Can You Believe Acting on Homosexuality is a Sin Without Being a Bigot?

At Rachel Held Evans‘ site, gay Christian Justin Lee answers readers’ questions.

This one in particular stood out to me:

From Karl: Is it possible in your view for someone to disagree with you – to believe that the Bible consistently teaches sexual activity is intended for heterosexual marriage only – and for that person to not be a bigot, homophobe, motivated by ignorance or fear?

Absolutely! Some of my best friends disagree with me on this issue. I recognize that we are all fallible human beings, which means that either (or both) of us could be wrong, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t sincerely trying to seek the truth.

There are bigots who use religious language to justify their hatred, but that doesn’t mean that anyone who has a view I disagree with is a bigot. There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely want to be able to give their blessing to their gay friends’ relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids those relationships. I absolutely respect that.

That’s all.

Discuss.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Mmm… disagree. The very act of believing in the Bible makes one ignorant, and the beliefs therein are bigoted, homophobic and motivated by fear.

    • http://twitter.com/Ossurynot Tony Russo

      That’s kind of my gut reaction. I feel like “bigoted” is too tied to “hatred.” You can be bigoted without hating. Bigotry has to do with not accepting evidence that doesn’t conform to what you have already decided is true. 
      If you are single-sourcing your opinion on anything, you’re likely a bigot. 
      I am bigoted against the Yankees. I was raised that way and no matter how hard I try I can’t get over my core belief that they are evil. I even have tons of “evidence” to support the “fact” that they are evil, but I’ve never tried too hard to challenge that belief because I’m so sure of it.

      • Anonymous

        Colloquially yes. But, strictly it means being completely intolerant of any other belief or opinion. That doesn’t necessarily have to be hate-based

  • Naomi

    I think I agree that one who believes homosexuality is sinful need not be bigoted, but they are absolutely motivated by ignorance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    Is Fred Phelps bigoted? Why would he not get the same free pass by this definition?

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

    Is this any different from saying, “The Bible says slavery is okay, therefore I support slavery?”

    I really can’t see how.

    • guest

      Or, even more specifically, “The Bible says slavery is Ok, and some of my Bible-believing friends believe this and condone slavery because of this sincere belief. I absolutely respect that.”

      I strongly and profoundly disagree with Justin Lee.  I absolutely do not “respect” the “right” of Bible-believers to say that anything is true for everyone based upon their holy book.  Furthermore, social pressure to continue according “respect” to Bible -based (or other “holy” book-based) beliefs has been the well-worn road to oppressive laws and cultural policies which have caused untold misery, persecution and death for thousands of years.  The only way we will ever be free of this particular form of   vicious inhumanity is to cease giving religion undeserved “respect” and to work tirelessly to expose its evil and manipulative purpose as a force in cultures around the world.

      I try to have compassion for those deluded and lost people who are ignorant of the ultimate goals of religion but are enmeshed in the twisted psychological traps of belief, but I will never respect the views they hold.

  • gski

    Webster’s definition of bigot sites your regard for others not the reason for your regard.  Using the bible as an excuse does not exclude one from being a bigot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adrian-Chester/682538320 Adrian Chester

      I agree. If I would be called out for saying I don’t like gay people, would the people I work with, socialise with, study with etc suddenly forgive me of my opinion because I say I the holy book I follow backs me up? 

      • TheBlackCat

        In many cases yes, unfortunately.  I think it is wrong, but people get away with far worse than that by calling it a religious belief.

  • Greg

    This may make me unpopular, but I agree. Nothing about disagreeing over same sex marriage, or even same sex relationships, means you are automatically intolerant of other people’s opinions – it just means you disagree with them. Are liberals bigoted towards conservatives, and vice-versa? Of course not – but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight for the things they believe in. (If people try to tell me being gay isn’t a choice, whereas politics is, then you’ve missed the point. I’ve yet to come across a single anti-gay that believes being gay isn’t a choice. They’re mistaken, not (automatically) bigoted.)

    Is a Christian who is against same-sex marriage only because it says so in the Bible and they believe the Bible is the ‘Word of God’, even if they themselves see no other reason to be against it, a ‘bigot’? 

    Don’t get me wrong, I think a huge amount of Bible based anti-gays are bigoted. I’m also completely pro gay marriage/sex etc.. Just so that’s clear.

    I just feel that – especially in the internet’s ‘liberal’ population (which I arguably consider myself one of) – words like ‘bigot’ are thrown around without any real thought. They’re often used as an ad hominem, by people who clearly don’t have much interest in a civilised conversation. What this means is the word is fast becoming meaningless – the raging neo-nazi is called a bigot… but so is the sweet little old man/lady who gets confused on the subject, so believes what their religious leader tells them.

    • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

      They’re mistaken, not (automatically) bigoted.

      But the fact that they refuse to listen to all the gay people telling them otherwise does make them bigoted.

      • Greg

        How do you know they are refusing to listen?

        They may just not agree.

        That’s a little like saying atheists are bigoted because they don’t agree with all the arguments theists make.

        The simple act of being wrong does not make you a bigot.

        Incidentally, if someone was born bi-sexual, I could very easily see how they might consider being gay a choice, and find it hard to believe homosexuals OR heterosexuals who say otherwise..

        • Anonymous

          First, I’m not sure what believing sexual orientation to be choice has to do with anything.

          Second, I think bisexual people tend to have more difficulty convincing others that their orientation exists at all (there’s even a Wikipedia article on it–look up “bisexual erasure”).

          Third, no one is calling anyone bigoted because they disagree with them. It is the nature of the disagreement that makes someone bigoted. If they disagree that homosexual relationships are normal, natural, and morally neutral, then they are bigots. If they disagree that skin colour or ethnicity have no bearing on a person’s worth and dignity as a human being, they are bigots. If they disagree that women are full persons not subject to the authority of men, they are bigots. The fact that the bible supports all of these bigoted notions is irrelevant.

          • Greg

            Er – I had posted a reply to this, but for some reason it seems to have been deleted. Suffice to say, you don’t seem to have understood what I was saying.

            1) The choice aspect was simply to pre-empt a possible complaint about my analogy with political views.

            2) I’m not sure what this has to do with anything I wrote. The only time I mentioned bisexuality was as regards a way somebody might believe that sexual orientation is a choice – i.e. if you are bisexual, you might believe that you have the ‘choice’ to be attracted to people of either sex.

            3) You seem to be using a different definition of ‘bigot’ to any person (or dictionary) I have ever known. A bigot is 

            a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp on religion, politics, or race

            (Courtesy of thefreedictionary.com)

            The nature of the disagreement has nothing to do with whether or not someone is bigoted, rather it is their intolerance of any opposing viewpoint that does that.

            • Greg

              Just to clarify 2, seeing as you didn’t seem to get what I was saying the first time – when I talk about being ‘bisexual’, I mean being, rather than identifying as. I’m talking about the kind of person who has been indoctrinated into hating homosexuality, and therefore tries to deny the part of themselves that finds their own sex attractive.

              Incidentally, I got the impression that you’re treating me as if you think I am anti-gay. I thought I made it clear in my initial post that I am not. If not, let’s hope I have now. 

              • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

                Speaking as a bisexual, I don’t think I could ever call it a choice which sex I’m attracted to. It’s not. But I could see someone who hated that they’re bi assuming that everyone has such attractions, and therefore it must be a choice what you do about it.

        • Coyotenose

          The only existing evidence on the subject of choice is the statements of gay people, who universally say that their sexuality is not a choice, and biology, which supports that position through study of brainwave patterns and epigenetics.

          These people choose to ignore that evidence.

          Holding a negative opinion of a group despite evidence is bigotry.

          Bigots aren’t consciously bigoted; they’re ALL mistaken. Theists don’t present any evidence for their case. There isn’t a group of theists with evidence, whom atheists overlook in order to maintain their bigotry. Saying “Christians don’t actually care about anyone different from them” and intending it as an actual blanket statement rather than rhetorical shorthand would be bigotry.

          It’s possible to believe oneself doing good and at the same time to be bigoted. See “The White Man’s Burden.”

          • Rich Wilson

            the statements of gay people, who universally say that their sexuality is not a choice

            It’s not quite universal, but it’s pretty overwhelming.  And of course there’s the statements of straight people who overwhelmingly say their sexuality is not a choice.

            Kinda hard for Option A to be a choice but Option B not be a choice.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Dude, I AM bisexual, and it’s STILL NOT A CHOICE. I didn’t choose to fall in love with my partner, it just… happened. I could just as easily have fallen in love with a woman.

        • Anonymous

          That’s a little like saying atheists are bigoted because they don’t agree with all the arguments theists make.

          It’s so funny you say this…..because I’ve recently interacted with a ‘person of faith’ on amazon.com who is a great slayer-of-homophobic-dragons ~ but who also thinks that atheism is “just another prejudice” and that atheism is, inherently, an “attack” on most of the world’s population……

          And he’s constantly asserting that atheism is like homophobia ~ why?  because atheists don’t believe the experiences of believers, just like homophobes don’t believe the experience of gay people (as in ‘it’s not a choice’)

          He apparently can’t differentiate between a gay person saying “this is my experience” and a believer saying “this is my experience, and therefore God exists“.

  • Kris King

    I’d have said that regarding homosexuality is sinful is, by definition, bigoted.  When you label something “sinful” you are saying that it is wrong by your standards – anything that is “wrong” by your standards must inherently be inferior.  Therefore, if sin = wrong = inferior, and homosexuality = sin, homosexuals = sinners = inferior = bigotry.

    • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

      I agree with 99% of what you’ve said; however, if I put on my Christian-hat, I would probably have said something to the effect that “sin” doesn’t equal “inferiority” – we are all born sinners, and God sees any and all sin equally repugnant in his eyes (now, mind you, there are several scriptural bits that contradict the idea of “equal” sin, but I was never taught them since it directly conflicted with the idea of sin equality).

      That’s all just to say that not ALL Christians make the conscious jump between seeing people who they view as sinners as “inferior”, although I think you could powerfully make the case that Christianity views ALL human beings as inferior, if they believe in original sin.

      • guest

        I think that is true (Xians see all humans as “inferior” in some sense),  but it is more a belief that is nurtured in “followers” to keep them feeling inferior so that the leadership can continue to reap the benefits of power and riches that they gain from this sick belief system.
        Also, you can believe you were born a sinner.  It is your right to demean yourself and others in that way, as long as you cannot force others to accept that self-hating assessment for themselves.  For the record,  I am not a “sinner”.  I was born pure and innocent and full of human potential and I remain a human being doing the best I can in this life.

      • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

        No, but homophobic Christians group homosexuals as people who willingly and in flagrant disregard for God’s will choose a lifestyle wherein they live in a perpetual state of sin. “We’re all sinners” implies that you (not my heathen ass) have to try not to be a sinner and choosing a lifestyle that either requires or is defined by a sin is inferior to at least trying to avoid it.

    • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

      Let me just try out your reasoning here for a second:

      “anything that is “wrong” by your standards must inherently be inferior.”  Therefore, if Christian belief = wrong = inferior, Christians = wrong = inferior = bigotry.

      Or am I missing something?

      • Rich Wilson

        There’s ‘wrong’ incorrect and ‘wrong’ sinful.  I think the tenets of Christianity (virgin birth, resurrection etc) are ‘wrong’ in that they are incorrect.  I don’t think they are ‘wrong’ in that they are inherently sinful or evil or bad.

        If  someone says “all practicing Christians are sinful” then yes, that’s bigoted.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      Ok, so let me try this out. I think that murder is wrong. So those who commit murder are inherently inferior. Does this make me a bigot against serial killers?

      How tax evaders? Libertarians? Anyone who believes faith is a virtue?

      By your definition, it would seem that everyone is a bigot.  

  • Anonymous

    The problem is that bigotry tends to be driven by ignorance, even the wilful ignorance of believing an old book of dubious sources, rewrites and re-interpretation. We all know that it is common practice to project bigotry and hatred but claim innocence whilst blaming a religious tome.

    Learning from the holy book is like learning from Wikipedia, any nutter could have written it.

    • Anonymous

      Worse. At least Wikipedia authors are encouraged to sign their edits. And nowhere in the bible does it say [citation needed].

  • Anonymous

    Does the fact of opposing the legality of interracial marriage make you racist?

    I suppose, stretching your imagination to the limit, you could imagine a situation where someone could oppose interracial relationships, including their legal recognition, and not be a racist. However you’d be safer assuming that person really does hold racist views.

    Here’s another question. Does opposing the legality of burglary make you prejudiced against robbers?

    Most people, after looking at you funny for the silly question, would answer “Of course!”. People have no problem admitting a distaste for robbery and fully support any and all efforts to repress what they see as a harmful activity. If you really see homosexuality as a “sin”, a destructive behavior, then you should not hesitate when answering the same question. No one stops to think “Oh gee, if I say that I think robbery has to be stopped, robbers might think I hate and/or fear them”, because even Christians who genuinely believe that robbery is just another sin and that people can be redeemed understand that open disapproval is completely appropriate.

    So why is it different with being gay? If homosexuality is a sin like stealing, why then do
    Christians go to such pains to say that even as they want to treat people’s sexual orientation as a sinful choice (and deny any legal recognition of them) that in no way means they are prejudiced against them? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s a bit of cognitive dissonance. They are mandated by their religion to treat gays like robbers. However decent people fundamentally realize that being gay causes no external harm and rebel internally at the idea of hating someone who has done them no wrong. So they try to have it both ways, opposing the core of an entire group fo humans while simultanteously not hating them. They dislike the accusation of homophobia because, unlike the dislike of robbers, they sense internally that disliking homosexuals is wrong.

    Their fundamental human sense of right and wrong is coming up against religious dogma and it makes them very uncomfortable. Good. I hope they are extremely uncomfortable. Nothing could approach the agony of a woman dying in a hospital bed while her partner and children are denied any access to her, partly because of people who thought they could deny her the most basic civil rights and still call themselves loving, but its a start. Hopefully that discomfort grows, and like “Oh I don’t hate the coloreds, I just think everyone should stick to their own” whites before them, they abandon their harmful beliefs for the benefit of all.

  • Austin Cline

    Both the question and answer conflate behavior with sexual orientation. You can disagree with a heterosexual couple living together and having sex outside of marriage without being a bigot. Ditto if the couple is gay.

    However, treating homosexuality itself – physical, emotional, psychological attraction to the same sex – as an ‘abomination’ is another matter entirely. And that is where the real crux of the debate is, isn’t it? It’s not about merely “disagreeing” with some behavior, but about condemning something essential about the person.

    So the question is whether condemning that attraction is necessarily bigoted or not. Yeah, it probably is. Would Justin Lee “respect” the viewpoint of Christians who thought that the Bible condemned interracial relationships? I hope not. But those Christians were/are just as sincere.

    Bigotry doesn’t cease to be bigotry just because there is a sincere religious belief behind it. A bigot doesn’t cease to be a bigot just because they are fallible or seeking the truth.

    • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

      You can disagree with a heterosexual couple living together and having sex outside of marriage without being a bigot.

      Can you, though? This seems to be at odds with what you say here:

      Would Justin Lee “respect” the viewpoint of Christians who thought that the Bible condemned interracial relationships?

      Can you really disagree with a mixed race couple living together without being a racist?

      • Greg

        Can you really disagree with a mixed race couple living together without being a racist?

        That’s an interesting one. Note: none of the following is true.
        Suppose for a moment that ‘interracial’ sex caused horrible birth defects in a child, which caused immense suffering. Would a person be a racist for opposing interracial couples on those grounds?

        Now, obviously, as I said, it doesn’t.

        Suppose, however, that someone has been convinced that it is the case by a very skilled manipulator. So skilled was the manipulation, that you are unable to convince them otherwise – not because they aren’t giving your arguments a fair hearing, but rather because they have been utterly deluded by someone else. Is that person a racist?

        You might want to call it a contrived analogy, but the reason it is contrived is to give an example where you can feel sympathetic to the accused racist. I guess what I am asking is, do the:

        a) Truth value of the claim.
        b) Reasons behind the belief
        c) Openness to other arguments despite not being convinced

        Have any bearing on whether someone is a racist/bigot/etc. or not.

        For me they do.

        • Yakamoz

          No, they don’t, and here’s why.

          Suppose for a moment that ‘interracial’ sex atheism caused horrible birth
          defects in a child
          foolish, dark hearts [Romans 1:21], which caused immense suffering in hell. Would a person be a
          racist bigot for opposing interracial couples atheist organizations on those grounds?

          Now, obviously, as I said, it doesn’t.

          Suppose, however,
          that someone has been convinced that it is the case by a very skilled
          manipulator. So skilled was the manipulation, that you are unable to
          convince them otherwise – not because they aren’t giving your arguments a
          fair hearing, but rather because they have been utterly deluded by
          someone else. Is that person a racist bigot?

          Clearly, the answer is a resounding, YES.  It doesn’t matter why or how they came to their bigoted beliefs.  It takes a pre-existing level of ambient bigotry to not be able to analyze the lies being presented about an entire group of people and think critically.

          A)Truth value of the claim: Yes, this matters.  Part of being a bigot is that your views are unjustified and untrue – that they are a prejudice.
          B)Reasons behind the belief: “I was lied to” is an explanation of bigotry, but it does not change the fact of your bigotry – especially if you are unwilling to admit you were lied to (and thus to change your views and abandon the bigotry).
          C)Willingness to change your views: The third quality of being a bigot is that you are obstinate – that you are unwilling to change your views.

          So yes, your hypothetical person is a flaming bigot.

          • Greg

            Your answers to my three propositions don’t do what you seem to think they do.

            A) Then this means that by automatically assuming that any anti-gay person is a bigot, you are the one being close minded, and unwilling to change your views. Ironic.

            B) Your reply doesn’t really address the subject. You seem to be saying that it’s bigotry because it is bigotry.

            Anyway to further explain my point, it may be that the reason they hold this view is that people who have tried to convince them otherwise have been really shitty debaters, and have facts wrong themselves. It may be that they haven’t ever come across counter arguments before. Either case should disqualify them from being a bigot because genuine ignorance (as opposed to wilful ignorance) is not equivalent to bigotry. That’s why I say that the reasons behind their belief matter.

            C) Precisely, that’s my point. If they are willing to change their views, then they aren’t a bigot. Hence, it is possible to hold anti-X views without being a bigot. Glad to see you agree. What exactly is your problem, then?

            Incidentally, your attempt to appeal to emotion by changing my example to one about atheists doesn’t impress me for two reasons.

            1) I am able to immediately identify it as a fallacy.

            2) The reasoning within the argument doesn’t change one iota. (If, for example, atheism truly did cause eternal torment in hell fire, they’d be pretty horrible people not to try to stop that happening, not bigots. Obviously, however, it isn’t true, but if they truly believe that it is, despite its obvious flaws, then they are still not bigots as long as they are open to counter arguments, even if they aren’t eventually persuaded.)

            (Plus, I was taking another person’s claim that there was no non-bigoted way of being anti mixed race couples and running with it. What was the point of changing it?)

            Just in case it isn’t absolutely clear by now, I am not anti gay/mixed race/etc. Probably the best way to describe my outlook would be pro-equality.

            However, I also do not like throwing incredibly powerful, loaded, words (like ‘bigot’) without much thought.

            • Yakamoz

              A) Nope.  All anti-gay people have incorrect views.  All bigots have incorrect views.  Does it follow that I said all gay people are bigots? No.  If you’re still confused, draw a Venn Diagram.

              B. No. I’m saying that if you broke your leg, it doesn’t matter whether you did it falling off a roof or being hit by a car. Your leg is still broken. 

              C.  So we agree. Are you going to retract your unjustified insult in A)?

              My ‘problem’ is that your hypothetical person was unwilling to change their views on accounta being deluded.   QE-fucking-D.

              1)Oh, and which fallacy is it? The fact that it has more emotional resonance does not actually make it logically fallacious.

              It’s one thing to be against throwing around words without much thought. But as someone who actually bothered to look up the definition of the word, I have no problem using a word accurately, even if the people its applied to don’t like it.

              Yakamoz

              • Post Hoc Ergo Cheese

                Obviously in A), I meant ‘anti-gay’ where I said ‘gay.’

        • Yakamoz

          No, they don’t, and here’s why.

          Suppose for a moment that ‘interracial’ sex atheism caused horrible birth
          defects in a child
          foolish, dark hearts [Romans 1:21], which caused immense suffering in hell. Would a person be a
          racist bigot for opposing interracial couples atheist organizations on those grounds?

          Now, obviously, as I said, it doesn’t.

          Suppose, however,
          that someone has been convinced that it is the case by a very skilled
          manipulator. So skilled was the manipulation, that you are unable to
          convince them otherwise – not because they aren’t giving your arguments a
          fair hearing, but rather because they have been utterly deluded by
          someone else. Is that person a racist bigot?

          Clearly, the answer is a resounding, YES.  It doesn’t matter why or how they came to their bigoted beliefs.  It takes a pre-existing level of ambient bigotry to not be able to analyze the lies being presented about an entire group of people and think critically.

          A)Truth value of the claim: Yes, this matters.  Part of being a bigot is that your views are unjustified and untrue – that they are a prejudice.
          B)Reasons behind the belief: “I was lied to” is an explanation of bigotry, but it does not change the fact of your bigotry – especially if you are unwilling to admit you were lied to (and thus to change your views and abandon the bigotry).
          C)Willingness to change your views: The third quality of being a bigot is that you are obstinate – that you are unwilling to change your views.

