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Eric: The Twelfth Commandment

All right. This is going into unusual territory for me. It's going into where the religious crosses over into the political, and it's going into a couple of hot button issues. You need to know this going into it. I promise that later on, I'll post something about a comic strip, and if you'd like to wait for that without reading this, I'll be perfectly fine with it.

Still here? Coolness. Let's talk.

I make no bones about my political ethos. I'm a liberal. I'm not an extremist, but I advocate things that moderates don't, so I pretty much have to call myself "liberal" and be done with it. I'm proud of this fact.

You may intuit, from that admission, my opinions and beliefs when it comes to gay and lesbian civil rights, gay marriage, the "gay agenda," and the "religious right agenda." Let's stipulate those before I move forward. I am a liberal. You know how I feel about the above, at least in general. I'm very unlikely to disappoint you.

Further, as I told you back when I was talking about Christmas in schools, I'm not a Christian. That's an important part of this essay too.

Got all that? Good.

In the last few days, I've seen a number of people -- including a number of my friends -- launch into tirades against what they see as the latest horrific tirade from "the Fundamentalists." Namely, the conflation of the Tsunami and all those killed with some kind of divine justice against the Sodomites. They're horrified. "This is why I despise Christianity," some of them say. "This is the kind of ignorant hatred these people spew! How can so many Americans be fooled by this bullshit?"

And I'm here as a cheerful Liberal Non-Christian to say to all of you reacting in this way a simple, pleasant message:

Know your opposition.

Notice I don't say "enemy." Any belief structure that necessitates making millions of Americans my "enemy" isn't one I agree with even slightly. But there are issues I am in fundamental opposition with those Americans over, and there are millions of Americans who agree with me as well.

But the tirades that you despise aren't coming from the Evangelical Christian Community. They're not.

The tirades mostly come from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas. Their website is the cheerfully named God Hates Fags, if you care to have a look at the bile-filled hatefest for yourself. They describe themselves as a Primitive Baptist Church. However, their belief structure is mostly based on a particularly strict form of Calvinism. God has decided who will be saved and who will not. Those who will be saved will enter into grace and act perfectly before they die -- perfection meaning "agree with the WBC's interpretation of the Bible in all ways and act accordingly" in this case. They will have no choice in this matter -- God will select them and there will be nothing else they can do.

Please note -- this is the polar opposite of Evangelist Christianity. To the Evangelists and Charismatic Christians, it is all about Free Will and choice. Sinners are born Sinners, but can choose to repent, declare their faith in Jesus Christ, and enter into Grace. God Loves Everyone, and Everyone can be Saved, but you have to come to Him -- He doesn't do the work for you.

To the WBC, all things are expressions of the Divine Will. And, as an Apocalyptic Cult, they feel that Divine Will is very unhappy with we the sinners. And when God gets unhappy, he destroys cities and floods the world and kills pretty much everyone and most of them get cast into Hell. And that's a good thing. By definition, because God Wills It. To them, God explicitly does not love everyone. He hates gays and lesbians -- and Jews and Muslims and Catholics and any other church they consider to be apostate. This explicitly includes, but is not limited to, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Catholics, the United Church of Christ, the Assemblies of God, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Southern Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Unitarians, and of course all Jews who don't accept Jesus as the Messiah. They single out Billy Graham in particular as a dangerous heretic and false prophet.

The WBC has offered up loud and public thanks for the Tsunami, because they believe that it killed thousands of Americans and Swedes (they hate Sweden) and is yet another sign of Divine Wrath against the Sodomites and their Sympathizers. They have offered up thanks and praise for the 9/11 attacks for the same reason. They have openly expressed their hope that God destroys the entire North American Continent as punishment for our sinful ways, and they have expressed out and out joy that prominent gays who have died (especially those murdered) are now burning in Hell without release. Their God has no room for Mercy -- there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent this. Had he wanted to save Matthew Shephard's soul (they've been actively trying to raise a monument commemorating Shephard -- who was a teenaged homosexual brutally killed by gaybashers -- as burning in Hell, and they picketed his funeral with God Hates Fags placards) God would have reached out, caused Matthew to renounce homosexuality, and preach the gospel as they see it. They also believe God made Matthew gay, as God made all things, and chose not to save him.

