What Is Anti-Gay Speech? And How Protected Should it Be? (3 of 3)

What Is Anti-Gay Speech? And How Protected Should it Be? (3 of 3) October 14, 2019

Seyi Omooba is a British actress whose Christian criticism of homosexuality came back to bite her. (Part 1 here.)

Who hurt whom?

Let’s review to see who hurt whom and if injury could’ve been prevented. This is my evaluation (and the more I write, the more subtleties appear), so feel free to add comments with corrections or different approaches.

Seyi Omooba put up a Christian anti-gay Facebook post five years ago. This year, someone uncovered it and showed it to the world. Though she said that she regretted making her thoughts public, she wouldn’t retract them, and she lost her job. Worse, this incident may rain on future work opportunities in the theater.

Omooba’s actions. There may have been something that she could’ve said by way of apology after her comments were outed. Maybe she could’ve acknowledged that Christianity is a big tent and that her interpretation wasn’t the only one. Or she could’ve promised to broaden her perspective by visiting gay-affirming congregations. Or she could’ve added a caveat saying, “This is just one interpretation” or “I’m not claiming to be the last word on the subject” or even (h/t commenter NS Alito) “[It would be] the ultimate hubris for me to act as either a communicator or an enforcer for my omnipotent God.”

With a conservative pastor as a father, this might have been difficult, but she is 25 years old and should now be able to take responsibility for her own worldview.

The theater’s actions. The theater hurt Omooba by firing her, but they would say in turn that she injured them by forcing them to find a replacement. I see no free-speech violation. From their standpoint, Omooba could say whatever she wanted up to and including discrediting the show. And they had a contract with her so they could terminate her if she became a liability.

The whistleblower’s actions. He indirectly caused Omooba’s firing with his tweet, but I think his actions were justifiable. (Some commenters have disagreed.) Whether you call them Omooba’s ideas or Christianity’s, neither source deserves a pass for hateful ideas. “But this comes from the Bible!” counts for nothing. If it’s stupid and indefensible, that’s true no matter where it comes from.

The public’s actions. The theater-going public didn’t get a chance to vote with their ticket purchases, but there was enough blowback in response to the tweet to make clear to the theater that there was negative publicity. The public is entitled to reward or punish productions if they feel it necessary. If you are outraged at where Omooba landed after this incident, you can probably think of a different politically charged arrangement where you, as a potential ticket buyer, would want to reward or punish a production with your purchase.

As Ricky Gervais put it, “You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you.” That goes both ways. Seyi Omooba has offended with her Facebook post. That’s fine; that’s her right. But then she can’t get annoyed when she gets some free speech back.

This result doesn’t please me. I don’t look at Omooba and think that she got just what she deserved. She said some stupid, hateful nonsense based on her indoctrination into a religion that worships a Bronze Age god, but she didn’t materially hurt anyone. To paraphrase Jefferson, she neither picked anyone’s pocket nor broke anyone’s leg. She could’ve said Ricky Gervais’s line: “You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you.”

This seems a little like the Tragedy of the Commons, where each rancher puts all their sheep into the town’s common land to graze, and the land becomes overgrazed and barren. Each party does what, to them, is the smart thing to do, but add that all up, and something’s wrong in the end.

More problems with Omooba’s position

I’ll get three more problems off my chest. First, there is no crime without a punishment. And—wouldn’t you know it?—the Bible gives us its stock punishment. In the case of homosexual sex, “[Both men] are to be put to death” (Leviticus 20:13). Is that what Omooba wants? Just to follow God’s word, both in defining the crime and specifying the punishment? If she has a hard time accepting that punishment, it should call into question the validity of the “crime.”

Second, why focus on the anti-gay verses? Old Testament law has loads of fun rules—you must stone to death “a stubborn and rebellious son” (Deuteronomy 21:18), brides discovered to not be virgins are also stoned (Deut. 22:20–21), sex slaves are war booty (Numbers 31:17–18), and more. If modern times has dimmed our appreciation for these old classics, why not bring them all back? The answer, of course, is that Christians like Omooba have an agenda.

If you want to dismiss these as being unnecessary or outdated, (1) show where the Old Testament said that dismissal was an option and (2) show why the anti-gay verses are in a different category.

