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January 09, 2009

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Or Rick Warren speaks for 3 minutes at the inauguration and Democrats everywhere shriek that Obama hates gays and some idiots go so far as to cancel their inauguration parties.

You know, I generally respect John Cole a lot, but he's been exceedingly smug and more than a little offensive on this particular issue.

Without wishing to reopen the whole Ric Warren can o'worms, this comment shows that on some very basic level, Cole doesn't get it, and doesn't want to.

no, Cole gets it just fine. and he's exactly right.

“That is not the change I voted for”

Unfortunately, I've already used that line in an email to my Senators yesterday, complaining about the Senate's resolution to support Israel. I'm still thrilled with the possibilities of a Democratic President (especially Obama) and Congress (my jurisdiction elected a miraculous all-Democratic ticket), but what's a person to do in the face of such shameful behavior? One has to communicate one's disappointment.

Everbody knows Eric's known for dropping science.

(Not to mention that he's not coming out goofy like the Fruit Of The Loom guys.)

no, Cole gets it just fine. and he's exactly right.

Canceling a private party is in no way equivalent to "shrieking" that "Obama hates gays," and lumping them together just makes Cole look foolish.

As a gay man, I'm quite used to having nice sensible tolerant liberals like John Cole tell me to shut up and sit quietly in the corner and wait to be called upon. But now we're at a whole 'nother level: You're not clapping hard enough! How eerily familiar.

What an instructive couple of threads here at ObWi today! Between this one and OCSteve's remarks about "spoiled children" on the previous one, it's been a bracing reminder of where we stand with good tolerant liberals.

I am disappointed in the Senate vote, too, but I don't think that "change we can believe in" applies to the Senate.

There are a few indications that Obama will supply change in our dealings with Isreal and Hamas: Political Animal has a long quote from the Guardian which hints that the Obama administration will open up talks with Hamas.

The Warren thing is just childish petulance and intolerant douchbaggery.

You know how I know this? Because if (ghu forbid) McCain had won and picked some famous, left-wing, pro-choice, pro-gay preacher to give his invocation as a way to reach out to us lefties who'll never vote for him and then the social cons of right-wing blogistan got all up in arms about it, wrote sad little angry blog posts about how disappointed they were, canceled their parties, etc., you all would be calling it childish petulance and intolerant douchbaggery.

And you'd be right.

it's been a bracing reminder of where we stand with good tolerant liberals.

that's right. we all hate gays and want them to sit down, STFU and clap when told to clap.

it has nothing to do with the fact that Obama's likely to be the most gay-friendly president anyone has ever seen, and that his gesture of reaching out to evangelicals shows far more tolerance than many of his critics are showing.

that's right. we all hate gays

Again with the "hate." Are you capable of discussing this topic without putting words in people's mouths, cleek? I haven't accused anyone of "hate." (I have, on the other hand, just been called an "intolerant douchebag" because I had the gall to write about my disappointment over the Ric Warren issue on a blog. A little perspective is in order here, don't you think?)

and want them to sit down, STFU and clap when told to clap.

Cleek, calling someone an "idiot" for having the temerity to cancel their inauguration party is pretty much telling them "clap when you're told to clap." How you could possibly interpret it in any other way? Help me out here.

Obama's likely to be the most gay-friendly president anyone has ever seen

What do you base this on?

Here, Uncle Kvetch. Didn't second-source any of this, so I'm just trusting that it's accurate.

Obama's likely to be the most gay-friendly president anyone has ever seen

What do you base this on?

His support for civil unions. Also known as marriage without actually using the "M" word.

I'm fairly certain he's the first president to support them.

Are you capable of discussing this topic without putting words in people's mouths, cleek?

err, um... "..liberals like John Cole tell me to shut up and sit quietly in the corner and wait to be called upon."

i'm pretty sure Cole has never uttered those words.

anyway...

Cleek, calling someone an "idiot" for having the temerity to cancel their inauguration party is pretty much telling them "clap when you're told to clap."

i don't see it that way. i see it as saying "those people are seriously overreacting".

What do you base this on?

his statements throughout the campaign.

i don't think he'll be perfect in this (or any other) area, but i think he'll be better than all the rest. and yeah, that's a pretty low hurdle.

Is this comment thread a circular firing squad or is this healthy debate? It's hard for me to tell.

given that this is like the tenth time we've gone around and around on this, i'd say it's a circular debate.

That would make us all members of the circular debate squad. We get fancy jackets that we wear to school on game days.

And OCSteve’s not really a “good tolerant liberal”. More of a right-wing death monger actually…

i don't see it that way. i see it as saying "those people are seriously overreacting".

What would have been the proper reaction?

What would have been the proper reaction?

i can't define it. but i know it when i see it.


Is this comment thread a circular firing squad or is this healthy debate? It's hard for me to tell.

Looks like a healthy firing squad IHMO.


There is room to criticize Obama's proposed stimulus plan: some could plausibly argue that certain of the tax cuts are less than ideal in terms of delivering stimulus and/or job growth. Others still, that the plan fails to optimize infrastructure spending and international cooperation. Which says nothing about hoped-for well-reasoned criticism from the right.

All right, bring it on.

I think Obama's stimulus plan is too big and won't accomplish the goals being set for it and used to justify it by advocates like Krugman, is based on an extremely fallacious analogy between the economic position of the US today and the US in the 1930s, and the debt used to finance this Keynesian stimulus is going to lead within 18-24 months to a catastrophicaly awful dollar devaluation and global currency crisis. The latter will diminish living standards in this country much more than would a more modest policy of just repairing our social safety net to deal with 12-15% unemployment and making sure that nobody in the bottom income quartile goes starving or without heat or shelter.

