“The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life?”

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Very important topic for discussion:

My findings were shocking: not only Christians, but also Muslims and Jews, increasingly feel they are no longer free to express any belief, no matter how deeply felt, that runs counter to the prevailing fashions for superficial “tolerance” and “equality” (terms which no longer bear their dictionary meaning but are part of a political jargon in which only certain views, and certain groups, count as legitimate).

Only 50 years ago, liberals supported “alternative culture”; they manned the barricades in protest against the establishment position on war, race and feminism. Today, liberals abhor any alternative to their credo. No one should offer an opinion that runs against the grain on issues that liberals consider “set in stone”, such as sexuality or the sanctity of life.

[From The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life?]

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109 Responses to “ “The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life?” ”

  1. It is simply reprehensible for anyone to try to limit anyone else’s expression of faith or their opinions based on that faith or their participation in the public square based on their faith. But what is worse is the outright hypocrisy of those that those that try to do this. As it relates to participation in the public square one Tom Gilson had this to say:

    When believers in God bring their moral and spiritual values with them into the political process, it isn’t theocracy, it’s democracy. It’s a matter of believers doing what everyone does, for everyone brings their moral and spiritual values with them when they enter into democratic political processes.

    And the same goes for opinions and expressions of faith. Everyone’s opinions are based on their moral and spiritual values. Everyone uses the same underpinnings for their worldview. Only the details of those underpinnings change.

  2. From the article:

    By the time I took part in the event, (which had been moved to the basement of a hotel in central London), I felt my rights as a taxpayer, citizen and Christian had been trampled.

    They should not have to close their businesses, as happened to the Christian couple who said only married heterosexual couples could stay at their bed and breakfast.

    Huh. So people should be allowed to not serve homosexuals and unmarried couples, but conference centers should not be allowed to reject who they please?

  3. Ray, you’re comparing a private entity to a public entity and the government’s relationship with each. The article notes that the QEII conference center is a public building, it’s existence relying on taxpayer dollars. Their diversity policy was not provided when asked for, but their actions give us the idea that this policy is inclusive up to a point. Apparently believing in a traditional view of marriage is the point where they begin to exclude.

  4. We can’t let businesses or institutions pick and choose who they serve. That’s like those racist lunch counters in the South around 1960.

    We can’t have hospitals for Catholics only. We can’t have photo studios for Mormons only. These businesses and institutions need to just offer their services, and the customers must be free to come.

    There may be exceptions for religious worship services and a few other things. You have to be Muslim to participate in prayers at the mosque. I get that. But these exceptions must be few.

    As a basic principle, institutions don’t have religious beliefs – only individuals do. Institutions don’t have souls and don’t go to heaven. When people talk about institutions having moral values, they’re really talking about the individual leaders of the institution imposing their values on others.

  5. Ummm, not to play devil’s advocate or anything, but could you please explain why we couldn’t have hospitals for Catholics only? And why we couldn’t have photo studios for Mormons only? And who are the “we” who “can’t have” those things?

    Are you saying that Catholics can’t have hospitals for Catholics only? That question is moot: no Catholic would begin to contemplate such horrific lack of charity.

    Are you saying that no hospital should be licensed by government if it serves Catholics only? Why? On what grounds?

    On one level, the answer to that is so obvious it might not seem as if the question is even serious, but it is: I’m going to ask you to dig deep with it—because then I’m going to ask if the same reasoning applies to photo studios for Mormons only.

    (By way of reminder, I am neither Catholic nor Mormon.)

  6. Sorry, I just assumed – you’re right I didn’t think it through carefully. Why shouldn’t we have lunch counters for whites only? Hmm.

    I guess some people hold to a basic principle that says we should all treat everybody equal and not impose our personal tastes on others. We should accept the differences among us as much as possible, as long as everyone’s rights are respected. We should try to stick together as a society instead of breaking up into a bunch of isolated ghettos. Because everybody has some skills and ideas to offer, and when we all contribute freely, it helps our society be strong.

    I’m looking at America from the outside, by the way. The #1 reason your country is great is because it welcomes and celebrates diversity. That’s my assessment.

  7. John, you went for the obvious answer, the burned-in emotional-response answer. You spoke of something on which we all feel very, very deeply, but depth and scope are not the same.

    The ideal in one’s den or sitting room is comfortable heat and light. The ideal in society is justice. In some sitting rooms the ideal is met partly through a welcoming fire in the fireplace. It would be foolish to think that because a fire in one corner contributes to an ideal answer for the room, that therefore we ought to light fires all over the room. Similarly it would be rash to think that the principle that contributes so deeply to justice in one circumstance fits every other—even though where it does fit, it fits with such warmth and light.

    So I still don’t know what principle makes it immoral for someone to run a photo studio for Mormons only.

  8. How about this idea: It’s wrong for a business to discriminate because the business depends on public infrastructure paid for by the community as a whole.

    A photography business isn’t really an independent and self-sufficient entity, but it depends on a wide range of social institutions. Roads and bridges, money, the whole legal code, insurance, supply chains, communication infrastructure for advertising and customer interaction. Etc.

    Everybody in the community works together to build and maintain this essential infrastructure, so it’s unfair for the photography shop to deny service to some members of the community.

    OK, what do you think? This was just my quick brainstorm.

  9. Tom @5:

    I suspect it’s because we cannot, as a society, come together and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. “You don’t serve left-handed Irish children? I guess that’s OK, but we’ll need to think it through.”

    In the 1960s, companies and individuals objected to laws requiring integration because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate.

    Now, companies and individuals object to laws requiring same-sex marriage because of sincerely held beliefs that God cares what we do with our naughty bits.

    John’s “obvious answer” is a spot-on analogy.

  10. Keith @#9: So what?

    John @#8: I’m sure you could think of situations where people use public infrastructure but are not required to serve everyone. My office, for example: I limit who can access the computer network. Yet I rely on public utilities here.

    Keith @#10: If we can’t make decisions on a case-by-case basis, then it’s probably arbitrary to limit marriage to humans and to couples rather than triads or larger groupings.

    If John’s obvious answer obviously applies as broadly as you say, then I’m dense, and I’m going to require someone to drill it into my thick skull with an actual analysis–because I still don’t see how it applies to a photography studio for Mormons.

  11. Ethan –

    The article notes that the QEII conference center is a public building, it’s existence relying on taxpayer dollars.

    Actually, “The centre is a very successful venue hosting over 400 meetings each year and returning an annual dividend to the Exchequer, thus not reliant on the taxpayer for financial support.”

    Now, the refusal to supply the” diversity policy” is dodgy, I’ll grant. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a free-speech partisan, and I’ll meet speech I disagree with with more speech, not censorship. But if someone wants the right to discriminate, then they can’t complain too much when others discriminate against them.

  12. Tom @11:

    You said “no Catholic would begin to contemplate such horrific lack of charity”; Catholic hospitals do no more charity work than other hospitals, and arguably less.

    Ethan @3:

    Catholic hospitals take federal funding.

    Ross Douthat’s commentary was good, I thought.

  13. Further, Ethan, I didn’t even address the line “They should not lose their jobs, which was the case of the registrar who refused to marry gays.”

    Possibly there’s some exception in Britain where that would be the case. But in the United States, a government employee is required to serve all citizens, regardless of their beliefs about those citizens. It turns out that in the U.S., you can’t refuse to marry people who legally qualify for marriage simply because you don’t agree with their marriage.