They take joy in God's Hatred and Wrath, joy in the death he spreads (including, explicitly, children -- since they were being raised to do evil anyway), and joy in the coming End Times that will see America and all nations like her destroyed by a vengeful hand. They preach their hate-spewed gospel because the Bible says they must, but they don't believe it will do any good -- God will save those he wants to, and besides, it's too late for us.

So yes, I despise these hateful, tortured bastards. I despise anyone who takes pleasure in the death of one person, much less the death of thousands upon thousands. I wouldn't share a meal with any one of them. And if it turns out they're right and their God is the true one, I'd rather go to Hell. Eternal torment is preferable to a Divinity of Hatred and Selfishness, and I do not accept any deity capable of creating the Heavens and Earth could also be capable of that much bile and intentional, impersonal horror.

But I never, ever confuse these horrible people with Evangelical Christians. The Religious Right has an agenda I can't stand, but their churches don't advocate the destruction of America, joy in the death of tens of thousands, and joy in the torment of sinners. I know more than one Christian who believes in Exclusive Salvation -- the doctrine that only through Christ's grace and the acceptance of Him as your Savior can you enter the Kingdom of Heaven -- and none of them like the thought of their friends and even acquaintences burning in Hell. They would give anything to help you avoid that fate. The WBC will just literally dance on your grave.

So when we the Liberals point to the WBC and say "you see? This is what those bastard Christians want to do to us! This is what they stand for!" the Religious Right -- the real, honest to God Fundamentalist Christians stare at us and say "you honestly have no idea what our religion is about, do you?" They give up on trying to have a meaningful dialogue about the issues dividing this country, because we're not trying to understand -- we're lumping them in with the worst of their breed. It's exactly the same as the days when all left-leaning people were tarred as Stalinists -- not even just Communists, but followers of the Butchers of Budapest. It's exactly the same as when environmentalists are looped in with radical ecoterrorists. It's exactly the same as when the Gay and Lesbian Movement is conflated with NAMBLA.

And it wasn't true in those cases and this isn't true now. And by conflating the Religious Right with Antiamerican Apocalyptic Death Cults, we're ensuring that no decent communication can take place between the left and the right in this country. We're ensuring that Christians fully believe we aren't willing to distinguish between decent people who have different moral values than we do and monsters. And right now? That hurts Liberals more than Christians. Take another look at who won the last election if you don't believe me. And when we go on the offensive against all of Christianity because of the radical, hateful ethos of one tiny splinter of horrible people acting in unChristian ways nominally in the name of Jesus, we put all of Christianity on the defensive. That's just plain stupid.

You should all know the Ten Commandments (even if you're not a believer. This is a part of your civilization). Robert Heinlein informed us that the Eleventh Commandment was "Thou shalt not get caught." Well, I think the Twelfth Commandment is "Know Thy Opposition."

We have fundamental issues before us right now. We have battles that are crucial -- that must be fought. If, like me, you are a Liberal (at least on these issues) or even a Moderate who leans left on civil rights, you have to know what the positions the Right (especially the Religious Right) hold on Abortion, on Gay Rights, on the Separation of Church and State. You have to know the nuances of those issues, and know where the battle lines have to be drawn. And you have to know that your Opponents are not your Enemies -- they are Americans you disagree with on a number of issues.

And we can't do any of that if we're drawn into tarring them all with the WBC's brush. Trust me, the Religious Right doesn't want the WBC on their side of the debate any more than we do. But if we force them to include them, they will... and it will lead to ever worsening conditions for the Left.

And, if you're on the Right in these debates -- if you disagree with my stances... know too the difference between the Liberals and the Extremists. Know the difference between proponents of Choice and Gay Civil Rights and the extreme left nutjobs and proponents of pedophilia. And know that while we oppose many of the things you believe in, we are not your enemy either... and if you cast us as your enemies and lump us all into one great Leftist Horde... it will lead to ever worsening conditions for the Right, as well.

