How to pervert the legitimate fight against homophobia

My regular readers know that I speak out for the right of Gay people to marry their loved ones. I do think that a lifelong committed relationship between two persons of the same sex does NOT stand in conflict with Christ’s central teaching.

Gay couple

That said, I accept the fact that many Conservatives sincerely disagree even if I think they’re misguided.

Consequently, I cannot go along with the aggressive propaganda of liberal activists who all too often present ALL Conservatives rejecting Gay marriage as heartless bigots supporting the discriminations and even capital punishment of homosexuals.

A recent post of progressive Christian John Shore nicely illustrates this worrisome state of affairs.

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Challenging the evil empire of anti-gay Christians, and the resurfacing of old fundie fears

dearjohn [This is the latest in a series in which each Wednesday I answer a question or two asked to me by members of Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for Christian mothers of LGBT kids. (The first such post was Combatting the Downward Pull of Christian Negativity; the second Pastor tells mom her lesbian teen can’t be a Christian.) If you are interested in joining Serendipitydodah for Moms, email lizdyer55@gmail.com. If you’d like me to answer any questions/concerns you might have, email me at john@johnshore.com]

Dear John,

How do you think affirming Christians should deal with Christians who still think same-sex relationships are sinful? Should we treat their belief with tolerance and respect or respectfully confront them? I’m specifically thinking about those who feel compelled to speak out, promote, teach and proclaim that all same-sex relationships are sinful and that the only marriage blessed by God is between a man and a woman. Signed, Stay silent or speak up?

It’s been my experience that Christians who feel, as you well put it, “compelled to speak out, promote, teach and proclaim that all same-sex relationships are sinful” come in two varieties: Crazy, and Gets Paid to Promulgate Anti-Gay Christianity. It’s also been my experience that reasoning with either is a waste of time. As a rule the lay Christian who is “compelled to speak out” against homosexuality is too angry (and, frankly, too fearful of the power of his or her own sexuality) to listen to reason; the pastor, radio host, “ministry” leader or author whose bank account is tied to his perpetuation of the toxic nonsense that being gay is a sin–the professional gay-basher, in other words–has already sold his conscience for cash—and in the bargain of course also traded away his moral compass.

Treat a person from either group with tolerance and respect; vigorously refute them; insist you’ll sleep on their front lawn until they change their minds …  in the end, I have found, nothing will have changed beyond that you will have lost time that you could have spent doing something a lot more productive (such as … well, writing public letters like this to people like me, joining your local PFLAG chapter, organizing a markedly Christian presence at pro-LGBT events, helping your church to become LGBT-affirming, making sure your local schools are implementing and executing anti-bullying programs, voting for pro-LGBT initiatives, being active online—buy, frankly, my book UNFAIR and give it to anyone on the fence—etc., etc.).  But you see what I mean: you don’t take down an evil empire by arguing with one of its foot soldiers.

Dear John,

Coming from a conservative Christian background can be very difficult when you find out one or more of your kids is LGBT! As a mom who completely accepts and affirms my gay son I still have times when I worry that I might be wrong—that somehow my love for my son has misled me. What advise do you have for a parent like me? Signed, Dealing with doubts

The next time you find yourself doubting the truth that God finds homosexuality no more inherently sinful than heterosexuality, stop to examine what’s happening in your life at that moment. I guarantee you that something in the outside world will have triggered that doubt in you. When threatened we all tend to revert. Stress, tension, being worried, being fearful, being challenged … such feelings often trigger the old toxic tapes to start playing in our heads–the tapes that were recorded for us, not by us. The tapes that tell us to be afraid, that the worst is true, that God is judging us, that absolute damnation is one errant step away . . . that being gay really is a sin. The next time you find yourself reverting to the fears and paradigms instilled in you as a child, trust that’s simply an instinctive reaction to something real in your life that is genuinely concerning you.

Finding whatever it is that has triggered in you the playing of your old toxic tapes won’t be particularly difficult; once you understand that those old thoughts really are a stress response to something real and present happening in your life, you’ll pretty quickly be able to identify what that something is. And once you’ve identified what caused you to doubt the veracity of what you know to be true, those doubts will vanish, because you’ll see that in and of themselves they were not real, but only a secondary reaction to something that is real. Then you can address that real thing that’s really happening, instead of having to swat away the old demons that came flying back at you from a time when you were taught terrible things about God and Christianity that simply aren’t true.

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My response and interaction with other bloggers follow.

My comments are black whereas those of other persons are colored.

