Reactionary Christianity wins in North Carolina, loses in Georgia

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Photo courtesy the office of Gov. Pay McCrory.

Photo courtesy the office of Gov. Pay McCrory.

Photo courtesy the office of Gov. Pat McCrory.

Photo courtesy the office of Gov. Pat McCrory.

Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal just vetoed HB 757, a bill that was essentially aimed at shielding Georgia’s conservative Christians from having to support or be complicit with gay marriage in any way. North Carolina’s governor Pat McCrory signed HB 2, a far worse bill essentially denying transgender people access to public restrooms and denying cities and localities the ability to pass ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

READ: Georgia governor vetoes religious liberty bill denounced as anti-gay

These kinds of bills could only have emerged at this exact moment in American history. They are rearguard actions by frustrated religious conservatives who have lost the broader national debate over gay people despite decades of strenuous effort.

Georgia’s conservative, Baptist, Republican governor carried through on his expressed concerns about our state’s legislation. He went right at the religious motivations by offering a more humane and hospitable understanding of the religion of Jesus. He also spoke about what kind of state he thinks Georgia wants to be and suggested that this legislation did not advance that vision.

Cynics say this veto was all about commerce. It is true that major business groups opposed the legislation, and surely this mattered. But the governor’s consistently stated religious objections matter too. Perhaps it is sufficient to say that the governor vetoed the legislation because it did not advance the common good in the state of Georgia. I happen to agree, as do many other Christians in Georgia. I can only hope that eventually the same outcome will occur in North Carolina.

The religious heart of this problem remains unchanged. It’s as simple as this: based on a particular reading of the Bible, Christians have been taught moral contempt for gay people and rejection of the concept that gay people can have morally legitimate romantic relationships, including marriages. That comprehensive moral rejection has done great harm, as gay people and those who care about them can easily attest.

For decades, and recently with growing intensity, Christians have been challenged to reconsider their reading of the Bible and their understanding of the demands of their faith as it pertains to their LGBT neighbors. Many have indeed reconsidered. Some have changed their minds, in part or in full. Many attitudes have softened even where minds haven’t changed. Others have not moved an inch, and are digging in their heels.

The process is not that dissimilar from when white Christians supportive of segregation were pressured to reconsider their attitudes toward black people in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of these attitudes were grounded in a certain reading of Scripture (divine separation of the races, the “curse of Ham,” etc.) that has now been almost universally rejected.

Around the same time many Christians were challenged to reconsider their attitudes toward the role of women, who were deemed subservient and denied access to leadership roles in society, church, and home — also due to a certain reading of Scripture that has now been largely rejected.

Eventually society moved ahead on both fronts, whether faith-based objectors were ready to do so or not.

Just as in the 1960s, federal law has now sprinted ahead of this religious reconsideration process. Whether all religious persons have “gotten there” theologically or not, we live in a society that extends many civil and legal rights to LGBT people, including marriage. Those not on board with this change are often both angry and frightened. They are trying to protest, and they are trying to protect what they believe to be their rights.

Objectors do have legitimate religious liberty rights. They, their pastors, their churches, and a wide range of faith-based nonprofits are and should be free to believe, teach, and practice their traditional convictions. But these new laws, especially in North Carolina, went beyond such religious liberty rights into what amounted to a pretty broad attack on justice and equality for LGBT people. This overreach has evoked a fierce reaction that in some cases obscures the religious liberty rights that actually should be protected — and may endanger those rights.

However all the legislation and litigation comes out, Christianity as embodied in these reactionary pieces of legislation increasingly looks small, cramped, and mean.

Fifty years of being the most reactionary force in American society has done considerable harm to (conservative) Christian credibility — and very real harm to its victims, which include those LGBT teenagers who have the misfortune of growing up in states where the grownups still write laws that hurt them.

  • Jay

    Excellent observations.

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  • ben in oakland

    Great column, sir, but I will have to disagree on a premise.

    “based on a particular reading of the Bible, Christians have been taught moral contempt for gay people and rejection of the concept that gay people can have morally legitimate romantic relationships, including marriages.”

    Moral contempt? They have moral contempt for all kinds of people, but it is only gay people that they have been after for the past 2000 years, not other “immoral” people. Other “sins” get a resounding “Tsk. Tsk.” We get political campaigns intent on smearing, reviling, damning, ad demonizing. Given the lies and slanders that anti-gay, so called Christians routinely spread about gay people, some on these very pages, it is far more about contempt for morals.

    This is an ancient, vicious, and durable prejudice, given a thin veneer of respectability by calling it sincere religious belief. It’s not. It’s just prejudice, deeply engrained, and justified as God’s word.