Finally, and this returns to the point of the whistleblower, her taking the part is hypocritical. She feels that God unambiguously declares that homosexuality is wrong, and yet she will play a protagonist who has a lesbian relationship? She should see her loss of the part as God’s hand in action and be grateful.

Final thoughts

Let’s return to the original issue, free speech vs. Christian anti-gay ideas. The real issue may be that Omooba didn’t think, five years ago, that she would soon be a minor celebrity and that public critique of celebrities is often greater than that for ordinary citizens. It’s naive to imagine that an online discussion will never have consequences in the real world. On one hand, that’s a big burden on a young adult that most people will never have to deal with. On the other, Christian anti-gay ideas are hurtful and offensive. A celebrity will have a larger platform than most of us, so their statements are magnified, and they shouldn’t make a statement they can’t accept the consequences of.

It’s an easy mistake to make, but I put the blame on her. A provocative anti-gay statement, whether or not it is couched as biblical, is hurtful. If this is a surprise to her—either that social media can be dangerous or that conservative ideas about homosexuality can be hateful—she has only herself to blame. Especially as someone in the theater, with lots of gay coworkers, she should’ve known the impact.

She sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to the many thoughtful comments to the previous posts. This is a subject with (as I see it) no win-win resolution. Share your comments below.

[A minister once posted,]
“ ‘Thy will be done’—the prayer that never fails.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself,
yet she had no idea of the implications of such a statement.
— commenter Lerk!


(h/t commenters Milo C and NS Alito)

Image from Jordan McDonald, CC license

"Again, you are seeing things only from a bottom up. I agree that we can ..."

How Much Faith to Be an ..."
"I know you have your own views Tim but I am curious as to whether ..."

Can God Be Benevolent if He ..."
"We have never seen a nothingness at all,stable or unstable.It depends on how you define ..."

Would God Want You to Tell ..."
"Similar to the adaptations Darwin observed. But neither are anything more than adaptation. Of course, ..."

Would God Want You to Tell ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Neville

    Like everyone else, I have my prejudices. But I don’t post them on Facebook just so people can see what they are. Omooba could have kept her prejudice against LGBTQ+ private and nobody would have known her feelings about LGBTQ+. Instead she announced her homophobia publicly and the public expressed its prejudice against homophobes.

    • Agreed, though Christians seem to imagine holy fairy dust covering their religious opinions, so that they feel comfortable saying stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise. She’s learned a tough lesson.

    • smrnda

      A very good point. There is no requirement to post on social media at all. Formerly, only really big name celebrities could reach a big enough audience or have their statements be in the public record, and they were usually coached by publicists or filtered through editors.

  • MadScientist1023

    I’m a gay man. At one point in time, I’d have happily jumped on the “she should be fired, anything she gets is her own fault” bandwagon. But the fact is that not everyone is going to accept gay people, and I can live with that. I don’t need every last homophobe figuratively dragged out in the street and chased out of town. And I’m disappointed at the number of people here who seem to need that to happen.

    This woman wasn’t an activist. She was a random person from a conservative background. She was then pressed on a question and answered honestly. Because of that, an internet mob formed and got her fired.

    These tactics were used on members of the LGBT community not that long ago. LGBT individuals were driven out of town when they were outed. We could be blacklisted and have entire career fields closed off to us. Fortunately, things changed. The pendulum swung the other way. Coming out became socially accepted. Homophobia became unacceptable. We fought for gay rights and won.

    But now we have started using the tactics of our former oppressors. We are now the ones outing people and making our own blacklists. We and our allies have become the ones chasing people out of town. We rest absolutely everything on the distinction between being gay and having a system of beliefs, and use that distinction to justify becoming nearly as bad as the people we and our forebearers spent so many years fighting against. I want none of it.

    I think what that woman said was repugnant. I find her entire belief system heartless at best, hateful at worst. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. We won the culture war. We don’t have to now transform into the thought police and make sure we have complete and total compliance from every last person. I can tolerate beliefs that I find personally repugnant but are too weak to hurt me anymore. You don’t tolerate things you like. You tolerate things you don’t.

    • Michael Neville

      If you think you’ve won the culture war then you’re either naive or unobservant. People like Scott Lively of Focus On the Family are frothing at the mouth to roll back any gains LGBTQ+ have made. He’s one of the American fundamentalist Christians who went to Uganda and successfully convinced the Ugandan Parliament to pass draconian laws making being gay a capital offense.