          So yes, your hypothetical person is a flaming bigot.

        • Yakamoz

          No, they don’t, and here’s why.

          Suppose for a moment that ‘interracial’ sex atheism caused horrible birth
          defects in a child
          foolish, dark hearts [Romans 1:21], which caused immense suffering in hell. Would a person be a
          racist bigot for opposing interracial couples atheist organizations on those grounds?

          Now, obviously, as I said, it doesn’t.

          Suppose, however,
          that someone has been convinced that it is the case by a very skilled
          manipulator. So skilled was the manipulation, that you are unable to
          convince them otherwise – not because they aren’t giving your arguments a
          fair hearing, but rather because they have been utterly deluded by
          someone else. Is that person a racist bigot?

          Clearly, the answer is a resounding, YES.  It doesn’t matter why or how they came to their bigoted beliefs.  It takes a pre-existing level of ambient bigotry to not be able to analyze the lies being presented about an entire group of people and think critically.

          A)Truth value of the claim: Yes, this matters.  Part of being a bigot is that your views are unjustified and untrue – that they are a prejudice.
          B)Reasons behind the belief: “I was lied to” is an explanation of bigotry, but it does not change the fact of your bigotry – especially if you are unwilling to admit you were lied to (and thus to change your views and abandon the bigotry).
          C)Willingness to change your views: The third quality of being a bigot is that you are obstinate – that you are unwilling to change your views.

          So yes, your hypothetical person is a flaming bigot.

  • George Wiman

    The core of bigotry is unfounded judgment based on group membership.  You don’t have to hate to be a bigot, only judge them by their demographic.  That your reasons are based on a sincerely held, but mistaken (which is to say, scientifically unverifiable) belief, doesn’t make it not bigotry. 

  • Anonymous

    Does the fact of opposing the legality of interracial marriage make you racist?

    I suppose, stretching your imagination to the limit, you could imagine a situation where someone could oppose interracial relationships, including their legal recognition, and not be a racist. However you’d be safer assuming that person really does hold racist views.

    Here’s another question. Does opposing the legality of burglary make you prejudiced against robbers?

    Most people, after looking at you funny for the silly question, would answer “Of course!”. People have no problem admitting a distaste for robbery and fully support any and all efforts to repress what they see as a harmful activity. If you really see homosexuality as a “sin”, a destructive behavior, then you should not hesitate when answering the same question. No one stops to think “Oh gee, if I say that I think robbery has to be stopped, robbers might think I hate and/or fear them”, because even Christians who genuinely believe that robbery is just another sin and that people can be redeemed understand that open disapproval is completely appropriate.

    So why is it different with being gay? If homosexuality is a sin like stealing, why then do Christians go to such pains to say that even as they want to treat people’s sexual orientation as a sinful choice (and deny any legal recognition of them) that in no way means they are prejudiced against them? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s a bit of cognitive dissonance. They are mandated by their religion to treat gays like robbers. However decent people fundamentally realize that being gay causes no external harm and rebel internally at the idea of hating someone who has done them no wrong. So they try to have it both ways, opposing the core of an entire group fo humans while simultanteously not hating them. They dislike the accusation of homophobia because, unlike the dislike of robbers, they sense internally that disliking homosexuals is wrong.

    Their fundamental human sense of right and wrong is coming up against religious dogma and it makes them very uncomfortable. Good. I hope they are extremely uncomfortable. Nothing could approach the agony of a woman dying in a hospital bed while her partner and children are denied any access to her, partly because of people who thought they could deny her the most basic civil rights and still call themselves loving, but its a start. Hopefully that discomfort grows, and like “Oh I don’t hate the coloreds, I just think everyone should stick to their own” whites before them, they abandon their harmful beliefs for the benefit of all.

  • SteveInMI

    Shorter, better answer:  NO.

    Try reversing the question.  Assume that I think Christians should not be allowed to get married.  (Never mind for the moment that their bible’s New Testament actually says this.)  Assume further that I’m putting political pressure on the government to ban state recognition of Christian marriages.  And that i’ve succeeded in many states.  I’ve made it a campaign issue in EVERY national campaign, and one of my party’s candidates for president runs a clinic where her husband (ironically an obvious closet Christian himself) takes Medicare funding to help people with Christian tendencies “recover” from their unwanted urges.

    I’m pretty sure that “bigot” might be the NICEST thing I’d be called.

    “From Karl” inadvertently gets it exactly right.  “Bigot, homophobe, motivated by ignorance or fear” – that’s pretty much the full range of reasons for opposing equal rights for LGBT Americans.   Is some of that bigotry, ignorance, and fear driven by religion – and by the professional priest class?  Sure it is.  But that doesn’t change what it is; it simply means that the bigotry, ignorance and fear reflects very badly on the religion.

    • Greg

      That’s a strawman, I’m afraid.

      Nothing in the question suggests the Christians in question are the ones who do the things you imply they do by your analogy. Just because some Christian homophobes do those things doesn’t mean they all do.

      Yeesh – I can’t believe I’m actually defending people I disagree with so fundamentally.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001071231218 Andrew Pfaff

        It doesn’t mean you are defending them, it just means SteveInMI needs a better analogy. Kinda like how science works ;)

      • Steve Radant

        Greg, you’re right to point out that I didn’t connect the dots very soundly with my analogy.  I do have a built-in assumption that nearly all of the Christians who “disagree with homosexuality” also oppose efforts to treat LBGT persons equally under civil (employment, taxation, marriage, military service, housing access, banking, divorce, healthcare, adoption, parenting, custody, etc.) laws.

        To my knowledge, Christians who support civil equality while opposing homosexuality as sinful are as mythical as the unicorn.  (Again, I did not spell that out in my post, and the result was an incomplete argument.)   Do you believe that this unicorn exists, and if so do you have any demographics, statistics, or anecdotes that would demonstrate their existence?  I’m hopeful that you might; I actually enjoy having my own cynicism contradicted.  :)

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          Consider it contradicted. I wish I could remember where (maybe on this site?) but there was at least one woman who’s brother believed homosexuality a sin, and she convinced him that was still not a reason to oppose *civil* equality. 

          Only one, but at least it falsifies the hypothesis that they’re as mythical as unicorns. ;)

  • Anonymous

    I cannot respect anyone who simultaneously believes sex is only for marriage and same-sex couples cannot get married.

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely
    want to be able to give their blessing to their gay friends’
    relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids
    those relationships. I absolutely respect that.

    I don’t see why that deserves respect. Clearly, they’re not sincere, compassionate, loving and supportive enough to think for themselves and ignore what some dusty old book says. A book, I might add, that they’ll happily ignore on any number of other issues, from wearing mixed fabrics to slavery. Whether that’s “bigotry” or not according to some dictionary definition I don’t care much, it won’t get any respect from me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Kanary/100000992307521 Eric Kanary

    A bigot by any other name..

  • Trina

    My impression is that these sincere people are motivated less by a book and more by peer pressure.  Can a person be wrong, and yet not be a bigot?  Well, perhaps, if they’re wrong by virtue of pressure from their primary support group.  On the other hand, that very statement would excuse all those who (I know, old & overused example) stood by and allowed Nazi atrocities.  So, very, very wrong, and no, I couldn’t respect that in those people, though there might be other things about them I could respect.  Human beings tend to not be ‘all this’ or ‘all that’ with a few notable exceptions.

    • Greg

      I don’t think the fact the Nazis were wrong excuses them from anything, to be honest. Nazism is obviously a very difficult topic to deal with because of the extremes involved, the perceptions of those people, and our distance from them in both time and attitude. They can almost be the perfect comic book villains at times, but I’m sure there was a scale between Nazis – the people piling people into gas chambers are at a different point on the scale to the people desperately trying to scrape by a living, and not thinking much at all about these matters, even if they might both have been Nazis.

      The only thing it does is imply that some of the Nazis were weak-minded, lacking in intelligence, taken in, confused, mistaken etc, rather than being utterly vile human beings at their core. It explains their actions without exonerating them.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry that this is wandering into OT territory, but experiments such as the Milgram experiment and the Stanford University experiment illustrate that average people are extremely susceptible to authority figures and social pressure to conform.  It’s a little dismissive to try to explain away Nazi participation as “weak-minded people.”  But you’re also right to say that it’s too simplistic to claim that they are purely evil people as well.  If they were weak minded, then most people are weak minded, because most people are unable to fully reject this pressure to conform and to bow to authority.

        • Greg

          Sorry if I seemed to dismiss them as being weak minded, I didn’t intend to. It wasn’t meant as a list of things that they were, but rather a list of things that they could have been. If you see what I mean. :)

        • Anonymous
  • cipher

    So he fudges on that one issue because it affects his life directly, but he’s still an evangelical. He thinks we’re all going to hell, but I’m supposed to feel compassion for his “struggle”?

    Whether or not these people qualify as “bigots” is a matter of semantics, and I don’t really care. The bottom line is that they believe the vast majority of their fellow human beings will be tormented for all of eternity, and most of them are perfectly comfortable with the idea. Many (I contend it’s most) anticipate it eagerly. This is a criminal psychosis.

    These people are utterly reprehensible, and most are unsalvageable.

  • Anonymous

    Expressing the view that gay people should not be permitted to marry is to be obstinately convinced of the rightness of your stance and prejudiced against gay people.  It is, by definition, bigoted.  Those who hold bigoted points of view and who treat others differently as a result are bigots.  A Christian (for example) who says that he doesn’t agree with homosexuality and views it as a sin but doesn’t try to limit the freedoms of gay people to marry is merely intolerant.

    We judge others on their actions, not on their opinions.  Someone can hold to all kinds of hateful views about sexuality, gender, skin colour, disability, etc but if they act in a reasonable and compassionate way to others regardless of their views then they are not acting in a bigoted way.  That is what is important.  

    However to echo what Trina said above inaction is, in itself, an action. 

    • Greg

      I usually agree with you, hoverFrog, but:

      Expressing the view that gay people should not be permitted to marry is to be obstinately convinced of the rightness of your stance and prejudiced against gay people.

      Is expressing the view that creationism should not be permitted to be taught in schools to be obstinately convinced of the rightness of your stance, and prejudiced against creationism?

      The reason I ask, is because I don’t believe creationism should be permitted to be taught in schools, and yet I am not obstinately convinced of the rightness of my stance, for if they actually produced a good argument I would change my mind.

      Holding principles and acting upon them doesn’t mean you are obstinately convinced of them. Even if your principles are illogical and/or backed up by flawed evidence.

      • Anonymous

        You may have a point.

      • Yakamoz

        It’s only a prejudice against creationism if you know what it is and why it’s wrong.  The pre- prefix keeps getting overlooked in this thread, but it has a meaning.  If I am convinced of the rightness of my position, and my position is in fact, right, that isn’t a prejudice – that’s a conclusion.

