Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The layers of hypocrisy on the part of the religious right in relation to discrimination laws are many and varied. Let’s examine them.

Example #1:

In California, they’re screaming bloody murder that a bill adding sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination laws don’t have an exemption for religious groups. But religion is already in the anti-discrimination legislation and they don’t want any religious exemptions for that one, even for private universities. See this Agape Press article about a recent decision by Georgetown University (a private Jesuit university) to not allow several evangelical protestant ministries on the campus. And the ADF has now signed on to represent those evangelical groups, presumably in court.

So here’s their argument: when it comes to discriminating against gays, even groups that are directly funded with our tax dollars should be allowed to do so. But when it comes to discriminating against religious groups, even private religious groups should not be allowed to do so – unless, of course, it’s them. If an evangelical school was forced to allow a Catholic or Muslim ministry on campus, we’d hear all about the tyranny of it all. There is no genuine appeal to principal here, there is only their own dishonest self-interest.

Example #2:

Their argument for why sexual orientation shouldn’t be added to the list of prohibited types of discrimination is that sexual orientation isn’t immutable like race is. From the Worldnutdaily:

“As a citizen of California and a religious person, I am terribly disappointed in Gov. Schwarzenegger,” said Meredith Turney, the legislative liaison for CRI. “It is bad public policy to add to the list of protected classes a sexual behavior.

“Equating sexual preference with the immutable characteristics of age [sic], national origin or race will result in other variable behaviors being added to the list of invariable classes rightfully protected,” she said.

But wait…if the standard is mutability, then why do they think religion should be on the list? By any reasonable measure, religion is far more mutable than sexual orientation is. There is a growing body of evidence that sexual orientation is not at all mutable, but we know for a fact that no one is born into a religion. People can and do change their religion all the time. Isn’t it funny how their own arguments apply so perfectly to others, but never to themselves?

Example #3:

This one hasn’t happend yet, but it will: when they file suit and try to get the California law overturned. And I’ll remind them of the thousands of times they’ve ranted stupidly about how evil it is to get “unelected judges” to overturn “the democratic will of the people”. This is sort of the ideological equivalent of transubstantiation: the substance of their arguments are valid and logical when applied to others, then magically transform themselves and become invalid when applied to them.

Comments

  1. #1 SharonB
    August 31, 2006

    I posted this on the other blog entry, but it is worthy of comment here, also. The ADF and Focus have turned this law on its head, claiming now that it is a “pro-homosexual” bill that “targets the faith community.” Their shamelessness knows no bounds.

    Pro-Homosexual Bill Targeting Faith Community Signed into CA Law
    Family News in Focus, Jessica Stollings, 8.30.2006 (ADF)
    http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0041828.cfm

  2. #2 say no to christ
    August 31, 2006

    Ok, this has gotten way out of control! We need to get more media coverage on gay studies NOW! The studies do show that being gay is NOT a choice! Once those homophobic zealots get that through their fat heads the better off we will all be.

    BTW, nice blog and great set up, it very orderly and neat.

  3. #3 Mithrandir
    August 31, 2006

    Once those homophobic zealots get that through their fat heads…

    Fat chance of that. As a wise man once said, you cannot reason a man out of a position he did not reach through reason. And as we’ve seen with the whole creationism/ID kerfuffle, religious zealots have no problem ignoring any amount of scientific evidence if they don’t like it.

  4. #4 Bob Smith
    August 31, 2006

    I think the next time anyone hears the argument that sexual orientation shouldn’t be a prohibited ground for discrimination but religion should be they should look right in the face of the person making the argument and say

    “Ya know, if I don’t pray for 4-5 days, I don’t suddenly start praying in my sleep.”

    Thank you, I’ll be here all week!

  5. #5 Treban
    August 31, 2006

    But wait…if the standard is mutability, then why do they think religion should be on the list? By any reasonable measure, religion is far more mutable than sexual orientation is. There is a growing body of evidence that sexual orientation is not at all mutable, but we know for a fact that no one is born into a religion. People can and do change their religion all the time. Isn’t it funny how their own arguments apply so perfectly to others, but never to themselves?

    I actually have argued this point with several righties and while a few of them take it on it’s face I have had a much higher percentage of those conversations end with “well, our rights are protected by the constitution,” they include anti-discrimination laws in that argument. Mentioning that the constitution does not protect anyone against discrimination – that laws do that just has them calling me a liar. These people are not just anti-intellectual, anti-science – they are ignorant and pleased to stay that way.

  6. #6 Sastra
    August 31, 2006

    As far as I’m concerned — and as far as the law is concerned — whether homosexuality is a choice or not should be irrelevant. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that people sometimes just up and decide to be gay, for the heck of it. Boredom, rebellion, they like the clothes, all the “cool” kids are doing it, whatever. So what? It causes no overt harm. It causes no harm which necessitates government involvement.

    The religious right wants secular institutions to classify homosexuality as a kind of violence or act of aggression, a defect or flaw which causes innocent people to suffer. Bushwa, I say.