    If your religion doesn’t allow you to marry everyone who presents themselves for civil marriage, then perhaps you shouldn’t take a job where that’s a requirement, just as an Orthodox Jew probably shouldn’t work at a pork slaughterhouse.

  14. Tom @11:

    It’s partially arbitrary.

    If there is evidence of “harm” (and let’s just agree that “harm” is “bad” and not go down that rathole), then, for example, where marrying children or turtles is harmful, it’s not arbitrary to disallow it. Where you cannot show harm, I agree it is arbitrary to disallow it.

    You argue allowing SSM is harmful; I don’t believe you’ve proven that case, and so I would expect us to disagree on whether or not disallowing SSM is arbitrary.

    With respect to John’s analogy, well, you hand-waved a bit, but you didn’t tell us how we should be distinguishing the two cases.

    Take the following statements in order:

    God says the races should be separate, so I don’t sell serve blacks in my restaurant.

    God says the races should be separate, so I don’t sell wedding cakes to interracial couples.

    God says homosexuality is wrong, so I don’t sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

    Help me out, here: how do you distinguish between these statements?

    As we move through the statements, when do we cross the line from the good: “it fits with such warmth and light”, to the bad , where we’re “lighting fires all over the room”?

  15. Ray @ 12

    Does the QEII’s success change the fact that it’s still a public building? Did taxpayer dollars fund the construction and building of the QEII in 1980’s? Did taxpayer dollars enable its existence?

  16. Arizona weighs in here.

    Can someone explain to me why adding the word “religious” to the phrase “sincerely held belief” implies some kind of universal “Get Out of Jail Free” card?

    If I have a sincerely held belief I should not serve Jews/women in my restaurant, I’m a racist/misogynistic jerk about to get protestors and a jury trial.

    If I have a sincerely held religious belief I should not serve Jews/women in my restaurant, well, suddenly it’s all unicorns and rainbows.

  17. Keith @9,

    From the linked article:

    “The ACLU and MergerWatch, a New York-based nonprofit, are not unbiased sources. Both have opposed Catholic hospitals’ positions on reproductive care and end of life decisions.”

    Any other resource you care to use or are you going to stick with this one?

    John Moore @ 4,

    “We can’t let businesses or institutions pick and choose who they serve.”

    So the AARP should be required to remove their age restriction?

    And should churches be forced to provide services to any and all persons given that they rely on the the public infrastructure as well?

  18. Ray @ 14

    Could you address the line that immediately follows as well regarding pacifists not being forced to bear arms during WWII? Where do you stand on that?

  19. Keith,

    SSM has not been proved harmful for a number of reasons. One is a changing goalpost for the definition of harm. One is a willful ignorance of the historical data on the value of stable two-parent (actual parent) families for stable societies. One is the length of the experiment that has yet to be run before we prove once again that it really does matter, even today.

    In the meantime, religious freedom is being seriously harmed, and religious freedom matters because it serves to dethrone the state, preserve freedom of conscience for individuals, and protect religions’ function as conscience to the state.

    If I have a sincerely held belief I should not serve Jews/women in my restaurant, I’m a racist/misogynistic jerk about to get protestors and a jury trial.

    But what if you’re a Mormon who only wants to photograph Mormons? What kind of protest against that would be just? What kind of law should a jury be asked to try you against?

    I wasn’t hand-waving against John’s example. I was asking him to make a case rather than merely serve up emotional reactions. I’m asking you the same thing.

  20. Keith @15,

    So there is harm in refusing to provide a service but there is no harm in forcing someone to provide a service against their will or beliefs?

  21. Toddes @18:

    The New England Journal of Medicine agrees, via the NYT: The New England Journal of Medicine study found that religious hospitals provided no more benefit to their communities than nonreligious ones.

  22. Whether Catholic hospitals today serve more or fewer charity patients than others is really not germane to anything we’re talking about here.

    Whether the AARP limits membership by age is their choice–unless there’s some principle of justice that requires them to do one thing or the other. That’s the question on the table, and it hasn’t really been addressed yet.

    Well, actually, the more interesting question is whether it’s unjust for a photo studio to serve only Mormons. Why doesn’t anyone want to tackle that one? Maybe because it’s harder than the other issues you keep steering us toward?

  23. Tom @20:

    If you open a business where you only photograph Mormons, you’re in trouble; the Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

    I am asking you to tell us how we should distinguish between refusing service on the basis of race, and refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation, where the refused service involves no harm to the business and refusal is based entirely on belief.

    My response to your hypothetical is it’s unjust to run a photo studio for Mormons only — I’m hoping that if I understand how you distinguish between these instances of potential discrimination, it will enable me to understand why you don’t see injustice there.

  24. Toddes @21:

    There is absolutely harm in forcing someone to provide a service against their will or beliefs, and I never meant to say there wasn’t.

    Often the court cases in this area turn on exactly that question because we’re balancing harms, somebody gets hurt no matter the resolution.

    I have read courts usually decide “equal access” outweighs individual liberties, but not always — obviously, this area of law has been in constant motion for the last 100 years.

  25. Keith @ 22,

    You’ve moved from Catholic hospitals to religious-based ones in the NEJOM study.

    Here is the actual study:

    Provision of Community Benefits by Tax-Exempt U.S. Hospitals

    Keith @ 23,

    Read the article. Unless you’re 50 or older all you get is the AARP magazine:

    “So what would an associate membership do for my grandson? He’d get the organization’s publications, including AARP the Magazine, but nothing else: no chance to buy auto insurance at AARP’s rates, for example, and no opportunity to have AARP “standing up for his rights” in Washington, as it exercises its vaunted political power.”

    From the AARP membership site:

    How to Join AARP
    It’s Easy

    Anyone 50 or over can get all the great benefits of membership in AARP for only $16 a year. And membership includes your spouse or partner, free! Joining online is fast and secure. You become a member right away and receive your membership number online.

    Link

  26. Keith,

    What harm occurs in refusing non-essential services? What harm occurs in refusing to provide a wedding cake or photograph a wedding?

  27. Toddes @27:

    Unless “Catholic” hospitals are in a different category than “religious” hospitals, I think I’m going to stick with that one.

    With respect to the AARP, my guess (worth what you’re paying for it), is because it’s a non-profit, and the same rules apply as, for example, the Boy Scouts or Masons, which limit membership.

  28. Tom, it’s a tough question. My best guess is somewhere in the realm of: it is not unjust because anyone is free to convert to Mormonism, abide by their principles and get their picture taken at the Mormon photo shop. It’d be a silly reason to convert, but there is nothing stopping anyone from doing so…

  29. Toddes @28:

    You’re saying there’s no harm in treating people unequally, as long as it’s not an “essential” service?

    Justice Earl Warren covered this ground in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, followed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Here’s what Warren said:

    Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system.

    Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority. Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected.

    We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

    I’ll point out the obvious: education isn’t essential, and growing up in a town where the businesses won’t provide you services because “you’re not Mormon”, will have “a detrimental effect”.

  30. Claiming something is a right (like SSM) doesn’t make it so. I think we need to make a distinction between arbitrarily invented rights and natural rights.