    That’s all.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    And that prejudice is traced to a mental disorder. Psychologists identified homophobia as a mental illness and published their results in the Journal of the National Institutes of Health in 1953. Homophobia is the irrational fear, disgust, or hatred of gays, lesbians, and/or bisexual people, or of homosexual feelings in oneself. It refers to the discomfort one feels with any behavior, belief, or attitude (in self or others) that does not conform to traditional sex role stereotypes. Homophobia exhibits itself in the fear of knowing, befriending, or associating with gays, lesbians, or bisexual people; fear of being perceived as gay or lesbian; and/or fear of stepping out of accepted gender role behavior. Psychologists report that the most commonly observed symptom of the mental disorder homophobia is cognitive dissonance, an inability of those so afflicted to accept documentation that contradicts their deep-seated phobia and hatred of LGBT Americans.

  • Shawnie5

    Please do not be dishonest, Dr. Gushee. There is no such thing as any “curse of Ham” in scripture, nor any mandate concerning “divine separation of races.”

  • ben in oakland

    You shouldn’t be dishonest, Shawnie. It doesn’t matter whether those things were “in the Scriptures” or not. People claimed they were. They claimed god had spoken on the subject.

    Just like Josh Duggar and Kim Davis, to name just a few. They CLAIM jesus has forgiven them.

    The story’s original objective was to justify the subjection of the Canaanites to the Israelites, but in later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Jews, Christians, and Muslims as an explanation for black skin, as well as slavery Nevertheless, most Christian denominations and all Islamic and Jewish sects now strongly disagree with such interpretations due to the fact that in the biblical text, Ham himself is not cursed and race or skin color is never mentioned.

    The key word is NOW.

    you can find whatever you want to find in the bible. God is what you use to justify what cannot be justified by any other means. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • yoh

    Shawnie please educate yourself in how Christians used scripture to justify racism and segregation. Better yet, curb your compulsion to 1ie on behalf of the faith.

    The supporters of these laws want nothing short of segregation against gays in all public areas. It is malicious in nature, immoral and will be shot down in various legal challenges.

    It is telling that your contribution to the conversation is a pointless tangent having no direct relevance to the post.

  • Debbo

    “Christianity as embodied in these reactionary pieces of legislation increasingly looks small, cramped, and mean.
    Fifty years of being the most reactionary force in American society has done considerable harm to (conservative) Christian credibility — and very real harm to its victims, which include those LGBT teenagers who have the misfortune of growing up in states where the grownups still write laws that hurt them.”

    That’s an excellent summarization Dr. Gushee, and does much to explain my sense of loss. I grew up attending a tiny rural church in central South Dakota. (It’s hard to find a much whiter place.) That little non-denominational church was warm and loving to me.

    One of the reasons I, and at least thousands of others no longer identify as Christian is because “warm and loving” seem to have vanishedfrom the public political face of the religion. “small, cramped, and mean”, is a much more fitting descriptor.

  • Shawnie5

    People claimed they were. People also claim that scripture allows affirmation of ssm. Neither is true. Both are instances not of “grounding one’s attitude in a certain reading of scripture,” as Dr. Gushee claimed, but of grounding a certain reading of scripture in ones attitude.

  • Ben in oakland

    Again, thank you for pointing out the beauty of hermeneutics– the exquisite art of getting your ancient and holy book to say exactly what you want it to.

    Just like Duggar and Davis, despite their multitude of sins– and in Davis’s case, ongoing sins– claiming that Jesus has forgiven them.

  • Ben in oakland

    You left out “short on love, long on judgment”, “hard hearted”, “uncompassionate.”

    To name a few.

  • Shawnie5

    “The supporters of these laws want nothing short of segregation against gays in all public areas.” Go take a pill, Lare. Youre having one of your nightmares.

  • Shawnie5

    My holy book says a number of things that I don’t particularly want it to. But the Author did not consult me for my opinion.

  • yoh

    I guess honest appraisal of the matter is a bit much for you. You may continue your pointless tangential Gish Gallop.

  • Jenna

    Are you for real? At that time the American Psychological Association also classified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

  • Shawnie5

    I’ve no doubt you’re “honest” in your appraisal. That’s why you need a pill.

    And for the rest…being that anything you might have to say on the subject of scripture you’ve not read and, consequently, an article you didn’t understand, can not be anything BUT tangential, yes, please do step aside. Thank you.

  • Shawnie5

    Carrot is frequently confused about his facts. The term “homophobia” was not even coined until 1972.

    What he’s talking about was a 1953 study of gay men and straight men which showed they were about equal in mental functioning.

  • Ben in oakland

    But they realized it was just an ancient and vicious prejudice dressed up in its finest Sunday-go-to-meetin’ drag as sincere religious belief and masquerading as science.

    Presto chango! mIllions of people were cured of a disease they never had by a simple waving of the hands.

    Just like millions of people were no longer criminals and a danger to society when Lawrence v. Texas became the law of the land.

    Just like millions of people were no longer considered the worst sinners ever among the worst sinners when kind, decent. Intelligent, and compassionate people saw that ancient and vicious prejudice for what it was.


  • George Nixon Shuler

    South of the Mason-Dixon Line at least 40 years ago such a claim was an everyday thing. And just 30 years ago Ronald Reagan was defending the South African apartheid regime which claimed to be informed of same by their Dutch Reformed theology. It was less than that since the Mormons decided Blacks were no longer under the curse and could be accepted in the priesthood, or full male membership. Oppression is very real and your sneering attempt to deny its existence is something for which you should be sorely ashamed.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    You can’t say everything every time! And you certainly cannot underestimate the hatred that right-wing Christians have for our LGBTQ Brothers and Sisters.

