This is why we fight

North Carolina passed a ban on gay marriage last night.

For all of you wondering why we fight religion, this is why.  It’s because the pulpit is the portal through which the moral failings of the first century find their way into ours.

And for those of you who try to excuse god and faith because you don’t hate gay people and you think you’ve got god’s will right, two things.  First, virtually every person celebrating the slashing of human rights in North Carolina is a Christian.  The gratitude for this depraved measure will, by far, swell the largest in Christian church services.  What does that tell you about faith’s culpability in this?

And the second, you’d better have gone to those Christians to tell them how wrong they are before you even thought about coming to me to defend god.  Otherwise your moral priorities are just as fucked as theirs.

And for a little perspective, it turns out that in North Carolina you can marry your cousin…just not if they’re gay.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Metaphysical Ham Sandwich

    I voted against this horseshit but apparently non-bigot is a minority in this state.

    I don’t hate North Carolina and I don’t hate democracy. I hate the bigoted atavists that think that believing in a mythical genocidal monster gives them the right to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do.

  • Steve

    It’s not just a ban on same-sex marriage. It also bans Civil Unions and invalidates the Domestic Partnerships that are already in place in several larger cities

    • Metaphysical Ham Sandwich

      You’d have to be a moron to not understand this. Guess that says a lot about the constituency here.

      • petpisces

        In 2011, NC ranked 42nd in nation in education. This isn’t a dramatic drop in trend, NC has always been on the dumb side, nationally. This just concluded the moron statement. Stupid people voting. What angers me more is that this was in a primary, when most registered voters stay home (reasons unknown) and only 39% of the voters voted. I assume the other 61% just didn’t care. This angers me even more. I’m a straight, single mother who believes in equal rights for every human.

        • Kaoru Negisa

          Right there with you. It’s why I don’t buy the “I don’t *personally* hate gay people, but…” line. All that says to me is that you don’t particularly care about other human beings. Similarly, the people who stayed him instead of voting show their basic callous disregard for the fate of others. It’s not quite as abominable, but it’s pretty damn close.

          • John Eberhard

            Good ideas are made to be stolen. Hope you don’t mind, and I’m stealing and re-posting your post.

          • Kaoru Negisa

            Since I can’t reply directly to you, John, this is me saying that my only request is that you let me know so I can point my friends to it and say, “Look at the awesome person who thought my ideas were good enough to use!”

            Seriously, by all means, go ahead.

          • John Eberhard

            Thank you for your kind words and generosity.

      • SherryH

        The amendment was (possibly deliberately) worded in a very broad and confusing way. Those advocating for the law were certainly in no hurry to clear that up. It doesn’t take a “moron” to be confused by a confusing and badly worded proposal, or to be pushed into voting in favor of something so heavily hyped and inaptly explained.

        Well, let the court challenges begin…

    •!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

      I’d love to see the looks on the faces of straight bigots in civil unions when they find out what they voted for.

  • Your Dogma is Showing

    Assholes, the lot of them. I took my kids on a short road trip to NC last weekend for some fossil hunting and every goddamn church we passed had some homophobic drivel posted on their sign. What an embarrassment. In 50 years we’ll look back on these times just like we now look back on the civil rights movement, and my kids will be asking me if I was really around when we treated gay people like second class citizens. If they’re willing to stand up for bigotry, fine- but I’m calling it like it is when the subject comes up in conversation. If you’ve got a problem with someone choosing a partner and having the state sanction the marriage, you are an asshole. That’s not ad hominem, that’s a fact.

  • baz1

    Love this line – “It’s because the pulpit is the portal through which the moral failings of the first century find their way into ours.”

    • Adam Felton

      Ditto! That line leapt out at me as well. A true joy to read.

  • Zengaze

    But that doesn’t mean Christians are anti gay, I remember seeing statistics somewhere that clearly showed Christians were pro gay, and it’s and individual choice not a Christian thing.

    • Your Dogma is Showing

      Huh? Are you saying that it’s inaccurate to label all christians as homophobes? I’m really not sure what you’re trying to say here.

      At any rate, I’d agree that it’s unlikely that every christian in North Carolina is a homophobe. I’d also point out that every non-homophobe christian who is remaining silent about the homophobic stance of their church is a silent partner in this crime against humanity. I wouldn’t step foot in any building with a homophobic message on its billboard unless it was to call out the occupants on their hateful message.