        In contrast, many creationists don’t actually understand evolution, and they have been prejudiced against it by their parents and their pastors.  They don’t understand it, but they are absolutely certain it’s wrong because “we don’t come from monkeys!!”

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          If I am convinced of the rightness of my position, and my position is in fact, right, that isn’t a prejudice – that’s a conclusion.

          And if that conclusion is reached based on false premises, making it practically an accident that you got it right?

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      We judge others on their actions, not on their opinions.

       

      Perhaps you don’t, but I do (I admit to having a hard time believing anyone fails to judge people based on their opinions, but I’ll try to take you at your word — I could be wrong). I also think I’m justified in judging based on opinion as well as actions. No matter how nice they act, or how well they hide it, I will judge someone who holds the opinion that, for example, “blacks are inherently inferior to whites, though there may be an occasional exception.” Actions can sometimes show the lie in a stated opinion, but I will still judge the stated opinion, as it says something about their character. 

    • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

       A Christian (for example) who says that he doesn’t agree with homosexuality and views it as a sin but doesn’t try to limit the freedoms of gay people to marry is merely intolerant.

      How is it being intolerant to not limit someone’s actions? Surely the very definition of tolerance is to allow someone else to do something you don’t necessarily agree with?

  • Anonymous

    They can hold their poor opinions on homosexuality if I can continue to hold my poor opinions of them.

  • Matto the Hun

    sorry, but this is wishy washy nonsense that panders to the twisted version of love and compassion that Christianity and most other religions create.

    “There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely want to be able to give their blessing to their gay friends’ relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids those relationships. I absolutely respect that.”

    How compassionate and loving can they be if their only reason for bigotry is that some dusty old tome told them to be?

    In the preceding sentence Justin says that the bigots are those who use the bible to justify their hate. How is that different from the following sentence where he tries to draw a difference simply because this particular group of Christians seem more “loving and compassionate.”

    So one group hates gay people, wants to restrict their rights, force them back in the closet, and beat them with baseball bats and use a dusty old book to justify it. The other is very nice and loving, sends birthday cards but also believes the gays are sinful because a dusty old book said so. They are both bigoted. One group a bit more than the other, a bit more extreme, a bit more scary, but they are both bigots.

    The religious ditch specific pieces of dogma all the time and continue to believ as whole heartedly as if the crap they threw out was never their. 

    For example, suicides go to hell. My aunt killed herself. My Catholic mom decided that people who kill them selves don’t really go to hell regardless of what the Bible says. Problem solved. 

    Here’s another, my friend saw a billboard “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate gays. -God”. Vey nice sentiment. I could be friends with that sort of believer, hell, I have friends that are that sort. But we all know that billboard is 100% wrong. The Biblical god is absolutely dead set against gay people. Emphasis on dead. Yet here are some loving and compassionate believers who could bare a god that would be do wicked, so they ditched the dogma.

    What does a compasionate and loving mother who believes that gay is evil do for her child. She sends to kid to pray-em-straight camp to be physically and psycologically tortured. Its a twisted version of love and compassion perverted by hateful dogma.

    So lets dispense with this lovey dovey garbage as an excuse to give bigots a pass. We should be wary of their “love” and “compassion”. 

    If they really cared, if they are really loving and compassionate, they would choose to love their gay friends and family w/o bigotry. 

    But they have to choose between people or dogma.

    • cipher

      Like!

      Here’s another, my friend saw a billboard “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate gays. -God”. Vey nice sentiment. I could be friends with
      that sort of believer, hell, I have friends that are that sort.

      I’d add that the Christians who put up those billboards would then go on to speak for God thus: “But because I am perfectly holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, I have no choice but to send unrepentant gays to hell for all of eternity.”

      • Anonymous

        There are Christian denominations who don’t hold with the idea that homosexual activity is a sin. As Matto says, they have chucked out the parts of the bible that condemn it (or rationalise them away, or conveniently ignore them). Also, many liberal believers who belong to denominations that do think it’s sinful, disagree with the party line (kind of like Catholics who believe in reproductive rights).

        • cipher

          or rationalise them away, or conveniently ignore them

          There’s the crux of it.

          Ordinairly, I agree with the fundies – what liberal Christians are doing, although preferable from our point of view, isn’t “real” Christianity. However, on this issue, I think  there is room for interpretation – but that isn’t the position taken by most evangelicals, a term which characterizes many (probably most) of Rachel’s readers (and certainly the people who put up the billboards).

        • cipher

          or rationalise them away, or conveniently ignore them

          There’s the crux of it.

          Ordinairly, I agree with the fundies – what liberal Christians are doing, although preferable from our point of view, isn’t “real” Christianity. However, on this issue, I think  there is room for interpretation – but that isn’t the position taken by most evangelicals, a term which characterizes many (probably most) of Rachel’s readers (and certainly the people who put up the billboards).

      • Anonymous

        There are Christian denominations who don’t hold with the idea that homosexual activity is a sin. As Matto says, they have chucked out the parts of the bible that condemn it (or rationalise them away, or conveniently ignore them). Also, many liberal believers who belong to denominations that do think it’s sinful, disagree with the party line (kind of like Catholics who believe in reproductive rights).

    • Anonymous

      I recently read an article where a Mormon mother claimed that she loved her daughter and accepted and loved her wife, but because of her religion couldn’t attend their wedding.

      How fucked up in the head do you have to be to come to a decision like that? I’d almost respect her more if she disowned her daughter. At least she’d be consistent. But when you already come far enough to accept her and her partner, you can damn well go to their wedding. The mother’s reaction is the definition of Orwell’s doublethink

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

        My Catholic mother told me the same thing, in the event my transgender girlfriend and I marry. I’m still trying to figure out how that line is drawn. I’m pretty sure she’d still attend my marriage…

        * If my girlfriend was “just” a fellow atheist, which she is.
        * If we “just” didn’t intend to have kids, although the Catholic Church usually won’t marry couples who don’t want them.
        * If we “just” decided we wanted a Vegas wedding, with Elvis officiating — I think Mom would get a kick out of it, really.

        I was a groomsman at my friends’ Catholic wedding. I didn’t take part in it as an endorsement of their beliefs; I did it because they’re my friends.

    • Akeeterle

      First of all, please stop calling the Bible a dusty old book.  Chances are the reason you talk about religious people with so much hatred and disrespect is because you have no faith of your own.  

      People may disregard parts of the Bible when it’s hard to follow what it’s telling them or asking them to do.  It is hard to do the right thing.  Being a Christian is not always easy. Doing the right thing is not always easy.  All we can do is try; no one is perfect. You shouldn’t hate on the Christian religion as a whole just because of the fact that many of the Christians you know appear to be hypocrites.

      Your mom probably could not bear the thought of her sister being in hell for all eternity.  Many people who commit suicide are not in the right state of mind.  They are mentally sick.  I believe God forgives those people.  

      No one can say that all gay people are going to hell.  It is not even a sin to be gay.  The sin is the sexual act between same sex couples.  The same goes for sexual acts before or outside of any heterosexual marriage.  It is also a sin.  However, countless people have those encounters.  But that does not damn them to hell.

      What I am trying to say is you can control those acts.  Every sexual act is a decision, whether it is between heterosexuals or homosexuals.  I am not saying it is easy to control those urges or temptations, but it is possible with Christ’s help.

      And making mistakes does not damn you to hell.  No one is perfect and God knows that.  If He wanted everyone to be perfect He would not have given us free will.  No one on this earth knows who will or will not go to heaven.  It is God’s job to judge them.  If you or me or anyone is truly sorry for their sins, truly sorry, He will forgive you.

      Do I believe that every gay or lesbian person is a bad person? Of course not.
      Do I feel that they are making a mistake in their lifestyle? yes.
      Is it my place to tell them that what they are doing is wrong and there are other ways? Absolutely.  That’s what being a Christian means.  Sharing what you know about God with everyone.  Just because I say that I am against gay marriage does not mean I hate gay people.  I believe what God teaches through the Bible is the truth and I am trying my best to live my life by his teachings.  I am not a bigot.  I simply have faith in God.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        I’m not the person you’re responding to, but since there’s a good chance Matto won’t see it (since this post is several months old), I’m going to take the liberty. Hope you don’t mind. 

        First of all, please stop calling the Bible a dusty old book.  Chances are the reason you talk about religious people with so much hatred and disrespect is because you have no faith of your own. 

         

        Not exactly. When I talk about some religious people with hatred and disrespect, it’s based on their actions and stated opinions for the most part, not my own lack of faith. If they have behaved in a manner that I find immoral or hypocritical, then that might earn a little hatred or disrespect or disgust from me (examples: members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Catholic Church’s leadership’s cover-up and protection of child molesters, those who’ve spewed bile at Jessica Ahlquist and Damon Fowler for standing up for the Constitution and their rights, etc). I will admit to less respect for those who think faith is any sort of virtue, but there are religious individuals who earn my respect in other areas.

        Doing the right thing is not always easy. 

        Very true. We can agree on that.

        You shouldn’t hate on the Christian religion as a whole just because of the fact that many of the Christians you know appear to be hypocrites.

        Well, actually, I should. There are many, many vile things in the Bible that God either commanded or allowed without protest. The nice parts just don’t make those go away. In as much as the Bible is the basis for Christianity, I can hate the religion. The Christians that don’t follow those parts are the ones I like.

        Your mom probably could not bear the thought of her sister being in hell for all eternity.  Many people who commit suicide are not in the right state of mind.  They are mentally sick.  I believe God forgives those people.

        A couple things here (and Matto, I’m sorry for you loss, and hope it doesn’t cause too much pain to have your aunt’s memory used in this way): 1) How do you justify the idea of anyone  being in hell for all eternity, simply because they never repented? 2) Why do you believe God forgives the mentally ill? 

        It is not even a sin to be gay.  The sin is the sexual act between same sex couples.  The same goes for sexual acts before or outside of any heterosexual marriage.  It is also a sin.

        I’m wondering how you, as a Christian, justify a conclusion that seems directly at odds with what Jesus himself said: 

        Matthew 5:28King James Version (KJV)
         28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

        If simply feeling lust for someone you look at is equivalent to the sin of adultery (and presumably, it’s also a sin if you’re unmarried), then for a gay man to look at another man and feel lust would be equivalent to having sex with that man, and therefore a sin. In other words, that seems to make being gay a sin in itself. Or do you argue that the verse refers only to men looking at women? If so, that leaves both gay men and all women off the hook.

        No one is perfect and God knows that.  If He wanted everyone to be perfect He would not have given us free will.

