of the bible are unimportant, uninspired or the usual, “taken out of context,” then how can this book still be holy?

    I don’t want to use the word respect, because I have nothing of the sort for the Westboro Baptist Church and religious zealots like them, but isn’t there something to say about the fact that they are at least taking the bad with the good when it comes to what the Bible says?

    Sure, what Brad is trying to do is respectable in a way. He wants to help Christians realize how truly ignorant and hurtful they can be. But why is it ok for a Christian to do that when it isn’t for an Atheist? He wants Christians to start leading a more tolerant, accepting and welcoming life, and that’s a good thing. But surely, all of us here know in the back of our minds that most of us are already leading these lives without having to rely on religion.

    The world would be a better place without religious hatred, bigotry and violence. However, what Brad is trying to do is illogical because he is doing the same thing people like the WBC are doing, only he’s picking the more socially acceptable (and healthy) parts of the bible to follow, and denouncing the worse parts. Why not denounce the whole thing and lead this good life without the crutch that offers so many a leg up for hate?

    I guess it just feels too much like settling for me. The position he’s put himself into is a muddy one, religion will always give people a reason for discrimination and violence.

  • Korinthian

    I liked the questions you asked, Hemant.

  • Vas

    Robert W said…

    I’m referring to equal treatment in the right to believe as you see fit and yet still have a respectful and productive conversation.

    Are you kidding?
    How can you expect that when you stick to the party line that gay people are an abomination i.e. abhorrent, vile, shameful, detestable, that you will be able to garner respect from these same people? How in the world could you expect a productive conversation when that is your starting point? If you dehumanize someone or call them broken or sinful, or organize to deny them their civil rights, I just don’t understand why you expect them to respect you or your hostile views.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    In other words, accept that homosexual behavior is a valid moral choice in your religion and then we will talk

    What “moral choice” is being made by loving someone?

    Christians true to their religious beliefs will not agree that homosexual behavior is a valid moral choice.

    Do you speak for all Christians.

    It teaches us that all of us are sinners and that all sins must be repented.

    Another despicable teaching.

    It also teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and not to judge each other. The lack of judging does not mean we are to ignore sin when we see it nor are we to tolerate sinful behavior

    So it is like judging but but with a different name.

    we need to understand that the judgment belongs to God, not us

    Does this absolve you of the responsibility in the way you treat and judge others?

    This leads to the “love the sinner but not the sin” idea that most of your laugh at and say is impossible. I understand how you can find that hard to believe based upon your worldview but it not a concept that is impossible to a Christian worldview.

    Oh no. Christians are well versed in the mental gymnastics necessary to judge people for what they are while claiming to love them.

    It will be because despite your call for equality and equal treatment, you will not give that same benefit to Christianity and instead, you will expect our beliefs to change to fit yours and anything short of that will not be accepted.

    Oh give over with the persecution complex already. In the USA you have the privileged position. If you want equal treatment then you’ll need to shed some of those privileges.

    Frankly, if that is what it takes for you to have a different perception of Christianity, then I would prefer to keep the Christian faith intact and leave you to your perceptions.

    If Christianity is to survive it must change to meet the needs of society. I’m kind of glad that you don’t want it to change because then the homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant, politically motivated, privileged brand of Christianity that we see so prevalent in American society will die out.

  • Drew M.

    @timberwraith

    Oh yeah, there are definitely a lot of Christians who get it. For example, two years ago I met two wonderful, beautiful Christians online (Playing World of Warcraft, of all things). I admire and envy their big hearts.

    One night, one of them and I were talking very deeply about faith; how hers got stronger with the years and how I lost mine. She was totally open, non-judgemental and asked if it was okay if she prayed for me. I hesitated in replying and she said, “It’s because I love you. Nothing else.”

    Yep. Some definitely get it.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Just for the record, here is Changing the Face of Christianity’s statement of faith

    Thanks for posting that. Scary stuff, and unfortunately exactly what I expected. If Brad truly wants to “get it,” he should understand that dressing up ugliness in pretty language doesn’t make the ugliness go away. He wants a cookie for not engaging in nasty rhetoric, while at the same time promoting nasty beliefs. He might be polite, and that’s nice, but he still has that awful ideology. If he wants to change stereotypes, he has to change the problematic beliefs. He can’t be homophobic and sexist and believe in sin and hell and expect us to give a thumbs up to his belief system. I find Brad’s beliefs utterly immoral. I don’t have positive feelings about them, and I’m not going to change my opinion of evangelical Christianity if it continues to promote such horrible things.

  • grazatt

    He sounds like a typical arsehole evangelical to me!

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Anna said:

    He wants a cookie for not engaging in nasty rhetoric, while at the same time promoting nasty beliefs. He might be polite, and that’s nice, but he still has that awful ideology. If he wants to change stereotypes, he has to change the problematic beliefs. He can’t be homophobic and sexist and believe in sin and hell and expect us to give a thumbs up to his belief system.

    That’s just the thing, right? You can hide your prejudices under a veneer of smiles and sweet language, but ultimately, the subtle, negative effects that prejudice will have upon your behavior will be more than visible to the people you are prejudiced against. Your prejudices will still have an impact upon the lives of those around you and when you consider that this repackaged prejudice is going to be expressed by a significant portion of the populace, social oppression continues. Lives will still be damaged by these negative attitudes, and that is the bottom line.

    There was a time when racism and sexism was expressed openly and with little remorse. I remember it, because I grew up in the tail end of that era. Now, it’s hidden in subtle behaviors, words, and doublethink. People still have racist and sexist attitudes, but they tell themselves that they are nice decent people because they don’t actively hate the object of their prejudice and they don’t consciously believe that the object of their prejudice is inferior. Nevertheless, they always have handy rationalizations for the negative perceptions that they hold toward the group in question because no one wants to be called racist or sexist.

    We are on the cusp of a social shift where open prejudice against LGBT people is going underground. It is no longer acceptable for someone to admit that they hate LGBT people. Instead of open contempt, one has to tone down their animosity in an attempt to seem respectable. Excuses will be fabricated and rationalizations will be embraced so that negative perceptions can continue while not seeming like an ogre.

    This is the context within which I see all of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” rhetoric. In actual practice, it’s complete and utter bullshit. One doesn’t harbor prejudice against a group of people without treating them as the other.

    Brad White’s approach may be a marginal improvement, but what I see in his warm, fuzzy rhetoric is the face of the next generation of prejudice against LGBT people: sanitized, rationalized, and kept under wraps in mixed company.

    I refuse to be fooled.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    I also should add, that there’s plenty of obfuscating rhetoric surrounding the notion of complementarianism in evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity as well. It’s the usual sexist crap, repackaged in shiny, happy language.

    I’d love to hear Brad White’s thoughts on this issue.

    Brad?

  • http://selfra.blogspot.com dantresomi

    Here is my thing:

    My issue with Christians is about their theology. every organization, religion, etc. has their radicals, extremists, and dictators. I know Christians who are wonderful citizens and great friends and family. heck my mother is a deacon.

    I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God. I don’t find the Bible to be a book that provides even a mediocre moral compass. its a work of literature. Jesus never existed.

    What amazes me to no end is that Judeo Christian concepts are clear about alot of things when it comes to marriage, womens rights, ethnicity, etc. but christians and other monotheists act as if they can just change it arbitrarily. Those concepts are put together for a people living several thousand years ago who had no access to science whatsoever. it just doesn’t apply to the 21st century. Stop acting like it does and stop modifying it to fit your needs. you don’t put rims on a donkey and call it a dodge charger.

  • Vas

    So Brad you still with us?
    Alright then how about a few words on James Dobson. I have a problem with him and wonder if you do or not.

    He says and advocates a good many hateful things. He thinks stem cel research is the moral equivalent to the medical experiments carried out by Nazi doctors during the Holocaust and he said so publicly on his radio show.

    He said “Some strong-willed children absolutely demand to be spanked, and their wishes should be granted. . . two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, ‘You must obey me.’”

    About children Dobson says “children are naturally inclined toward rebellion, selfishness, dishonesty, aggression, exploitation, and greed.” as a cure for this he recommends using “switches” and “paddles” to beat children.

