Despite the Louie Giglio Controversy, Christianity Is (Unfortunately) Doing Just Fine

Yesterday, Christian pastor Louie Giglio withdrew his acceptance of President Obama‘s invitation to deliver the Inauguration benediction.

Louis Giglio

The statement on his website is a pretty clear indication that he still holds the abhorrent views on homosexuality that he delivered in a sermon nearly 20 years ago and which resurfaced this week (my own comments are in red):

The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate. (No, it’s not.) However, individuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve. (No one’s taking your rights away from you… unlike what you’re doing to gay people.)

As a pastor, my mission is to love people (unless they’re gay and want the same rights as you), and lead them well (away from homosexuality…), while lifting up the name of Jesus above anything else. I’m confident that anyone who knows me or has listened to the multitude of messages I have given in the last decade would most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people — any people (Your sermon is evidence to the contrary, and silence on the subject since then doesn’t equate to love and respect). Rather, I am constantly seeking to understand where all people are coming from and how to best serve them as I point them to Jesus. (If you cared at all about understanding us, you wouldn’t waste our time pointing to Jesus.)

What’s really incredible about all this is the way some Christians are reacting to the news. The Martyr Complex is in full swing on this one:

Theologian Russell Moore gave us proof that he probably failed the SAT’s analogy section:

The “shock” with which this so-called “anti-gay” stance is articulated by the Left is akin to the Pork Producers Association denouncing a Muslim Imam’s invitation because he is “anti-agriculture” due to Koranic dietary restrictions.

In fact, by the standards of this controversy, no Muslim imam or Orthodox Jewish rabbi alive can pray at a presidential inauguration.

Except no imam or rabbi is fighting to remove the “scourge of agriculture” from this country or trying to pass laws against eating pork despite their personal dietary traditions.

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, takes his usual “The sky is falling” approach on Christianity:

… a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least ten presidential inaugurations is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.

Holy shit, when Obama finds out that he himself is a practicing Christian, I think he’s going to resign from the Presidency!

No one’s declaring Christianity out of bounds.

Keep in mind: This will be an Inauguration where Myrlie Evers-Williams will deliver an invocation prayer, another pastor will probably end up delivering the benediction, Obama will be sworn in with his hand on top of two Bibles (“one stacked atop the other”), and he will likely end his recitation of the Oath of Office by saying “So Help Me God.”

Christianity ain’t going nowhere.

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition says that Obama disinvited Giglio — even though Giglio took himself out of the running — and argues that we should let the whole “homosexuality” thing slide because Giglio does a lot of other good things (“Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”):

For the past several decades voices inside and outside the church have said that Christians have hurt our witness by focusing on issues that challenge individualistic sexual permissiveness. They say that if we would only focus on actions that show how much we love our neighbor, actions like ending human trafficking, we would be welcomed in the public square. But as the Giglio incident reveals, no amount of good works can atone for committing the secular sin of subscribing to the biblical view of sexuality.

No one can truly love their neighbor and affirm their sin. For us to remain silent about homosexuality would show that we hate the world as much as the world hates us.

Aww, isn’t sweet? If Carter doesn’t loudly condemn gay people and work his damndest to strip away their rights, then the terrorists win!

Carter says we’re all so focused on Giglio’s “biblical view of sexuality” (which is a pretty euphemistic term for bigotry) that we ignore all the good he does. I actually think he’s right about that, but I defend it.

Focus on the Family, under the leadership of Jim Daly, has shifted its focus to getting kids adopted instead of preaching against homosexuality. That’s great news. But it doesn’t mean they’ve changed their minds or lessened their animosity toward progressives. It just means they’re trying to hide their true feelings so everyone stops demonizing them (including younger Christians).

Popular pastor Joel Osteen does the same thing. He doesn’t talk about homosexuality at his church — only in interviews, where he always ends up putting his foot in his mouth — but his silence on the issue is just evidence that he is no more enlightened on this subject than Jerry Falwell.

Should we judge these people by their views on homosexuality? Absolutely. It tells us far more about their character than anything they say to reporters, or in front of large crowds, or while on camera. It tells us we can’t look to them as beacons of morality. It tells us they only care about other people to an extent, not unconditionally. It tells us they would rather prevent people from visiting loved ones in hospitals or adopting children who need parents because the “definition of marriage” is something only they are allowed to change.

If these pastors really loved gay people like they say (and think) they do, they would tell their congregations something like this:

I know the Bible promotes unions between a man and a woman, but our government and our church are not one and the same. Even though our church will never sanctify gay or lesbian marriages, we will also not stand in the way of those who fight for equality in the eyes of our government.