    How do we know that something is a natural right? I think natural rights have two characteristics: (1) there is an overwhelming uncoerced consensus about why it is a right; (2) natural rights do not generally conflict with each other. Invented rights like SSM fail on both these counts. Notice that SSM has to be forced on people and that it conflicts with freedom of religion. Also notice that people who are pushing SSM are hostile to religion and care nothing about religious freedom.

  31. Ethan –

    Does the QEII’s success change the fact that it’s still a public building?

    Nope. And as I said, the reported failure to provide the ‘diversity policy’ is suspicious. However, given that so many of Ms. Odone’s other examples are questionable – as I have clearly explicated – I’m not seeing the troubling trend she’s portraying.

    pacifists not being forced to bear arms during WWII? Where do you stand on that?

    I’m actually with Robert Heinlein: “No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has.” and “If a country can’t save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say : Let the damned thing go down the drain!”

    I think religious exemptions should be very rare in practice. That’s not because I think that religion should be burdened; quite the opposite. If something’s a rational requirement, then it should be required of everyone. On the other hand, if society can get away with not requiring something of everyone, then why should the religious be the only ones who get to slide by? I am not a Libertarian, but things would have to move quite a ways in the Libertarian direction from where they are now before I thought things had gone ‘too far’.

    The main thing is that there’s a difference between being unpopular and being persecuted. I think a lot of Christians are learning for the first time what it’s like to hold unpopular views. Often they confuse having their feelings hurt for actual injustices.

  32. Ethan @30:

    Nothing stopping them other than, oh, I don’t know, their deeply felt religious convictions?

    I don’t understand the focus on “it’s only a cake”, “photograph”, or whatever thing presumably either nobody cares much about, or is available from another vendor. Tom @24, Toddes @28.

    Absent other conditions, treating people unequally is unjust; it isn’t relevant if it’s denying them a cupcake or a breath of air, nor is it relevant if the item is otherwise available.

    If the conditions warrant treating people unequally, fine, make that argument.

  33. Tom Gilson –

    religious freedom is being seriously harmed

    How do you characterize the ‘serious’ part of ‘seriously harmed’, though?

    Apparently you agree (or at least concede) that a restaurant owner that tried to refuse service to women or Jews on religious grounds runs afoul of the law. I assume you agree they run at cross-purposes to justice as well (though if you disagree, please do clarify). It appears from what you’ve written here that you do not think that this constitutes a ‘serious harm’ to religious freedom. (Again, if I’m wrong, please correct me.)

    We know that a cake shop owner being compelled to make a cake for a gay wedding is, on the other hand, by your lights an affront to religious freedom.

    What are the key distinctions between the cases?

  34. JAD @32:

    The tricky part for me in your note is “uncoerced consensus about why it is a right”. If that were true, the set of recognized natural rights would be static, because change implies coercion at some level (for example, a “Right” to “Life” or “pursuit of Happiness”, as noted in the Declaration of Independence, would certainly astonish earlier cultures). At some point, someone arbitrarily invented the right, and eventually there was consensus.

    We’re in the process of changing “marriage”, something many people believe is a natural right, making it available to everyone. Yes, there’s coercion, but I expect that eventually there will be consensus.

  35. Ray, on the one hand you say you believe, “No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops” and then later you say, “If something’s a rational requirement, then it should be required of everyone.”

    Which is it? If the survival of the state doesn’t qualify as a rational requirement, then I don’t know what does…

    When Heinlein talks of inherent rights, isn’t he really just invoking a moral code?

  36. Keith @ 31,

    I made no such claim. I asked you a question.

    What harm occurs in not providing a service? The statement from Justice Warren does not address refusing service it addresses government enforced segregation based on race.

    And your response @29 that non-profits and for-profits should be treated differently doesn’t hold.

    Another question:

    Is it discrimination to refuse to provide services for a particular event?

    As an absurd example, can I as a Christian refuse to photograph a wedding held for a “clothing-optional” couple due to my belief that the event is immoral?

  37. Toddes @38:

    I disagree; Warren’s statement is on-point. He’s clear harm exists even without “sanction of the law”, and he’s clear the harm is not entirely about education, specifically a “sense of inferiority” and “mental development”, as separate from education.

    It is clear that, in his opinion, discrimination itself harms, and what is it when businesses refuse to provide services other than discrimination?

    My response @29 was not “this is a good thing”. I only meant to say that, as far as I know, US law allows non-profits to restrict membership based on their specific interests, which is why the AARP can behave as it does.

    Your question is an important one: when is a business owner refusing to sell a commodity vs. when is the business owner’s speech being coerced.

    There’s good discussion of exactly this question here and here.

    It’s unresolved as far as I know, and currently at the Supreme Court.

    Personally, I think if you sell wedding cakes or do studio portraiture, “equal access” should win, and the sexual-orientation of your customers isn’t relevant.

    If you’re asked to letter supportive SSM messages on the cakes, or create photographic art as part of an SSM ceremony, I think that crosses the line into coerced speech, and it’s your right to refuse.

  38. Keith @#25 and later: You refer to the law to justify the law. I’m still not sure what the principle of justice is. And I’m still not sure how it justifies pushing Christians out of public life, as the original article put it.

  39. Ethan –

    If the survival of the state doesn’t qualify as a rational requirement, then I don’t know what does…

    Um, depends a whole lot on the state. Were people right to consent to conscription into the Nazi army?

    It’s rational for people to volunteer to defend a state that meets the needs of the people as well as it might – but that doesn’t mean the state has a right to compel such service.

    When Heinlein talks of inherent rights, isn’t he really just invoking a moral code?

    Certainly. I fail to see the relevance of that, however. Do you think I disbelieve in the existence of morals?

  40. Tom @40:

    The principle of justice would be that it’s unjust to treat people unequally, absent reason to do so.

    Pushing Christians out of public life?

    I think Christian influence in public life is decreasing, but that’s because the public is becoming more secular, so it’s inevitable.

    To the extent Christians say they’re being pushed out of public life, I think that’s victim mentality, regarding oneself as a victim of the actions of others, even in the absence of evidence.

    Christians still dominate public life by any possible metric.

  41. Thanks Ray. I’m new here, so no, I don’t think I know what you believe. But there is a difference in believing in the existence of morals and believing the existence of a characteristic moral code. I guess I’m trying to figure out what your definition of rational requirement is.

    No, I don’t believe it was right for people to consent to conscription into the Nazi army. But, I believe that because Nazism is evil and it would be wrong to support that evil, not solely because of a rational requirement.

    I’m also trying to understand this moral code that you and Heinlein are invoking. Does it stop at pacifism, or does it also deal with marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, etc.?

  42. Ethan – It’s not strictly germane to the topic at hand here, and it’s Tom’s blog, not mine, so I’ll just refer to my little home site and another discussion in a previous thread here.

    But not all rational requirements have to be moral ones. Consider – given the way cars and roads work, traffic has to move either on the left or right side of the road. There’s no rational reason for it to be one in particular – it can work just fine either way (compare Britain to the U.S.) – but you have to pick one. In the U.S., traffic moves on the right. If some hypothetical religion commanded that its adherents drive on the left, it wouldn’t be religious persecution to prosecute them for violating the traffic laws.

  43. Ok, fair enough. I’ll explore those links. I didn’t intend to derail from the topic at hand. I’m here to learn and am anxious for Tom to discuss the priciples of justice.