    Dobson recommends that if if a child cries for more than a few minutes after being beaten,(3 to 5 minutes) a parent should beat them again.

    Dobson and Focus on the Family strongly endorses the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), which is committed to the integration of psychology and the Bible.

    Dobson said “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.” He has said plenty of other crap about the homosexuals and their sinister agenda, nasty things.

    Dobson endorses reparative therapy or conversion therapy, or whatever you want to call the ex-gay therapy. Mainstream health organizations critical of conversion therapy include the American Medical Association,[86] American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants. What ever do you have to say about this Brad?

    HEY BRAD SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

    Denounce this abomination if you have the stones.

  • Robert W.

    Drew,

    I’m sure that you folks don’t condone owning any slaves or killing helpless animals as a sacrifice fit for God. I want to know why you think that book’s thoughts on homosexuality is applicable when the other stuff isn’t.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10- this verse lists those sins that I listed and treats them the same. It specifically includes homosexual behavior along with sexual immorality, thieves, greed, and slander as sins.

    Some of the activities in the Old Testament such as animal sacrifices were in place until Christ as worship practices that are no longer applicable.

    Vas,

    How can you expect that when you stick to the party line that gay people are an abomination i.e. abhorrent, vile, shameful, detestable, that you will be able to garner respect from these same people? How in the world could you expect a productive conversation when that is your starting point? If you dehumanize someone or call them broken or sinful, or organize to deny them their civil rights, I just don’t understand why you expect them to respect you or your hostile views.

    How do you expect a productive conversation by starting the discussion with requiring that Christians change their beliefs and treat what they view as immoral behavior as moral? If you think that homosexual behavior is moral then that is your right. Just as it is my right as a Christian to think that it is immoral. That doesn’t mean however that I will dehumanize you or your beliefs. In fact, if i am true to my beliefs I will recognize that your sin is no different then mine in the eyes of the Lord and as such we are equals.

    Hoverfrog,

    What “moral choice” is being made by loving someone?

    Engaging in homosexual behavior is an immoral choice according to the tenets of maintstream Christianity and a traditional interpretation of the Bible. Just as much as adultery even if I loved the person I was cheating with.

    Does this absolve you of the responsibility in the way you treat and judge others?

    No it doesn’t.

    Oh no. Christians are well versed in the mental gymnastics necessary to judge people for what they are while claiming to love them.

    Do you really think that you can’t disapprove of someone’s behavior and still love them?

    Oh give over with the persecution complex already. In the USA you have the privileged position. If you want equal treatment then you’ll need to shed some of those privileges.

    I am not talking about any alleged privileges in society. I’m referring to the requirement of those that call for Christians to give up their beliefs at the same time they are calling for Christians to accept theirs.

    If Christianity is to survive it must change to meet the needs of society. I’m kind of glad that you don’t want it to change because then the homophobic, misogynistic, intolerant, politically motivated, privileged brand of Christianity that we see so prevalent in American society will die out.

    People have been saying that Christianity will die out for thousands of years. It isn’t and in fact it is growing worldwide. The brand of Christianity that is growing is the traditional brand that you want to see go away. In fact, where the Christian church is suffering is in those countries where it has attempted to water down its beliefs in order to become more acceptable to the fringe of society. When Christianity sticks true to its message of grace and mercy as well as the need to repent of sins, it flourishes. Most of the people who want to see its message watered down are those that are engaging in behavior that Christianity is opposed to and they don’t want to change their behavior. Christianity doesn’t need to change to fit society and whenever it tries to both society and the church are worse for it.

  • DA

    “Just as much as adultery even if I loved the person I was cheating with.”

    Ignoring all the rest, adultery isn’t a sexual preference. Gay people can’t choose to not be gay, but they can choose to be monogamous, as can we all. Or did you choose to be heterosexual. And saying “we’re equal sinners” is just a bullshit pretense. If Christians just regarded homosexuality as the same thing they do every day, they wouldn’t build whole movements designed solely to fuck with the lives of LGBT people.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W

    Engaging in homosexual behavior is an immoral choice according to the tenets of maintstream Christianity and a traditional interpretation of the Bible. Just as much as adultery even if I loved the person I was cheating with.

    These are two separate things. Please don’t conflate them. Adultery is morally wrong because it breeches a trust between two people who profess to love one another. Homosexuality doesn’t do that. Comparing them is disingenuous.

    As for the tenets of mainstream Christianity condemning homosexuality you must realise that popular opinion does not automatically make something moral or immoral. Morality can be assessed on relative harm. i.e. does an action cause more harm than it does good? With adultery it should be clear that it harms relationships and breaks trust. What is the harm in being gay? What is the harm in being in a gay relationship?

    Does this absolve you of the responsibility in the way you treat and judge others?

    No it doesn’t.

    Glad to hear it. Now please put that in to practice. Don’t defer your responsibility to a deity when you should be taking it yourself.

    Do you really think that you can’t disapprove of someone’s behavior and still love them?

    Of course but you are talking about disapproving of what someone is rather than what they do.

    I am not talking about any alleged privileges in society.

    Alleged? It wasn’t that long ago that a President was saying that atheists shouldn’t even be considered citizens.

    I’m referring to the requirement of those that call for Christians to give up their beliefs at the same time they are calling for Christians to accept theirs.

    As you are aware Christianity is a complex set of beliefs rather than just a single thing. You are confusing atheism and the call to equal treatment for those who have no religion (a single issue) with calls to limit the harm of some of the gamut of beliefs that you hold.

    We are saying that you can believe what you like but you don’t get to insist that we adhere to the beliefs that you hold. Some of your beliefs are hateful. Brad White has been good enough to point them out and at least say that they should be changed or at least made more palatable. Frankly agreeing with him isn’t the same as insisting that you change. That is up to you. We are saying (and the opinion among atheists isn’t universal by any means) that efforts of reform need to be clear and well underway rather than merely talked about.

    People have been saying that Christianity will die out for thousands of years.

    Hope springs eternal.

    It isn’t and in fact it is growing worldwide.

    Indeed it is. It has reported that the average Anglican is black, female, less than 30-yrs-old, has 3 kids, lives on less than $2 per day, walks upwards of 3km per day, and is related to someone with HIV / AIDS. Religion grows where there is want and ignorance and dies where there education and freedom flourish.

    The brand of Christianity that is growing is the traditional brand that you want to see go away.

    Precisely my point.

    Most of the people who want to see its message watered down are those that are engaging in behavior that Christianity is opposed to and they don’t want to change their behavior.

    Really? So you’d expect the gay community to be largely atheistic then?

    Christianity doesn’t need to change to fit society and whenever it tries to both society and the church are worse for it.

    That’s it, stick to your guns. In a few decades time you can be sitting in a lonely church wondering why nobody joins you in prayer, just like we see in England every Sunday.

  • Baconsbud

    Robert W could you go though this short list of sins and let us know which are in effect still and which aren’t. http://www.wogim.org/sinlist.htm

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Baconsbud,

    Obviously the evangelical position is that all of them can be forgiven but the homosexual behavior sin is the only one that disqualifies you from getting married. And this disqualification must be enforced by civil law and applied to everyone who sins thus regardless of whether they are Christian or not.

  • Jane Smith

    Dear Brad

    Thank you for your comments, but I’m afraid I agree with those posters who emphasise the inherent sexism in the religion of Christianity. When I studied theology at university in the UK, there were two “hot” issues: the ordination of women and abortion. Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it, how Christians always focus on what women may and may not do?!

    And I don’t just mean Christian men. One particularly smug example of Christianity is the ghastly Frederika Mathews-Greene, a self-publicist and convert to Eastern Orthodoxy who loudly and insisently proclaims that (a) women should never be priests and (b) abortion is wrong, wrong, wrong. Why is it that Christians can’t let other people be? You don’t want an abortion? Fine. I respect that and wouldn’t dream of forcing you to have one. So why do you and other Christians want to take away my right to make my own decisions?