  • Ron Siebel

    Which of the many authors are you referring to? And for which of the many versions and translation variants?

  • Ron Siebel

    You can continue your bibliolatry now. Just wash your hands when you’re done.

  • shawnie5

    And on both sides of that line today the claim that the Bible allows affirmation of ssm is made everyday. Both claims are without scriptural support.

    Who said oppression isn’t real? Stick to the issues, please.

  • shawnie5

    For the sake of time we may simply use the same shorthand that Jesus used when He upbraided the people for setting aside the commands of God (recorded in the Torah) and for not heeding the words of God’s messengers (recorded in the Prophets) and for having over many centuries ill-treated the messengers themselves.

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  • David

    “Georgia’s conservative, Baptist, Republican governor [Mr. Deal] carried through on his expressed concerns about our state’s legislation. He went right at the religious motivations by offering a more humane and hospitable understanding of the religion of Jesus.”

    Do you think that the Georgia governor’s “more humane and hospitable understanding of the religion of Jesus” should be a test for public office? A test for admission to and participation in public and commercial life? A kind of Established Religion that justifies differential tax treatment of revisionist versus traditionalist religious institutions?

    Do you really fail to see any threat on the horizon to the civil rights of your traditionalist brethren, or do you simply not care about them?

  • yoh

    “Do you really fail to see any threat on the horizon to the civil rights of your traditionalist brethren, or do you simply not care about them? ”

    I sincerely doubt his “traditional brethren” even know what constitutes their civil rights at this stage. They seem hell bent on perpetuating the lie that religious freedom requires attacking the civil liberties of others and attacking the foundations of our democratic system.

  • David

    For the moment I’ll pass over the fact that your comment is over-generalized slander against a very great number of traditionalists — many of whom are quite aware that their authority and influence in society has dwindled, and are content to let it go. Let’s grant arguendo that every last marriage traditionalist is “hell bent on perpetuating . . . [attacks on] the civil liberties of others and . . . the foundations of our democratic system”: Is there no way to prevent them from doing that and protect their civil liberties? Or have they become enemies of humanity who must be hounded out of public, professional, and commercial life?

    Jefferson, VA Statute for Religious Freedom:
    “to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy whit once destroys all religious liberty because he … will make his opinions the rule of…

  • ben in oakland

    “Is there no way to prevent them from doing that and protect their civil liberties? Or have they become enemies of humanity who must be hounded out of public, professional, and commercial life?”

    It’s a false dichotomy. I have no issue with them believing whatever they wish, and applying it in their own churches, homes, and lives however they wish. But we have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours OR mine, IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE. Why is the issue of gay people being treated the same as all of the other people they believe whatever-they-believe somehow different? Why is this only place where this is a question? Why do they get the special right to discriminate on the basis of religious belief, but would howl bloody murder if the same behavior were directed at them? Why do they get to ignore “do as you would be done by”, but have their religious beliefs forced on others by law?

  • Diogenes

    All of this merely affirms the prophesy of Jesus and His disciples, that in the end, relatively speaking, people, even overt professors of the faith, would depart from sound biblical doctrine to justify their particular preferences and passions.
    Homosexuality as condemned in the bible (New Testament) is hardly unique as a sin, or as an affront to God. But for a purportedly scholarly and professional Christian, Dr. Gushee’s willful misunderstanding of plain scriptural admonitions regarding human sexuality is pathetic. However, he does not answer to me or any of us…but he will answer to God, as will I, and everyone commenting here. I hope we may all bear the scrutiny without shame. PS. Kudos to you Shawnie 5 for your wisdom, patience and temperate language.

  • yoh

    Of course you are going to claim malicious behavior and discrimination are justified as religious belief. It saves you from owning up to immoral and hateful behavior. Why be responsible for your actions against others when you can claim God excuses it. Thank you for demonstrating how vacant religious notions of morality are.

  • shawnie5

    Thank you, Diogenes. From an eternal perspective, we have been in the last days ever since the Church was born, and apostasy has been waxing and waning for just as long. Christians today are facing what are essentially the same issues and dilemmas they faced in Ephesus and Thyatira. None of us should be surprised or disturbed.

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  • David

    “Why is the issue of gay people being treated the same as all of the other people they believe whatever-they-believe somehow different? Why is this only place where this is a question?”

    This (and forced payment for abortion/contraception) are the matters being pressed upon traditionalist Christians by the government and by litigation at the moment. The attempts at passing defensive legislation are basically preemptive in nature: people see where the lawsuits are coming from, and are trying to get new statutory authority for defending them.

    Had there been no lawsuits/draconian civil penalties assessed against Elane Photography, Melissa Klein, or Baronelle Stutzman, I suspect the push for preemptive legislation would dwindle, the LGBT rights/religious freedom disputes would be much calmer right now.