  7. #7 B8ovin
    August 31, 2006

    Actually, limiting concern to the anti-gay rhetoric is short-sighted. While there should be anti-discrimination protections for gays, this is not the literal end of politically right religious groups. They want to transform the U.S. from secular to Christian en toto. This entails all sexual behavior outside marriage, hetero- or homosexual. They have chosen the culturally easy target first, but if given a chance they will be after: all forms of birth control, all forms of sexual expression, and all relationships outside of marriage. Further, while they most concern themselves with abortion, their recent stand on the morning after pill and stem cell research suggests they will lobby for laws against certain forms of in vitro fertalization and other forms of alternative impregnation. While I don’t personally think they will be successful, it is important to keep in mind that the agenda is not limited to gay rights, but rightly fighting this animous is equivalent for fighting for ALL sexual rights.

  8. #8 JohnJB
    August 31, 2006

    As a wise man once said, you cannot reason a man out of a position he did not reach through reason.

    Anybody know the source of this familiar saying? I’ve tried to track it down so I could quote the original, with attribution, but was unable to.

  9. #9 GerryL
    August 31, 2006

    Ed wrote: “we know for a fact that no one is born into a religion.”

    You know it and I know it, but I learned early on that some folks truly believe you are born into a religion and that it is not a matter of choice. When I was a teenager a friend who attended a catholic girls’ school informed me that everyone is born christian. I asked about people in other parts of the world where other religions were predominant (this was the 1960s) and she conceded that they weren’t automatically christian … but everyone else was. (Including me, she said, I had no choice in the matter.)
    I was always quite naive about religion. Another friend was griping to me about church responsibilities and said, “Sometimes I wish I weren’t catholic.” In all innocence I responded, “Well, if you don’t want to be — are you?” That ticked her off, and I had no idea why.

  10. #10 argystokes
    September 1, 2006

    You know it and I know it, but I learned early on that some folks truly believe you are born into a religion and that it is not a matter of choice.

    I don’t think that religion is a matter of choice, at least not for most people. People are convinced to believe (or disbelieve) by evidence, emotional reaction, or early indoctrination. I don’t think I could believe in a god even if I wanted to. Likewise, I imagine it would be very difficult for Heddle to become a true-believing Muslim (of course, he’d say it’s impossible). So in this respect, I think religion is the perfect correllary for sexual preference. I’m sure with enough mind-bashing and enough of a desire to change, religion or sexual preference can be altered. But I really don’t see either as a matter of choice.

  11. #11 Jaime A. Headden
    September 1, 2006

    GerryL wrote:

    “You know it and I know it, but I learned early on that some folks truly believe you are born into a religion and that it is not a matter of choice […] conceded that they weren’t automatically christian … but everyone else was. (Including me, she said, I had no choice in the matter.)”

    I have heard this little nut myself, and had it argued to me as well. If religion is obligate, say, that one is born into a religious family, one typically has no choice, one can only render oneself non-Christian by rejecting it later, otherwise, you ARE born into a religion. Like sex outside of marriage, it’s a choice, even if it’s considered an extremely bad moral choice that will damn a person’s soul.

  12. #12 Anuminous
    September 1, 2006

    I could imagine an argument that religiosity (not a specific religion in particular) is inborn. I was born into a very religious family, and I tried to believe, but I could not make myself do it. Like the gay son of an intolerant family, it cause me some considerable pain to “come out” to my family first as not believing in their religion in particular, and later as an atheist. But I could not do anything else. Despite years of trying to accept and believe as I was instructed, I just could not buy it. Is this because of some inborn skepticism on my part? A lack of the need to believe which others have? I don’t know, but I could at least see an argument. I have had it argued to me that everybody is born believing and must be taught to reject god. My counter is that everybody is born credulous and must be taught that people tell untruths.

  13. #13 Blake Stacey
    September 1, 2006

    Ed Brayton wrote:

    There is no genuine appeal to principal here, there is only their own dishonest self-interest.

    Unless they’re appealing to my pal the principal, I the nit-picker think this should be “appeal to principle”, yes?

    Anuminous wrote:

    I could imagine an argument that religiosity (not a specific religion in particular) is inborn.

    Daniel Dennett discusses this possibility in his book Breaking the Spell. I found it an enjoyable and thought-provoking read; at least a few of the thoughts it provoked drifted out to the Web, e.g., here.

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    September 1, 2006

    There is a difference between saying that religion is not inborn (as it clearly is not) or is mutable and saying that religion is a choice. We don’t simply say, “Gee, I think I’ll be Hindu this week.” But religion is certainly mutable and not inborn, as people can and do change or leave religions based upon their analysis of the evidence. In my own life I’ve been a Christian, an atheist and a deist (only one of which is really a religion, but they are all views about religion).

  15. #15 say no to christ
    September 1, 2006

    Mithrandir

    I know sometime it feels like no mater what we say or do it doesnt make a difference, but it does. Not so long ago the majority of the counrty(the US) were a bunch of racist jackasses and it was also illegal for mixed couples to marry. We changed that through media coverage and propaganda. Just like religions use propaganda that attacks the emotional side so should we. Hell, just a little futher back in history is was completely leagal to beat your wife and children. Now through education and media coverage the majority of people look down on that kind of behavior. We ABSOLUTELY should do the same! All hope is NOT lost!

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