        Really? Then why that bit with the Garden and the Tree of Knowledge that should not be eaten from? You know, the one granting knowledge of good and evil, and therefore the option of choosing one or the other. Without choice, free will is meaningless. Yet, he forbade the eating of the fruit. Did he think they were perfect from the get go? Did that knowledge make Adam and Eve and (somehow) all who follow them imperfect? This whole thing looks fishy to me.

        It is God’s job to judge them.  If you or me or anyone is truly sorry for their sins, truly sorry, He will forgive you.

         And what if you sin against me, and I do not forgive you? If you wronged me, then I fail to see how a third party’s forgiveness should matter. So what happens then? Also, suppose a gay person commits many many acts of homosexual sex, and isn’t sorry, not one little bit, for any one of them, and would happily do it all over again? Suppose further that this person is truly sorry for every other thing they did that God judges bad, and that they strived to be most excellent in all other areas of life, donating more than 10% to charity, volunteering at soup kitchens, working hard, being an awesome friend, invariably kind, never stole, hardly ever got angry and was instantly sorry he did, etc. Does that person go to hell? For eternity? Eternal punishment, for finite “sin”?

        Do I believe that every gay or lesbian person is a bad person? Of course not.

        Well, at least you’re not totally bad.

        Do I feel that they are making a mistake in their lifestyle? yes.

        Why?

        Is it my place to tell them that what they are doing is wrong and there are other ways? Absolutely.

        Hey, we agree again! If anyone sees something happening they think is ethically wrong, then they have every right to speak up and say so. But they also have a responsibility to explain the reason think the thing is wrong. So, why do you think gay sex is wrong? Why do you think gay marriage is wrong? And if your answer boils down to “God says so,” then why does God say so? After all, it can’t be the case that merely creating a universe means you have moral authority. God (if such a being exists) could be a complete and utter immoral asshole who likes playing “hide-and-seek,” and still have created the universe. Given the world we live in, even taking out the individual actions of humans, that would seem the most likely type of creator to exist — that, or no conscious creator at all. The evidence seems equal either way.

         I believe what God teaches through the Bible is the truth and I am trying my best to live my life by his teachings.

        Why?

        I simply have faith in God.

        Why?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    I think it’s bigotry because it fails the consistency test. People who hate (i.e., are bigoted against) gays cherry-pick their justification from the Bible. That tells me that their bigotry preceded their awareness of what the Bible says.
    Here’s my evidence: The Bible, as others have pointed out, also condones human slavery, human sacrifice, the death penalty for working on the sabbath or for not being a virgin. It also pretty clearly implies that the Earth is flat and the Sun revolves around it.
    The anti-gay folks don’t subscribe to any of that horseshit. Why not? It’s in the Bible, just like the anti-gay stuff.
    Until they can explain that inconsistency, their “It’s in the Bible” defense is transparent BS. So yes, they’re bigots.

    • Anonymous

      That tells me that their bigotry preceded their awareness of what the Bible says.

      There is no evidence for that assumption. At one time Christians did believe that slavery was okay and that the Sun revolves around the Earth, according to the bible. They’ve since abandoned those ideas.

      Human sacrifice
      * isn’t in the bible as a common practice
      * Christians have never condemned the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, nor the successful one of Jephtha’s daughter (though some post-Enlightenment Christians have attempted to reinterpret the story)
      *  is the basis of the entire Christian religion. Have you forgotten that Jesus was a human sacrifice? Far from not subscribing to that horseshit, Christians wear crosses to commemorate the activity.
      * this sacrifice was the last one required. It wouldn’t make sense for them to make blood sacrifice anymore, according to their doctrine.

      Jesus himself overturned the OT idea about executing people for not keeping the Sabbath, so it wouldn’t make sense for Christians to disagree on that point. And if stoning a woman for adultery isn’t okay, then it’s not a far stretch to think the same for a woman who has sex prior to marriage. They can be shamed, abused, and condemned–just not stoned to death.

      In every case you mention, what’s in the bible precedes the doctrine.

      • Yakamoz

        “They’ve since abandoned those ideas.”

        So they can and do abandon biblical nonsense.  So why can’t they abandon the anti-gay nonsense?  Inconsistency: it’s still there.

        So if Jesus overturned the need for blood sacrifice, because it’s in the Old Testament, who cares what the Old Testament says about homosexuality? Oh, they do? Inconsistency: it’s still there.

        Before you respond that Paul had a serious beef with it too, Paul also said to shun people who disagree with your doctrine [Romans 16: 17-18].  So shouldn’t they ignore gay Christians?  Inconsistency: it’s still there.

        Conclusion: They’re using a convenient excuse to justify their culturally transmitted bigotry.

        • Anonymous

          I was disagreeing with John’s conclusion that the bigotry of people who hate gays [always] precedes the bible. Some people might seek out biblical passages to back up their bigoted notions, some people might have a feeling that hating gays isn’t quite right, but feel obliged to do so because of what the bible says, the vast majority of Christians were indoctrinated into hate and Christianity at the same time (i.e. they believe homosexuality to be a sin the same way they believe in heaven and hell or that pre-marital sex is wrong), and still others (both as individuals and denominations) have abandoned the anti-gay passages of the bible the same way they have the idea that women should have unshorn hair that is to be covered in church, or that  or that slavery is just one aspect of a divinely ordained social hierarchy.

          None of this is consistent.  The point is,  people aren’t necessarily using the bible as a post hoc excuse.

          The thing is though, it really doesn’t matter. If your “holy” book condones immoral behaviour or condemns moral people, there’s no excuse for continuing to adhere to it.

          • Yakamoz

            Ok, I think we agree.  I don’t mean to say people independently come to the conclusion that being gay is wrong, and set about to find a holy book they’ve never heard of that happens to agree with them.  It’s a chicken-egg question.

            The fact that these attitudes are so common across virtually all religions suggests that anti-gay attitudes are likely a product of a general revulsion towards sex and the mortality it represents (see: terror management theory for an expanded version of this argument).  The religions evolved to help people cope – to give them weird, anxiety-motivated rituals and rules.

            It’s too big a coincidence that people most afraid of death (the religious) are also the most afraid of women (whose menstruation also evokes mortality salience, resulting in all these bizarre rules about not touching a menstruating woman) and the most afraid of LGBT people. 

            • Anonymous

              I’m not sure that the whole “sex and death” thing is really required to eke out the explanation. The subjugation of women and their treatment as, at best, people of a lower class, and at worst chattel is sufficient. Women are seen as weak, carnal (as opposed to spiritual or intellectual), passive receivers in the sex act, irrational, unable to think or act for themselves. A man who allows himself to be with another man sexually is taking on the role that should be reserved for the underclass. No man wants to be thought of as “like” a woman and such physical expressions are therefore either signals of hedonistic decadence or defiance of a natural order ordained by God.

              Going a step further and positing a fear of mortality as the ultimate reason for misogyny and patriarchy is an interesting hypothesis.

              • Anonymous

                And a woman who is with other women isn’t available for men anymore. That’s why female bisexuality is somewhat better accepted. As long as it’s temporary and the woman ultimately settles down with a man

                • Anonymous

                  Women outnumber men slightly.  I’ve heard that there are more gay men than gay women too.  If anything there aren’t enough men for women.

                  More importantly women don’t exist for men.  Men exist.  Women exist.  If they find happiness with one another then good for them.  If they find it without one another then that’s good too.  We don’t allocate women to men in a civilised society.

              • Yakamoz

                It’s actually been supported by some compelling experimental conditions.  This is a great article on the subject:  http://plaza.ufl.edu/phallman/terror%20management%20theory/4701009.pdf, that also acts as a literature review of these experiments.

                  I’m with you on women are the underclass, and men who take on the woman’s role are seen as degraded. But I’m saying this is incomplete. WHY are women consistently the underclass relative to men, regardless of the religion or the culture?  Why are women seen as carnal and weak? How does this ideology explain the revulsion towards lesbians, who are either taking on their normal role, or taking on the ‘upper’ class role?

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    I’m going to have to agree. Being deeply wrong doesn’t make one a bigot. Anecdote for when I was still religious: For some time while I was still religious I both thought that gay marriage should be allowed and thought that gay sex was sinful. The key distinction was that I didn’t think that I had any right to impose my religious beliefs on others.

    The key issue here is not bigotry but the just general wrongness of the ideas in question. I can understand someone is not a bigot and still understand that their (or my former) beliefs are harmful. This is similar to how not every person who advocates for alternative medicine is a heartless con artist, but whether or not they are sincere people will still suffer. 

    People who we disagree are not necessarily evil. This doesn’t make them right. It might be easy for rhetorical purposes and helping us sleep better at night to say that the people we disagree with are all evil and nasty but that would be a failure of rationality. 

    • cipher
      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        Yes, I think there is a lot of genuine simple bigotry in the Orthodox community.  The more religious have especially been bad about this because a lot of them have become convinced that they have an obligation to impose the Noachide laws. 

        • cipher

          I agree with Shmarya’s take on it: they’re shooting themselves in their collective foot. They’ve elected a Republican who will very likely work to reduce or eliminate their Section 8 vouchers, food stamps and all of the other social services of which they’ve availed themselves over the past thirty-odd years – but I guess God will provide, eh?

          Like the evangelical masses they emulate, they’re too stupid and brainwashed to realize they’re being manipulated by people who care absolutely nothing about their welfare, in this world or in the next.

          (I’m also rather astonished that a Modern Orthodox guy A) is a Democrat; B) voted in favor of same sex marriage. Apparently, he hasn’t been getting the memos.)

          • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

            I don’t think that it is that much of a danger to them as a group. It is unlikely that many of the programs will be reduced by that much. Moreover, much of what the charedim take advantage of is specific pork (yes, the term is amusing in this context) geared to their areas.

            There’s a substantial fraction of the MO that are Democrats although, I agree that the intersection between Democrat, MO, and votes for same sex marriage is pretty tiny. 

            • cipher

              There’s a substantial fraction of the MO that are Democrats

              I’d like to meet them. I’m friendly with an MO rabbi and his wife. The wife dislikes “Leftists”; I think he’s a little more liberal, but not that far removed.

              although, I agree that the intersection between Democrat, MO, and votes for same sex marriage is pretty tiny.

              Yeah, I think it’s likely a constituency of about one.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

      “For some time while I was still religious I both thought that gay marriage should be allowed and thought that gay sex was sinful.”

      Me too.  But I nevertheless think that I was a bigot for holding that viewpoint.  I’m much happier with myself now.

    • http://thebrunettesblog.wordpress.com Ginny

      I agree with this. To me the distinction is how they treat people they regard as “sinful.” (Which is everybody, by their definition.) For example, do they treat a friend’s gay relationship the same way they treat a friend’s “unmarried living together” relationship? Do they treat gay people the same way they treat people who lie, or covet, or gossip? Then they’re not bigoted: wrong, but not bigoted.