  • Ben in oakland

    You didn’t answer any questions, David. You just repeated the “we’re Christians so we’re specialer than the likes of you” line.

    Elaine photography is the perfect example. sAme sex Marriage was not legal in New Mexico when Elaine pulled her “I’m so special” act. But both discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and religion were. To the best of my knowledge, NEw Mexico didn’t even have a civil unions law. So Elaine was straightforwardly discriminating on the basis of religious belief.

    So, explain why it is ok for so called Christians– really, a small class of conservatives wholly invested in their completely imaginary superiority as Christians. Heterosexuals, citizens, and human beings– are entitled to ignore nondiscrimination laws.

    As yoh says, you want the special right to ignore laws which don’t comport with your prejudices. As I said, you’d be howling bloody murder if the same “reasoning” we’re applied to you.

  • Ben in oakland

    What yoh said.

    Except in spades.

    I am completely unconcerned about what’s you think your God thinks, and what you think your holt book says. I’ll take my chances that the God I don’t believe in is as small minded and malicious as a certain class of his so called followers. I’m far more interested in what the laws says, and finally, the law is saying the the victims of sex obsessed Christianity have the same rights as everyone else.

  • David

    “As yoh says, you want the special right to ignore laws which don’t comport with your prejudices. As I said, you’d be howling bloody murder if the same “reasoning” we’re applied to you.”

    Not really. We’re talking about very narrow state-law exemptions (small providers of wedding services are not “public accommodations” under the federal Civil Rights Act): essentially, the right not to officiate or provide services for weddings. If providers of such services have particular scruples about providing services for Jewish weddings, Muslim weddings, Christian weddings, Greek weddings, weddings of divorced persons, heterosexual weddings or homosexual weddings, they are doing no harm to the persons whose weddings they decline to serve.

    No one’s talking about ejecting classes of persons from facilities that would be deemed “public accommodations” under the federal Civil Rights Act — e.g. restaurants, hotels, theaters.

  • Everett

    Dr. David Gushee is further proof that the term ‘evangelical’ has completely lost all of it’s meaning. People and the media love Dr. Gushee because he like many within what is the former evangelical movement are abandoning the historical understanding of the what the gospel is and are capitulating to the tidal wave of the new moral revolution.

  • Shawnie5

    “…for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. ” John 12:43

  • Shawnie5

    “…you’d be howling bloody murder if the same “reasoning” we’re applied to you.”

    I don’t think so Ben. I don’t know a single Christian who would suffer much of anything at all if a gay wedding vendor declined to do their wedding. Certainly not to the point of: include “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “excessive sleep,” “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “pale and sick at home after work,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”

    Yes, and the “loss of appetite” and “weight gain” were simultaneous!

    We didn’t get our first choice of a wedding venue, but somehow we were able to pick up the pieces and go on…

  • Ben in oakland

    David, I just spent 10 minutes trying to find what you claim is the federal definition of public accommodations. Couldn’t find what you said, but I could find plenty of citations that disagreed with you. And in any case, they may well be included in state definitions.

    Ministers already have their exceptions. It’s called the first amendment.

    Small businesses to not have that exception. You claim they are doing no harm. But of course, you are the person who wishes to do the harm, or at least think it’s ok.

    How about this: these so precious so called Christians and their so precious sensibilities might be better served by being smart business people, or at least, decent human beings if they cannot manage to former. There are plenty of perfectly legal ways to discriminate as much as they want to. I’ve outlined them many times, as your buddy Shawnie will explain to you.

    But claiming a Christian exemption to anti discrimination laws just limns why we have them.

  • Ben in oakland

    Shawnie, your usual contempt is just shining today.

    Your Christian vendors are such delicate flowers. Imagine, they had to go through all of that when they could have just said “we’re booked.” Or used any number of perfectly legal dodges.

    But if they actually had to own their religious bigotry, and stand up for what they really believe– that gay people just aren’t as good as they are– that might actually have some consequences for them.

    Or they could just do what their churches do and advise. Take the sinner’s money.

  • Ben in oakland

    That’s why we don’t burn witches anymore. Always someone instituting some moral revolution.

  • Shawnie5

    I imagine most DO say “I’m booked.” But even that won’t ultimately ward off crybullies spoiling for a fight.

    “Take the sinner’s money.” The question is, why would you want me to have it?

    But there are ways to do that, too. The job can be instantly subcontracted out to the vendor down the street, while the “homophobe” pockets a tidy share of the profit since you’re so eager that he should have it. Whereupon that share instantly goes into a fund to assist those Christians who have been targeted and damaged by the crybullies — which is only fair.

    Or you could get a clue that this is hardly a result worth tantrumming over and go to the vendor down the street to begin with.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Please note Shawnie did not document his claim. His choice to post a personal attack places his credibility in question. Anyone can inspect that journal who wants to know the facts.

    Yes, Jenna, I am for real, that same study was the beginning of the end of that previous mistake the APA corrected over 40 years ago.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    While Shawnie relies on Jesus with some unrelated quote, he ignores that the Bible says Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Read Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. This is the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. In the original Greek, the word that the Roman centurion uses in this passage to describe the sick man – pais – is the same word used in ancient Greek to refer to a same-gender partner.

