Is It Okay for Christians to Support Marriage Equality Long After the Rest of Us?

Christian blogger Tony Jones was asked what he thinks about prominent Christians (like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis) who are now, finally, coming around to support marriage equality:

Jones says what’s on everybody’s mind — It’s relatively easy to support marriage equality now, but where were you when it mattered? — but then he adds another point (with an exasperated sigh, I might add): In the long run, what matters is not when they came around, but that they came around.

To an extent, I agree with him. I would rather have evangelical Christians (and everyone else, for that matter) support marriage equality even if it takes a while for them to get there.

But only on a few conditions.

They can never say that they were on the right side of the argument when it mattered.

They can never say they helped steer our country in the right direction.

They have to admit they were part of the problem, and that they either fought hard to take away civil rights from LGBT people or (in the case of silent Christians) prevent them from getting those rights in the first place, and that they gave money to churches that were openly and proudly intolerant of homosexuality, and that they stayed silent when we needed their voices the most, and that they held on to their homophobia because their religion taught them to do so.

If they’ll admit to those things, I don’t care when they come around on this issue.

Yes, there are evangelical Christians who have always been openly supportive of LGBT rights, and I can’t express my gratitude enough. But their support came in spite of their churches, not because of them. While a few Christians denominations supported equal rights long ago, there’s no reason to think they shifted the paradigm on their own.

History will — and must — remember Christianity, certainly evangelical Christianity, for being an obstacle to LGBT equality. We cannot allow for any historical revisionism on that even after the tides turn.

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.

  • GCT

    How about another condition where they should try to actually atone for their previous positions and the harm they have caused? Even if they admit they were wrong, it’s not enough to simply wipe their hands of it and claim that they’ve done their duty. They need to help repair the damage they have done.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      adopt unwanted children? shelter runaway incest victims? care for the developmentally disabled?

      no, that would be too christian. plus, it’s hard work and costs money.

      • baronsabato

        There are Christians who do all those things and more. Referring to “them” as a blanket statement is unfair and wrong. Not all Christians are the same, just as not all LGBT people are the same.

    • http://www.awaypoint.wordpress.com Valerie Tarico

      How about they actually go head to head with their evangelical brethren who are still promoting murder of gays in Uganda? That, for starters, would be a good way to atone.

    • Mario Strada

      Let’s not forget that many of them are still vehemently opposed to marriage equality. Many are yet to revise history because we are living it now and there is still a bit of juice left in the hate movement.

    • Baby_Raptor

      There’s no repairing the suicides their shaming has caused. Or all the emotional damage LGTBs have suffered from constantly hearing the shit these people say about us. Or the terror some of us feel when we live in an area where the popular opinion is “Kill the fags and let god take care of it.”

      There’s no button they can push that will undo all that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.potter.73 Matt Potter

    I think that in the long run Christians will view the issue of LGBT equality as they do with the civil rights protests of the 60′s. That is, it was the ‘godly’ that spearheaded the entire movement and the bible never condoned such a thing. When you’ve been making up stories for this long I can’t see them stopping now.

    • http://twitter.com/D_A_White Devin White

      Let’s be fair here: Christians did spearhead the civil rights protests. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major force in that movement and a minister, and for him those did not conflict. Of course, there were Christians on both sides.

      However, there was also not nearly as large of a secular movement then as there is now. Christians spearheaded the movement against other Christians because most people were Christian. Now that there is a more organized and larger secular movement, I think history will remember the LGBT equality issue differently.

      • GCT

        If you read Susan Jacoby’s book “Freethinker” you’ll find that secular people tended to be on the right side of these struggles. MLK Jr. had quite a few advisers and helpers that were not Xian.

        • Anna

          I was also going to recommend Freethinkers. Secular people were very involved in the women’s suffrage movement, too, which Christians also like to pretend that they spearheaded.

        • Pseudonym

          Without having read the book, I can see two different claims being conflated here.

          One claim is that there were plenty of non-theists on the side of civil rights. However, that’s not the same as saying “secular people tended to be on the right side of these struggles”.

          Activists of all kinds were on “the right side”, but most people (and I would suspect that this would include most atheists) were not activists.

          • GCT

            The difference is that religious people were the ones doing the abusing, the harassing, the oppressing. It was only the people who went against their religious teachings and churches and the majority of the lay people who ended up being on the right side of things. Hey, it’s still true today.

  • Artor

    This is exactly the revisionism we’ve been expecting, starting to rear it’s head. In a decade, after this is a done decision, Xians will point at these guys and say, “See? The movement to accept homosexual rights was always an Xian movement, just like the Civil Rights Act and the Emancipation Proclamation!”

  • peicurmudgeon

    What will happen is that the few Christians who have long supported equality will be held up of examples of how all Christians led the fight. That was used for both slavery and colour.

    • http://twitter.com/vinimarques Vini Marques

      And women’s rights.

    • Pseudonym

      I don’t think that anyone kids themselves that all Christians “led the fight” against (say) slavery. But it’s undoubtedly true that mostly Christians did, for the simple reason that most people in the relevant places were Christians. (At least, they did in the British Empire, which is the history that I know about; I can’t speak for US, which is always an odd one out on the world stage.)

      It’s no different with marriage equality. Is it even the slightest bit surprising that the first legally sanctioned same-sex marriage in the US took place in a church?

      (As an aside, anyone unfamiliar with the history of same-sex marriage may not know that it happened in 1971. Needless to say, the atheist community (such as it was at the time) wasn’t involved, if only because it had other things to worry about. Mind you, it didn’t help that Madalyn Murray O’Hair was notoriously unsympathetic on the issue of gay rights, and outright homophobic if Jane Kathryn Conrad is to be believed. But I digress.)

