Recently, with the focus on gay marriage, we’ve heard a lot of theists claiming that they shouldn’t be considered bigots because they do not want to allow the same freedoms for everyone. One of these claims is in my local paper, an opinion piece by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune (the original at the Tribune is pay-blocked, the link is to a syndicated copy). I’d like to look at this claim and see if they are correct.
Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as: a person who is obstinately (perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion) or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. Incidentally, this is the dictionary that my 7th grade English teacher touted as the best, so I use it out of habit.
Mr. Kass asks the two questions “Is it possible to be a traditional Christian or Muslim or Orthodox Jew and hold to one’s faith on what constitutes marriage and not be considered a bigot? And is faith now a problem to be overcome, first marginalized by the state and then contained, so as not to get in the way of great changes to come?”
First, we have Mr. Kass using some of the usual TrueChristianTM claims (the same claims can be applied to TrueMuslims, TrueJews, etc). He wishes to pretend that his version of ”traditional” Christianity (appeal to tradition fallacy in order to claim that something is better because of claimed age) is the only “right” one, that he knows what his god really wants and that he knows what his god really meant in the bible. However, since we have Christians who have no problems with gay marriage, and who have as much evidence that they are right as he does, we have to wonder which, if any, are right in their claims.
Mr. Kass is a member of the Greek Orthodox variety of Christianity. He claims it is a “never-changing faith” (which is belied by the constant councils they had to have to hash out what they “really” believed). Interesting, how he finds that his religion finds homosexuals an abomination but well, that shrimp cocktail is just yummy. Both are equal abominations per the bible. Why oh why aren’t the Westboro Baptists picketing Red Lobster? And my husband says that shrimp are why Louisiana was hit by Katrina. Seems that the gumbo is truly sinfully delicious!
For his claims that the “liturgy is not a costume drama” and that the laws of his religion are above the state and its laws, he picks and chooses what Mr. Kass likes in the bible and ignore what he doesn’t like. What he fails to mention is that even “traditional Christian” sects don’t agree (what should be in the bible, the idea of sola scriptura, the virgin mary, icons, saints, hell, marriage, which calendar to use, how salvation is achieved, etc) . There is little reason to find one sect better or more valid than the next.
Mr. Kass also attempts to claim that he and his “traditional Christian” compatriots are a minority. It seems that Christians have yet to decide if they are a minority or a majority. Their claims depend on the situation. They will claim that the US is 90%+ Christian, and that it is a Christian nation. They will claim that they are the biggest religion in the world. But when they don’t get their way, and allowed to force their particular version of their religion on others, suddenly they are put upon martyrs. It demonstrates that Christianity is not one big happy family as is often claimed. The differences are not as minor as atheists are repeatedly told when they mention the wide variation.
So, at this point, we have a man who is holding to his own opinion as being the only right one against all reason and evidence. He does not want them to have marriages, though he claims to be okay with “same sex unions”. But he’s not okay with allowing his fellow theists who disagree with them to be able to marry anyone they want. He claims “As far as I’m concerned, Americans have the right to do as they please as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others.” Interesting since he *does* want to infringe on the rights of others himself when he wants the term “marriage” for only hetero couples (some only want marriage to apply only to those ceremonies of certain sects, another lovely step further). He wants religious freedom for himself and those who agree with him but not for anyone else. He goes onto lie about religious institutions and contraception (to be addressed at the end of this post) and makes the lovely slippery slope argument “if we are compelled to describe same sex unions as marriage, what’s next?” Well, Mr. Kass, you can call marriages “bibbitlybabbles” if you want. There is nothing indicating you won’t be able to call marriages anything you want. You’ll just be responsible for how you sound.
Next, Mr. Kass says that if he holds to his belief and resists applauding the changes, he can easily cast as “some drooling white cartoon bigot of the Jim Crow era, denying black Americans the right to sit at a lunch counter and have a meal with the white folks.”