      After Roe v Wade was decided by the Supreme Court many of the pro-choice organizations disbanded, thinking that they’d achieved their goal of making abortion legal throughout the US. The forced-birthers have been chipping away at abortion rights so diligently that it is now almost impossible to get an abortion in Alabama or South Dakota. Several other states are close behind and with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court abortion remaining legal is looking rather bleak. So LGBTQ+ rights are not a sure thing.

    • we have started using the tactics of our former oppressors.

      I agree. I like your attitude, and I dislike binary thinking: “you’re either 100% in agreement with me or you’re dead to me.”

      I also agree with Michael Neville that today’s social gains are tentative. Maybe the present nationalist/conservative situation in the US (and Europe?) is a hiccup. But maybe not.

      • MadScientist1023

        No social situation is permanent, but social momentum is on the side of gay rights and such momentum takes a long time to swing the other way. There’s little risk of it changing anytime soon, but eventually it will happen if we don’t keep playing this game of one side verse the other and learn to live with each other.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          The problem is that one side (liberals/progressives) may push back against perceived injustices but are by-and-large tolerant of the other side to express their unpleasant and dystopic biases because they will reap the consequences (like this woman). The other side (Evangelical Christian conservatives) wants to eliminate liberals/progressives from the face of the Earth. Somehow I doubt that latter agenda is conducive to an atmosphere of calm dialog and getting along.

        • MadScientist1023

          At what point in this story did you see progressives being tolerant of someone on the other side who expressed their unpleasant bias?

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          They didn’t call for her death?

        • MadScientist1023

          They called for her to be fired and quite possibly left her with a scandal that will make her unable to work as an actor again. That’s your idea of being “by-and-large tolerant”?

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          I don’t know? Do you think Neville Chamberlain’s response in 1938 turned out well for Britain?

          In case you haven’t noticed, literally thousands of gay people have been systematically targeted42, kidnapped and tortured42 both physically and mentally, beaten and murdered42, and devoted Christian conservatives in this country have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into third world countries in an effort to criminalize homosexual42 behavior and put violators to death42. I think liberals were more than fair in their treatment of this woman considering she was given the opportunity to talk her vile opinions back and possibly still retain her position. She opted not to do that and you think that is totes okay and liberals are meanies for foisting consequences for her decision.

          What would you have done, Neville?

        • MadScientist1023

          I’m gay. I studied gay history in college. I manned the front lines of the gay rights protests in the oughts. I’ve faced anti-gay discrimination myself. And I know far better than you that I had it easy compared to those who came before me in America and those in many other countries. I have far more reason to be alarmed and appalled by what this woman said than many posting here. And I am appalled. But that doesn’t mean she should have been silenced and fired.

          Liberals were not fair to this woman. She was not an activist. She was not kidnapping or torturing anyone. She was not devoting money to criminalizing homosexuality. She was a 20-something Christian woman with a distasteful opinion trying to make it as an actress.

          *Now*, she’s actively working against us with her lawsuit, but that was after the liberal thought police handed her an ultimatum: conform or face our wrath. We tried pressuring her into silence. Now she’s actively fighting us. All because a few people couldn’t stand listening to an opinion any gay person has heard thousands of times over. An opinion she was asked for, by the way, not one she shared publicly in the last 5 years.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Three things;

          1) She’ll be fine. If she truly wants to be an actress, I’m sure there are many Christian film studios that will be glad to accept her – especially now that she is a martyr.
          2) Her lawsuit will go nowhere and settle nothing.
          3) You didn’t answer my question. What would you have done if you were the producer?

        • MadScientist1023

          1. Yes, she probably will be a martyr. We’ve become quite fond of making them recently. Because her case isn’t without merit. It paints us as the “intolerant left”. And we keep doing more and more things to prove them right, which will only create more and more backlash, which in turn will do more than anything else to threaten the progress we’ve made.

          2. We’ll see, but it’s the fact she went from not saying a thing about us for years and tolerating us enough to work in a play with a pro-gay message to becoming radicalized and possibly only able to work as an anti-gay activist that should be concerning.

          3. I’m not criticizing the producer. I’m criticizing the gay mafia’s misfire on this one and all the people, like yourself, who are defending them.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          1) When is it time for the “left” to become intolerant? I’m not seeing any softening of the Christian right in their crusade to make you folks disappear. The poetic and prophetic words of pastor Martin Niemöller come to mind…

          2) Hosea 8:7 – “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”.

