Diagnosing Christian Right Derangement Syndrome

My recent posts challenging the standard “culture war” narrative (here) and addressing the caricaturing of conservative evangelicals (here and here) stirred up some conversation — a conversation that’s been illuminating for me.

Some of my progressive Christian friends (most of whom responded very appreciatively to these posts) seem to have been laboring under the very sincere conviction that a conservative Christian who complains of caricaturing or scorn is hugely over-reacting.  After all, it’s the Christian Right that is strident, rancorous and conspiratorial, while liberals are thoughtful and compassionate and “evidence-based.”  Certainly the rivers of scorn run overwhelmingly, they believe, from Right to Left?

So I’ve become convinced that it will be helpful to peel back the covers a bit here and expose the problem more fully.  I’m going to start with one of the comments that was left on this blog.  Yes, I know.  It’s a random commenter.  I’ll refer to some other sources — including a blogger with a large following, a new book making the rounds, depictions in popular entertainment, and comments from public intellectuals — but I thought this comment so perfectly illustrated what I’m going to call Christian Right Derangement Syndrome: the point when your scorn for the Christian Right has reached such a fevered pitch that you abandon critical reasoning faculties and become willing to believe anything regarding the motives, beliefs and goals of Christian conservatives.

So here is a comment from someone who called himself Christopher.  I’ve put the accusations against “the Christian Right” in bold type:

[T]he Christian Right constantly spouts out vile and hateful things about anyone who is not exactly like them…I am not one to sit back silently and listen to the Christian Right repeatedly say vile and ugly things about those of us here who are liberal, the President, Democrats, moderate Democrats and independents, immigrants, non-heterosexuals, those who are not of their particular faith, and anyone else they dislike…or more accurately, hate.

I have argued for quite some time that the Christian Right merely uses the Bible to justify the things they do. At base, I suspect that much of the Christian Right is greedy, sexist, intolerant and racist, and with good reason. Every time someone from the religious right spouts off anything that fits into one of the above categories [it reveals] their true character…1. A dislike of representative or democratic government 2. A dislike or hate of science 3. A hatred of freedom of speech and religion 4. A love of the Second Amendment – this I will explain shortly 5. A hatred of almost all non-white individuals…6. A hatred of all civil rights 7. An inclination to regard women as nothing more than property to be used for breeding 8. A hatred of gays for simply doing something that those on the Christian Right personally dislike for no evident reason.

Now, with respect to number 4, I’ll tell you why the Christian Right loves the Second Amendment: in many ways, the Christian Right is absolutely comfortable with the idea of using the Second Amendment to utilize guns against those who they hate, and more so using it in order to prop up a dictatorship…because to be honest, while they hunger for a Biblical theocracy like that seen in the Handmaid’s Tale, at the end of the day a small cadre of individuals will hold power and wield it ruthlesslyAsk yourselves this: are you really willing to stand by while the Christian Right ignites another civil war out of the hopes that they will end up forcing all of us to live according to their views?

After you let this veritable cataract of scorn, enmity and paranoia wash over you, it’s hard to remember which side is hateful and says vile and ugly things, isn’t it?  So let’s review.  The Christian Right hates:

  1. Liberals.
  2. The President (in case #1 was not enough to make this clear).
  3. Democrats, Moderate Democrats and Independents.
  4. Immigrants.
  5. Non-heterosexuals.
  6. Those who are not of their own particular faith.
  7. Anyone else they dislike (by, I suppose, tautology).
  8. Science.
  9. Freedom of speech and religion.
  10. Almost all non-white individuals.
  11. All civil rights.

The Christian Right also views women as property for breeding and dislikes Democratic government.  Our motivations and goals are: “greedy,” “sexist,” “intolerant,” “racist” and oriented toward provoking a civil war where we can shoot anyone we please, prop up a ruthless dictatorship, and force everyone to share our beliefs in a Biblical theocracy.

This would be comical if it were not so destructive.   Of course, there are sectors of the Christian Right that are thoroughly deserving of criticism.  That goes without saying.  But when we see these animosities between believers — whether they are coming from the Right or the Left, even from our friends — we need to speak against them.  They harm the body of Christ.

There’s also something curious that happens here.  I’m often painfully aware of the people on “my side” who are writing with paranoia and rancor.  That’s probably because I spent so much time in liberal academic institutions.  But I notice that many folks on the Right don’t seem to see much of the scorn that comes from their side, and many folks on the Left don’t see much of the scorn that comes from their side.  Why is that?

