As part of their ongoing campaign to botch as many personnel decisions as possible, the Obama administration recently announced that the Reverend Louie Giglio, of Atlanta, would deliver the benediction at the forthcoming inaugural. They rescinded the invitation, however, when an anti-gay sermon preached by Giglio many years ago came to light. The administration should have thought to look for such things before inviting him, but at least they belatedly did the right thing.

Some of the mopier denizens of the religious right are less pleased, however. This article, over at HuffPo, rounds up some of the responses. The various blog posts they point to make for interesting reading.

For example. here is Ed Stetzer, of LifeWay Research:

Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square. In a recent LifeWay Research study, 37% of American adults agreed that homosexuality is a sin. That number is declining (down from 44% according to a 2011 survey), but it is still a substantial minority. Yet, such views (which were mainstream just a few decades ago) are indeed now a minority position–and viewed as unacceptable by many in society find unacceptable.

So, what does this mean for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and so many more who believe that their authoritative religious texts teach something the prevailing culture finds so unacceptable that they are no longer welcome within the mainstream context, even if they are (as Louie Giglio is known for) working to eradicate slavery? To some, they are no longer welcome because of disagreement over a single, yet specific, point of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

I am heartened that the percentage of people who think homosexuality is sinful is now so low, and is declining. As for Stetzer’s question, yes, those who allow their holy texts to dictate their morality on this question are no longer welcome in the public square, at least to the extent that they are publicly demonizing homosexuals.

This is nothing new, of course. There was a time when many adherents to conservative Christianity openly defended slavery and racism. It is trivial to find Biblical verses that allowed them to do that. It has been quite some time, however, since it has been socially acceptable for anyone to do that, and I don’t believe that Stetzer wants to return to those days. But now the zeitgeist is changing out from under him, and he is having trouble accepting that.

Stetzer shows he does not understand the magnitude of the harm done by the teaching that homosexuality is sinful. This is not some trivial point over which reasonable people can disagree. It is, rather, utterly indefensible on the merits and also responsible for enormous human suffering. So, yes, by holding such views you do cast a pall over whatever good works you do in other areas. You certainly forfeit your right to be given the most prestigious platform a preacher could ever hope to have, namely participating in a Presidential inaugural.

The HuffPo article also links to this essay, by Todd Starnes, over at the Fox News website. Starens writes:

The controversy has outraged Christian conservatives like Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Tex.

“It is the ultimate hypocrisy for the Obama administration to pretend it supports diversity and yet denounces anyone who dares to disagree with its radical homosexual agenda,” Jeffress told Fox News. “Rev Giglio’s comments about homosexuality from more than a decade ago were not hateful but represent the historical teachings of the world’s three major religions. Apparently the Obama administration’s definition of tolerance is only broad enough to include its own views.”

I just love the implication that, if a doctrine is an historical teaching of the world’s three major religions, it can not also be hateful.

It makes me very happy that these folks are feeling marginalized for their views on homosexuality. Considering the harm their hateful rhetoric has done over the years, not having a platform at the inaugural seems like a pretty small comeuppance. In a free country they are welcome to preach their hateful message to their dwindling flocks, but the rest of us are equally welcome to shun them for it.

Comments

  1. #1 MNb
    January 12, 2013

    Not all things change for the worse.

  2. #2 gingerbaker
    January 12, 2013

    Man, this is confusing.

    First of all, the Bible does not say that that homosexuality is a sin. It says that man performing a homosexual act is an abomination, which I suppose is a very bad sin.

    Why would we want to argue that the performance of a man in a homosexual act is not a sin? It most certainly IS, and it is spelled out, in black and white not in a file cabinet in the basement, but in plain sight in the most published books in the world, which happen to be the canon of all three Abrahamic religions.

    That a man performing a homosexual act is a sin is indisputable; whether we should care a whit about what the Bible says is a sin is the real issue. Well, that and whether we should deny civil rights to people who sin is another question worth asking.

  3. #3 Lenoxus
    January 12, 2013

    It’s bizarre how many people don’t seem to get the difference between prohibiting a viewpoint and not endorsing it. It’s the same way with government endorsement of religion. Even same-sex marriage is talked about in these nonsensical terms (they may as well say “What about my right for you not to get married?”)

    There are so many counterexamples I want to raise – for example, given that white supremacists have free-speech rights, is it “wrong” to deny a white supremacist the honor of giving an invocation? Or what about some hippie Universalist? Is Obama obligated to allow every religious leader in the country a turn at the inaugural podium?

    But arguments like that din’t work, because so many of these folks (despite their ostensibly-libertarian leanings) end up dividing the realm of ideas into good ones that the government should explicitly endorse, and bad ones that it should outright ban. Sigh.

    The other noxious thing is the way these homophobes render their own religions, and even “faith” in general, as necessarily anti-gay, and therefore if an anti-gay pastor is shunned, and homophobia is increasingly uncool, then that means “faith” is in trouble. I’m an atheist, but I still think I can say that utlra-conservatives don’t have the right (socially speaking, not legally/politically) to appropriate religion like that.

