Southern Baptists rage against gays

This press release is one of the oddest, most repulsive screeds I’ve ever laid eyes on. You’ve got to look it over, and most important, you’ve got to read those quotes from the “experts” toward the end.

I was pointed to this by Pam Spaulding, who goes on to give us some very interesting background information on these “experts.” Yikes.

Why shouldn’t we be concerned about the religious right? Give me one reason.

The Discussion: 23 Comments

Yeah, my state of Kansas recently decided, dispite common sence, to amend the Kansas constitution (even though It was already there) that defines marrige between a man and a woman.

I have often considered going underground and forgeing documents to make gay unions legal, but I would probably be arrested.

there are some in Kansas who take the right wing for gospel, taking every word like candy. It sickens me, the point of a free democracy it the oppertunty to see both sides, and if you choose not to then…what’s the point???

May 11, 2005 @ 11:33 am | Comment

This is a common thread I’ve been observing — are Christians the ones who want to make homosexuals second-class citizens, or are Baptists? Baptists will hide themselves under the enormous umbrella of Christianity, but I’m not aware of any other sect that goes after homosexuals with such exhibitionistic vehemence.

May 11, 2005 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

I studied Baptists in college as a part of my Religion degree. I wrote a paper essentially arguing that they were sociopaths. I see I was right.

May 11, 2005 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

You know those things I said, about being freaked out by the religious right and not wanting to hang out with them? The stuff that got me labeled “bigoted and shrill”?

Golly, whatever was I going on about?

May 11, 2005 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

Seems to me that this is a case in point of what I was saying before. The actual arguments aren’t being addressed … it’s just a case of saying “they oppose being gay, therefore they’re bad.” The most interesting quote for me was the denial of a link between gay activism and the civil rights movement. That fits in very well with what I was saying: to these people, being gay is akin to child molestation. It doesn’t matter how many times child molesters (and some of their victims) say it’s ok, and a valid lifestyle choice, those kind of statements would just enrage everyone (gay or straight, liberal or conservative). If there were in fact groups trying to actively influence school curriculums to that “choice” it would indeed be outrageous, and everyone would oppose it strongly. So, that’s the point of view of these Christians.

Now, I’ve said before that I’m an atheist, and that I don’t subscribe to these doctrines, but I do believe I understand them. So I’m going to give you some advice on how best to undermine their arguments. The place they are most vulberable is in their home turf – the bible. They assert that this is a ultimate word of god, and because of it, they must suppress homsexuality, because it is specifically condemned in that book. Just as I’ve said that I feel that many gays aren’t engaging in the argument in order to justify why society should not discriminate, these Christians almost never actually examine their own beliefs – it’s just assumed that it’s a non-negotiable term in their belief. This is open for debate. These Christians are most vulnerable to an attack that I refer to as “cultural relativism”. Except for a small number of churches that the mainstream would freely describe as “cults”, no Christian church in fact adheres to all New Testament teachings. Basically, there are a whole pile of specific instructions that the modern church has chosen to define as being ordinances for the age in which they were issued, but not applicable to the current situation. Therefore they may be ignored with impunity from divine anger. That’s why it’s very common to see Christian women who cut their hair (which they’re not supposed to do) and Christians that accept blood transfussions (except for the JWs) for example. According to my reading of the specific texts, you can’t really wriggle your way around these rules. The one about blood is so categorically stated that the “ordinance of the day” argument is about the only one they have to fall back on. So … once you’ve pointed out to a Christian that he is in fact ignoring a number of strict provisions of his own holy book, you can ask him how it’s decided which rule has to be followed, and which doesn’t. Of course, that one comes down to human decision. Once you’ve reached that point in the discussion, the Christian is on a lot less secure ground in stating categorically the gays must be opposed. Who’s to say that that was not an ordinance of the day, but perfectly acceptable in today’s society? Of course, the Christian can reply that some rules are “core” rules, and can never be disobeyed, but in getting that admission, you’ve already opened it for debate over whether the gay rule is one of those core rules or not. That’s the way to debate with people of this ethos: you attack them at the heart of their beliefs. At very least, it will upset them and send them off to do a bit of thinking about how to better counter your argument.