      This isn’t really about a Christianity vs atheism pissing contest, though. This is really about oversimplifying history, and there’s plenty of that to go around on both sides. In further news, Thomas Jefferson had (and had children with) slaves, Christopher Hitchens sent his daughter to a Quaker school, and the United States did not win World War II single-handed.

      One problem is that people remember the names of the heroes, even minor heroes, and conveniently forget the names of the villains, especially minor villains. In a hundred years, historians will have resurrected the names of many fairly minor players in the gay rights movement, but nobody will remember the names of most of those who stood against marriage equality.

      Even today, everyone knows the name Rosa Parks, but very few know the name James F. Blake.

      • GCT

        This isn’t really about a Christianity vs atheism pissing contest, though.

        For you to reduce the brutal religious privilege that Xians wield against atheists like a club to a mere pissing contest is pretty reprehensible. This matters because it is used like a club against atheists. It matters because it perpetuates the bullshit lie that Xian = good. It matters because some of us are tired of being treated like second class citizens by history revising assholes.

        • Pseudonym

          There’s nothing inherently “brutal” about privilege. Being white, or male, or straight, or rich, does not by itself make you “brutal”. What matters is entirely how you use it.

          Some Christians have used, and still use, privilege for good. Some have used, and still use, privilege for evil. The vast majority have live their lives not even knowing they have it, and could use it for good if they realised it.

          I want people to see just how complex history really is. That’s the opposite of “reducing”.

          • GCT

            You most certainly are reducing this down to a “pissing match” (your words). This is not a pissing match. My rights are not a pissing match. Fuck you for suggesting so, and fuck your religious privilege, which is brutal. Any time a group is made into a despised minority and held down as second-class citizens, it is brutal, whether you like the term or not.

            • Pseudonym

              Just to be clear: The words “pissing match” were in reference to whether atheists or Christians have more “right” to be associated with the history of gay rights. I thought it was pretty clear when I wrote that since that is the entire point of the story. If I caused any misunderstanding on that point, I apologise.

              My point is that the gay rights movement is neither an inherently atheist movement, nor an inherently theist movement. This is also true of the civil rights movement, and the feminist movement, and every other similar social movement in recent history. To insist otherwise, to attempt to rewrite history along atheist-vs-theist lines, is to engage in a pissing match. But more importantly, it does violence to the memory of all those who put their reputation, livelihood, wellbeing and in some cases lives on the line for an important cause.

              • GCT

                And, I got all that. What I responded to still goes unanswered. Xians don’t get to turn around later and claim they were behind it all the time. They don’t get to twist history to suit their religious privilege, which they then will use as a cudgel against atheists and other non-Xians. That’s what has happened in the past multiple times, and it’s not a pissing match to call them out and point it out. It’s a fight against brutal religious privilege. They are the ones doing violence to the memory of people who fought for civil rights, not us. (This is especially true since the Xians who have worked for civil rights did so by going against the greater wishes of their fellow congregants and especially their church hierarchies.)

                • Pseudonym

                  Xians don’t get to turn around later and claim they were behind it all the time.

                  I’ll agree, and go further. Note that this applies to any social movement which is on the “right” side of history.

                  Any person or group who was behind it all the time gets to say that, no matter what that person believes about the existence of deities. And nobody gets to write them out of the history of the movement.

                  Any person or group who was against it all the time and is now in favour of it doesn’t get to rewrite history and claim that they were, no matter what that person believes about the existence of deities. And nobody (least of all them) gets to write their animosity out of history.

                  Any person or group who was not against it at the time, but had different priorities, doesn’t get to rewrite history and claim they were part of the history of the movement, no matter what they believe about the existence of deities. And nobody gets to say they were on the wrong side of history.

                  If we agree on all this, then we agree.

                  BTW, Martin Luther King, Jr was not going against the wishes of his fellow congregants or his church hierarchy. Just sayin’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    In my opinion it depends on how they approached the issue before changing their minds. Were they simply small-c conservatives who did not think enough study had gone into the implications of the policy change? Were they truly anti-gay, but came to understand homosexuals as human beings? Are they simply financial opportunists who are seeing the hate-money dry up? Individuals should probably be treated on an individual basis, I think.

  • observer

    Well you can’t really say you’re morally superior if you’re the “bad guy” in society.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

    It very definitely does matter when they came around. Same-sex marriage is just one issue in a long string of minority issues. If there weren’t so many people dragging their heels on same-sex marriage, we could have solved that problem and moved on to the next one. What about bullying? Homelessness? Suicide? What about the littler issues like media representation and intersectional identities? What about the B and T in LGBT? What about the next stigmatized minority, whatever that may be?

  • viaten

    Better late than never. Hopefully admissions of being wrong are more than just talk. Hopefully we’ll never see how easily they might reverse themselves. It would be interesting to see how they budge from other conservative/religious issues. I wonder how they will reinterpret all those “anti-gay” Bible verses. What will be the new context for them?

  • njew84

    What exactly is morality? What exactly is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’?

    Take murder for an example. Is there ever an acceptable reason to kill someone?

    How about watching pornography? Is there any exceptions as to why it might be harmful to society?

    How about prostitution? Or using drugs or alcohol?

    Many of these subjects people have very different opinions on if it is morally acceptable whether you are religious or not. Where is the common morality?

