Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nothing Gets A Pass Like Religion

We have all heard Christians react to a criticism of other Christians with the typical No True Scotsman fallacy and say “Well they aren’t real Christians.” It happens so often the fallacy has become a cliché. More than a few times and possibly several dozen I have been either lightly or firmly chastised by a Christian or even by non-believers who want no part of confrontation, that religions aren’t responsible for every negative behavior in the world. Ok, seems reasonable. I have no quarrel with that point except to say that I have never said that. This is a misdirection. A kind of straw man. I have never said, nor do I think, that religions are responsible for every ill in the world. Though it tries its damnedest, I do not actually think religion “poisons everything” (all apologies to Hitch). When talking about the negative impacts religion has on individuals, societies and cultures I am pointing out that it is actually religion that is responsible for these actions or behaviors. People are all too willing to give religion a pass. Religion, despite the claims of many of its adherents, has a lot to answer for and usually doesn’t.

The misdirection of saying that religion isn’t all bad, intentionally or not, constantly undermines valid criticism of religion from gaining traction. In instances were a valid criticism is raised and this dismissive line is used it is likely an attempt to shut up the person raising the point and helps preserve the religious from having to think too hard about the consequences of their faith. This happens all the time. Recently, I posted the following picture on Facebook with the comment: “What happens when societies blindly respect religious practices?”

Yes, that is picture of female genital mutilation taking place. It is sickening. 

The immediate response was that I was being a “bummer” which had the immediate effect of pissing me off.  Though the person later claimed that they weren’t being dismissive, I took it that way and quite frankly I still think they were whether they realized it or not (It was said by someone I like and they aren’t someone I would expect to be that way so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).

Another instance where I ran into this, and I am positive that others have heard the same, is when pointing out that homophobia in America is not only a religious problem, but a Christian one. Non-homophobic Christians, of course, do not like to hear this. It is too bad that they do not wish their religion associated with some of the most vitriolic hate and discrimination in the 21st century, but that has no bearing on the truth and validity of that fact. The obvious examples are organizations like Westboro Baptist Church, National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council (FRC), Liberty Council, Family Research Institute, American Family Association (AFA), Chalcedon Foundation, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, etc. and people like Pastors Sean Harris and Mark Rowden (“beat the gay out of kids.”), and Pastor Worley (“put the lesbians and queers behind an electric fence and let them die out.”). I really could go on and on. These organizations and people are extreme examples that garner national media attention, but they are not outliers; not exactly.

I have never heard of a single argument against same-sex marriage that does not cite religion. Not one. That is because it does not exist. The entire movement against equal civil rights is based on religion, and in a nation that has a Christian majority that means the greatest barrier to equality is, in fact, many Christians. There is a vast and powerful machine that is financed and organized at the grassroots level by Christian churches across America. Pastors preach it from the pulpit and church groups organize anti-gay public events. Would Prop 8 or Amendment One exist without churches? These aren’t small, isolated groups that are easily dismissed. They have money, organization and power. Otherwise this wouldn’t be an issue. Denying this is a lie.  Either to everyone else or one’s own self. 

UPDATE 1:  “Ain’t No Homos Gonna Go To Heaven” Just found this and thought it was apt.

UPDATE 2:Justin Griffith  has an excellent post on this matter with information on the church and the pastor. A 4 year old is taught to gay bash! And the parents love it. Indoctrination of bigotry and hatred


Buffy said...

It's amazing how much you can get away with when you blame it on "god".