  • ben in oaklandf

    @shawnie: No cryrbuillies are spoiling for a fight, as you so contemptuously put it. They are asking for the same service the so precious so called Christians routinely extend to everyone else they think are defying god. It is always very telling that this is the ONLY place this seems to come up– treating gay people without animus, or in your case, contempt. It’s just all part of the narrative that hyperconservative Christians keep putting forth– that they are the victims. You and doc have so much in common.

    no. I don’t want you to have the money. I want you to obey the law. Again, it is VERY telling that this shows up only for gay people.

    I’m not having a tantrum. As I have said many times, this is all about ending the legal enforcement of a vicious prejudice that has hurt, killed, jailed, and vilified people who have done nothing to deserve it for 2000 years.

    If you want an end to this, stop pretending it is about your virtue, rather than your vices.

  • Shawnie5

    Hey Carrot, are you ready to tell us whose same-gender partner Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter was?

  • Shawnie5

    Ben, you’re mostly right that this is “the only place it comes up.” But that place is gay weddings, not gay people.

  • G Key

    Re religion, morality, and who’s infringing upon whose rights:

    I believe the Golden Rule means respecting other people’s personal boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, and business, along with their rights, freedoms, privacy, and equality, as I would have others respect my own.

    Even if I were to oppose an LGBT couple’s marriage, the question of whether to sign their license (or sell them flowers, or prepare their cake, or cater their party, or rent them a home) would answer itself, since I would realize they are my rightful public customers, not my wrongful private business. And since they are my equals, and their beliefs and values are their own, it would be immoral of me to presume to judge their lives, or to attempt to hold them to my own chosen moral principles.

    My morality binds me, not them.

    In other words, I see the so-called “religious freedom” issue as a matter of trespass and cruelty, not one of righteousness and faith.

  • Shawnie5

    “Even if I were to oppose pagan idol worship, the question of whether to carve their idols, or plate them in silver or gold, or mix their incense, or fulfill my guild’s prescribed pagan rites, would answer itself, since I would realize they are my rightful public customers, not my wrongful private business. And since they are my equals, and their beliefs and values are their own, it would be immoral of me to presume to judge their lives, or to attempt to hold them to my own chosen principles.”

    You see, GKey, there is nothing really new here. I’m sure the woman Christ called Jezebel made all the same arguments in favor of comfortable moral compromise with a depraved culture while the faithful lost their livelihoods and even their lives for their loyalty to Christ.

    Whoever Jezebel was, I would not want to be wherever she is now, in light of Jesus’ warnings to any who would cause even the least of His believers to fall into sin (Mark 9:42).

  • Ben in pakland

    Well, Shawnie, it all depends on what you see as a moral compromise and a depraved culture.

    From your point of view, it’s a culture that accepts Gay people as fully the equals of anyone else, but especially fully the equals of anyone else in all ways.

    From my point of view, a depraved culture is the one that has rewarded and applauded 2000 years of homohatred visited upon innocent people, and calls it sincere religious belief, or laughably, morality.

  • G Key

    So what if they worship golden idols? They’re not forcing you to do the same. They’re buying your for-profit wares. Your job is to serve your customers and mind your own business. If you want to “manage” your clientele, form a co-op.

    And if you can’t stand the thought of respecting equally rightful people, and their equally rightful privacy, and their equally rightful beliefs — and if you can’t stand the thought of your God reserving judgment to himself, not to you, and not to your self-exalted idea of “decency” — then you have no “business” making claims as to who’s moral and who’s depraved, either.

    The way you speak of people here in your comments speaks only of your own mean-spirited, narcissistic, trolling character.

    What did Jesus say about throwing stones?

    I hope you use this opportunity to reassess your claims to righteousness before your God does; and I hope you reconsider the kind of person you want to be, while you still have a chance.

  • G Key

    BTW, Mark 9:42 is a really good citation. Consider how potential and even existing Christians can be driven away from Christianity when a contemptuous Christian represents it as a religion of anger, not love; judgment of others, not judgment of self; hubris, not humility; self-righteousness, not self-restraint; trespass, not respect; meanness, not mercy; hardheadedness, not open-mindedness; conquest, not coexistence.

    I’m not a Christian, but I follow the Golden Rule by respecting others’ personal boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, and business, along with their rights, freedoms, privacy, and equality, as I would have others respect my own.

    I have purposefully chosen Equality, Respect, and Empathy as my guiding values. I don’t always meet them, but I aspire to, and I use them to inform my decisions on how to treat others — because that’s critically important to me.

    What are your guiding values?
    What kind of person do you want to be?

  • Everett

    “So what if they worship golden idols? They’re not forcing you to do the dame” Really?

    So what if they insist that you cast a pinch of incense upon the altar and utter “Kaiser Kyrios”. And this is what is happening on a massively cultural scale that permeates every fabric of society.