          3) I spent 13 years in small town lower Alabama as an atheist business owner, hiding in the closet. I am no stranger to how these folks think. Drop your guard and play nice if you choose to but be prepared to suffer the consequences. Think to yourself; ‘what would these good Christian conservative folks do to you in a similar circumstance’? I think we have observed the answer to that question many times over and playing softball with them only encourages them to take the next step.

        • MadScientist1023

          Meh, I never expected preaching tolerance, even limited tolerance to be easy. Wasn’t easy when dealing with the anti-gay crowd. Isn’t much better with this one. Most people seem to prefer polarization and tribalism.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          “Most people seem to prefer polarization and tribalism.”

          It’s not a preference, it is being legislated as we speak. Listen, if issues under this current administration hadn’t regressed to the degree that we are now seeing, I would be one-hundred percent in your corner. Unfortunately, evangelical conservatives are intent on hijacking our republic to systematically dismantle through legislation, every safeguard, liberty, and social safety net and install a dystopian Gilead in its place. We are seeing this in places like Alabama where women’s right to an abortion42 has effectively been eliminated.

          If you think singing kumbaya and reasoning with these zealots is going to work, I’m here to tell you that ship has sailed. Look at Mitch McConnell in the Senate. He has effectively blocked any and all legislation that falls outside of his strict Christian conservative agenda. There is no compromise with these people, it’s their way or no way.

          America was supposed to be a country of, by and for the people – all the people. The Christian conservative right has decreed that the only people that matter are those that believe as they believe. Others can pack sand. Compromise is for weaklings and suckers. Now you and I don’t think that way – and they know that. That is why they’re winning and we’re whining.

          Maybe we need a new strategy.

        • It paints us as the “intolerant left”.

          If that label means that I’m not willing to tolerate ignorance, directed at things that are beyond the ability of people to change (like their sexual orientation) then, fine, I’m one of the “intolerant left” (even though I don’t actually consider myself a lefty.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Because her case isn’t without merit.


          Her ‘case’ is TOTALLY without ANY ‘merit’.

          She wants to martyrbate with our hands, and you seem willing to let her.

          She made a choice, doubled down, and now wants to cry poor little girl rather than face the consequences of her hateful position.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Rights aren’t subject to majority vote.

          We SHOULD be intolerant of those who would deny people their rights because of bias against an innate, innocuous characteristic.

        • MadScientist1023

          Where is the evidence she did anything more than have an opinion?

    • kaydenpat

      You do know that SCOTUS is about to rule on whether employers can fire employees just for being LGBT, right? And that Trump has banned transgender people from the military? And that business owners are still fighting for their right to discriminate against and not serve gay customers? LGBT rights are still being fought for in the U.S.

      • MadScientist1023

        Yes. Now tell me how screaming at some random actress and probably ensuring she will probably never work again in her chosen career helps that cause.

        • kaydenpat

          It sends a clear message that homophobia will not be tolerated. Why a homophobic actress should portray a lesbian woman is beyond me.

        • MadScientist1023

          And how does that help the court cases?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Why does it *have* to ‘help in the court cases’?

          If anything, it’ll show the judges / justices what society’s views on the topic are, so justice can evolve and broaden to encompass more rights for more classes of individuals’ innate characteristics (of which religion is NOT one…)

        • MadScientist1023

          I still believe in tolerance. Tolerance is what got the gay community as accepted as it is today. This latest wave of gay supporters skipped that entire period of gay history, but it’s how we changed the minds of a generation. We no longer want tolerance; we demand conformity. I do not support that.

          This was not some activist or gay-rights opponent. This was a random citizen with an opinion we find distasteful who kept quiet about it for years. We as a community have apparently decided that even that is unacceptable. We now demand that there only be one opinion.

          It’s no wonder conservatives accuse us of intolerance. This case will only reinforce that notion for years to come. Good job providing fodder for our *real* enemies.

        • kaydenpat

          Whatever. I stand by my position which is the same as Alice Walker’s. I’m good.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Read up on The Paradox of Tolerance from Popper, and get back to us, mmmkay?