Of course, this debate is unsolveable in the end. Without making any comment about who is right or wrong, I think it’s pretty obvious to all concerned that Christians of this ethos have already reached their conclusion, and all debate is simply invented to justify themselves. Gays on the other hand take it as an automatic assumption that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, and produce arguments starting from that point. Thus, it doesn’t matter how much either side should undermine the other side’s reasoning, nothing will really change, because the conclusion comes first, and if you knock out one pillar of belief, the believer will simply find another. Or quite happily let their conclusion hang in midair without support.

Frankly, I find this to be a classic example of an unsolveable argument. But I do enjoy a good bit of debate with the occasional dash of sophistry, and not being in either “camp” I guess I feel fine to criticise either side’s approach.

May 11, 2005 @ 7:13 pm | Comment

FS9, all your points about challenging Christians – and to be clear, I am only referring to types like the Southern Baptists under discussion here – on their own turf are good ones. But I think there’s a false equivalence here – this is a civil rights issue. You could make a lot of the same points about segregationists before the Civil Rights movement. We made a societal choice that this belief system controlling and oppressing a minority was unacceptable.

May 11, 2005 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

Isn’t former US President Jimmy Carter a Southern Baptist?

May 11, 2005 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

yes, I believe Carter is…and he is the sort of person of faith who walks the walk. I have a lot of admiration for him.

I don’t know that much about the Southern Baptists, but I do recall that there have been some big schisms over policy issues between various congregations/associations…er, someone want to help me out with the proper vocabulary here???

May 11, 2005 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

Guys, the US is a democracy right, and the majority of US citizens want (at least so it appears) a ban on gay marriages, right?

Isn’t the essence of democracy that the majority voice shall be heard.

Put it to a state by state vote. Let the people decide. If the people are ignorant and stupid, then democracy says that that is the right way to be.

May 12, 2005 @ 3:00 am | Comment

Richard, just out of curiosity ……

Which side of the bread are you buttering these days?

You seem to be taking this very personally.

The religious right have always been like this, and gay marriages have always been off of the statute books, it’s not as if they’re taking away something that already exists.

Personally, I’m all for gay marriages just so long as they have ALL of the same strings attatched as regular marriages, including divorce procedures and alamony, and just so long as they nobody forces religious groups to perform them against their wishes (state marriages are one thing, relgious maraiges are another in my book).

May 12, 2005 @ 3:04 am | Comment

There are many outstanding Southern Baptists in this world, and I am even friends with some. Two people in my division at work are evangelicals and they’re great people. It’s the ones who put out press releases like this in the name of the church that I worry about.

ACB, what are you talking about? This post has nothing, zero to do with gay marriage and I’m afraid it looks like you didn’t really read it. Also, if you were familiar with this blog you’ll know I am not an outspoken advocate of gay marriage and it’s not a topic I get very excited about. I’m for it, but I know the US isn’t going to accept it, at least not now.

May 12, 2005 @ 6:24 am | Comment

Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptists because he didn’t like their direction.

May 12, 2005 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Thanks a lot for that link! Carter sure got it right:

In his press release, Carter said he and his wife, Rosalynn, want to associate with “other traditional Baptists who continue to share such beliefs as separation of church and state, servanthood and not domination of pastors, local church autonomy, a free religious press and equality of women.”

He lamented the SBC’s departure from those beliefs and the exclusion of those who disagree from service in the convention.

“Over the years, leaders of the convention have adopted an increasingly rigid creed, called a Baptist Faith & Message, including some provisions that violate the basic tenets of my Christian faith,” Carter said. “These premises have become mandatory criteria that must be accepted by employees, by members of committees who control the convention’s affairs and by professors who teach in the SBC-owned seminaries. Obviously, this can have a far-reaching and permanent effect.”

May 12, 2005 @ 8:01 am | Comment

Jimmy Carter is a very good man.