Know thy Opposition, and know thy Battlefield, and don't get distracted by the depraved rantings of a few horrible people. The issues are too important, and America needs us to be at our best in this debate.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 5, 2005 12:38 PM

Comments

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 5, 2005 3:48 PM

As one of those most mysterious and rare of critters, a Conservative Pagan, I must applaud you for this rant. I stepped away from Christianity years ago because I found that the pagan paths had more in common with my own personal beliefs than did Christianity, and struggled for years with the more rabid members of the internet pagan community concerning Christianity. Whenever a Christian would join the e-mail discussion thread, we would have inevitable flamewars start up about how "evil" Christianity was, and the Christians would leave in disgust.

Christianity is a path, no more, no less. People choose it for their spiritual enlightenment. And as with the pagan paths, there are those who are very liberal and even socialistic in beliefs... and those who take a conservative view of God's word. Some walk the path of hatred, demanding that everyone walk as they do, speak as they do, and believe as they do, lest they all burn in Hell. And even if every last single being on the face of the Earth DID do that... they'd start pointing at some of their own, who aren't "good enough" and channel their hate against their own.

We've seen similar, with other faiths. There are some deluded followers of Islamic cults who believe that if they die while killing "unbelievers" that they are destined to go right to Allah's right-hand side to be rewarded with wonders and delights. As if a moment of violence and terror is worth more to Allah than years of devotion to Allah's name and faithful belief.

Even within the pagan paths we have those who walk the path of hatred and violence. And not just the so-called "Satanists" (who are mostly immature people off on a power trip). And even among the Liberal path, which is supposedly the path of tolerance and respect... we have people throwing paint at those wearing furs, spiking trees so that lumberjacks are harmed when cutting down the trees, and so forth.

Hatred can be found everywhere, for every cause. We need to remember that... and realize that just as not all environmentalists are responsible for the actions of a few radicals, just as all liberals are not responsible for the actions of a few violent souls... so too are not all Christians to be painted with the same brush. Most are actually decent caring people.

Comment from: joeymanley posted at January 5, 2005 3:59 PM

I've often wondered if Westboro Baptist Church isn't secretly a liberal group, with an agenda of presenting an outrageously exaggerated "convervative" viewpoint in order to move any decent people who come in contact with their positions toward a more tolerant stance.

Whether or not that is there intention, it does seem to be their effect.

So, either way -- cool.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at January 5, 2005 4:30 PM

Thank you.

I grew up in a Christian home, and it's always been frustrating to hear Christians bashed for the idiocy of fundamentalists like these. I'm glad someone took time to actually say this. Thanks.

Comment from: djcoffman posted at January 5, 2005 4:49 PM

Damn-- That stuff is just wrong.

There's a guy on my forum who posts about American G.I. crimes and crap. It kinda gets on my nerves sometimes how people try to make things so black and white.... Hell, the world isnt even gray anymore! It's like a chartreuse

Comment from: Phy posted at January 5, 2005 4:57 PM

We have some things in common and we have some things that we diverge on.

I believe this could be labled "the human condition". ;)

On the common side, we like Sci-Fi, webcomics, clever humor, good writing, and value the important stuff. On the divergent side, I'm a centrist who leans Conservative, a believer in Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God, and am considered Christian as a result.

However, I look at much of what the religious Right is for and find that I am not on the same page. The God that I worship (in my humble, stumbling, but hopefully authentic way), is the ultimate creator and loves to see creation from his creation (if you know what I mean). He is the ultimate father and grieves when his children fight or hurt or are enslaved. He is the ultimate judge and doesn't cut corners on Wicked Sh!t. He is the ultimate friend who found a way to take my place for wicked sh!t I've done (and, God help me, may do again). The devout believer has been rescued from the chasm and wants to help rescue others from the chasm, not toss them in. He only dumps out the bathwater and not the baby.

I appreciate this essay. It demonstrates what we need to do right now - look past the labels to the people and issues that face us, recognize that we are each wired a little different but are each valuable, and think of ways to embrace the diversity that used to be the hallmark of America but which now seems to be tearing us apart.