    This is an old topic, I know, but for me it’s the heart of what’s wrong with Christians. No, Brad doesn’t want to tackle the issue of abortion because he knows that, as a public Christian, he’ll have to come out as anti-choice and well, intolerant. It’s also worth everybody on this list bearing in mind that the two biggest churches, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, also condemn abortion even in the case of rape and severe foetal abnormality.

    They have no compassion on half the human race, so why are gay people surprised that these same churches (and others) are quite prepared to exclude and condemn them?

    And the posters who point out that Christian marriage is posited on the woman’s submission to the man are quite right. That is what the church teaches and it’s what “holy scripture” (the New Testament, not the Old!) says.

    Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    I’m not at all surprised that there are mainstream Christians who value adhering to the bible so closely that they embrace outward bigotry. Let’s look at some verses in the New Testament that embrace forms of bigotry and hatefulness other than homosexuality:

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35: 34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    Ephesians 5:22-24: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    1 Timothy 2:11-15: 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    Colossians 3:22-25: 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

    Titus 2:9-10: 9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

    Ephesians 6:5-8: 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

    1 Peter 2:18-20: 18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

    (all verses taken from the NIV translation)

    So, women should be quiet and submissive to men because we are the weak minded creatures who led humankind into sin. We should submit to men because sexist submission is part of the divinely established hierarchy.

    Slaves should willingly submit to their masters because it it makes god’s teachings look attractive, suffering for good deeds is viewed with favor by god, and slaves will receive their just due after they die, should they be admitted to heaven.

    Can we be honest here? These passages came out of a barbaric, abusive culture that is two thousand years old. Trying to impose those cultural beliefs upon today’s society is madness. It is cruel hearted stupidity of the highest magnitude.

    Where do you draw the line? Which groups of people do we openly and happily treat like shit because you found a hateful shred of text written by an ignorant people from several millennia ago? Let me answer that for you: you draw the line wherever it suits your own personal prejudices.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    The second sentence should read:

    Let’s look at some verses in the New Testament which embrace forms of bigotry and hatefulness that focus on things other than homosexuality:

  • Robert W.

    DA,

    And saying “we’re equal sinners” is just a bullshit pretense. If Christians just regarded homosexuality as the same thing they do every day, they wouldn’t build whole movements designed solely to fuck with the lives of LGBT people.

    Actually the notion that we are all sinners in need of a Savior is the heart of Christianity. It is not a pretense at all. And whether you belief it or not, neither Christianity nor the church is fixated on homosexuality. It is only a larger issue because of the homosexual agenda to make it so. For the church it is just one issue it deals with.

    Hoverfrog,

    As for the tenets of mainstream Christianity condemning homosexuality you must realise that popular opinion does not automatically make something moral or immoral. Morality can be assessed on relative harm. i.e. does an action cause more harm than it does good? With adultery it should be clear that it harms relationships and breaks trust. What is the harm in being gay? What is the harm in being in a gay relationship?

    I actually believe that there is an objective morality that supersedes all current public opinion as to what is moral or immoral. If we go by the standard that something is moral if it does more good then harm, then people could rationalize almost any behavior. As for what is the harm of engaging in homosexual behavior, take an honest look at that lifestyle and to use your own standard, does that lifestyle cause more harm then good? The notion of a standard of monogamous long term relationships among homosexual men is not the norm. There are higher rates of depression, multiple sexual partners, alcoholism, drug use, etc.

    Glad to hear it. Now please put that in to practice. Don’t defer your responsibility to a deity when you should be taking it yourself.

    Actually I live as if I have a responsibility to God and my fellow man.

    We are saying that you can believe what you like but you don’t get to insist that we adhere to the beliefs that you hold.

    Actually most folks who have responded to Mr. White have insisted that Christianity change its beliefs. Please review the posts form Timberwaith for one example.

    That’s it, stick to your guns. In a few decades time you can be sitting in a lonely church wondering why nobody joins you in prayer, just like we see in England every Sunday.

    I am not an expert on the Anglican church and won’t pretend to be but I wouldn’t predict the future of the Christian church on how that denomination is going. I would think that the growth of the Christian worldwide is more of an indication of what direction it is going.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    First off “homosexual agenda” trumpets of the homophobic rhetoric of ages past. There’s no “homosexual agenda” besides just wanting to be seen as equally human – something that Christian people seem to have a hard time doing.

    There are higher rates of depression, multiple sexual partners, alcoholism, drug use, etc.

    Gee. Do you think most, if not all, of these things could somehow be related to being denied basic human rights by a Christian majority in what is supposed to be a civilized society?

  • Rich Wilson

    It is only a larger issue because of the homosexual agenda to make it so.

    To you it’s an ‘agenda’, to other it’s a basic human right.

  • Robert W.

    Timberwaith,

    Can we be honest here? These passages came out of a barbaric, abusive culture that is two thousand years old. Trying to impose those cultural beliefs upon today’s society is madness. It is cruel hearted stupidity of the highest magnitude.

    Do you really think that any non Christian based society has treated women and slaves better then a Christian based society? Name one if you think so. Do you think that women are treated better in China which is officially an atheist country? Or in Africa or the far east where the industry of human trafficking flourishes? Do you think that the secular porn industry treats women with respect? Do you think that a culture that supports promiscuity and free for all sexual attitudes is a healthy society for most women and their children?

    The truth is that Christianity is the one religion that promotes equality of all people, a monogamous marriage of mutual respect between a man and a woman and sexual morality.

    It was a huge step forward in its day when these books were written and it continues today to be a driving force behind equality and the respectful treatment of women.

  • The Captain

    And here with the discussion with Robert, we see the problems discussions of gay marriages usually take. All this is irrelevant to the issue (and this happened with prop 8 on a large scale).

    Robert, your religious views say homosexuality is a sin. Great, whatever, I don’t care. You can think that that all you want. What is important, is why you think you get to force that belief on churches that don’t agree with you? Do those churches not enjoy the same freedom of religion as you do? Do you believe the force of law should be used to force those churches to practice your religion?

    Since those against gay marriages do so because they define “marriage” solely by what their religious tenets are, then gay marriage is fundamentally a freedom of religion debate. And it’s one those against gay marriage can not win so it’s the only one, and the most important one, that needs to be had!

  • ACN

    Would you say that timberwraith mischaracterized the NT’s views on women?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    RESPECTFUL?! Telling a woman she can’t do with her own body what she desires is respectful? A society that says women cannot speak over a man is respectful? A society that tells women that they can’t enjoy sex is respectful?

    Screw you, you abominable, homophobic, misogynistic piece of trash. I’m through treating you respectfully – or perhaps I’m doing what you actually think is respectful.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    Gee. Do you think most, if not all, of these things could somehow be related to being denied basic human rights by a Christian majority in what is supposed to be a civilized society?

    Here is a good answer to your question
    http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/05/homosexual-group-admits-health-risks-of-homosexual-behavior/

  • Rich Wilson

    The truth is that Christianity is the one religion that promotes equality of all people, a monogamous marriage of mutual respect between a man and a woman and sexual morality.

    The truth is that other religions promote real equality of all people.
    The truth is that other religions promote monogamous marriage of mutual respect.
    The truth is other religions promote monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.
    The truth is that ALL religions promote sexual morality. Just maybe not YOUR morality.
    Some Muslims would say that the way Christian women walk around in shorts, or can be found alone with men whom they are not related to is sexually immoral.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    Your view of Christianity and what it teaches in terms of how to treat women and others is simply wrong. I stand by what I know it teaches and I know that it is respectful. I also know that it is far more respectful then how I see women treated in a truly secular society.

    If you think that promoting abortion is respectful then we will disagree. If you think that promoting a society that allows for sexual promiscuity for men or women, we will disagree. If you think that a society that doesn’t value a respectful monogamous marriage, we will disagree.

    If you think that the model Christian marriage is one that is anything less then a husband treating his wife with the utmost respect, love, devotion and faithfulness you are dead wrong.

  • Vas

    Robert W said…

    How do you expect a productive conversation by starting the discussion with requiring that Christians change their beliefs and treat what they view as immoral behavior as moral?

    You are the one who expects a productive conversation not me. I don’t expect a productive, (or even civil) conversation with a dyed in the wool bigot.