  44. Keith @ #36:

    The tricky part for me in your note is “uncoerced consensus about why it is a right”. If that were true, the set of recognized natural rights would be static, because change implies coercion at some level.

    No, you can change the consensus through persuasion. You don’t need to resort to coercion, so “the set of recognized natural rights” is not static. Of course, this doesn’t rule out rebellion or revolution against an oppressive government. Rights come from the people, bottom-up not top-down from “enlightened elites” who happen to hold power.

    (for example, a “Right” to “Life” or “pursuit of Happiness”, as noted in the Declaration of Independence, would certainly astonish earlier cultures). At some point, someone arbitrarily invented the right, and eventually there was consensus.

    So in your view, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and belief (religion) etc. were all invented by someone and then imposed on everyone else? Who invented those rights and how and when were they imposed on everyone else? Why don’t you give us a little history here.

    We’re in the process of changing “marriage”, something many people believe is a natural right, making it available to everyone.

    Who is we? Not me. In my opinion the people who want to change marriage are being disingenuous. They don’t care about gays or marriage they want to destroy religion which means they’ll need to undermine freedom of religion. The only reason they have targeted marriage is because most people get still get married in church. Just wait churches are going to be forced to marry gays. It’s obviously a subversive tactic dreamed up by people who want to undermine the freedom of religion.

    Yes, there’s coercion, but I expect that eventually there will be consensus.

    No it won’t, because there is no mutual benefit. Natural rights are mutually beneficial. That’s the other point that I made above @ #32.

  45. #5

    Hi Tom,

    Because there might not be an alternative. Imagine you live in a small town that only has one of each business to provide their service. It would be wrong for the owner of the only petrol station in town to pick and chose who he sold petrol to. I’m sure you would agree with that. So it applies to one business it applies to all.

    Note this only applies to people that have a place of business open to the public and not clubs or anything that has a restriction on membership, like a female only gym or a church of a specific religion. If you serve the public, you must serve them all.

  46. #32

    Hi JAD

    I think natural rights have two characteristics: (1) there is an overwhelming uncoerced consensus about why it is a right; (2) natural rights do not generally conflict with each other.

    Is this thinking the result of being taught by someone/having read it somewhere or is it just something you believe? If the latter why should we give it any weight?

    The problem with the first characteristic is that it is dependent on the thinking of the society. This takes it away from being a natural right and makes it, as you say, an invented right.

    I think natural rights have the following two characteristics: (1) They are equally and freely available to all members of society; (2) They do not infringe on the rights of other members of society.

    You mention same sex marriage, but really you should just be talking about marriage. Either marriage is a right or it’s not. Making a law that says it is only available to part of the population is discrimination, and it is outside the scope of government, as it’s basis is in religion. There are two reasons that government should make laws; the financial management of the country and protecting it’s citizens. Banning Same sex marriage is way outside the scope of it’s responsibilities. http://www.thesentientpuddle.com/?p=48

    Cheers
    Shane

  47. @Shane:

    Either marriage is a right or it’s not. Making a law that says it is only available to part of the population is discrimination, and it is outside the scope of government, as it’s basis is in religion.

    Either driving is a right or it’s not. Making a law that says it is only available to the part of the population consisting of adult citizens that have undergone a proper examination is discrimination, and it is outside the scope of government, and it’s the basis of ideology.

    Any more “arguments” you wish to regale us with?

  48. Shane:

    The problem with the first characteristic is that it is dependent on the thinking of the society. This takes it away from being a natural right and makes it, as you say, an invented right.

    As a theist I can think and believe that there are natural rights, because I believe there are God given rights. However, an atheist or secularist cannot believe that way, because they have no objective basis for morality or “rights” outside of society.

  49. Further:

    Either marriage is actually a comprehensive union of a man and a woman in its essential nature, and everyone who wishes to avail him- or herself of it has the right to do so; or else we throw its definition up into the air, toss darts at it, and whatever the dart hits, we call that “a right.”

    Either way, the right (or “right”) so identified is available to the entire population.

    As to the definition of marriage being based in religion, all I can say is that the propaganda machine out there has been most effective: it got to you, too. Sexual morality has a religious basis, but the question of marriage is not primarily a question of sexual morality. Marriage is what it is for many, many, many reasons. Limiting those reasons to “religion” has been a most effective rhetorical move on the part of the homosexual insurgency. I doubt it bothers them that it’s false. It works, that’s what counts for them.

  50. Tom @52:

    The anti-SSM movement’s positions have evolved over time (as have the pro-SSM positions, of course).

    The anti-SSM position isn’t about religion now, because religion wasn’t winning the argument and a new approach was needed.

    The original anti-SSM position was entirely rooted in religion, and there are still lots of places that haven’t gotten the memo.

    From the recent Oklahoma ruling:

    Citing the Windsor decision’s chronicle of DOMA’s supporters’ morality claims, the court compared them to how Oklahoma legislators promoted the ban as “upholding one specific moral view of marriage,” including statements about “what God has ordained as traditional marriage.” One legislator opined, “This is a Bible Belt state . . . . Most people don’t want that sort of thing here. . . . Gay people might call it discrimination, but I call it upholding morality.” At a rally in support of the bill, another legislator said, “As Christians, we are called to love homosexuals. . . But I hope everyone at this rally knows the Scriptures prohibit homosexual acts.” And the mayor of Tulsa added, “If you believe in Christ, if you believe in this country, and if you believe in this city, you believe that marriage is a covenant between God, a man, and a woman.”

  51. JAD @47:

    You’re correct, I said that badly. I’m going to go away and think about it some more, but I take your rhetorical point — thank you.

  52. Keith, the pro-genuine marriage position has changed over time for far less nefarious reasons than you darkly charge us with.

    Most Christians have had a good understanding of the biblical teaching on morality for centuries. The question of “what is marriage” hasn’t come up before. When it did come up, most Christians answered with their familiar answers. Some scholars, meanwhile, did the responsible intellectual work of discovering and articulating a natural law response.

    We’re not as manipulative as you think. And we’re certainly not as manipulative as Madsen/Kirk/Pill recommended homosexuals be on this topic. This is the cast-iron pot calling the white coffeemaker black.

  53. Meanwhile, the religious reasons have not gone away, and there’s no reason for us to quit speaking of them. Religious persons ought to be smart enough to know that religious reasons won’t prevail in court. Maybe some haven’t figured that out yet. Religious reasons are nevertheless good reasons, since the Bible is true, and they can be presented as good reasons, as long as the presenter is aware that the truth of the Bible is unconvincing to many (including you, I’m sure, so I don’t expect you to be convinced by it).

    So whatever grand conspiracy of strategy you think we’re passing around secretly on Facebook or wherever, you could do better than that: read what homosexual activists have proposed as strategy. It’s highly manipulative, with no real pretense of honesty, only of effectiveness.

    And Christian strategy in turn has been a matter of doing our best to cope with an insurgency we were admittedly unprepared for. What, did you think we all sat down one day in 1987 and said, “how can we run a PR campaign to ban gay marriage?” In in 1987, most of the world was sane enough to know that “ban gay marriage” was a nonsense phrase. There was nothing to ban, for there was no such thing as “gay marriage.”

