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April 04, 2009


This is another example in the seemingly endless supply of "poor poor pitiful me" behavior of the right wing. Glenn Greenwald has been all over this lately.

It's Dreher, so the answer is easy: he doesn't think that beliefs differing from his own are valid, or that people who don't share his beliefs are worthy of respect.

Even a moment's consideration of anyone who's not like himself could have informed Dreher that it's absurd to demand protection of his right to abuse others, as if this right were more important than others' right not to be abused.

Take a simple parallel that our society has made real progress on, before it really got around to homosexuality: it's been unacceptable and a violation of legal protections for a Christian employer to harass an employee about their differing religious beliefs for decades. Do these protections make it harder to be a Christian in any way that Dreher would publicly take issue with?

Anonymous Liberal's question is a good one, but there's an even easier one - if Dreher is concerned that it's so terribly difficult to be a Christian in our society, he should consider what it's like to be a non-Christian in our society, and he should particularly consider what it was like just a few decades ago, when religious intolerance was far more common and far more socially acceptable.

I hope and believe that a transition towards a truly pluralist society similar to that which has taken place with respect to religion is occurring for other divisions within our society, including homosexuality. Dreher sees that too, and apparently is scared by it; I propose that it's because he doesn't believe in a pluralist society.

How actively do "public Christians" like Dreher express Christ's teachings on divorce in public and at their jobs? A lot more than the 3% of Americans with minority sexual orientations have not been able to live with that clear instruction.

(I attend a Reconciling In Christ congregation, welcoming gays and lesbians. The sermons I have heard on divorce there tend to focus on compassion for others doing the best that they can in their imperfect lives. I don't understand those who want to express Christianity without a clear focus on compassion.)

Con Law 1: Under the First Amendment, the government may legitimately place TPM restrictions on speech.

No, not Talking Points Memo. Time, Place and Manner.

Time: guess what. you have no right to hold a parade at 3:00 am.

Place: Workplaces are not public fora. You want to stand on a soap box in a public park and bemoan gay marriage, then have at it. Speech rights are subordinated in workplaces to others' rights to be free of harassment.

Manner: Volume controls.

If he really believes that TPM restrictions are unconstitutional, then let me know where he lives and I'll find some german industrial music band to play at over 100 decibels outside his door at 3:00 am. We'll see how quickly he changes his mind.

Dreher's view that it will be 'very hard to be a public Christian' is also, as usual, completely oblivious to actual persecution of Christians (past and present). To whine about the fact that you might, hypothetically, lose your job looks pretty pathetic compared to the dangers and tortures that many Christians have been prepared to undergo because they thought (rightly or wrongly) that they had to speak out or make a stand on a religious matter.

When US Christians face being torn to pieces by wild beasts (or just handed over to their own government to be tortured) then I will start to care about their hardships.

Someday we may read of someone who gets into being trouble for being a public Christian casting money changers out of the temple, or condemning the rich who neglect charity and justice, or something like that, but it's not something I'm holding any breaths for. It seems like for Dreher, the single most important thing he can do as a Christian in a secular society is make sure that I know he hates me. Yay.

Thank you. Wonderful, perceptive post.

As the Iowa Supreme Court pointed out, we let felons and child molesters marry. Do people really think that allowing such people to marry interferes with our ability to disapprove, or express disapproval, of their criminality?

Jesus wept.

Just so I can know what to expect, I would like to know what other things a Public Christian is compelled by the Bible or faith to express in the workplace- abhorrence of poverty, opposition to the death penalty, not working on the Sabbath, mixing cotton and linen, anything else? Is there some ranking system, where hatin' on gays is a perennial #1?

Lucky for me my workplace is teeming with socialist hedonists, so I am sheltered from such suffering.

Public Christian?

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

And (as Magistra is getting at) see Luke 6:22: "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Getting fired from your job for witnessing is supposed to be a feature, not a bug.

Okay, I'm going to offer an attenuated defense of Dreher from a slightly different angle. One can say that believing gay sex is wrong is the sine qua non of the Christian faith, but then, there are Churches tearing themselves apart over this issue, so as you noted, Hilzoy, the notion that Christian=disapproving of teh ghey is not necessarily tenable.

Let's take another religion, then. It's much more widely acknowledged that those Muslims who argue for acceptance of gayness are pretty clearly heterodox or apostate. Once our culture does arrive at the position that gay sex is no different from the heterosexual variety, then someone who is a Muslim is going to very clearly be non-mainstream because even if he's not constantly declaiming against gayness, he's a member of a faith that says that gayness is wrong. His endorsement of that faith is an implicit endorsement of most of the stuff that comes with it (Islam again not having as much of the "Well I'm Catholic but don't believe what the Pope and Magisterium teach..." as Xianity does).