  • Everett

    “Consider how potential and even existing Christians can be driven away from Christianity”

    Obviously not of the Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints, God is sovereign in his salvation camp.

  • Shawnie5

    Ben, if it were not for that “depraved” 2000-year-old culture, we would not be discussing “equality” at all. The pre-christian ancients had no concept of any sort of fundamental human equality.

    It is BECAUSE you are inherently and fully equal to everyone else that you are responsible for your choices and behavior before God, as we all are. I will not, therefore, participate in yours nor force you to participate in mine.

  • Shawnie5

    More covering of ground we’ve already walked long ago. Two millenia ago the Roman historian Tacitus described the mistreatment of Christians under Nero and made excuses for it because of the early Christians “hatred of humanity.” Everything old is new again — or more accurately, everything new is old.

    The early brethren heard ALL of this of this nonsense before — we can grow the church much more easily if we just don’t demand so much from people, if we “include” more practices and ideas, and so on ad nauseum. But true believers who rejected moral compromise eventually outlasted Rome, while moral compromise has quite literally been the death of the modern mainstream church.

    It’s not our job to adjust the gospel to win more converts. It’s our job to simply be faithful to it and bear witness, and all who are called of the Spirit will follow.

  • Ben inoakland

    As usual, you want to take credit for all of the good Christianity has done, and ignore all of the evil it has done and continues to do.

    It’s a very blinkered version of reality, but does support your general hypothesis that those who are sincerely Christian– in your reality– as just better than people who are not. It simply ignores the reality that much of humanity has progressed, despite the troglodytes who hold far too much sway.

    Christianity doesn’t just get to be the mother and father of all of the good parts.

  • yoh

    Except when it comes to their employment, right to have families, housing and general civil liberties. All of which come under fire with these bills.

    Shawnie your default mode is to l1e in an obvious manner.

  • yoh

    There is nothing about morality in following arbitrary guidelines of your faith and sect. There is nothing moral about excusing malicious behavior to others or in discrimination. You use region as a way to opt out of moral behavior.

    You are the last person to be telling anyone about the alleged moral superiority of your faith. None of it is evident from you or the Christian types who agree with you.

  • yoh

    The drawbacks to not living in a theocratic dictatorship. You can’t force everyone to follow the arbitrary dictates of your faith. You have to suffer the existence of those who do not follow them.

  • yoh

    Gishes gotta gallop! It’s not bigotry on your part you are just faithfully flowing the true and only Christian faith. Riiight. Keep it up. I have a lawn to fertilize.

  • Shawnie5

    Every belief system that ever has been or ever will be lived out on earth by fallen human beings will yield some “evil” at some — actually many – points in its course. That proves my point more than yours. However, the fact remains that the idea of inherent human equality and worth, independent of any and all social and tribal ties, had no precedent in the pre-christian world. Sorry if that irritates but foot-stampingvwill not make it go away.

    And as for the “general hypothesis” that to ascribed to me, that is not my hypothesis. It is, of course, logically incompatible with Christian theology.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    “North Carolina has faced intense pressure to repeal House Bill 2 from major businesses such as Apple and Facebook, but now, they may lose billions of dollars in federal funding for passing the anti-LGBT bill.

    The Obama administration is in the process of considering whether HB2 makes the state ineligible for federal funding for schools, highways, and housing, reports The New York Times. House Bill 2 bans transgender people from accessing public facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, eliminates all existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances in the state, and prohibits cities from adopting any new ones.

    The Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development all told the paper that they are currently reviewing the law to determine whether the state will continue to be eligible for federal funding.”


  • CarrotCakeMan

    “A spokeswoman from the Department of Education told The Times on Friday that they “will not hesitate to act if students’ civil rights are being violated.” Last year, they provided the state with $4.3 billion dollars in funding for kindergarden through 12th grade, and for colleges, reports The Times.

    U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, is the former mayor of Charlotte. He told The Charlotte Observer that this bill “isn’t who we are.” The Department of Transportation currently provides around $1 billion dollars a year in funding to North Carolina.”

  • G Key

    I see you generalized my statements about “a” (i.e., one) “contemptuous” (i.e., unchristlike) “Christian” (i.e., what that one unchristlike person claims to be) into all Christians.

    The great majority of Christians respect other people. But apparently you know this, because you then refer to “true believers”, as if christlike Christians are untrue, as if only self-centered “I’m right no matter what” disrespecters are the only “true believers”, and as if you’re an (no, “the”) authority to say who’s “true”. Oh, and let’s not forget what Jesus famously said in Hebrews 10:30 (NIV):

    ” ‘It is Shawnie5’s to avenge; Shawnie5 will repay,” and again, “Shawnie5 will judge his people.’ ”

    I’ll give you one thing, though — you’re sure good at getting this atheist to defend christlike Christianity. “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

  • G Key

    Looks like you missed what I said about “They’re not forcing you to do the same. They’re buying your for-profit wares.”

    Re “[W]hat if they insist that you cast a pinch of incense” — Where’d that come from? It didn’t come from me.

    But you’ve certainly made my point by clearly conflating “providing goods & services” with “participating”.

