Timothy George courageously preaches to choir, milks applause

Timothy George courageously preaches to choir, milks applause January 20, 2012

Alan Bean of Friends of Justice has a fine rant on Manhattan Declaration co-author Timothy George’s recent attempt to pretend to himself and others that he’s in the vanguard of some courageous and righteous movement.

Bean asks: “Does it take courage to be pro-life and anti-gay in Baptist Alabama?

This is NOT Timothy George.

Timothy George stirred a bit of excitement in 2009, when, in collaboration with luminaries like Charles Colson, he published a Manhattan Declaration, subtitled as “a call of Christian conscience.” With a prison reformer like Colson on board, you might expect the declaration to touch, however briefly, on the shame of mass incarceration. But no, the only topics deemed worthy of discussion were (you guessed it) abortion, gay marriage, and the purported persecution of the American Church.

Now, professor George is claiming that the 500,000 signatories to his bold confession are akin to the German churchmen who signed the Barmen Declaration opposing Hitler in the darkest days of the Third Reich.

Pardon me if I wince in embarrassment. … This takes courage?

… What would happen if Timothy George decided, following a crisis of conscience, that he was in favor of gay rights?

You know what would happen. He would lose his job before nightfall.

What happens when Timothy George portrays “the homosexual agenda” as a threat to heterosexual agenda? A standing ovation.

I don’t think George has to worry about such a crisis of conscience. The silly man is pretending he’s Bonhoeffer and that everyone who disagrees with him must be you-know-who. People who delude themselves with that kind of self-congratulatory nonsense are shouting too loudly to hear whatever their conscience might be screaming.

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  • ako

    So “people thinking you’re wrong”=”oppression”, and “saying stuff that will earn you widespread acclaim and personal success while people you don’t care about disagree”=”courage equivalent to standing up to Nazis.”

    What’s next, proclaiming that being criticized is the exact equivalent of dying in the gas chamber?

  • Anonymous

    And again, should the evil Muslim-Atheist-Commie-Marxo-Nazi-NPR listener takeover happen you wouldn’t even have to threaten these kinds of people’s lives to get them to stay in line. Just threaten to close down Olive Garden and take away their AC units and they’ll be pledging fealty to the State and rating out their neighbors who have a Bible hidden in the floorboards.  

  • No, but they might compare that criticism to blood libel or a high-tech lynching.

    To choose two random examples…

  • FangsFirst

    That would be despicable. Good thing you chose only random examples.

  • You know, I would *love* to be openly pro-choice, pro-lgbt and pro-pinkohealthcaresocialjustice&etc and open about who I am and what rights I deserve as a human being. It would probably end with me getting kicked out of my house, losing my job, and being disowned by most of my family and friends.

    But at least I wouldn’t be *persecuted* like those poor fundamentalist Christians who signed this. My bravery would be like unto a wee flickery tea candle next to the forest fire of their courage.

  • Anonymous

    BAHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry, sorry. *ahem* This article… I just. In what UNIVERSE does it take courage to be pro-life and anti-gay in Alabama, period? Baptist Alabama? You mean the Baptists whose conference every year votes against ceasing their anti-gay agenda? You mean the Alabama where 81% of voters said it was illegal to sanctify a homosexual marriage?

    Yeah, real courageous there, buddy, standing behind the mob with torches and pitchforks and kicking the trampled as you pass by. You brave, brave soul, you. Jackass.

  • WingedBeast

    Maybe this is less to do with these individuals than with Christianity itself.  After all, the great big “Christianity” stories, the ones I heard in Methodist church growing up and in Catholic Jr. High weren’t about what churches did when they had all the massive power to form armies, perform inquisitions, and be owed the fealty of kings.

    Christendom seems to have the habbits of the powerful with the self-image of the oppressed peoples.  I’m willing to bet that every single member of the crowd that booed a gay soldier for… saying that he existed (he hadn’t even begun the question before they started booing) sees themselves in as being thrown to the lions more than they imagine themselves the hateful crowd around a burning heretic.