It’ll never happen.

Giglio may do some great things, but all of that is, in my mind, outweighed by his inability to support those in our country who are treated as second-class citizens, in large part, thanks to him and the people who share his faith.

At least Giglio was invited. I doubt the Inaugural committee had any Secular Humanists, Muslim imams, or Hindu priests on their Delivering-the-Benediction shortlist. Most people didn’t even blink when it was announced Giglio would be delivering the benediction. It was just assumed that a Christian pastor would handle this task.

These conservatives are freaking out because the pastor who was chosen to be a part of one of our nation’s most important ceremonies stepped down from the role.

Meanwhile, the rest of us won’t get to freak out like that because our representatives were never invited in the first place.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Laminin is under attack by the evil liberal left in this country!

    Don’t they realize that all the Founding Fathers believed in Laminin (I think I read that in a David Barton book somewhere…) and they established this as a “Laminin Nation”?!?

  • Tainda

    I didn’t even get passed his first sentence!

    The issues of abuse, hunger and hate are the biggest issues our nation has to face

    Get your head out of your fraking ass.

    Sorry, I have only had 1 cup of coffee today

  • ortcutt

    They’re legally free to condemn gay people all they want, but I don’t understand why they feel entitled to be treated as honored members of society despite condemning gay people. It’s like someone who complains that “It’s like racists aren’t welcome in polite society anymore.” Yeah, sure, and what’s your point? It’s like they think that “It’s my religion” is a blanket license to social respectability no matter what they say or do. No, sorry, no. If they were confused on that point, then now would be a good time to disabuse themselves.

  • Paul Sunstone

    Aren’t Christians just adorable when they ramp up their Martyr Complex?

  • Theseus

    Spot on. They are so neurotically obsessed with homosexuality as opposed to other supposed sins. It has been pointed out to them time, after time, after time, that they are selectively reading from their holy book and that they don’t practice half the shit that God “commands” in the Bible.

    I’ve tried many times to point this out to such folks, all to no avail: “Look at ALL these laws from Moses and passages in Leviticus that you don’t adhere to at all. Why is that? Give me a good reason why? Why does homosexuality get the spotlight, but all this other stuff gets a pass”?

    More progressive minded Christians accept gays in their church primarily because they say that Christ made a new covenant with the New Testament, and that supercedes everything that came before; plus they also say that not everything in the OT can be taken literally because much of it was allegorical and thus inconsistent. It’s still bullshit reasoning, but I can tolerate and live with that I guess.

  • Blacksheep

    Actually it’s not BS – the new Testament is technically a new covenant and a “new deal.” The law is fulfilled in Christ so that sin takes a backseat to salvation. So pointing out mosaic laws from Leviticus have no real bearing on Christianity. And as you know, Jesus went on and on about helping the poor, not being judgemental, not being hypocritical, etc. Yes, the NT mentions homosexuality, but not nearly as much as those other things.

  • Blacksheep

    Abuse, hunger, and hate were among Christ’s biggest issues, too.

  • ortcutt

    “Yes, the NT mentions homosexuality, but not nearly as much as those other things.”

    There are passages in Romans, Corinthians, and Timothy that are condemnatory of a wide variety of sexual behavior, including homosexuality. There have been a number of attempts to explain away all of these but those are whitewashes. The New Testament (the Epistles not the Gospels) is broadly anti-sex in general, which is one of the reasons why Christianity is so screwed up. The only reasonable way to deal with it in a progressive way is to not follow the Bible, because it’s a lousy book that gives bad moral advice.

  • C Peterson

    Jesus also went on about how nothing he said invalidated anything in the OT, and that all OT law was still completely valid.

  • C Peterson

    Yes, he rather advocated for them, didn’t he?

    (It is rather inappropriate in discussions like this to refer to the mythological character of Jesus as “Christ”. We may agree or disagree as to whether there was a historical person Jesus – something which can probably never be settled conclusively- but “Christ” is a purely religious concept, that few here accept as valid.)

  • Theseus

    Yup! “Help we’re being oppressed, because we’re not allowed to oppress others!”

    Another good one I heard: “You’re shoving your secular society down our throats”! No lie, they’ve convinced themselves that if secularism exists within their vicinity (or range of vision) – even though none of their rights or freedoms are affected – somehow this amounts to oppression. Weird.

  • Rain

    “The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate.”

    I should have stopped right there. There’s just something about that use of the word “navigate” there that signifies emptiness and void ahead. But I read the rest of it anyway. Couldn’t make one damn heads nor tails out of it. What’s the point of reading something if the person writing it has no intention of saying anything at all? I guess the catch-22 is that first one has to read something before one can determine that one has not read anything at all.