Now, the fact that said Muslim's faith has some articles of it that are held up to ridicule by mainstream culture doesn't necessarily mean that we should go out of our way to keep this Muslim (or his Trinitarian counterpart) happy, but we should at least acknowledge that this discomfort and tension will be there.

There's something else going on here. Dreher's viewpoint is another version of right wing/christian special pleading which moves seemlessly from "we're the majority so our opinions should rule" to "we're the minority so our rights should be respected." We see this time and time again in the myth of "state's rights." When the right wing is out of control of the federal government and judiciary they insist on a "small government" and "state's rights" approach to behaviors or issues which they believe they can get a majority on at the state level. When they are in control of the levers of national power they campaign against expressions of state authority (like legalizing medical marijuana or the right to die or gay marriage) on the grounds that the national majority abhors these things.

Similarly, when Rod imagines "being christian" in "public" he imagines to states of being--christians in positions of power, like business owners, being constrained in who the can rent or sell to by evil minority rights laws. And also, simultaneously, helpless christian minorities in the public sphere and in the private corporate sphere who are not permitted to witness to their co-workers.

Needless to say Rod has no problem with Christian companies and the Salvation Army or the Catholic Church using their leverage over their workers or members or even the non believing public to prosletize and to push their agenda. But he recoils in horror from his imagined atheistical or neutral or pro-gay workplace or government office pushing his imagined "gay agenda"--which, of course, in a form of projection he assumes is the evil twin of Christian prosletization.

But even more to the point Rod, as is typical of the far right which thinks "torture" is a "frat prank" and that rape and torture are just like BDSM between consenting adults, can't grasp the distinction between voluntary and involuntary associations and between public and private settings.

A Business is not a public space. Businesses have routinely done things, because they think them effective for the bottom line, that upset nativists and homophobes. Press 1 for Spanish? Not a government directive just a sensible way of getting Hispanic dollars. Don't insult the gay partner of your client? Not a government directive just a sensible way of running your gay wedding themed floral business.

I have to take issue with Andrew R's assertion that Islam does not have much of a "well, I'm catholic but don't believe what the Pope and the Magesterium says." This is simply wrong. Islam has *much more* room than Catholicism does because it has many more, smaller and less powerful mullahs and imams and because it has a wide range of cultural traditions to work within. The Islam of Wahabi'ism is new and virulent and well established because of Saudi Money. But there have always been other Islams and other Islamic communities--Indonesia on the one hand and Sufi islam on the other for just two examples.



I will plead guilty on simplifying a bit--I was mainly looking for an example that has a different set of immediate associations than Christianity. But the practice of Islamic believers is still more constrained by the Qu'ran/Hadith/Fiqh than that of Christians and the Bible in general and Catholics and their moral theology and canon law in particular.

I can deal with Public Christians*, it's just these Pubic Christians that really get on my nerves.**

* folks that are being Christian in public. Folks that are being christian in public, on the other hand, I quite approve of.

Rod Dreher is a dickhead. Is now, was, and always will be...

This was evident even back in 1984, when he was a student in a journalism/writing class I taught at LSU. He did the minimum amount of work, so I had to pass him.

Sorry. Mea Culpa. I apologize more than I can ever say...

Jesus didn't speak out against homosexuality. Here's an idea for Christians: try emulating Christ once in a while.

"Jesus didn't speak out against homosexuality."

Hence "traditional Christian teachings," which can have basically nothing to do with anything Jesus seems to have taught. Divorce, on the other hand, as Tsam noted . . . but that doesn't let Dreher hate/fear/whatever on a minority group o' people . . .

Fred Clark over at Slactivist has had some recent Left Behind posts that talk about the kind of agressively and lovelessly Public Christianity Dreher's going on about, here, for example.

Aimai, I have one other point on your last post. Dreher has always been strongly opposed to torture by U.S. forces. Don't just assume that Christians or Republicans are all part of a hive mind. (That's something I often do for liberals and leftists, but it's sloppy thinking when I do it).

I don't think anyone has a right to feel "mainstream." They have a right to their religious beliefs and to express those beliefs (subject to TPM restrictions). But if those beliefs are, in fact, out of the mainstream that's just the way it is, unless and until they convince more people to join them in those beliefs.

Some of what's going on with Dreher's position is an attempt, through a combination of finger-in-ear-stuffing and shouting/footstamping to maintain the conviction that we are (in Dreher's narrow and homophobic sense) a "Christian nation"...while at the same time insisting that "public Christians" are an oppressed minority. It's a difficult combination of views to maintain!