    Maybe the biblical story of early Christianity should have continued a couple centuries after Paul to show the great stories of Christians who would rather die than allow fellow Christians to convert with the sword.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I dunno. I grew up in a religious environment (Catholic school, regular church attendance, children’s bibles at home, devout grandparents of different denominations). I can’t remember a single occasion, or even a vague impression, that Christians were oppressed in my country in the contemporary era.

    We learned about some of the anti-Catholic stuff in Australia’s recent past–including exclusion from employment in the public service, underfunding of Catholic schools and various attempts to enforce Anglicanism on the colony–but it was all in the context of the country’s evolution to pluralism. I also got the impression that a lot of the anti-Catholic stuff in the past was at least as much about the ruling class (largel English) keeping down the working class (disproportionately Irish Catholic, and after WWII Italian Catholics).

    We learned about the crusades and the inquisition, and the teaching came down strongly against our own church on those. In the modern era we learned about oppression of religious groups in various parts of the world, and sometimes the victims were Christians and sometimes they weren’t.

    It wasn’t until my 20s that I came across anyone who felt oppressed because not everyone agrees with their fundamentalist worldview. I know a handful of people in that camp now, and their overall religious worldview fits what is commonly referred to here as “Americanised Christianity”.

    So I think it’s more complicated than something at the core of Christianity gives people a false persecution complex. Definitely cultural factors at play, too.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @schweinsty:disqus fwiw I’m really sorry about your situation. It’s just shit.

  • WingedBeast

    Christian culture does gain a lot of cultural pride from how their religious forefathers (we’re talking 2000 years ago) survived and endured great oppression.  And, America has a particular softspot for oppressed rising stories.

    Slavery to freedom, segregation and discrimination to legal equality, underclassed woman to credible candidate for President.

    We love those tales in the US and we have our best cultural pride over them.  If we are any specific group in the US, we have to have come to the US an underpriviliged class and fought for our rights.  Even the “Mayflower Material”, those who can trace their lineage to the first pilgrims, and, therefore, call themselves the purest of Americans (like such a thing isn’t a contradiction in terms) still trace their pride back to overcoming oppression.

    Take that and mix that in with this idea that there was some time in America where Christianity was basis of all law and it’s easy to see any reduction of privilege as an assault.

  • Lori

     
    And again, should the evil Muslim-Atheist-Commie-Marxo-Nazi-NPR listener takeover happen you wouldn’t even have to threaten these kinds of people’s lives to get them to stay in line.   

     

    I think this is true, in large part because it would be true of the majority of us. We consider the Nazis the benchmark for modern evil and look at what a small percentage of the populations of occupied countries hid Jews or other victims or actively participated in the Resistance. Standing up to actual persecution and danger is hard. We all like to think we could do it. Some of us have a very active fantasy life about it (why yes Marky Mark I am looking at you too) and some of us try to face our own weaknesses squarely in the hope that if the time ever comes when we need it we’ll have the strength. Of the two, fantasy is a lot more fun and sells a lot better.  

    Which is a long way of saying that Timothy George is basically pathetic and it’s a real shame that he has any power and influence over anyone. 

  • It doesn’t take much courage to restate what ‘everybody already knows’. :

  • FangsFirst

    Why did I go and look at the exact text of this declaration? What is wrong with me?

    It is ironic that those who today assert a right to kill the unborn,
    aged and disabled and also a right to engage in immoral sexual
    practices, and even a right to have relationships integrated around
    these practices be recognized and blessed by law—such persons claiming
    these “rights” are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample
    upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral
    commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as
    the conjugal union of husband and wife.

    The right to kill the aged and disabled?! WHO THE HELL ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?

  • FangsFirst

    In what UNIVERSE does it take courage to be pro-life and anti-gay in Alabama, period?