    That doesn’t mean however that I will dehumanize you or your beliefs.

    This is only because I’m not gay, if I were you seem to think I would be an abomination, and if you ask me calling anyone an abomination is dehumanizing, branding them as the evil other.

    In fact, if i am true to my beliefs I will recognize that your sin is no different then mine in the eyes of the Lord and as such we are equals.

    Yeah this is a big problem, you see Robert the problem here is that you think you can call me a sinner and absolve yourself by saying you are a sinner just like me. Well guess what… I’m not a sinner and have never sinned, never. We are not equals Robert, you are a sinner and an anti LGBT bigot. You choose to believe, without any evidence of it’s existence, in a god full of hatred and vengeance. You are a cult member who willfully abdicates reason. You are a member of a hate group that seeks to oppress your fellow human beings. About the only thing about us that is equal is that we both can be utter assholes, that’s right Robert you are an asshole, (oh yeah I’m an asshole too).

    Do you really think that you can’t disapprove of someone’s behavior and still love them?

    Sure you can Robert. But when you dissaprove of someone’s behavior that you don’t even know, and belong to a group that organizes to make sure they don’t enjoy the same civil rights as you lot enjoy, then you don’t love them. It seems to me that love is a platitude for xtains. When someone I don’t know says they love me, I think that is utter bullshit, wanting to convert a person to a religious belief is not loving them. You can say you love me over and over again while you try to fuck me over but that does not make it so. People claim they beat their wife and children because they love them, that they do it for their own good, to teach them lessons. Yeah well screw that noise. Xtian love is hollow, and used to justify aggression, “I only did it because I love you”.
    Once and for all homosexuality is not a sin, is not immoral, is not an abomination, is not evil, is not a justifiable reason to organize against others for the sole purpose of keeping them down.

  • Robert W.

    ACN,

    Yes I would say that Timberwaith’s post mischaracterizes Christianity’s views of women.

    Rich,

    The truth is that other religions promote real equality of all people.
    The truth is that other religions promote monogamous marriage of mutual respect.
    The truth is other religions promote monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.
    The truth is that ALL religions promote sexual morality.

    Show me that please. My understanding is that the Hindu religion supports and promotes the caste system in India for example.

  • ACN

    Fair enough.

    Where is the problem? I thought the scripture she chose were more than sufficient to support her summary. Is the problem with the scripture choice, the summary, or somewhere else?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    Your religion denies humanity to people. THAT is disrespectful.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Well, we can always look at the much higher status of women in Scandinavian countries where Christianity’s relevance has largely faded and secularism has taken over. There were also several native American cultures where women had a far greater social status than the Christian Europeans that were settling in the US. Their culture was later subsumed by Christianity. Where exactly was the church during the wave of feminism that started in the 60s? Funny, but I’m pretty familiar with the history of that movement, and I don’t remember the church contributing much. When people tried to pass the ERA a couple of decades ago, it was conservative Christians who opposed it en masse. When it comes to reproductive rights, Christianity has done it’s darnedest to sabotage women’s access to contraception and abortion.

    In the US, Christian beliefs have been used to both argue for and against slavery and I have to point out that those folks who purchased slaves and brought them to the New World came from Christian nations. We have had centuries of racial oppression born of those ill deeds. It would seem that Christianity didn’t prevent that little glitch in history. Southern Baptists, the denomination that evolved out the brand of Christianity practiced by slave holders still holds that women should live in subservience to men.

    Shall we go into a discussion of all those good Christian nations that wrecked the cultures and communities of foreign lands in a quest for natural resources and cheap labor? Why didn’t Christianity prevent those ill deeds? We have centuries of colonial exploitation to thank for the political instability in many parts of the world and the violent atrocities that have ensued. Where was Christianity in all of this? Oh right, now that the damage has been done by those good Christian societies of yore, we have Christian missionaries to move in and play “clean up.” It sure provides a nice opportunity to convert more people, right? Rip apart their countries and then offer help. It would almost seem as though Christianity and colonialism have developed a symbiotic relationship.

    I will give you this, Robert. I think that in many respects, Christianity has been a morally neutral enterprise. Some have used if for good and some have used it for ill. Besides, Christianity initially spread via the Roman Empire. Should I ask which societies have offered a better treatment of women and slaves that have not been touched by the culture of the Roman Empire? Should I ask the same question of European colonialism? Perhaps Christianity made a kinder, gentler form of colonial domination that brought smiles and happiness to the world at large?

    Nevertheless, all of this is tangential my previous post. Your holy texts contain morally repugnant passages and they can be found within the most recent part of your holy texts: the New Testament. If you choose not to follow those passages, then why follow other passages that are also morally repugnant? If you get to pick and choose which passages to embrace and which passages to ignore, then what makes your interpretation the proper, “god approved” interpretation? I know plenty of Christians who choose a far more humane interpretation of Christian holy texts than the one you are offering. Why should I respect your interpretation over theirs?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    And that’s a wonderful source you gave there, lemme pull out a few nuggets:

    Of course, the new “out” to avoid facing the truth about the self-destructiveness of this behavior is the claim that all this is because of all the “homophobia” out there, and the lack of government loot being spent on them.

    Insert three paragraphs equating homosexuality with alcoholism (a disease,) smoking (an addiction,) and prostitution (don’t even get me STARTED.)

    Logic, reason and common sense tell us that the same is true of homosexuals, and that whining to the contrary is an attempt to avoid the hard truth about a self-destructive lifestyle.

    That source is as homophobic as you are. Homosexuality is not a disease, it’s something that one is born with. People like you, calling homosexuals “abominations” and telling them they can’t love is evil. When you put your voice behing institutions that say that a loving, monogamous couple can’t get married, you’re perpetrating a hate that is beyond anything. These institutions would advocate telling every homosexual person that “sorry, you can’t live with your chosen love.” They advocate telling a dying person that his mate of fifty years can’t see him because “they’re not actually married.”

    It’s SICK. It’s WRONG. It’s inhuman. You and yours are the abomination.

  • Rich Wilson

    Robert W wants specific examples.
    Note that I’m not making a value judgement on any of this. I’m just saying “you’re not alone”. If you break apart your set of 3 or 4 or whatever criteria, you’ll find other religions that promote the same thing. And you leave out things that are important to other religions.

    My basic point is, if your view of marriage should apply to everyone, then why not a Muslim’s view of how women should dress?

    The truth is that other religions promote real equality of all people.

    Wicca. I know I said ‘religions’ plural, but you’ll find a wide swath of neo-pagan varieties that I would describe this way.

    The truth is other religions promote monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.

    Baha’i, Judaism, I could go on and on with this one.

    The truth is that ALL religions promote sexual morality.

    Actually, I should say all religions promote morality. It’s just that while you might consider it immoral for two men to sexually pleasure each other, a Jain would consider it immoral for you to step on an ant.

  • Robert W.

    Vas,

    Well guess what… I’m not a sinner and have never sinned, never.

    You are, you just don’t recognize it.

    We are not equals Robert, you are a sinner and an anti LGBT bigot. You choose to believe, without any evidence of it’s existence, in a god full of hatred and vengeance. You are a cult member who willfully abdicates reason. You are a member of a hate group that seeks to oppress your fellow human beings.

    Making assumptions about me and my beliefs and judging me not based on any evidence but on the group I belong to makes you a bigot Vas.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    Oh but we are judging you based on the evidence. So far you have shown yourself to be a homophobe, a misogynist, and a self-righteous prat.

  • Vas

    Hey Robert guess what, even if I am a bigot,(and I’m not conceding this) you are still no less a bigot. If I were a pedophile you would still be a bigot, if I were a mass murderer, you would still be a bigot. Besides you have provided all the evidence needed to show you are a bigot. You are like a child caught with a forbidden cookie,who points and says “he has a cookie too”. But in the end you are still holding a cookie.

    You can call me a sinner till you are blue in the face, I’m not a sinner despite your judgment. You can call me a penguin if you like, you can even believe with all your tiny sick heart that I am in fact a penguin, but I’m not. Your imaginary friend can speak to you directly and tell you that I’m a penguin, and guess what… I’m still not a penguin. And I am not a sinner either despite your wanting to take me down a peg.