    • Victoria 1

      In my opinion, the common morality is harm. If an activity causes direct harm to another, society has a right to step in with force of law. If not, the activity isn’t society’s business. This is how I see your questions, for what it’s worth:
      Murder is never OK. Killing in self-defense can be. Each case must be investigated. That’s pretty much what we do now.
      Porn isn’t directly harmful. It’s not my business if my neighbor likes it. The exceptions would be child or animal porn, (since kids and animals can’t give consent,) violent (snuff) porn and anyone being forced to participate in its making. That’s slavery. That’s where we intervene. Again, pretty much like now.
      Prostitution, as long as it’s voluntary is not my business. If it’s forced, it’s slavery. Slavery is always harmful, so society steps in. That would be a change.
      I see drugs and alcohol are individual choices. It appears to work better to treat addiction, when it occurs, as a medical problem, rather than criminalizing a substance. Again, kids (due to smaller, not mature bodies) are an exception. That would be a change in current law.

      • njew84

        ‘Murder is never OK. Killing in self-defense can be. Each case must be investigated. That’s pretty much what we do now.’

        I 100% agree that killing in self-defense is okay, (you must be one of very few liberal pro-gun supporters) however, I would be willing to bet not everyone agrees with murder via self-defense in any form.

        ‘Porn isn’t directly harmful. It’s not my business if my neighbor likes
        it. The exceptions would be child or animal porn, (since kids and
        animals can’t give consent,) violent (snuff) porn and anyone being
        forced to participate in its making. That’s slavery. That’s where we
        intervene. Again, pretty much like now.’

        Who decides if it is harmful? My dad probably didn’t think his “liking porn” affected or hurt anyone else but it definitely had an affect on me, seeing how I am a recovering porn addict. How is my porn addiction going to affect my kids or theirs? How is our ever-growing acceptance of the sexualization and desensitizing of our youth going to affect our society?

        ‘Prostitution, as long as it’s voluntary is not my business. If it’s
        forced, it’s slavery. Slavery is always harmful, so society steps in.
        That would be a change.’

        Another large disagreement here, similarly to porn, prostitution doesn’t only affect the parties involved.

        ‘I see drugs and alcohol are individual choices. It appears to work
        better to treat addiction, when it occurs, as a medical problem, rather
        than criminalizing a substance. Again, kids (due to smaller, not mature
        bodies) are an exception. That would be a change in current law.’

        Again, as long as you’re a hermit it only affects you.

        • Victoria 1

          I can’t see how your father’s porn habits have a direct impact on you that you don’t have the power to control. It’s not physically addictive. It’s also only harmful if you see it as such. If you think it’s going to harm your children, I can’t imagine why you continue to indulge.

          I understand prostitution and drugs don’t only affect the individual involved. For that matter, over-consumption of sugar or fat, lack of exercise or job changes all affect our friends and family, and those choices aren’t controlled by force of law. You are free to eat a big-mac diet, quit your job, and drive to the mailbox, with no law-enforcement interference. When I say “direct harm” I mean pretty much deliberate, manifestly obvious harm. That’s where I see the government needing to step in, through laws. I thought that was a pretty libertarian stance, but you see it as liberal. I find that interesting.

          Just an aside, have you ever noticed the things you seem to want some governmental control over are related to sex and pleasure? Do you have any idea why?

          • njew84

            ‘I can’t see how your father’s porn habits have a direct impact on you
            that you don’t have the power to control. It’s not physically addictive.’

            That
            just shows how little you know about addiction. Do you not know that
            overexposure to porn triggers the same chemical reaction in your brain
            as cocaine does and can be every bit as addictive? I don’t blame my
            father for my addiction, I’m fully responsible just as an alcoholic is
            responsible for their addiction. I liked it, I was very young and
            honestly didn’t know what it was going to lead to.

            ‘It’s also only harmful if you see it as such.’

            I
            beg to differ. Porn addiction can be very destructive to a family by
            means of neglect and even abuse. Porn itself can skew a mans ideology
            of how a woman should be treated. Porn addiction also acts like a
            gateway drug to harder more graphic or disgusting genres of porn. Some
            porn addicts that I have talked to have actually gone out and acted upon
            their fantasies. Whether that be rape or as simple as purchasing a
            prostitute to role play with, some have even gone as far as murder.
            Porn itself may not be “harmful” but porn addiction is. I would be
            willing to be if people were more open to admitting they had a problem,
            the statistics would alarm you how many people are actually addicted to
            porn.

            ‘If you think it’s going to harm your children, I can’t imagine why you continue to indulge.’

            Hence,
            I said recovering porn addict. I plan on teaching my children(2 and 5yrs)
            about the dangers of porn addiction and teaching them about sex as a
            wonderful thing between two people who are in love, not just a random
            one nighter and definitely not what is portrayed pornography movies.

            ‘Just an aside, have you ever noticed the things you seem to want some
            governmental control over are related to sex and pleasure? Do you have
            any idea why?’

            I believe that sex has become distorted. You can’t watch t.v. without seeing soft-core porn all over it. Commercials and shows are wrapped around it. Sex sells and they know it and they know we like it. Do I think the government should control what married people do in their bedrooms? No. Do I think there should be stricter laws on what is allowed on the internet and television, absolutely!! There isn’t anything wrong with sex in its proper context. We can do better. Our world is very corrupt and the love of money, power and SEX are the forces behind all evil.

          • njew84

            ‘I can’t see how your father’s porn habits have a direct impact on you that you don’t have the power to control. It’s not physically addictive.’

            That
            just shows how little you know about addiction. Do you not know that overexposure to porn triggers the same chemical reaction in your brain as cocaine does and can be every bit as addictive? I don’t blame my
            father for my addiction, I’m fully responsible just as an alcoholic is responsible for their addiction. I liked it, I was very young and honestly didn’t know what it was going to lead to.