  • Theseus

    Lol hence my assertion that “it’s still bullshit”.

  • Theseus

    Yeah, not a lot of it from the Gospels…..but Paul? Hooo boy. That was one sexually repressed individual. Unfortunately though, he is just continuing a tradition that was long held in the OT. Ancient Hebrews, unlike a lot of other ancient cultures in the Mediterranean, had huge hang ups about their bodies ( “nakedness”) and sex in general.

  • Octoberfurst

    I love how Christians think they can hold vile, bigoted positions but yet expect to be honored for their “pious” views. “My religions tells me to hate gay people. Why can’t you respect my beliefs?” Well because your beliefs are idiotic that’s why. It’s not that hard to understand.
    I also love their whole–”We love the sinner but hate the sin”–mantra. Yeah they “love” them so much they want to prevent gays from being clergy, teachers, members of the military, living next to them, doing business with them, having them as employees, spokespersons, well—anything really. (The list is long.) They demonize them at every turn but yet they loudly proclaim they LOVE them. Uh-huh. I’d hate to see what it would be like if they DIDN’T love them. ~snark~ Forgive me Christians if I think that you are less than sincere. Frankly I think a lot of fundies would love to see gays shunned, imprisoned or even executed because gays make the baby Jesus cry.

  • Gus Snarp

    That’s one theological interpretation, but it seems to fly in the face of Jesus’ supposed words. He makes it quite clear that not one bit of the old law was changed by his coming. Sorry, I don’t recall exact wording or verse, but it’s a pretty famous passage, I’m pretty sure someone here knows it.

    What seems clear is that some modern Christians have taken a very convenient approach to the Old Testament: keeping what suits them and saying the New Covenant relieves them of the rest. Then there’s the rest of your comment, that it is faith, not works that saves, a point of some contention among a variety of Christian denominations. But even the “faith, not works” crows should agree that faith and forgiveness are only real if one repents. In other words, the sins are still established by the old testament, and simply believing, while continuing to sin unrepentantly, will not get you into heaven. You have to repent, meaning you have to stop sinning, or at the least you have to be really trying to stop sinning, ostensibly Jesus can see into your heart of hearts and know what you are feeling.

    I used to have a friend who was a very public Christian, saying grace at every meal while the rest of us sat at the table uncomfortably, who would routinely steal things. Everyone knew he did, he was not ashamed of it in the least, and entirely unrepentant. When questioned on how he squared that with religion he always said “faith, not works”. This is a deliberate misunderstanding of the doctrine, and if the theologians who invented the doctrine are right, my former friend will be very distraught on judgment day. I guess he’s lucky that they odds of that are so very, very small.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    But secularism does affect their rights and freedoms: it protects them.

  • Theseus

    Ahhh. Yes. Yes. The whole “why can’t you tolerate my intolerance”? shit.

    They don’t seem to grasp the whole concept of one respecting their RIGHT to their belief but not respecting said belief itself. In other words I may tolerate you as a neighbor, but that doesn’t mean I have to like you or your despicable views; you’re not gonna be invited over to my house for a barbecue anytime soon.

  • Theseus

    BTW I live in Texas, and your average blue collar evangelical dominionist makes no bones about wanting to see anti-sodomy laws put back on the books and (many times harshly) enforced.

  • Rich Wilson

    First black people didn’t want to be slaves.
    Then women wanted to vote.
    And now gay people want to get married.

    It just goes to show that we are in a downward spiral of moral decay and we need to beg God’s mercy to set us right. Before he hits us again. Maybe he’ll even give us some chocolates and flowers.

    (I know blacksheep, I’m being caustic. But I’m sick of the overwhelming correlation between the belief that Jesus is our savior, and the belief that two men or two women having fun with their sexual organs is bad)

  • Tainda

    Anyone having fun with their sexual organs is bad. Dontchaknow?

  • J-Rex

    I love how Albert Mohler can believe that the White House has declared Christianity to be out of bounds even though they were the ones who invited Giglio, not the ones that made him step down.

  • Emma

    What in the world is Albert Mohler even talking about? Did I miss something here? Didn’t Giglio decline the invitation himself? How can this be construed as an action by the government against Christianity when Giglio was invited and declined on his own.

    Oh, and yes, sorry (actually, no I’m not) but the outdated and oftentimes horrific ethics and ‘morality’ displayed by a 2,000 year old book absolutely do not have any place in our law or society.

