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July 26, 2010

Comments

Before I get side tracked, Eric your point on honor killings is taken.

And I agree further that the vast majority of Christians in the US who opposed gay marriage does so on religious grounds--a position I oppose here and, more importantly, where and when doing involves paying a price,.

What is problematical is the ease by which Jes, for example, makes an overly broad and incorrect statement about Christians, which if made about Muslims, would have brought about the virtual equivalent of a biblical stoning. Yet, no one says a word.

The second problematical issues is the hyper-defensiveness to any question being raised about Islam, which produces all kinds of mind reading, imputation of bad motive, etc.

The third issue is the speed and thoughtlessness with which supposedly tolerant and thoughtful liberals throw out the "bigot", "racist", "homophobe" label, effectively bringing any reasonable discourse to an end.

Self-righteousness hypocrisy is hardly the province of the religious right. It is far from isolated on the left.

Jes, for example, makes an overly broad and incorrect statement about Christians, which if made about Muslims, would have brought about the virtual equivalent of a biblical stoning. Yet, no one says a word.

Really? Where did I make this statement? Quote and cite, or apologize and retract.

The third issue is the speed and thoughtlessness with which supposedly tolerant and thoughtful liberals throw out the "bigot", "racist", "homophobe" label, effectively bringing any reasonable discourse to an end.

Speed? Thoughtlessness? McKinney, I am 43 years old, I have been encountering bigoted homophobia since before I came out, which was 26 years ago. I was reading headlines in the tabloid press about the "gay plague" back when I had a paper route.

Your presumption that I identify homophobia too fast is unbelievably arrogant. I identify homophobia fast because I've have over a quarter of a century of practice. You haven't, because you have had no reason to develop this level of expertise.

Trying to claim that when homophobic bigotry is publicly identified as such this "brings reasonable discourse to an end" is on the level of the mostly-Christian bigots who object to having homophobia identified as such because they want to believe that thinking LGBT people are inferior and can be denied civil and human rights is normal.

The third issue is the speed and thoughtlessness with which supposedly tolerant and thoughtful liberals throw out the "bigot", "racist", "homophobe" label, effectively bringing any reasonable discourse to an end.

Oh, boy, this one never gets old. "If you guys are so tolerant, how come you don't tolerate bigotry? Huh? Huh? Answer me that, Mr. Tolerance?" I'd expect that from a 6-year-old or someone with an IQ somewhere south of 100. You're allegedly a very successful and wealthy attorney. Do better.

If you can't see the inherent problem with a current lieutenant governor, and possible future governor, picking on a religious minority and suggesting they be stripped of their Constitutional rights for no good reason, and think it's no worse than someone whose real name we don't even know (but almost certainly is not an MP) picking on Christians, on the Internet, I just don't know what to say.

What is problematical is the ease by which Jes, for example, makes an overly broad and incorrect statement about Christians,

Wait, I'll accept overly broad -- certainly the Episcopal church in the US, and other Protestant denominations, do pretty well on LGBT issues -- but what did she say that was incorrect? To the extent that Christians do express anti-gay attitudes, those attitudes are based in Leviticus. They certainly can't point to any New Testament justification for it.

The second problematical issues is the hyper-defensiveness to any question being raised about Islam,

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Iran is supposed to be a pretty good model of how Islam works in a modern country. In Iran it was not only legal for the government to kill you just for being gay, but they actually did it as recently as this year.

WE. DON'T. LIVE. IN. IRAN.

Or Saudi Arabia. Or Yemen. Or Afghanistan. Or Pakistan. Or Somalia.

We live here.

The Iranians who want to live in an Islamic theocratic state tend to stay in Iran.

The ones who come here are the ones who don't.

McKT:

Which statement of Jes's was overly broad and incorrect about Christians and would incite "the virtual equivalent of a biblical stoning" if made about Muslims? I can't tell if I agree with you unless I know, and she's made a lot of statements.

Arguments have been made repeatedly about why your mention of Islam was reasonably construed as meaning that Islam was at risk of conflicting with the Constitution MORE than other religions which are practiced in the U.S. If you didn't read HSH's 10:18 comment, I'm quoting it here:

"You've said, McKinney, that your point wasn't that there was something special about Islam or Muslims with regard to our constitutional protections of freedom of religion, but it certainly could have been taken that way. The most obvious reason to bring up Muslims in particular when the protections apply to all religions is to point out that there is something special or different or unique about Muslims with regard to constitutional protections.

Let's say we're at a party and everyone is wearing red. If I start going on about how much nerve it takes for Eric Martin to be wearing red (Eric the Red, heh), despite that fact that everyone is wearing red, wouldn't you think I might have something against Eric that I don't have against everyone else. And if you pointed out that everyone else was also wearing red, would that then make you a hypocrite (because, supposedly, you were acting just like I was)?"

Rather than accusing us of hyper-defensiveness, mind-reading, and imputing bad-faith, can you please respond to the above analogy? Do you think the analogy is not, in fact, analogous? Why not?

So I would say on balance, if you're gay and want to live even marginally out of the closet, living in one of the modern Christian countries is likely much safer than living in the modern Islamic ones.

I think this is true, with the one caveat that when you say "Christian countries" you mean countries with a predominately Christian population. In which case, Turkey is as much a Muslim country as any of those. But you are right that it is shifting.

Eric the Red, heh

Incorporate into my email addy in honor of my Swedish grandfather ;)

Jes is in bold and I am in italics:

For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like

I put it to everyone here: isn't this a very broad and possibly bigoted over-generalization? Stumped by this one? I'll rewrite the quote, For Muslims, the commandments of the Koran are primarily used as a stick to beat people Muslims don't like.

Had I written about Muslims what Jes wrote about Christians, I would have been excoriated, and rightly so.

I decline to retract. It's fair comment. More than fair.

HSD requoted, in part, by Julian:

The most obvious reason to bring up Muslims in particular when the protections apply to all religions is to point out that there is something special or different or unique about Muslims with regard to constitutional protections.

No, as I said somewhere up there, I brought up Islam because that was the topic raised by Eric's post. Also, here is what I said that got this s**tstorm started, "raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game. Freedom to believe is virtually unlimited, not so freedom to act on those beliefs. Honor killings, the role of women, polygamy, etc. are all within Islam, or subsets thereof.

Ok, nothwithstanding that Eric has clubbed me a half dozen times over honor killings, the sentence, even with that one distinction, the context was simply raising the question of the free exercise clause being fair game. It certainly does not imply that the free exercise clause would apply only to Islam.

If this is going on and on about Islam, when the topic of Islam is exactly what was raised by the post, then I guess I just don't know the rules around here.

My follow on comments were in direct response to questions/challenges deriving from what is quoted above. Julian, it was you who said much earlier that I was afraid of Muslims coming to the US. Where did I say that?

Jes, a life of putting up with homophobes cannot have been anything but awful. That doesn't make everyone who disagrees with you a homophobic bigot.

No, as I said somewhere up there, I brought up Islam because that was the topic raised by Eric's post.

Er, the real topic of Eric's post was, "Does the GOP have an anti-Muslim bigot problem?" To wit:

Yet another example of stark anti-Muslim bigotry from high ranking Republican Party officials . . . side from the sheer ugliness of the bigotry on display here, this cheap demagoguery is actually counterproductive in terms of weakening al-Qaeda and other extremists groups that pervert Islam. Not to mention that such a blithe disregard to a fundamental Constitutional protection is alarming in its own right.

You were the only person who jumped in to say, "Hey, maybe this Ramsey dude has a point here!"

And you did so in the context of:

a) Bringing up the irrelevant matter of how Islam is practiced in places other than the US.

b) Being the first person to bring up Christianity, and getting a slam in on "progressives" whilst doing so.

c) Definitely trying to contrast Islam and its First Amendment implications vis a vis other religions: Referring to anyone's religion as a cult is bad manners . . . That said, raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game. Yes, Eric's post was "about" Islam (because that's where GOP bigotry is directed!), but it would have cost you nothing to say, "Referring to anyone's religion is a cult is bad manners, but that said, raising the question of whether particular religious practices fall under the 'free exercise' clause is fair game." Deliberately or not, your comment was phrased in such a way as to call out Islam uniquely as having First Amendment implications that other religions don't.

d) Implying that "the left" doesn't care about Constitutional protections anyway, because here's some irrelevant crap!

e) Saying, once again, that maybe Ramsey has a point. ("Perhaps one person blithe disregard is another's careful discernment.")

I mean, if that's where you want to hang your hat, OK, fine, but that does nothing to disabuse me of the notion that Eric's got the GOP pretty well nailed; nor that you believe Islam presents unique First Amendment challenges.

If high-up elected GOP members and candidates had been in the habit of exhibiting anti-Semitic bias in recent years, and Eric came in here to post about some ugly comments a gubernatorial candidate made about Jews and how maybe Judaism shouldn't be considered a religion at all, would you have jumped in to say, "Hey, maybe he's got a point. Judaism as practiced by the Orthodox has a lot of First Amendment implications!"