        • MadScientist1023

          You might want to reread it yourself:

          “The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Karl Popper described it as the seemingly paradoxical idea that, “In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” ***Popper took pains to make clear that he did not mean the expression of intolerant words and ideas, but in fact the opposite: They who must not be tolerated are those who wish to silence discussion and debate.***” [Emphasis added]

          The liberal side here has decided that the words and ideas she expressed must be silenced. I’m saying that we can disagree with her but that we shouldn’t be trying to get her fired simply because we disagree with what she said. You are supporting silencing her for her ideas.

        • Phil Rimmer

          The playwright’s speech was in danger of being curtailed by the actor’s proposed interpretation of her part (not gay).

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower


          Her intolerance, if supported, would undermine the greater tolerance.

          Maybe this XKCD will get the point across, since you seem to specialize in twisting ideas to suit your emotional biases:


        • Phil Rimmer

          This is nonsense. She was asked to clarify her current position on the sinfulness of gay behaviour She doubled down on that, further asserting the character she was to play was not in fact gay, undercutting the playwright’s specific and recently confirmed intentions.

          This is not some random person in some random play. This is about honouring the intentions of the playwright and the director and not undercutting the commitment of the other actors.

        • Lark62

          Christians assume their religion gives them the right to interfere in the lives and decisions of others.

          The only way to overcome that is to call it out. When it is said publicly it needs to be called out publicly.

          “No. Your religious beliefs stop where the next person’s begins.”

        • MadScientist1023

          That’s Christians in general. Where’s your evidence that this woman, specifically, crossed the line and tried to impose her beliefs on anyone else?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Decrying the nature of the very *iconic* character she’d be playing.

          But thank YOU for playing! (Not!)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Actions have consequences”, as the xtians are so quick to tell us.

          They need to learn that nastiness has consequences, too.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Noone screamed.

          The whole political heft of this particular play would have been subverted by her position. Celie is not gay, she claimed, implying, look how reduced that good woman is by circumstance and Shug’s base lusts. Not what writer Womanist Walker wanted.

          But even atheist playwrights like Lorraine Hansberry can write great humane parts for religious black women. There is plenty of work she can claim off the godless in return.

          Theatre is political and integrity reads off the stage. She has simply sharpened her brand.

    • Michael Murray

      too weak to hurt me anymore

      Do you think these beliefs hurt others though ? Such as teenage kids ?

    • Phil Rimmer

      But now we have started using the tactics of our former oppressors.

      Sincerely, not in this instance. This is about a very specific play, a very specific act of public speech (on a platform bought and paid for) about to be subverted.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    She said some stupid, hateful nonsense based on her indoctrination into a religion that worships a Bronze Age god, but she didn’t materially hurt anyone.

    Two words: Stochastic Terrorism.

    Her advocacy, like Scott Lively’s that resulted in African “42Kill The 42Gays” laws, reinforces and encourages harmful behavior, so I disagree with you on the harm question.

    • NS Alito

      At least she never works on the Sabbath, right? Right?

  • kaydenpat
  • eric

    This is a subject with (as I see it) no win-win resolution. Share your comments below.

    I’d view it as a partial win for liberalism.

    Cons: were I the theater company head, I might not have fired her. I personally think it’s excessive. But that’s the theater company’s choice to make. At worst, we can say the punishment didn’t fit the bigotry, and I acknowledge that reasonable people can and will strongly disagree with me. Another con: this act may also influence fence-sitters to think that liberals are too retributive, and turn some reasonable folks off the liberal position because of it.

    Pros: this sends a strong signal that (a) anti-gay sentiment won’t be ignored, and (what I think might be, strategically, an even better message), that (b) liberals are going to ask people to explain their comments before piling on…but that (c) they will pile on if the person defends, in the present, their past anti-gay bigotry.

    Overall, I’d say the pros are bigger than the cons in this case. That’s just my opinion. But ‘partial’ because it’s case where we lose some people, we gain more…but I’m sad we lose some people we probably didn’t have to.

    • Yes, if the response is a dialogue, that would be helpful. In the case of religion, unfortunately, we all know that there’s pretty much zero chance that she would budge. But in general, going first to dialogue before the firestorm of “I’m not renewing my season tickets next year unless you fire this bigot!” would be an improvement.

      • eric

        in general, going first to dialogue before the firestorm of “I’m not
        renewing my season tickets next year unless you fire this bigot!” would
        be an improvement.