I think it’s because (1) we’re more inclined to agree with them or at least view them as not completely divorced from reality, but also because (2) we just think the people on our side are mostly harmless.  We know the people on our side better, we know how they think and how they feel; we don’t resent them and we’re not afraid of them.  If you’re a conservative Christian, you’re more inclined to think the extremes on the Right are basically harmless because the people are harmless.  So it’s not so much that we don’t notice the excesses on our side but we don’t worry about them.  When we see them on our side, they quickly recede out of our consciousness because we don’t consider them newsworthy or upsetting.

So here is a simple points-based system to indicate whether you, a progressive Christian, might be suffering from Christian Right Derangement Syndrome:

  • ENCLAVING.  You surround yourself with people who think like you do (1 point), and you consume the majority of your news and commentary from sources that confirm your biases (1 point).  You think Bill Maher just speaks the hard truth (3 points).
  • DICHOTOMIZING.  You find cartoonish dichotomies like “Conservatives are stupid and liberals are smart,” or “Conservatives are heartless and liberals are compassionate” to be accurate descriptions of reality (2 points each).
  • BROAD-BRUSHING.  When you hear the words “Christian Right,” you think of everyday Christians like myself with different political views than my own (subtract 3 points), Billy Graham (subtract 1 point), Franklin Graham (add 1 point), Jerry Falwell (add 2 points), the Klan (add 4 points).
  • CULTURE-WAR OBSESSING.  You can name three groups of people Franklin Graham has criticized but cannot name the major charitable relief organization he heads (add 2 points).  You cannot name three other charitable organizations founded by conservative Christians (add 2 points).  You believe most conservative Christian preachers spend a lot of time addressing culture war issues in their sermons (add 2 points).  You actually find it plausible that “the Christian Right” wants to establish a theocracy (add 3 points).
  • IMPUTING NEFARIOUS MOTIVES.  Complete the sentence: “Conservative Christians are really motivated by…”  If you answered basically the same things that motivate me, subtract 1 point.  If you answered a true (if misdirected) desire to honor Christ, subtract 3 points.  If you answered hatredbigotry, ignoranceintolerance, or greed, add 1 point each.

7-12 POINTS: a mild case of Christian Right Derangement Syndrome.

13 POINTS OR ABOVE: you are suffering from a severe case of CRDS.  Seek help immediately.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • http://logicandimagination.com Melody H Hanson (@melodyhhanson)

    An excellent indictment of “Us Liberal Christians.”

  • mcurt2s

    Oh, I saw Christian B’s comment yesterday, and had 2 impressions: Is this a parody? and This guy isn’t a Christian. I don’t think Christian progressives are that extreme.

  • Jeremy Forbing

    “Of course, there are sectors of the Christian Right that are thoroughly deserving of criticism. That goes without saying.” I wish it did go without saying. I really do. But I don’t think it does. I think the relative lack of disapproval issuing from more reasonable voices on the Christian Right really does enable some of the paranoid rancor you speak of. I agree with your larger conclusion here, and I think Christians on both sides need to try to get their own houses in order.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I’m wondering why there is the perception of a “relative lack of disapproval issuing from more reasonable voices on the Christian Right.” I see it pretty frequently. Can you give some examples of things to which you wish those “more reasonable voices” had responded?

  • Jeremy Forbing

    Also (because you knew it was coming), here is a simple points-based system to indicate whether you, a progressive Christian, might be suffering from Christian Left Derangement Syndrome:
    ■ ENCLAVING. You surround yourself with people who think like you do (1 point), and you consume the majority of your news and commentary from sources that confirm your biases (1 point). You think Rush Limbaugh just speaks the hard truth (3 points).
    ■ DICHOTOMIZING. You find cartoonish dichotomies like “Conservatives are moral and liberals are godless,” or “Conservatives represent real American values and liberals are detached elites” to be accurate descriptions of reality (2 points each).
    ■ BROAD-BRUSHING. When you hear the words “Christian Left,” you think of everyday Christians like myself with different political views than my own (subtract 3 points), Cesar Chavez (subtract 1 point), Al Sharpton (add 1 point), Jeremiah Wright (add 2 points), or you just wonder how any liberals can even call themselves Christian at all (add 6 points).
    ■ CULTURE-WAR OBSESSING. You can name three liberal Hollywood actors who support causes you despise, but cannot name any liberal actors who are practicing Christians (add 2 points). You think Stephen Colbert is probably an atheist because he mocks conservatives (add 2 points). You believe most liberal Christian preachers spend a lot of time addressing culture war issues in their sermons (add 2 points). You actually find it plausible that all liberals, Christian or otherwise, are implicit in a conspiracy to establish a theocracy in the U.S. based on “Sharia Law” (add 5 points).
    ■ IMPUTING NEFARIOUS MOTIVES. Complete the sentence: “Liberal Christians are really motivated by…” If you answered basically the same things that motivate me, subtract 1 point. If you answered a true (if misdirected) desire to honor Christ, subtract 3 points. If you answered immorality, jealousy, anti-Americanism, class warfare, love of sin, or mere worldly acceptance, add 1 point each.