Answer honestly.

But, McKinney, the topic involved Islam because the topic was a bigotted statement a standing lieutenant governor and leading gubenatorial candiate made.

When you then comment that his comment was partly right or almost right in that Muslims might try to do stuff that goes against our laws, thereby raising 1st Amendment issues, and you are then challenged by others who note that those issues are really no different for Muslims than they are for any other religious adherents, you don't say, "Well, yeah, that's true. I didn't mean to say that Islam was any different."

Instead, you go on about all the ways Islam around the world is practiced radically and in ways that violate human rights and that it is adopted by oppressive governments as a state religion. But you can't imagine why that would imply that you thought Islam was different from all the other religions protected under the free-exercise clause. Are you just playing games, or what?

Maybe your bolded comment above, which you think was innocuous enough, started this whole thing, but you could have ended it rather quickly by clarifying it right away instead of writing a bunch of stuff that kept everyone arguing against something you later claimed you didn't really mean. Now we're rehashing the whole thing in meta-space, arguing about the argument instead of having the argument.

McKinney: For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like

Which particular commandments of Leviticus are you asserting are routinely used for any other purpose by Christians?

Chapters 1-10 and 16 of Leviticus consist entirely of commandments with regard to the making of offerings at the alter, procedure thereof. Chapter 11 of Leviticus is a list of animals that observant Jews may not eat: Chapter 17 is instruction on how to kill clean animals properly. Chapter 12 of Leviticus is instructions for circumcision and offerings to be made by a woman after childbirth. Chapters 13-14 are instructions about identifying leprosy. Chapter 15 is instruction about the uncleanness of discharges from the penis and of menstrual blood.

Which bits of Leviticus are you thinking of, exactly, and can you cite the Christian resources which refer to them as frequently as they refer to the verses in Leviticus 18 and 22?

Had I written about Muslims what Jes wrote about Christians, I would have been excoriated, and rightly so.

Many Islamophobic bigots are fond of picking out Quranic verses that read badly and quoting them to "prove" that Islam really is that bad.

The Surah 9:5 verse ("slay the idolaters wherever ye find them") is notorious in that respect. However, when I googled on it, I found that the sites where it was most frequently referred to weren't Islamic sites: they were Islamophobic sites referencing this verse as a justification for their belief that Islam was inherently violent.

Had you cited Surah 9:5 I might well have picked up on that and cited you at this Muslim Access page which gives the historical context.

But I didn't do that. I cited a specific example which has been routinely cited over and over again in justifications by Christians in the US and elsewhere as a reason why LGBT people don't deserve civil rights - two verses from a book of Jewish law which is, in my experience of Christians citing the Bible chapter and verse, rarely if ever cited in any other context.

I decline to retract. It's fair comment. More than fair.

Well, it's certainly a more reasonable comment now you've identified which specific statement you were referring to.

But the only example I can think of from the Book of Leviticus that is cited at all regularly by Christians for any other reason but to berate others, is a few verses from Chapter 25, 10-13, which have been used by left-wing socialist liberation-theology type Christians as an argument for Jubilee Year, relieving Third World countries of their debt.

Jes, a life of putting up with homophobes cannot have been anything but awful. That doesn't make everyone who disagrees with you a homophobic bigot.

You might notice that I've disgreed with virtually everyone on Obsidian Wings at some point or another. To claim that when I disagree with them, I call them a homophobic bigot, is ... plain false. Your attempt to disregard what I'm saying to you by going "oh poor you" is noted.

HSH, you need to get out of my head, man.

Shrimp platter.

"I cited a specific example which has been routinely cited over and over again in justifications by SOME Christians in the US and elsewhere as a reason why LGBT people don't deserve civil rights"

Fixed that, I believe that McK was objecting to the generalization used by the Christianophobes by quoting them to "prove" that Christianity really is that bad.

Phil, I am fine with having a conversation, even a heated one. Gratuitous insult, e.g.answer honestly, doesn't make for useful discussion.

To try to answer your question: AFAIK, Orthodox Judaism is practiced privately, in the home. That is about all I know. All of the Jewish people I know are reformed, sort of the Jewish version of Episcopalians. But let's say that Orthodox Judaism translated into workplace inequality for women. If that were the case, I would say that there are definite free exercise issues. Does this answer your question?

HSD--you go on about all the ways Islam around the world is practiced radically and in ways that violate human rights and that it is adopted by oppressive governments as a state religion. But you can't imagine why that would imply that you thought Islam was different from all the other religions protected under the free-exercise clause. Are you just playing games, or what

I guess the answer is, "or what". Actually, I noted aspects of how Islam is practiced around the world by some societies and governments, I then noted specific examples, e.g. women, gays, etc. I then said that, given the foregoing, raising the question of whether aspects of Islam are reached by the free exercise clause is fair game.

My reasoning was: given A and B, it is fair to ask whether C is implicated.

Your quote above has me saying: given A and B, C has a unique application than it would otherwise have. I said no such thing. I simply said, C is implicated.

Put differently, if Ramsey point blank had said that Islam was outside of and unprotected by the First Amendment, I would have said, That statement is completely wrong, which is not to say that some aspects of Islamic practice raise free exercise questions.

Implicit in the notion of what must occur to raise or implicate the free exercise clause is the following: an act that is civilly or criminally wrong, followed by a defense to suit or prosecution grounded on the free exercise clause and concluded by a judicial determination that the free exercise clause does not extend to the underlying conduct.

To claim that when I disagree with them, I call them a homophobic bigot, is ... plain false. Your attempt to disregard what I'm saying to you by going "oh poor you" is noted.

Fair point. After rereading my words, they came across differently than I intended. Patronizing grates, and I did not mean to do that. I apologize.

I am not disregarding what you say. I am saying that I am not homophobic, just the opposite, and our disagreements lie in other areas.

Jes: slay the idolaters wherever ye find them

There are so many examples so much worse than this in the Bible that it's a shame to pick only one, but this is a good one:

They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every man... The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. They took all the ... captives, spoils and plunder to Moses... Moses was angry with the officers of the army... who returned from the battle. "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them... "Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

Well, that all sounds like a lot of harmless good fun and horseplay.

I believe that McK was objecting to the generalization used by the Christianophobes by quoting them to "prove" that Christianity really is that bad.

What generalization?

In 1977, Anita Bryant set out to campaign against "the homosexuals" in Florida and nation-wide. She claimed - and her supporters still back her - that Leviticus was sufficient justification for discrimination against LGBT people. And she succeeded in that Florida is the only state in the US where lesbians and gays are legally banned from adopting: they're allowed to foster children, and do, but not to adopt them legally.

McKinney claims that saying Leviticus is only referenced by Christians as a justification to prove LGBT people don't deserve civil rights is a sweeping generalization.

Well, I don't offhand know any Jews who cite that verse as a mitzvot that should be applied in secular law, unlike all the rest. Nor any Muslims: anti-gay justifications in Islam are mostly found from citing positive verses about how everyone should get married. Nor is there any particular reason why people of any other faith should cite that verse. So that really does only leave Christians who do it.

And quibbling over "it's only SOME" is real quibbling. Of course it's only SOME. In any religion there are always people who care about berating others, and people who don't.

"In any religion there are always people who care about berating others, and people who don't."

So leaving out the SOME or citing specifics, as in Anita Bryant, is an inaccurate generalization, right? Or is it just not PC to avoid that broad brush on Christians? A brush that, if used against Muslims, would create a huge backlash.

A brush that, if used against Muslims, would create a huge backlash

On this site.

But in American society at large, not at all.

Fair point. After rereading my words, they came across differently than I intended. Patronizing grates, and I did not mean to do that. I apologize.

*deep breath* Apology accepted. Thanks.

(When I started to write my 3:37 PM comment, you had not yet posted.)

I am not disregarding what you say. I am saying that I am not homophobic, just the opposite, and our disagreements lie in other areas.

This whole argument about LGBT civil rights started because you asserted in part-justification for your argument that Islam is worse than other religions was your citation of Islamic countries treating LGBT people badly. What I was trying to point out, and am still, is that Christianity is also used as a justification to treat LGBT people badly - in the US, in other countries. Any religion has been used for an evil purpose. Any religion can be used for a good purpose.

Trying to pick on one religion and saying discrimination against that religion is not bad because look at what those religionists over there are doing! - is going to fall over because you can point out religionists from any religion who are doing bad things.

AFAIK, Orthodox Judaism is practiced privately, in the home.

True in the US, for the most part, but even here you can find some constitutional issues.

And in Israel...not true at all.