  • Emma

    Indeed, this enhanced stance against homosexuality and same-sex marriage is not consistent at all with the Bible. It all makes my head hurt.

    I don’t have any clue how they can be true believers in the Bible and God (note: I am not saying that they aren’t necessarily) yet then disregard so many things it says, while raising others above them. You see, to me, I see that as putting themselves above the God they claim to believe in. Also, I don’t think that Jesus would appreciate the fact that so many of his followers preach hate against homosexuality over giving resources to the poor.

    My point is, though, that they completely disregard laws on the very same level as those condemning homosexuality. They claim that the New Testament and Jesus gets rid of these OT laws, but at the very same time they quote Old Testament verses to condemn homosexuality. They claim that the stance against same-sex marriage follows the “Biblical definition of marriage”, yet Biblical marriage is a completely different ‘institution’ from what it is today, and they seem to have no problem with that. For example, they preach against polygamy, even though the Bible promotes it.

    They don’t follow the Bible. Period. It’s painfully obvious, and makes this issue all of the more frustrating to me. They’re being very deceitful, and homosexual individuals and same-sex couples are suffering from it because when something gets claimed as a “deep religious belief” it commands respect in our totally misguided society.

  • Blacksheep

    Well, yes and no. he said that the law was still the law, and that he came to fulfill the law (by dying). In terms of special Jewish laws outside of the 10 commandments, Jesus said a lot about how silly those laws / rules were – whether it be picking wheat on the sabbath or stoning someone.

  • Blacksheep

    It’s not. As I wrote above, there’s more to it than you are getting into. Picking a few soundbites and calling bullshit on them doesn’t count for analysis or understanding.

  • Theseus

    Right. So, the conclusion is that all Holy books containing ancient religious texts that consist of conflicting stories, allegories, laws, supernatural beliefs, and ever changing moral behavior – that are from different authors many times centuries or even thousands of years apart – are inconsistent and altogether unreliable to use as a template or source of any serious discussion about morality.

  • Blacksheep

    is this it?:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

    There are others, too. I agree with you – the old law was not changed with his coming (except for times when he was clearly showing that certain jewish laws were not practical, or just plain wrong, like when they accused jesus of breaking the sabbath when he took wheat from a field to eat). he also spoke out against stoning, which was part of OT law, by giving people a radical way to look at guilt and innocence – “throwing the first stone.”

    As far as your old friend goes, I agree with you 100% that his take on things makes no sense based on Christine doctrine.

  • Blacksheep

    Your comment makes no sense whatsoever.

    (he was referred to as Christ in The Bible, which is a real book, whether or not you believe it’s from God.
    …So should I tell people not to say “jeebus” and “sky fairy”? :)
    Jesus is not mythological, atheists feel that his status as God is).

  • C Peterson

    All Abrahamic religions are fundamentally based on picking soundbites and calling them “truth”. Yet they argue that amounts to analysis and understanding.

    One soundbite that is bullshit invalidates the entire Bible. One soundbite that is reasonable does nothing to validate it, however. For religion, logic is a real bitch!

  • Rich Wilson

    it of an aside, but the “cast the first stone” story isn’t in any of the original manuscripts It was likely added later, perhaps a note in a margin, that was then copied into the main text. Sort of like a “genetic replication error”.

  • Theseus

    Believe me, I hear you. I am aware of the totality of what the Gospel writers claim Jesus said and there is a lot of good stuff in there. The Sermon on the Mount , calling out hypocrites, forgiveness, helping your fellow human beings etc. I get that.

    However there are still passages that are contradictory, precisely because they were written by different authors at different times with differing view points and traditions. If someone says the law is still the law that’s pretty explicit, and he was making that statement in response to people inquiring if he was there to change the law. There is much more, and I stand by the fact that the NT has the same problems with consistency as the OT.

  • Houndentenor

    This reminds me of the recent “controversy” about people yelling censorship because someone blocked them from facebook or deleted a comment posted on their blog. Giglio has the right to preach whatever he wants at his church. He can even stand on the streetcorner and yell it at the top of his lungs. But he does not have a right to the podium at someone else’s event. No one has that right. If they did I’d love to be on the panel every night on Chelsea Lately. It doesn’t work that way.

  • Houndentenor

    LOL What’s so difficult? Some people are gay. *shrug*

  • Houndentenor

    If you listen to any Theocon radio talk shows, their freedom includes forceing everyone else to indulge them and pay homage to their beliefs whether they agree with them or not. If we don’t all pay lip service to fundamentalist Christianity, we have violated their rights.