            ‘It’s also only harmful if you see it as such.’

            I beg to differ. Porn addiction can be very destructive to a family by means of neglect and even abuse. Porn itself can skew a mans ideology of how a woman should be treated. Porn addiction also acts like a gateway drug to harder more graphic or disgusting genres of porn. Some porn addicts that I have talked to have actually gone out and acted upon
            their fantasies. Whether that be rape or as simple as purchasing a prostitute to role play with, some have even gone as far as murder. Porn itself may not be “harmful” but porn addiction is. I would be willing to be if people were more open to admitting they had a problem,
            the statistics would alarm you how many people are actually addicted to porn.

            ‘If you think it’s going to harm your children, I can’t imagine why you continue to indulge.’

            Hence,
            I said recovering porn addict. I plan on teaching my children(2 and 5yrs) about the dangers of porn addiction and teaching them about sex as a wonderful thing between two people who are in love, not just a random
            one nighter and definitely not what is portrayed pornography movies.

            ‘Just an aside, have you ever noticed the things you seem to want some governmental control over are related to sex and pleasure? Do you have
            any idea why?’

            I believe that sex has become distorted. You can’t watch t.v. without seeing soft-core porn all over it. Commercials and shows are wrapped around it. Sex sells and they know it and they know we like it. Do I think the government should control what married people do in their bedrooms? No. Do I think there should be stricter laws on what is allowed on the internet and television, absolutely!! There isn’t anything wrong with sex in its proper context. We can do better. Our world is very corrupt and the love of money, power and SEX are the forces behind all evil.

        • Anna

          How were you aware of your father’s porn? That sounds like a matter of inappropriate sexual exposure. Responsible parents don’t leave their porn lying around where children can find it.

          • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

            Responsible parents don’t leave their porn lying around where children can find it.

            True, but they also can’t stop their teenagers from snooping in that box on the top shelf of their closet buried in the back corner behind the unused luggage and spare bed sheets either.

            Trust me, I speak from experience, if a parent has a porn stash their teens are going to find it.

            • Anna

              Oh, of course, and if that’s what happened, I wouldn’t blame his father. Teenagers who deliberately violate their parents’ privacy and go snooping in search of porn are a different case. If he was on the hunt for pornography, he’d have been sure to find it somewhere, if not at home then from friends or the local convenience store.

              Fundamentalists seem to have quite an obsession with porn. One wonders why they view it as some sort of tragedy. The desire to view naked bodies and sexual acts is perfectly normal, especially for curious teenagers with no sexual experience. But for people with this belief system, even the tamest porn is viewed as bad because it stirs up fantasies and leads to masturbation, which of course remains a big no-no in the evangelical world.

              • njew84

                ‘The desire to view naked bodies and sexual acts is perfectly normal’

                The desire to see naked bodies is normal but is it normal to actually see it, at 8, without being explained to what it is and how it should be done safely?

                • Anna

                  No, of course not. I don’t think young children should be exposed to explicit sexual material. Your father shouldn’t have left his porn lying around where you could find it. That’s not an indictment of porn, though, but of your father’s irresponsible handling of it.

                  Of course, I think the harm to children can be exacerbated by American culture’s puritanical treatment of the subject. There’s no reason that a naked body in itself should be traumatizing or harmful. Children in traditional societies around the world grow up seeing nudity all the time. Sexual exploration and curiosity is normal and healthy. American culture (and particularly religion) often guilts and shames children who innocently experiment with each other or are curious enough to ask questions about sex.

                  That’s obviously not the same as porn, and I don’t know what type of porn you were exposed to. But if it was something as simple a naked woman there’s no reason it should have been harmful. If it was something more than that, I can see how it might have been confusing or even frightening, but I think the secrecy and shame of American culture might have made the situation worse instead of better.

                • njew84

                  Hmm, could it have possibly been the choking, gang banging, the slapping? All pretty normal in porn as far back as I can remember. (70s and 80s porn.)

                  I agree that sex shouldn’t be shameful, and should be encouraged for children to learn about it at an appropriate age in the home, not in a porno on the Internet.

                • Anna

                  Well, I would certainly consider that extreme porn, and I don’t doubt that you must have found it confusing and frightening. That’s another reason to condemn your father’s actions. If he preferred such material, he should have been doubly careful about keeping it away from you.

                  By the way, is choking, gang-banging, and slapping considered mainstream? A little slap maybe, but I’m not really aware of the rest of it. I have not seen much commercial porn, but what little I have seen did not involve violence.

              • http://twitter.com/WCLPeter Rob U

                One wonders why they view it as some sort of tragedy.

                From what I’ve seen, most religious doctrine vilifies pleasure, particularly sexual pleasure, as a means of exerting control. They tell the followers of the faith that partaking in the “mortal pleasures” will deny them a place in the afterlife, that true pleasure can only be obtained by Unquestioning Faith and Reverence for the Deity of choice.

                Of course this flies in the face of our completely normal natural impulses to seek out pleasure and sex. Since they’ve been manipulated into thinking they’re sick and twisted for wanting something completely natural, they end up having a love / hate relationship to sex and porn.

                On the one hand they love it because it fills that primal, completely natural, urge for sexual gratification; even masturbating while watching people have sex on a video can help to fulfill a person’s need for sexual gratification – particularly if they’re not getting it very often.

                On the other hand they hate it because its a “mortal pleasure” and they’re risking their eternal happiness by defying the Deity, they then loathe themselves for being “weak” by partaking.

                This leads to attempts to curb the availability of sex and use of porn. Not because responsible adults aren’t fully capable of responsibly enjoying sex or porn but because the only way to stop themselves from partaking in it, thereby jeopardizing their place in the afterlife, is to make sure no one else can either.