And this is a criticism coming as from the left as well as from the Austrian school right and/or gold bugs.

@Chuchundra: The McCain bizarro-world hypothetical fails as an analogy because of the Prop. 8 campaign and Rick Warren's role in it.

Richard Cohen is an idiot, but not for writing about his lesbian sister's cancellation of her and her partner's inaugural party.

Inviting Warren, only weeks after he compared same sex marriage to incest and pedophilia, feels like a slap in the face to a huge portion of Obama's most committed base (and not just LGBT supporters). After the victory of Prop. 8, it comes across as a taunt. Obama and his people's response to the natural reaction acknowledged none of the ugliness of Warren's campaign.

It's my fervent hope that a great many people attending the inauguration turn their backs in a quiet and dignified manner while Warren delivers the invocation, then turn back to enjoy Aretha Franklin and the rest of the celebration and ceremony.

That reaction isn't a "circular firing squad". It's standing up for human rights, one's own and others'.

Reconciliation happens when people acknowledge the harm they've done, and apologize. It's not Obama's to grant.

What would have been the proper reaction?

Maybe cleek's looking for the appearance of at least a passing acquaintance with keeping things in perspective?

Cancelling an inauguration party over this feels to me like a statement that the whole Obama administration is encapsulated in his choice of Rick Warren for the invocation at the inauguration.

Is that one act really so egregious it is the only thing that matters?

I don't think so--and I'm speaking as a gay person, not a "tolerant liberal."

On the other hand, although I don't share it, I would argue that the negative reaction by many gay people is not just "childish petulance and intolerant douchbaggery" and that the analogy made to support that argument is invalid.

Gay people really do suffer significant personal harm based on the bigotry actively promulgated by Rick Warren. "The right" suffers no such harm from "the left."

It's my observation that overreacting comes with the territory of being an oppressed minority. A victim of domestic abuse may well flinch at perfectly inoccuous gestures from perfectly harmless people. It's a defensive conditioned response based on previous experience.

Those responses may well be counter-productive much of the time and I think it's fair to point that out but I also think a little understanding might be properly in order. Use of the words "shriek", "idiot", "childish petulance" and "intolerant douchebaggery" are also overreactions, it seems to me.

Cancelling an inauguration party over this feels to me like a statement that the whole Obama administration is encapsulated in his choice of Rick Warren for the invocation at the inauguration.

yes, this. exactly.

yeah, Warren's a jerk. but Obama's going to be dealing with a lot of jerks. ex. the Catholic church has some pretty repugnant attitudes towards many things (IMO). should he shun a visit from the Pope ?

"The right" suffers no such harm from "the left."

"the right", specifically the anti-gay right, often claims that they are indeed harmed by any effort to make homosexuality anything but an illegal abomination. it's easy to find instances of them complaining about his tolerance of LGBT groups.

"the right", specifically the anti-gay right, often claims that they are indeed harmed by any effort to make homosexuality anything but an illegal abomination.

Of course, but that doesn't make it so.

As is so often the case, Nell said it better than I could, so I'm going to leave it at that.

Is this comment thread a circular firing squad or is this healthy debate? It's hard for me to tell.

Circular firing squad. So, to return to the actual topic of this post, allow me to applaud. The chronic complaint of people of an authoritarian bent is that democracy is too slow, too cumbersome, too inefficient, takes forever to get things done, etc. Authoritarianism and despotism are such tempting alternatives to short circuit the tiresome democratic process. The only trouble is that if you actual look at real live despotisms, they are infinitely less efficient and functional than democracies. Whether it is old Soviet Union, Czarist Russia, Iraq under Saddam Hussein etc etc, the story is the same every time, and we are astonished, over and over again. The Bush Administration is merely mild example of the same tendancy.

This is one of Josh Marshall's hobby horses. He is always fond of pointing out that the Bush Administrations's authoritarianism and its fables incompetence are not separate issues; they are one and the same. It's a comforting thought, really. Plenty of Bush opponents say that he failed to establish an elective dictatorship only because he was so incompetent, and that a more competent aspiring dictator might have succeeded. It is reassuring to think that any other aspiring dictator will, by definition, be equally incompetent. On the other hand, such incompetence leaves a godawful mess to clean up.

I also like the paragraph commenting that really it's okay that other democracies are not just like us, and that sometimes they might do some things better than we do. Now if we could only convince right wing nationalists that there is nothing unpatriotic about that.

"I also like the paragraph commenting that really it's okay that other democracies are not just like us, and that sometimes they might do some things better than we do."

Traitor. Had to be said.


On another topic, I was hoping someone knowledgeable would argue with Thatleftturn's anti-stimulus theory up above. He brought this up a few weeks ago and I've been wondering if Krugman or other pro-stimulus people have said anything about this. It's at least mildly disturbing to think that we might spend hundreds of billions of dollars and not only not fix the economy, but make things much worse.

a more modest policy of just repairing our social safety net to deal with 12-15% unemployment and making sure that nobody in the bottom income quartile goes starving or without heat or shelter.

We're already at 12-15% unemployment if you measure it as it was measured during the great depression.

You want to feed people, make sure they have shelter and heat....that's a stimulus program. Why not have the recipients of said aid work for it if they are able? People want to work and there is no work to do. The government is the employer of last resort. Worrying about the budget deficit at a time like this strikes me as an extremely odd thing to do.

If the economy recovers within a couple years, there will be plenty of ways to deal with the debt, and if it doesn't, the debt will be the least of your worries.

As for the gay issue: Rachel Maddow for president in 2016 (or earlier, if Obama fails or dies)!!!