    7-12 POINTS: a mild case of Christian Left Derangement Syndrome.

    13 POINTS OR ABOVE: you are suffering from a severe case of CLDS. Seek help immediately.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      Sigh. Half-joking retort ruined by failure to use the Find/Replace function. That’s supposed to read “Conservative Christian” in the first sentence there…

      • Basil

        I was just thinking the same thing. I think there is an issue with how we have enclaved ourselves as a culture. We have so much information at our fingertips and I think the unfortunate side effect is that we tend to seek info only from sources we trust. More generally, I think we have fewer shared experiences as citizens that make us rethink and transcend our personal boundaries.

        This blog post was smug, snarky, and there was a basic denial of reality. The difference between left and right is that the extremes of the left really are powerless. The extremes of the right, they set the social and political agenda for the Republican party.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          There’s some snark, or at least intended humor, I’ll grant. But there’s nothing smug here; I’m focused on making the case (because so many of my friends are skeptics) that there is scorn and paranoia running Left to Right as well, but I acknowledge that it’s on “my side” as well. In fact, only one of us is denying that this is a significant issue on both sides.

          • Basil

            Tim,

            I hate these “both sides do it” narratives, because it’s often an oversimplification. Here is an example — Mitt Romney sacrificed his foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, because he was gay, and that displeased an idiotic extremist radio talk show host named Brian Fischer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Grenell, he is a neo-con (which I think is a discredited foreign policy), he was John Bolton’s spokesperson…but Fischer was quite clear that his objection to Grenell was simply because he is gay. Fischer’s statements on gay issues are pretty extraordinary even in conservative circles — gays are pedophiles, or depraved, gay parents are a form of “sexual abuse” — just lots off the deep end stuff. And yet, Romney was too craven to stand up to this game of “smear the queer”.

            Nothing comparable exists on the left. It would be like President Obama making staff appointments to try and please Jeremiah Wright.

            I think the more important issue is that we, as a society, are self segregating, and it is making us bitter, divisive and unpleasant. When I was a kid, we all got our news from Walter Cronkite. Now we tune into Fox News, or our favorite blogs (right or left), demonize each other, and let go of the concept of our common citizenship.

    • http://blogthebliss.blogspot.com Rick

      Pretty spot on Jeremy. We do the same thing don’t we. Only, we’re Christians and we do it the RIGHT way!

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      That’s fair, Jeremy. I’m focusing on caricaturing of conservative Christians in this series, but trying to acknowledge that it goes both ways.

  • http://www.debatingobama.blogspot.com greg metzger

    Ggod stuff, Tim. I like where you are going with this series even though I did not like how it started. Keep it up!

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    You are erecting a strawman here.

    Yes, many conservative Christians do not share acerbic viewpoints attributed to the cited commenter and it is a gross generalization and caricature of their political leanings. But the thought leaders of the conservative movement and spokespeople for many in the “religious right” do indeed exhibit traits attributed in that comment and/or spew hate on a regular basis. These leaders mind you, are honored and glorified by Republican party leaders and officeholders — their books (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity on the “secular” side, John Hagee, David (?) Jeremiah, on the “religious” side) are bestsellers that do indeed identify liberals as the great “evil” (it’s often in the title). Rush Limbaugh has been honored by GOP legislators, Glenn Beck received support from not only GOP legislators, but enjoyed support of “religious right” establishment for his events.