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Dear John,

first of all, let me say I really liked what you wrote about self-doubt’s dependency on one’s emotional state. We should only change our mind when new evidence comes in and not just because of one’s feelings.

As far as the alleged sinfulness of homosexuality is concerned, I’m entirely on your side . I’m also disgusted by the fact that so many Conservative Evangelicals focus so much on this issue while neglecting problems of social justice .

Gay partnerships are loving, faithful and committed, but can it lead to marriage?

Still, I find you wrote some pretty worrisome and almost outrageous sentences.

First of all, it isn’t true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are “anti-gay”. If someone views taking drug as a sin, it just doesn’t follow that he is “anti-junkies”. As I was an atheist in my teenage years, I viewed homosexuality as a deviant behavior out of ignorance but I was not anti-homosexual.

Likewise, it’s just false to state that Christians speaking out against homosexuality are EITHER “Crazy” OR “Gets Paid to Promulgate Anti-Gay Christianity”. Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people. Indeed, I know quite a few such Christians in Continental Europe.

So I think that the use of such an aggressive rhetoric is putting off many of your Conservative readers you could have touched through a more loving and moderate tone.

And I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

So I think that your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified.

Progressively and fraternally yours.

Is it? Or is the topics John covers finally giving people a chance to think about this, to discuss what is happening and to shed light at how bad homophobia actually is? Trust me, its worse than many realize. In the US, there are several states, including the one I live in, where it is quite legal to deny housing or employment to people, just because of sexual orientation. There are hundreds of churches in my county. Two are LGBT affirming. Many counties have none. We had our state legislature remove funding from two state colleges because of a couple of gay friendly books.

Yet my adopted home town hosts an annual Pride rally. The state capital also has one. Its getting better here, but in a place where bi-racial couples are still looked down on, and a black man reaching into his car to get out his registration for a basic traffic stop, gets shot by a white state trooper, we have a long way to go.

it isn’t true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are “anti-gay”

If someone believes being gay is morally wrong, then it follows that they believe being gay is a choice. Who could be considered morally wrong for being born with green eyes or left-handed? Taking drugs is a choice; being gay is not. Taking drugs is illegal; being gay is not (unless you happen to live in one of the many states where you can be discriminated against for being gay).

Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people

Please. Not the old “hate the sin, love the sinner” tune again. That record’s broken.

putting off many of your Conservative readers

I’d have to ask John: how many of your readers are conservative?

I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

Why aren’t they gay-affirming due to gay people being fired for being gay?

your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified

Oh yes, let’s play nice. Let’s play nice with the people who believe gays should be put to death, who are going to hell, who are child molesters, who are the worst kinds of perverts. Yeah, that’ll work.

Children take part in anti-gay protests in Uganda in 2011

Hello Barbara, thanks for your answer!

Conservative Christians don’t believe that having sexual desires towards persons of the same sex is wrong in and of itself but that it is wicked to act on this desire by e.g. kissing such an individual.
In other words they say: “Yeah he’s attracted towards men as I’m attracted towards females and that’s not wrong. BUT he must never act accordingly.”
Do I believe this principle is sound?
Absolutely not. I think that a life-long marriage is one of the most beautiful things one can experience during this life time.
What’s more I also believe that God does not forbid us things arbitrarily.
Consequently, I wholeheartedly affirm the right of Gay people to marry their loved ones.

YET it is also completely false to say that Conservative Christians (in general) believe that Gays are wicked human beings for being born that way.

What is more, how many percent of Conservative Christians think that homosexuals are child molesters and the worst kinds of perverts who should be put to death?

In French-speaking and German-speaking Europe they represent perhaps 0.001% of all Conservative believers.
How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people. But if they read such kinds of texts they feel they’re being UNFAIRly treated. They inevitably consider all of this as ignoble propaganda.

And this naturally diminishes their willingness to step in when Gay folks are being maltreated.

Friendly greetings.

BarbaraR

If you believe this, you must not read this blog often and see what I see. The vitriolic and hate-filled comments I and the other mods delete completely belie this notion.

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people.

This poll just came out.

http://www.pewforum.org/2014/0…

From this poll:
White evangelical Protestants express the strongest support for allowing businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings (71%).

How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are to the best of my knowledge no statistics on this. However, they pop up with appalling regularity. Here are a few examples of pastors calling for the death of gay people. As pastors go, so goes the flock.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

http://www.christianpost.com/n…

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/p…

While it would be all sparkly unicorns and fluffy bunnies to think conservative evangelicals oppose discrimination against gays, I am not seeing evidence for it.