    At least you have more gumption than Brad who farts and runs away, you seem happy to be a turd in the punch bowl.

    And really who care, your ilk is loosing this fight to oppress LGBT people. Every day brings us closer to victory over our xtian overlords, kick and scream and cry all you want, your goose is cooked no matter how you slice it.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    Oh but we are judging you based on the evidence. So far you have shown yourself to be a homophobe, a misogynist, and a self-righteous prat.

    There is the crux of it. My beliefs are different then yours and that makes me all the things you claim in your eyes. That makes you a bigot. and proves the point that I started with in this post. For all your talk of tolerance and treating people equal, it is just talk when people disagree with you.

    Vas,

    And really who care, your ilk is loosing this fight to oppress LGBT people. Every day brings us closer to victory over our xtian overlords, kick and scream and cry all you want, your goose is cooked no matter how you slice it.

    Vas, Christianity is not defined by the LGBT community nor will it go away even if states ultimately support gay marriage. Our concerns are much larger then this issue alone.

  • Vas

    Looks like Robert want to point out that Kevin has a cookie too, (But Kevin does not have a cookie, he MUST have eaten it already. Guess who is still holding his cookie high for all to see..)

    It matters not who defines xtianity, it doesn’t matter what other issues you have, your still on the loosing side of history on the gay issue.

    And really Robert what makes you so sure I’m a sinner?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    Actually the notion that we are all sinners in need of a Savior is the heart of Christianity. It is not a pretense at all.

    To be honest I don’t even know what “sin” is supposed to be. The dictionary defines it as “an act that is regarded by theologians as a transgression of God’s will”. Given that I don’t believe that gods of any kind exist it is fairly obvious that I can’t have sinned. Just like Vas.

    I actually believe that there is an objective morality that supersedes all current public opinion as to what is moral or immoral.

    Can you point to this “objective morality” so I can see it or produce some evidence that it exists?

    If we go by the standard that something is moral if it does more good then harm, then people could rationalize almost any behavior.

    An odd assertion but feel free to explain it. Here’s one to counter it though. If one believes in an objective and divinely appointed morality then one can use this to rationalize almost any behavior simply by claiming that god commands it. There some stuff about this in the Bible. For example that fellow who was all ready to sacrifice his own son because God commanded it.

    As for what is the harm of engaging in homosexual behavior, take an honest look at that lifestyle and to use your own standard, does that lifestyle cause more harm then good?

    That’s the thing though Robert the gay couples that I know live good, helpful, honest and open lives. They don’t murder, steal or judge others. They care for their children, give to charity and keep themselves pretty much to themselves. Some are even “good Christian” church goers. Perhaps you imagine this “gay lifestyle” as some hedonistic bacchanalia involving anonymous buggery, drug taking and too much sugar. If so then I suggest that you make the effort to meet some real gay people.

    The notion of a standard of monogamous long term relationships among homosexual men is not the norm. There are higher rates of depression, multiple sexual partners, alcoholism, drug use, etc.

    Do they really? I suppose that you have evidence to support his. Actually I’m sure some twisted “Christian” site actually does have evidence that says that gay people are the worst kinds of people. How deviant are these “deviants”? Do they have 10% more partners on average than a cloistered nun or suffer from depression 5% more often than wealthy, middle class, white men? Lets have some figures with verifiable data backing them.

    Actually I live as if I have a responsibility to God and my fellow man.

    Of course you do.

    Actually most folks who have responded to Mr. White have insisted that Christianity change its beliefs.

    Indeed Christianity must shed the negative beliefs but that isn’t to say that it must shed its core beliefs.

    I would think that the growth of the Christian worldwide is more of an indication of what direction it is going.

    Then Christianity belongs to third world Africa. That is where Protestant and Catholic expansion is at its greatest.

  • Robert W.

    Vas,

    And really Robert what makes you so sure I’m a sinner?

    Because all of us are sinners and because some of your behavior exhibited here are sins.

  • Vas

    Ah crap, really I do know the difference between your and you’re, I fight rather nasty dyslexia and sometimes things slip by me despite my best efforts. Please don’t hate on me because of my disability, if you need to hate me I can offer more legit reasons. Sorry for the typo, I’m frankly a bit surprised my brain even let me see that mistake.
    I understand that daring to write something knowing I have dyslexia is an abomination in the eyes of an English major, but please forgive me, you see there is a demon living inside my head that causes this and seeing as I how refuse to repent and change my evil ways this make it my fault. I need some dyslexia conversion therapy, but refuse to get help. So on second thought go ahead and hate me, I deserve your scorn. I can accept your hate and scorn because I know you all love me.

  • Vas

    For crying out loud Robert, that last bit was troll bait, and you took it hook line and sinker. You are a gullible boob. This explains a lot, no wonder you are a xtian. Considering the amount of time you spend trolling on this site I’d have thought you may have recognized troll bait when you saw it. Are you even a real xtian some kind of resident poe?

    I get it we are all sinners, everyone of us. We are all pre-judged as immoral and condemned to burn in hell unless we submit as humble servants to your lord. We were lead into our sin by the vileness that is woman, who defied god on the advice of a talking snake. No wonder xtians work so hard to oppress women, dumb bitches fucked it up for everybody, now instead of being god’s good friends we are reduced to being his groveling servants or facing dire and everlasting consequences. Feel the love baby.
    Nice story right? But guess what… I’m still not a penguin.

    Alright I’m done with posting on this thread, carry on, I’m still reading.
    *facepalm*

  • bernerbits

    promoting a society that allows for sexual promiscuity for men or women

    So, Robert, would you then support the re-criminalization of consensual sex acts between unmarried heterosexual partners?

    Also, something tells me that your definition of “promiscuity” and mine are very different.

  • Vas

    Ah crap one more thing for Hoverfrog.

    “That’s the thing though Robert the gay couples that I know live good, helpful, honest and open lives. They don’t murder, steal or judge others. They care for their children, give to charity and keep themselves pretty much to themselves. Some are even “good Christian” church goers. Perhaps you imagine this “gay lifestyle” as some hedonistic bacchanalia involving anonymous buggery, drug taking and too much sugar. If so then I suggest that you make the effort to meet some real gay people.”

    To be fair I know both kinds of gay people, stable couples who live normal lives and party head sex freak perverts, (I live in L.A.) although I don’t know any who steal or murder, certain queens however can be quite judgmental, (hint for hetros, don’t ware dockers around your gay friends, and no I already knew this but I’ve seen others try to pull it off, epic fail). In any case they are all real gay people. And I do worry about my oversexed friends who play fast and loose with fluids, but not just the gay ones I worry about the heterosexual ones just as much. I’m a hard line sexual deviant myself and I suffer no ill effects from it, I play safe, avoid direct contact with strange wet holes, am fluid bonded to a single person, and still manage to get my boogie way out in the deep end of the pool. In any case I get your point not all, or even most gay people are deviants, Just like not all breeders are straight laced.

    Bacchanalia, huh there’s something you don’t hear everyday.

    This thread is lost, Robert made it about him and it seems Brad is off the hook.

    Sorry for the post script.

    Cheers, Out…

    V

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    There is the crux of it. My beliefs are different then yours and that makes me all the things you claim in your eyes. That makes you a bigot. and proves the point that I started with in this post. For all your talk of tolerance and treating people equal, it is just talk when people disagree with you.

    I have no problem with people whose beliefs are different than my own. If a person comes up to me and says “I’m a Christian,” it doesn’t make me upset. I know lots of Christians. I work with Christians. Heck, most of my family are Christians.

    However, if someone comes up to me and says “I’m a Christian, you’re an abomination and you’re going to burn in eternal fire if you don’t repent,” then yes I’m going to be vocal against them.

    Answer the following question:

    “Should a homosexual couple be allowed to get married?”

    Understand that by “get married” I do not mean Christian “Holy Matrimony” but the civil issue of marriage. NOT civil unions. NOT domestic partnerships. NOT a separate but equal definition of marriage that a heterosexual couple enjoys. I mean the same, exact benefits a heterosexual couple receives by getting married.