    But in 1987, some people were sitting down to figure out how to run a PR campaign to foist a new definition of marriage on the populace. It worked. It had very little going for it but PR, propaganda (they used that word in their published strategies), and image-twisting.

    Is it any wonder the conservative and Christian community has had a variety of responses? We’ve been playing catch-up to an insurgency. I use that word intentionally and advisedly.

  54. Tom @55, 56:

    I don’t accuse either side or behaving nefariously or in a Machiavellian manner; if the tactics you’re using aren’t working, you switch to different tactics, and both the pro-SSM and anti-SSM advocates have done that over the course of this argument. That doesn’t make you nefarious or manipulative, it makes you smart.

    I agree SSM was an “insurgency” in the way you use the word. But any movement attempting to change the status quo will be an “insurgency (consider Wilberforce leading an “abolitionist insurgency”, a movement whose members actively agitated for the Civil War).

    I don’t think there’s any grand conspiracy of strategy on either side, and when you demonize your opponents as “highly manipulative” with “no pretense of honesty”, using “propaganda” and “image-twisting”, you’re ensuring you’ll never do anything other than talk past each other.

    The question for anti-SSM advocates in this country is if they want to fall on their swords or not. The argument is over, you’ve lost, and the question is what you want the “peace” to look like.

  55. #50

    Hi G. Rodrigues,

    The law about requiring a license is about protecting citizens. It is unsafe for children or adults without the necessary experience/training to be driving on the road, both for themselves and others. Protecting it’s citizens is one of the main tenants of government, and therefore this law is just.

    There are also some marriage laws that are just. Underage marriage, marriage to those intellectually impaired, a marriage where one of the participants is unaware of what they are doing (if they are too drunk to consent, for example) are all against the law. Again, to protect it’s citizens from being taken advantage of.

  56. #51,

    Hi JAD,

    Why do I need an objective reason for “morality” or rights outside of society?

    And how are your reasons of morality any less subjective just because they are based on the religion you believe? Muslims have their own objective basis for their beliefs and a lot of their moral beliefs are quite different to yours.

    Cheers
    Shane

  57. #52

    Hi Tom,

    Either marriage is actually a comprehensive union of a man and a woman in its essential nature, and everyone who wishes to avail him- or herself of it has the right to do so; or else we throw its definition up into the air, toss darts at it, and whatever the dart hits, we call that “a right.”

    Either way, the right (or “right”) so identified is available to the entire population.

    But it’s not available to the entire population. That is entirely the point.

  58. Tom @61:

    Tom, your characterizations are fair and I hope you’ll note I didn’t dispute them. But, like all such partisan statements, you characterize your opponents by their activists and your own actions by the moderate center.

    Can you honestly claim your hands are clean?

    I repeat: the question for anti-SSM advocates in this country is if they want to fall on their swords or not. The argument is over, you’ve lost, and the question is what you want the “peace” to look like.

  59. Holopupenko @58:

    “We should disavow the notion that mommies can make good daddies, just as we should disavow the popular notion that daddies can make good mommies.”

    OK, sure, I’m with you so far.

    “This is why so many states have continued to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman.”

    What is it with Christians and unsubstantiated logical leaps?

    “There had to have been a creator of the Universe” so… “Jesus”.

    Anderson follows: “If the biggest social problem we face right now in the United States is absentee Dads, how will we insist that fathers are essential when the law redefines marriage to make fathers optional?”

    Make fathers optional? When did that sneak in? I thought our goal was to make mothers optional.

    OK, let me rephrase this to be sure I understand — there’s this huge problem, we haven’t been able to fix it, and if you let random other people “marry”, then even though we didn’t have a clue how to fix the problem before, it will be even harder to fix! We therefore ask you to discriminate against other people that aren’t involved in the problem.

  60. Shane:

    Why do I need an objective reason for “morality” or rights outside of society?

    Do you believe that our basic freedoms: the freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, belief and religion etc. are not objective or intrinsic to human nature? What happens to a free, democratic society if those rights are taken away? Do such rights exist in societies, like North Korea, where they are denied by the government? Do you think people in those societies yearn for those freedoms?

    I think the reason why we have such an overwhelming uncoerced consensus for the basic human rights that I have listed above is because they are natural– it’s the way we were created as human beings. Of course, how could we be created unless there was a Creator.

  61. Hi JAD,

    “I think the reason why we have such an overwhelming uncoerced consensus for the basic human rights that I have listed above is because they are natural– it’s the way we were created as human beings. Of course, how could we be created unless there was a Creator.”

    Then why did it take so long to get them? And why, as you point out, do so many societies not have them yet?

    The western world has only just recently started to embrace the fact that people of all colours are in fact equal to white people and that women and equal to men and should have total autonomy over their bodies, although that is obviously still under attack. This acceptance of basic human rights is because of a concerted effort of the minority to show that the majority/tradition/the status quo is wrong. The western world was a very different place just 50 years ago. Let alone 100. Let alone 1000. This does not lead credence to the theory that a creator instilled in us the “basic human rights” nearly 6000 years ago. It leads credence to the opposite of that.

    Cheers
    Shane

  62. Keith #63

    In regards to the marriage issue, the best peace is the one in which the the most people are well educated, with solid critical thinking and reasoning skills, and have been presented with the best arguments. If this happens, it is very likely that the majority of the public will know why marriage is a union of a man and a woman and nothing else. Even if the law gets marriage wrong, most people will get it right. This maximizes the chance that the law will again get marriage correct, and if not, that those who do get marriage right will be free to live accordingly (i.e. no more photographers being forced to photograph events that violate their conscience to participate in).

  63. JAD –

    Just wait churches are going to be forced to marry gays.

    Okay, JAD, I’m all in. How much are you willing to bet? $500? $1000? $10,000? What’s the timeframe?

    Don’t be a piker here, I’m not lowballing. How about a bet like, “I’m willing to bet $10,000 that a minister in the United States will be legally compelled to perform a same-sex marriage in their church by 2019”?

    (Just to be fair, though, I advise that before you commit – look up how many U.S. churches have been legally compelled to marry an interracial couple.)

  64. Tom Gilson –

    Either way, the right (or “right”) so identified is available to the entire population.

    “The constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1883 case Pace v. Alabama (106 U.S. 583)… According to the court, both races were treated equally, because whites and blacks were punished in equal measure for breaking the law against interracial marriage and interracial sex.”

    BTW, do you have links or books or something that goes over the ‘homosexual agenda’ and the history you’re referring? “Madsen/Kirk/Pill” is a little vague. I like to go to original sources when possible.

  65. Shane:

    The western world has only just recently started to embrace the fact that people of all colours are in fact equal to white people and that women and equal to men and should have total autonomy over their bodies, although that is obviously still under attack.

    There is plently of Biblical support racial and gender equality beginning with Genesis 1:27. However, I disagree that anyone has “total autonomy over their bodies…” So in your view there is nothing wrong with chain smoking, alcohol/drug abuse or obesity?

    This acceptance of basic human rights is because of a concerted effort of the minority to show that the majority/tradition/the status quo is wrong.

    How can one determine anything is right or wrong without an objective moral standard of right or wrong? Earlier you asked, “Why do I need an objective reason for “morality” or rights outside of society?” Where do atheists or secularists find an objective standard for moral values and human rights? There is none when man begins autonomously with man.