      As for the statistics, citation needed. If the christians are ahead of the curve on tolerance towards homosexuality then that’s news to me.

      • John Eberhard

        Hope you don’t mind if I steal and repost “every non-homophobe christian who is remaining silent about the homophobic stance of their church is a silent partner in this crime against humanity.

        • Your Dogma is Showing

          I’d be honored.

      • Zengaze

        Well, you know I’ve actually worked in the church and around the church and I don’t recall seeing a party line position that says that you have to be anti gay. For example, I remember working at the Church committee, that would have been in 1994, and I plainly remember seeing data that showed that people who consider themselves Christian consider themselves, were 70% pro-gay.
        Yeah, so that, can’t be a church position. Now there are individual Christians that have pro gay positions politically. I have not seen the statistics lately on redshirt christians with regards to gay rights and with regards to pro life vs pro choice. But I am not aware of it being a blanket church position. I think it lies with each Church elected official, whether they’re in the Senate or in the House, or at the local level, just like the Atheists party is a big tent party

        with regard to pro-gay I happen to be personally pro-gay, but I have run across quite a few people who are atheists, agnostics, etc, who are anti gay, and they don’t see that necessarily as a religion, non-religion issue. You’ve got to be a little bit careful there—we can’t label everyone in the movement and just say that if you take religion out of the pro-gay anti-gay issue, then it’s very clear. Now, as I’m finding out—of course, the majority of everyone who are nontheists they do tend to be pro-gay, but we can’t make that an absolute.

        • Zengaze


        • Your Dogma is Showing

          Here’s what I’m hearing from you: some christians aren’t bigots, and some atheists are bigots. Bigotry isn’t an official church position, so be careful about associating christianity with bigotry. Please correct me if I’m misstating this as I’m not trying to build a straw man here.

          Those churches I drove past last weekend chose to put very clear, anti-gay messages on their billboards (viz. “One man, one woman- God’s plan”). The parking lots then filled up with cars and everyone went inside. I’ll concede that it’s possible that the congregants were going inside to express their outrage at the blatant hatred posted on the billboard, but can we all please agree that this is not likely?

          My point, again, is not that every single person calling themselves a christian is bigoted. Not even in North Carolina and (maybe) not even in those churches with the bullshit on their billboards. However, it seems to me that it’s a complete cop out to say that something ON THE FUCKING BILLBOARD IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH ON FUCKING SUNDAY MORNING is not a church position. Sure, they didn’t have to sign a form confirming their homophobic views in order to join those churches. By associating with an organization which promulgates homophobic statements, however, they have made their positions quite clear. The fact that some of their christian brethren in some other church are more accepting of homosexuality does NOT negate their being homophobes. The fact that some atheists somewhere are bigots does NOT negate the fact that they are homophobes.

          If you maintain that christianity in general is not supporting homophobia, please give me some evidence. My understanding of the christian position is that most denominations hold that homosexuality is immoral:

          • Zengaze

            I’ll say sorry again, you dismantled it perfectly though, lol, the one thing I’d have thrown in their was their party platform/bible

        • Cera

          Bryan Fischer calls himself pro-gay.

          But that doesn’t necessarily make it fucking so.

          • Aliasalpha

            He probably thinks “pro” is short for “proscecute”

        • Rory

          Nicely done. Would you by any chance be interested in a leadership position with the SCA?

          • John Horstman

            Hehe, nice.

        • Zinc Avenger

          “They’re not anti-gay! They just let the anti-gay bigots do all the talking!”

    • karmakin

      Even assuming that you’re right. I think you’re wrong, but whatever, the reality is that most Christians put the glory of the church in front of concepts of basic right and wrong. This in itself is a horribly dangerous thing.

      To be honest, I think all of the culture wars stem from a desire for power and glory. Something which I think is inherently wrong and problematic. The problem is that some churches also do good things (like charity) for the exact same reasons.

      • Kaoru Negisa

        Yes and no. It’s very much about power and glory in the sense that power really means “options.” Credit where credit’s due, I got this idea from a Dresden book, but it stuck with me. Basically, to have power is to be able to make more choices, so financial power means being able to buy more and different things, political power means having more potential policies available, etc.