    If your answer to this question is “no,” you are a homophobe, because you’re advocating treating people based on sexual preference as less than human.

  • McWaffle

    Shorter Robert W: We could all work together if you guys just compromised and agreed that being gay was a little bit bad. But you can’t concede that point, so you’re exactly as bigoted against Christians as I am against homosexuals.

    Shorter Brad: Clearly the problem here is that our irrational intolerance is rude. Let’s try polite irrational intolerance instead, that’s the ticket.

  • Robert W.

    Vas,

    Actually i was giving you more respect then you apparently deserve and thought your question was a continuation of our conversation. I won’t make that same mistake again.

    Bernerbits,

    So, Robert, would you then support the re-criminalization of consensual sex acts between unmarried heterosexual partners?

    Society can either promote or not promote promiscuous behavior in ways other then through its criminal laws.

    Kevin,

    “Should a homosexual couple be allowed to get married?”

    I don’t support homosexual marriage. I think there are valid reasons why the state should not support it. If you think that makes me a homophobe that is your opinion which i also disagree with.

    ACN,

    I think the Bible as a whole reflects a much different view of how Christians are to treat women and how they are respected then the few passages selected by Timberwaith. Also, taking these passages in the context of the time they were written shows how much of an advancement for women these passages really were.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    I don’t support homosexual marriage. I think there are valid reasons why the state should not support it. If you think that makes me a homophobe that is your opinion which i also disagree with.

    Name these valid reasons.

  • Steve

    Don’t bait him any further. We’ve been through this already.

    And do you honestly need him to tell you? It’s just the usual ridiculous standard “arguments”. Nothing new. Nothing unexpected. You already know what he is going to say.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Steve:

    I’m just curious whether he’s going to be as predictable as the others.

    @Robert W:

    As Steve said – I’m perfectly aware the reasons you’re going to give:

    1) Slippery Slope – Allowing gay marriage will lead to allowing pedophilia-based marriages, incest, bestiality, and polygamy. However, marriage should be between unrelated, consenting adults – no children, no incest, no animals. Polygamy is a different beast altogether.

    2) Procreation – I imagine you do not advocate denying marriage to elderly couples or to couples where they do not want to – or are unable to – have children.

    3) A man and a woman are needed for proper raising of a kid – Bullshit.

  • Rich Wilson

    I think the Bible as a whole reflects a much different view of how Christians are to treat women and how they are respected then the few passages selected by Timberwaith. Also, taking these passages in the context of the time they were written shows how much of an advancement for women these passages really were.

    Treating people as chattel (whether women or slaves) is abhorrent to me. A ‘god’ that at any point condoned such a thing is equally abhorrent. You’re trumpeting how far Christianity has come, and had come for its time. The fact that your God started you off so badly doesn’t say much for your God. IMO your God is either incompetent, evil, or man’s creation. A truly loving god would never have had slavery as an option.

    It’s great that my Christian friends don’t pay any attention to Leviticus. But honestly, as much as I love my Christian friends, following a God that could have inspired something like that is just beyond my comprehension.

  • Rich Wilson

    As Steve said – I’m perfectly aware the reasons you’re going to give:

    4) Clergy will be forced to perform gay marriages against their conscience. Also already debunked several times on this very thread.

    What I don’t get is, if Christianity has progressed to no longer keeping slaves or treating women like chattel, then why haven’t more Christians progressed on the ‘gay’ thing?

  • bernerbits

    Society can either promote or not promote promiscuous behavior in ways other then through its criminal laws.

    Again, for certain values of “promiscuous” – the way Christians use it, it almost seems like a euphemism for “slut” to refer to anyone who has premarital sex… but I digress…

    If you are willing to forgo legislation on other types of sexual behavior that you find deviant, and you truly believe that all sin is sin, why the disconnect when it comes to homosexual behavior?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Rich Wilson:

    Ah yes, forgot about that ridiculous canard.

  • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

    Robert W,
    You may consider yourself to be a better Christian than let’s say the Westboro Baptist folk. You may view them, as we do, as the horrible people they truly are. But despite the difference in tactics, you are unwilling partners in a real-life presentation of “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” Only in this case, instead of being members of the police force, you’re more comparable to an overreactive neighborhood watch program.

    You have failed to provide ANY decent argument against homosexual marriage. Your smoking gun seems to be the insistence that the homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy, which you back up with an obviously slanted article that uses more “sarcastic quotations” than Dennis Miller.

    What harm could homosexuals do to the sanctity of marriage that heterosexuals already haven’t? The divorce rate of Christians is no different than that of any other faith in this country. And yet you lot feel qualified to insist that homosexuals not be given the right to enjoy the same opportunity to succeed or fail as a heterosexual?

    Also, why do xtians always claim that the bible is being “taken out of context” when a really nasty verse is quoted? Timberwaith (who is awesome) quoted many verses above, taken from the New Testament, that are frankly ugly, and you didn’t bother to acknowledge the points she was making, nor deter any reasonable person from accepting her points as valid. At the same time that a word-for-word quote of a nasty scripture is misunderstood, a verse like John 3:16 could never be “taken out of context,” could it? That’s because you are chosing which voice of the bible you’ll listen to, which is the only way to follow the bible in the first place. Why not take it one step further and reconcile your conscience with it all together? Choose to follow only the good things in the bible, the things that make you feel good about being a person. Very good things are in there, but they certainly aren’t everywhere. (note, I’m not acknowleding that I think John 3:16 is a “feel good” verse, but it certainly is part of the foundation of Christianity)

  • Steve

    Also, why do xtians always claim that the bible is being “taken out of context” when a really nasty verse is quoted?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK7P7uZFf5o

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Vas

    Bacchanalia, huh there’s something you don’t hear everyday.

    Would you believe that I’ve been waiting weeks for just the right time to use that word? Well I have. ;)

  • bernerbits

    Rich,

    Treating people as chattel

    Throughout my Christian education, I was always taught that (a) the “slaves” of the Biblical era (not counting the Israelites in Egyptian captivity) were treated as members of the family, with love and respect, and as such biblical slavery was very very different from the slavery previously practiced in the US (which was itself an abomination), and (b) it wasn’t a question of “subservience,” but of “distinct, complimentary roles,” because God in his infinite wisdom knows how humans work best together. Ergo, women and slaves were not property.

    I find those arguments to be a load of bull hockey, but knowing the standard apologetics is half the battle…

    4) Clergy will be forced to perform gay marriages against their conscience. Also already debunked several times on this very thread.

    It sounds very similar to the “Christian pharmacists and doctors are being forced to perform abortions and fill abortion pill prescriptions against their conscience!” argument.

  • Robert W.

    Gentlemen,

    I will let you argue amongst yourself what the secular arguments are to maintain marriage between a man and a woman.

    Rich,

    Where in the Bible does it say that God condones treating people as chattel? It doesn’t. In times of war in the Old Testament people were taken as prisoners, but where does it say that God condones slavery, particularly racial based slavery?

    Jesus didn’t speak out against slavery. He did more. He said that all should be treated equally and that all men are the same. He preached to end racism and hate, which is much better then preaching the end of slavery.

    Paul said that there are no slaves and masters before God, all are the same. Far better then teaching slaves to rise against their masters while at the same time convicting masters to treat their slaves as equals, which would of course include releasing them. The book pf Philemon is a letter asking for mercy on a slave who had stolen from his master and was going back to him knowing the penalty under the law was death.

  • http://cramandballwell.blogspot.com Nate Hays

    So Robert,

    What do you think Jesus would say if you asked him “should gay people have the same rights as straight people by law?” Do you think Jesus would vote for legal discrimination? Do you think Jesus would turn away gay soldiers from the military?

  • DA

    “but where does it say that God condones slavery, particularly racial based slavery?”

    Jesus, have you ever actually READ the Old Testament? Or Paul’s epistles? Probably not, you are a Christian. There’s a large body of rules in the former governing how to do slavery right, and the latter tells slaves to obey their masters. This is just off the top of my head; the last time I studied the bible in any depth was years ago, but I clearly know more about it than you do. That or you’re deliberately dishonest.