                • Anna

                  I think that’s spot on. Sex is a great threat to religion because it’s so powerful. The dogma alone has a hard time competing with such a primal urge, so the religious need to really double down their efforts to try to make sex outside of those narrow parameters either unavailable or heavily stigmatized, so that people will choose the church’s path instead of following their natural instincts.

          • njew84

            I was 8 the first time I saw porn. My dad was rather irresponsible in my opinion even having porn in the house not that I couldn’t find it elsewhere. Today, its a click away on any device that can get an internet connection.

            • Anna

              It’s extremely unfortunate that your father was so irresponsible, but that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with adults enjoying porn. There are certain things that are fine for adults but not for children: guns, knives, alcohol, power tools, fire, etc. It doesn’t mean that parents should not have any of those things in their home; it just means that they need to be responsible and try to ensure that their children don’t have access to things that are age-inappropriate or that might endanger their safety.

              • njew84

                Do you agree with how woman are portrayed in porn? I don’t know what kind of porn you enjoy but I have never seen porn that is anything like what I would like my daughter to be treated by a man. Disturbing to think about yes, makes me sick.

                • Anna

                  I’m not hugely interested in porn, but I don’t think that all types are harmful to women. If someone’s concerned about the portrayal of women, it might be better to stick to amateur porn instead of the commercial stuff.

                  Even in commercial porn, I don’t think most mainstream companies portray women in situations that promote violence or abuse. You’ve really never seen porn that doesn’t degrade women? It depends on what you go looking for. If you go searching for more extreme stuff, you’ll find it, but if things like that bother you, there’s plenty of tame porn out there. There’s even “romantic” porn, if you want it.

                  Also, porn doesn’t just mean male-female porn. There’s also male-male porn (enjoyed both by gay men and straight women) and female-female porn (enjoyed by straight men and lesbians). There are porn companies out there catering to almost any imaginable preference, so there’s really no reason people should have to watch porn they don’t like or that offends their sensibilities.

                  I find it a bit strange that you automatically connect porn to your daughter, that it makes you “sick” to think of your daughter in that situation. Why should the women bother you more than the men? Would it be okay for your son to be a porn star, but not your daughter? Why is sex automatically considered degrading for women, but not for men?

        • Baby_Raptor

          How did your father’s porn habit affect your addiction? And how would your addiction affect your kids, unless you don’t handle it and it ends up affecting them as a matter of consequence?

          You seem to be looking for ways to place blame here.

          Further, how exactly does me agreeing to sleep with someone for X amount of money affect anyone but us two? Please elaborate.

          Your entire premise is based on people irresponsibly handling situations, not the actual things themselves. This is a huge difference, and it completely undermines your point.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Also, your “very few pro-gun Liberals” line exposed you for the bullshitter you are. So congratulations for that. We now know that we can’t take anything you say seriously.

    • baal

      I recommend google, “morality humanism.” Figuring out what’s moral can be tricky in the rare edge cases but most of the time “don’t make other peoples lives worse” is all the rule you need.

      • Victoria 1

        I like that a lot.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Does my watching porn harm you? No. Does my drinking (responsibly) or popping an X tab harm you? Nope. Does my sleeping with someone for a quick buck harm you? Still nope.

      Hell, does my shooting someone who came into my home with the intent of harming me somehow hurt you? No, but it saved my life.

      Morality isn’t based on what some sky daddy says. It’s based on how you treat others.

  • onamission5

    I am right there with you. So, many of the very same christians who waved their bibles at me and my friends when we were marching for equality back in the early 90′s have realized they are fighting a losing battle and come around, good on them, it’s about damn time. They do not however get to claim the higher ground on this. I’ll have them by my side only if they own their part in keeping equality at bay all these years, either because they were too passive to stand up for what they really thought or because they bought into the whole “hate the sinner” line of horseshit. Own your part in the oppression of LGBT folks and do better, you’ll be held to the same standards as all the other allies who were with us all along, try to usurp our struggle for your own self-aggrandizing purposes and watch yourself get shut out on your ass.

  • http://twitter.com/LiudvikasT Liudvikas Teiserskis

    Who cares, it just seem a little bit petty bickering about who was on the right side of history. Those who supported gay rights when it really mattered know themselves, as for the rest it’s not a competition you don’t get a prize for being ahead of everyone else.

    • GCT

      It does make a difference, especially in regards to the rampant religious privilege in our society. When Xians get to whitewash all their involvement in bigotry and oppression, they get to pretend that they are the sole moral voice in our society, which leads to demonization of non-Xians, especially atheists.

  • viaten

    “There’s a time when you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘I have to go where my heart’s leading me’.” Cynical translation: There’s an opportune time when you have to look at where you stand in relation to other people’s changing views and say, “I have to go with where the increasing majority view is going.” I wonder how sincere some of these people are. Are some kidding themselves? Are some relieved they can openly support marriage equality now? I still hope they all eventually see the injustice of their past views.

  • C Peterson

    Religion is a powerful component of extreme social conservatism. How can it not be… its philosophy is derived from looking backwards, treating the views of its founders as sacred. Like any social institution, it can and does change, but it’s the anchor dragging behind social change, slowing it. Once change is sufficiently advanced, religion steps in with the claim that it supported such change all along. But that is patently false, whether we are talking about slavery, children’s rights, women’s rights, racial civil rights, or gay rights.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

      Ahistorical and ignorant nonsense. Religion has over and over been an agent of social change, for the better and for the worse, and sometimes both at the same time. Did you not ever attend a class on social studies, or history? The abolishionists had based their positions on religion and many did support such change all along.