His endorsement of that faith is an implicit endorsement of most of the stuff that comes with it.

I don't think this is true. My experience with religious believers in general has been that many don't even know the details of their religion, let alone endorse them. Furthermore, even if a religious believer did believe that same-sex spiritual unions were rejected by God, I don't see what that has to do with civil law: civil marriages do not depend on any religious belief and there is no religion that I'm aware of that endorses the United States government without reservation. I mean, most religious belief systems are phrased in much more abstract terms whose application to modern-day policy questions requires extensive interpretation, a function usually devolved to individual believers.

(Islam again not having as much of the "Well I'm Catholic but don't believe what the Pope and Magisterium teach..." as Xianity does)

My experience has been that there are many Muslims who don't believe or practice large chunks of Islam. Absent supporting evidence, I don't find your claim here plausible.

I didn't say that Dreher was pro torture, or had ever said it was a "frat prank." And I don't think I was accusing the right wing of a "hive mind." But there are consistent tropes on the right, as on the left, that a mutually supportive of each other. One of these, on the far right, is the constant desire to experience life as a victim *and* as a member of a triumphant majority and to represent every legal or policy battle as a life or death struggle between right thinkers and wrong thinkers. Dreher is firmly in that category of propagandist although he may wander off the field occasionally on individual topics. He's not a "crunchy con" for nothing. But in the main, the con takes precedence over any kind of fellow feeling with other crunchy types. So it is with his desire to attack gays publicly as a christian. I, for one, have no doubt that Rod never took a public stand on anything that would have been socially awkward. He's too big a moral and emotional coward.

Be that as it may there is no doubt that Rod's argument style which ranges from Christian triumphalist hostility to non christians to whining cries of victimization is extremely characteristic of Republican arguments over the last fifteen years. And that is because, as someone pointed out up above, Fred Clark's series at Slactivist on the Left Behind stuff is so important. There are certain basic ideas at stake in the Christian/Right wing imaginary that lead them to make these otherwise nutty assumptions and that come out in their arguments. Its not a "hive mind" is a common background and orientation, shared reading material and well worked grievance muscles.


Dreher cites an Ohio State incident, accepting uncritically the account of it from the Alliance Defense Fund. It conveniently omits several facts. First, when the librarian proposed the book he coupled it with the suggestion that the book selection committee should consider a freshman book that was not "in line with University Human Resources policies." Second, when one of the openly gay members of the committee wrote to object to this suggestion, the librarian forwarded his e-mail to an outside right-wing watchdog group, with the predictable result of flooding the professor's in-box with the filthiest imaginable (sometimes barely literate) messages. Third, despite the fact that the university long ago dismissed the allegation against him, the librarian is continuing to sue both individual professors (one of whom is now deceased) and the upper administration of Ohio State. As Dreher says, "you might call it harassment."

Two points.

(1) to Andrew R: I agree that there may be some problems reconciling acceptance of homosexuality with (some) Islamic faith. You might also mention other religions, including of course Dreher's and other folks' right-wing Christianity. But that's not going to be a new thing! It's a conflict or a tension that's just inherent in the world. The question is going to be how to live with the tension. So far we've lived with the tension by stigmatizing homosexuality. Once we stop stigmatizing homosexuality maybe that will lead to a stigma attaching to the types of religion that find homosexuality abhorrent. But I don't see any other options.

(2) Not exactly on topic, but I've been trying to find a place to make this point so here goes. In one way, the argument for gay marriage is *stronger* than the argument for interracial marriage. Gays are inherently only attracted to people of the same sex, so denying same-sex marriage inherently denies them the chance to marry someone they want to be with. I've never heard anyone claim that they could *only* be attracted to someone of a different race. So denying interracial marriage does not deny the possibility of marriage to any specific person: just to specific couples. But our Constitution guarantees rights to individuals rather than to couples.

If Loving v Virginia was rightly decided, which of course it was, then the new Iowa case is even more of a slam dunk.

Andrew: It's much more widely acknowledged that those Muslims who argue for acceptance of gayness are pretty clearly heterodox or apostate.

A couple of years ago I attended a one-day class given by a Muslim who has built up a consultancy business providing Islam awareness training to companies and government agencies that employ or provide services to Muslims. Most of the people attending this particular class were lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and the Muslim knew it. (He had had several protests, he told us, from other Muslims employed by his business and from his family, about giving this class to us at all: but he felt - and had got the others to agree - that it was better to talk to us than to ignore us.)

It was an interesting day, in all senses of the word, and I certainly learned a lot - but two things seem relevant.