Lotharson

Hi! I agree there are horrible fag-bashing bigots in the States:

But everything in America seems to be far more extreme than in Europe.

Still, there are lots of Conservatives disapproving of homosexuality who do oppose the misdeeds you evoked.

You and I probably agree it is wrong to bully Muslims having a peaceful interpretation of Islam due to the existence of many terrorists.

So why should it be any different when Conservative Christians are concerned?

Cheers.

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I think that John Shore has probably good motives. But I fear he might currently be driven by hatred to some extent.

Other progressive Christians share my concern.

Popular blogger Tim Chastain (Jesus Without Baggages) recently told me what follows:

“I think I know what you mean, but I see Jesus’ instruction to love others as a more valid way of relating to the Father and to other people than following religious rules. In my opinion, properly grasping the principle of loving others does NOT lead to self justification of sinful behavior but to humility and true repentance.

The love of self I often speak of is not selfish love but an absence of self-hate that many of us feel when we think the Father is an angry, vindictive God. When we realize how the Father loves us, we are free to love ourselves in a healthy way and are released to love others in the same way.”

My goal is not to bash Shore and to present him as an evil human being. No, I aim at showing that progressive Christians can also fall prey to hate and that “Christianity with humanity” (the name of Shore’s ministry) also involves loving our enemies as ourselves.

Consequently we ought to be fair, just and act lovingly towards Conservative believers opposing Gay marriage, even if it strongly irritates us.

But on the other hand I also expect Conservative Christians to refrain from overgeneralizations concerning “Progressives”.

Could we learn to interact lovingly with those we disagree?

Right-wing Christian “rats”?

Progressive Christian writer and activist John Shore just wrote a post I found really worrisome.

Do I smell a right-wing Christian rat behind Ohio State’s psych quiz “controversy”?

rat_phone

Yesterday I published Ohio State University teaches Christians are stupider than atheists. I came across the story on Google News, thought, “Here’s a bit of fluff I can have some quick fun with before I get back to writing my novel,”—and blip I wrote what I did.

The website that originally “broke” this story is Campus Reform. This morning, poking about the Campus Reform website, I found this on their Mission page:

As a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.

Our team of professional journalists works alongside student activists and student journalists to report on the conduct and misconduct of university administrators, faculty, and students.

Campus Reform holds itself to rigorous journalism standards and strives to present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability.

A few clicks later I learned that Campus Reform is owned and operated by the hyper-conservative The Leadership Institute. Here’s a bit about them:

The Leadership Institute identifies, organizes, and trains conservative college students to promote and defend their values on campus.

Institute programs prepare thousands of conservatives each year. Conservatives learn how to:

· Form independent conservative student groups
· Manage grassroots-oriented campaigns
· Publish independent conservative school newspapers
· Communicate a conservative message using the media

Gee, I wonder why the complaining OSU “anonymous student” knew nothing about the Psych 1100 class that had so offended him or her (see below)—and why exactly they were quoted as having said:

I understand that colleges have a liberal spin on things so it didn’t surprise me to see the question … . Colleges will tolerate pretty much any religion other than Christianity.

I smell a rat. A lowdown, lying, cheating, right-wing Christian rat trying to drum up a little cheese for itself.

Ugh.

It pains me to have at all contributed, however cursorily, to the lie that there was any credibility whatsoever to the original story. Me, helping to further the agenda of hardcore right-wing Christians!

So sad. So wrong. So … what can totally happen when you’re trying to keep two blogs going and write a (major) first novel.

After reading my post yesterday my good friend Dan Wilkinson got interested in what the story behind that story might be. Dan getting interested in something is like a coke-detecting police dog getting interested in a suitcase. It’s kinda scary. But awesome to watch.

Courtesy of Dan “Sniffy” Wilkinson, here is what’s really going on with OSU’s Psychology 1100 classs:

First we have the class syllabus. As you’ll see, it’s a totally normal, duly formidable college class.

One of the tools used in the class are the online LearningCurve quizzes. As you may recall, the particular Learning Curve question that has caused such a stir is this one:

unnamed

Here are a few other LearningCurve quiz questions (which taken altogether comprise only 10% of the grade for the class):

salaries

smarts

liberal

Notably, all of the quiz question are pulled directly from Psychology, the textbook used in the class (which Dan managed to get hold of, and which is on Amazon here—for only $159.48!). Each includes exactly where in the book information informing that question can be found. So literally none of the quiz questions should be a surprise to any student in the class.