At the time of young Barack's birth, the same kind of Christians who today object to same-sex marriage were then objecting to interracial marriage, or miscegenation, as against God's will. The Supreme Court decision that anti-democratically overturned the right of individual states to legislate against And the marriage of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr didn't happen till young Barack was six. Indeed, the last state to repeal the law against Barack Obama's parents being married was Alabama, in 2000.

Would Barack Obama have invited a Christian to give a prayer at his inaugeration who had, weeks earlier, described his parents' marriage - or that of any interracial couple - as being like paedophilia or bestiality?

Were I ever to have 3 minutes uninterrupted conversation with Barack Obama, with the guarantee that he would answer a question honestly, I don't doubt I would have more important questions to ask than this, but still, I would like to know: would Obama want to receive a prayer from someone who thinks Obama's parents are like child or animal molestors? And if he would not, why does he feel it's OK to have Rick Warren give a prayer?

And why do so many straight Americans feel that it's just not OK for LGBT people to feel insulted by Obama's decision to "reach out" to conservative Christians who think that the only way to "reach out" to LGBT people is to spit on us?

"And the marriage of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr didn't happen till young Barack was six."

This is incorrect:

The couple married on February 2, 1961
And Barack Obama, Jr, was born August 4, 1961.

"Indeed, the last state to repeal the law against Barack Obama's parents being married was Alabama, in 2000."

Also, Loving v. Virginia wiped out all the anti-miscegenation laws in 1967. Getting them off the books after that was just a technicality; there are countless no longer operative laws on the books in all states, because states aren't at all dilegent about bothering to pass bills that have no effect on anything, and are just house-cleaning.

And why do so many straight Americans feel that it's just not OK for LGBT people to feel insulted by Obama's decision to "reach out" to conservative Christians who think that the only way to "reach out" to LGBT people is to spit on us?
Let me be clear on the point, however, that I think you're 100% right in this.

Sorry for taking multiple comments to respond to your one.

The Supreme Court decision that anti-democratically overturned the right of individual states to legislate against the marriage of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr didn't happen till young Barack was six.

Ah, the sentence beginning "The Supreme Court decision" had an extra "And" that I didn't delete as I reworked two sentences into one.

And therefore the comment I made got Farbered. Ah well.

Uh, I am fairly certain that use of the term "Farbered" has long been banned by the site owners. In fact, I'm positive of it. And I'll remind you of your recent advice to Shredder that, if you've offended someone, even inadvertently, the smart thing to do is apologize.

Maybe cleek's looking for the appearance of at least a passing acquaintance with keeping things in perspective?

Maybe. And maybe it isn't up to cleek to decide what other people's priorities should be and whether their perspective is properly aligned.

Jes: Phil is right about Farbered. Please don't use that term.

Also, no one here is an ignorant douchebag.

My opinion: this thread is not a circular firing squad. Private conversations among people who listen to one another, by definition, are not; even when heated; they're a necessary part of figuring out what motivates one another. Especially when we disagree, the underlying trust is something to cherish.

Circular firing squads, imho, occur in more public fora, and involve taking action.

I also think anyone who wants to cancel their inauguration party is free to do so, since I generally oppose forced festivities. ;)

if you've offended someone, even inadvertently, the smart thing to do is apologize.

Actually, it was an advertant offense, as was Gary's decision to proofread my comment rather than respond to it.

FWIW, I thought about correcting the typo, then decided it wasn't worth it - it's always a judgement call (I feel) with typos whether you cause more problems by posting again to correct what you meant, or whether you should just leave it be and presume it's clear what you meant. As the "And" was capitalized and in the middle of the sentence, I thought it was obvious that it was a typo-intruder. Obviously I was wrong.

But this kind of lengthy meta-discussion is exactly why I gave up responding to Gary's comments years ago, and wish he wouldn't Farber mine.

Actually, it was an advertant offense, as was Gary's decision to proofread my comment rather than respond to it.

Yes, yes, you're the real victim here, etc. I believe this kind of "I'm-rubber-you're-glue" tactic is referred to as "Jesurgislacing."

And then she does it again after being told not to by a site owner. Amazing.

Hilzoy: Jes: Phil is right about Farbered. Please don't use that term.

Although the comment at 10:12 appears to have been made after yours, when I started to write it, I didn't see your comment on the thread. I should have checked for additions by clicking Preview: I would then not have made the 10:12. Sorry.

"As the 'And' was capitalized and in the middle of the sentence, I thought it was obvious that it was a typo-intruder."

I thought you simply left out a period before it. And a factual correction isn't "proofreading."

I'm sorry to hear about your ankle; I hope it heals speedily.

"But this kind of lengthy meta-discussion..."

...has been initiated and engaged in by you, not me (aside from my single response here).

Um...back on topic, I'd just like to say that if this turns out to be accurate, I will officially and completely cease to care about Ric Warren's invocation.

On that note, it's probably worth pointing out some context here: namely, the fact that we've been down this road before. In his day, Bill Clinton was the most "pro-gay" president in history, at least in terms of his rhetoric...and he gave us DADT and DOMA. If and when Obama's "pro-gay" statements translate into the actual expenditure of political capital on behalf of LGBT people, I will be the first to acknowledge that fact. But I, and a lot of other LGBT folk, are very wary on that score, and with damn good reason.

Um...back on topic, I'd just like to say that if this turns out to be accurate, I will officially and completely cease to care about Ric Warren's invocation.

I almost completely agree (and with your other points) except that I'd add "repealing DOMA". The Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell are the two legal barriers that need to come down - and if they both do, that Obama picked Rick Warren for the invocation will look like a sop thrown to the wingnut right. But promises are piecrust - I won't applaud Obama for what he says he plans to do.

The Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell are the two legal barriers that need to come down - and if they both do, that Obama picked Rick Warren for the invocation will look like a sop thrown to the wingnut right.

i'm just gonna put a bookmark on your comment. so that i can revisit it later.

