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Religious Groups' Official Positions on Same-Sex Marriage
June 24, 2008 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Here is a handy guide to the various attitudes towards gay marriage from religious denominations. (previously)
posted by netbros (167 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there a similar handy guide to the various attitudes towards bicycles from different species of fish?
posted by yhbc at 8:33 AM on June 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


LOLVARIOUSATTITUDES

The fact that these outfits feel they have to have a "position" on gay marriage, even if positive, is pretty sick in my mind. Do they also have a position on what and what not to eat and drink? Oh wait, yes. How about hairstyles and clothing? Errr...yeah. Which side of the room to put furniture on? Ummmm. Fingernail clipping? Am I free to decide when and how to clip my fingernails, religions of the world?

Here's a novel idea: Religion could to theological (which is to say, imaginary) topics and quit poking it's nose in where it doesn't belong.
posted by DU at 8:34 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


The fact that these outfits feel they have to have a "position" on gay marriage, even if positive, is pretty sick in my mind.

The ones that are positive also strongly correlate to the religious organizations that are heavily into promoting equality for all people. I guess that's wrong, eh?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:37 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


YEah! Where do these people get off? Like it's okay for them to think about things and have positions for or against. What the hell? Who gave them the right to, like, have opinions and stuff?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:41 AM on June 24, 2008 [17 favorites]


I guess that's wrong, eh?

I'm A-OK with any and all organizations promoting sane opinions. Here is a sane opinion: "People are equal." Here is an insane opinion: "God told me to tell you people are equal." The fact that they these two opinions have some overlap is a happy accident.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Wow, most religious people hate gays. Shocking, I tell you. Shocking!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2008


The fact that these outfits feel they have to have a "position" on gay marriage, even if positive, is pretty sick in my mind.

What if their position is 'make your own mind up'?
posted by biffa at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2008


Twenty-five years from now when opposing gay marriage is viewed in the same light that we view opposing interracial marriage now, the organized religions that are still around are going to feel pretty stupid.
posted by ND¢ at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is just going to be a bad thread.
posted by Avenger at 8:48 AM on June 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


In 2003, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a statement confirming its opposition to gay marriage. It called on “Southern Baptists not only to stand against same-sex unions but to demonstrate our love for those practicing homosexuality by sharing with them the forgiving and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).”

It is not enough to disapprove; one must disapprove obnoxiously.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:48 AM on June 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


Twenty-five years from now when opposing gay marriage is viewed in the same light that we view opposing interracial marriage now, the organized religions that are still around are going to feel pretty stupid.

I imagine 25 years from they'll be saying "well, most of us supported it, it was just the old, stubborn people that didn't." We've always been at war with Eurasiafriends with the gays!
posted by inigo2 at 8:49 AM on June 24, 2008 [9 favorites]


My religion dictates that I'm against closed-minded people who believe in god.
posted by nevercalm at 8:49 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Religion could to theological (which is to say, imaginary) topics and quit poking it's nose in where it doesn't belong

Isn't marriage part of Theology?
posted by dov3 at 8:50 AM on June 24, 2008


How many branches of science have issued statements supporting or opposing gay marriage? How many sports teams? Businesses? Would it be appropriate if any of them had?
posted by DU at 8:52 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


pretty sick or not, I'm going to enjoy marching in the pride parade with a group from my (Episcopal) diocese. I am sometimes embarrassed to say I'm a church goer because so many non-religious folk (usually for excellent reason) presume churchgoers are bigots.
It's also hard because so many other church types presume we should be bigots like they are.
posted by pointystick at 8:53 AM on June 24, 2008


"The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes gay marriage"

Jeez, thanks for the heads up Netbros. I better stop being gay or I'm gonna get busted.
posted by Jofus at 8:53 AM on June 24, 2008


Isn't marriage part of Theology?

It is better described as a social construct, with a mostly legal basis. The religious element is not primary to marriage (unless you're religious, and, to that point, associated with a particular religion).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:54 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, most religious people hate gays

Pew publishes a series of documents to help us overcome over-simplified, prejudiced views of religion in America, and this is how some people still respond. Sigh.
posted by honest knave at 8:54 AM on June 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


The fact that these outfits feel they have to have a "position" on gay marriage, even if positive, is pretty sick in my mind.

We could easily the same regarding people- even if it's a positive one.

Twenty-five years from now when opposing gay marriage is viewed in the same light that we view opposing interracial marriage now, the organized religions that are still around are going to feel pretty stupid.