Thanks, Eric.

Comment from: Amanda posted at January 5, 2005 5:11 PM

Plaid Phantom: "I grew up in a Christian home, and it's always been frustrating to hear Christians bashed for the idiocy of fundamentalists like these."

I agree entirely with the sentiment, but I would like to argue one thing -- the use of the word "fundamentalist." I see this word too often used to be equivalent to "extremist" or "radical" when it is decidedly not so. There are plenty of fundamentalist Christians -- those who take a more-or-less literal view of the Bible -- who do not use that fundamentalism as a basis for an extremist political view. (I classify myself religiously as a fundamentalist Christian, personally, and I'm growing more and more libertarian in my politics, and would likely agree with Eric in most of his positions.) Just the use of that one word bothers me, since I am, by definition, a fundamentalist, but I like to think I share little with those who are popularly used as the definition of "fundamentalist." :)

I do agree entirely with the sentiment, the frustration with the very extreme side of my (and others') faith being used to represent my (and others') faith, when it does nothing of the sort -- it embodies everything my faith opposes: the hatefulness toward fellow humans, the close-mindedness (doesn't the Bible say somewhere that a stiff neck is more easily broken?)... and it is very hard to watch my faith be defined by those who actually share very little of it.

... And another: Thank you, Eric.

Comment from: MrNexx posted at January 5, 2005 10:14 PM

You know, I went to school in Manhattan, just down the interstate from Westboro Baptist. Those guys were funny to have around, simply because they were so easy to work into a frothing rage...

Comment from: Ibsu posted at January 5, 2005 10:59 PM

A few things.

1. I'd like to point out that while fundamentalists may be considered evangelicals, evangelicals are not all fundamentalists. To give you an example, Jerry Falwell is at the liberal end of fundamentalism and houses quite a few reactionaries such as Jack Chick (chick.com), Fred Phelps (of WBC fame), the 1611 only/Textus Receptus crowd (http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0002.htm), and others.

Now, not all Baptists are fundamentalists, though many align themselves with one of the Fundamentalist Baptist denominations or call themselves Independant Baptist.

So while I'd call Phelps a fundamentalist, that doesn't mean that even most fundamentalists would agree with him.

2. You want better fodder? John Aravosis of americablog.org fame made this observation, and it was picked up by others. (http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/this_just_in/documents/04383308.asp , http://americablog.blogspot.com/archives/2005_01_01_americablog_archive.html#110470404508660339) The more conservative Christian groups said nothing about the tsunami on their website until shamed about it. The liberal religious groups did.

3. Where are the evangelicals who are vocal about social justice? About fighting prejudice? Forget if it's government's job or not -- it is everyone's responsibility to expose and counter prejudice. Perhaps Tony Campolo? And he's certainly not considered orthodox.

They call themselves the salt of the earth, after all!

I agree with the sentiment, though. I learned it though spending 5 years with the pentacostals... Try just reading a few books instead. :D

Comment from: Prankster posted at January 6, 2005 12:12 AM

Beautifully written, Snarkmaster. I've been saying much the same thing for a long time--the political divide is going to continue to gape as long as we dismiss those on "the other side" as some kind of inhuman monster not worthy of understanding. It's a vicious cycle. Study the arguments of those you disagree with and then nail them on their honest mistakes; don't generalize a straw boogeyman that you can decry as the Source of All Evil. In fact, the best tack is to attack statements made by individuals, and ignore the larger "movements" as much as possible. If a specific set of beliefs like Christianity can have so much variation among individuals, imagine how broad the spectrum must be for a less conglomerate group like "Liberals" or "Conservatives". Imaginary "Liberals", in particular, seem to be responsible for most of what's wrong with the world, yet I'm darned if I've ever seen or spoken to any of these people on an individual basis.

I blame all Conservatives, everywhere, for this.