One: the practice of Islam, the instructor said, is culturally determined. If a Muslim has a query about the correct thing to do with regard to their religion, they go to the imam of their mosque: and an imam becomes an authority by decades of learning from another imam or imams. (There is no such thing as a young imam.) In the UK at least (I don't know if this is true of the US) because of the patterns of immigration, there is no such thing as an imam who was born in the UK - there are British-born Muslims who are in training to be imams, but they won't become accepted authorities for twenty or more years. So, the instructor pointed out: when a Muslim asks an imam about how they should react to something like homosexuality, or a grandchild born out of wedlock, the answer they get will be an answer culturally determined by the imam's background - from Pakistan, or Bangladesh, or India. (In the UK, these are the most likely places from which an imam will have come to be the guide at a British mosque.)

As for what British Islam will be like, the instructor said: we don't yet know, we will begin to find out when the first British-born imams beome authorities at British mosques and begin their own training of other British-born Muslims. Cultural change within Islam exists, but it is generations slow.

I'm passing on what I remember the instructor said, obviously - but this made sense to me. There exists an organisation for LGBT Muslims - based in London, it has members all over the UK. A great deal was made of Iqbal Sacranie's insult to LGBT people, a few years ago; less was made when Muhammad Abdul Bari, his successor in the MCB, apologized. The media loves to present "religious people" and "gay activists" as intrinsically in opposition, and presenting Muslims as automatically homophobic allows a tabloid story to press both the Islamophobic and the homophobic button.

Two: the rule of Islamic marriage is that what goes on in the marital bedroom is private - which could be used, the instructor said, to argue that if two men or two women are lawfully married, their Muslim community has no business inquiring into what the two of them do in the privacy of their bedroom. (He admitted that the kind of generational cultural change he was talking about would be required to get to that point - my guess is, imams who were born in the 1980s or 1990s, who take for granted that of course civil partnership exists, which would put this change to the 2040s or 2050s.)

FWIW, anyway.

Jes: that's fascinating. -- In my limited experience of Pakistan, the very idea of accepting gay people -- if this means not just personal acceptance, but support for any kind of public anything -- is very limited. When I was teaching there, one of the people doing the teaching was a generally wonderful, open-minded, fascinating, intellectually curious person, and (like everyone I met there) very devoutly Muslim.

At one point, apropos the difference between Muslim and Western values, he said something like: I don't think they can be as different as people sometimes think. Surely, even gay people must know that what they are doing is wrong; they just can't help it. Now: I was trying to be on my best behavior, as a guest in their country, and on my first trip there to boot, plus I was rather acutely aware of being an American who might seem to be lecturing people on morality from an imagined position of superiority, and was trying very hard not to seem that way. Plus, of course, I did not particularly want to discuss sexuality in front of a very devout audience without some good reason.

Nonetheless, I thought: I cannot not say anything here. So I just said: that's not right. There are people in the US who think it's wrong, but there are also people who think it's not -- not that gay sex cannot be wrong in any situation (as straight sex can be), but that it is not wrong per se.

Most of the people there -- at any rate, the ones who had not traveled to the US or Europe -- were genuinely amazed. This was not a possibility that had crossed their minds.

Everyone here has done a nice job summing up the various ethical and logical inconsistencies/outrages in Mr. Dreher's position. His argument is incoherent for an additional reason: more than a full third of the states already have laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.

His chief concern appears to be this: if more courts continue to give constitutional protection to homosexuality, eventually, nice christians like him and his buddies are going to run the risk of being fired (if they are employees) or sued (if they own a business) for expressing that their religion doesn't recognize marriage between people of the same gender. But this is already the case in almost half the states. The floodgates, as it were, opened long ago. The poor man appears to have little idea how far behind some parts of the county have left his stone-age thoughts on morality.

A related thought: Even in the states that offer the kind of protection of which Mr. Dreher is so terrified, simply saying you're uncomfortable with a certain category of people does not expose you to any legal sanctions. There is little chance for a successful lawsuit unless someone goes out of his or her way to make life miserable for a homosexual (or black, or central american, or old) man or woman, or fires that man or woman *explicitly because* he or she is a homosexual (or black, or central american, or old). Employees usually get bounced out of court if all they can show is that they worked with or were fired by someone who had, at various times, expressed discomfort with a category of people to which the employee belongs. Courts repeatedly say, much to the chagrin of plaintiffs' attorneys, that the discrimination laws are not "civility codes." Even if the Iowa decision (and all the decisions that, hopefully, fall in line with it) leads the last 2/3 of the nation to adopt similar laws, the situation for Mr. Dreher and his Christian soldiers is not nearly so dire as he imagines.
(Unless they are worried that they won't be able to fire the queer guy anymore because he grosses them out, or harass and embarrass the lesbian in the next cube so badly and repeatedly that she quits her job because she can't bear to show her face anymore. In which case, shame on Mr. Dreher and company.)