    I actually have 3-5 pro-choice, pro-gay rights friends in Alabama.
    Of course, 2 of them are siblings and the rest are their friends, soooo…

    Funny story: one of ’em is one of my best friends. His little sister thanked me for some terms I got here (Christianist, USian–as we have some mutual Canadian friends…). She was taken out of public and/or private school to be homeschooled. Why? Their mom doesn’t like the excess infusion of religion into schooling in the area.
    Yes, homeschooling to AVOID obnoxious religiosity.

    And yeah, she also thanked me for the term “pansexual” as she feels she has no need to define who or “what” she loves or is attracted to. She was getting caught up in trying to include all the variations on sexual orientation and identity, heh.

  • Lori

     
    The right to kill the aged and disabled?! WHO THE HELL ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?  

     

    Death panels and legal euthanasia. 

  • FangsFirst

    Death panels and legal euthanasia.

    Oh…right. Euthanasia was one of those nonsensical things they tied into the healthcare bill, wasn’t it? Or…sigh…I don’t even know anymore. I can’t keep up with the lies, or my vain hope that those had finally dropped off the map. I thought even the loonies (barring the SUPER loonies) had finally dropped that nonsense…

  • Lori

    No, the health care bill was death panels. That fantasy wasn’t euthanasia, it was just letting people die by refusing them treatment. Basically what insurance companies do now. The euthanasia thing is about Oregon, Montana and I think maybe one other state making assisted suicide legal. Which is the same exact thing, except that it’s totally not.

  • Anonymous

    Well, to be fair, it’s really hard to get a good “us vs. them” going without first establishing that you’re the Righteous Underdog, right?  You don’t want to be the Empire or Sauron or the grown-ups, you want to be the Rebel Alliance, the Hobbits, the Goonies.

    It’s like kids at the start of a game of “Resistance vs. Nazis”:
    “I call Bonhoeffer!”
    “I call… sigh.”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    They’re referring to euthanasia and abortion.

  • FangsFirst

    Oh, I got the “unborn” part. I just didn’t know the “disabled” part. I guess that was part of the death panels?

    And I didn’t know assisted suicide was legalized. Since I was a kid, Kevorkian never seemed like bogeyman to me. I was always kinda confused as to what the problem was, actually…so…I can’t say that I feel the need to start a revolution over that. At all.

  • FangsFirst

    Oh, I just re-read that, and I think I should clarify–she appreciated “Christianist” because she and her
    friends tend to identify as Christian. I mentioned the word to them in a
    Facebook thread on Tebow. Her friend’s mother even got involved in it.
    They’re all native southerners and were poking fun at the Christianism
    and the pro-Civil War-ness (which none of them shares). So, the pull from
    school was not to avoid religion, but to avoid that nasty brand of it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t think it is about death panels. We never had that nonsense here, but the language of killing the aged and the disabled has long been part of the argument against euthanasia (which I don’t want to get into). Anyway, this is one case where I think the rhetoric is not peculiar to the US.

    ETA: references to killing the disabled are also partly about abortion because of the increasing practice of prenatal screening and termination in cases of genetic disabilities.

  • FangsFirst

    I don’t think it is about death panels. We never had that nonsense here,
    but the language of killing the aged and the disabled has long been
    part of the argument against euthanasia (which I don’t want to get
    into). Anyway, this is one case where I think the rhetoric is not
    peculiar to the US.

    ETA: references to killing the disabled are also partly about
    abortion because of the increasing practice of prenatal screening and
    termination in cases of genetic disabilities.

    Ahhh, nonspecific then. That makes more sense. Well. No it doesn’t. But it makes more sense then some totally fabricated thing (as opposed to an absurd extrapolation)

  • gocart

    Actually, I do believe that’s next given that the most despicable thing that has ever happened to Noot Grinch was being asked to respond to his 2nd wife/1st mistress. 

  • That’s ridiculous. No one would be so brazen.

  • Thanks :). Fwiw, I’ve made some good friends/chosen family who are there for me, and I’ve only got ~18 months before I can skedaddle if all goes to plan.