    And even if the decorum is more pleasant and civility displayed in arguments, it’s still *hateful* for many to be told that they are *abominations*, not worthy of basic rights others take for granted. Or have no qualm with deporting young people who were brought to the U.S. at a young age and know no other country as “home”.

    Culture war is relevant because the far right has made it an agenda to roll back reproductive rights (no matter your view on abortion, implementing a rapist right to choose his child’s mother not a good way to go, in the view of all except the most rabid anti-abortion folk), make birth control (which is used for medical conditions other than preventing pregnancy) more inaccessible, pushing forth anti-LGBT equality measures, enacting Jim Crow redux laws in wiping voter rolls of eligible voters likely to vote for the other side, etc.…

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      So there’s a “secular” religious right and a “religious” religious right? And the leaders of the religious religious right are John Hagee and David Jeremiah?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Also, the commenter I cited (and I see those kinds of comments pretty consistently) was not focused on “thought leaders of the conservative movement.” He was condemning “the Christian Right.” He was pretty clear on that point. Also, given that liberals are “often” identified as “evil” in the titles of the bestsellers from media figures like Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter and Hannity, can you provide multiple examples? Thanks.

      • Kubrick’s Rube

        Also, given that liberals are “often” identified as “evil” in the titles of the bestsellers from media figures like Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter and Hannity, can you provide multiple examples?

        Books by Coulter, all with “Liberal” in the subtitle: Treason, Godless, Demonic

        Hannity is pretty clear in his classic of fairmindedness Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism

        Beck is more sympathetic- to him we’re merely Idiots and Cowards

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          So…I see “evil” once, in a title that also refers to terrorism and despotism?

          • Kubrick’s Rube

            You’re being way too literal. Calling political opponents demonic and treasonous is not extreme? And Hannity’s title is not directly linking liberalism to terrorism and despotism under the umbrella term “evil”? You have a serious blind spot when it comes to your allies in the culture war.

  • Jennifer E. Walsh

    Thanks for reminding Christians of all political stripes to follow Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

  • Mike D’Virgilio

    “Of course, there are sectors of the Christian Right that are thoroughly deserving of criticism. That goes without saying. ”

    Really? I’m fairly well read, sit at a computer most of each day and thus get around the web somewhat, but I don’t see anything on the right comparable to the vitriol that comes from the left. Where are these “sectors of the Christian Right”? If such “sectors” exist, and I’m not saying they don’t, I haven’t seen them. I’ve never seen anything from a conservative Christian comparable to Christopher commentor.

    • Matt Summers

      Perhaps that’s because you agree with those coming from the Right–as the author addressed in his original post. As a conservative Christian, I find many of the talking points for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and especially Ann Coulter to be full of vitriol and absolutely on par with “Christopher” commenter. I think both extremes are way off base, even though I lean right.

    • Alex

      Look at the entry in this very blog from June 21, 2011 (one year ago today, as a matter of fact) titled “Have Evangelicals Loved the Gay Community?” Tim cites examples of gays literally cast out by their families and/or told that they cannot possibly be both gay and Christian.

  • John Alsdorf

    We just came back from a 4-day long institute put on by the conservative Acton Institute, in Ann Arbor, MI. As I told Father Robert Sirico (who was one of the co-founders some 22 years ago) at the end of it, I had gone with my guard up, expecting to hear a lot of “extreme right wing” rhetoric. In the end, I was pleased to be able to say that there was none of that. I have subsequently read his recent book, “Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy,” and was especially interested in some comments he makes in the afterword, excerpted here:

    “Where I have cast socialism, liberalism, collectivism, and central planning in a dark light, I mean no personal insult to those honest men and women who hold to those ideas. It has long been my belief that while we must be ruthless in pursuing the truth of ideas unswervingly, we must always remain gentle and respectful with the people with whom we disagree. This is not so easy a virtue to embrace in the heat of rhetorical battle. But in the last analysis, the dignity that human beings possess, which establishes their right to be free, abides as well in those with whom we disagree and whom we believe to be wrong. Being from Brooklyn— a place not generally known for diplomacy—I find that I fail to put this principle into practice as often as I should. To the extent that at any point herein—or in any of my writings or public discourse—I have once again failed in this regard, I offer my most sincere mea culpa. Not being a member of any political party, I confess to being dissatisfied in general with the pigeonholes and polarized language of “left and right” in economic, political, and philosophical conversation, and most frustratingly (and misleadingly) in religious discourse, which is the fashion of the day. In the formulation of my ideas and in my search for the truth, I attempt to think outside those boundaries, and I would like to think that anyone not knowing me personally and looking through my personal library in order to gauge where I am on the political spectrum would be perplexed.” (page 185, via Kindle)

    Words we could all wish described our own approach — “I would like to think that anyone not knowing me personally and looking through my personal library [or reading my blog or FaceBook posts, ed.], in order to gauge where I am on the political spectrum, would be perplexed.”