But promises are piecrust...

I always wondered about that line -- easily broken yes, but easily made? Maybe for a master baker such as yourself, not for ordinary mortals.

And maybe it isn't up to cleek to decide what other people's priorities should be and whether their perspective is properly aligned.

i can most certainly decide what i think is appropriate; and you can disagree with my evaluation.

the notion that we can't judge other people's reactions is completely silly - we do it all the time, all of us, every day. and it's especially silly that many of the people here who disagree with me on this are judging my reactions and perspective, while telling me i shouldn't do the same to them.

in other words: physician, heal thyself.

i can most certainly decide what i think is appropriate; and you can disagree with my evaluation.

Fine, then let's put it this way: Opinions are like assholes, etc. etc. But I don't feel I'm in any position to tell gay Americans who are taking umbrage at this and thus acting less celebratory than you, apparently, would prefer, to get off the cross. And that fact that you do, apparently, feel that way makes you kind of dickish.

If I'm taking umbrage, it's because this is very personal for me...and not just because I'm gay.

My partner, who's much more of a mainstream Dem than my disaffected lefty self, was really excited about Obama's election. So much so that he was seriously considering blowing off work for a day to travel to Philly for the pre-inaugural event taking place there.

The selection of Warren for the invocation was enough to make him change his mind. He did not "shriek" or get hysterical about it. He did not conclude that Obama must "hate gays" because of it. But it was enough to make him feel that we were no longer on the same footing as straight people where this particular event was concerned. To reiterate what's been said a million times in the last month, this was not a case of anti-gay evangelicals being granted "a place at the table"; this was about them being given a place of honor. No openly gay person was offered anything remotely similar for this event.

Now, where LGBTs will stand in terms of Obama's administration, of course, is another story, and only time will tell. My partner says he's gone from full-blown enthusiasm to cautious optimism--he's certainly not giving up hope. And considering what was involved in going to Philly--burning a precious vacation day, spending the money and time for the trip, not knowing if he was going to get anywhere near the actual event because of the crowds--he decided it wasn't worth it.

It all seems pretty reasonable and not the least bit idiotic, if you ask me.

But then I turn around and see reactions of this kind being portrayed by my ostensible political allies as nothing more than a bunch of self-absorbed drama queens throwing hissy fits. Not "I disagree with you" or "I think you're overreacting," mind you, but rather words like "idiot" and "douchebag."

Cleek, I imagine you thought that was a clever little gotcha directed at Jesurgislac above, but you apparently failed to notice that I'd posted the exact same link two comments above it. And as I said, it's great news...if it actually happens. But you seem to think that saying you're going to do the right thing, eventually, is equivalent to doing it. And I don't think you're really that naive...at least not when it's an issue that actually matters to you personally.

Phil:
But I don't feel I'm in any position to tell gay Americans who are taking umbrage at this and thus acting less celebratory than you, apparently, would prefer, to get off the cross

this is not just an issue for gay people.

as a straight man, i obviously don't have as much stake in this as gay people do. but i do hope this country one day legalizes gay marriage, because i think it's the right thing to do, and i think it will make the USA a better country. i want that. so, i do have some stake in this.

an analogy: having equal rights for women and minorities make the US a better place. if those rights were threatened, would i be stepping out of bounds by doing what i thought would protect those rights? or should i sit down, shut up, and wait to be called upon ?

but you apparently failed to notice that I'd posted the exact same link two comments above it

yes, i did. i did scan the comments looking for someone talking about it. but i didn't catch yours. my bad.

Uncle Kvetch:
But you seem to think that saying you're going to do the right thing, eventually, is equivalent to doing it.

well, no, i don't think that. why would i?

i think that "one word" answer was pretty significant, though: no wiggle room there. obviously, we shouldn't count our chickens, etc..

at least not when it's an issue that actually matters to you personally.

oh, i see.

well then. see above.

i will likely never marry a man, but i want a fair and equitable country as much as the next guy. it does matter to me personally.

an analogy: having equal rights for women and minorities make the US a better place. if those rights were threatened, would i be stepping out of bounds by doing what i thought would protect those rights? or should i sit down, shut up, and wait to be called upon ?

Of course not. But if, hypothetically, in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt had invited Father Charles Coughlin to give an invocation at his inauguration, and as a result some Jewish Americans had decided to dissociate themselves from inaugural activities, and you had called them a bunch of overreacting idiots, I'd have thought you were being a dick.

i sure would have. but Warren is not Coughlin. not even close.

i sure would have. but Warren is not Coughlin. not even close.

True. In 1932, apparently Charles Coughlin's anti-Semitism wasn't nearly as vicious and open - Coughlin became as open and active an anti-Semite as Rick Warren is an open and active homophobe after the 1936 election.

These days, most preachers of hate have more nous than to openly advocate murdering those they hate. They just make it clear to their audience that gay people are like paedophiles. Then they can call for a bowl of water and wash their hands as they piously decry violence directed at the group of people they just stigmatized as abusive perverts.

But Coughlin's preaching that Christians are the victims, Jews are the enemy, is just the terminology that present-day haters like Rick Warren use about gay people. We are the enemy. They are the victims. OCSteve knows it.

News flash: Obama keeps election promises. Liberals devastated.

This is just silly. He's doing what he said he'd do. Yeah, it is a bit surprising for a politician to do that, but nothing over which one should get their panties in a bunch.

Would I prefer that Obama show up at the inauguration and, after the swearing in, tear up the bible, declare the us an atheist nation, announce that he is confiscating all wealth from the richest 10% of the population and giving it away to crackheads, and say that he was passing a law that on every second thursday, men had to wear skirts and women had to wear flannel shirts and trucker hats?