      If, on the other hand, they talk the “it’s a sin like any other” talk but treat gays with special disgust, refuse to acknowledge a gay relationship while they would acknowledge an equallty “sinful” hetero relationship, they’re bigoted.

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        Yes. That hits a lot of it in a nutshell. But even aside from how they treat people what I think matters a lot is the actual impact it has. If some highschool student commits suicide after being told that his desires are evil, it doesn’t matter much whether the person who told him that was bigoted or genuinely trying to save a soul. Either way some family needs to bury their child. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

    This is a stupid word game.  People seem to love arguing about how we label things, as if that were the same as arguing about the thing.

    Its like asking whether someone can believe that all black people are subhuman without being a bigot.  Who cares?  What would it possibly change if we did or did not attach the word “bigot” to such a person?

    They believe something hateful and false about a group of other human beings.  They’re unnecessarily hurting actual people, and chances are they’re doing it willfully.  That doesn’t mean that they’re evil in every aspect of their life.  It doesn’t mean they kick puppies or beat their children.

    But it works both directions.  The fact that they like puppies and love their children doesn’t mean that they’re not hurting people unnecessarily, and it doesn’t mean that they’re not expending a fair amount of mental energy coming up with justifications for their actions and trying to convince themselves that what they’re doing is ok.

    And whether or not we call them a bigot is, at best, a proxy for the question of whether or not we judge them for their actions.  Personally, I do.  I don’t judge every aspect of their worth as a human being on just one moral question.  But I don’t give them a free pass just because they’re decent people in other areas of their life.

    • guest

      This is such a good post!  I would love to see it broadcast everywhere! 

    • GaffiGubbi

      Well said. I’d add that word games like this arise whenever we conflate the moral character of people with the outcomes of their actions. The people who wage war on drugs may have the best of intentions, but the harm they cause is still real. Conversely, a shopkeeper may be a complete asshole who’s only in it for the money, but as long as he supplies people with food and other essential groceries, the net outcome is positive.

      The same applies to good-hearted people who would gladly tolerate homosexuality but are compelled to tell lies about it because of a book they believe in. The harm done is what matters – virtues, vices or intentions are at best a way to address it, and at worst a distraction.

    • JulietEcho

      Best reply to this question I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen this question brought up a lot.

  • Ben

    What does it mean to disagree with homosexuality anyway? It’s not an arguement, it’s just a thing. Saying you disagree with it is like saying you disagree with grass; it just makes no sense.
    If you stretch the meaning of disagree, I see only two options. One is that you merely aren’t homosexual yourself and therefore would not enter into a homosexual relationship even if given the chance. This is obviously not being a bigot. The other option, which seems to be the appropriate one given the context of the question, is that you dissaprove of homosexuality and think it is wrong. This is bigotry plain and simple. You are passing judgement on someone based on a characteristic they have no control over and has no relevance as to their status as a decent human being. I see no difference between this and saying you disagree with women having the right to vote, or that interracial marriage should be illegal.
    As an earlier commentor pointed out, yes there are hypothetical other options that don’t result in bigotry, but in practice that is all it is.

    • guest

      Totally agree with Ben.

    • http://www.thestir.squarespace.com Servaas

      If you believe something is wrong and that makes you a bigot then there is nothing wrong with bigotry in itself. All of us believe things are right and wrong, the real question is always what determines our right and wrong.

      • Anonymous

        Have to agree with you there – and Ben of course.

        I think we can safely say that you need to do some heavy duty cherry picking before the Bible can be used to determine right from wrong…

    • Anonymous

      One of my friends said he has to “disagree” with homosexuality because of the Bible even though he doesn’t like saying it.

      Its a shame because otherwise he’s a nice guy frustratingly limited by scriptural morality engrained from family upbringing. Looking at the result has made me thankful for my parents I can tell you.

    • Steve Radant

      Ben, great post, but you might want to tweak your opening analogy just a hair.  When I first read it, I thought you were making a reference to legalizing marijuana.  

      Dirt, maybe?  :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/Bryanderthal Bryan Schear

        Steve, you’re showing your age; nobody calls it grass anymore.  ;p

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      You are passing judgement on someone based on a characteristic they have no control over and has no relevance as to their status as a decent human being.

       

      Except that they believe it does have relevance to their status as a decent human being, whether or not they have control over it. Given this, are they still bigots? If so, then I’m bigoted against the psychopathic serial killer who has limited to no control over his urge to kill. 

    • Ann

      There are Christians who believe it is a sin in the eyes of God, yet are in favor of the legality of same-sex marriage for the same reasons they can be in favor of separation of church and state. A bigot is defined as someone who dislikes a group of people, or doesn’t accept them. I would argue as long as they accept the people themselves, and don’t treat them differently because of it, that is the most anyone could reasonably ask for. (I mean, unless you think telling them their religion is flat out wrong is okay, which a lot of people reading this very well may, but that’s another topic.)

  • Sven

    [quote]There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely
    want to be able to give their blessing to their gay friends’
    relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids
    those relationships. I absolutely respect that.[/quote]If these people are more concerned about being good christians than being good friends. The’re not really friends, are they?

    • Sven

      Quote fail..

      • Anonymous

        Use pointy brackets instead of square ones:

        • Sven

          Use pointy brackets instead of square ones:
          Like this?

          • Sven

            Clearly still doing something wrong (other and going way Off Topic)!

          • Anonymous

            Oh, the code for quotes is “blockquote”, not “quote”

            test

            • Sven

              Oh, the code for quotes is “blockquote”, not “quote”

              Duh..

  • coliviastar

    It doesn’t matter how you arrive at bigotry, once you are there, your excuses do not improve your respectability.  On the other hand, everyone has their blind spots, and it is entirely possible to be a person who I deeply care for and still have beliefs which i find unacceptable.  I am not going to judge everything about a person based upon their unfortunate conditioning, but I will point out to them when they make statements that are hateful, especially when those statements run counter to their otherwise humanitarian ideals. 

  • Anonymous

    Being a serious Christian already requires you to engage in doublethink: hold two completely contradictory viewpoints in your head and think you have reconciled them

    This is no different. Religion either necessitates or creates a mindset that makes such absurd opinions possible. There are simply things where there is nothing to “disagree” about. Not all issues have two sides that are equally valid

  • Anonymous

    Hmm… Webster is unhelpful here. Here is their definition:

    “bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”

    So according to this, if you hate Nazis, you are a bigot!

    To offer my own definition, I’d say a bigot is someone who believes false negative things about a group when they have every ability to know better. So in regard to people against gay marriage, I’d say that if they’ve heard all of the arguments about how gay couples can be loving and build better lives together and have been shown examples and they still are against gay marriage, then they are bigots.

    • Yakamoz

      So according to this, if you hate Nazis, you are a bigot!

      Not if you know what the word “prejudice” means: A preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience

      We know that Nazis cause harm.  We’ve had historical experience that informs our opinion of them.  Hatred of Nazis is in no way a prejudice.

    • Yakamoz

      So according to this, if you hate Nazis, you are a bigot!

      Not if you know what the word “prejudice” means: A preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience

      We know that Nazis cause harm.  We’ve had historical experience that informs our opinion of them.  Hatred of Nazis is in no way a prejudice.

    • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

      Hmm… Webster is unhelpful here. Here is their definition:

      “bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group [e.g. Evangelical Christians] with hatred and intolerance”

      (bracketed insert mine of course) Is it unhelpful because it sounds a whole lot like how many in the online Atheist communities act?

      By this standard definition, I reckon it’s pretty difficult to call someone else a bigot without being a little guilty oneself..

  • Nordog

    Does holding that homosexuality is NOT a sin, but homosexual acts are by their nature sinful make one a bigot?

    • Nordog

      Of course my question has been answered here already.  Need more coffee before posting.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, because one naturally follows the other. Separating the two like that is just silly. So-called “homosexual acts” are just an expression of feelings people have. One can try to suppress those feelings, but it’s a bad way to live and has severe negative effects on mental health in the long term. Most eventually give up on it and live their life honestly.

      • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

        Are you suggesting that all expression of sexual feelings are a) natural and b) therefore, ought not to be suppressed but expressed and c) if someone doesn’t affirm that expression, they are a bigot?

    • Yakamoz

      It’s not a sin to be an anglophone. I just object to speaking English words out loud.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Yes, and if you have to ask “why”, I’d suggest going back to high school…

      • NorDog

        Ouch.  I’m devastated.  I may never recover.

  • Anonymous

    In this context,  I strongly suspect the line between “unable to give their blessing to” same-sex relationships and “judging same-sex relationships as inferior” is so vanishingly small as to be nonexistent.

    In other words, it’s bigotry.

  • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

    I don’t care what label you put on it, bigot or otherwise; the foundational belief is wrong.

    Second, I’ve never met a Christian who really displays what I would call love and compassion for the LGBT community; they will invite them to church or offer to get coffee sometime, but they aren’t marching at Pride rallies or starting GSAs on campuses or in public schools. 

    Neutrality is not an option here – either you support the idea that gays should have equal rights or you don’t. Christianity already has a dog in the fight, and it’s pretty clear (it’s in the Bible, for FSMs sake!) which side their on. If your idea of “love and compassion” is to stand aside and remain quiet while your brothers and sisters in Christ trample the happiness and security of MY friends, then so be it, but then we are using two very different definitions of “love and compassion”, and what you’re doing ain’t it.

  • Anonymous

    I am sure someone bought this up in the comments. 

    The reason why slavery and Jim Crow laws lasted so long in this country is not because of the rabid racists and preying politicians, those people are in the margins. It was because of the nice, genteel folk who would  give you the shirt off their back and raise your child if you died even though you were a stranger who helped maintained those antiquated systems. 

    Its the problem i have with Hollywood. Hollywood portrays racists and nazi’s as these evil sadistic people. While some of them were wretched and evil, MOST nazi’s and supporters of segregation and slavery were regular folk who paid taxes, looked out for their neighbors, were highly educated, and volunteered to help those less fortunate then they are. 

    So i worry about regular folks who are nice and harbor these antiquated and ANTI HUMAN feelings in their brains and believe that they are right. It is those people, and yes i said THOSE, who help put in and support policy that is detrimental to certain groups in our society. 

    • cipher

      While some of them were wretched and evil, MOST nazi’s and supporters of segregation and slavery were regular folk who paid taxes, looked out for their neighbors, were highly educated, and volunteered to help those less fortunate then they are.

      Yes, precisely. I think it was Eli Wiesel who termed it “the mendacity of evil”.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Tom Lawson

    This fella probably doesn’t know how good he is at compartmentalizing his beliefs. He’s like an evangelical biology teacher that sees no conflict between Noah’s Ark and evolutionary theory.