McKT, I do not possess your flair with bold and italics (I always screw them up here), but:

Jes: "For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like"

McKT: "I put it to everyone here: isn't this a very broad and possibly bigoted over-generalization? Stumped by this one? I'll rewrite the quote, For Muslims, the commandments of the Koran are primarily used as a stick to beat people Muslims don't like."

You make a false equivalency there. Jes points that out in her 2:59 comment. Leviticus is a book in the Bible and is not analogous to the Quran, which is the whole book of Islam (not sure if the Quran has the hadith in it or if they're considered to be separate). So, the Quran has parts in it that are uncontroversial, and parts that are used almost exclusively by extremists to justify antigay / antiwhatever violence, and parts that aren't honored by anyone any more, etc etc. That's my general impression. The Quran is like the Bible in this respect.

Leviticus is a specific book of the Bible to which no practicing Christian adheres, or mentions, except to quote as a "justification" for mistreating gays.

AFAIK, Orthodox Judaism is practiced privately, in the home. That is about all I know. All of the Jewish people I know are reformed, sort of the Jewish version of Episcopalians. But let's say that Orthodox Judaism translated into workplace inequality for women. If that were the case, I would say that there are definite free exercise issues. Does this answer your question?

Not really. My shorter version of the question is: "If Lt. Gov Ramsey were making those kind of statements about Orthodox Judaism, would you have jumped in to say, 'He makes a good point about Orthodox Judaism?'"

As far as "practiced in the home," well . . . you should see the stares my wife and I get when we're outside doing yardwork or using the car during Shabbos. (Or that she gets for wearing shorts. Or pants. Or leaving her hair uncovered.)

not sure if the Quran has the hadith in it or if they're considered to be separate

Separate I believe.

Your quote above has me saying: given A and B, C has a unique application than it would otherwise have. I said no such thing. I simply said, C is implicated.

No. My quote above has you failing to be clear about what you were really trying to say and allowing an at least partly pointless argument to go on and on and on based on an obvious inference from what could easily have been thought to have been implied given the context of the discussion.

You may have "said no such thing" but you waited and awfully long time to tell anyone that you didn't really mean any such thing, when it was very obvious what everyone thought you meant, for what should have been very obvious reasons, again, given the context of the discussion.

How you continue to fail to see why everyone thought you were making a point that was special to Islam and why you took so long to clear that up is a mystery to me, McKinney. (But I still like you.)

your argument that Islam is worse than other religions was your citation of Islamic countries treating LGBT people badly. What I was trying to point out, and am still, is that Christianity is also used as a justification to treat LGBT people badly - in the US, in other countries.

Jes, there are two parts here. Part 1 is your perception that I said Islam is worse than other religions in its treatment of gays. Part II is your statement that Christianity is also used as a justification for the same bad treatment.

I don't think I said Islam is comparatively worse than other religions. What I think I said was that a number of Islamic governments overtly discriminate against gays. I suspect this is also true among a wide number of adherents world wide.

Now, your second part is one that, at first blush, I was prepared to challenge, and then on further reflection, given the Ugandan situation and the US situation on the religious right (differences in degree and kind, but still ugly enough here), I am going to have to turn over my king. I will refer back to some of Seb's comments that degree matters: denying civil rights falls short of killing, but still, it's embarrassing (and other words as well) for an American Christian (Episcopalian, semi-heretic subset) to see and hear from supposed Christians the venom aimed at gay people. the Ugandan thing is barbarous.

Julian, if I knew enough about the specifics of the Koran, I would have been more specific.

"If Lt. Gov Ramsey were making those kind of statements about Orthodox Judaism, would you have jumped in to say, 'He makes a good point about Orthodox Judaism?'"

I would not say anything the way you paraphrase me, but taking your question in substance, if I knew of some aspect of Orthodox Judaism that was problematical if practiced outside the home and if imposed on others, what I would say is, Ramsey goes way too far, but that going too far doesn't mean that there aren't issues that may arise.

In other words, pretty much what I've been saying all along.

How you continue to fail to see why everyone thought you were making a point that was special to Islam and why you took so long to clear that up is a mystery to me, McKinney. (But I still like you.)

Well, there is the slight possibility I am a bit dense. Let me also suggest that there are several other factors at play. Like most of us here, I work and comment simultaneously. As a consequence, I don't read all of the comments directed to me as closely as I should and I tend to micro-focus on certain points in certain comments. That produces mis-communication.

HSD, I don't come here just to argue. I come here to argue, or agree with, people I respect and have come to care for. Respect and care for a great deal, in many cases.

Well, there is the slight possibility I am a bit dense.

I'll go with this.

(Kidding, of course, but how could I resist. I'm just a man, after all.)

In many cases, but not in Hair Shirt heDonist's?

Get his acronym right.

j/k lol!

Julian, no kidding. HSH. S**t! Cocktail hour in 70 minutes. Not a minute too soon.

Like most of us here, I work and comment simultaneously. As a consequence, I don't read all of the comments directed to me as closely as I should and I tend to micro-focus on certain points in certain comments. That produces mis-communication.

I am DEFINITELY guilty of this.

Such that I begin to resent my day job. Not healthy ;)

Off to the New Shea Stadium to watch the Mets with my brother - a poor Mets fans. Happy hour(s) indeed!

Cocktail hour in 70 minutes.

Beat you to it, bro.

Eastern Standard Time at russell's house!

I am thinking a vodka on ice to start.

I would not say anything the way you paraphrase me, but taking your question in substance, if I knew of some aspect of Orthodox Judaism that was problematical if practiced outside the home and if imposed on others, what I would say is, Ramsey goes way too far, but that going too far doesn't mean that there aren't issues that may arise.

Fair enough.

I just finished my 8 mile bike ride home. It's drinking time. If any of you are whiskey/bourbon fans and have not tried Makers Mark's new "46," you owe it to yourself to find a liquor store posthaste.

Damn you East Coast liberal elites and your "timezones".

A rather pleasant South African white wine.

(FWIW, I opened a sister bottle of red wine from the same wine company last week. I practice apartheid with wine: I never mix colours in the same drinking period.)

*toasts* It's Friday. I'm sure we'll all be waking up to new injustices and despair on Monday morning, but there will also be a new XKCD cartoon to make nonsense of them all.d

6:52 p.m. in NYC. A nice frosty Plymouth martini, with a twist. Fairly wet; vermouth is not an afterthought, it's an integral part of the drink, dammit.

Cheers, and thank the deity, life-force, or absence thereof of your choice...it's Friday.

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't leave y'all with something to add fuel to the fire:

On September 11, 2010, the extremist evangelical Dove World Church — whose pastor, Terry Jones, has written a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil” — plans to host “International Burn A Quran Day,” when it will burn Muslims’ sacred text and encourage others across the world to do so as well. Churchmember Wayne Sapp has even posted an instructional video that explains how and why to burn the Islamic text.

CNN host Rick Sanchez invited Jones on his show yesterday to ask him about the inflammatory action. When Sanchez pressed Jones about why he would try to anger the world’s Muslims by burning their sacred text, the evangelical pastor replied, “Well, for one thing, to us, the book is not sacred,” provoking laughter from the CNN host.

Jones later went on to explain, “What we are also doing by the burning of the Quran, we’re saying stop, stop to Islam, stop to Islamic law, stop to brutality. We have nothing against Muslims, they are welcome in our country.” When Sanchez asked him how he would feel if Muslims burned the Bible, Jones admitted he wouldn’t like it but emphasized that it was his “right” to burn the Islamic text because “we live in America”

"See, "modern" and "functioning" suddenly popped up out of nowhere, Sebastian, because you had to swat down the inconvenient counterexample of Uganda, and because there was nothing --literally nothing -- you wouldn't do to accomplish that little feat of goalpost-shifting."

Well surely we all expect that you can find someone somewhere doing some thing bad. For pretty much any proposition of bad acting in the whole world we can find SOMEONE who did it.

But the fact that you have to reach all the way to states which are barely part of civilization at all in order to do so says something about your argument.

You have to go to all the way to completely broken states for your example, but I only have to go as far as Iran.

Which is not a completely broken state. It is in fact one of the top two or three Muslim states around.

The problem I have with the analogies being thrown around here is that you garner evidence for them they way Jonah Goldberg proves that liberals are all communists.

If I say that the left would rather have control over people's lives and let them starve, rather than let them be free, and invoke North Korea as an example, I'd be jumped all over. And why?

A) Because 'the left' in North Korea has at best a passing-when-your-eyes-are-very-squinted-and-you're-drunk resemblance to the 'the left' in the the West;

B) There are lots of checks to stop it;

C) When actually in power the left in the West doesn't typically do such things;

D) the analogy just isn't that close;

E) North Korea is a crazy lawless outlier.

The analogy you want to make is Uganda : typical Christianity :: Iran : typical Islam.

But that is pretty obviously wrong when you put it straight out there like that. Right?

There are lots of countries where Christianity is ascendant that aren't anything like Uganda.