    “. He did more. He said that all should be treated equally and that all men are the same.”

    Again, no. Read the stories of the two gentile women who approach him to heal their daughters, and he’s saying something quite a bit different. He certainly never says anything that can be read as against “racism” without some very heavy twisting, though to be fair Saint Paul did.

    The Bible is full of verses condoning slavery, cruelty to women, inequality, and oppression. Whole books can and have been written on this. If you claim it’s about love and equality, you’re ignorant and/or a liar.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Matthew 15:21-28: 21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

    23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

    24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

    25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

    26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.

    27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

    28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    (all verses taken from the NIV translation)

  • Rich Wilson

    Sigh, my long detailed post either got eaten by net gremlins or is held up in moderation because it included two links. I’m too tired to do it all again. Just google for ‘bible slavery’ and while you’re at it, google for ‘bible genocide’.

    Then tell me why the bible should dictate who my friends can marry any more than the koran should dictate what my wife can wear in public.

    I don’t care if you find gay sex icky. Fine. Don’t think about it. But nobody is asking you to marry another man. I’d be surprised if you’d take kindly to Muslims trying to introduce laws to dictate what your mother/wife/daughter can wear in public.

  • Rich Wilson

    Oh I remember, there was this one:

    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    When you ‘give’ a person, or a person ‘belongs’ to you, that’s chattel. The Bible sure isn’t the only place you find it, but if the Bible is the word of God, then

    The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

  • ACN

    I think the Bible as a whole reflects a much different view of how Christians are to treat women and how they are respected then the few passages selected by Timberwaith. Also, taking these passages in the context of the time they were written shows how much of an advancement for women these passages really were.

    OK. If that is true, then why are these parts in it? Even if you can find me twice as many passages that say the explicit opposite of the ones timberwraith found, all we can conclude from that is that the bible contradicts itself. Why would god allow a book communicating his fundamental message to humanity to contain errors and contradictions like that?

    Are the passages that timberwraith quoted god’s opinion on how women should behave and interact with men or aren’t they? If they are, then your god doesn’t seem to support equal rights for men and women at all. He seems to have chosen that men are more important, and that women need to remain subservient due to an absolutely absurd creation myth. If they aren’t god’s opinion, then what are they doing in your holy book?

    Even if we argue that this is a false dichotomy, perhaps they represent some of god’s opinions or only his opinions at a specific point in time, one would reply, what earthly good does omniscience and omnipotence do for him if he can’t figure out things like how we are to treat one another! If the best he could do, with supreme omnipotent power and infinite omniscient forethought, is a book that has some internally inconsistent passages about the role/rights of women in his one true religion, he isn’t much of a god.

  • Jane Smith

    Brad’s problem is that he wants it both ways. He endorses a traditional version of Christianity and yet he wants to distance himself from this version and he wants atheists and non-believers to see him in the light of that distancing.

    To be blunt, he needs to make up his mind.

    I’d like to look at the last word Brad mentions: sheltered. In my opinion, this is the root of their judgementalism, anti-gay, anti-choice attitudes. With rare exceptions, the Christians I’ve met are just that: sheltered, nuclear-family types. They rarely pick up a serious theology book and they certainly do not make a point of inviting criticism. The world “out there” is a bad, ugly place they’re trying to protect their children from and many of them choose home schooling, which further isolates them.

    Of course, there are exceptions, but it is these types who dominate Christianity and churches.

    If Brad wants to change Christianity, he needs to work hard to get it out of the clutches of this smug bunch.

    Since he’s asked for our advice, here’s mine: get in contact with a progressive, inclusive church run by and for educated people who really do take science and religious pluralism seriously. And read. Read books by Dawkins, by Spong, by Dennett, by Karen Armstrong. Read books by ex-Christians and books defending atheism.

    Then go away and think about it.

  • Robert W.

    Nate,

    What do you think Jesus would say if you asked him “should gay people have the same rights as straight people by law?” Do you think Jesus would vote for legal discrimination? Do you think Jesus would turn away gay soldiers from the military?

    I think Jesus would do today what he did 2000 years ago and leave the government issues to the government. His concern was to show people the way to eternal salvation and preach an overall encompassing message of love.

    DA,

    I have and continue to read the Bible and study it regularly. You are simply wrong if you think that the bible condones treating people like chattel or racism. And it is true that slavery in those times was far different then the racial slavery experienced later. It was a form of repaying debts.

    What Jesus did say was that the greatest command was to love your neighbor as yourself Mark 12:31. How is that not a statement against racism?

    Timberwaith,

    Jesus came to be the Messiah to save the whole world. However, He came through the Jewish race and fulfilled Jewish Messianic prophecy. The acceptance or rejection of the Messiah began with the Jewish people. The Children in this verse is the Nation of Israel. They must verse be offered the savior (the “food”) before it is offered to other nations (the “dogs”). To take this verse as a statement that Jesus was racist is not a correct interpretation.
    Did you see the last verse that you quoted- Because of their faith their daughter was healed. Jesus didn’t say, because you are a Gentile I will not heal your daughters.

    Rich,

    See Lev. 25:39- “if one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released.

    See also Ex. 21:16- Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

    This passage clearly prohibits slave trading.

    ACN,

    I don’t believe that there is any contradiction at all. Specific instances of how people are to conduct themselves in worship services does not contradict the overall theme that women are to be respected and that there is no difference between men and women before the Lord (Gal. 3:28). In fact some of the most profound events in the Bible are through women- the women who discovered and report the empty tomb, Pricilla in Acts, Mary as the mother of Christ, Ruth and Esther from the old Testament, etc…

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    What Jesus did say was that the greatest command was to love your neighbor as yourself Mark 12:31. How is that not a statement against racism?

    You certainly don’t love your neighbor. If your neighbor was gay, would you accept them and their ways or tell them “the Bible says you’re an abomination.”

    You can’t have it both ways, my friend. Lots of Christians say they love people while spitting in their faces.

    My family’s church had a policy (and this was largely why I left it) that you could be homosexual and still be in the fold. But you couldn’t be open. You couldn’t have a relationship. If you were found to be in a relationship they would kick you out of the church until you left that relationship.

    How is that love? How is telling someone “you can belong to us, but you’ve gotta die alone and miserable” love?

    Christians like that flounce around with this smug sense of moral superiority, denying basic humanity to people and still claiming that their religion is love. It’s a disconnect from reality, the kind of idiotic doublespeak that I don’t know how I used to have. You talk love and acceptance and being good to one another while preserving an air of bigotry and misogyny.

    How can you live with such a dichotomy of ideas? That would drive me crazy!

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    This is a post by one of the commenters on Pharyngula:

    Have you ever heard the saying “Love isn’t what you say, it’s what you do”? Hate doesn’t only mean feeling angry or hostile towards someone. Actively doing something that you know will hurt someone is hatred, too, no matter how you “feel” about it. Voting to deny gay marriage knowing that will mean people will die alone, with their partners begging futilely at the door to be let in, is hate. Telling your children that atheists are immoral people, knowing that means they’ll never be able to trust innumerable people they’ll meet in their lives, is hate. Harassing a teenager who is headed in the doors at Planned Parenthood, no matter what the reason, is hate. Teaching parishioners that they alone know the way to God, and that everyone else needs to be brought to their way of thinking by coercion or by force, is hate. The actions of Christians spread a lot of hate around, no matter how much they feel they love people.

    I think that sums up my feelings on this matter very well.

  • ACN

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35: 34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    Ephesians 5:22-24: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    1 Timothy 2:11-15: 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    I don’t understand how you can deny that there is a contradiction. Women are ordered to keep silent in services. They can’t ask questions, they have to be taught by their husbands at home. By contrast, nothing is said about men who speak up and ask questions.

    Women are told that they must submit to the authority of their husbands. If we continue the excerpt from Ephesians, husbands are told that they must love their wives as god loves the church. This is not the basis for an equal partnership.

    In the last piece we’re told women can’t teach or be in authority over men. Her plight is blamed on the fact that Eve (who never existed) was deceived by the snake but Adam wasn’t. A curious bit of misogynistic revisionist history considering Adam (who also never existed) was said to have been deceived into eating the fruit also.