It's interesting to hear Mr. Dreher and his friends compare their own distaste for homosexuality to racism (though, of course, they do so to highlight how unfair it is that they are being treated like those nasty racists). It's almost as if part of their brains are trying to warn them about the ugliness of their views.

In case anyone is interested, the following states (perhaps a partial list) already prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in employment: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.


@ hilzoy:

I think your anecdote from Pakistan illustrates the fundamental problem (IMHO, anyway) of dealing with "gay" issues as they relate to the social/political/legal structure of the (any) larger society. And whether that society is structured via the precepts of fundamentalist Christianity or orthodox Islam (the two aren't so different), one common factor comes into play.

The notion that homosexuality itself actually IS "wrong" per se is one that is deeply ingrained in the cultural matrix of society (sadly, most societies); thus, gay issues can be - and usually are, by homophobes - framed as a "moral" (vs. a strictly "legal" or "political") matter - which limits the nature of the argument from the get-go.

One of the commenters on A.L.'s previous thread made the case succinctly (if rather whinily) - griping that, under Iowa's new interpretation of the law, a County Clerk would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, regardless of his/her "moral" objections: a scenario that the commenter seemed to consider a horrendous affront to "freedom of religion" for some reason.

Now a considered argument could be made that "freedom of religion" and "freedom to discriminate based on religious grounds" are not the same concept - but to one (whether in Dubuque or Dhaka) whose worldview demands a society (including its legal and political norms) structured by religiously-informed doctrine, said argument may not get much traction.

One of the commenters on A.L.'s previous thread made the case succinctly (if rather whinily) - griping that, under Iowa's new interpretation of the law, a County Clerk would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, regardless of his/her "moral" objections...

And I still wonder, echoing other comments already made in this thread, why this is different from a Catholic County Clerk having to issue marriage licenses to anyone previously divorced.

Jay C: In most jobs that involve interaction with the public, you are required to serve members of the public even if you personally disagree with what they are doing. If you are a waitress, you do not get to refuse service to people think are objectionable. If you are a 911 operator, you do not get to not take calls from people you think are heretics or apostates. If you are a school bus driver, you do not get to refuse to drive the bullies.

I fail to see why marriage license issuers are different -- except in that their employer is the government, which presumably gives them an extra special reason to serve all the people who have met the legal requirements to get a marriage license.

"If you are a waitress, you do not get to refuse service to people think are objectionable."

In practice, you do. You can't do it consistently to a prohibited category of people is what I think you may mean. But individuals get turned away from, or asked to leave, dining establishments all the time.

"If you are a school bus driver, you do not get to refuse to drive the bullies."

I'm not so sure of that one, either.

"If you are a 911 operator, you do not get to not take calls from people you think are heretics or apostates."

That one's true, although there have been occasional scandals at times of operators turning away people they interpreted as rude, who were having genuine emergencies.

Oh for god's sake--South asian and specifically muslim societies are not anti "gay sex" they are anti gay sex where the persons involved identify as gay and want gay rights. "There is a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach/but alas I cannot swim" is an Afghan poem. Sex with boys, and sex between boys, is a natural outcome of the kind of repressive attitudes towards sex with women that certain pre-islamic and modern islamic societies foster. The very high level of cultural and biological bigotry--in the sense of utter willful ignorance of world history, other cultures, and the polite insistence on social fictions in re their own history and culture is a feature of many societies. When we marvel at the ignorance of average americans about, say, Europe you can just double, triple, and quadruple that ignorance when it comes to nice muslims we are meeting in Lahore or Afghanistan. The view from within a strict muslim society is very, very, very narrow and almost comically cut off from reality. I well remember reading a pathetic, pseudo scientific defence of the very important religious belief that the Qu'ran was written in Arabic (and must remain in Arabic) because "that is god's own language." How do we know that? Because Arabic, we were told, has a word for everything while other languages frequently lack words that are necessary for things. For example--the little bitty bit at the top of your lip? There's an arabic word for that but not in English (the author thought). Well, Q.E.D.

My point is not to rag on muslims or other cultures but simply to say that the high visible social status of "gayness" as a threat is, to my mind, very much a modern phenomenon associated with the fact that gay sex is no longer the privilege of young men in groups or old guys over their subordinates but now an expression of western values like equality and freedom. Lesbians and Gays are coming to stand for a breach in local, authoritarian protocol and so they get hammered *just like other perceived vectors of change.* Sometimes its "the Chinese" or "the Jews" and right now its "the Gays."


aimai is aof course completely correct. The idea that Muslim societies "all" or "always" condemned homosexual behavior is clearly absurd. See, for instance, folio 58b/59a in the Freer's "Haft Awrang", in which a Sufi (dervish) -- that is, a practicing holy man -- falls in love with a young man, who scorns him but is eventually redeemed by the purity of the Sufi's devotion. Contrast that with folio 29b/30a, where a man caught in flagrante with a camel is berated by Satan himself.