Many of us even live in some of them. And at the very least you could appeal to a typical example. Like the US. Or Spain. Or I'd even give you Mexico.

Iran is one of the more modern Muslim countries around. It is also one of the more powerful. Uganda is not one of the more modern Christian countries around. It also isn't very powerful.

Of course I introduced "modern" and "functioning". But that isn't because I moved the goalposts. That is because you engaged in really crappy analogizing.

I'm a gay man who doesn't have any illusions about how tolerated I am in the United States. I live in California, and was still chased down the street by 5 college-aged thugs who were looking for someone to beat the crap out of near a gay bar.

I'm from a fundamentalist Christian family where my parents believe that I'm going to hell.

I'm not under any delusions about US tolerance of gay people. And the US is pretty much the most Christian of the modern civilized world.

But I'm much more welcome here, than I would be in Turkey, which is the most tolerant major Muslim country. And which appears to be getting more intolerant of gay people. Not less.

I'm MUCH MUCH more welcome here than I would be in Iran, where I'd be risking the death penalty, or in Indonesia where I'd be risking long prison sentences.

So if you compare the most modern Islamic countries to the most modern Christian ones, on the subject of gay rights, the Christian ones are well ahead. And I mean very far ahead.

You'll note that I didn't invoke Sudan as a typical Muslim country. It is a majority Muslim country. It has been in control of the government for about 50 years. And it is about as appropriate to this conversation as Uganda.

But the fact that you have to reach all the way to states which are barely part of civilization at all in order to do so says something about your argument.

Or it says something about your feelings about Uganda. Where American fundamentalist Christians go to preach what secular public opinion in the US would object to.

So if you compare the most modern Islamic countries to the most modern Christian ones, on the subject of gay rights, the Christian ones are well ahead. And I mean very far ahead.

The top ten - ie, largest national Christian populations - are the US, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, China, Germany, Philippines, the UK, Italy, France, and Nigeria: and those ten countries give a fair representation of the range of penalties against LGBT people across the world, from the recognition of same-sex couples in partnerships almost identical to marriage but not quite, to the death penalty for consensual homosexuality. In each country (with the exception of China, which ranks fifth numerically for only 5% of the population), opposition to equality for LGBT people comes from either Christian or Islamo-Christian (in Nigeria) sources.

When you brag of "modern Christian nations" being well ahead of ... non-Christian nations? ... in fact the single group of nations which really is well ahead of any other is the European Union, where specifically secular forces have taken on religious discrimination and, for the most part, won.

All of the EU countries are "Christian nations" in the sense that a significant majority of the country identify as Christian. But all of them have vastly improved in acknowledgement of the human rights of LGBT people in direct relation to their not being "Christian nations" - where Christianity is not allowed to trump secular human rights values.

The US allows human and civil rights as a secular nation, not as a Christian one.

And the top ten Muslim nations? Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morrocco.

If you were ranking them in order for LGBT acceptance with the top ten Christian nations that you listed, how far down the list of 20 before you get to the first of the Muslim countries? Morrocco, Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria. So it isn't any of them. (And in Nigeria, the Muslim portions carry death by stoning for homosexuality).

In Egypt homosexuality is persecuted under the public morals laws. Indonesia persecutes gays, but it isn't illegal in all of the provinces.

So you are left with India and Turkey.

I would feel safer in either of those two countries than I would in Nigeria, and...

I'd be safer in any of the other Christian countries. Even Russia, which frankly isn't very pro-gay.

So while the Christian countries aren't as far as you'd like, you'd be safer in all of them than in any of the Muslim countries. Except Nigeria, where the Muslims would still be the ones who would kill you.

But, Sebastian, following up on Eric's distinction -- which you and McKTX largely have ignored -- are the differences religious or cultural? Given that each of the three religions centered on the worship of the same Middle Eastern sky god proscribe homosexual behavior you have to wonder, don't you?

Or do you have some cogent and consistent reason why the difference must be religious, rather than historical and cultural? That (culture vs religion) is the main point of contention here, and the reason why so many have been pointing to Uganda as a counter example and pointing out that many US Christian leaders are happy to endorse Uganda's anti-homosexual policy. Their *religion* does not prevent them from seeking to kill or imprison homosexuals, their *government* does.

That's pretty much everyone's objection in a nutshell.

Do you agree with this reasoning or disagree?

Or do you have some cogent and consistent reason why the difference must be religious, rather than historical and cultural? That (culture vs religion) is the main point of contention here, and the reason why so many have been pointing to Uganda as a counter example and pointing out that many US Christian leaders are happy to endorse Uganda's anti-homosexual policy. Their *religion* does not prevent them from seeking to kill or imprison homosexuals, their *government* does.

Word. (And thank you, nous, for summarizing a long and at times painful discussion so cogently.)

ILGA produces a map (from on the front page: ilga.org) which depicts LGBTI rights / lack of them around the world in a visual form. It's not a simple JPG, you click on an area on a menu at the top of the map, for example "punishments for male to male relationships" and watch the nations change: green for "no law", and shades of red or black for laws against. The pattern on the map - blotches of red and black all over Africa, drops of red in the Pacific for Burma and New Guinea and Indonesia, and a cluster of countries all together in Asia just off the African coast, and a single drop of red in South America for Guyana - doesn't so much suggest religion, as the leftover tracks of colonialism.

As I know from my own background, wherever the British went to set up colonialist governments, they passed laws against male/male relationships just like the laws they had at home in dear old Blighty. Often the British came to countries which had a long-standing cultural tradition of tolerance and acceptance of same-gendered relations (with regard to Islamic countries: q.v. One Thousand and One Nights) and left behind, after decades of colonial rule, a legacy of laws and tradition of punishments that had created intolerance where none existed.

(It's a complex topic, and I wouldn't suggest that's the only reason, just the one I happen to know more about historically.)

But still: the map says it visually. Countries which have an abiding legacy of damage tend to be bad for LGBT people too. Countries working to overcome that legacy of damage to create human rights for all, tend to be good for lGBT people.

I'll leave it for the American reader to discuss what abiding legacy of damage the US could be failing to deal with that leaves it lagging behind other nations...

I am confused. Europe and other Christian countries are better, but not because they are Christian but because they are governed secularly, but doesn't that reflect the basic Christian tenet of separation of those two things.

Isn't it inherent in Christian dogma to "turn the other cheek" and "judge not lest ye be judged"? Isn't the very heart of this discussion that most Christians don't believe in having a "Christian law" government beyond the very basics as shared across all religions? Or is my lifetime of Christian teaching and worship wrong that Jesus himself said give unto Caeser that which is Caeser's, and declared that he was NOT here to be a king on this earth.

All of this is Christian doctrine that creates secular governments in Christian nations. Thus much of the positive aspects discussed by Seb.

but doesn't that reflect the basic Christian tenet of separation of those two things.

What?

What gave you the notion that there's a "Christian tenet" about separating church from state?

Seriously, Marty, I'm not being funny: this is nonsense.

Isn't it inherent in Christian dogma to "turn the other cheek" and "judge not lest ye be judged"?

Well, for some Christians.

But tell that to every right-wing Christian that ever campaigned for laws against sodomy, gay marriage, abortion, contraception, and adultery. The Christian promoters of those laws do not regard "judge not lest ye be judged" as an inherent part of Christian dogma: they think it's just fine to judge others. Also to convict, fine, and jail others.

The "inherent Christian dogma" of "turn the other cheek"? Sure: that's why every prominent Christian in the US stood up right after 9/11 and told George W. Bush that attacking Afghanistan would be unCHristian and wrong. Some Christians did say that. But your notion that this is inherent Christian dogma is just wrong: plenty of Christians wouldn't dream of turning the other cheek, except maybe when taking a "wide stance" in airport restrooms.

Isn't the very heart of this discussion that most Christians don't believe in having a "Christian law" government beyond the very basics as shared across all religions?

No. Most people - whatever their religion, or none - who live under a secular government, are smart enough to see the advantages of it. But you only have to pay attention to the Christian Right in the US to know that there are a stack of Christians out there who believe in Christian government and who very much want to impose "Christian law".

George W. Bush's global gag rule was an imposition of Christian law on women and doctors around the world, and most of the people who opposed it weren't doing so as Christians but as human rights activists. The people who supported this imposition was invariably Christians.

Or is my lifetime of Christian teaching and worship wrong that Jesus himself said give unto Caeser that which is Caeser's, and declared that he was NOT here to be a king on this earth.

Your lifetime has clearly not been spent in a country in which Christians ruled that black and white people couldn't marry because God meant the races to be separate, in which Christians ruled that same-sex couples couldn't marry because God doesn't like gays, in which Christians ruled that women can't have access to abortions or contraceptions because God sees women as breeding machines. So you've obviously never lived in the US of A or paid any attention to what American Christians do - which planet are you from, Marty? Remind me.