  • Rich Wilson

    This passage clearly prohibits slave trading.

    Thanks Robert W, you’ve just made the point better than I ever could. You are cherry picking the parts of the Bible that you like, and ignoring or rationalizing the rest. What astounds me is how you can do that with the treatment of women and slaves and genocide and infanticide and shrimp eating, but not with gay people.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    I don’t have a problem with loving people and not agreeing to tolerate all their behavior. I have children and I love them even if they engage in behavior that I object to. For example, my daughter is currently living with her boyfriend. I don’t like that behavior and have counseled her that I think it is a mistake but I don’t love her any less. In fat i love her enough to counsel her against making what I view to be a destructive choice.

    If I am going to become a Christian responsible behavior requirements are part of that decision. Those include all sorts of behavior including not committing adultery for example.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Rich Wilson:

    Well, to be fair. Almost all Christians follow a sort of “à la carte” religion. The parts that are difficult to agree with – oh those are just metaphors or parables, you’re ignoring the context.

    It baffles me.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    You just don’t get it. Homosexuality is not what you do, it’s who you are!

    I can see being morally against something like adultery or murder. I can even understand – although I don’t agree with it – why people are morally against sex without being married or abortion. These are activities that are performed, can be stopped, and can be seen to hurt someone.

    Being gay is not the same thing. Weird psychology aside, you’re not born being a murderer or adulterer. You are born gay. The culture we live in paints homosexuality as an abominable act. Families are torn apart because people don’t accept their gay children. You can’t stop being gay.

    It’s the equivalent of hating someone and calling them an abomination because they’ve got red hair. It’s… irrational, it’s mean-spirited, and I can’t understand how someone could think it’s an example of love.

  • Robert W.

    ACN,

    Women are told that they must submit to the authority of their husbands. If we continue the excerpt from Ephesians, husbands are told that they must love their wives as god loves the church. This is not the basis for an equal partnership.

    You are right it isn’t equal. Women are given an easier task then their husbands. The love that God has for his church is a completely sacrificial love, loving her as much as he loves himself and to the point giving up his life for her. She is not asked to do the same.

    Rich,

    Thanks Robert W, you’ve just made the point better than I ever could. You are cherry picking the parts of the Bible that you like, and ignoring or rationalizing the rest. What astounds me is how you can do that with the treatment of women and slaves and genocide and infanticide and shrimp eating, but not with gay people.

    It is not cherry picking, it is interpreting the Bible in harmony with the context of the passages, the culture and the overall theme being presented.

    Where in the Bible does it say that God condones homosexual behavior?

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    It is not cherry picking, it is interpreting the Bible in harmony with the context of the passages, the culture and the overall theme being presented.

    Under what context could commendation of genocide, infanticide, misogyny, homophobia, slavery, and so forth be appropriate?! Your god is supposed to be an all-powerful, loving being. Why is he allowed to get away with such barbarism?

  • ACN

    You are right it isn’t equal. Women are given an easier task then their husbands. The love that God has for his church is a completely sacrificial love, loving her as much as he loves himself and to the point giving up his life for her. She is not asked to do the same.

    I’m not sure how to respond to that. On the one hand, you’re making my point for me that god doesn’t see men and women as equals.

    On the other, poor babies. God made males the one in a position of power and they just have it sooooooo hard.

    I am not a lady, but if I were, and a male said something like that to me, that he has it so much harder than me because all god has commanded me to do is submit to him, but god has told him he has this huge responsibility of sacrificial love that I don’t have. And that this division of responsibilities was due to the fact that the first woman was deceived by a snake and the first male wasn’t. I would tell him exactly where he can put his god.

  • bigjohn756

    As I read Brad’s responses I kept hearing Barney singing in the back of my mind. OTOH, if he does bring some Christians to their senses regarding the subjects discussed then that would be great.

  • Rich Wilson

    It is not cherry picking, it is interpreting the Bible in harmony with the context of the passages, the culture and the overall theme being presented.

    Where in the Bible does it say that God condones homosexual behavior?

    LOL.

    the culture BINGO! God tempers rules to fit the culture. It’s man wagging the book, not the book wagging man.

    And you still haven’t told use where in the Bible it says that God condones eating shrimp.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Rich Wilson:

    (*cough*Acts 10*cough*)

  • Robert W.

    ACN,

    Where did I say that I feel bad for men because of the responsibility placed on them by God? My point was simply that some women think these passages show that God is sexist when the responsibilities he places on men shows that God places a more submissive responsibility on men then he does women.

    Rich,

    The rules for kosher food still apply to Jewish people. They have never applied to Gentiles. So I don’t get your point.

    Acts 10 is an illustration of that. The vision that Peter had about being told to eat un-kosher food was a message to make him ready to accept the conversion of Cornelius, who was a Gentile. It was a message to open the message of the Savior to those beyond the Jewish race. The vision uses kosher food to show the distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles.

    I don’t see why you think that interpreting the Bible according to the culture in which it was written is wrong. It provides the cultural context of the issues the people were dealing with and the words they would use. Frankly, people who try to say that the Bible supports homosexual behavior use the culture of male prostitutes in Greece to justify the passages that call this behavior a sin.

  • ACN

    How is your god not being sexist???
    Those passages create a strict hierarchy. Women have to submit to men. Men aren’t called to submit to women. That is the definition of a hierarchical relationship. Sure he requires men to submit to him, but he is god and presumably everyone is obligated to submit him. Women get the additional fun of submitting to the men he has put in charge of them on earth.

  • Rich Wilson

    I don’t see why you think that interpreting the Bible according to the culture in which it was written is wrong.

    There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m glad you do it that way. I just wish you’d do it a little bit more.

  • TRUTHOVERfaith

    @Robert W

    You need to read The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark. He completely destroys the nonsense you’re spewing about slavery in the Bible only being a method of repayment through work and not being racially based.He addresses a lot of the other garbage you’re regurgitating in your posts here also.

    Oh, and Stark is a Christian, by the way.

  • Magnetic Dave

    “Men speak to Men…and everything is ok. Women speak to women and everything is ok. When Men speak to women, WE speak as if we are talking to a man, and the women hears us as if they are talking to a women. It fails. Then we sleep on the couch!”

    So this should mean that long term gay relationships never have the same kind of communication issues that long term heterosexual relationships have, right? Got any evidence for that? (Hint – you might be talking rubbish)

  • http://friendlyathiest.com mando1213e

    Let’s straight talk. Brad White and his organization are NOT Christian. There is no such thing as a little Christian, so we can’t even say that they’re that. They are deceivers that believe themselves to be more intelligent than you (reader). They think they’re smooth enough to choose their words so carefully so as to make you swallow the lies that you never thought you would. Don’t be afraid to call them what they are: Wolves in sheep’s clothing/Satan disguised as an angel of light. The face of Christianity does need to change, but not to what they propose. Diplomacy and concessions in no way, shape or form equate to God’s Love. Leave me a comment. I will be happy to discuss issues with you online Brad for all your visitors to see. Are you up for it? I whole heartedly believe that any true Christian would be up for it. And if you’re wondering who I am, I am a true Christian.

  • http://friendlyathiest.com mando1213e

    Sorry, I read the Brad White interview and thought this was his website. It’s obviously my first time here. I guess I’ll track him down on his own site and address him there.
    After reading many of the posts on this site, I sincerely want to apologize for all “Christians” that are clueless which is probably most of them. God himself actually doesn’t like many “Christians.” He will tell them basically to take a hike when they stand before Him. He will say that He never knew them. Obviously that means that they never knew Him either.
    I am a true Christian. I don’t mean to imply that I wouldn’t offend you, because I probably would. I wouldn’t do it purposely though. It’s just that God’s nature is like the rain, refreshing some and simply getting others all wet.
    If anyone would like to discuss true Chistianity with an open mind, leave a comment.

  • Rich Wilson

    Sorry mando1213e, but I already got the scoop on true Christianity from Fred Phelps.
    Thanks though!

  • ACN

    Agreed.


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