    It appears to me that you’ve painted yourself into a corner with your line of reasoning.

    This does not lead credence to the theory that a creator instilled in us the “basic human rights” nearly 6000 years ago. It leads credence to the opposite of that.

    The problems we presently have in society is a result of man thinking he can live autonomously without God.

    Ray @ #68,

    What are you saying Ray? You are a know-it-all who has never been wrong? I already believe that Ray– that is, I believe you believe that about yourself.

  66. JAD – What I’m saying is that (a) I do not believe that there is any chance of any church in the U.S. being forced to perform a same-sex marriage against their will, and (b) I’d like to see how sure you are that it will happen, using money as a proxy.

    In short, I’m asking you to put your money where your mouth is. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is… I’ve been wrong before, but I really don’t think I’m wrong about this one.

    (Note: if you lose the bet, you don’t have to give the money to me. I’m sure we can agree on some deserving charity to give the money to.)

  67. Tom – Interesting. By their own words, though, the campaign described is “designed to chip away at chronic misperceptions”, not to promote things they themselves believe are false. I can see similarities to the campaign against segregation (also explicitly referenced in their own words).

    Holding their use of the word “propaganda” against them seems… excessive. As the wikipedia article about ‘propaganda’ notes, the term originates from works intended to propagate the Christian faith. It’s a tool, that can be used for good or ill, not an inherently evil practice.

  68. Then don’t hold it against them. Instead you could hold against them their manipulative attempts to portray gays as victims and their opponents as blithering slathering idiots. It doesn’t come out too much different, as far as I can see.

  69. Tom Gilson – Again, so far as they see it, that’s the truth.

    I can object to them to the extent that their portrayal is false. (C.f. Holopupenko who’s never hesitant to link any atheist with Stalinist Communism.)

    But gays really are victimized and suffer the effects of prejudice. And while there are religious people and organizations that oppose homosexuality without attacking homosexuals as “shadowy, lonesome, fail[ed], drunken, suicidal, child-snatching misfits”, there also exist plenty that do exactly that. Keith linked to some contemporary examples back in #63. Things were… rather more vicious back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  70. Hi JAD,

    There is plently of Biblical support racial and gender equality beginning with Genesis 1:27.

    That is not evidence of support of gender equality, and there is no mention of race at all. Do you really think you can find more bible quotes relating to equality than I can for the acceptance of slavery and women being treated as lessors than men?

    “However, I disagree that anyone has “total autonomy over their bodies…” So in your view there is nothing wrong with chain smoking, alcohol/drug abuse or obesity?”

    I understand you believe your body belongs to God. But you can’t make someone else believe that their body belongs to God.

    “How can one determine anything is right or wrong without an objective moral standard of right or wrong?”

    By using a Subjective moral standard.

    “Earlier you asked, “Why do I need an objective reason for “morality” or rights outside of society?” Where do atheists or secularists find an objective standard for moral values and human rights? There is none when man begins autonomously with man.”

    And again, why do we need an objective reason for morality? I think it would be wrong for someone else to kill me or my family. By an extension through empathy, it is wrong for someone to kill anyone. Therefor I think murder is morally wrong.

    You need to explain to me how having an objective reason is better than having a subjective one.

  71. Shane @ 77,

    “I think it would be wrong for someone else to kill me or my family. By an extension through empathy, it is wrong for someone to kill anyone. Therefor [sic] I think murder is morally wrong.”

    Why the conflation between kill and murder?

    Is it wrong for you to kill yourself or your family or only if “someone else” does it?

    How do you know that the “extension through empathy” exists? How does someone test the validity this extension?

    Can you provide evidence (empirical evidence not personal testimony) that your belief is true and not taken on blind faith?

  72. Shane,

    Playing the devil’s advocate on subjective reasons for morality:

    Killing a living entity to satisfy a need is amoral (neither moral nor immoral).
    We know through the observation of the natural world that humans are living entities.
    Therefore it is amoral to murder to satisfy a need.

    Your subjective morality and mine conflict. How do we determine whose is true since both cannot be (that is, murder is both immoral and not immoral)?

  73. Shane Fletcher @ #77:

    And again, why do we need an objective reason for morality? I think it would be wrong for someone else to kill me or my family. By an extension through empathy, it is wrong for someone to kill anyone. Therefor I think murder is morally wrong.

    You need to explain to me how having an objective reason is better than having a subjective one.

    Are you being honest with us Shane? How would we know if there is no objective, or mutually shared, standard for honesty?

  74. JAD doesn’t seem to be willing to take me up on my bet. Anyone else want to step up?

    (Think of it as “forced gay-marriage insurance”. If I win, you don’t get forced gay marriages. If you win, a substantial sum of money goes to a charity you like.)

  75. Empirical evidence for toddes in 78: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/do_mirror_neurons_give_empathy

    What do we mean when we use the word morality? Right and wrong behaviour, but in what context? Obviously not with regard to games of chess, or answers to questions on an exam, anyway. The common thread of the examples we give is the relation to the well-being and suffering of conscious creatures, without these states it simply isn’t a moral question or situation.

    So how does subjective morality look? So far it seems to be pertaining to my own wellbeing and suffering, my wellbeing (and that of people I like and invest personal wellbeing in) and suffering. Now, normative or objective morality is regarding every human, how we all ought to act. Subjectively, we each want the well-being of ourselves and the people we like. To not contradict each other, to make the vision of morality apply to everyone, it needs to be non-competitive. Therefore objective morality relates to the well-being and suffering of all conscious creatures, with wellbeing being good and suffering being bad.

    This morality is not binding like religious morality, except in its enforcement by humans, through laws and human rights. The responsibility lies in us alone.

    Notice that this life of argument is semantic, defining what the word morality means. Feel free to explain why this definition is incorrect, or offer an alternative, but I think need to agree on a definition before arguing more.

  76. Keith’s linked list in #63 is a mixed bag. Some of the groups I’m familiar with, some I’m not. I have no idea whether some of them lay hold on any real Christianity. (And if you tell me no one knows what “real Christianity” is, I’ll tell you where you can find out after all.) Some of them I know through personal relationships with their current or former leaders, and I know that their inclusion on a “hate group” list requires re-defining “hate” to mean, “I disagree.” That’s a re-definition that is rampant, it’s idiotic, it’s logically self-defeating, and it’s hateful for its unjust and false labeling.

    So my assessment of this list goes like this: I know some of it is wrong. Some of it is indeed hateful. SomeOther parts of it I don’t know about, but the parts I do know, I have solid reasons to mistrust. Why then would I trust any of it? It’s garbage.

  77. Tom – Oh, I know you think I’m wrong. I’m just trying to get a handle on how confident people are in that belief. Personally, I’m sure enough I’m right that I’m willing to risk losing a few thousand bucks in a few years, and – more importantly – face the ire of my wife if that happens.

    It’s the same with creationism. Finding oil is a very high-stakes issue for oil companies. Trillions of dollars are riding on it. When they look for the most likely spots to drill, do they use Flood geology, or mainstream? Which one actually delivers the goods?

    If the Earth is only 6,000 years old, where did the oil come from? If created in the ground, is there a way to predict where it might be found? Or perhaps it did form from plankton, but 10,000 times faster than any chemist thinks it could in those conditions? A young Earth and a Flood would imply some interesting questions to ask, some extremely valuable research programs to start. How come nobody’s actually pursuing such research programs?