  • G Key

    I’m really sorry, Everett, but I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say. I see the 2 adverbs, the prepositional phrase, some capitalized esoteric terms, — and a cryptic sentence, “God is sovereign in his salvation camp,” which sounds like a fine non-abusive spiritual belief that I would certainly respect as yours. What’s a salvation camp?

  • Ben in oakland


    Gay weddings and not gay people?

    It is to laugh.

    The recent NC law is a perfect case in point. aLl protections for gay people removed throughout the state. Public employees don’t have to serve everyone.

    Don’t ask don’t tell, sodomy laws, the recent adoption ban in Mississippi? Nothing to do with gay weddings.

  • Ben in oakland


    I’m not stamping my foot in frustration. Both inherent human equality, and inherent human inequality, are both products of Christianity, because Christianity was a dominant cultural force. But Christianity has certainly opposed most of the progress in the world. No condoms for Africa fighting AIDS? That’s all Christianity. Imprisoning gay people in Malawai. check with the catholic bishops.

    Christianity was on both sides of slavery and segregation.

    Christianity is on both sides of women’s equality.

    Christianity is on both sides of the gay rights struggle.

    Christianity was behind 1900 years of antisemitism. It’s quite a laugh to read the German Lutheran church justification of the holocaust,

    And on and on and on and on and on.

    But at least you admit to the evil it does and has done, and will continue to do. But you want to blame it on fallen man. Sure, why not. It just means that God is a very, very sloppy housekeeper, and a crappy school Marm.

  • Shawnie5

    GKey, if you do not understand Everrett’s statements about salvation, you really are in no position to discern who or what is “christlike” or not. As Christ said, the natural man can not receive the things of God, or even see the Kingdom if God.

    Love how the atheists swarm religious sites and proceed to tell Christians how to be Christians. We don’t come to your sites to tell you how to be atheists.

    Christ’s warnings are as true now as they were in AD 1: If the unbelieving world loves you, you’re bound to be doing it wrong.

  • Shawnie5

    “But you want to blame it on fallen man.” Why not? Why blame it on the Church when slavery, infanticide, oppression of women, and cruelty and inequality, if every kind are UNIVERSAL features of human civilization since recorded history began.

  • Shawnie5

    GKey, we are talking about the places where the Church has already been. We already faced these dilemmas throughout 3 centuries when the prevailing culture was saturated with idol worship and Christian artisans could often not ply their trade at all without participating in it. Tertullian wrote extensively about those times and issues.

    Nobody is throwing stones, nobody seeking any revenge, neither now nor then. But in both times the unbelieving world was and is doing exactly what our Lord said in advance it would do. We are not disturbed.

  • G Key

    Shawnie5, understand don’t I that grammar Everett’s it’s.

    Beliefs abusive-non others’ respecting about said I what also note.

    Be to aspire you person of kind what and, are values guiding your what know to like still I’d.

    Common in have we what discover to nice be would it.

    Arrogance and hostility by smothered words meaningless only communicate, arrogance and hostility with communicated, words meaningful most the that understanding your reflect would replies and comments your wish I but.

  • Shawnie5

    The recent bill in Missouri was perfect…it was ONLY about wedding vendors. Did that matter? No. Same hysteria about “jim crow” and such nonsense. Such desperation to give money to the homophobes…I have a gay friend who is a successful photographer and a gay cousin who is a florist — and I can assure you neither of them is interested in dollars being forced into unwilling pockets that could go into theirs instead. When you you going to wise up and care for your own best interests instead of other people’s opinion of you?

  • yoh

    So something is not discriminatory if its done on a small scale?

    Nope. The act is still malicious and immoral in nature. If you were willing to consider distasteful to your sensibilities is OK if done in a slight manner, you would not be here in the first place.

    The act is still legalizing malicious discriminatory behavior just to placate people who do not want to treat customers with a modicum of dignity. If your religious sensibilities keep you from treating all customers with the same respect, you don’t belong in business. The laws don’t need to placate your moral infirmities here.

  • Shawnie5

    The law isn’t actually legalizing anything. None of the states in question make gays a special snowflake class in any context. And yet difficulties only seem to crop up wrt weddings.

  • G Key

    Shawnee, re your earlier statement, “We don’t come to your sites to tell you how to be atheists” — I don’t go to those sites, either. Too many people disrespecting other people’s boundaries.

    Which is why I write here: to protest personal disrespect of others’ personal boundaries, efforts to propagate personal disrespect of others’ personal boundaries into for-profit businesses, and attempts to enshrine personal disrespect of others’ personal boundaries in our legal system.

    If those businesses would mind their business instead pf their customers’, and if they’d treat their customers’ privacy with the respect that their customers’ privacy is due, and if they’d simply realize that dwelling on the sex lives of their customers is creepy, then I’d have a lot less to write about.

  • Shawnie5

    I don’t care how much anyone protests wrt the laws themselves. That is fair game for anyone. But when atheists jump into intra-church dialogue to tell Christians how to follow Christ (He specifically not us NOT to regard this sort of thing) and how to read scripture that they usually have not read themselves in their entirety and would not understand if they had, then that’s when things get ridiculous.