    • Pustulio

      I first met Justin in the 7th grade, so I can tell you he has had a *lot* of practice at compartmentalizing. I haven’t talked to him in a few years so I can only speculate on this point, but I suspect that he’s referring to his own family with his answer to this question, because as I recall when he finally admitted to himself that he was gay his family to ostracized him for a time, and perhaps they’ve managed a manner of reconciliation by “agreeing to disagree” or something like that.

      • Steve Radant

        Compartmentalizing is a funny this.  Some of my family members are deeply religious and give time and money to anti-gay organizations.  But they sincerely love their G/L/B family members, and treat our family members’ same-sex partners will all the love, caring, and acceptance you could hope for.

        The real fun will come when one of us finally gets married…  :)

    • Pustulio

      I first met Justin in the 7th grade, so I can tell you he has had a *lot* of practice at compartmentalizing. I haven’t talked to him in a few years so I can only speculate on this point, but I suspect that he’s referring to his own family with his answer to this question, because as I recall when he finally admitted to himself that he was gay his family to ostracized him for a time, and perhaps they’ve managed a manner of reconciliation by “agreeing to disagree” or something like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    Yes, using the bible as direct justification for your prejudice makes you not only a bigot, but a coward as well.  As long as you believe that the Creator will damn homosexuals to hell for their ‘sins’, it is disingenuous to simultaneously maintain that your’re ‘personally’ OK with people who are gay. It is an insidious thing to hold oneself worthy of Heaven, while passing silent judgement on everyone else. You should be in moral crisis, if that were the case. If your’re not, then you are either dead inside, or engaging in bigoted self deception (possibly both).

    An accepting Christian:

    “God says you are a sinful whore, but I still love you. :) Too bad we won’t be going to the same place. :(“

  • Kes

    Something that’s been bugging me lately, vis a vis typical Christian biblical interpretation: When the verse clearly and succinctly advocates something like genocide, or beating your slaves, or killing non-believers, the verse always needs to be “interpreted” or “seen in the cultural context of the time” or is being “deliberately read out of context”.

    But when it comes to Leviticus 18:22, it means EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS, NO EXCEPTIONS: ABSOLUTELY NO BUTTFUCKING!!!

    I have an almost grudging respect for the more extreme sects like the FLDS or the Westboro Baptists: they are misogynistic, sadistic, authoritarian assholes, but at least they don’t hand-wave the harsher verses they don’t like: they just embrace a Stone Age social code in its entire.

    • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

      I agree – I don’t CHOOSE what I believe… evidence is evidence, I see it, I believe. I didn’t choose to believe in gravity. If somebody hoodwinked you, fine, you’ve been fooled into believing a model of the universe that is difficult to reject once you believe it. But to understand that some of what you are taught is superstitious nonsense but be OK with other parts that are no more scientifically valid… that just doesn’t compute. I guess the majority of people can and do, in the face of overwhelming evidence, simply choose which lies they don’t want to think are lies and which truths they want to reject.

    • TheBlackCat

       but at least they don’t hand-wave the harsher verses they don’t like: they just embrace a Stone Age social code in its entire.

      Of course they do.  They claim they don’t, but they do it all the time.  There are a ton of old testament laws and new testament commandments they just ignore.  Their claim that they are “biblical literalists” is a flat-out lie.  So I have much less respect for them than other Christians.  At least most groups of Christians will admit that certain parts of the Bible need to be interpreted or ignored, groups like FLDS or Westboro interpet or ignore about as much but pretend they don’t.

  • TychaBrahe

    You know what, the only people I’m going to give a pass to on the anti-homosexuality front is Orthodox Jews.  

    You see, the New Testament doesn’t say anything about homosexuality.  Everything about homosexuality is in the Old Testament.  

    Now Christians already say that most of the Old Testament doesn’t apply to them.  For example, they no longer keep the laws of Kosher.  They willfully mix linen and cotton.  (The Old Testament says that’s an abomination, the same word used to describe a man lying with another man.)  They kindle flames on the Sabbath.  They no longer observe any of the fasts.  They do not take mikvah or wear tallit or pray with phylacteries or wear kipot.  Many are not circumcised, and do not become Bar Mitzvot.  So when they pick one rule out of the Old Testament and say that THIS rule still holds, I say, Nope.  You cannot pick and choose which rules you want to follow.  Either follow all of them, or follow none of them.

    • cipher

      To be fair, most of those requirements pertained to the Israelites, not to the gentile nations.

      Of course, they do consider themselves to be the “New Israel”…

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

      “You see, the New Testament doesn’t say anything about homosexuality. Everything about homosexuality is in the Old Testament.”

      Hang on.  Doesn’t Paul rant at length against homosexuality, and wind up concluding that it’s “worthy of death,” in Romans?  It’s true that Jesus never mentioned the topic, but I’m pretty sure Paul did.

      • Anonymous

        “At length” is overstating it. It’s one or two sentences.

        It’s also arguable if he was even referring to same-sex behavior. He used made up words that appear nowhere else. Some people think he was referring to things like temple prostitution and/or pagan rituals that were common in the communities he addressed in the letter.

        • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

          I agree. Paul is the source of much of the worst stuff in the New Testament, IMHO.  If his letters had never made it into canon, I do think the world would be better off.

          Maybe “at length” is indeed overstating it, but my point was simply that the NT does at least appear to say something on the topic (at least, most fundamentalists read it that way, I believe).  So it’s not only an OT thing, it seems to me.

          • cipher

            Paul is the source of much of the worst stuff in the New Testament, IMHO. 

            Agreed – but Christian theology in general has been shaped by some of the most disordered personalities in history.

        • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com Marguerite

          I agree. Paul is the source of much of the worst stuff in the New Testament, IMHO.  If his letters had never made it into canon, I do think the world would be better off.

          Maybe “at length” is indeed overstating it, but my point was simply that the NT does at least appear to say something on the topic (at least, most fundamentalists read it that way, I believe).  So it’s not only an OT thing, it seems to me.

      • Anonymous

        “At length” is overstating it. It’s one or two sentences.

        It’s also arguable if he was even referring to same-sex behavior. He used made up words that appear nowhere else. Some people think he was referring to things like temple prostitution and/or pagan rituals that were common in the communities he addressed in the letter.

    • Greg

      If I can also point out something to be fair:

      A good few Christians probably haven’t read those verses about fabrics and all the rest.

      Maybe they would if they actually read their Bibles…

      Or maybe not. ;)

  • Ronan

    Personally, I wouldn’t call a person who thought that homosexual behavior was sinful a bigot as long as they didn’t try to run others’ lives based on those views.  But then, my own case rather parallels theirs, so I’m hardly objective.

    I’m of the opinion that human reproduction is morally indefensible–if not in all cases, at least in most cases.  I think that there’s a particularly strong case against having babies at this point in history, considering the uncomfortably large number of humans on the planet and the strains that our ballooning population (and style of living, for the wealthier countries) are putting on Earth’s ecosystems, but even were our global population much lower, I’d be against childbearing for several reasons, which I won’t go into here (it’s not really relevant what my reasons are; suffice it to say that I think that they’re strong, and that others would disagree with me).

    These views notwithstanding, I don’t go around trying to convert others to the Gospel of Childlessness, or make bitter comments near babies, or anything of that nature.  This is mostly because I know that my views would be tremendously unpopular and that airing them would not make a particle of difference and would only offend people.  I don’t think I’d use the word “sin” to describe people who choose to have children–I’m not from a religious background, so I don’t tend to think in those terms–but I don’t approve.  I keep my disapproval to myself, though, and other than leading me to the personal decision not to have children, my views don’t have much effect.

    So.  Am I a bigot?  That’s not meant as a rhetorical question; I don’t have any strong expectations as to what the response will be.  If I’m not misreading your comments, though, several of you have voiced the view that folks who disapprove of homosexual behavior are definitely bigots, and I’m curious as to whether a more unconventional opinion (which I’m sure a fair few will find similarly abhorrent) will elicit the same response.

  • Anonymous

    The word “bigot” is a distraction. Such an attitude is prejudiced. It’s heterosexist. It’s homophobic. It’s degrading and harmful.

    It doesn’t matter how a person comes to hold such an attitude, or how nice that person is, or how good their intentions. It’s intolerant and mean regardless of those things.

    • Anonymous

      I hasten to add that, if you believe that non-Christians(/Muslims/Jews/Buddhists…) deserve a worse afterlife than you, simply because they don’t believe in the same metaphysics, I would consider that bigot(/prejudiced/intolerant) as well.

  • Anonymous

    It’s still bigotry. It’s also ignorance. Anyone who justifies beliefs by appealing to Scriptures is failing to meet what I consider basic epistemic norms for belief formation.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    Bigot is such a loaded word; I prefer to simply think of them as horrible people.

    I would also like to link to this: Intent!  It’s Fucking Magic!

    Intent is the ultimate alchemy. It doesn’t change lead to gold, it
    changes harmful, negative or damaging actions into happy, fun, “everyone
    hugs and no one is oppressed”, magical unicorn actions.

    • cipher

      Bigot is such a loaded word; I prefer to simply think of them as horrible people.

      Yes! THANK you.

  • Jude

    “There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely want to be able to give their blessing to their [mixed race] friends’ relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids those relationships. I absolutely respect that.”
    When you replace one unchosen characteristic with another (sexual orientation for skin color), it’s easy to see where this argument goes wrong. If you say a mixed race marriage is wrong and defend it using the bible or religious text, you are bigot. If you say a homosexual marriage is wrong and defend it using the bible or religious text, you are still a bigot.

  • Rich Wilson

    going slightly off, but between this “Ask an” and the “Ask an evolutionary creationist”, I have a headache from face desking the contortions people will put themselves through to make their outlook on life match their book.  I don’t know if it’s the correct application of Occam’s razor, but if you’ve already given up on Genesis 1 being literal, and gay being a death penalty offence, then the whole thing would be a heck of a lot simpler if you just assume man made God in His image.  Just doesn’t seem a step back some people are willing to make.

  • Erik

    From wikipedia, bigotry generally implies disapproval, animosity, hostility. Since our person only checks for one of the three red flags, I’d just call it ignorance.
    Of course, we’d have to see how he really acted around someone with a different sexual orientation to be certain.

    • Ben

      Well this is why the whole question is just academic and really pointless. If that same person goes on to vote against marriage equality, for example, then yes, they’re a bigot.

  • Anonymous

    “There are also many compassionate, loving Christians who sincerely want to be able to give their blessing to their gay friends’ relationships but are unable to because they believe the Bible forbids those relationships. I absolutely respect that.”
    Maybe you can respect that, but I certainly cannot.  Their simple belief in the bible indicates ignorance and their ignorance is motivated by the hate that the bible preaches.  It reeks of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” which has been a major stick in my craw for decades, preached by my own mother.  How can you accept that your loving, Christian friends would noddingly approve a law that would forbid you from marrying the person you love, insisting that you remain celebate because their mythology demands it?  That is bigotry, no matter how you look at it, and I cannot respect that.  I WILL NOT respect that.