        With religion we’re talking about ideological power. The culture wars are being fought on the premise that ideology is a zero-sum game and granting my ideas any credence automatically invalidates yours. But going back to the hypothesis that power=options, that’s the point. In an ideological power struggle, the aggressor is usually the person who needs to advance an ideology in which they can do whatever they want because you can’t, and the concept that there’s a world in which they and you can achieve your desires just doesn’t occur to them.

        But is it the power to make rules or break them that’s really important? I would argue that it’s less about what can be restricted, but rather about what can be gotten away with. It’s why you see so many congregations that make rape victims apologize for losing their purity. I don’t believe that churches like this encourage rape, but they do set up a system in which a privileged few can rape in a consequence-free environment. The rules are in place for Other People.

        Ok, I got a little rambly there, but here’s the summary: the culture wars are about making rules that other people have to follow and creating a system in which the aggressors of these “wars” can break those rules without fear of reprisal. They’re about being able to do things other people can’t do simply because it feels good to be special.

    • Kaoru Negisa

      Don’t worry. I got the joke.

      Everyone else, it’s a parody of our new illustrious SCA Executive Director.

      • Your Dogma is Showing

        Joke? are you telling me I’ve been arguing with a Poe? If so, lol

        • Kaoru Negisa

          Yep. Those are almost verbatim quotes from Edwina Rogers, only she was talking about “Republicans” and not churches. It’s part of the reason why people are coming down so hard on her: because she seems to be making up figures out of nowhere. %)

          Yep. Totes a Poe.

    • Gregory

      Yeah, well, the fact of the matter is, EVERY voice that is crying out loudly against gays and lesbians is associated with a christian church or based on christian dogma. EVERY last one. And every argument that they present that being gay is wrong, evil, and sinful, and must be squashed from the world, is based on christian doctrine (or one of its first cousins, Islam and Judaism).

      I agree that there are christians who are not anti-gay, but their voices are not heard.

      • Aliasalpha

        if islam & judaism are first cousins of christianity, that means that in north carolina they can get married!

  • Kaoru Negisa

    Those of us who cross over into LGBT activism (where I started my activism, actually) are hearing a lot about this on all sides. There are a few things to remember when we consider this:

    1. This was going to happen. We like to think that the world is ready to defy our expectations, but it’s important to recognize in advance that North Carolina is not going to vote in a way that could be construed as being in support of LGBT people. They’re hardly ready to vote in a way that could be construed as supporting people of color. This is not to cast aspersions on all North Carolinians, but clearly the majority of voters there are still just as bigoted as those of us on the outside have always thought. Maybe that will change, but it wasn’t changing in 2012, the year the Culture War raged white hot again.

    2. The refrain, as satisfying as it is, that people will one day have to ashamedly explain themselves to their children is not really accurate. This is the state that elected the guy who ran for president on the Segregationist ticket to the Senate until that man died. If the generation that lynched people of color still doesn’t feel ashamed of their actions, I doubt the bigots of today will be apologizing to their kids for discriminating against them and their friends (in many cases before they were born). They’re going to quietly pine for the good old days when they could be open about their bigotry, blame the loss of their “freedom” to be assholes without consequence on the moral decline of our country, and pray all the harder that god, in his infinite mercy and love, will give all liberals incurable cancer.

    3. Despite my first two points that suggest that bigotry is mostly intractable, we still are winning. More and more people *are* changing their minds, learning, and growing. This wasn’t the year in North Carolina, but it was in Washington and Maryland. Maybe someday my beloved Florida will learn to be more like a Jimmy Buffet song and less like the song Tallahassee by The Mountain Goats. That day is not today, though, and that means we have to keep fighting.

    And I can’t think of better people to fight at my side than the ones I’ve interacted with since joining the atheiosphere.

    • Metaphysical Ham Sandwich

      Well, I’ll be apologizing to my kids for them.

      • Kaoru Negisa

        You could do that. Or you could do what I plan to do: use them as an example of why your kids should stand up for what’s right. Paint them forever as the villains they are and don’t let the Dinesh D’Souzas of the world (see Ed’s post debunking D’Souza’s claims, part 2, for what I mean change history after the fact to make themselves look like good guys.