Comment from: Alun Clewe posted at January 6, 2005 12:23 AM

This explicitly includes, but is not limited to, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Catholics, the United Church of Christ, the Assemblies of God, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Southern Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Unitarians, and of course all Jews who don't accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Don't forget us Mormons. I think we're pretty high on their hate list too...

(Yeah, I know you said "but is not limited to", so you weren't presenting your list as exhaustive...)

Comment from: BigJT posted at January 6, 2005 1:10 AM

I guess step one here is divulging where I stand on the various spectra, so... I'm what I consider a Conservative Non-Fundamentalist Christian and a Left-Leaning Social Libertarian. Contradictory? Maybe. I could be pulling a wonderful bit of double-think here, but hear me out.

I don't believe that all of the Old Testament (or any of the apocolypse writings for that matter) are literally true (which isn't to say they aren't the Truth, which I believe they are), but I do believe in literal truth of the gospels (concerning Jesus' life and teachings) and epistles (when taken in context, and context is very important when reading the epistles). That said, I waver on the point of Exclusive Salvation (what of those who never hear the Good Word?), and I don't think any good comes from aggressive proselytizing. I should also note that the church I attend is named Evangel Pentecostal.



That said, while I'm against many things based on Biblical teachings, I fully support nearly all the movements to have them recognized as a legal choice for people (sorry NAMBLA, you don't make that list). Basically, on all issues of rights, I would seem to be a left-leaning moderate (or a moderate-leaning liberal maybe), as I support everyone's right to equality. But supporting their right to do something is very different from supporting their actually doing it. Even if you have the right to choose what you want to do (whether it be to enter into a gay marriage, have an abortion or even to tell someone they're going to Hell), I believe that there's definately one choice that will please God and one (or more) choice(s) that won't. But yelling at someone, waving a placard and trying to criminalize something God wants them to choose not to do won't help them make the right choice. The latter actually removes the choice, which I believe to be contrary to God's will.



Have I explained my position well enough? Probably not, but that's a long explanation.



That all said, I applaud your rant here and will send it to anyone I think may have an opinion on the matter either way. As someone who leans liberal in social regards and leans right religiously, I'm thrilled to see that not everyone on the left paints the world in Left and Right (as I did, oddly enough, before becoming Born Again, but do no longer). Attending a church called Evangel Pentecostal gets you nailed with an Extreme Right label pretty quickly, which is incredibly frustrating (since even I'm horrified by the actual Extreme Right), and it's wonderful to know that not everyone will automatically brand me that way, and it's great to know that someone on the Liberal end of the spectrum is trying to point out that even the religious right is in serious disagreement with the extreme right.

Comment from: larsiusprime posted at January 6, 2005 2:03 AM

Amid the resounding chorus of cheering and amens from both the left and the right, I'd like to add my dittos to the inevitable deluge that a spark of reason deserves.

I'm a "fundamentalist" christian, not by my own labeling but by others, and I wasn't born into that faith either - I converted, something most people would think unthinkable. As did I at one point in my life - before my conversion, I saw Christians (especially "those" Christians) as the absolute LAST sort of people I'd ever want to associate with.

I was quasi-religious at the time in a very fanatical, screwed up way, and I could sooner see myself as an atheist than as one of "them."

The reason being of course, that I never actually took the time to figure out who they WERE. I was so focused on what I already thought I knew.

I don't use the term "fundamentalist" voluntarily, only to give you a sense of the stereotypes associated with me.

I think there is a VERY good working definition for "fundamentalist":

A person of any philosophical persuasion that claims "The truth is LESS important than what I ALREADY believe." (either by their own admission or gone unspoken).

Given that definition, I meet just as many FUNDAMENTALIST atheists, agnostics, neo-pagans, heck, vegetarians, LINUX USERS, as I do fundamentalist christians.

And of course, I know many atheists, agnostics, neo-pagans, vegetarians, and linux users who aren't of the fundamentalist bent (well, maybe not any linux users... I kid, I kid).