        Fully agreed. ‘Ready dialogue aim dialogue okay if you’re going to be that way fire’ should be the strategy. Not ‘Fire oops dialogue.’

        • Phil Rimmer

          But she was given the chance to withdraw her comment. There was dialogue. Even the “accusation” was an offer to explain.

          Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite? Seeing as you’ve now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ* character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation.

          The theatre and her agent asked her again.

          *The playwright herself has stepped in to confirm the validity of this view.

    • Phil Rimmer

      No. Its all win. This particular play’s the thing. The essence of the play is hinged on the dreadfulness of the patriarchy and sisters doing it for themselves. There would be plenty of plays where being lesbian say is not central to the political message. In those cases the judgement might appear harsh. Not confounding the message is utterly key to this case.

  • Ficino

    Sorry for the OT, but didn’t we talk here on Bob’s blog some time ago about the Hobby Lobby/Museum of the Bible scandal regarding a purported fragment of gMark from the 1st century?

    There is a lot more coming out, for it is pretty well established that Oxford papyrological expert, Dirk Obbink, winner of a Macarthur Genius award, sold at least 13 biblical fragments, owned not by him but by the Egypt Exploration Society, to the Green Foundation/Museum of the Bible as though they were his property. Index cards and photos of these fragments were removed from the EES’s files – though they had backup files apparently unbeknownst to Obbink.

    This appears to be a huge act of impropriety, both from a legal and a scholarly POV, and it’s not clear that the Greens and the Museum of the Bible are not knowingly complicit.


    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      O-M-F-S-M…dude’s in *troubblllllle*!!!

      • Greg G.

        It just goes to show that a buyer should pray about whether to make this kind of purchase and then wait for a clear answer from the Lord. Did the Green family not pray, not listen, ignore the answer, not receive an answer, get an answer to go ahead with the purchase, or does God just not exist?

        • Ficino

          You remember how the Hebrews were allowed to plunder the Egyptians, right?

        • Greg G.

          Plundering? No, no! The Hebrews were merely borrowing all of that stuff. They would have returned it if they didn’t die in the desert. I’m sure the Greens intended to return the loot when they were finished with it.

      • Otto

        And yet from what I read he is still employed at Oxford…

        • Michael Neville

          He’s got tenure. The university probably can’t fire him until he’s been convicted of theft, fraud or related offenses.

        • Otto

          I assumed as much, but since this has been going on as long as it has it seems like there is a bit more at play.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He can be fired if it can be demonstrated he has behaved unprofessionally. I don’t think that all to difficult.

          I was reading the other day about Aussie prof. and climate change denier Peter Ridd, being sacked for unprofessional conduct. I think as head of department, he’d have had tenure.

          Two tenured profs in Texas got the boot last year over a spat with the university powers that be.

          Tenure is simply a right to due process; it means that a college or university cannot fire a tenured professor without presenting evidence that the professor is incompetent or behaves unprofessionally or that an academic department needs to be closed or the school is in serious financial difficulty. Nationally, about 2 percent of tenured faculty are dismissed in a typical year.

          It’s been a long time obvious that Obbink has been unprofessional and there’s ample evidence to prove it. A “Bill of Sale” with his name on it for 4 papyri and dating to 2013 has been in the public domain quite a while now.


    • Greg G.

      Thanks for the heads up. I have been following this since it was thrown in Ehrman’s face in a debate.

      • Ignorant Amos

        This isn’t new. It has been a long held view that Obbink was selling artifacts that were the property of the EES and not his to sell, for years now.

        A receipt dated 2013 for 4 papyri Obbink didn’t own can be seen in an article from a year ago.

        Now Michael Holmes, Director of the Museum of the Bible’s Scholar’s Initiative, has made a shocking accusation: that one of the academics involved in the original publication of the fragment, distinguished Oxford scholar Dirk Obbink, appears to have sold a papyrus that belonged to the EES to Hobby Lobby in 2013. To be clear, according to the accusation, Obbink presented himself as the owner of the Mark fragment and sold it and other fragments to Hobby Lobby for an undisclosed amount.


        Brent Nongbri has been watching the shenanigans.



        I guess what is news, is that the story is now official, out there in the mainstream news, and the extent to which all the parties are involved.


        • Greg G.