    John

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Excellent material, John. Thanks for sharing that. Wish I could have been there, but I’m trying to minimize time away from the family this month. Best.

  • http://seldomwrong.blogspot.com SWNID

    Looking forward to a complementary diagnostic for Religious-Right Persecution Complex.

  • http://questorpastor.wordpress.com/ Dennis Sanders

    I think part of the problem here is that people see what they want to see and they don’t want to be subject to second guessing or looking more deeply at an issue or at people different from themselves. For me, it’s helped to read folks like Tim and Rod Dreher to realize that what might be called the Religious Right is far more complex than the cariactures we draw up. (The other side also draws up cariactures of the Religious Left, for that matter.) I think we want to believe that everyone on the Religious Right is a theocratic loon bent on creating a living version of the Handmaid’s Tale because it makes us feel more secure in our own thoughts. We don’t have to think deeply about the other person and how they matter.

    My religious tradition is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Probably the thing that is central to us Disciples is not a creed as much as it is an act, the act of communion. Communion is important to most if not all Christians, but we tend to elevate as a sign not only the mighty acts God has done though Jesus, but also as a sign of what God intends for creation: to be one. Not one as in we all agree, but one in the Spirit.
    My hope is to have times where conservatives and liberals can gather at the communion table and celebrate communion together with no hope of changing the other. Maybe if that happens, we will see each other as sons and daughters of God and be more careful in our rhetoric and actions.

    Dennis

  • Tom Wiley

    I’ve really been enjoying this series and the conversation that’s been taking place. However, I’m still amazed at those that “don’t get it” and still don’t want to accept others and consider their viewpoint. I consider myself a conservative and I live in a very liberal town (Eugene, OR) and I attend a church that consists of more liberals than conservatives. I’ve always thought that over the years I would become move more towards the center, but I haven’t. I read and hear every day about how conservatives are supposed to hate gays and the poor and minorities, etc, etc, etc and how we have these “Evil Strategies” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/emergentvillage/2012/04/dehumanizing-the-other-afghan-body-parts-soldier-suicides-the-poor-and-the-evil-conservative-strategy-by-randy-woodley/) and yet I find repeatedly that these claims are largely baseless and false. I go to conservative gatherings and I find fellowship that others like me believe in equality for minorities and women, ideals that the republican party was founded on and continue to be based on, although much of it’s leadership has become corrupt and self serving. I find attempts at re-writing history to try and state that “secretly” conservatives have always been about subjugating the poor and minorities, despite the fact that 100% of their speech and actions have been 100% for civil rights. (ie: Southern Strategy) We have several gays friends that visit frequently and we’ve invited them to church and I really haven’t thought much of it until I hear and read that I’m supposed to be judgmental and condemning of them. Once in awhile I listen to Rush or others and I frequently hear 100% mis-characterizations of what they’ve said such as what was done recently with Sandra Fluke. (I happened to be listening that day.) Rush, fittingly apologized, not because what he said was wrong or mean or hateful in anyway, but because he’s lost the narrative and it had become been changed to be reguarded as such. I find my liberal friends give platitudes to helping the poor and needy, but travel the world to exotic locales, while my conservative friends give their time and what money they have to helping the poor and needy. I recently went on a mission trip to Mexico to build houses for the homeless and there were a handful of us from Eugene that went and I noticed that it was a minority segment of mostly conservatives once again. When we arrived, there was a very large group, overwhelming conservative from a very small town in rural Oregon that joined us. I am becoming more and more convinced that the liberal/progressive viewpoint is largely ignorant and fabricated with half truths, falsehoods and sometimes outright lies. I long for the day when we can just be accepting of each other and not demonizing of a different viewpoint.