Of course I would. Who wouldn't?

Sadly, no. He is going to govern from the center. Vile religious dingbats are americans too.

They just make it clear to their audience that gay people are like paedophiles.

you do realize that thinking homosexuality is immoral, sinful, abominable, dangerous, corrupting, etc., is perfectly normal for a Christian, right ? what Warren preaches is ridiculous, but it's nothing radical; it's just plain-ol Christian orthodoxy. you can get this on any given day, in most churches (Christian, Muslim, whatever), anywhere in the world.

the real radical in this inauguration is the other preacher Obama has invited. you know, the one nobody on the left is mad about, the one who's OK with homosexuality. apparently Obama gets no credit here for that. he only gets negative points for inviting the typical Christian.

Rev. Joe Lowery is a "radical"?

According to whom?

"...it's just plain-ol Christian orthodoxy."

You're sure you don't mean "fundamentalist Christian orthodoxy," or "evangelical Christian orthodoxy"?

I mean, the Episcopalian church has gay bishops: do you think their "orthodoxy" is anti-gay, or is it that Episcopalians aren't Christians, or mainstream, or what?

Here's where the Presbyterian Church stands. Same questions.

Do you think liberal Christians are insignificant in number?

The United Church of Christ alone had 1.2 million members, and about 5,633 congregations as of 2006. And they ordained their first gay preacher in 1972.

"you can get this on any given day, in most churches (Christian, Muslim, whatever), anywhere in the world."

Whatever?

An overwhelming majority of religious and lay leaders in the Conservative synagogue movement support gay rabbinical ordination and same-sex marriage, according to the results of a newly released survey.

In another development likely to boost the push for gay ordination, the movement’s flagship institution, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, announced that Rabbi Daniel Nevins would be the new dean of its rabbinical school. Nevins, a 40-year-old pulpit rabbi in Michigan, was a co-author of the opinion paper approved by the movement’s top religious body allowing for homosexual rabbis and unions.

[...]

According to the poll, 65% of rabbis would favor JTS allowing gay and lesbian rabbinical students, with only 28% opposing such a move. The survey results show that a sizable majority of Conservative lay leaders, including congregational presidents and Jewish educators, favor gay ordination.

Mind, the Conservative Jews are far outnumbered by the Reform Jews in America: what do you think they think?

I kinda wonder how much you've studied various American religious beliefs about homosexuality, Cleek.

Gary Farber, you overstate the Christian acceptance of gay sexuality by a long shot. The United Church of Christ (where Obama found his church home) has welcomed gays in its congregations for many years. Other than that, the picture is quite different. The Episcopal Church has split over the issue, and the Presbyterian Church allows gay clergy if they're celibate (largely in keeping with what Rick Warren might allow). I'm sure that all of these churches, to a greater or lesser extent, have individual clergy who accept LGBT people, but not many Christian churches officially approve gay sex. (This stands to reason since they don't approve of gay marriage, and they don't approve of extramarital sex.)

Vile religious dingbats are americans too.

So if enough people hold a given opinion, you don't just have to tolerate it...you have to honor it. Whether you agree with it or not.

I still don't get it.

now_what: News flash: Obama keeps election promises. Liberals devastated.

News flash: Obama has not yet had a chance to keep any election promises. He isn't President yet.

cleek: you do realize that thinking homosexuality is immoral, sinful, abominable, dangerous, corrupting, etc., is perfectly normal for a Christian, right ?

Nope. You see, I was brought up a Christian: my parents and my sister still identify as Christians: for personal reasons, I still occasionally attend mass at a local church; I have read the entire Bible from beginning to end, many books in it more than once, I have read more Christian theology than most Christians I have met, I have friends who go to church regularly from Presbyterian to Episcopalian and a lot of the sects in between, and no, Cleek, when a man of God gets up and says that for two men to get married is like paedophilia, ordinary, normal Christians find that bloody offensive.

Because ordinary, normal Christians think what Jesus says matters more than what Paul wrote to early Christian churches a couple of thousand years ago, or what the law of Leviticus says Jews have to do to keep their race pure. Read C.S.Lewis on homosexuality at public schools in Surprised by Joy: he points out that the main reason for Christians in thinking (wrongly, he avers) that homosexuality is somehow a worse sin than any other routinely committed by schoolboys, is because (as was true at the time he was writing) homosexuality is against the law.

(Incidentally, Cleek, according to Jewish friends and acquaintances, it is way easier to find a rabbi who will solemnise a ceremony of committment for a same-sex Jewish couple, than it is to find a rabbi who will agree to marry a Jewish man to a Gentile woman. Way easier. Oh, and ordinary, normal Muslims do not think that two consenting adults having sex is anything like bestiality or paedophilia.)

Christians like Rick Warren - wingnuts - want you to think their twisted, screwed-up version of Christianity which teaches that homosexuality is "immoral, sinful, abominable, dangerous, corrupting" is "normal Christianity". It isn't. I don't believe it's even normal Christianity in the US: it's just powerful. Politically powerful, powerful in the media, and distorted through media representation. For God's sake, Cleek, it was the New Hampshire Episcopalians who elected Gene Robinson as bishop! It was Christians who chose Robinson to become their bishop, and Christians who support him. They are the normal, ordinary Christians, not the screaming maniacs who threaten to murder Robinson for being ordained bishop and for being married to a man!

apparently Obama gets no credit here for that.

Nope. Inviting a normal, ordinary Christian who takes a normal Christian attitude to homosexuality is not radical. What would have been radical would have been inviting Gene Robinson.