I'm not saying that hilzoy's Pakistani informants were *lying* to her, exactly -- but I don't think they were telling the truth to themselves, either. I am forcefully reminded of how there is no cannibalism in the British Navy. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit.

It kind of goes along with Colin Powell saying "America does not torture", doesn't it?

Umm, hilzoy: Re my 1:44 comment: just to clarify: I wasn't defending any perceived "right" of government employees to refuse parts of their jobs on religious objections: I was just using that comment from A.L.'s thread as an example. An example, IMO, of the sort of self-pitying bogus-victimization tropes all too common when homophobic "public Christians" have to come face to face with their prejudices.

Personally, I feel a county employee who refuses to perform the normal and legal functions (regardless of their "moral" standing) of their position ought to be either fired or transferred - and if they complain, be given a denominationally-appropriate tract on the virtues of martyrdom.

In a former workplace, we did have a devout fundamentalist Christian who believed she had to "witness" to the point of telling co-workers (repeatedly) that the sins they were committing would send them to hell. The "sins" seemed mostly to be of a sexual nature. Since I was co-habiting at the time, I was a favorite target.

She took the words of Jesus forbidding divorce and remarriage seriously, and told all the remarried people they should get a second divorce and return to their former spouses! (Which I hold was to her credit- it really annoys me that religious conservatives quote the Bible about homosexuality while giving Newt Gringrich, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani a pass.)

The issue did come to HR's attention, and she was told that she could witness to her principles in the abstract, but could not confront an individual co-worker about the co-worker's life.

I suspect gay marriage would be handled exactly the same way.

The divorce point is strong in my view. In raw numbers, divorce -- and any number of other things -- that violate Christian doctrine (or what it means to many; the show 7th Heaven repeatedly spoke against premarital sex) is recognized as legal or even of constitutional dimension.

Why is homosexual marriage, or even homosexuality, which in raw numbers occurs much less often (and still is opposed by many more than some of the other stuff) treated with such special pleading?

Even if you define "Christian" in some special way, the argument is simply bogus.

I have to admit, the determination of the nutcase Christian right to take jobs they have moral objections to performing baffles me.

Jobs require people to perform certain tasks. If you have a moral objection to doing them, then you don't take that job. How many Hindu butchers do we hear whining about how they have to kill cattle? How many Quaker soldiers do we hear whining about how they have to bomb people? How many Hassidic construction workers do we hear whining about how they have to operate a forklift on a Saturday? If your religion prohibits you form referring someone to an abortion clinic/dispensing contraceptives/registering gay marriages, don't become a doctor/pharmacist/marriage clerk! You shouldn't take a job you're unwilling to perform. This isn't religious discrimination, it's basic common sense.

As to Christian/Muslim discomfort with homosexuality- isn't this just a component of the real problem, which is that other people aren't the correct brand of Christian/People of the Book? Homosexuality is a symptom, not the disease- the gays aren't damned because they're gay, they're damned because they haven't accepted the teachings of Fred Phelps/Mohammed.

If the tolerance of religious diversity is going to make you uncomfortable, it seems to me the U.S. is really not the right country for you and you should start looking into alternatives. I hear Saudi Arabia is nice this time of year. I'm not sure where the Christians should go; Brazil is looking a little too liberal lately. Maybe northern Uganda?

Jesus didn't speak out against homosexuality. Here's an idea for Christians: try emulating Christ once in a while.

I don't think that's such a good idea. Christ was not particularly tolerant, forgiving or kind - at least not as reported in the gospels.

It appears increasingly that those who decry gay marriage are not primarily motivated by Christian (or other religious) principals or doctrine. They are using the doctrine of religion to justify their very personal panic over a particular behavior. That's why they don't get equally exercised about divorce or clothing made from mixed fibers or any other religious stricture. Religion isn't the reason for their objection, it is the justification for it.

Now we can no doubt come up with a nice analysis for why a particular individual actually has an objection to homosexuality. But the reasons are actually irrelevant. It seems sufficient to simply note that they are not, really, religiously based. And then ignore all of the "freedom of religion" blather on the subject.

To do so would be to set yourself up for hostile work environment challenges, including dismissal from your job, and generally all the legal sanctions that now apply to people who openly express racist views.