I don't see this happening for some religions- Catholicism being one. Unless a Pope in favor of gay marriage is elected (which I don't see happening when Pope Benedict croaks), the Church will not be consecrating gay marriages anytime soon.

Would it be appropriate if any of them had?

The difference being, rightly or wrongly, religious organization think that homosexuality has bearing on one's righteousness- something the churches are in the business of dealing with.
posted by jmd82 at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2008


No need to sigh, just read Pew's summary of each religion's position on the matter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:56 AM on June 24, 2008


Isn't marriage part of Theology?

Lifelong committed partnership has been hijacked by religion, but I see no valid claim to special privilege there.... just a lot of squawking about "defending" something that they didn't own in the first place.
posted by Malor at 8:56 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Isn't marriage part of Theology?

Marriage is also a secular institution. Various religions can refuse to bless or conduct religious marriages on whatever grounds they see fit -- but they're attempting to impose their religious values on the secular institution. Which, if you believe in the separation of church & state, is pretty damn offensive.
posted by treepour at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


...religious organization think that homosexuality has bearing on one's righteousness...

Exactly my point.
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2008


THANK YOU. I'm fed up of people who proclaim that "all religions despise homosexuality" when that is clearly not the case. I wish I could print this out and distribute this at lectures about health and sexuality where someone prominent always pulls out that trope.

some countries with large Buddhist populations, such as Thailand and Cambodia, disapprove of homosexuality and have not legalized gay marriage.
I thought Thailand was societally cool with gay people?
posted by divabat at 9:04 AM on June 24, 2008


I promise you, DU, that there are plenty of people who find your most heartfelt beliefs (and I'm sure you have some) just as silly, so maybe you should tone down the outrage just a tad?

You can still oppose foes of gay marriage while having a little humility.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:09 AM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Man, there are already so many comments here that are beautiful starting points for flame-warring. But I think I'll avoid the bickering and follow the code of the religion that raised me:

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS CAN I GET A WHAT WHAT

THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR IF YOU FEEL THAT WE MUST RESPECT THE INTERDEPENDENT WEB OF EXISTENCE OF WHICH WE ARE ALL A PART

HOLLLLAAAAA
posted by Greg Nog at 9:09 AM on June 24, 2008 [62 favorites]


I think it's sort of interesting to see how certain hang-ups exist across cultural boundaries. From Hindu to Buddhist to Christian to Muslim to Jew, they've all got squiggy feelings about homosexuality (though the Hindus and the Buddhists seem to have them to a lesser extent).

I'd be interested to read something that analyzed the underpinnings of those beliefs and where the similarities come from -- but without pushing some nefarious agenda in the process.

But I'm too lazy to seek such a thing out, so I'll just make a broad assumption that the men who came up with all these religions all happened to be weirded out by gay sex and figured everybody should feel the same way as them or be put to death. Nice bunch of guys.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:10 AM on June 24, 2008


Wow, most religious people hate gays

Pew publishes a series of documents to help us overcome over-simplified, prejudiced views of religion in America, and this is how some people still respond. Sigh.

what utter bullshit.

tell you what, i'll work on my "over-simplified, prejudiced views of religion in America" when "religious" Americans cease and desist in using their god/s as a basis for bigotry and persecution.

'cause if you're gonna get all uppity about peoples' responses to things, doesn't it make a lot more sense to get upset that -- even after thousands of years of using god/s to justify hatred of people who are different -- "religious" people still use their ghostlike god-creature to fuel their un-godly acts towards minorities? (racial minorities, religious minorities, gender minorities, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc......)

*sigh.*
posted by CitizenD at 9:10 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


My point is that since theology studies religion, God, and His relationship with humans and their activities, then theology has a valid point having an opinion in marriage. Whether that opinion is good or bad, that's a horse of a totally different color
posted by dov3 at 9:11 AM on June 24, 2008


I was expecting a spreadsheet.
posted by chillmost at 9:12 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


...since theology studies religion, God, and His relationship with humans and their activities, then theology has a valid point having an opinion in marriage.

So then religions also have a legitimate interest in my fingernail clipping procedures? I'm actually kind of glad they are so comprehensive, because I've been having trouble figuring out what to give my Mom for her birthday. Which do you think is more godly, an Amazon gift certificate or a replacement for one of her aging favorite kitchen tools? Is polka dot wrapping paper too sinful do you suppose?
posted by DU at 9:15 AM on June 24, 2008


I'm A-OK with any and all organizations promoting sane opinions. Here is a sane opinion: "People are equal." Here is an insane opinion: "God told me to tell you people are equal." The fact that they these two opinions have some overlap is a happy accident.