  •!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    The last time NC voted on an amendment regarding marriage was when they banned interracial marriage. I pity the nice people who are stuck living in such a place. Actually, being in Kansas I can relate.

  • John Horstman

    I’d make the argument as to the amendment being illegal on the basis of religious discrimination – if my religion recognizes same-sex marriages, you’re discriminating against my religious dogma by allowing the marriages of some religions to be legally valid but not mine.

  • Art Vandelay

    I think that we should treat people that vote against same sex marriage as terrorists for the simple reason that they are clearly incapable of dismissing God’s law. At this point they become a psychopath and a threat and we shouldn’t play a guessing game as to which of God’s laws they’re abiding to and which they’re ignoring. We should treat them as menaces to society…hell we should profile them. People that so proudly abide by God’s law must also be willing to stone women that are victims of rape, stone unruly children, kill people who eat shellfish and pigs, kill every football player (yes…you’re not allowed to even touch the carcass of a pig), kill people with tattoos, kill non-virgins on their wedding nights, kill women who accidentally graze the testicles of another man while trying to defend her husband in a fight, pass up medical care for their sick children in favor of prayer (and/or sacrifice an animal), beat their slaves hard enough so that they just barely stay alive, burn women they determine to be witches, beat their wives, beat their kids…etcetera…etcetera…etcetera.

    Until they’re capable of having a 21st century conversation about how to build a good society, they become pariahs. Watch how quickly they change their tune. Watch how quickly they learn to ignore that sadistic book.

    • Kaoru Negisa

      The problem with this is that it fits into the martyr complex so many bigots have. It says very clearly that they’ll be persecuted in their holy book, so it’s vital that they be persecuted for any of it to be true.

      That being said, the people who most deserve to be ostracized will find any excuse to claim they’re the real victims, so I suppose it doesn’t much matter. However, you can also rest assured that most of these people don’t have the courage or moral conviction to follow their terrible book the way it actually says. And I, for one, am rather glad that they’re cowards as well as bigots. The last thing we need is more people actually taking that book seriously. Though it is an amusing thought to try and take them at their word…

      • Art Vandelay

        Oh, I don’t think any of them have the courage to follow everything in that book. That’s why as soon as they say something idiotic like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” let’s just hold them accountable as if they were incapable of ignoring God’s laws. Of course they’re just using the bible to justify their inherent bigotry but watch how fast they abandon it when there become consequences for it.

        • Kaoru Negisa

          Couldn’t agree with you more. It’s one of the reasons why I like reading JT. He’s really good at pointing out that for every Golden Rule in that terrible book, there’s an order to slaughter unbelievers.

  •!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    It says very clearly that they’ll be persecuted in their holy book

    I wonder if it says that anywhere in the Quran. That’d be a great one to pull out on the people who go “oh, the Bible said we’d be persecuted, so you not letting me put a manger on the courthouse lawn means baby Jesus is real!”

    • Kaoru Negisa

      If only. As far as I can tell, and it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a Quran, any mention of persecution of Muslims is generally to tell them not to stand for it. Often it’s a translation error to even use “persecution”, which is “idtihad” in Arabic and doesn’t generally appear in the few verses like Sura 2:191-193, one of the Medinian suras that basically says to go out and kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

      Nope, there’s very little about persecution in Islam, though it would have been nice.

  • Cynthia

    “every non-homophobe christian who is remaining silent about the homophobic stance of their church is a silent partner in this crime against humanity.”

    I, too, stole that quote. And I posted it on FB, where it’s going to piss off a lot of people who call themselves my ‘friends’. And I don’t care. It brings tears to my eyes that you could deny someone their humanity because you don’t like the way they love.

    When are we as a species going to learn from our past and stop repeating it? Does anyone else see some frightening parallels happening here?

  • peicurmudgeon

    Personally, I think that in general consanguinity at the cousin level is no more harmful than same-sex marriage. As in not at all.

    Inbreeding as a problem really only develops in what livestock breeders call line-breeding where a female is mated with a direct ancestor (father or grandfather-although an uncle would likely fit the criteria).

    Before modern transportation, in most rural areas, mating occurred with a few miles of home. This would automatically lead to a great many cousin marriages. The result is often seen as a localized ‘type’ of physical features.