And those European Christians, Jes? Or the Christians who have worked tirelessly as a part of trying to change every one of your American examples? There is a world you seem to live in that does not exist in America, where "Christian" has a single voice, the most negative. There are bad people posing as espousing the word of God everywhere, in all religions. But in the Christian churches I have spent my life attending we were taught that we were to live OUR lives to the Christian ideals, not impose them on others.

There are preachers (and radio shock jocks) full of pride and arrogance and hate, there are also fine truly Christian pastors.

And those European Christians, Jes?

Indeed. The religious lobby - which in the EU mostly means the Christian lobby - has been campaigning for the right to impose their Christian values on others by the force of law. Christians in government in the UK ensured that same-sex couples were offered only civil partnership, not equal marriage.

I didn't intend to imply that it's just American Christians who do these things - though the Christian global gag rule was a particularly atrocious worldwide example of Christian values being imposed by the US on others - but because I am aware that you are an American and so your claimed ignorance of the US Christian right's success in getting Christian law imposed on others struck me in terms of things US Christians do.
"
There is a world you seem to live in that does not exist in America

You're trying to claim DOMA doesn't exist in America? That the majority of US states that have passed laws banning same-sex marriage don't exist in America? These are Christian values - these negative attacks on others, that have been given the force of law, have been publicly claimed and promoted by American Christians as inherent to Christianity. This exists in America, Marty, for all your apparent blindness to it.

But in the Christian churches I have spent my life attending we were taught that we were to live OUR lives to the Christian ideals, not impose them on others.

That's nice. So the Christian churches you attend support lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, support the right of access to abortion and contraception, oppose forced pregnancy and forced adoption, supported and affirmed the Supreme Courts ruling against the sodomy laws. I'm glad that's what the churches you go to in the US are like - seriously, I am.

But it takes some doing not to be aware of Christians who do the exact reverse - Catholic priests who preached against Kerry because he's pro-choice, Christians who have campaigned and funded anti-marriage campaigns, Christians who claim that the state has the right to deny women abortions or that a pharmacist has the right to deny women contraception, as a matter of the pharmacist's religious freedom.

"That's nice. So the Christian churches you attend support lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, support the right of access to abortion and contraception, oppose forced pregnancy and forced adoption, supported and affirmed the Supreme Courts ruling against the sodomy laws. I'm glad that's what the churches you go to in the US are like - seriously, I am."

The churches I have attended, in fact I attended those churches for this reason, taught that individuals should find there way to making the right decisions on all of those issues based on their realtionship with Christ. They didn't support all of them, in fact there is considerable variation in the teachings on homosexuality, while little variation on opposition to abortion, but they didn't support government mandate of their religious beliefs.

Since you brought up DOMA, I was encouraged that the GLAD folks in Mass won a case overturning Section 3, now they hope the Justice department will appeal to create a broader precedent.

I didn't see a thread here on it but it was a very exciting day for the folks at GLAD, but tempered with the need to get a broader ruling.

Isn't it a fairly obvious point that, while not all Christians in America (or wherever) are judgmental, anti-gay (and otherwise) bigots, enough are that they aren't a rarity or an extreme fringe? Haven't prominent Christian leaders in the United States made statements suggesting that AIDS was God's method of killing off gays, or that hurricane Katrina was God's way of punishing New Orleans for immorality, or that 9/11 was a punishment from God for America's tolerance of gays?

Some Christians are cool, though. I tend to like Quakers, though I don't know if they have any sort of official position on homosexuality. As far as I know, they don't really have official positions on anything, not being hierarchical in the way most faiths are. Now that I'm thinking about it, it's time to Google.

HSH,

There are prominent Christian leaders that have said all of those things, it might be important to note that there are Christian leaders that haven't said any of them. No they aren't a fringe group, but then many of them are quoting the Pope who might be considered to be an influence beyond America.

I don't really know how important it might be to note that there are Christian leaders who haven't said any of those things, at least not to make the point I'm trying to make. You can note anything you like, of course, not that what you have noted refutes my point at all.

I really don't know what you're talking about with regard to the Pope or how it would be relevant, even if it were true.

Giraffes have long necks, you know.

"Or do you have some cogent and consistent reason why the difference must be religious, rather than historical and cultural? That (culture vs religion) is the main point of contention here, and the reason why so many have been pointing to Uganda as a counter example and pointing out that many US Christian leaders are happy to endorse Uganda's anti-homosexual policy."

Is that really the main point of contention here? I haven't seen the cultural/religious divide explored as a difference much here at all. And in fact I'm pretty sure Uganda was not raised as a cultural difference. It was and at least until now is being used to suggest a similarity between Ugandan and American Christians.

But to the extent that this was an issue, it is clear that I think it doesn't have to be a religious distinction, as I have raised the anti-religious governments repeatedly and suggested that they too have tended to be very nasty to LGBT rights. Which suggests to me that a propensity to be vicious to gay people isn't particularly tied to religion (A point which I haven't seen Jes or others address).

Though I'm not at all certain it is so easy to make a clean divide between religion and culture. I suspect that culture is one of the primary methods for transmitting religion. And most societal cultures either have a very strong religious component, or like Communism are virulently anti-religious. (Which is to say that I'm unaware of many large scale societal cultures which are religion indifferent).

Which is the long way of saying that religion and culture are intertwined. Christianity, as a religion, really does have a separate spiritual and secular side built deep into the framework. Islam is much more deeply about having the two be exactly the same.

And if we are going to talk about religious/cultural expression, we should probably think about distribution. Christianity has a wide range from Quakers all the way to the exclusively hate-oriented Reverend Phelps. I'm not sure what Islams equivalent of the Quakers is, but I'll assume it exists and then ranges all the way to Al Qaeda.

Yes, Phelps exists. Yes Ugandan Christians exist. But their place on the distribution and influence of Christian behavior is not the same place as that of those who control Iran. The LGBT example is instructive. In the range of the top ten large Muslim populations, nearly all of them make homosexuality illegal, and many punish it with the death penalty. Of the ones that don't allow making it illegal, one has been explicitly anti-Islam-in-government (Turkey) and the other has an even larger non-Muslim population (India). And in Turkey, as Islam has been allowed into power, gay rights have suffered.

In the top 10 Christian nations, the only one where it is illegal is the one in which there is a larger Muslim influence than Christian.

Yes the range of opinions overlap at tails, but that is a distribution with a big difference.

The analogy you want to make is Uganda : typical Christianity

Nope, I never said that Uganda (or Jamaica) were "typical" of Christianity. Nor did I suggest or imply it. Nor did Jes or anyone else, for that matter.

This isn't a matter of stretching the truth or a difference of interpretations -- it's a lie. You're reduced to reinventing my argument from scratch in order to "win."

How low will you go, Sebastian?

Your entire comment:

But the actual killing of homosexuals is done in relatively advanced Muslim-influenced governments like Iran.

It was very close to being done in Uganda very recently, with the active involvement of Christian clergy.

Then there are Christian-dominant places like the British Caribbean -- particularly Jamaica -- where people believed to be gay have been subject to mob violence in broad daylight, in the name of Christian morality.

None of which mitigates the utter horror of a case like Iran. But you're apparently one more conservative who insists that the difference between Christianity and Islam in this regard is fundamental, when it's actually just a question of degree.

You also wrote

See, "modern" and "functioning" suddenly popped up out of nowhere, Sebastian, because you had to swat down the inconvenient counterexample of Uganda, and because there was nothing --literally nothing -- you wouldn't do to accomplish that little feat of goalpost-shifting.

I note that at this point in the conversation you've already accused me of dishonesty while your original post on the subject quotes me with the distinction already in play.

So, having gone back to your original quote, I'll admit that you aren't claiming typicality.

But, on the other hand, neither MckinneyTexas nor I have claimed "that the difference between Christianity and Islam in this regard is fundamental, when it's actually just a question of degree"

So far as I can tell, that is your contention, and it is at least as guilty of reinventing my argument from scratch in order to win as anything I did.

In fact, we have explicitly argued that it is indeed a question of degree, and that the degree is quite important.

Before you even enter the conversation, MckinneyTexas wrote:

"Is this true of every other religion? Yes, but in the US, it's a matter of degree. Our social contract--widely accepted across nearly the entire political and ideological spectrum--holds that everyone is free to worship as they please but not to engage in universally proscribed acts: discriminate against women, practice polygamy, genital mutilation, etc."

And Slarti talked about the fact that prohibitions against homosexuality in Judaism didn't actually get played out as stonings while they do in Islam

He wrote "You rarely do see Jews stoning each other, though, so the degree to which Leviticus is taken literally is, well, limited."

And immediately after your comment, I wrote:

Of course it is just a question of degree. But when the question of degree is getting yelled at by religious a-holes, which btw I have been for being gay, or being chased down the street by a gang, which btw I have been for being gay, or being taken up by the government of your allegedly modern country and executed, which thankfully I have not been subjected to for being gay, the *degree* is rather important.