    Why don’t creationists put together an investment fund, venture capital for things like oil and mineral rights? If “Flood geology” is really a better theory, then it should make better predictions than standard geology does. The profits from such a venture could pay for a lot of evangelism. Hardly anyone actually does this, though. (And the few that do lose money big time.)

  78. Ray,

    Where I think you’re missing the point on churches being forced to perform SSM is your belief that the campaign for SSM is really all about SSM. It certainly is about that but that’s only part of it. I believe the long term agenda of the campaign is to break down every last vestige of Christian influence in the society. They want Christians and Christian Churches disenfranchised from any meaningful place in the public square. The inevitable legal challenge will make churches choose to either perform SSM or relinquish their ability to perform state licensed marriages at all.

  79. BillT:

    . I believe the long term agenda of the campaign is to break down every last vestige of Christian influence in the society. They want Christians and Christian Churches disenfranchised from any meaningful place in the public square.

    This is a conspiracy theory, many of the people who argue for gay marriage identify as Christians and attend church.

    People want gay marriage to be allowed because it is thought that people should all have the same rights and privileges, regardless of who they are attracted to and what type of genitalia the couple have.

    Would you call the banning of slavery another vestige of Christian influence on society broken down by the globally-feared “them”? Many people think the homosexuality debate is a similar, less extreme, situation. If Christians do not have the right to discriminate based on skin colour, why should they have the right to discriminate based on sexuality?

  80. Oisin @82:

    From the interview:

    JM: So you’ve talked about the role of mirror neurons in motor skills. I wonder if you could elaborate on the role of mirror neurons in affective experiences, in emotional experiences.

    VR: Well, people have asked me that already, and I don’t know much about it. All I know is they are involved in empathy for, say, touch or a gentle caress or pain.

    And later:

    The other important thing I want to say is that mirror neurons are obviously the starting point for things like empathy, but that’s all it is—I mean, you need much more.

    Where is the empirical data for mirror neurons as a basis for subjective morality? The interview indicates there may be a correlation for motor skills or physical acts but how does this relate to empathy which is primarily about emotions or thoughts?

    As for morality: defining it based on well-being and suffering leaves much to be desired. We can grow through suffering so to label all suffering as bad (or immoral) does not stand close scrutiny.

    For myself, morality is more about being virtuous and in agreement with our Nature (def.: the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character) then being (subjectively) good or bad.

  81. Oisin,

    Living life in reflection of Christ is more than self-identification and church attendance.

    IIRC, the BTK Killer (Dennis Rader) identified as a Christian and was considered a leader in his congregation. From what you understand of Jesus Christ, did Rader acts run counter to or in agreement with his teachings and example?

    My point being that just because someone identifies as Christian does not make it so or makes their actions in agreement with Christ’s teachings.

  82. Oisin,

    No, it’s not a conspiracy theory or anything remotely like a conspiracy theory. It’s a conclusion based on my observation of the activist SSM, gay rights movement and my personal knowledge of the people who are part of it. You’re welcome to disagree but your bald assertion and mischaracterization of my opinion as a conspiracy theory does little for your credibility.

    Further, your attempt to compare it to the end of slavery is so far off target as to be laughable. As a matter of fact, the global “them” have waged nonstop effort to discredit the quite singular Christian influence in the abolition of legal slavery from almost the moment of it’s success. And your attempt to call opposition to SSM “discrimination” is equally uninformed and predudicial.

  83. toddes in 88:

    We can grow through suffering so to label all suffering as bad (or immoral) does not stand close scrutiny

    This would simply fit into our growing understanding of how to achieve greater wellbeing, you would need to prove empirically that your claim that suffering sometimes improved wellbeing was true, and you would need to show specific instances where this was and was not the case. The evidence would shore up any difficulties from this point.

    For myself, morality is more about being virtuous and in agreement with our Nature (def.: the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character) then being (subjectively) good or bad.

    Where you get your virtues is problematic, e.g. do you treat your slaves well? Do you stone homosexuals to death? This is rhetorical, but you need to explain how these virtues come about before claiming they are moral. Further, what if we disagree on what are virtues? Relevant, is faith a virtue, or is scepticism a virtue? The fundamental qualities of a person are surely the source of their subjective experiences of good and bad, so you are essentially agreeing with this line of argumentation, saying that global subjective morality is the basis for objective, normative morality.

    In 89:

    My point being that just because someone identifies as Christian does not make it so or makes their actions in agreement with Christ’s teachings.

    Which is more important: Christ’s direct commandment to judge not lest ye be judged, or the old testament’s commandment to stone homosexuals to death? The fact that we can even have this argument is a sign that faith in the Bible causes a severe lack of empathy towards minorities like the homosexual community. If you think morality isn’t about empathy, then okay.

    @BillT:

    You are making a ridiculous claim that a group of people banded together to support homosexuals, not because they are people who are discriminated against and hurt and need assistance in being treated as equals, but because this group of people want to annoy Christians and take away their societal influence.

    Your claim necessitates that, if the church was pro-gay marriage, this conspiracy would then be arguing against gay marriage, simply because they do not like church influence. This is obviously not what you believe, so your position is unjustified.

  84. Oisin,

    You again mischaracterize my statement. It isn’t an either/or proposition. There were certainly those who supported SSM for the reason you give as I acknowledged in my initial post. The reality is though that isn’t the only reason for their activism. There is a further agenda in play. The end game is to get everyone to agree with their point of view or be disenfranchised as I also explained in my post. Your critique mischaracterized and ignored (again) what I said above. Next time I’ll try a language we both understand like English.

  85. BillT:

    LGBT Claim:

    The end game is to get everyone to agree with their point of view or be disenfranchised as I also explained in my post

    This is actually a different claim to the one you made earlier:

    Anti-theist claim:

    I believe the long term agenda of the campaign is to break down every last vestige of Christian influence in the society

    I agree wholeheartedly with the LGBT claim, they are using social influence to make it simply unacceptable in conversation to make any claim about gay people being different or having different rights to heterosexual people, and isolation and ostracization are used on people who do not agree.

    Your Anti-theist claim is that this is used against Christians specifically, or with a conscious aim to damaging Christianity directly. This line of reasoning is simply invalid, because the issue has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with empathy and compassion, and the point is that you cannot use your religion as an excuse in civil conversation to denigrate other people or insult them or treat them as second-class citizens. Whether your beliefs are because you are homophobic, or because you are a devout Christian, are simply irrelevant, gay people’s relationships should be treated with the same amount of respect, compassion and joy as straight people’s relationships, and to do otherwise is a failure of compassion.

  86. This line of reasoning is simply invalid, because the issue has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with empathy and compassion…

    So say you but the reality is that there is an anti-religion agenda built into this. All the “empathy and compassion” is both is true and also serves as a front to keep the anti-religion agenda from getting too much publicity. What is, of course, most unsurprising about your post is that you have bought into an agenda that makes any stand against SSM impermissible no matter how principled it might be. (Principled stands being in your language to “…denigrate other people or insult them or treat them as second-class citizens”.) This is the thought police hard at work making all of us behave according to the dictates of those “in charge”. Propaganda and intolerance masquerading as enlightened thought and equality. Paul Joseph Goebbels would approve.