    I probably shouldn’t comment on posts like these – it always feels so personal; but Christianists with a martyr complex make me particularly punchy. /csb/derail, sorry

  • Anonymous

    “there was some time in America where Christianity was basis of all law”

    There was.  The colonial period.

  • Anonymous

    The hard-core faction of pro-lifers care about exactly two social issues: Abortion, and euthanasia.  That’s it.  From birth to age 65, they don’t matter if they’re not disabled.

  • Anonymous

    For me, all this stuff was discussed at school and CCD as murdermurderMURDER so much, that anything my parents might have ever said or thought to the contrary was lost under the cacophony of religious-right talking points.

  • Hmm, this does remind me of Tom Lehrer’s sarcasm in the intro to THE FOLK SONG ARMY:

    “You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on.”

  • Anonymous

    The hard-core faction of pro-lifers care about exactly two social
    issues: Abortion, and euthanasia.  That’s it.  From birth to age 65,
    they don’t matter if they’re not disabled.

    Have fun getting a hard-core pro-lifer to strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • Anonymous

    I never said they cared about the welfare of disabled people.  They just care about making sure that they are not actively killed in any way.

  • SisterCoyote

    And yeah, she also thanked me for the term “pansexual” as she feels
    she has no need to define who or “what” she loves or is attracted to.
    She was getting caught up in trying to include all the variations on
    sexual orientation and identity, heh.

    Very cool! I remember the first time my best friend told me she was pansexual. (And, of course, the first thing that came to mind was “…you’re attracted to satyrs?” and the second was “…you’re attracted to the world?”) Then she explained it, and I kinda blinked and went “Wait, isn’t everyone?” It’s still weird for me sometimes when my sister says things like “He has ugly eyes,” or my friend points out that this girl or that is unattractive– completely throws me off, because I just don’t see the world in those terms.

  • WingedBeast

    “I never said they cared about the welfare of disabled people. They just care about making sure that they are not actively killed in any way.”

    That makes sense, because I’ve talked to pro-lifers about other ways one’s organs can be used to save the life of another, or about the 50% approx of fertilizated zygotes that don’t attach to the euteran wall. And, it appears that they’re quite alright with people refusing their bodies to other humans in other conditions or with natural abortions, but it’s the active part that they mind.

    Which could lead to “Oh, it’s okay if you die of a preventable disease in a gutter because there wasn’t an infrastructure available to help you out of it, just so long as nobody is literally pulling the plug.”

  • Lori

     
    Very cool! I remember the first time my best friend told me she was pansexual. (And, of course, the first thing that came to mind was “…you’re attracted to satyrs?  

    I LOLed. And then I thought, “Well, you somebody is.” 

  • ako

    Yeah, that pretty well sums it up.  It is desperately vitally important that disabled people not be given a government-sanctioned overdose or other such measures, but start talking about disability-rights stuff like trying to see to it that no disabled person starves on the street, letting people with disabilities who can’t work do better than a hand-to-mouth existence that leaves them in constant fear of poverty, making the workplace more accessible so more people with disabilities can work, increasing funding for personal attendants so fewer people with disabilities end up in nursing homes or other institutions, better education for children with disabilities, doing something about the appallingly high rate of abuse suffered by people with disabilities (particularly women with disabilities) or any other disability issue, and they’re less than helpful.  The best they tend to offer is pity-based charity with no sense of why a disabled person would want more personal dignity, more freedom of choice, or more certainty about where their next meal came from.

  • Anonymous

    It’s the whole “If somebody somewhere disagrees with what I’m saying, then I’m a victim of oppression bravely speaking out” mentality.  Nobody wants to admit they’re the hegemon.

  • Lori

     
     And, it appears that they’re quite alright with people refusing their bodies to other humans in other conditions or with natural abortions, but it’s the active part that they mind. 