  • matt

    I still find it fishy that a god would need to make a “New” testament anyway. Why did the all-powerful, all-knowing god need to come down a second time? Why the lack of efficiency? Why didn’t he/she/it just come here the first time and set everything straight?

  • Houndentenor

    Unless you’re using meth and doing it with a prostitute! LOL

  • Houndentenor

    The ones I know tend to live in a bubble. Their entire social life is built around their church and their church friends. They don’t know any out gay people and if they do know any gay people they’re most certainly apologetic about being gay. So they are completely blindsided when gay people fight back at being demonized and scapegoated by Fundies. It really never occurred to them that saying what they say every day to their friends and to their congregations could get them in trouble when it’s heard by the public at large.

  • Houndentenor

    Tolerance. I hate that word. Who the hell wants to be tolerated? If you don’t like me, fine. I don’t care and probably wouldn’t like you either if that’s the case. Life is too short to spend begging for people who hate you to stop being so mean. Screw ‘em. BUT I do demand that I be treated as an equal citizen under the law. Tolerance implies that anyone gives a crap what you think about what they do. For the most part they don’t. But the law and things like public accommodations require equal treatment.

  • Houndentenor

    Not just blue collar. Throughout the 90s (when Bush was governor) the GOP party platform called for ENFORCING the state’s sodomy laws. It was a Texas case that overturned those laws in the end. LOL

  • Theseus

    Right. If we don’t give evangelical Christianity preference and special treatment sanctioned by the government ( gee, so much for their “less government “bullshit) then we are oppressing them.

  • Anna

    That’s the thing. They fight so hard to punish and stigmatize people that they claim to love. And they almost never treat other “sinners” the same way. Where’s the move to stop Buddhists from adopting children? Or unmarried straight couples from holding jobs or renting apartments? They’re entirely focused on trying to make sure our culture treats homosexuality as inferior.

  • Theseus

    Well said bro’.

  • Blacksheep

    The whole topic of what did and didn’t make it into the Bible is complicated, and if I didn’t believe that God guided the canon, (“All scripture is breathed out of God…”) frankly I wouldn’t trust it – too much room for error!

  • bananana slug

    “and that he came to fulfill the law (by dying). ”

    but then a few days later, he was no longer dead. Does that mean the laws are unfulfilled?

  • Blacksheep

    I never knew this was here, but a good page on the historicity of Jesus:

    One line from it: “Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted. While there is little agreement on the historicity of gospel narratives and their theological assertions of his divinity, most scholars agree that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD.”

  • Blacksheep

    I don’t know! maybe it’s because the law, or the idea of an absolute right and wrong, as well as justice, is built into God’s nature, (and therefore the universe) but so is forgiveness and love. Maybe this construct allows both to exist and not cancel out the other.

  • Blacksheep

    The Bible says that he bore the punishment for our sins, and that the debt was “paid in full” – so based on that, I would say thay the law is fulfilled.

  • Blacksheep

    …In your opinion. Followers of Abrahamic religions believe them to be God’s word.

    In any situation, it’s only understanding that can validate or invalidate. That goes for religion, science, relationships too. One isolated fight does not make a bad relationship.

  • Theseus

    Yeah and that bubble is even more sealed off than you think. Their only media exposure for news is Fox and religious right radio. They are clueless about basic facts on history and science.

    Someone like David Barton will tell them absolute lies about the founders and this country’s history, and they have no idea how much he is playing them like a fiddle. They are also unaware that the vast majority of the western world ( including Japan) thinks that they are a total joke.

  • Rich Wilson

    The “one bad fight” position isn’t helped by claiming “All scripture is breathed out of God”. At least IMO.

  • Rich Wilson

    Christians are the Rosa Parks of America

    (which is why I’m sure Obama will pick a non-Christian to do the benediction)

  • C Peterson

    Virtually all modern scholars who have looked at this, and all ancient scholars, were Christian, and highly biased. That is starting to change, and there is excellent scholarship from historians unassociated with religion that paints a convincing case that there was no historical Jesus at all.

    It is quite certain that were we discussing anything other than Christianity, what passes for evidence for the historicity of Jesus would be laughed at by serious scholars.

  • C Peterson

    Of course Jesus is mythological. There is virtually no credible evidence that he existed at all. That said, even if you assume that Jesus was a real person, as soon as you refer to him as Christ you absolutely push things into the realm of mythology.

    It is as inappropriate to refer to him as “Christ” in a scholarly discussion as it is to use terms like “BC” or “AD” in a discussion of history.

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m willing to take Bart Ehrman’s word for it. It’s not really something that concerns me all that much anyway.