Actually your assumption that one is sane and one is insane is pretty ridiculous and destroys any sort of validity in what is or is not "sane".

Though, honesty, it must suck that you have to have an opinion on something. It would be much easier to not actually have opinions and just bask in the awesomeness of your own revelation, wouldn't it?

Here's a novel idea: Religion could to theological (which is to say, imaginary) topics and quit poking it's nose in where it doesn't belong.

You actually don't understand anything about theology or religion, do you?
posted by Stynxno at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


theology has a valid point having an opinion in marriage

Monotheists only have a right to an opinion on marriage within the context of their own religious rituals, but they don't get to have an opinion on marriage as a right enjoyed by all without regard to their particular association with a religion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2008 [16 favorites]


The fact that these outfits feel they have to have a "position" on gay marriage, even if positive, is pretty sick in my mind.

Oh you're so evolved, DU. You're so socially advanced you can't possibly imagine why anyone, especially a religious organization, would think it necessary to formally declare their support of equality.

On the off chance that you're being sincere and not just jerking off, I suggest you read up on the UCC's open and affirming policy.
#1 Question:
Why is it necessary to become ONA?
Since the beginning of the Open and Affirming (ONA) movement in the UCC, people have been saying: “We try to be friendly and welcome everyone. Anyone can join in our worship and activities! We just don’t understand why becoming 'Open and Affirming' is necessary. Why should we make a statement saying we welcome persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (lgbt)?”

[SNIP]

“Gay and lesbian people are so accustomed to being the exception to that stated 'everyone,' that they and their loved ones have to overcome a tremendous internal barrier to take a chance on being open to a church. A statement makes that barrier much smaller.”
Do you really, really not get that, or are you just busy trying to impress us what what an awesome atheist you are?
posted by dersins at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2008 [17 favorites]


Which, if you believe in the separation of church & state, is pretty damn offensive.

But a lot of people don't believe in separation as such. Regarding "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," it's seen as strictly such and passing a law banning gay marriage is not an establishment of religion since there is nothing in the law about religion. Plus, they're not banning being gay- they can still do it in their free time. The other reason I hear a lot from conservative acquaintances is they don't want their taxes going to gay marriages and abortion and other such things, so it is another reason for them to support their issues in the secular arena.

...religious organization think that homosexuality has bearing on one's righteousness...

Exactly my point.


Religions tend to have religious marriages, which directly impacts their relationship with the church. Why wouldn't gay marriage be an issue for religious institutions, at least within the religion itself?
posted by jmd82 at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2008


I'm going to enjoy marching in the pride parade with a group from my (Episcopal) diocese

I must say that a few visits to Grace Cathedral (including a couple of conversations with one of their priests) in San Francisco really changed my mind about the concept of religious institutions. I used to think of them as inherently, intrinsically corrupting forces, but Grace struck me as something quite different -- it was like all the good parts of religion (promoting love, compassion, justice, community, intellectual and artistic curiosity, a certain reverence for the mystery & beauty of existence that even Richard Dawkins wouldn't balk at, etc) without the closed-minded bigotry and micro-managing of anyone's thoughts, opinions, day-to-day lives, etc. I mean, they even have an amazing altar dedicated to victims of HIV/AIDS designed by Keith Harring -- that just blew my mind. And then there's the Episcopal Church's refusal to back down from the Anglican Church's threats to expel them from their ranks over the gay marriage and ordination issues . . . so, yeah, as far as I'm concerned, march on, and thank you for being there!
posted by treepour at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Apparently, Jesus is a tad schizophrenic.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am sometimes embarrassed to say I'm a church goer because so many non-religious folk (usually for excellent reason) presume churchgoers are bigots.

Me too. You know how if you are a specific nationality/a specific ethnicity or race/a specific gender/different from the person next to you on the bus in any way, you kind of hate it when other folks generalize about you? Yeah, that happens to us church going people, too. It's just that the obnoxious intolerant religious folks tend to be really, really loud and get a lot of media attention.

And, just like the 2000 election, some of the denominations that get to vote on their formal positions don't have 100% buy-in from their members on the results of the vote. Just like I'm proud to be American, but pretty embarrassed by George Bush. I'm proud to be Christian, and pretty embarrassed about some of the politics and social positions held by fellow Christians.

The point of the link in the FPP was that the lines are not so clearly drawn.
posted by jeanmari at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Marriage is a social construct that stemmed originally from property laws, not religion. Religion invaded marriage, not the other way 'round.