  • Deacon Jim Stagg

    Thank you, Tom Wiley, for your observations. They match many of mine. Thank you, too, Timothy, for this series of articles. In many trips to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina, my experiences met firmly with those expressed by Tom. I find my “liberal” friends, including my own family, heavy of committing others to do something, but a bit shy on getting out and doing the work. For example, I find few “liberals” working in the St. Vincent dePaul Society, but I do find some, mostly clerics, who take credit for the work of this all-volunteer, LAY Catholic organization.

    One additional clue to the “conservative” versus “liberal” viewpoint: take a look at the political cartoons. I used to send my cousin, an atheist, some of a “conservative” variety from time-to-time. He, in turn would send me those he observed in the NYT, WaPo, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Newsweek and Time, all of which have a somewhat leftist lean. The lack of humor in the “liberal” cartoons is obvious, and the attacks on basic decency, not to mention outright defamation, is rampant. On the other hand, if you take nationally known (and respected) cartoonists like Michael Ramirez, or Chip Bok, or Chuck Asay, you will see them make their telling points of view with good humor and honesty. Smear tactics are really not funny at all.

    Thanks, again, Timothy. We appreciate your good writing.

  • Mark McNeil

    I think the divide between progressive and conservative is simply whether you have a “high” or “low” view of Scripture. If you have a “high” view of Scripture, a verse such as Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms., means you believe there are really unseen spiritual forces of evil. If you have a “high” view of Scripture, verses such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God., really means that continued bad behavior is wrong and dis-inheriting. If you have a “low” view of Scripture, then the above verses are no longer controlling. To those I ask, if Scripture is not the foundation of faith and practice, what is?

  • Basil

    Tim

    I think you need to revise your theory that those of us on the left are somehow exaggerating the depth of anti-gay animus and vitriole among the Christian right. This is despicable behavior needs to end.

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/candacechellew-hodge/6104/southern_baptist_convention_declares_gay_rights_are_not_civil_rights/

    • Frank

      Gay rights are not civil rights. it’s true so whats the problem?

      Race and sexual preference are not remotely the same thing.

      • Alex

        Race and religion are not remotely the same thing, and yet issues of religious discrimination and protection of religious freedom certainly fall under the umbrella of civil rights. Why is religion a valid basis for civil rights, but sexual orientation (which is arguably far less changeable than religious preference) is not?

        • Frank

          Our founders believe that freedom of religion was critical and everyone seems to agree.

          Sexual preference is not nor has ever been a protected class. Race is immutable, sexual preference is not.

          • Alex

            What do you mean, “is not and never has been a protected class”? There are laws prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in twenty-one states and the District of Columbia; four more states and the federal government prohibit such discrimination in public employment. Some of these laws are over thirty years old. Sexual orientation most definitely has been a protected class in some places for decades now.

            Race may be immutable, religion is not. Do you have any other reason other than “it’s been this way for a long time” for why religion qualifies as a valid basis for civil rights but sexual orientation doesn’t?

          • Frank

            Sexual preference is not a federally protected class of people. Look it up!

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Despite the hyperventilating from the writer at RD, it doesn’t seem that despicable to me, Basil.

      • Basil

        It’s shameful to advocate for discrimination against a class of people based on denominational religious beliefs about that particular class of people being flawed and inferior. You may feel differently about this in 20 years.

        The difference between you and Candace is that she is a lesbian, and therefore the target of this animus. You would feel differently about it, if you were the target. You’re not, so for you, it’s hyperventilating.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          No one is saying that this “class of people” is inferior, or even flawed except in the sense that we are all flawed. I, and I suspect most and perhaps all of the more conservative-leaning Christians on this board would agree, feel strongly that heterosexuals and homosexuals are equally precious in the eyes of God, and that my sins are no less severe than the sins of my gay friends. But just because a certain class of people has (let’s say) an innate predilection toward a particular kind of activity, that does not mean that one must condone that activity or else be hateful. In fact, if you believe that God opposes that activity, and does so because it is ultimately destructive to God’s creative intent for that individual, then you have a certain obligation to speak up, do you not?

          • Alex

            The objection is not that the SBC has failed to condone homosexuality, it’s that they’ve declared that homosexuals are, as a class, ineligible for civil rights protection. As an analogy, you may believe that your Jewish friends are mistaken in the matter of Christ’s divinity and, given a chance, you might even witness to them in hopes that they might be saved. However, that’s very different from stating that institutionalized anti-Semitic discrimination is not a civil rights issue. Likewise, you can believe that homosexuals are misguided without necessarily endorsing anti-gay discrimination. The SBC has done the latter.