  • kaydenpat

    I wonder why someone like Giglio was invited to do the inaugural benediction in the first place. When I saw Bryan Fischer praising him, I knew something was wrong.

  • kaydenpat

    I’m listening to the great “historian”, Mr. Barton babbling on about the Christianist Founding Fathers right now on TBN.

  • Anna

    Rick Warren was more understandable. Obama wanted to try (futile as it was) to appeal to evangelical voters. What on earth would be the point this time around?

  • TychaBrahe

    Except no imam or rabbi is fighting to remove the “scourge of agriculture” from this country or trying to pass laws against eating pork despite their personal dietary traditions.

    I have to disagree with this. We’ve had numerous instances of Muslim cashiers refusing to ring up pork products and Muslim taxi drivers refusing to transport people carrying duty-free alcohol out of the airport or traveling with service dogs. We also have Jews seeking state funding for religious schools in heavily religious communities.

    That this gets stomped down pretty heavily is only because both religions make up only about 3% of the US. I have no doubt that if either were a significant portion of the population, at least some people would be advocating for their religious traditions to be enshrined as law.

  • observer

    “but I don’t understand why they feel entitled to be treated as honored members of society”

    It’s because they’re the “good guys”; people who are morally superior in every way. And of course, the good guys always triumphs over the “bad guys”. So whenever things like this happen, they’re practically whining, “We’re the good guys, we’re suppose to win and everything, this isn’t fair!!”

    I believe one reason why they’re going with the black & white attitude (i.e. either homosexuality is immoral, and we, and everyone else, SHOULD have the right to; or homosexuality is morally superior to the point that anyone who goes against it will be punished) is because they don’t want to be the bad guys.

    If you think of it this way, if people start realizing that homosexuals poses no harm, and that it’s wrong to see gays as being lesser–basically homosexuality is neutral, and isn’t all that different from heterosexuality, that’s not going to help the “morally superior” homophobes be the “good guys”. and the fact that homophobes CAN be bigots all they want, they just can’t make their hate be law, isn’t going to make gays look as tyrannical as the homophobes make them out to be, which will also doesn’t help the homophobes. So as a last resort, the homophobes can try to make homosexuals be the real bullies by saying that they (the homosexuals or allies) are trying to shut them (the homophobes) up.

  • C Peterson

    I find it theologically and historically fascinating the way that religious myths form, and how little connection to reality is actually required.

    The validity of Christianity isn’t dependent on whether Jesus was a historical person or not, but for those of us interested in actual history, the birth of Christianity is very interesting.

  • C Peterson

    I find it theologically and historically fascinating the way that religious myths form, and how little connection to reality is actually required.

    The validity of Christianity isn’t dependent on whether Jesus was a historical person or not, but for those of us interested in actual history, the birth of Christianity is very interesting.

  • KMR

    From what I understand Giglio has done extensive work to fight human trafficking. Obama would like to highlight that issue in his second term. HIs invitation had nothing to do with appealing to evangelical voters.

  • jayjonson

    What I don’t understand is this. They defend Giglio’s anti-gay rant because it is “biblical.” Then they say he does great things because he is fighting slavery. But if he took a biblical approach to slavery, what he would be doing is not trying to end slavery, but teaching slaves that they should obey their masters. That is the biblical view of slavery.

  • Theseus

    It’s not really that complicated.

    Here’s an abridged version: Because there were so many Christian sects with so many different scriptures and so many different different beliefs, Roman Emperor Constantine said: “Enough of this crap! We’re going to have a unified article of faith and belief system”. So, he assembled a hand picked council to decide and “debate” which scriptures were canonical and which set of beliefs were “true” ( a huge one was the nature of God in relation to Jesus. Was Jesus just his son but a separate being or was he one with the father ?) Eventually, what emerged from this was the Christian Bible. All other scriptures were banned ( of course we have several famous examples of some surviving scriptures that didn’t make it in)and anyone that disagreed with the councils ultimate decisions were branded heretics.

    A completely human process; there is nothing divine going on here. When one considers all the huge holes and inconsistencies as well, I am gobsmacked that someone could think that this was guided by a divine hand. Especially since it was Constantine guiding this. Constantine… a Saint?!! Any one familiar with his brutal and murderous reign as Emperor should scoff at this. C’mon, a lot of this was clearly political as well.

    It’s amazing how many on the Christian right don’t even know this basic history.

  • Theseus

    BTW Blacksheep, that last sentence was not meant to be directed at you.

  • coyotenose

    If it’s built into the universe, it shouldn’t have required explaining, More than that, it shouldn’t have taken thousands of years to bother to TRY explaining… and then fuck up the explaining so badly that it isn’t possible to get it right.