He's drawing a distinction where there not only isn't one, there's an identity. Racism was inseparable from conservative religious practice, time out of mind. But after WW2, and with the civil rights revolution, mainstream faiths (I'm talking about a wide river here, including the Southern Baptists and the Mormons) yielded to essentially secular public pressure, and quit openly professing segregationism. This is exactly what will happen with gay equality as well.

muslim societies are not anti "gay sex" they are anti gay sex where the persons involved identify as gay and want gay rights. "There is a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach/but alas I cannot swim" is an Afghan poem. Sex with boys, and sex between boys, is a natural outcome of the kind of repressive attitudes towards sex with women...

Most gays I know are not pro-pedophilia. An interest in statutory rape does not indicate tolerance for most forms of homosexuality even without a demand for civil rights attached.

Christ was not particularly tolerant, forgiving or kind - at least not as reported in the gospels.

Yet these modern self-described followers still insist on acting like the people Jesus was said to have condemned (of course the Pharisees were the competing major sect at the time Judaism was splitting apart, so the gospel reports about this are not exactly reliable). Jesus was inclusive, something these folks are not.

Crafty trilobite,
I did not imply, nor mean to imply, that gay sex was pedophilic but that sexual relations in an authoritarian culture follow typical authoritarian patterns. Older men get their pick of younger women *and* younger men. Boys (unmarried men, that is, of all ages) are permitted or encouraged to engage in sexual acts with each other, or with suitable older men, until they can gain sexual access to an actual wife.


Jesus was inclusive, something these folks are not.

"The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned" does not strike me as very inclusive. Neither does, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel".

But after WW2, and with the civil rights revolution, mainstream faiths (I'm talking about a wide river here, including the Southern Baptists and the Mormons) yielded to essentially secular public pressure, and quit openly professing segregationism.

Well, yes, as long as we remember that "after" is unlimited. It took quite a while for this to happen. We should hope that acceptance of gay equality is quicker.

Spearmint: I have to admit, the determination of the nutcase Christian right to take jobs they have moral objections to performing baffles me.

Reminds me of a certain Terry Pratchett character:

At the next desk, a tired dwarf was arguing with a vampire. 'Look,' he said, 'it's not murder. You're dead already, right?'
'He stuck them right into me!'
'Well, I've been down to interview the owner of the plant and he says it was an accident. he said he's got nothing against vampires at all. He says he was merely carrying the box of HB Eraser Tips and tripped on the edge of your cloak.'
'I don't see why I can't work where I like!'
'Yes . . . but in a pencil factory?'

- Terry Pratchett, "Feet of Clay"

The corporal manning -- or in this case dwarfing -- the desk was having trouble.
'Again? how many times have you been killed this week?'
'I was just minding my own business!' said the unseen complainer.
'Stacking garlic? You're a vampire, aren't you? I mean, lets see what jobs you've been doing . . . Post sharpener for a fencing farm, sunglass tester for Argus Opticians . . . It is me, or is their some underlying trend here?'
- Terry Pratchett, "Feet of Clay"

The troll turned back to address a worried-looking monk in a brown cassock. 'And?' he said.
'Best if he tells it himself,' said the monk. 'I only work on the next bench.' He put a small jar of dust on the desk. It had a bow tied around it.
'I want to complain most emphatically,' said the dust in a shrill voice. 'I was working five minutes, then splash. It's going to take me days to get back into shape!'
'Working where?' said the troll.
'Nonesuch Ecclastical Supplies,' said the worried monk, helpfully.
'Holy water section,' said the vampire.
- Terry Pratchett, "Feet of Clay"

I like how he threw in a mysteriously anonymous lawyer to give his blatherings that little bit of faux credibililty. Of course, it's a non sequitur. Some guy whined about how same-sex marriage is going to make it even harder to spew bigotry unchallenged. Who cares if he has a JD?

So I take it these douchebags currently spend a lot of time telling their out co-workers that they're sinners? No, of course not. The whole argument is typically douchey slippery-slope titty-baby ressentiment-based BS.

It has always seemed to me that conservative christians are remarkably selective in their choices of things to condemn. If, for example, you take the commandments which we are told are the foundation of judaeo christian morality, these is no condemnation of any form of homosexual behaviour (unless you misread coveting your neighbour's ass) but adultery is quite clearly there. Homosexuality is called an abomination in leviticus (and obiter dicta in a couple of the epistles) along with eating pork, shellfish and wearing garments of mixed fibres. Yet Mr Dreher and his ilk find that they cannot tolerate homosexuality which, from the bible's moral teachings, seems to be a lesser sin than adultery. Surely a case of double-think?