     

    One of the things that has always mad me angry about the positions of the anti-choice folks I know is that, even if one accepts their notion that life begins at conception their position is hypocritical crap. Pregnancy is literally the only situation in which they believe one person should be compelled by force of law to give any part of their body in order to save someone else’s life. When I bring this up people tend to weasel about how other live-saving processes aren’t like pregnancy and blah, blah, blah. 

    I thought about this the other day when I read this short article on recent research on MS:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328475.400-ms-damage-washed-away-by-stream-of-young-blood.html

    Scientists have found that mice with MS can get improvement in their conditions by having their bloodstream linked to that of a younger, healthy mouse. 

     Nerve cells lose their electrically insulating myelin
    sheath as MS develops. New myelin-generating cells can be produced from
    stem cells, but the process loses efficiency with age.

    Julia Ruckh at the University of
    Cambridge, and colleagues, have found a way to reverse the age-related
    efficiency loss. They linked the bloodstreams of young mice to old mice
    with myelin damage. Exposure to youthful blood reactivated stem cells in
    the old mice, boosting myelin generation.

    The article is short and doesn’t say how ling the mice have to be linked, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this turns out to work in humans how many anti-choicers would be willing to make it a legally impossible for healthy people to refuse to accept being linked to patients dying of MS. 

  • SisterCoyote

    Clearly, the solution is The Free Market. No more death panels, just firms all competing to see who can offer the most benefits to disabled workers!

  • Nathaniel

    There is an easy, non-hypothetical based way of knowing pro-lifers are full of the brown stuff.

    They claim they hate abortion. Ideally, that would mean they want less abortion. One of the ways they could do that is seeing what countries have the lowest amounts of abortion, and emulating their policies.

    Like The Netherlands for example. So, does it have the abstinence only God-hates-sex education? Well, no, it has fully comprehensive education taught consistently through many years. Does have a society that thinks teens having sex is teh terrible? Well no, not in relationships. Do they have an impoverished, minimal safety net whose gaps attempt to be filled by charities? No, they have one of the most comprehensive safety nets in the world. Most importantly, do they ban abortion, or restrict its use in the number of ways the US does? No, and they have an abortion rate that’s one third of ours.

    Try to get a prolifer to agree to the necessity of comprehensive sex education, a good safety net, and the importance of legitimizing teen sexuality.

    Decreasing abortion isn’t important to these people. Illegalizing it is. Something entirely different.

  • FangsFirst

    Very cool! I remember the first time my best friend told me she was
    pansexual. (And, of course, the first thing that came to mind was
    “…you’re attracted to satyrs?” and the second was “…you’re attracted
    to the world?”)

    I thought about clarifying here, then realized most, if not all, were likely to know what it meant so I’d leave it be, heh

    Then she explained it, and I kinda blinked and went
    “Wait, isn’t everyone?” It’s still weird for me sometimes when my sister
    says things like “He has ugly eyes,” or my friend points out that this
    girl or that is unattractive– completely throws me off, because I just
    don’t see the world in those terms.

    I don’t really get seeing “ugly” people–well, half-true, if someone shows me reprehensible character/personality traits, their appearance tends to suffer in my eyes. People I had no physical/visual problem with, as that means most everyone.
    But, that aside: personally I’m about, um, a zero on the Kinsey scale, if one believes in such things. Not due to aversion, either. Just am.

  • FangsFirst

    When I bring this up people tend to weasel about how other live-saving processes aren’t like pregnancy and blah, blah, blah.

    Of course they aren’t the same. Because then those folks could be required at any time to be involved in such procedures even if they didn’t choose or desire…oooh…

  • Ken Browning

    Fundamentalist minds are continually battered and assaulted by reasonable, contrarian ideas.  They are blitzkreiged with marching facts and occupied by evidence.  Oh the humanity!

  • Baeraad

    > Which could lead to “Oh, it’s okay if you die of a preventable disease
    in a gutter because there wasn’t an infrastructure available to help you
    out of it, just so long as nobody is literally pulling the plug.”