I believe in the Bible as the infallible word of God in its original manuscripts, I believe that its transmission by human hand over the centuries has not been as corrupted as many would suggest, as I myself am employed as a translator and I understand the underlying principles and archeological evidence, and that belief in the supernatural is at least as rational as unbelief, if not more. My tenets might therefore come across as fanatical, but they are born out of this one principle:

I believe this because I believe it is true, not because I WANT to believe it is true. If I ever discover it to be false, I will abandon my beliefs - for a Christian faith may be comforting, but the hope that comes from it means nothing if it is not true. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot brainwash myself. It is for that reason that I am very comforted by the fact that at present I have found no reason to abandon my faith on rational grounds, the exact opposite I expected to find in my agnostic days.

I hate the culture of accusation that has overcome our society and our world, where we are willing to point the finger at anyone, be it man, be it God, be it authority or brother or president or nationality, just so that as that accusing digit points away, we can feel safe for a moment as we are certain that it does not point back at ourself, if but for a moment.

To tolerate another's existence is different from accepting what they say as true, and a far cry from accepting a doctrine of philosophical or moral relitivism, and the lowest common denominator necessary for both co-existence, and surprise surprise, successful evangelism!

Some will come to the faith I have chosen, some will not. And as Eric so astutely observed, though I believe in Heaven and Hell, I am by no means filled with delight or joy in knowing that some will wind up in one and not the other.

The strangest thing I've noticed in my two years as a Christian is how deeply seated are the stereotypes and lies told in both directions, but as I am aware of Christian misconceptions of our "them," the ones that come my way are much more often on my mind. These misconceptions lead nowhere but to division and rancour, and it is my belief that if these misconceptions were removed, you would see many, many people (although certainly not all) who today claim to forever be either anti- or simply non- Christian who would gladly lay their hearts at the foot of the cross.

That's all I've got to say.

You have a reasonable and thoughtful mind, Mr. Snarky. Please do not be offended when I say that bodes well for your soul.

You've passed the "angry dissilusioning rant" phase of your trials in gaining a faithful audience, and swimmingly I might add.

Comment from: William_G posted at January 6, 2005 11:43 AM

I wont lie, I think religion is fast becoming the single most dangerous opponent to the continual advancement of human society. And the moderates have been a piss-poor job in either reigning in, or disassociating themselves from, the radical elements that share their beliefs.

I dont know if it's a faith-based Genovese Syndrome, or them secretly hoping the world will tilt in their favor, but their inaction is bad as them helping the radicals.

These people are the ones who have turned the world into a "with us or against us" battle-ground. And if I could think of a way to stop them that wouldnt turn me into what I hate, I'd do it.

Sorry.

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 6, 2005 1:12 PM

The thing is... faith is one of the keystones of human civilization. It gives people a moral base on which to build laws and customs, due to the hope and belief in something greater than ourselves... and also to the fear of "divine retribution" should we fail to listen to the tenants of our faith.

You can point fingers all you want, but that doesn't change that fact. And if you remove faith and religion from our society... you end up with an untillered ship that drifts aimlessly.

That said, I'm not advocating a government-sponsored religion. Heck, I'm pagan, and not Wiccan (more of a self-discovery path). My "religion" (more spiritual belief) would not be chosen in such a case. However, we must be careful not to paint all religion with the same brush.

Yes, religion can be dangerous, when people fail to question the tenants of their belief, and instead follow blindly. But the alternative can be equally detrimental. The key is, naturally enough, moderation.

Comment from: Sage posted at January 6, 2005 2:37 PM

So when we the Liberals point to the WBC... the real, honest to God Fundamentalist Christians stare at us and say "you honestly have no idea what our religion is about, do you?"

Eric, it's a shame you don't blog political. It is rare (for me, at least) to see such insight from someone who identifies himself as a liberal. You have absolutely nailed the problem that the left faces when confronting religious politics.

Every time I see someone like Kos repeat the line "You keep saying 'morality' but really you're just talking about sex," I get angry, because all this does is convey an ignorance about the issues of morality that concern the right. That's not an argument, it's a liability, and it's been constraining the advancement of gay rights for far too long.