How convenient that he mentions the era of segregation. 🙂
I wonder how Mr. Kass finds those who claimed that miscegenation was against their religion. Now, for those who don’t know that word, simply put it means the races mixing through marriage, sex, etc. In many instances in the US, the bible was cited as the “proof” that the races should not mix. Here is a quote:
“”Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay, and red, and placed them on separate continents, and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.” – Judge Leon Bazile, Loving v. Virginia, 1963 (yep, just 40 years ago)
If one takes his argument above, those people who did all they could to prevent marriage between races should be tolerated because it’s their religion that says that two people who love each other can’t get married. Should we weep that they are not in the majority anymore, as Mr. Kass would evidently have us? Should we be tolerant about those who say that people of different races should not marry? Now, I’m guessing that Mr. Kass would say that those people were/are bigots. I could be wrong, but I hope not. Now, I ask, what’s the difference between him and them?
His second question is “And is faith now a problem to be overcome, first marginalized by the state and then contained, so as not to get in the way of great changes to come?” As an atheist, I say yes, that faith is a problem to be overcome. However, I would not say that “traditional” theists can’t believe what they want, as long as they harm no one else. In their desperate attempts to block gay marriage, some theists are indeed doing that. They may believe what they want, but they cannot attempt to force their beliefs, entirely based on opinion, on others. Mr. Kass can be as intolerant as he wants to be, but he can’t say that everyone else has to be that way too. If his sect doesn’t like gay marriage, there is *nothing* that says they have to perform those marriages. If this makes them seem like bigots to others, that’s the choice they made. We can believe what we want too.
Here’s a couple of chunks of text that ended up not fitting that nicely into the above narrative, but I hated to lose them since the research is done and the information is timely. For your delectation:
Unsurprisingly, the fellow who wrote this article, John Kass, is nothing more than a conservative twit who is sure that Benghazi is a big conspiracy and thinks that Superstorm Sandy was the only thing that “saved” everyone from having to admit that John’s delusions were true. For such a TrueChristian, John has no problem in bearing false witness against anyone he doesn’t like. In the article used for this blog post, Mr. Kass says “The federal government has already told religious institutions that run hospitals that they must provide contraceptives to their employees, even if it runs counter to their beliefs.” That’s simply a lie, and I do recall that the god of the bible hates lies and liars. Perhaps John doesn’t care. The truth of the matter is that religious employers do not have to do this at all. It is the insurance companies that must. No one is forced to give, or take, contraception dependent on their religious beliefs. Insurance companies are not religious institutions.
“In order to increase access to proven preventive care while also respecting the religious concerns of religious organizations, the guidelines effectively exempt the health plans of certain religious employers from the requirement to cover contraceptive services. The Administration has proposed to establish accommodations for other non-profit religious organizations (including non-profit religious institutions of higher education) so they will not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds; women who receive health coverage through these organizations will have contraceptive coverage without cost sharing provided through separate individual health insurance policies. In the meantime, nonprofit organizations that have consistently not been providing some or all of the required contraceptive coverage on account of religious objections, consistent with any applicable state law, are not subject to enforcement by the federal government of the contraceptive coverage requirement through August 1, 2013. The Departments intend to finalize rules regarding these accommodations before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor.” – http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/08/womensprevention08012011a.html and here: http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/ Legislators in some states are still trying to force religious beliefs on others and being stopped: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/19/mo-judge-strikes-down-religious-birth-control-exemption-a-radical-departure-from-americas-tradition-of-religious-freedom/
Poor John, he must be having a fit since Obama, the man he hates so much, won a second term and has governed well, despite hopeful predictions by John that he simply must fail.
One of the arguments against gay marriage is now procreation. In attorney Cooper’s words
“The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus, refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples.”
Ah, it’s good that they didn’t try this back in the segregation times, though we do still have twits like Bardwell who still try the “think of the children!” excuses. Justices Breyer and Kagan asked why then did the state dare allow people who could not have children or did not want them to marry. This is where one has to feel somewhat sorry for Mr. Cooper, when he is so cornered by the ignorance and hatred of his clients, he must claim that marriage simply must be kept for hetero couples only because they “could” have children. Yep, it’s that stupid and again, why should anyone have tolerance for such nonsense that could prevent my husband and I from having the legal rights of those who happen to pop out a child?