In terms of gay marriage, I think that 1. the religious aspects of marriage should be separated from the civil, and 2. Civil partnerships should be available to any couple who wishes to commit to one. and finally, 3. even if a majority of the US can’t accept 2., this is a civil rights issue and a time where we need to respect and protect the rights of a minority.

May 12, 2005 @ 10:04 am | Comment

ACB, gay marriage is the trigger. It has everything to do with it.

May 12, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Why can’t schools just hand out a parental consent form for lessons on homosexuality, a I understand it, many chools in the US do this for sex ed anyway.

May 12, 2005 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

Well, I am a vocal proponent of gay marriage for one good reason: the separation of church and state. I don’t care what we call it – it doesn’t have to be marriage – we could call it “gay unions” – but basically I think that whatever your religious beliefs, the state has the duty to provide two consenting adults the same privileges and rights as any other two consenting adults, regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, number of botox injections, etc. as long as no laws are being broken. As far as I checked, even China has taken being gay off the lists for being against the law or being a mental disorder. Gay unions should provide the same legal rights as any other marriage. Allah, Jehovah, JHVH, GOD and Buddha can disapprove, but last I checked it’s the senators that make the laws, and the constitution that guides them – not the holy host. We aren’t talking about sex. We’re talking about legally binding documents, right to alimony, child-rearing, living wills etc. We have the right to choose. Call me a liberal. You’d be right.

This doesn’t just have to do with the person you have sex with – since your blood relatives have rights in these departments too. It has to do more with how we as a society allow ourselves to define our legal network of relations – our next of kin and our legal partners.

But ACB, you are right, given that the States is a democracy, legalisation won’t be happening country-wide anytime soon!

May 13, 2005 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

Ah, only after I read all the comments do I realise that “other lisa” has listed everything I wanted to say, but more succinctly. apologies for taking up space!

May 13, 2005 @ 8:00 pm | Comment

Although the US is a democracy, it cannot be run with the minority at the mercy of the majority. There are many laws to protect the rights of the individual. A law that violates the Constitution (either state or federal) will be struck down – no matter how large the majority that support it.

The issue here is extremeism, not religion. Religion is just the tool being (mis)used to advance an agenda that cannot stand on its own merits. Sullivan has several posts on the similarities between Islamic and Christian extremeism that should be read.

I disagree that attacking their belief is the way to deal with these people. Even if you can get them to the point that they say you are right – it will not have changed anything. You CANNOT be right if you do not agree with them.

I also disagree with those who grant them much influence in the political arena. Just as in the 50s and 60s with the rants and diatribes about civil rights, they will ultimately fail in their mission. Apparently God is not on their side.

May 13, 2005 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

It’s odd but nice to see that everyone agrees on gay marriage in here. Will democratic America ever be ready for it?

May 14, 2005 @ 2:21 am | Comment

Dear Laowai 1979 etc.,

I’m really glad to see your post – I think expanding on the issue might help some folks to get it who might not otherwise.

Besides, it makes me feel less lonely… ๐Ÿ˜‰

May 15, 2005 @ 3:02 am | Comment

Oh the SBC are a bunch of loons, no?

Baptists don’t have a central hierarchy, each individual church is independent. However, they are (usually) members of one or another Baptist Convention, which is a common doctrinal grouping. Schisms and suchnot have been fairly common in Baptist denominations for this reason.

Prior to the Civil War, the Southern Baptist Convention split from the rest of the Churches in the United States over the slavery question. Their spin at the time was that they were for slavery per se, just that each state should decide. Ptt!!

And I think that the SBC are perhaps the most virulently anti-gay flavor of Christian in the US.

Disclaimer: while not ever a Baptist, my wife was raised one, and the anti-gay stance (bring your gay friends in and we’ll ‘cure’ them!) is what made her question them as a young teen. My only connection is that I’m carrying the same Y-chromosome as one of the co-founds of the SBC, and hence have more of a feeling of personal ‘white guilt’ than most.

May 16, 2005 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

David, my profound sympathies!! It sounds like you may have an interesting story to tell.

May 17, 2005 @ 10:06 am | Comment

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