    My original comment was to Dr. Gushee concerning the misrepresentations he made about scripture, and only that, and right on schedule the usual suspects who had no idea whether they were misrepresentations or not, and did not even understand what my point was in referencing them, barged in swinging fists blindly. That’s the sort of thing that turns honest dialogue into white noise.

  • Shawnie5

    And if you’ll pardon my frankness, GKey, you’re part of that problem, purporting to make your own quite contemptuous distinctions between “christlike” and “nonchristlike” Christians when Christ Himself stated that you do not know Him or the Father and can not see His kingdom. I’ve seen you do that on numerous threads, not just here, but I mostly skip over your posts because for the reasons I just stated.

    You can continue to do all that, of course, but we really can not, and indeed are not allowed to, take it seriously.

  • Billysees

    Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other……..Mark 9:50

  • Everett

    I was playing off the Calvinist acrostic TULIP which states that God is completely sovereign in salvation, that man has no free will with regard in choosing or doing anything that will secure his salvation, but that salvation of sinful man is totally within God’s realm to have mercy on whom he will have mercy and to harden whom he will harden. That through the work of the Holy Spirit God applies His election at the time and place of His choosing and that those so elected will persevere until the end. That’s my camp. Therefore, I found your statement “Consider how potential and even existing Christians can be driven away from Christianity” ironic. You are however not alone in your Arminian view of how God saves (does God truly save or does man save himself?) Many hold to that view as well being that they just cannot let go if the idea that they must somehow co-accomplish a part of their salvation.

  • G Key

    Re “(He specifically not us NOT to regard this sort of thing)”,
    are you saying that you believe Christ told Christians to disrespect the lives, rights, privacy, & equality of LGBTs?

    If you are, then clearly there’s no point in us corresponding.

  • JND

    I missed this amid your righteous self-satisfaction: Is homosexual sex a sin?

  • shawnie5

    Sigh…No, GKey, He stated that we are not to be concerned about the hostility of the unbelieving world or to be conformed to unbelievers’ ideas of morality.

  • G Key

    Thanks for clarifying, Shawnie5.

    Please know that I support religion, and that I oppose disrespectful atheists as much as I oppose disrespectful theists.

    A lot of people — almost everyone on Earth, I believe — take great comfort in their faith. It gives them a depth of hope they can’t get anywhere else. My parents (who raised me to be a Christian of the respectful type) depended upon their deep faith to get them both through a terrible final year, and I’m grateful to their religion for that.

    Mom and Dad respected my atheism, and they prayed for me. Based on what they and their religion taught me, I consider their response to be an exemplary, honorable blend of respect and love.

    My concern is how people treat each others’ personal, private, and proprietary beliefs, bodies, and bedrooms; how people in business treat their customers; and how people in politics treat their citizens. Equality, respect, and empathy are the virtues I hold most dear.

  • G Key

    I wasn’t expecting such a thorough explanation, Everett — Thank you!

    My Christian parents & their religion taught me that mercy trumps faith, not vice versa. As Mom once said, “Our dear loving God would never abandon his children just because they didn’t believe in him! Those are not God’s words, those are the words of a man after power & other men’s money!”

    After decades of practicing religion but never experiencing faith, I realized it was dishonest to pose as a believer. But I wanted a moral code to help me become the person I wanted to be; so, after realizing I care more about how people treat each other than about anything else, I chose Equality, Respect, & Empathy as my guiding principles. These values are why I post to these articles.

    I’ve come across many people who seem to believe faith trumps mercy, but you’re the first I’ve encountered who seems to de-emphasize both faith and mercy.

    Do you believe God cares how people treat each other?

  • Everett

    Do I believe that God cares how people treat each other? I believe that he does. I also believe that mercy is born out of faith, but that faith is of God, given to his redeemed. Neither trumps the other. I believe that those who have been forgiven much should be all the more merciful to others, because they should understand just where he/she once stood in light of God’s Justice were it not for Christ righteousness that has now been imputed to them.
    As to the earlier discussion, there is some merit to your argument. If you read in 1Corithians 5:9-13 you will see that Paul was confronted with something much the same as above. Paul tells the church that they would have to totally separate themselves to avoid all sinners and that is not what he meant. His concern lay with the ones who called themselves brother or sister but in actuality were flagrant sinners, flaunting God’s mercy. For this Paul admonished the sinner be put out from the fellowship.

  • G Key

    Thanks again, Everett — That’s very clear.

    I was actually delighted to read that passage. It reminded me of when Pope France made a similar statement, “Who am I to judge?” (Now I know where he got that.) But when he then expressed support for laws that reduce the rights of people who don’t even go to his church, my response was along the lines of “Who am I to judge what his people do in his church? But who is he to judge what other people do outside his church?”

    It seems that we agree on more than I realized earlier. I’m sorry for any stress I caused you, and I wish you well.

  • Dr. Gushee: Would you grant more authority to humanism or to scripture?

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