      It was the Republican party that was the party of abolision, not the Democrats. So should I be telling every Democrat they came to late to the party, and that they claim credit where it is not due. Worse they distort history and claim that all the racist Democrats jumped ship for the Republican party with the supposed “Southern strategy”. Which is also utter ahistorical nonsense.

      http://pjmedia.com/michaelwalsh/2013/03/28/history-lesson/

      • C Peterson

        Yes, there were Christian abolitionists. They were in the process of following the rest of western society… not unlike today’s Christians finally coming to gay rights. Of course, all those opposed to slavery were up against the most conservative, regressive of religious belief to maintain it. Good traditional biblical slavery, that is.

        And outside of name, there is nothing in common between today’s Republican party and that of Lincoln.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Um, actually, the Republicans becoming the party of the racist South after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act is pretty well-established history. LBJ even sighed, after signing it, that he’d handed the South to the Republicans. Lee Atwater, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan all took advantage of this.

        Here’s Lee Atwater on the Southern Strategy:

        Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964 and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

        Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

        Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” β€” that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me β€” because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater

  • Peter

    They can never say that they were on the right side of the argument when it mattered.

    It still matters. There are still 40 states that have discriminatory marriage laws.

    Yes, lots of people (Christian or not) are only supporting marriage equality now, when they should have before. But it’s a little early for those of us who support marriage equality before to be running victory laps and pooh-poohing people who have just come around.

    They can never say they helped steer our country in the right direction.

    They can help steer the next 40 states right.

    Take allies where you can get them, don’t be a jerk about it.

    • CottonBlimp

      “Take allies where you can get them, don’t be a jerk about it.”

      No, no, no.

      Mehta is not just being a jerk about this. Christianity has a long history of appropriation, and only for its own benefit. Was Christianity helping to promote Paganism when it stole Pagan holidays? More to the point, was racial equality aided when Christianity took credit for that?

      In every case, the result is the same; Christianity promotes itself to the destruction of what it stole from. I have no doubt that a great number of individual Christians are sincere in their about-face on gay rights, but the religion itself is changing only to protect its own power.

      LGBT issues are the single greatest example in our generation of the inherent evil of religion – that its simplistic platitudes are totally ignorant of the actual complexity of the human condition. They are a clear indication of the actual lack of wisdom and decency of our spiritual teachers. If they want to be real allies, then they need to admit they were wrong, because for next time, and of course there’s going to be a next time, I need to know that they’ve actually learned from this experience. If they’re rewriting history to pretend they were always on our side, it’s proof positive that they’ve learned nothing, and they’re only going to continue being ignorant fucks to someone else.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        “In every case”? Do you really believe that? How can liberals defend themselves against similar and yet more reasonable charges. Like that they stole the term “liberal” from the classical liberals. Guys like Herbert Spencer were for all sorts of great stuff like abolition, volunary labor unions, women’s rights long before liberals stole his thunder and started calling him the “Father of Social Darwinism”. People on the left was supporting Stalin, Lenin, Che, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. long after others had recognized them for who they were.

        • CottonBlimp

          Who are you accusing of what, exactly?

          • Pseudonym

            I’m not Brian Macker, but I think he’s accusing you of oversimplifying history.

            • CottonBlimp

              I’m also not Brian Macker, but I think what he’s accusing me of, chiefly, is being a liberal.

              Was there a specific point you wanted to discuss, or are you just his translator?

              • Pseudonym

                FWIW, I’m not going to defend his wider point, especially since I happen to disagree with it. But everyone, from Christians to liberals to atheists, do tend to oversimplify history. Anyone who says “inherent evil of religion” is doing that, just as much as anyone who says “atheism has no moral centre”.

                • CottonBlimp

                  The “inherent evil of religion” has nothing to do with history.

                  Saying “atheism has no moral center” isn’t a simplification, it’s an outright idiocy. It’s totally ignorant of the facts that (a) “atheism” doesn’t preclude a moral philosophy, (b) most people’s moral actions aren’t based in philosophy at all, and (c) atheists are not statistically more likely to commit an immoral act excluding those actions that Christians consider immoral on a totally arbitrary basis (like consensual gay sex).

                  Neither of those examples has anything to do with history, simplified or not.

                • Pseudonym

                  The “atheism has no moral centre” argument is indeed based on (an over-simplification of) history. The reference to “Lenin and Che” is a perfect example of this.

                • CottonBlimp

                  But the argument itself is ontological.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Leftists supported Lenin and Che because they overthrew some pretty oppressive regimes. We don’t know what Lenin’s Russia would have looked like- Stalin deposed him. Leftists did support Stalin for a time, and that is unconscionable. They often didn’t know the horrors of Soviet Russia, and they were blinded by their ideology to think that the reports coming out were propaganda (which, in fairness, they were also that). Still, they defended a mass-murdering dictator, and they were wrong. Does that mean liberals can’t ever be right about anything ever again? By that measure, no one could be right about anything, because some people associated with their political leanings in the past were wrong once.

          Hitler was a fascist. He was never supported by leftists; in fact, right-wingers originally welcomed him as an anti-Communist. In the 1950s, the US quietly allowed in several convicted Nazi war criminals explicitly for their anti-Communist value. Oops!

          Pol Pot, as far as I know, had no support from any Americans whatsoever. He was always going to be a brutal, horrible leader, though he was even worse than anyone thought. Remember that it was US right-wing action that caused his rise, though. When we bombed Cambodia in the Vietnam War, we pretty much ended any hope of US influence in the country AND we sowed ourselves a lot of ill-will AND we destroyed what rudimentary infrastructure Cambodia had.