So it's nice to see a reasonable progressive viewpoint out there. Kudos.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at January 6, 2005 2:54 PM

Beautifully written, Eric. Do you mind if I forward the url to a couple of the political mailing lists I'm on?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 6, 2005 3:15 PM

Prodigal: It's on one of those "communist" copylefts anyhow -- check my Creative Commons license for details. But absolutely you can forward the URL. No permission needed. ;)

Comment from: Phalanx posted at January 6, 2005 4:56 PM

I wish I hadn't clicked on that WBC link. So much blind hatred and bitterness... What kind of sick person rejoices in a kid being kidnapped because she just happens to be born in a country they don't approve of?

I'm really glad you snarked this, Eric, although I would like to add (and it's probably something we all knew already) that this problem isn't confined to just ONE body of people, but pretty much every other collective out there as well.

I remember when Malaysia got hit by the Nipah virus (For more info: http://www.csiro.au/index.asp?type=faq&id=Nipahvirus&stylesheet=divisionFaq ) certain religious fanatics supposedly declared the virus an 'Act of God to punish the unbelievers for eating the forbidden meat'. It parallels what the WBC and the tsunami.

I think the main reason I stopped going to church was because I couldn't take 'we are the only ones who are right' and us against the rest of the world' attitude.

And the worst part is that everyone gets tarred with the same brush because of the actions individuals.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason why people are so eager to make enemies out of others is because it gives them a reason to call of ironically... unity.

Comment from: Xelona posted at January 6, 2005 9:05 PM

Ok, I've been thinking of signing up for a Typekey account before just to comment here, but this is the one that pushed me over the edge.



Thank you for such a lovely post! I am a very religious Christian, with somewhat conservative views, but I still agree entirely. I even wrote a response to in on my journal, but it's a bit too much a post of my own rather than a response, so I won't put it here. I'd be happy if anyone read it, though. Here's a shorter version of my thoughts:



As a Lutheran, specifically a young student at a Lutheran college as well as someone who has actually looked in depth at my faith and decided that it was right for me (I explain why in my post) I pity those Christians who preach hatred and division. The world is too beautiful to focus only on such evil things and the Christian faith is at its heart one of peace and unity. Catagorizing only divides creation, when it would be better to focus on the joy of diversity and what we have in common. I know my views are not shared by everyone, but that actually seems to me to be a good thing, as the resulting discussion makes us look deeper at what we believe. There are Christians out there who divide and hate and too many people seem to lump all Christians out there with that group, but if that was the only form of Christianity out there, I would not be Christian. Thank you for trying to cut through that stereotype.

Comment from: Gwen posted at January 6, 2005 9:36 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Mindless lumping of people into categories is fruitless and, in the end, detrimental toward any cause. I commend you for your post; now if only the people that need to read it actually WOULD.

Comment from: fuzzyprint posted at January 7, 2005 2:22 PM

Just like everyone else said, thank you for writing this :) I am glad that you wrote this article and I am also glad to see how people have responded to it.

Comment from: Hunter posted at January 7, 2005 7:38 PM

As a moderate / right-leaning Christian, I really appreciate your post. It is very thoughtful and well-written. Thanks.

Comment from: map408 posted at January 8, 2005 12:02 AM

As others have mentioned previously, but since it can't be said enough, thank you. As a member of the Evangelical Christian Community, it's wonderful to see such a well-thought out response to the accusations I encounter on an all too-frequent basis. This is my first visit and already I'm interested in hearing what else you have to say, because even if I might not agree with your principles, I respect your sense of reason. Kudos and, again, thanks.

Comment from: Alt Meta posted at January 11, 2005 1:12 AM

I want to praise not just the author of the above, for putting so well a point of view I so strongly want to see and hear amid all the sound and the fury surrounding the ridiculousness of the "culture war", but also all the rest of you, for responding so well. It is a genuine pleasure to hear reasonable voices on both sides of the line in the sand, the one I'm on, and the other. It's too huge a country for us all to agree on everything. But there is far more room for common ground than we get to see these days. And it can be a genuine relief to ground oneself in the good will and clear thoughts of others. Thank you all.

alt

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