          Has it been 6 years? I think I recalled the “appears to have sold” so the “pretty well established” seemed like progress.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Time flies…am pished…luv youse…who has a guaranteed tomorrow…you only need morality when need it ffs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can’t figure out how they took so long to establish the fact.

          It’s not like it was a case for Sherlock Holmes.

          EES lets Obbink have access to their papyri. Obbink is suspected of selling the papyri to Hobby Lobby Christers. EES to Obbink, “Where’s our papyri? Because it looks suspiciously like the Hobby Lobby has them.”

          Obbink, “Ummm, ummm, ummm, give me a clatter of years to find them. I know I left them lying about somewhere in my study.”

          EES, “Errr, okay!”

          Obbink, *Crickets*

        • Greg G.

          Did he check under his car keys? Maybe he could pray to find his car keys then see what else is there.

        • Ficino

          The main new element is that the EES itself has made a statement.

  • MelindaF

    “But this comes from the Bible!” counts for nothing. If it’s stupid and indefensible, that’s true no matter where it comes from.

    There is so much truth in those words, it is SO obvious…yet, somehow, evangelicals just do NOT get it. But critical thinking and rationality are 2 things a never expect from Christians and am pleasantly surprised when I encounter a Christian is honest about their belief.



    • Christians today know that the Old Testament support for slavery is wrong (to take just one example). They allow themselves the privilege of picking and choosing the bits to keep. They choose to embrace the OT’s attacks on homosexuality. They can’t say, “Don’t blame me–my hands are tied.”

      • MelindaF

        My late husband hated this sort of garbage: Before he passed away this past August, he got into one of those online back and forth exchanges he was so fond of. And the lady he was having this exchange with was a cherry picker extraordinaire.

        They choose to embrace the OT’s attacks on homosexuality. They can’t say, “Don’t blame me–my hands are tied.”

        That is just so…lame.

        And an aside – I think my husband commented here every now and again.

        Brad Feaker – real and user name.

        All the best.


        • I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Thanks for your input.

        • MelindaF

          Most welcome – I plan on being a regular reader. Losing Brad did finally get me to push aside the last vestiges of religion and faith. So I am trying to soak up as much as I can right now.



        • Ignorant Amos

          Sincere condolences.

          I’ve seen the user name Brad Feaker, if not here, defo elsewhere.

        • MelindaF

          He hung out here, Roll To Disbelieve, The Friendly Atheist and the old Religious channel on Disqus.

          And thank you. You are very kind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I know what it’s like to lose a spouse.

        • Greg G.

          I am sorry to hear that. You have my condolences.

          I checked my email and found a couple of exchanges Brad and I had. Here is one:


        • Now that I see it, I do remember that avatar. Farewell, Brad, and thanks for your contributions.

      • Ignorant Amos

        You’ve no idea. Ya wanna see the shit Luke Breuer is strutting out with me over at Jonathan MS Pearce’s house.


        Talk about deflection and “look, over there, squirrels!” whataboutery rather than address the relevant points.

        My latest two replies Breuer’s mindwankery are “pending” in moderation.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Imagine if you will, Seyi Omooba responding to that first questioning tweet something like this…

    “My faith gifted me by my loving and wise father tells me that homosexuality is an offence to the Lord. I believe this with all my heart.

    So why have I been brought here? Why have I been asked to walk in the shoes of a lesbian woman brought low by our society? I really don’t know. But I feel I must put them on and wear them like they fit. Maybe then I’ll find out why.”

    Well, I’d pay to see that.

  • Ficino
    • Michael Neville

      Hands up, anyone who’s surprised.

  • Lord Backwater

    Off-topic: file away for discussions about “natural” sex and gender:

    Paris zoo unveils the “blob”, an organism with no brain but 720 sexes

  • Alan Mill

    So England now has a celebrity gay hater in Omooba like Australia has celebrity gay hater, football superstar Israel Folau, both whining about losing income for being intolerant bigots. Omoomba is slightly different from Folau in that she has probably not breached a code of conduct she agreed to abide by, like Folau did and Folau’s vile views do not impact his ability to run with a ball while Omooba’s vile views do impact her ability to get into character and play the role properly.

    The free speech line is a bit of a scam from the Theists which lets them argue on their terms and seem like they are being reasonable when they are being unreasonable and irrational bigots.

    There is really no such thing as “free speech”. Its become weasel words. There are always limitations to speech. Always have been, always will be. And for three thousand years, monotheism has led the demands for limits on speech and still seeks to do so.