          So yeah. History is complicated. When you want to use it to score ideological points, you should probably actually know it somewhat instead of just throwing out the names of some horrible dictators. Want me to counter with right-supported dictators who were just as bad? I can do it (Pinochet, military junta in Argentina, military junta in El Salvador, military junta in Honduras, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Shah Reza Pahlavi), but all that proves is people can be blinded by ideology, which we already knew.

  • Scott

    I don’t think this is a problem you will have to worry about. I don’t think the core of Christian evangelicalism will ever fully support gay marriage as morally appropriate (though they may agree to its legal allowance).

    Rob Bell has already set himself apart from the majority of conservative evangelical Christians in his book “Love Wins” which questions the reality of the orthodox view of Hell.

    To agree that homosexual marriage is morally equivalent to heterosexual marriage you first have to deny the Bible as authoritative. And once you deny the Bible as authoritative you open the door to a denial of any consistent Christian theology and doctrine. And once that happens, the church becomes something other than Christian, but rather just a reflection of the culture with a Christian nametag. True evangelicals will uphold Biblical truth in the midst of ridicule from the media and the culture. This is what makes them Bible-believing evangelicals.

  • CottonBlimp

    Even when they were allies, they were never on our side. I knew loads of liberal Christians in the 90s, my mom was one of them. The attitude then was “I don’t hate them for being confused. Just keep them away from my kids, and don’t you dare question the moral authority of the church.”

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    In fairness to Rob Bell, he told me that his position on gay marriage hasn’t changed. He has always supported it. He told me that it has only been recently that the media picked up on his support and labeled it as an “announcement.” You can read the rest of my interview with Rob Bell here (shameless self-promotion): An atheist interviews Rob Bell: http://t.co/EAtSjsNGQf

    • Pseudonym

      Right, and this is a very important point. Some Christians (and other theists and close-enough-to-theists) have always been on the side of right on this issue.

      Those Christians who have recently changed their mind now that it’s convenient don’t get to rewrite history to pretend that they were there all along. On the other hand, those who have been there all along don’t get to rewrite history to remove the Christians, Unitarians and everyone else who were also there all along.

      History is complicated. Sometimes we have to simplify it, but we should be wary of simplifying it along tribal lines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    ” It’s relatively easy to support marriage equality now, but where were you when it mattered?”

    So it doesn’t really matter anymore?

    The parable Tony Jones mentions doesn’t apply because those workers are getting paid based on how much work they do and if they show up late they did less work. Supporting gay marriage isn’t a situation in which the person doing it is expecting to be paid, right?

    This whole line of thought is flawed. Where were all of you when my pet causes needed you most? Should I hold you moral inferiors because you haven’t gotten on my bandwagon from the start? There is seniority on moral issues? If that’s the standard then any religion or philosophy that worked against something first is going to be able to do the same kind of moral one-up-manship. This is a game atheists are going to be hard pressed to win. For example, Hemant did you come out against slavery first or these various Christian sects?

    Being obviously wrong siding on an issue and for the wrong reasons is one thing. Failing to prioritize the same way you do is another.

    • CottonBlimp

      “Where were all of you when my pet causes needed you most?”

      It depends what the cause was. If I, personally, did something wrong, then I will accept responsibility and try to do better.

      ” There is seniority on moral issues? If that’s the standard then any religion or philosophy that worked against something first is going to be able to do the same kind of moral one-up-manship.”

      Bro, all Mehta’s asking here is for people to recognize their mistakes and to not rewrite history to make themselves or their church look better than they actually were.

      Those are not outrageous expectations. That’s a minimum I expect from any responsible adult.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yeah, okay. Let’s turn this around to an issue that deprives you of basic civil rights and basic decent treatment and see if you’d still be talking about priority and shit.

      Check your Fucking privilege.

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

    I think two things will happen. A large contingent of Christians will remain vehemently opposed to equal rights *and* Christians will take credit for having pushed for equality. Don’t believe they could both be true? Republicans who live in states where a high percentage of their party-mates believe interracial heterosexual marriage should still be illegal take credit for Lincoln freeing the slaves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

    “Is It Okay for Christians to Support Marriage Equality Long After the Rest of Us?”

    I dunno, was it Okay for democrats to support abolition long after the rest of us. Now that they were late to the party why should they get any credit? Plus, they turned around and blamed their behavior on the other side with the “southern strategy” myth during the Civil Rights era too. No mention of the fact that Republicans voted in larger percent for civil rights than their democrat counterparts. No, those racist did not jump ship for the Republican party. Democrats had been jumping ship for the Republican party long before the civil rights era, and mostly because of the demographic shift to the cities.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/04/the-southern-strategy-debunked-again.php

    • RobMcCune

      “Damn those Democrats, they make me angrier than inconvenient facts about christianity!!!”

    • Baby_Raptor

      You seem really pissed off about this. Did it strike a nerve? I mean, I can tell that you’re a Christer by your loose grip on facts and how eager you are to defend the tribe.

    • Sven2547

      You think the “southern strategy” was a myth? Does that mean you think Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas were hotbeds of liberalism in the 1960s?

  • Chris B.

    “They can never say they helped steer our country in the right direction.”

    No…they were precisely the ones who supporters of marriage equality had to steer in the right direction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kellen.conner.5 Kellen Conner

    Is it hypocritical of me to want to say “Amen” to everything you say?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyro-Kathar/1539781848 Tyro Kathar

    I agree with this post.