    • Steve Radant

      To be clear: “love the sinner; hate the sin” is a tawdry excuse for hating the sinner.  First, it has no basis in the Christian bible, unless one contorts the original writing beyond recognition.  Second, reinforces the assumption that the Christian (the lover/hater in this model)  has the right to presume what is “sinful” behavior by the “sinner” (the loved/hated).  

      “Love the sinner, hate the sin” implies that you embrace the person, but reject their actions.  The reverse case of “love the sinner; hate the sin” would be “love the beliver; hate their church attendance”.  That would be an obviously extreme position, and it calls out just how wrongheaded the love/hate model is.

      I happen to think that Christianity is inherently harmful, like all superstitions are.  But I don’t think that Christians should be treated badly, punished for their choice of church service, or denied basic rights under civil law.  That would be bigotry.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        The reverse case of “love the sinner; hate the sin” would be “love the beliver; hate their church attendance”.  That would be an obviously extreme position, and it calls out just how wrongheaded the love/hate model is.

        How does it call it out? I hate the belief that faith is a virtue, and consider it to be an immoral belief. Yet, I love many people who hold that belief. Should I hate them instead? I do not see a problem with “love the sinner, hate the sin.” As far as I can tell, many of us, maybe most, are doing just that.

  • arcanewinter

    Nobody’s forcing them to believe in the bible.  Yes, there’s a tremendous amount of social pressure and probably pressure from the family as well, but it’s still their choice to believe in something that is rationally unsupportable.  That doesn’t absolve them.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    Do we really want to go down this route? Our culture throws terms like “bigot” around like pancakes. It’s a cheap way to get somebody to back off from a discussion, and a tacit admission that you have no real argument yourself. You may be right, your cause may be just, but if you automatically assume that everybody who disagrees with your position is a bigot, even for innocuous reasons, you’ve already lost.

    • TheBlackCat

      If this isn’t bigotry, then what is?  

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    If you do anything or believe anything just because it is written in the Bible, you are motivated by ignorance.  You are ignorant of the fact that the Bible is just another book of ancient mythology. 
     If you believe that sexual activity is intended only for heterosexual marriage, then you are ignorant of the history and nature of marriage, which has meant many things to different cultures over the ages.  It would be hard to find any living Christians who would be willing to settle for marriage as it was practiced by the ancient Hebrews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    And one more thing… HOW many angels can dance on the head of a pin???

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      How big are their feet, and what dance are they doing?

  • Rich Wilson

    Just in time: http://www.npr.org/2011/09/20/140625557/double-take-toons-dadt-the-bell-tolls-for-thee

  • Liz Tess

    Ugh. Bigot =/= anyone who disagrees with me on a moral issue.
     
    How exactly can we prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that homosexual -or premarital – sex is morally acceptable? There’s no test for that. We all “know” that homosexual/premarital acts are fine (personally, I don’t think morality applies to categories of sexual acts, it all depends on the context of those acts). But is the other side just supposed to accept that? If it was reversed, and the Christians who “knew” that God was real and disapproved of homosexual/premarital sex told us to just accept their argument, why would we? Of course there is no evidence that God is real and the Bible is true, but where is our evidence that homosexual/premarital sex is okay? Any evidence put forward for either claim is subjective, e.g. “I feel the presence of God when I pray,” or “I find premarital sex with my partner to be emotionally satisfying.” Neither of these is proof of anything, but the lack of evidence doesn’t prove them false, either. Hello, that’s why there’s disagreement.
     
    Saying, “anyone who disagrees with [my non-verifiable truth claim] is a bigot” is failing at the argument. It just amounts to both sides plugging their ears and shouting, “you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong!” I think we’re equated “bigot” with “asshole,” i.e. anyone we think is so wrong about something that they should just stfu. What does calling someone a bigot (or intolerant, or an asshole) do for the disagreement? Okay, you think that person is a bigot… so how are you going to respond to their argument?
     
    Having said that, here are some statements I think ARE bigoted: gay people don’t make good parents (what about engaging in a homosexual act makes you a bad parent, and how do you refute statistics/case studies that show gay people being good parents?). Gay people can’t be happy in a relationships (how do you measure happiness? However you do, gay people will measure up pretty much the same as straight people). Gay people are pedophiles (see evidence re: no we’re not). Gay people are sex maniacs (see evidence re: I’m a virgin). Gay people shouldn’t get married (until you should me irrefutable evidence that a) God exists, b) God wrote the Bible, and c) your interpretation of the Bible is correct, your religious opinion doesn’t get preference over anyone else’s). Also, I think saying “a person who engages in homosexual sex doesn’t deserve to be treated as a full person” is also bigoted. Denying someone’s personhood is different from saying a particular act is bad.
     
    Now, whether a person who believes homosexual acts are sinful can also believe gay people can have satisfying relationships/make good parents/etc is up for debate. But if they support civil rights for gay people and don’t stereotype me and support me, I wouldn’t call them a bigot.

    • Steve Radant

      @Liz Test, who says “But if they support civil rights for gay people and don’t stereotype me and support me, I wouldn’t call them a bigot.”There’s the problem.  In theory, you’re absolutely right.  In practical demographic terms, most anyone who says they disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds is going to vote against civil rights.  The exceptions to this correlation are minimal.  There is a whole industry of professional preachers connecting the dots for there flocks, between religious opposition to homosexuality and the adherents’ “moral obligation” to support and expand discrimination in civil law.My aunt and uncle are two of the most loving, caring people I know.  They’re also very religious; if you’re offered coffee at their house, it will probably be served in a Focus On The Family mug.  A few years ago, they went to my parents house and solicited signatures at the dinner table for an anti-marriage petition… While their OWN gay grandson was sitting at the table.Call them bigoted or not, but don’t pretend there’s a subset who are against us on religious grounds but will support our legal rights.

    • Yakamoz

      How exactly can we prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that
      homosexual -or premarital – sex is morally acceptable? There’s no test
      for that.

      You need to go think about this more.  Don’t let the theists define morality as only coming from God, as only those things which offend god.  We can derive morality, and test whether homosexuality and premarital sex is morally acceptable by thinking about it for two minutes.  Do adults have the right to do what they want with their own body? Yep!  Does this include having sex with another consenting adult? Yep!

      Claiming that two adults who would otherwise have the right to consent to sex (two adult men) are wrong for engaging in sex with each other are special pleading, and the burden of proof is on them to justify the exception.

      the Christians who “knew” that God was real and disapproved of homosexual/premarital sex told us to just accept their argument, why would we?

      Christians have to demonstrate first that there is a God, that this god disapproves, and that this god’s opinion on sexual behavior matters more than my own when it comes to what I do with my own damn body.  Burden of proof: they have it. 

  • Anonymous

    Bigotry is when you take a group of people and treat them as inferiors. I think that we measure a person’s bigotry on their actions.  It isn’t a question of where you get your ideas from but a matter of how you act.  So a Christian who believes that homosexuality is a sin and tries to deny gay people equal marriage rights are bigots.  If they accept a gay person and support their rights then they aren’t.

    Earlier in the month Presidential candidate Rick Santorum was on the Piers Morgan show defending his position on gay marriage.  Morgan called him a bigot and Santorum was a bit upset about that but the point is he would deny equal rights to a group and he treats then as if they don’t deserve equal rights.  That’s bigotry.  That he wraps it up in religion might make it more palatable but it is still bigotry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic5EAO8RqVE

    • Rich Wilson

      Here’s a bit of followup http://www.atheistmedia.com/2011/08/college-student-schools-rick-santorum.html  Notice how Rick gets to dismiss any evidence he wants since it doesn’t support his position.

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t a disagreement about whether you should go out tonight to get Italian or Chinese, it’s a disagreement that seeks to marginalize and oppress a minority. Even if you’re not actively out there protesting homosexual rights or being some anti-gay firebrand when the time comes to vote on whether something like gay marriage should be allowed you’re going to go with the ignorance imparted on you by your religion and vote it down which makes you a bigot.

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com Andrew Finden

    Can’t we get past just shouting pejorative terms at people we disagree with and actually discuss the disagreement? (which is what Justin seems to be able to do with his friends in question).

    • Anonymous

      You can disagree about what food, movies or music to like. There is simply nothing to disagree with about homosexuality. It would be like disagreeing with the weather. It just is. And it’s simply not an option to willfully discriminate a minority and deprive them of their rights. Especially when all you can come up with are arguments rooted in religion

      • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

         There is nothing to disagree with about homosexuality.

        In the context of Justin’s discussion, the disagreement is about homosexual activity for Christ followers. 

        I’m not opposed to governments redefining marriage to include same-sex unions (surely the government’s interest in marriage is economic anyway?), however this won’t end marriage discrimination. People who are already married and love an additional person, or people who are related and have a consensual adult sexual relationship (if pro-creation is not an integral part of marriage anymore, then the usual ban on incest is moot) will not be afforded the right to marry whomever they love. Perhaps you support a change in the legislation for such couples – perhaps you don’t (does that make you a bigot?) The issue then is not discrimination, per se, but whether discrimination is arbitrary or justified – to use an extreme example, we do not grant paedophiles the right to marry whom they love for very good reason – the discrimination is not arbitrary but justified.

  • Troby0189

    I think we are all entitled to our own opinion. Free speech is what makes our country so great. We all have to tolerate each other. Tolerate even the intolerant views because, guess what? We all have the right to believe and think how we want to.

    In my opinion, if a Christian disapproves of homosexuality, it is the same as a Christian who disapproves of sex before marriage, or drunkenness, or adultery. For the Christian, all sins are created equal. 

    They are taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. They aren’t hating the human being. Don’t gay people see themselves as more than just their sexual orientation? Don’t prostitutes define themselves as more than just people who are paid for sex? Its just one facet of their lives, its not who they are as a person.

    The problem is that some Christians and other religious people can easily fall into judging others or looking “holier than thou.” That is not okay. God created every human being and therefore loves every human being as a child of God. It doesn’t mean God likes every thing we do, but God is the ultimate judge, and its not up to human to pass judgement for all of us are sinners. If any human doesn’t think they are a sinner, then they are sinning by thinking too highly of themselves. My hope is that Christians will practice what they preach: Loving God and Loving People.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      No one’s trying to stop Christians from believing whatever they like. The problem comes when they try to legally oppress people they call “sinners.” It’s not acceptable for people to use religion as an excuse to force their prejudice on the rest of society.

  • http://ideaswithheld.blogspot.com/ Confused

    http://ideaswithheld.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-you-believe-acting-on-homosexuality.html
    I realize I’m responding a few months after the original post, but I wanted to think about this one before I responded.

    The short and sweet of it is that the god of the Bible is a bigot, and anyone, including believers, who are complicit in his bigotry are themselves bigots by association.


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