          • Tom Wiley

            Well said, Tim!

          • Basil

            I strongly concur with Alex. He laid out, in very precise terms, my central problem with SBC. I would add to it by noting the fact that most conservative Christians ignore the consequences and the links between anti-gay rhetoric and legal and social discrimination, which is hypocritical. Here is an interesting piece of data, which I just learned the other day: about 3-5% of youth identify as LGBT and yet up to 40% percent of homeless youth are LGBT. So where is the outrage in the churches about parents abusing, and throwing out their kids who are gay? (I wonder how many homeless LGBT kids came from Greenburg, Indiana). Instead we get sermons about how horrible it will be if a bunch of queers would be allowed to get legally married.

            But leaving civil/legal matters aside for a moment, let’s talk about ‘innate predilections’. If some trait is innate, presumably it is something that was given to (some/all) us by God, and we should be very careful about before criticizing people for that innate trait (whatever it is). Second, I find strange to think that treating people with the same respect you would want to be shown is somehow “condoning” an innate predilection that you find questionable. If I wanted to be condoned, don’t I at least have to ask you? Third, I think a cornerstone of faith has to be doubt, because doubt and uncertainty force us to be compassionate to others, lest we be judged and treated disrespectfully by someone else, who judges us for some other alleged sin. Fourth, what does “ultimately destructive” of God’s creative intent mean? How can you know what is is God’s intent for another person, and how logically can you be assured that their innate predilection is somehow interfering with that? Isn’t that hard enough to know for ourselves, much less for others? I read that, and I struck by the hubris, and I keep thinking about specks, eyes and planks, and about loving neighbors as yourself, and I don’t see how that can square with judging people based on a trait that you conveniently don’t happen to have.

          • Frank

            Basil lets look at what you wrote with an unbiased eye:

            “about 3-5% of youth identify as LGBT and yet up to 40% percent of homeless youth are LGBT. So where is the outrage in the churches about parents abusing, and throwing out their kids who are gay?”

            Yes some parents throw their kids out (26% of gay youth) but the majority leave voluntarily because they want to live the way they want. Even if a states if you choose to live that way you must leave does not constitute abuse. Yes some parents abusive to their kids both gay and straight. They should be called out on that abuse.

            “If some trait is innate, presumably it is something that was given to (some/all) us by God, and we should be very careful about before criticizing people for that innate trait (whatever it is)”

            We are all born with sin and that’s not from God so your premise falls apart. God does not make anyone gay, sin does.

            “Second, I find strange to think that treating people with the same respect you would want to be shown is somehow “condoning” an innate predilection that you find questionable.”

            Everyone wants to be allowed to sin. However if someone respects/loves us they would want us not to sin.

            “Third, I think a cornerstone of faith has to be doubt, because doubt and uncertainty force us to be compassionate to others, lest we be judged and treated disrespectfully by someone else, who judges us for some other alleged sin.”

            This doesn’t even make sense so we will leave it at that.

            “Fourth, what does “ultimately destructive” of God’s creative intent mean?”

            It means going against Gods created order/intention. Male and female = marriage.

  • http://TucsonLiberalChristianExaminer Margot Fernandez

    This article is based on a false equivalency: there is no “equal and opposite” Liberal or Christian Left that takes the kind of actual actions that the Religious Right takes all the time, every day, at every opportunity. There is a difference between being prejudiced and recognizing what is going on. It is not paranoia to say that the Religious Right is trying to take over the American Church; just look at Dominionist websites and read what they have to say. Today the Southern Baptists reaffirmed their position that homosexuality is a choice–a sinful choice–and that the LGBT community does not have “civil rights.” If cooler heads cannot prevail, I suggest that the evangelical church is going to implode as it is abandoned by its membership, which the Barna Group tells them is happening every couple of years when they commission another study. I don’t see any good outcome for the Religious Right in this scenario–sorry.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      That you equate “Dominionists” with “The Christian Right” illustrates my point, Margot.

  • Michael

    I think that the term “civil” rights means that these rights are due to a person if they are a citizen of the US, not just if they’re black. That was the point of the “civil rights” movement: It should not matter what special class you are part of; if you are a citizen, these are your rights. Black Americans were deprived of those rights by law and tradition prior to the “civil rights movement” but they weren’t – and aren’t – the only ones. My non-lawyer understanding, at any rate.


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