As a member of the Untied Atheist Church of Me, I can state our official position is "get the hell over it."
posted by grubi at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2008


tell you what, i'll work on my "over-simplified, prejudiced views of religion in America" when "religious" Americans cease and desist in using their god/s as a basis for bigotry and persecution.

How about if they used eugenics instead as a basis for bigotry? No...? Blood theory? Phrenology? The SAT?

Can we all calm down and at the very least enjoy the shades of gray and nuance that are an inherent part of this debate?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 9:24 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm proud to be Christian**

This position is offered with no offense meant or judgment cast on any member of other denominations or people who don't want to be a member of anything. Personal choice, and the offeree is not going to run away from it, but cannot be used to bash others over the head. Offer isn't void anywhere.
posted by jeanmari at 9:26 AM on June 24, 2008


“Gay and lesbian people are so accustomed to being the exception to that stated 'everyone,' that they and their loved ones have to overcome a tremendous internal barrier to take a chance on being open to a church. A statement makes that barrier much smaller.”

No, I can get behind that reasoning. That's not generally how I've found it phrased, though. Notice that your quote is whether the church itself will accept gay members. That's an internal matter. Notice that they don't go on to "give permission" for random members of the public to be gay, unlike other statements.
posted by DU at 9:26 AM on June 24, 2008


DU FTW
posted by greenie2600 at 9:29 AM on June 24, 2008


In spite of all the thread-shitting going on here, this is really useful to me.
Thanks netbros.


*Ahem*

DU, ok, we get it, you're an Atheist.
Let us know when you're done beating that strawman.
posted by Richard Daly at 9:30 AM on June 24, 2008


How about if they used eugenics instead as a basis for bigotry? No...? Blood theory? Phrenology? The SAT?

how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics? blood theory? phrenology? the SAT?

uh-huh. nice try.


Can we all calm down and at the very least enjoy the shades of gray and nuance that are an inherent part of this debate?

that's the whole point. as long as there are religious people and/or religions as a whole that have the political power to make secular, policy decisions based on what their god/s believe or dictate, there are no shades of gray.

there IS NO NUANCE involved.

AFAIC, religions are free to have whatever ill-conceived, indefensible positions they want. but as soon as those ill-conceived, indefensible positions begin to have real impact on public policy, all ability to "enjoy" this "debate" goes out the window.
posted by CitizenD at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


So then religions also have a legitimate interest in my fingernail clipping procedures? I'm actually kind of glad they are so comprehensive, because I've been having trouble figuring out what to give my Mom for her birthday. Which do you think is more godly, an Amazon gift certificate or a replacement for one of her aging favorite kitchen tools? Is polka dot wrapping paper too sinful do you suppose?

C'mon DU, you smarter than that. Theologians have a right to have an opinion about marriage and other humans activities. Imposing those opinions is a different thing.
Do you have an opinion about marriage, if so gave you the right to have one?
posted by dov3 at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2008


What I find odd is that it's okay for religious outfits to hate the gays enough to affirm marriage between straights, but yet they are oddly, publicly, very quiet about the other religions. How about a Pew survey on a Baptist's honest opinion on another Baptist marrying a Jew, etc. That sort of survey would be very eye-opening, helping put religious views of GLBTs in the proper context of the irrational hatred that it is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on June 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics?

are you fucking kidding me
posted by Electrius at 9:35 AM on June 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


I think it's sort of interesting to see how certain hang-ups exist across cultural boundaries. From Hindu to Buddhist to Christian to Muslim to Jew, they've all got squiggy feelings about homosexuality (though the Hindus and the Buddhists seem to have them to a lesser extent).

I'd be interested to read something that analyzed the underpinnings of those beliefs and where the similarities come from -- but without pushing some nefarious agenda in the process.


I'd venture a guess that it's pretty simple and just comes down to distrusting difference, or xenophobia basically. Sexuality is pretty central to the human psyche and if 90% of the population behaves in one sexual manner and 10% or less in the other, then it is a somewhat natural human response for the majority to distrust the minority.

Fortunately, we're slowly coming to the realization that this, like racism(which likewise is ubiquitous across cultures), is one instance where the tribal instinct leads us astray.
posted by 256 at 9:39 AM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Christ was the originator of the concept of the separation of church and state. "Render unto Caesar" etc etc...
posted by quonsar at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics?

Are you fucking kidding?
posted by dersins at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics?

You know who else liked eugenics?
posted by jmd82 at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Theologians have a right to have an opinion about marriage and other humans activities.