    But there is an elephant in the room here that when not brought up with Theists gives ground to the them by appearing to agree that their anti social “free” speech has some validity.

    The Theist objection to gays is based on the idea that everyone ought to obey the alleged commands of their alleged god as this god allegedly doesn’t like gays according to Biblical text.

    But this claim has an unexplained underlying moral claim that we ought to obey the commands of their god, yet they have failed to explain why anyone ought to obey the alleged commands of their alleged god. They continue to fail to show that they can get an ought from an is using their alleged god to justify their vilification of decent people who are doing them no harm.

    Hume said that an ought can never be obtained from an is using Theism. Theism has never disproved him.
    Until a Theist can prove Hume wrong and can show that they can get an ought from an is and supply a non optional reason why we ought to obey the alleged commands of their alleged god, then Omooba and Folau’s view are an unsubstantiated opinion and they are vilifying decent people who are doing them no harm.

    Sin is disobedience to the alleged god’s alleged commands.But since a non optional reason for obeying the alleged commands of the alleged god does not exist, then there is no such thing as sin and homosexuality is therefore not a sin and not wrong. Its not wrong based on a secular humanist world view too.

    Adam Smith said there are only two possible reasons for obeying God’s commands -1. He is our creator and we should obey out of gratitude.2. God will reward or punish us depending on whether we obey or disobey his commands.

    Unfortunately for Smith, these only two possibilities are optional and can be readily dismissed out of hand or denied.
    Unable to get an ought from an is, Theism is unable to ground moral obligation which Theism says is grounded in obeying God’s commands.
    Being unable to ground moral obligation, Theism is unable to ground morality, which is why Biblical morality is relative and all over the shop.
    Homosexuality is not a sin as sin does not exist.
    Homosexuality is not wrong or immoral in the natural world.

    Christians who object to homosexuals are bigots and such bigotry should be called out as unsubstantiated obnoxious opinion and has no place in our secular liberal social democracies as they can’t justify their vile opinions.

    The Bible makes it very clear via Leviticus 20:13 that the Biblical god does indeed hate gays. This command to execute homosexuals is not an interpretation of scripture. It is a straight reading of an unambiguous text.

    This text has caused many centuries of misery for homosexuals as it is the prime cause of their persecution by Abrahamic Theists. Christians today cherry pick and ignore this and deny that this is where their objection to gays is fundamentally based.
    Leviticus was the basis of the capital punishment laws against homosexuals that England put into their criminal code many centuries ago and they were imported fully into Australian law and I expect imported fully into US law.

    It has taken far too long to have these vile capital punishments removed. The Theists dragged their feet on this and reluctantly agreed to them being removed in exchange for lengthy prison sentences instead and then it took another 100+ years to remove the prison punishment.
    Australia was still hanging gay men for the crime of loving each other in the 1850s and the last state to repeal the death sentence for homosexuality in Australia was Victoria which did not repeal this vile law until 1948. The prison sentences were not fully repealed in all Australian states until this century, in 2001.

    Theists who object to homosexuals should always be called out on the disgusting punishment the word of their god demands be carried out on homosexuals, word that cannot ever be repealed, or removed from the Bible.

    They should always be called on to show that they can justify their beliefs and actions and prove that they can get an ought from an is and show that they have a non optional reason for why anyone ought to obey the alleged commands of their alleged god.
    If they can’t do this and justify their beliefs then they are being irrational and should be told this and told their irrational views have no place in our liberal social democracies.

    I have repeatedly challenged Christians to show me they can get an ought from an is in order to rationally justify their objection to homosexuality. None have ever done it. They deflect, misrepresent, play the man, deal red herrings and strawmen or run away.

    • Jesse H

      How far can we press this “no ought from is” rule? Hume was distinguishing fact from value. But we often derive value from facts. We derive morality from reality. We apply moral rules based on what we see as good, beautiful and true.

  • TheNuszAbides

    her taking the part is hypocritical

    I disagree from the perspective of an acting career with pragmatic/selective convictions and the suggestion that in secular society one may keep one’s convictions and source-of-income environment insulated from each other to some degree; I see the point of showing inconsistency between {using rhetorical religious training to express a

    Actually I have nothing to add until someone – anyone – engages with Phil Rimmer’s exquisite points (here and under part 2).