    Yes. This. It drives me up the wall. People who think that people being hurt is somehow okay as long as it’s not another person who is actively hurting them.

    Well, if you ask me, the world itself is the biggest evil, malicious bastard of all. The most evil human being who ever lived could only wish to be so vicious, arbitrary and merciless in doling out suffering as the simple laws of physics are. That’s the enemy that needs to be defeated – with the exception of such extreme cases as dictators and serial killers, the evil done by people mostly consists of preventing attempts to undo the evil done by the world.

  • Kim

    To the pro-life crowd, engaging in sex is tantamount to accepting any and all consequences of sex, so comparing one’s organs being forcibly harvested to being forced to remain pregnant won’t fly with them. In that way, the woman voids her decision-making rights over her own body by engaging in an act that could produce a fetus that has the right to be alive. As well, pregnancy is a natural (in the sense that reproduction is something that any genetically successful species is obviously physically capable of) situation, whereas non-necessary surgery is not; it’s clearly due to social needs, not physical ability.

    That’s why you get people who’re pro-life in two ways: with exceptions for rape, and without. The former view consensual sex as “acceptance” of bearing a full-term pregnancy, whereas the latter consider any and all fetuses, regardless of conceptual context, to be equally worthy of life over and above the decisions of the woman.

    I guess I’ve always respected the latter more, because at least it focuses upon the life rights in place of robbing women of decision making capabilities for nine months and more due to one act. And I feel that bringing up whether someone ought to be forced to donate organs to save others/similar situations is like bringing up whether doctors should legally be able to abort fetuses that are a minute away from being born, simply because they’re still “fetuses” and not “babies”. Both are extremely unlikely situations that might provide a glimpse into how the other side sees things, but they’re not very likely to change views BECAUSE they are so unlikely.

  • WingedBeast

    The problem with your method is that it presupposes the value of paying attention to reality.  With pro-lifers, there is a definate case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    They don’t want “less abortions” they want “absolutely no abortions *and* abortion to be illegal”.  The two are, to them, both seperate and absolutely necessary goals.  And, the idea of an acceptable level of either isn’t going to occur to them.

    Part of pro-life psychology is the idea that you can enforce perfection on the world.  Any comprimise with reality is just that comprimise.

  • P J Evans

     “Oh, it’s okay if you die of a preventable disease in a gutter because
    there wasn’t an infrastructure available to help you out of it, just so
    long as nobody is literally pulling the plug.”

    That’s about what some of them seem to think. Also that no one they know will ever be in that position because, um, UNICORNS!

  • Nathaniel

    In that case, one can simply point out that in their words, abortion is murder. And they are content with murder if decreasing murder means policies they don’t like.

    Then you can ask them why they hate babies. And America. And apple pie.

  • Kim

    It’s not entirely equivalent, seeing as murder is illegal, and arguably what drives down murder rates is the fact that it is illegal.

    It’s one thing to say that if your goal is less/none of X, then you should be looking for things that decrease X, but it’s not really fair to say that people who believe abortion is murder ought to be content with it being legal.

  • Nathaniel

    If you look at abortion rate statistics, a few things are consistent:

    1. Decrease access to contraception, and abortion rates go up.
    2. Criminalizing abortion has little effect on abortion rates. Former Soviet bloc countries have some of the highest abortion rates in the world. Its legal there. Vietnam has the highest abortion rate, at least recently. Argentina has the Catholic Church effectively running social policy, so abortion is illegal. Its estimated abortion rate is 60 per 1000 women, three times the US. About 40% of all pregnancies.
    3.  The reason for Vietnam’s high abortion rate is surprise surprise, the fact that sex education is practically nonexistent.

    So the two hobby horses of the anti-abortioners increase rates of precious fetus murder, while they favored policy has little to no discernible effect.

    Which brings up the question what really motivates them. Because decreasing abortion sure doesn’t seem to enter into it.