In fact I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to find any of the conservative commentors arguing the proposition that you ascribe to us. All of the relatively conservatives here have argued that it is a matter of degree, and that the matter of degree is important.

So from the very beginning *you* have been reinventing arguments from scratch, though I won't pretend to be able to get deep into your mind for a reason.

But if forced to guess, I'd guess, simple misunderstanding.

You might ascribe less charitable motivations to yourself.

If any of you are whiskey/bourbon fans and have not tried Makers Mark's new "46," you owe it to yourself to find a liquor store posthaste.

Excellent. I love bourbon - am a Basil Hayden junkie, like Woodford too, and am always up for something new.

I am confused. Europe and other Christian countries are better, but not because they are Christian but because they are governed secularly, but doesn't that reflect the basic Christian tenet of separation of those two things.

Is that a Christian tenet? If so, how do you explain the history of Europe, with regimes like the Holy Roman Empire? And Papal influence over regimes in almost every nation from Italy to Spain, France to England.

Secularism matters, but it is a recent, enlightenment development that in many respects grew up in opposition of Christian influence in politics, not the other way around.

Actually I wouldn't put the enlightenment in opposition to Christianity, I'd put it in opposition to Catholic structures. Sort of. The Protestant Reformation set much of the groundwork.

Seb- Is that really the main point of contention here? I haven't seen the cultural/religious divide explored as a difference much here at all. And in fact I'm pretty sure Uganda was not raised as a cultural difference. It was and at least until now is being used to suggest a similarity between Ugandan and American Christians.

If that is your reading of it then I can see why you are confused. As I understood it the Uganda example was brought up because a number of American evangelical leaders, finding themselves thwarted in their efforts to stem the tide of homosexual activism here, have exported their efforts to a place where their bigotry has greater cultural purchase and less governmental interference. As such, your insistence on treating Uganda as a progress marker of sorts ignores or misses the linkage with US evangelicals.

Christianity, as a religion, really does have a separate spiritual and secular side built deep into the framework. Islam is much more deeply about having the two be exactly the same.

Now. At this moment. In these cultures. What you describe here is not due to any inherent or essential difference in the two religions from the perspective of theology. Go back to the 30 Years War era in Europe and try to make those same arguments you make above about Christianity. You can't. European tolerance is born out of a vicious and bloody chapter in its cultural history. And it's one that is still somewhat tenuous and far from universal -- look at the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Does this help you see the other side of it better?

As for your insistence that degree matters, it does indeed. But I would argue that the way to change things is not to point to Islam as the problem but to encourage more cultural contact so that their religious perspectives gain a broader cultural base.

Seb (again) - Actually I wouldn't put the enlightenment in opposition to Christianity, I'd put it in opposition to Catholic structures. Sort of. The Protestant Reformation set much of the groundwork.

Too general, I think. There was plenty of tension between other Christian groups as well. The UK was a powder keg of radical protestantism for years and the Nordic countries had the rise of Pietism, etc. There's a shocking amount of violence (at a level somewhat short of civil war) against fringe and non-Christian groups.

And then there's the whole 'Jewish question,' which has nothing to do with Catholic structures at all.

"Is that a Christian tenet? If so, how do you explain the history of Europe, with regimes like the Holy Roman Empire?"

Because Christian tenets and Catholic dogma don't match. The ritual and arrogance of the Catholic church would not be my view of how Christ envisioned the church.

However, the claim to killing people in the name of religion is not unique to the Catholics, the Church of England, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Shia or the Sunni. People gain power and influence through religious institutions and abuse it, sometimes with terrible consequences.

And the top ten Muslim nations? Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morrocco.

If the metric is "how many Muslims live there" the top three are actually Indonesia, Pakistan, India.

My understanding is that Indonesia is, legally at least, fairly tolerant of homosexuality, except in Aceh, where the hard-core fundamentalist Muslims live.

In India, homosexuality was recently decriminalized, although I think it's not broadly accepted socially.

And, yeah, it probably sucks pretty mightily to be gay in Pakistan.

None of this has a damned thing to do with whether Islam is a religion, or whether a mosque should be built in lower Manhattan.

Just a couple of points of fact.

Marty: Because Christian tenets and Catholic dogma don't match.

There is a certain kind of bigoted Protestant you meet in the UK who will assure you strongly that Catholics are not Real Christians: I hadn't realized they had their counterparts in the US.

Since you brought up DOMA, I was encouraged that the GLAD folks in Mass won a case overturning Section 3, now they hope the Justice department will appeal to create a broader precedent.

So was I: and I hope so.

Seb: Actually I wouldn't put the enlightenment in opposition to Christianity, I'd put it in opposition to Catholic structures. Sort of.

nous: Too general, I think. There was plenty of tension between other Christian groups as well.

Yes. Generally speaking "the Enlightenment" is dated from 1750-1800, and is agreed to have arisen across multiple countries in Europe, some Catholic in structure, some Protestant in structure, some - like England - oddly mixed, with the head of state also the pope of the state church.

Thomas Paine, who wrote The Age of Reason, noted as one of the key authors of the Enlightenment, was against all organized religion, Protestant or Catholic.

russell: None of this has a damned thing to do with whether Islam is a religion, or whether a mosque should be built in lower Manhattan.

Yes, quite a threadjack...

"What you describe here is not due to any inherent or essential difference in the two religions from the perspective of theology."

I don't think this is true. The Christian faith has always had a very strong strand of Caesar's coin and God's coin being very separate things. The explicit Christian control of secular institutions was grafted on later, and always had lots of tension. Islam on the other hand has been about religious domination of secular institutions from the very beginning, and is very comfortable with it. From the perspective of theology, Christianity is mixed on secular power, Islam is much less ambivalent about it.

"As for your insistence that degree matters, it does indeed. But I would argue that the way to change things is not to point to Islam as the problem but to encourage more cultural contact so that their religious perspectives gain a broader cultural base."

At least you notice that this is one of my big points. ;)

I'm not sure what you mean. Islam historically has had all sorts of cultural contact, and it doesn't seem to have tempered much. And I don't really know what you mean by 'gain a broader cultural base'.

And when the degree we are talking about involves killing homosexuals in many of the countries, and imprisoning them at the very least, I'm not sure how that intersects.

"If that is your reading of it then I can see why you are confused. As I understood it the Uganda example was brought up because a number of American evangelical leaders, finding themselves thwarted in their efforts to stem the tide of homosexual activism here, have exported their efforts to a place where their bigotry has greater cultural purchase and less governmental interference."

Well this is also a different point than what others have raised. And to the extent that this is the point, it isn't a very good one. "a number" is very few, so far as I can tell tied very closely to three individuals and pretty much no one else. And interestingly, for whatever it is worth, even those three claim that their views have been horribly misused by the Ugandans.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

NYTimes cite

Now you can argue that they are lying about this, or whatever. But at the very minimum, they are definitely not exporting some new thing to Uganda, as portrayed.

Their actual influence doesn't strike me as very enormous since very extreme persecution of homosexuals, including the death penalty can be found all over Africa, including the neighboring Kenya, where the persecution is based largely in traditional African religions and they were invited by Ugandan groups that had already been persecuting gays for years.

The Christian faith has always had a very strong strand of Caesar's coin and God's coin being very separate things.

And equally, always (or at least since the early 4th century and the reign of Constantine) Christianity has always had an extremely strong strand of Caesar's armies and Caesar's laws being used to enforce Christian doctrine on all Caesar's subjects.

To pretend this never happened would be to ignore 1600 years of Christian history.

Christianity is mixed on secular power, Islam is much less ambivalent about it.

Ignorant crap. I mean, genuinely, Sebastian, you're not just coming across as ignorant about Islam. You're coming across as thoroughly, unbelievably, markedly ignorant of sixteen centuries of Christian history!

And when the degree we are talking about involves killing homosexuals in many of the countries, and imprisoning them at the very least, I'm not sure how that intersects.

I have no idea what you mean by "intersects" in this context. There exist governments in the world that think that LGBT people don't deserve human rights. Uganda, Iran, the Vatican, the US government under Bush - when the UN resolution to decriminalize homosexuality came up when Bush was in power, the US voted with the countries that said homosexuality should remain unlawful.

Yet you, as I've noted before, are never critical of how Christians in power, or Republicans in power, treat LGBT people.

There is a certain kind of bigoted Protestant you meet in the UK who will assure you strongly that Catholics are not Real Christians: I hadn't realized they had their counterparts in the US.

Oh, dear. It's a genuine article of faith among large swaths of the American evangelical community that Catholics are not Christians. (See here and here, e.g.) Mormons, too, for that matter.

"It's a genuine article of faith among large swaths of the American evangelical community that Catholics are not Christians"

And if you are not a practicing Catholic you can't participate in the Eucharist, have your child baptized, etc. in the Catholic church. Not sure what the point is here.