    There’s nothing whatsoever in the nature of the God described in the Bible that aligns with the definition of the word “just”.

  • Edmond

    I wish they’d listen when you try to tell them that.

  • Edmond

    What I don’t understand is this: If you’re God, the creator of the universe and everything in it, including human beings, which are beings capable of love and joy and pain and sorrow, and you WANT to “save their souls” and NOT have them go to Hell, and the most important aspect of that is whether they believe your Message or not… then WHY would you put that Message into the hands of humans to deliver to other humans?

    If he REALLY cared about not sending these pain-capable beings, which he created and endowed with the ability to feel pain, to an eternity of torturous pain, then shouldn’t he try just a LITTLE harder at making sure that his Message is delivered properly and PERSONALLY? Each time one person tells another person about “The Word of God”, it comes from a person! It’s not the word of a “god”, it’s the word of a person! In order for me to believe that this is the word of God, I’d have to TAKE the word of the person who told me so! Doesn’t he see the contradictory messages that are competing for attention down here? Doesn’t he hear the varying supernatural claims being made? And an eternity of PAIN awaits us if we make the wrong choice? And this system is the BEST that he can come up with, to AVOID sentencing us to eternal pain?

    Immoral and implausible, every inch of it. To say NOTHING about what’s IN the Message.

  • Richard Wade

    Christianity ain’t going nowhere.

    That’s correct. It isn’t moving at all. It has reached the end of its rope, the limit of its backward, anachronistic, superstitious, negative views of people, of nature, and of reality. The rest of the world is steadily moving forward, and Christianity is being left behind, stuck clinging to the last of its preciously held shreds of superiority and hatred of anyone who varies even slightly from their narrow, vain, narcissistic, self-based view of what is right and good. Every day the distance grows, every day they become more irrelevant. Christians need not fear that their religion will ever be forcibly ended. It will simply be quietly forgotten.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Not so fast, Slick…The Dead-Guy-On-A-Stick was quite the tribalist Jew when it came to “helping others”…The “others” were unclean and he referred to them as dogs as per the Law…He preferred expensive ointments to be poured on his head and even got snippy with his annoying, wide-eyed, Bronze Age Facebook Fan Club when he informed them (in a narcissistic status update which received exactly twelve “Likes” or “Crowns-of-Thorns”), “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26:11)…Cult leaders are narcissists, just like the Dead-Guy-On-A-Stick. I’ve been sayin’ this since I was knee-high to a disturbing dogma. Glory!

  • blah

    I’m confused, why would the White House invite a human secularist to provide a benediction?!?!

  • blah

    I’m pretty sure that it was the church that played a big part in ending slavery here in the U.S didn’t it?

  • blah

    ?!?! All ancient scholars were Christian? Seriously, who told you that? Most scholars at the time were Roman and Jewish. Neither of the two groups really wanted anything to do with Jesus except kill him.

    Christians of the early years were more than not, poor and illiterate for the most part, not to mention running for their lives and living in caves to escape persecution of the early church.

  • blah

    Your statement doesn’t make since. If Jesus was not a historical person, then clearly Christianity has NO CHANCE of being valid.

    If Jesus did exist, while hard to believe that what Jesus taught was true, it at least makes it possible to exist I suppose.

  • Rich Wilson

    ” If Jesus was not a historical person, then clearly Christianity has NO CHANCE of being valid.”

    And? Anyone claiming Jesus was not a historical person has already come to the conclusion that Christianity has NO CHANCE of being valid. In fact, many who think Jesus probably was a historical person think Christianity has NO CHANCE of being valid.

  • blah

    Uhm…because we’re not Jewish perhaps. The OT Law was for the Jews, not the Gentiles. If you were pointing this out to a Jewish person, then yes, you would have a point. Christianity didn’t even exist at the time the laws were given.

  • C Peterson

    Paul apparently didn’t believe that Jesus was a real person, yet he essentially invented Christianity as it has been passed down to us. The common dogma of Christianity is the same whether or not the person of Jesus was real.

  • C Peterson

    There were no ancient Roman or Jewish scholars asking the question of whether Jesus existed. It was much later Christian scholars who attempted (and failed) to show that Jesus was historical, using the writings of ancient Roman and Jewish historians.

  • Anna

    Why not? They’ve had Christians almost exclusively. It would be nice if they decided to give someone else a turn. Obama doesn’t have anything to lose this time around. He could invite a member of a minority without worrying about the political consequences. It’s unlikely he would choose someone as unpopular as a secular humanist or an imam (I can just imagine the furor), but at the very least he might consider a rabbi.