    To put it another way: Yes, the Bible is anti-himosexuality. It is also pro-slavery, yet I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Christianity as pro-slavery; zeitgeists indeed change. That’s another irony here, since Giglio’s fight against modern slavery is his major virtue, pointed out as somehow compensating for his homophobia. Why is Giglio so opposed to Biblical values? Perhaps we’ll never know, but I for one am glad he is.

  4. #4 Rusty Long
    Houston, Tx
    January 12, 2013

    Sin is a word that belongs to God so if you don’t believe in God why do you care about sin? You either have a deep down desire to want to live without sin or are grossly confused about history and philosophy. This is not just a religious topic but a philosophical topic shared by all believers including Hindus. It is a philosophy that understands creation and procreation. Christians have done a poor job of speaking about this in. It is high time that Christians embrace same sex unions for man made benefit rights, and homosexuals embraced the God made family and the what the word marriage means. Homosexuality cannot demonize and rise above every world philosophy. We can come to the middle and we can lead the world in philosophy, government and equality in America.

  5. #5 John Pieret
    http://dododreams.blogspot.com/
    January 12, 2013
  6. #6 eric
    January 12, 2013

    In a recent LifeWay Research study, 37% of American adults agreed that homosexuality is a sin. That number is declining (down from 44% according to a 2011 survey), but it is still a substantial minority…

    While I wouldn’t necessarily trust a LifeWay survey, wow what a big delta.
    Assuming they believe their own statistics, they have to know that the rate of change they themselves are reporting means the anti-gay position will be dead within the next ten years.

  7. #7 mandas
    January 13, 2013

    “It is high time that Christians embrace same sex unions for man made benefit rights, and homosexuals embraced the God made family and the what the word marriage means.

    Nice try Rusty, but only half right. Yes, it is about time that christians embraced equal rights for everyone. But since god does not exist except in the minds of the deluded, there is no need for anyone to embrace any concept which suggests that god made anything.

    Do you want to know what the word marriage really means? It means exactly what we define it to mean. It is a legal term, and its definition differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There is no ‘middle’.

  8. #8 JimR.
    January 13, 2013

    Moral McCarthyism WOW!!!

    I’d like to see what these persecuted folks have to say about the contributions of some of their evangelical brethren to the extreme anti-homosexual repression in Uganda. Before you love one another there, you’d better check out the whatevers.

    I think practicing Moral McCarthyism in the face of people who espouse this hate should be rapid, in-their-face and abusive. Phoo on someone’s poor sensibilities, they have trampled the rights of others.

  9. #9 Mark Erickson
    January 14, 2013

    FYI, neither Recent Comments nor Recent Post in the right sidebar are working. Both have most recent entries of mid-December.

  10. #10 Mark Erickson
    January 14, 2013

    Well, I just posted the comment and the sidebar updated! On an iPad.

  11. #11 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 14, 2013

    Mark –

    I’ve had that problem myself. On some computers and with some browsers the comments bar updates properly, while on others it doesn’t. For example, on my laptop using Firefox everything is fine, but on my Kindle Fire it does not update. Very frustrating.

  12. #12 Birger Johansson
    January 14, 2013

    Aren’t tattoos sinful, too? I think it is in the same book that states homosexuality is a sin. Oh, and eating non-kosher food is a sin. Teasing a bald guy is a sin punishable by getting torn apart by a couple of bears. Being a firstborn in Egypt is so sinful that you die from it.
    For those of you too young to remember Pet Shop Boys, there is actually a song about it.

  13. #13 Deepak Shetty
    January 14, 2013

    @gingerbaker
    Why would we want to argue that the performance of a man in a homosexual act is not a sin?

    whether we should care a whit about what the Bible says is a sin is the real issue.

    For people who have given up religion , and who believe that religion is something we are better off without , the real issue is as you say – who cares what the bible says (homosexuality, morality, jesus whatever).

    But for people(including non-believers) who believe that religion is good or who egoistically believe that the common man needs religion to help them deal with adversity/death, or who think that people wont give up religion so its negative effects must be blunted
    there is no way out of reinterpreting parts of the bible to keep with the times or metaphorically or whatever else they need to do to maintain the illusion that the bible has something important to say.

  14. #14 Baron Scarpia
    January 15, 2013

    For those of you too young to remember Pet Shop Boys, there is actually a song about it.

    Too young? They released a new single only last month!

    Sigh.

    I do confess, though, to always being bemused by the line of argument that goes ‘You’re a hypocrite because you don’t tolerate my intolerance.’

  15. #15 Dan L.
    January 18, 2013

    Sin is a word that belongs to God so if you don’t believe in God why do you care about sin?

    Because people who do believe in sin have this terrible habit of forcing their beliefs on those who don’t.

    It is high time that Christians embrace same sex unions for man made benefit rights, and homosexuals embraced the God made family and the what the word marriage means.

    A legal partnership between bronze-age pastoralists in which a nubile young woman is traded for land and livestock? No? Because that’s how marriage is defined in the old testament.

    Homosexuality cannot demonize and rise above every world philosophy.

    WTF does that even mean?

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