I said the dogma and ritual of the Catholic church is different than the underlying Christian tenets, a position held by many as far back as Martin Luther. Everyone's religion is uniquely the way to heaven to someone, but it certainly wasn't my point.

So, should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not? Does anyone here think we should, after potentially endless presentations of variously shaded characterizations of examples and counterexamples of actions taken by large swaths of humanity over millennia or by a few people here and there over the last few decades?

Maybe we can all argue about whether there's more round stuff or square stuff, and whether the stuff that isn't quite round or square is more round than square or more square than round.

No one's going to win here, and if someone did, it would be highly questionable how that win would apply to, well, anything, really.

So I go back to my original question - should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not?

So I go back to my original question - should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not?

No.

That was easy. (Thanks, hsh.)

Time to go out and play.

Not sure what the point is here.

Me neither, but then again, you brought it up.

Marty: Not sure what the point is here.

*shrug* That there exist Protestants who believe Catholics aren't Christians. I note Phil's demonstration that this is an article of faith amongst certain US Christian sects, and, well, *shrug*.

I'm reminded, considering hsh's return to the original question, of a remark Rabbi Lionel Blue made at the close of Thought For The Day (a short religious broadcast on a morning radio news program on the BBC), about the Christian clerics who would be following him over the coming weeks: "I would ask you to remember that each of them worships God in their own way... while I worship Him in His."

So I go back to my original question - should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not?

No.

That was easy. (Thanks, hsh.)

Time to go out and play.

Seriously.

This thread has been jacked so far out of bounds that the original question is like some weird, faint echo from the past.

Show me the 22 communities in the United States that are currently living under sharia law, and maybe I'll worry about Muslims undermining American civil society with their crazy headscarves and halal dietary rules.

Until then, I'm going to treat the Muslim people I work with and live near, and whose businesses I patronize, and who I sit next to on the bus, train, or airplane, like I treat everybody else.

Want to build a mosque? Build a mosque, and mazel tov.

There are billion and a half Muslims on the planet. If they were really all out to get us, we'd already be dead.

"So I go back to my original question - should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not?"

No we shouldn't. This question also has little to do with the original post. There are things and times when decisions are made on specific criteria, not generalities. We should respect and honor the religious beliefs of Muslims equally with all other religions.

In this particular set of circumstances it would be a better idea not to build this mosque overlooking the WTC site. There are mixed emotions and thoughts about that.

Each person has a right to how they feel and think about these particular circumstances without being accused of bigotry or hate against a whole religion, just as Muslims have a right to have emotions and thoughts about many of our actions without being accused of bigotry and hatred against Cgristians or Americans.

The Protestant Reformation set much of the groundwork.

Not, surely, because Protestants were more enlightened than Catholics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

What set the groundwork for the Enlightenment was that Protesants and Catholics spent those two centuries fighting each other to a bloody and exhausted draw. That was the background for the adoption of official religious tolerance--intolerance was too expensive and destructive (of, among other things, civil order, which is very high on the list of any state's interests). It's not a basic Christian tenet; it's a secular adaptation to the historic tendency of many Christians to want to kill each other over doctrinal differences.

Maybe what's different about Islam is that they haven't had, until recently, the opportunity to learn that lesson, partly because for some time now Islamic countries have been on the defensive against historically Christian countries like the US and UK and officially atheist countries like the Soviet Union. (Or, if not on the defensive, in collusion in ways that have promoted corrupt despotism.) If it weren't for all that oil, maybe they could have evolved in that direction, instead of the extremes of secular repression and hyperreligious backlash.

it would be a better idea not to build this mosque overlooking the WTC site.

As if anyone were proposing to build a mosque on a site overlooking the WTC, rather than expanding an existing Muslim center some blocks away and out of sight.

"some blocks away and out of sight."

At two blocks away and 13 stories it will overlook the site.

At two blocks away and 13 stories it will overlook the site.

No, it will not, as the views are obscured and the buildings will be much bigger than 13 stories. You might be able to catch a glimpse at an angle, but no way "overlook."

In this particular set of circumstances it would be a better idea not to build this mosque overlooking the WTC site. There are mixed emotions and thoughts about that.

Each person has a right to how they feel and think about these particular circumstances without being accused of bigotry or hate against a whole religion, just as Muslims have a right to have emotions and thoughts about many of our actions without being accused of bigotry and hatred against Cgristians or Americans.

See, I can't come up with a reason other than ignorance or bigotry to oppose the expansion of the community center that is already there.

1. It is not a mosque per se.

2. It is an expansion of a multifaith religious site that is already there.

3. What is the legitimate objection that should override the sensitivities of Muslim victims' loved ones, and those, like me, that lost friends and would consider it painful to have bigotry and ignorance win the day.

"that should override the sensitivities of Muslim victims' loved ones, and those, like me, that lost friends "

Other people who lost friends and loved ones feel differently, others in America, who weren't as close but perhaps just as scared by the event, feel differently. But this is about emotion and feelings and sensitivities. They think their sensitivity is just as legitimate as yours.

I actually empathize with both sides, erring on the side of those who feel the sacrifice of their loved ones diminished somehow by the proximity.

Someone Eric quotes: In this particular set of circumstances it would be a better idea not to build this mosque overlooking the WTC site. There are mixed emotions and thoughts about that.

Someone or other has harbored mixed emotions and thoughts about every group that has ever been singled out for unequal treatment. The purpose of having something like the First Amendment is to protect freedom of worship (among other things) even in the face of other people's hostile emotions and thoughts. That's the point.

"So I go back to my original question - should we treat Muslims differently from members of other religions in the United States or not?"

No we shouldn't. This question also has little to do with the original post.

Did you even read the original post? I can only suppose you didn't, because it was about a Lt. Governor claiming that he was mindful of First Amendment religious protections, but contemplating the possibility that those protections don't apply to the "nationality, way or life, [or] cult" that is Islam.

So not only does HSH's question have much to do with the original post, it's the whole point of the original post.

Seriously, dude.

"So not only does HSH's question have much to do with the original post, it's the whole point of the original post.

Seriously, dude."

After several pages of comments I did lose track. You are correct. And the answer is we should not treat them different.

But to the extent that this was an issue, it is clear that I think it doesn't have to be a religious distinction, as I have raised the anti-religious governments repeatedly and suggested that they too have tended to be very nasty to LGBT rights.

Two quick points in response:

i. Imposing atheism on people is as much a form of intolerance as imposing Islam or Christianity.

ii. I don't think that it's an accident that some of the most secular societies on Earth (Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands) are also among the absolute best when it comes to gay rights.

Each person has a right to how they feel and think about these particular circumstances (okay so far) without being accused of bigotry or hate against a whole religion (opps - not really), just as Muslims have a right to have emotions and thoughts about many of our actions (yes) without being accused of bigotry and hatred against Cgristians or Americans (darn it - not really, again).

Yes, we all have the right to think and feel whatever is we are inclined to, which means that anyone else can think and feel whatever it is they are inclined to about whatever others think and feel. People even have the right to be wrong-headed bigots. People also have the right to call others out about being wrong-headed bigots. No one has the right to be free from the opinions of others. They do have the right not to be discriminated against or persecuted, but that's not quite the same thing. But, again, people are free to be bigots, and people are free to call other people bigots, even if they're wrong about it.

The better form of argument against wrongful accusations of bigotry is to demonstrate why those accusations are wrong, rather than asserting that people just can't call each other bigots based on the rights of the accused bigots to think and feel what they like.

Well HSH, since I believe I was being very specific to this discussion, I believe I did at least suggest why people could object without beings bigots.

The assertion that the only reason to object to building the mosque was out of bigotry is what I was addressing.

As was pointed out to me, we got a long way from the original topic. I probably would not have commented to add my "me too" to agreeing the original statement was bigoted.

The assertion that the only reason to object to building the mosque was out of bigotry is what I was addressing.

And I'm fine with that, Marty. It's just not a question of rights, rather a question of right or wrong. People can object to building any particular thing for innumerable reasons and may be as free of bigotry in doing so as is humanly possible. That's why I allowed for the possibility of wrongful accusations of bigotry and suggested a valid way of addressing them that didn't rely on non-existent rights.

Marty: I actually empathize with both sides, erring on the side of those who feel the sacrifice of their loved ones diminished somehow by the proximity.

Why sympathize with the bigots over the victims, Marty? Or don't the Muslims whose loved ones died in the WTC or in the planes merit your "empathy"? You decided that you are more sympathetic to Christians who hate the idea of a mosque near WTC than you were to Muslims whose relatives died in the WTC... and what does this say about you? Certainly not that you have any universal empathy for people who lost loved ones on that day, since you so emphatically disregard the feelings of those who were Muslim.