Uncle Kvetch, Obama isn't honoring Rick Warren's opinion on gay relationships. He's honoring the fact that, unlike many of his Baptist counterparts, Rick Warren has done some positive things about poverty, AIDS, orphans, etc. The common ground he's trying to find with Rick Warren and followers of Rick Warren's have to do with these other issues.

Baptists who believe that God prohibits certain sexual practices aren't going to change their mind based on logic, or because someone punishes or shuns them. They may change their mind when they have enough experience with a diverse group of people and, instead of fearing them, find friendships and comradeship. Engaging (and befriending) people like Rick Warren is one way to make this happen. You may disagree with Obama about the effectiveness of doing this, but it's false to say that he's honoring Rick Warren's homophobia.

News flash: Obama has not yet had a chance to keep any election promises. He isn't President yet.

Does not follow. Poor logic.

So if enough people hold a given opinion, you don't just have to tolerate it...you have to honor it

If you are the leader of the country where a large number of people have said opinion, maybe you should at least acknowledge the opinion exists.

Rev. Joe Lowery is a "radical"?
According to whom?

according to anyone who can look at the traditional and prevailing Christian attitudes towards homosexuality.

You're sure you don't mean "fundamentalist Christian orthodoxy," or "evangelical Christian orthodoxy"?

do you consider the Catholic church to be either of those things?

I mean, the Episcopalian church has gay bishops: do you think their "orthodoxy" is anti-gay, or is it that Episcopalians aren't Christians, or mainstream, or what?

as of 2001, Episcopalians and Anglicans combined accounted for less than 2% of the Christian population of the US.

sure, Episcopalians outnumber atheists like me by at least 2:1. but i got my fingers crossed! maybe someday someone will cite my views as representative of mainstream Christian thinking.

on the other hand, Catholic, Baptists and Methodists account for over 50% of US Christians, and those churches all have serious official problems with gays - obviously individuals will feel how they choose.

Mind, the Conservative Jews are far outnumbered by the Reform Jews in America: what do you think they think?

beats me. are they speaking at the inauguration? what's their relevance here?

Nope. You see, I was brought up a Christian:
with all due respect, the US and the British churches split some time ago. that ship sailed 398 years ago.

For God's sake, Cleek, it was the New Hampshire Episcopalians
...
They are the normal, ordinary Christians

yeah, see above. Episcopalians = less than 2% of US Christians. New Hampshire = .4% of the US population. do the math.

sure, Episcopalians outnumber atheists like me by at least 2:1.

oh wait, little math error here.

Episcopalians and Lutherans were 1.7% of US Christians in 2001. and Christians were 76% of the US total. that makes E+A = 1.3% of the US total. that's just about tied with atheism. godless domination is soon to follow.

"beats me. are they speaking at the inauguration? what's their relevance here?"

What's the relevance of Muslims? The relevance is that you brought it up: "you can get this on any given day, in most churches (Christian, Muslim, whatever), anywhere in the world."

I assume that if you're referring to Muslim "churches" (mosques), "whatever" includes, you know, whatever, such as Jews.

But maybe you meant something entirely different; I can only go by what people write, rather than what they meant to write.

What's the relevance of Muslims? The relevance is that you brought it up: "you can get this on any given day, in most churches (Christian, Muslim, whatever), anywhere in the world."

heh. well, i sure did. i shouldn't have said "in the world," but rather "in the US". let's not pretend that's what i was arguing though.

my argument that the idea that homosexuality is wrong (etc.) are absolutely in the mainstream of Christian doctrine, and Lowrey is in the minority is still solid. the data backs it up. the Episcopalians are noise in the sample.

But maybe you meant something entirely different; I can only go by what people write, rather than what they meant to write.

uh huh

my argument that the idea that homosexuality is wrong (etc.) are absolutely in the mainstream of Christian doctrine, and Lowrey is in the minority is still solid.

rewritten:

my argument, that the idea that homosexuality is wrong (etc.) is absolutely in the mainstream of Christian doctrine, and that Lowrey is in the minority, is still solid.

I think some don't take the invocation seriously on the whole.

But, Obama impresses many because of his rhetorical power and symbolism. Likewise, he has voiced how his religious faith is an important part of his life. Likewise, when Jeremiah Wright voiced divisive stuff, he long term pastor as one might recall, he opposed it (for various reasons, but the divisive rhetoric was an important aspect).

Thus, a "three minute" ceremonial act honoring God is of some importance, including the symbolism -- he picked Warren to send a message after all. Warren is a popular media figure; it was likely to get some attention, especially in our celebrity culture.

Likewise, his rhetoric (and not just on the gay point) was sure to get some negative attention. Division makes good copy. It isn't very beneficial (except if you don't think too much of the group being hurt, or can take them for granted) in picking someone to give an invocation.

That act should be uniting. Instead, in a move that to me seems sort of a blasphemy, Rick Warren was chosen. I can put it in perspective, though even if someone does great things for gays (or American/Iran relations, etc.), I can be upset at such an act.

If I was a member of the group under attack by RW (who is further legitimatized by the pick), I can be more upset. Especially given Obama went out of his way to oppose same sex marriage (see Audacity of Hope), apparently because his moral beliefs on this issue (contra, e.g., Biden's on abortion) can be made public policy.

As to "mainstream Christian doctrine," Catholic doctrine opposes many forms of contraceptives. But, many Catholics, including priests, don't focus on the matter, especially with crude rhetoric, and/or serve as public point persons regarding public policy.

RW is not "mainstream" Christian.

Sapient: Rick Warren has done some positive things about poverty, AIDS, orphans, etc

Oh yes, those "positive things". Well, if Obama is honoring Rick Warren for that, it's even more worrying:

Ssempa’s stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.

Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who authored the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We’re Losing The Fight Against AIDS In Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria. “Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women,” Epstein said. “He seemed very personally terrified by their presence.”