  • Anna

    No, it didn’t. You might want to read up on that.

  • Anna

    Ah, thanks. That makes the choice a little more understandable.

  • Theseus

    Hmmmm. Interesting point, but Christians have co-opted Jewish law for themselves: that is why the OT is part of the Bible. Most devout Christians will tell you that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the OT.

    The point that is being made, is that Christians cherry pick the passages that they like in the OT and conveniently ignore the ones that they don’t.

  • blah

    Of course they didn’t ask the question…because they didn’t need to. I’ve never met JFK, and he died before my time, but I don’t question that he existed. Why would I?

    There’s evidence of his existence. Now, let’s say 400 years pass and that video/photographic evidence didn’t survive. Based on people’s accounts, letters people wrote with references about him, history texts, etc, one would conclude that JFK existed right? Not you. You’d say he was mythological unless he came back into your living room apparently!

    I understand that a lot of people on this site pride themselves as being a skeptic, but come on! Most on this site also claim that “They believe in reason!” It would be UNreasonable to look at the evidence and say nope. Sorry!

    What you’re citing as a source of your skepticism is blind faith. Blind faith that Jesus did not exist while there is evidence that says Jesus DID exist.

    Again, you can question His deity if you’d like, but I don’t understand how you can say He didn’t exist. Maybe you haven’t done your homework on the subject yet?

  • blah

    Do you have examples of these contradictions? Just because I call a container brown, and you call it a square doesn’t mean we are being contradictory. We could be both describing the container. Both of our descriptions could be used together to gain a better understanding of what the container looks like.

    Something similar is taking place when we’re talking about the 4 Gospels.

  • Rich Wilson
  • blah

    Because a benediction is a prayer and blessing. Now, if you wanted to call it something other than a benediction, and then have a secular humanist provide the “closing comments”, “closing words” or “good words” then I would be fine with anyone giving it.

    If you’re asking someone to give a prayer though, it should probably be done someone who actually prays shouldn’t it?

  • C Peterson

    There are no contemporary records of Jesus. None. This despite his being presented in the Bible as a person of widespread fame. This despite the fact that we have extensive writings from historians who were present in where and when he is claimed to be active. This despite the fact that we have legal and governmental records from the time detailing much more trivial cases than his would have represented. Of course, taken literally, the history described in the NT is known to be false, and different gospels are contradictory.

    If, in 400 years, there were no contemporary records of JFK- nothing at all but a handful of accounts a generation later (mostly derived from just a single source), then we would be entirely justified in assuming that JFK did not exist.

    Historicity is determined by multiple lines of independent evidence. In the case of Jesus, there is almost none. If we changed “Jesus” to “Brian”, whom no religion stemmed from, and used the same historical evidence to argue for his existence, any serious historian would just laugh. Without the religious bias of scholars, the historicity of Jesus would represent a fringe viewpoint at best.

  • Theseus

    The first part of your last sentence was true, however the last is a myth that has been perpetuated for centuries. This creates a completely false picture that Rome was religiously intolerant.

    Romes persecution of Christians was sporadic at best. If anything Rome was extremely tolerant and welcoming of other religions and cults. Many beliefs that came from the east were co-opted into traditional pagan Roman beliefs or else exclusively worshiped.

    So why is there any persecution of Christians in ancient Rome at all? Well the first and most famous example was because Nero used them as scapegoats for the massive fire that broke out in Rome. Secondly , as I stated ,like most pagan societies, Rome had no problem with the thought that other pantheons existed. It was kind of like: “Hey these gods exist and these gods ALSO exist. What’s the big deal? Worship this god or set of gods that bring you and your family the greatest benefit”. However each culture or nation had it’s own PATRON gods and Rome had theirs. If one did not respect and acknowledge this ( as early Christians did not) this was seen as socially improper. Add to the fact that it became known that Christians not only refused to pay the patron gods any respect , but that they were vocal about their way being the ONLY way and their God being the ONLY God; this was seen as extremely arrogant and a slap in the face to the rest of Rome.

    This of course does not in any way excuse the suffering of these human beings and the horrifying ways that these people were punished or put to death.

  • Rich Wilson

    It didn’t help that the political leader was a demi god that the Christians didn’t acknowledge.

  • Anna

    Well, there have been cases of people offering secular benedictions before, so it’s not unheard of. I don’t like the idea of it in general, but if they insist on having something, I’d rather they choose someone who isn’t Christian, since they’ve had a monopoly on the entire thing for years.

  • Theseus

    Yeah, that was a huge one. Also, he was technically the head priest.