As for procreation is the only point of marriage, hmmm, seems that this is never mentioned in the bible. Abraham and Sarah were married and it took divine intervention for them to have a child. They lived for some hundreds of years (if you believe such nonsense) having no problem in being husband and wife and not one squiblet to be seen. Abraham wasn’t married to Hagar and golly, they procreated and this god was fine with it. And I know exactly the excuse that some Christians will give against these observation: this was before the commandments. So, it seems that this god changes its mind (can’t be very unchangeable after that, eh?) and that the commandments aren’t that important if such a lauded man like Abraham is in heaven without following them. Either something is always right or wrong to an unchanging god, or there has been a change.
The closest we can get is that Leviticus has that the brother-in-law of a widow must marry her and take care of the offspring and that the only way a woman can be saved is by childbirth (1 Timothy 2). Now, why do we not have widows forced to marry people they may not want to marry? Oh yes, the claim that the OT laws aren’t in force. Funny how those laws are only to be ignored after the earth and heavens are destroyed and remade. I seem not to recall any destruction lately. JC, per the bible, says nothing about marriage and children, and again is only concerned with the idea of adultery and sex, not the result of sex.
Paul says that marriage is only to keep people from being sexually immoral, 1 Corinthians 7. Here we can cue the Christians who conveniently decide that the words of Paul in the letters only apply to those particular churches when they don’t like what he says.
edit 04/01 – corrected where I misspelled Kass.
5 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – We’re admittedly intolerant but please don’t call us bigots!”
A thought crossed my mind; are all LGBTs non religious? If there are some who are religious, how then must they feel about this whole matter given what their brothers and sisters are saying in church and outside about them?
No, not in my experience. And unfortunately, the religiousness of one partner of a male couple I knew ended their long term relationship. That made me very sad.
I have found that a lot of LGBT folks still want their religion, They seem to simply decide that the parts that show the religion does not like homosexuality are not part of what their god “really” meant. It’s cherry-picking like all theists do.
Ah, every time I start feeling like I want to be one of those nicey-nice atheists who are oh-so-tolerant of religious people, and Easter weekend thinking of little children hunting for colored eggs is one of those times, someone like Mr. Kass comes along and makes me feel like I have no choice but to oppose them.
I don’t know where to start in criticizing his piece. It puts me in mind of Mary McCarthy’s jibe about Lillian Hellman, “Every word he writes is a lie, including the and and.” The one part I hope is not a lie is that bit about people like him becoming a minority. Oh, please, please, please.
Let’s start with “I don’t want to add to the noise.” (I’m quoting from memory.) My grandmother didn’t like adding to the noise. She was a meek quiet person who never volunteered her opinion. Needless to say, she was not a columnist.
Does he know that there are bigots who don’t drool? I feel quite confident that there were once owners of slaves, comfortable in their “god given superiority,” who, not only did not drool, but were perfectly refined and educated in the best schools. I’m am tempted to say, “Well, if the shoe fits….”
Yes, society enforces the dominant morals of the time. Yes, a person has, at least according to my own view of the world, a right to express your disapproval of those morals. There are many contemporary morals with which I, myself, disagree, but a person can hardly be surprised when people have noticed that you have disagreed with them and don’t like it.
Not being the dominant culture does not imply that it is therefore the “counter-culture” by the way. That looks to me to be a poor attempt to lend legitimacy to an outmoded belief system.
“In this media world, I sometimes wonder whether the word “sin” has been outlawed by the high priests of journalism for fear of offending one group or another.”
Perhaps, Mr. Kass, you have gone into the wrong profession. As a reader of newspapers, I have a subscription to the New York Times, and I subscribe to several topical magazines as well, I do not look to them to teach me about sin. If I read about it frequently, I might cancel my subscription. That is called knowing your market. It is capitalism, in a raw form.
In my post, I had “well, if the shoe fits…” in it before I edited it out. 🙂 I very much like your observation about the “counter-culture”.
I wanted to add that I like the cat photo, but my train pulled into the station and ended my reply suddenly. Just as well, I suppose. I probably could have criticized the op-ed for at least three paragraphs more without even hurting my noggin.