When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention. Later, Ssempa delivered a keynote address, a speech so stirring it “had the audience on the edge of its seats,” according to Warren’s public relations agency. A year later, Ssempa returned to Saddleback Church to lead another seminar on AIDS.cite

cleek: my argument, that the idea that homosexuality is wrong (etc.) is absolutely in the mainstream of Christian doctrine, and that Lowrey is in the minority, is still solid.

The same would have been true for Christian anti-Semitism in the 1930s.

now_what: If you are the leader of the country where a large number of people have said opinion, maybe you should at least acknowledge the opinion exists.

Until about 1990, a majority of people in the US thought Obama Sr's marriage to Ann Denham was wrong and Barack Obama himself should never have been born. If Obama wants to honor and acknowledge bigots, maybe he should have found a preacher to give the invocation who was on record saying he opposed interracial marriage - like that of Obama's parents. Then Obama could have "reached out" to those people, shown how much he cares for the people who'd spit on him.

On changedotgov the question to Obama "will you abolish Don't Ask Don't Tell?" was selected for an answer recently. It was a single unqualified "Yes!"*
Now the question is, will he get it through congress (or is the policy by executive order?)

*It is at the end of the http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=KrtpMrtnGJU&feature=channel_page>video

Hartmut: On changedotgov the question to Obama "will you abolish Don't Ask Don't Tell?" was selected for an answer recently. It was a single unqualified "Yes!"*

Yes, I know. What most people seem to be overlooking is that Clinton promised he'd abolish discrimination against gays in the military - his solution was "Don't Ask Don't Tell Don't Pursue".

If Obama actually follows through on this, if he gets it done, then I'll cheer. If Obama actually follows through on his committment pre-election to repeal DOMA, then we can all cheer - because at that point all the laws against same-sex marriage recognition are just going to fall over.

But people saying "Don't complain because he wants to reach out to a homophobic bigot who is getting credit for opposing AIDS by his funding of abstinence-only and burning condoms, oh and attacking gay people"... Well, screw that. Obama may have promised he'll do better than Clinton. But in fact, what he's done in inviting Rick Warren suggests otherwise.

We can hope Obama is just ignorant about Rick Warren - didn't bother to look into his work in Africa "against AIDS", just took for granted that it was good: didn't bother to look into his views on same-sex marriage, just took for granted that Warren was normal.

We can always hope. But why cheer Obama for what he hasn't done, and overlook what he has done?

you do realize that thinking homosexuality is immoral, sinful, abominable, dangerous, corrupting, etc., is perfectly normal for a Christian, right ?

Do you think it's a coincidence that all of the most well-known anti-gay Christians pick pedophilia and bestiality to compare homosexuality to? They never compare it to, say, violating the Sabbath, or taking the Lord's name in vain. Why do you suppose that is?

Hint: It's because it's not sufficient for them to identify it as a sin. They also want to sow visceral hatred and disgust to ensure that their congregations and listeners continue to think of homosexuals as more like depraved criminal predators than anything else. Sabbath-violation and name-taking don't quite get them there.

The value of religion as applied to secular issues is problematic at best, but the fact is that Warren has turned his followers' attention away from full-time intolerance to an interest in relieving human suffering is a constructive step. That Obama can receive a blessing from both the religious right and religious left is merely symbolic of his attempt to unify the country toward a common purpose (his own politically more progressive purpose, as it happens).

Despite some of the misinformation to the contrary on this thread, most mainstream American Christian churches still teach that gay sex is wrong. They don't teach that gay people are evil - just that gay people shouldn't have sex. Obviously that isn't a tolerable situation for gay people, but there are a lot of demands that religions make on people that aren't tolerable - that's why there's a separation of church and state. It's when those religious beliefs are made part of the law that things get difficult, but trying to analyze what's "religious" about the law is a more challenging intellectual exercise than most people will admit.

You're right, Phil. The Christian right feels that sexual sins are worse than other sins. And the more likely it is that they themselves will commit the sins they preach against, the more likely they'll put those sins in the "not-so-bad" category. It's hypocrisy and a convenient double standard, but what's new about religious hypocrisy?

Sapient: Despite some of the misinformation to the contrary on this thread, most mainstream American Christian churches still teach that gay sex is wrong. They don't teach that gay people are evil - just that gay people shouldn't have sex.

But they don't teach that LGBT people are like child- or animal- molestors, and they don't actively campaign as churches against the right of same-sex couples to marry, and most of them do, in fact, have LGBT people in their congregation who aren't celibate and don't pretend to be.

In the 1930s, most Christians would have agreed that Jews killed Christ, and mainstream American opinion was generally in favor of discriminating against Jews. (You don't allow them into your clubs, you force Jewish children at public schools to sing Christian carols, etc.) That did not mean that most American Christians were Nazis.

That's a distinction it's important to make, and it's a distinction that people who assert that Rick Warren represents mainstream American Christian opinion about homosexuality/treatment of LGBT people, are blurring - or rather, have had blurred for them by the political forces touting Christianity as anti-gay and the media representation which presents "Christians" and "gays" as in political/moral opposition.

most of them do, in fact, have LGBT people in their congregation who aren't celibate and don't pretend to be.

I'm guessing about this, of course - but more and more these days LGBT people won't "pretend to be celibate" for the sake of social acceptance, unless they have to to keep their jobs. And a significant proportion of the LGBT people I know in the US do go to church, even if not on a regular basis. I'm thinking that if churches these days find they have to specify "We Don't Welcome Gays" on their website (as Pastor Warren's church does) that's probably because, unless made formally unwelcome from the start, more and more LGBT people are just assuming they are welcome to show up and worship and not lie about who their partner is.