From Dreher's piece, an excerpt from the court's decision:

Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.

Dreher's response:

Translation: even if nobody thinks these rights exist, but we do, we have a responsibility to declare that they exist.

To which I reply, yes Rod, that's exactly f*ing right. Except in real life, Rod's "nobody" needs to be read as "nobody like me".

In my very humble opinion, the issue for most "public Christians" who have a problem with gays is that gay people just make them uncomfortable, so they'd like to make them go away.

I wish those folks would just own and deal with their own damned sh*t and stop making life hard for other people.

BTW, all should check out Anonymous Liberal's Update to his original post.

Wherein a right-wing blogger responds to A.L.'s purported charge of self-righteous faux-victimization over gay-marriage issues with - wait for it - more self-righteous faux-victimization! What a surprise!

Although "The Other McCain" does, IMO, make plain what I have always thought is the real issue: i.e. it is the appearance of official public "acceptance" of homosexuality that's the rage-making point: the niceties of state laws or "marriage" definitions are just perpheralities.

"Translation: even if nobody thinks these rights exist, but we do, we have a responsibility to declare that they exist."

Which oddly enough echoes, in a strange inverted and uncharitable way, exactly what Dreher & Friends are saying, no? - how they feel a responsibility to declare, etc.

I'm coming around to the 'there's a part of Dreher's subconscious frantically trying to get his attention' theory (Moundie 2009).

woody: "so I had to pass him.

Sorry. Mea Culpa. I apologize more than I can ever say..."

As a professor, and recognizing that you were probably kidding, the idea of apologizing for passing a student who did the work, and apologizing on ideological grounds, bothers me a lot. We just shouldn't do that.

"lawyer said that as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then "it will be very hard to be a public Christian." By which he meant to voice support, no matter how muted, for traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and marriage. "

All this shows is that the speaker has 1) no real idea of what it menas to be a Christian as evidenced by his refenrence to 2) being a "public Christian (WTF?) and furthermore 3)no real idea of what Jesus or Paul for that matter taught about marriage - don't do it except as a way to avoid fornication and if you do break down and have to get married, it has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.

"It appears increasingly that those who decry gay marriage are not primarily motivated by Christian (or other religious) principals or doctrine. They are using the doctrine of religion to justify their very personal panic over a particular behavior."

Bingo. Panic or paganism. All their positions on marriage are actually pagan.

"Rod Dreher is a dickhead. Is now, was, and always will be..."

Close. What you meant to say was:

Rod Dreher is a dickhead. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

The key is expressing wild opinions at work instead of doing your job. But with Rod, expressing his opinion on any and everything IS his job. He's a commentator, that's what he does, and that makes him hypersensitive.

But he forgets that what applies to him, in terms of on-the-job mouthing off, does not apply to an auto mechanic.

What is even stranger: Rod's discomfort with homosexuality is feigned. So much so that it almost rises to the level of the demonstrably true.

Rod and I attended a residential high school in Louisiana. He was one of my best friends. In a school like that, where you're kept on such a tight leash, you really get to know your friends. You're locked in together at night, you go away on weekends trips together, you are always in each other's company. I got to know his family and he got to know mine.

When we were 16, Rod was one of the first people I told I was gay. Rod was a self-described screaming liberal and was more than supportive.

As high school guys do, we talked about sex frankly. He never displayed the least bit of discomfort, and we went into the usual, American-Pie level of detail.

We kept in touch after high school. I started to hear rumors some kind of conservative conversion but found it hard to believe.

Then I read a review he had written about a gay-themed movie. Suddenly he's claiming that the mild, r-rated gay sex scenes made him cringe.


That's simply dishonest. Rod and I went to mardi gras together. We stayed in my parents apartment in the Quarter and hit all the gay bars all night long.

During Mardi Gras, guys are having sex all around you. Didn't bother Rod a bit.

(Please, do not read here that I'm suggesting it should have bothered him.)

So I've seen him watch a lot of actual gay sex, in very good spirits. We hung out for hours and hours in places where this was going on.

But then, at the beginning of his career as a right-wing journalist, he plays the blushing puritanical boy? As in "gross man, those guys are doing it!"

Of course you could say this is exactly the kind of "decadence" he came to hate. Maybe.

It always seems strange, though; forced. But that's not really my point.

He cannot claim to be a cringing naif, someone who could be so deeply disturbed by a mainstream movie.

Chimes at midnight.

We haven't spoken since a mutual friend found out that Rod had actually voted for George Bush. Customarily, quite a few of us would spend the weekend together at this friend's house. His vote for Bush was enough of a shock to us that it fell apart. Imagine that: being shocked that Rod voted for Bush.

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