  87. BillT:

    Godwin’s Law has been invoked, that’s how you know it’s time to go!

    All the “empathy and compassion” is both is true and also serves as a front to keep the anti-religion agenda from getting too much publicity.

    Hmmm… Again, since Christians are a part of the movement, it doesn’t make sense to claim that it is an anti-Christian movement. In fact there is no evidence that it is an anti-Christian movement, except that it disagrees strongly with Christians who somehow value the words of the Old Testament over the words of Christ himself.

    What is, of course, most revealing about your post is that you have bought into an agenda that makes any stand against SSM impermissible no matter how principled it might be.

    What principle can you invoke that allows you to treat certain types of people as inferior? God? The Bible?

    Bill, I don’t expect this to work, but I implore you to stretch your imagination, and try understanding what it is like to be a homosexual in a Christian environment. Read some books about their persecution, watch videos of people talking about how this religious campaign as hurt them, understand why secularists don’t want to see them hurt anymore. It’s not a conspiracy.

  88. Oisin #95

    “What principle can you invoke that allows you to treat certain types of people as inferior? God? The Bible?”

    There is no one here seeking to denigrate and harm people simply because they are attracted to the same sex and even act on those attractions. Your question is in the “have you stopped your beating your wife yet?” category. You have already judged others with having ill motives and/or of wrong doing simply by asking the question. A question like this would only be appropriate if anyone admitted to an actual desire to harm people who attracted to others of the same sex.

    Keep in mind, no one anywhere ever has been harmed by marriage being a union of a man and woman. This is true in all ways, including legally. Laws that correctly recognize only a union of husband and wife as marriage are good for all and harmful to none. People who wish for the law to not change here are likely doing so out of real love and compassion for all. People who do not celebrate same sex relationships are likely acting out of real love and compassion as well.

    Oisin #93

    “Whether your beliefs are because you are homophobic, or because you are a devout Christian, are simply irrelevant, gay people’s relationships should be treated with the same amount of respect, compassion and joy as straight people’s relationships, and to do otherwise is a failure of compassion.”

    If by respect and compassion, you simply mean people should accept and tolerate that some will enter into romantic relationships with others of the same sex…fair enough. That seems to follow the principle of letting others live as they wish and associate with whom they wish. Then you say people should be joyous about someone being in a romantic relationship with another of the same sex. On what grounds can you justify this objective moral claim? If I understand you correctly, you would say a father who is distraught over his son being with another man is being immoral, evil, and hurting his son simply because of what he feels and believes. He is committing a grave sin.

  89. Oisin,

    You responses are really without merit and more than border on the dishonest. As an example: Principled opposition to SSM is not to “treat certain types of people as inferior…” Saying more than this would only dignify your dishonesty.

    Oisin, I don’t expect this to work, but I implore you to stretch your imagination… You have become what, I suspect you used to most abhor. You have become a card carrying member of the thought police, you have become one of Stalin’s “useful idiots”, you have joined the ranks of the Brown Shirts and the goose stepping propagandized masses. You’re the frog in the pot and you never even saw it coming.

  90. BillT – I think your expectations and theories are… unlikely, to put it mildly. I agree that there are people who want to minimize the influence of Christianity, but I don’t think they are any more likely to do terrible things than the Christians that want to minimize the influence of atheists.

    As to the “public square”… talking about Christianity in public is one thing. Decorating government buildings in exclusively Christian fashion is another.

    In any case, though… are you willing to take my bet? What timeframe are we looking at?

  91. Ray,

    You can think what you like but my expectations are well founded and the people behind this push will not stop at legalized SSM. Your bet is a lose – lose for me because and as I said, the inevitable legal challenge will make churches choose to either perform SSM (as has already happened) or relinquish their ability to perform state licensed marriages at all. So no church will be “forced” to perform SSM but I think many may cease performing state licensed marriages under that threat.

  92. Ah. BillT – Just thought of the right analogy. Tom Gilson has noted that he finds those secularists who are worried about a Christian “theocracy” in the U.S. to be alarmist at best, deluded at worst. I find your nightmare scenarios in the other direction to be equally unconvincing.

  93. BillT –

    the inevitable legal challenge will make churches choose to either perform SSM (as has already happened)

    Where in the United States of America has that happened?

  94. “…to either perform SSM (as has already happened)…” (meaning churches are currently performing SSM)

    Sorry, bad punctuation.

  95. Ray,

    Analogies are great if they’re true. Otherwise…

    And the “theocracy” analogy is a particularly bad one as we already have over 200 years of history of Christian influence in this country (and for most of it a far greater influence than is true today) and no one has every seriously attempted or to transform America into a theocracy.

  96. Okay, BillT, I’ll take your bet. In what timeframe do you see churches being required to either perform gay marriages or not be able to perform legal marriages at all? How much money are you willing to hazard? And do you want the winnings to go to charity or to one of us?

    I mean, some churches do choose – quite freely – to perform SSM. (BTW, is it an imposition on their religious freedom not to legally recognize those marriages?) But I am exceedingly confident that no church will be legally required to perform an SSM in the U.S., on whatever conditions.

  97. BillT – Can you explain why it’s silly? I’m perfectly serious and I’m not a welcher – I will pay up if I lose.

    no one has every seriously attempted or to transform America into a theocracy

    Nor has anyone tried to transform it to the opposite. Which is why they are both ridiculous.

  98. My goodness, I have forgotten this thread. Apologies.

    #78

    Hi toddes.

    “I think it would be wrong for someone else to kill me or my family. By an extension through empathy, it is wrong for someone to kill anyone. Therefor [sic] I think murder is morally wrong.”

    Why the conflation between kill and murder?”

    Do you think there is a big difference between the two words in this context? I would like to hear why you don’t think they can be used interchangeably here.

    “Is it wrong for you to kill yourself or your family or only if “someone else” does it?”

    It is wrong for anyone to kill another individual. Suicide can’t be classed as wrong because there is no punishment that society can inflict on the person that does it.

    “How do you know that the “extension through empathy” exists? How does someone test the validity this extension?”

    I feel empathy for others. That’s how I know it exists.

    “Can you provide evidence (empirical evidence not personal testimony) that your belief is true and not taken on blind faith?”

    What belief are you referring to?
    Oh and if you don’t think personal testimony can be evidence then please swing by the topic where we are discussing the definition of faith. 🙂

    Cheers
    Shane

  99. #79

    Hi again toddes,

    “Playing the devil’s advocate on subjective reasons for morality:

    Killing a living entity to satisfy a need is amoral (neither moral nor immoral).
    We know through the observation of the natural world that humans are living entities.
    Therefore it is amoral to murder to satisfy a need.

    Your subjective morality and mine conflict. How do we determine whose is true since both cannot be (that is, murder is both immoral and not immoral)?”

    My subjective morality can be applied to, and protects, all members of a society equally. Yours does not. Civilised societies are built on a foundation that we are all equal.

    I don’t think I’d use the word true though. Subjective and true don’t really go together. True beauty, for example, is a meaningless phrase.

    Cheers
    Shane

  100. #80

    Hi JAD

    “Are you being honest with us Shane? How would we know if there is no objective, or mutually shared, standard for honesty?”

    “Mutually shared” means people with the same subjective standard. Objective means an external standard outside the system you are measuring.

    Cheers
    Shane

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