"I'm guessing about this, of course"

Yes, you are.

Sapient: Yes, you are.

Got any harder data yourself? No. So?

people who assert that Rick Warren represents mainstream American Christian opinion about homosexuality/treatment of LGBT people

go ahead and look up the official church policies w.r.t. gays for the churches that make up the majority of US Christians. please.

Got any harder data yourself? No. So?

I'm not the one who's making up out of whole cloth the concept that Christian churches in the United States are embracing gay sexuality as an approved lifestyle. Although I think many people who go to church privately believe this, it's not accepted doctrinally in most Christian churches. The United Church of Christ was the first mainstream denomination that affirmatively welcomed gay people. Churches who do this (including, now, some of the Episcopal Church) deserve credit. And people like Obama, who chose an inclusive church for his own family, rather than one that discriminates, deserves credit for doing so. Averring that "of course, most Christians really do welcome gay people because, see - there are a few who can be found in the pews" detracts from the conscious choice of those who refuse to affiliate themselves with a discriminatory institution. It also overstates the particular "evil" of Rick Warren who, like most other Christian pastors, believe that having sex with someone of one's own gender is a sin.

cleek: go ahead and look up the official church policies w.r.t. gays for the churches that make up the majority of US Christians. please.

You really want to believe that all 18 million Baptists in the US (1990 figures) are fervent Nazis with regard to their LGBT neighbors, Cleek?

Or you've just been told by their church leadership (and whatever you've been told, Baptists are not good at obeying the church leadership...) that this is so?

"Until about 1990, a majority of people in the US thought Obama Sr's marriage to Ann Denham was wrong and Barack Obama himself should never have been born."

Wait, what? Is this another typo?

parishioners don't have to abide by anything they don't want to. but this isn't about them. this is about American preachers and what they preach. when a person goes to a Catholic church, they hear Catholic doctrine. when they go to a Baptist church, they hear Baptist doctrine. Methodist, Pentecostal, etc.. preachers deliver that doctrine. Rick Warren is one of them.

Warren's positions can be found anywhere a doctrinaire preacher is preaching the official doctrine of the majority of churches in the US. there is nothing special about his positions. they are the same positions you'll hear anywhere. again, it doesn't matter if people don't follow the doctrine to the letter (in fact, in this case, that's exactly what we hope for). this is about the fact that there's nothing unusual (for a preacher) about Warren's views on this matter. Lowrey is the outlier here, not Warren.

Mainstream Protestant denominations are clearly moving in the direction of supporting gay marriage, though of course there's much internal debate and to a lesser extent that's true of some in evangelical Christianity. I don't think you'll find any denomination endorsing, say, promiscuity or sex outside of a committed long-term relationship (i.e., the equivalent of marriage whether the state calls it that or not). But I started noticing discussions of this issue in the early 90's in the theologically conservative evangelical-type Episcopal church that I was attending at the time and my own change of opinion on this started with those discussions (along with knowing several Christian friends who started coming out of the closet) and for others it started a lot sooner. Even with those of us who were traditionalists, I think it's fair to say that many of us were appalled by people who made a crusade against gay rights a centerpiece of their Christianity--we were like C.S. Lewis in the book Jes cites in thinking that sexual intercourse outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin, but it was far down the list of things that one should get exercised about, and we (the traditionalist that I was back then and people like me) were becoming aware of the fact that the self-righteousness of people with our beliefs caused enormous harm--adolescent suicides for instance. So we might still think that the Bible taught a strict standard on sexual ethics, but we didn't want to be witch-hunters, so to speak. In hindsight I'd say this was part of the evolution towards the stance that our traditional view was just wrong.


This is all anecdotal, but it's been my experience. It could be that people like Warren are polarizing it more. I go to a church now where I think virtually everyone would favor gay marriage.

BTW, though the gay rights and Christianity issue deserves a lot of attention, the original post was about Obama and openness to dissent on economic policy. I would like to see a discussion of that--I agreed with now_what's 2:27 Jan 10 post on this and would have liked to see further discussion in this thread (where it logically belonged), but it didn't happen. Maybe one of the bloggers here could try posting something else on economic policy and it will. (Hint)

What happened?

now_what: maybe you should at least acknowledge the opinion exists.

This is just as off-base as cleek's hypothetical "Should Obama shun a visit from the pope?"

Giving Rick Warren the high honor and visibility of delivering the invocation at his inauguration is doing one hell of a lot more than acknowledging that socially conservative/reactionary opinion exists, or reacting to someone else's initiative.

It is taking an active stand to promote the views -- all the views -- of someone who has promoted inequality and injustice and has done so in a particularly hateful and divisive way. And whose "anti-AIDS work" is fraudulent, hate-promoting, and bogus in many regards. And whose words in favor of environmental justice and against torture are just that -- empty words, signatures on letters followed by no action of any kind.

In short, the next President has gone out of his way to promote a divisive huckster in the guise of "reconciliation". It's a decision his people apparently think was a crafty one, one that they made with very little concern for the reaction of genuinely progressive and moderate Christians and of people strongly committed to human rights and full equality.

I regret that this thread has not dealt with Eric's main point, the actual debate over the stimulus policies, and take my share of the responsibility for that. But the track it took also has a good bit to do with John Cole's offensive dismissal of the reaction to Warren's being given such a prominent honor.

What about gay marriage? (a lost propaganda video from the 1950s)

Brilliant film, Jesurgislac! Thank you!

Thanks, Jesurgislac!

Sometimes, I really hate being right when I'm cynical.

You remember those promises being made post-election, pre-Rick Warren? The civil rights section of the White House website is now de-gayed. versionista cite

Promises are pie-crust.

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Whatnot


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