While the above questions might at face value seem inflammatorily ill-informed, within the context of the class they make perfect sense. And those are only four of the (it looks like) hundreds of questions derived from the chapter of the textbook dealing with what intelligence is and isn’t, the history of testing intelligence, the uses, abuses and shortcomings of such tests, and the complexity of entire issue.

The authors of Psychology thoroughly explore the findings that certain groups consistently test higher or lower on intelligence tests, carefully considering the factors that contribute to that result:

Although the average difference between groups is considerably less than the average difference within groups, Terman was right when he suggested that some groups perform better than others on intelligence tests.

But do group differences in intelligence test scores reflect group differences in actual intelligence? …

Some groups outscore others on intelligence tests because (a) testing situations impair the performance of some groups more than others and (b) some groups live in less healthful and stimulating environments. There is no compelling evidence to suggest that between-group differences in intelligence are due to genetic differences.

Interestingly, intelligence test scores also seem to be fairly good predictors of a person’s political and religious attitudes: The more intelligent people are, the more likely they are to be liberal and atheistic (Deary, Batty, & Gale, 2008; Lynn, Harvey, & Nyborg, 2009; Reeve, Heggestad, & Lievens, 2009; Stankov, 2009). All in all, intelligence tests scores are excellent predictors of a remarkable range of important consequences. IQ clearly matters.

In short, there’s nothing whatever wrong or suspect about OSU’s Psychology 1100 class.

I wish I could say the same for the pathetic Leadership Institute.

Here was my response:

Hello dear John.
While I’m myself a progressive Christian actively supporting the acceptance of Gay couples into the Christian Church, I realize I can no longer endorse your tone and rhetoric.

I’m also against the Christian Right and expose quite often their false priorities and distortion of the Gospel.

But in spite of everything, I view them as human beings created in God’s image and NOT as right-wing rats . As a German liberal theologian rightly pointed out: “Fundamentalisten sind auch Menschen” = “Fundamentalists are human too”.

Even if it might be a daily struggle, should it not be our duty to love our fundamentalist foes as ourselves? I’m not pretending to be a better person than you because I fall short in countless other respects.

But I think it’s really a pity if your laudable and praiseworthy defense of Gay people degenerates into self-righteous hatred.

So I really hope you’ll back away from your rhetoric and adopt a more constructive tone because you’re unlikely to change the hearts of fundies while using such words.

Otherwise, I also feel pretty irritated by the psychological Quiz. It is extraordinarily reductionist in that it defines “Christians”, “Atheists” and “Liberals” as homogeneous groups. This is very far from being the case, there are numerous conflicting groups, ideologies and movements within Christianity and atheism and merging them together has a very poor scientific value.

I’d be interested if such IQ comparisons were carried out between VERY specific groups (such as “Secular Conservatives” against “Evolutionary theists”) to see what come out of it.
What is more, it is far from being certain that there is such a thing as intelligence which can be fully grasped by a unique measure such as IQ. Its assessment also depends a lot on psychological factors such as motivation, impulsiveness and anxiety.

Anyway I wish you all the best and hope you’ll begin to see Conservatives as fellow humans.

Rick Santorum’s rise means the GOP must fight– and lose– the culture war

Lovely greetings.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

Fostering Justice on the battle fields of the Culture War

Crude recently wrote a response to my last posts warning against Christians passionately hating homosexuals.

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“I like Lothar Lorraine. Truly I do – he’s a pleasant guy to talk to even if I disagree with him. He’s welcome here, he’s welcomed me at his blog, and until relatively recently most of my interactions with him have been civil, even when we disagree.

Except lately, if you’ve been following the conversations – previously linked – I’ve been spending most of my time yelling angrily, at least as much as you can do typing into a computer and still maintaining decent-enough grammar. I’ve been pissed off, not so much at Lothar as at his links of choice, and really, the “progressive” response to them.

Honest to God? I don’t like yelling in Lothar’s general vicinity. He’s nice. I can talk with him. At the same time, all the niceness in the world isn’t going to make me give an inch to dishonest hate speech directed anywhere, but particularly in my direction.

I’m talking real hate speech, by the by. Not, ‘You noticed that group X is responsible for more crimes than group Y by every available measure, that’s horrible of you’ styled bull, but full blown ‘This group of people is responsible for heinous acts and you should hate them all and fight them because this is WAR’ hate speech. “Whip up an angry mob to attack some people based on next to no evidence” hate speech.

So why has it kept happening lately? I have a hunch. Little more than that right now, but it’s worth airing.