  • littlewarrior

    I struggle with this post. The idea of demanding pastors come ‘cap-in-hand’ is the kind of bullying and humiliation ritual that characterizes the far right. It’s not an easy thing to change your mind… to re-evaluate the reading of a text that you built your life around. Those that have been forgiven much know the value of forgiveness and grace and those that don’t are maybe a little happier to point the finger. Instead we can celebrate as the father if the prodigal son did.

    • GCT

      Sorry, but these people have caused real harm. They don’t get to show up late to the party and pretend that everything is OK now. It has nothing to do with bullying and humiliation rituals. It has everything to do with people facing consequences for their hateful actions.

      • littlewarrior

        So of you’re not an early adopter you’re full of hate? I think the binary is too simplistic. Some of those who haven’t spoken out have been trying to take others with them on a journey and that involves something other than polarization.
        I’d sooner celebrate a change of mind than berate the lateness.

        • GCT

          So of you’re not an early adopter you’re full of hate?

          Nice straw man. Please deal with my actual argument.

          I’d sooner celebrate a change of mind than berate the lateness.

          We are. We are happy people are coming around. But, that doesn’t absolve someone from their past actions or positions and the real harm that those actions and positions have caused. Nor does it mean that they get to whitewash history later and claim that they were all for it from the beginning and those dirty rotten atheists are immoral monsters.

  • baronsabato

    While I more or less agree with the basic premise of this article, I think it’s highly problematic (as many conversations on the issue of LGBT people and religion tend to be) for assuming Christianity as being so fundamentally opposed to LGBT people to the point that it ignores those of us who are LGBT and have always been faithful to our identity as Christians as well. And while Mr. Mehta is certainly correct that “while a few Christian denominations supported equal rights long ago, there’s no reason to think they shifted the paradigm on their own”, he forgets that many of us LGBT folk who have never left the church were part of that paradigm shift in our denominations “long ago” and should be considered as just a part of the LGBT movement for equality as anyone else.

    • GCT

      Why LGBT people have remained Xian is a total mystery to me. But, the point is that working from the inside has been an uphill battle to change the hierarchies that have been set against LGBT rights. IOW, you’ve had to change your churches to being accepting of your rights.

  • @crumpster9

    I think I follow, but I need one clarification; when was “then” and when did “too late to matter” start? Could you explain this distinction?

  • toddh

    Let’s not pretend the issue is over and settled and that it’s easy for evangelicals to come out in support of marriage equality. It isn’t over for evangelicals. It’s just beginning in many ways. The tide has turned in the U.S. as a whole, but for evangelicals, there is still many fights to be had and any evangelical who comes out in support of marriage equality has to pay a cost. Ask any evangelical you might know and see what they tell you on this issue. I applaud Wallis and Bell for their courage. They will be disowned by evangelicals if they were not already.

  • mhelbert

    You’re all right. We who choose to follow the Way of Jesus are guilty of all that is mentioned here…and more. In the name of Deity we have stolen cultures and land. We have raped and murdered innocent people. We have taken power and riches. We have dis’d every other form of religion, philosophy, belief or non-belief. We have set our purity standards a the only ‘correct’ way to live. We are arrogant. We are self-promoting. And, mostly have trampled on the things that our Teacher has said. Yes, yes to all of these. I can only speak for myself, but I am sorry for all of this. I wish that we as a religious culture had done things differently. But, we did not. And, I think it’s absolutely appropriate that all of you should demand to see, not only contrition, but actions in line with that contrition. I’m ashamed that will most likely not happen on a large scale. There will always be people who not only fall short, but who actively strive against giving up their perceived power and privilege. The only thing that I would ask is that we all don’t get lumped together in these things. Please allow those of us who recognize our error to join in the efforts to see equality and justice prevail in our shared culture.

  • Erika

    What if it took so long for those Christians to come out in support of equal marriage not because they were homophobic, they just didn’t know what to think and so rather than take a side, they stayed silent trying to figure it out? Silence still didn’t help but at least they weren’t out attacking the LGBT community.

  • http://twitter.com/TENDTHEEND joshua m. walters

    Repentance is the place to start. Hold Christians accountable, please and thank you. But then there’s the whole forgiveness thing too, which is what is lacking in so much polemical writing. Confessing our wrongdoing is only the beginning to a better world. Repentance AND forgiveness is the ticket. I just hope that the LGBT community will one day be able to forgive repentant Christians.

  • Frank

    There is nothing right about supporting sinful behavior.

    • Anna

      “Sin” is a religious concept. It has nothing to do with our secular society and our secular laws.

  • Louis

    So basically, this entire piece is to make sure who wins the contest of who was there first? What are you like 9 years old?

    • Anna

      Did you even read the post? It’s not about winning a contest. It’s about not letting evangelicals get away with pretending that they somehow spearheaded the movement for equality when the vast majority of them fought it tooth and nail every step of the way.

      • Louis

        Yes, well you just confirmed it. If its only about gay rights and not about who supported gay rights first, then it shouldn’t matter to you or to Mehta whether evangelicals claim that they were the first ones to support it.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          It matters because evangelicals claim they’re the most moral people, yet consistently oppose civil rights for people until long after the rest of the country. It’s important because the next time a civil rights issue comes up, evangelicals will oppose that too, while claiming they totally supported the last one so they’re not bigots. It matters because in the annals of history, accuracy matters.

        • Anna

          So the truth doesn’t matter? People should just be able to lie about their role in history? It matters what people do. You don’t see a moral problem with pretending, say, that Jim Crow wasn’t supported by the vast majority of white Southerners? Those who don’t acknowledge history are doomed to repeat it.

  • anon

    Simply by representing it as a “Christians” vs “the rest of us” issue, you’ve already started to rewrite the history.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X