Three of the Muslims who were killed in the WTC or the airplanes:

Imagine being the family of Salman Hamdani. The 23-year-old New York City police cadet was a part-time ambulance driver, incoming medical student, and devout Muslim. When he disappeared on September 11, law enforcement officials came to his family, seeking him for questioning in relation to the terrorist attacks. They allegedly believed he was somehow involved. His whereabouts were undetermined for over six months, until his remains were finally identified. He was found near the North Tower, with his EMT medical bag beside him, presumably doing everything he could to help those in need. His family could finally rest, knowing that he died the hero they always knew him to be.

Or imagine being Baraheen Ashrafi, nine months pregnant with her second child. Her husband, Mohammad Chowdhury, was a waiter at Windows of the World restaurant, on the top floors of Tower One. The morning of September 11, they prayed salaat-l-fajr (the pre-dawn prayer) together, and he went off to work. She never saw him again. Their son, Farqad, was born 48 hours after the attacks -- one of the first 9/11 orphans to be born. In an interview with CTV Canada, she relates that in the months to follow, she mourned for her husband and endured the hostility of some ignorant people around her. "When they saw me ... I'm wearing a scarf. There is a hate look."

Or consider Rahma Salie, a passenger on American Airlines #11 that crashed into the North Tower. Rahma, a Muslim of Sri Lankan origin, was traveling with her husband Michael (a convert to Islam) to attend a friend's wedding in California. Rahma was 7 months pregnant with their first child. According to the Independent UK (October 11, 2001), Rahma's name was initially put on an FBI watch list, because her "Muslim-sounding" name was on the passenger manifest, and her travel patterns were similar to those of the hijackers (she was a computer consultant living in Boston). Although her name was eventually removed from the list, several of her family members were barred from taking flights to her memorial service. Her mother, Haleema, said, "I would like everyone to know that she was a Muslim, she is a Muslim and we are victims too, of this tragic incident.”

I believe I did at least suggest why people could object without beings bigots.

No, you really didn't. You just clarified that to you, Marty, the only victims of 9 11 whose loved ones deserve any sympathy are the bigoted Christians who hate all Muslims enough that a mosque near the site is offensive.

Right.

others in America, who weren't as close but perhaps just as scared by the event, feel differently.

Call me callous, but I really am manifestly uninterested in what these "others in America," who don't even live in NYC and probably generally hate it as much as they do liberal godless Hollywood, think about this topic.

Well HSH, since I believe I was being very specific to this discussion, I believe I did at least suggest why people could object without beings bigots.

Yes, I specifically allowed for ignorance as an alternative.

However, outside of ignorance and bigotry, there is really no other rationale.

Unless you care to construct one?

The basic objection, I see, is that people feel that a cultural center expansion somewhat near the WTC site diminished their loss because of a Muslim imprimatur.

But the only way you get from point A to point B is the belief that all Muslims are alike, and that the Cordoba group is of a kind with al-Qaeda, which is quite far from the truth.

So, yes, ignorance or bigotry.

Even if this was not personal for me, I would side with tolerance and inclusiveness over bigotry and/or ignorance.

Other people who lost friends and loved ones feel differently, others in America, who weren't as close but perhaps just as scared by the event, feel differently. But this is about emotion and feelings and sensitivities. They think their sensitivity is just as legitimate as yours.

Of course they do, but that tells us very little. People who hold opinions feel that their opinions are right and legitimate.

OK, now that we've established that tautology, let's get to the more interesting, if more difficult part, of creating an inclusive, free society based on mutual respect.

I actually empathize with both sides, erring on the side of those who feel the sacrifice of their loved ones diminished somehow by the proximity.

Again, I do not side with ignorance and bigotry, especially where it serves to alienate American Muslims, playing right into al-Qaeda's clash of civilizations narrative.

I get so freaking tired of all this.

Echoing Jes, I have lived my entire adult life (and I'm a lot older than Jes) with the knowledge that if I walk down the street as myself (using "walk down the street" as a stand-in for all the activities of daily life that straight people take for granted as unquestionable rights), I am at risk of discrimination and violence because of other people's emotions and thoughts and precious sensitivities about me.

There are ways in which it is wise and sensible to take other people's emotions and thoughts and sensitivities into account; if we didn't do that, we could never live in couples or families, much less pluralistic democracies. But there are other times when people use their emotions and thoughts and sensitivities as a club to beat other people with, to keep other people in subjection, to work out their own issues and make other people victims in the process. At those times, it is far from wise to let other people's thoughts and emotions and sensitivities make our collective decisions for us, since they lead to injustice, violence, and discrimination.

There are a lot of "errors" (for lack of a better word) of thinking and feeling that come under the words "ignorance" and "bigotry." One of them, as Eric has pointed out, is tarring all Muslims with the sins of a few. If we're going to make our decisions based on that kind of reasoning, why aren't we paying any attention to the fact that all the people who commandeererd and crashed the planes on 9/11 were men? By that logic, we should be talking about banning men from coming near Ground Zero, not just Muslims.

Oh, there were men killed that day too, you say? Men dying in the attempt to rescue people? Same goes for Muslims, as has been pointed out over and over and over again.

If you want to do something about the tender feelings of people who believe that their "sensitivities" should dictate second-class citizenship for whole swaths of the population, maybe instead of enabling them you should put your energy into remedying the ignorance and bigotry that lets them lazily direct their thoughts and emotions at the wrong targets.

"I get so freaking tired of all this."

No more tired than I am of having the concerns of the people focussed on one mosque, on what seems to be an understandably sensitive topic, turned into "bigotry against wide swaths of people".

No more tired than I am of having the concerns of the people focussed on one mosque, on what seems to be an understandably sensitive topic, turned into "bigotry against wide swaths of people".

Again, bigotry OR ignorance.

Also, again, this is NOT a mosque. This is an expansion of a community center, with some prayer space allotted. However, it is NOT a mosque. There are no minarets, there are no calls to prayer, etc.

Also, Marty, could you possibly construct a rationale for opposing the expansion of this community center that does not rest on either bigotry or ignornace?

Explain the rationale itself, not the vague reference to "sensitivities" and "emotions." Explain what it is that triggers the emotional response.

the answer is we should not treat them different.

Glad we cleared that up.

Next topic, please.

Marty: Other people who lost friends and loved ones feel differently, others in America, who weren't as close but perhaps just as scared by the event, feel differently. But this is about emotion and feelings and sensitivities. They think their sensitivity is just as legitimate as yours.

I actually empathize with both sides, erring on the side of those who feel the sacrifice of their loved ones diminished somehow by the proximity.

There is one thing that all of us who are regarded as monsters by people like those whom Marty "errs on the side of empathy for" have in common: our heartbeats are a sword at their throats.

Here's what they're on about: they live in a world where we are monsters. They live in a world that trembles daily, because we snake our faultlines through its foundations and each time we move more crumbles and falls over the yawning edge of the flattened sea. In their world, once near us, their children can be lost to them, and just seeing us represented fills them with the rage of people struck in the face and deprived of their birthrights.
That world needs to end, and we know it. That world will end, and they know it.

There's a war on. Either we succeed, and their world ends; or they succeed, and ours does. Does it matter that we want them to go on living in our world, that our world has room for them to build cities and parks and futures? Not really. The very act of not getting to define everything for the rest of us is the end, for them. The fact that none of them would actually die, that their children would be fine and their blood unshed, is irrelevant. We can abhor and condemn violence and torture, and this too is an act of war. We can love them depthlessly as people and wish them no harm, but we cannot avoid the implications. If we are considered equals, their world is over. Our lives are the explosives that end it.

So, okay. Let's sit that knowledge down on our kitchen tables and give it a good look. There are two possible worlds: one where we prevail, and get to live side-by-side, and one where we do not, and are annihilated. And side-by-side looks like annihilation to the folks who have to live next door. There goes the neighborhood. We might think it's a really nice neighborhood to raise our kids; doesn't stop the neighbors from thinking their lives are over because we continue to exist yards away. -the sky is falling, littlelight

It's not what we do: it's that we live at all that makes us monsters to them.

No more tired than I am of having the concerns of the people focussed on one mosque, on what seems to be an understandably sensitive topic, turned into "bigotry against wide swaths of people".

But, Marty, you've already said that you don't think Muslims should be treated differently than others, so how do you extend that to opposing or allowing the building of a Muslim community center in Tennessee? Or a mosque in lower Manhattan? Do you agree or disagree with those who are opposed to these things? And what do you attribute their opposition to?

More specifically (if you haven't already said), given the quotes from the Lt. Governor of TN in Eric's top-level post, what do you attibute the Lt. Governor's position to? Do you see nothing bigotted in his statements?

Also, these people have been using the same site for over a year, also, this is a moderate group that OPPOSES Al-Queda, also the site is currently used for a closed store, and there's a bars on the same street. It's not like they're say, building a Wal-Mart at a historic Civil War site or something.

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