I think there is a somewhat common breed of Christian who, while intellectually rather orthodox and conservative, is nevertheless on the more soft-spoken and diplomatic side. They are not fire and brimstone. They pride themselves on being open-minded, on ‘agreeing to disagree’, on setting themselves apart from the more fervent culture-war social conservatives who at times seem as if they are locked in a neverending battle against Islam, New Atheism, Liberals, the Gay Agenda, and more.And one way they send up the signal that they’re different from THOSE Christians is by conceding the intelligence and morality of their opponents, and openly, even eagerly, admitting to flaws.

Even flaws that aren’t really flaws, that are blown out of proportion, or that largely exist in the minds of people who hate them.

So if someone angrily demands that they apologize for, say… ‘Christianity’s legacy of anti-science and bigotry and racism and homophobia and misogyny’, they’re going to typically, without reflection, say “Oh, yes, some Christians – nay, many – have been guilty of that. But many nowadays have come to regret that past and…” And on and on it goes. They get to show how open-minded and humble they are, their opponents get a concession to a million and one imaginary evils at the hands of Christians, and everyone is happy.

I am not one of these Christians. I do not grant the wickedness of Christians, even Christian groups I am not a part of, purely to score humility points. If I’ve investigated the issue and come to the conclusion that the accusations are fundamentally wrong or warped, I will say as much. And when I see what comes across as a calculated bit of hate speech to try and demonize Christians, I’m going to start yelling, loudly, about the flaws I see, demand evidence, and point out when it either fails to be forthcoming, or is weak beyond excuse.

I suspect that may be the problem here. I can’t read Lothar’s mind, but I think he may have heard ‘Conservative Christians HATE gays and want to kill them’ so many times – and other Christians may have granted this without argument so many times – that he brings this up, and (while admitting that not every conservative Christian is like this) expresses an interest in having my agree that this sort of thing is bad, so we can continue the conversation civilly. And then I explode and I’m off yelling and challenging people to, you know, provide some goddamn evidence of these claims and pointing it out for the hate speech that it is, and he’s wondering what he did wrong.

Well, HE didn’t do anything wrong, most likely. He simply was played – he bought a line offered up by a nasty little culture, perpetuated by weak-willed Christians more interested in being humble than being honest, and he’s run into a guy who’s not going to let it slide so easily, and who actually gets pretty pissed off when the accusation comes up. I’ll cop to real evils, real mistakes, and I’ll point out the context and the situation those mistakes took place in. I will not cop to progressive monster-fantasies that they conjure up in large part to let themselves sleep easier at night when they hear about the latest abuses their more fascist leadership is diving into.

Perhaps that will set the record straight. Or perhaps not. But there is my attempt for the moment. “

 

First of all, I’m thankful to Crude for all his kind words about me. I’m also grateful he emphasized many important points EVERY culture warrior (both on the left and on the right) ought to respect if he or she is sincerely pursuing justice.

 

Many self-proclaimed “progressives” are just serving the Zeitgeist and will uncritically accept any kind of arguments which promote their views and give them the feeling of belonging to the “forces of Good”.

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For me, being a progressive means challenging all kinds of dogmas hindering human well-being. It goes hand in hand with a huge responsibility and entails earnestly seeking to understand your opponents before bedeviling them.

 

Having often talked with Conservative Evangelicals about homosexuality (both in the real world and on the Internet), I know that there is a truly hateful minority among them.

If you don’t believe me, go to any Conservative Evangelical forum with a fundamentalist trend, be always nice and respectful but tell them that you’re a queer atheist. Wait on their reactions and start measuring how well they satisfy the Golden Rule.

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I don’t know well John Shore, but I linked his post because his description fits all too well what is going on in the right-wing part of Evangelicalism. I largely  support his notion of “Christianity with humanity” even if I find he is not as objective as he thinks.

 

AGAIN, I defend the right of Conservative Christians to disapprove of homosexuality and defend their position without having to fear any professional repercussion. And I clearly recognize there are MANY Conservative Evangelicals who oppose homophobia.

 

Still, it would be unhealthy to deny there is also a deep-seated hatred in some corners of Evangelicalism. Progressive Evangelical theologian Randal Rauser gives us nice examples here: [1], [2], [3].

 

When atheists make claims about past Christian misdeeds I know to be factually wrong, I won’t accept this just for trying to be viewed as one of “these cool Christians”.

But I must also clearly face the truth that there are real atrocities committed by followers of Christ, both in the past and the present.