I don't think anyone is objecting to the having of opinions. The objection is to: a) powerful institutions b) issuing statements, as though gay people were a limbo without the guiding hand of religion to tell them if they may or may not get married.

Are you saying you wouldn't find it at all odd or inappropriate if the Pope came out with a "position" on fingernail clipping?
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2008


DU:
In Catholicism, marriage has religious repercussions. Fingernail clippings do not.
posted by jmd82 at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2008


How about a Pew survey on a Baptist's honest opinion on another Baptist marrying a Jew, etc.

Not exactly what you're looking for, but there is this.

"Although a majority of Americans say religion is very important to them, nearly three-quarters of them say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The report, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, reveals a broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among many Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths.

For example, 70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that "many religions can lead to eternal life," including majorities among Protestants and Catholics. Among evangelical Christians, 57 percent agreed with the statement, and among Catholics, 79 percent did.

Among minority faiths, more than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists agreed with the statement, and more than half of Muslims did."
posted by netbros at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2008


that's the whole point. as long as there are religious people and/or religions as a whole that have the political power to make secular, policy decisions based on what their god/s believe or dictate, there are no shades of gray.

there IS NO NUANCE involved.


People are only allowed to have opinions to the extent the opinions don't influence their exercise of political power? Sorry, but that's not how it works.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:48 AM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Look for the ELCA to soften its stance - there's been a real battle between the rural and the urban/suburban Lutherans over this issue for the last few years but signs point to a more liberal position coming in 2009. If nothing else they will do this just to piss off the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, which thrills moderate Lutherans more than anything.
posted by Ber at 9:49 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


My point is that since theology studies religion, God, and His relationship with humans and their activities, then theology has a valid point having an opinion in marriage. Whether that opinion is good or bad, that's a horse of a totally different color

If you'll notice, most people who think gay marriage should be treated like any other marriage don't actually care at all what a particular church does or doesn't condone. It's perfectly within their rights. The problem occurs when religious organizations attempt to influence secular government policy that will affect non-religious people just as much as their own followers.

Adding to this problem is the fact that religious-marriage has been conflated with societal-marriage both linguistically and emotionally.
posted by odinsdream at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you saying you wouldn't find it at all odd or inappropriate if the Pope came out with a "position" on fingernail clipping?

Isn't that, like, sort of part of his Pope-i-tude to have positions?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2008


In Catholicism, marriage has religious repercussions.

Circular argument.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


DU,

I second what jmd82 said.
posted by dov3 at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2008


The report, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, reveals a broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among many Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths.

57% is just a bit better than the flip of a coin, but the results hold out optimism that the majority of religions in the gay marriage survey will gradually enlighten themselves in the same way.

Maybe it will take GLBT-friendly legislation equivalent to "separation of church and state" — or even simply the enforcement of the 14th Amendment — and 200 years to drag all the religions to that point, but hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2008


Regarding "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," it's seen as strictly such and passing a law banning gay marriage is not an establishment of religion since there is nothing in the law about religion.

That isn't the part of the constitution that such a law would violate.
posted by odinsdream at 9:53 AM on June 24, 2008


i think it's completely unrealistic for a church *not* to have an opinion on something so fundamental as marriage. i also think it's completely ludicrous that the government blindly accepts any union blessed by the church as a legally binding arrangement. people who want the legal & social protections granted by marriage (um, insurance, i guess) should have to first get a marriage license from the state (or city or federal or whatever) government, which should be the only legally binding document in the bunch. in instances of divorce or abandonment, government resources (child protection agencies, courts, ect) would come into play pretty much as happens now. however, anyone who wants a union blessed by a church in addition to the legally binding paper should forever after take all their problems to the church. father drugged out & mama can't pay the rent? take it to the church. etc. the church, after all, is dictating guidelines which lead to/allow those behaviors. those guidelines are sometimes at odds with legal policies (think: abortion).

on preview, i guess this is being said. but that's what i think.
posted by msconduct at 9:54 AM on June 24, 2008


Twenty-five years from now when opposing gay marriage is viewed in the same light that we view opposing interracial marriage now, the organized religions that are still around are going to feel pretty stupid.

I'm not so sure. They seem to have gotten over the interracial marriage thing just fine. I predict that in 20 years those who are still prejudiced will be reduced to talking about us mostly behind closed doors and in the more extreme cases, occasionally sending hate mail to couples prominent in the public eye. Meanwhile religious groups will still be debating their own internal policies about gay members, clergy, and marriages.

If this thread pains you, this may help. As of Tuesday afternoon, even the comments there are pretty neat.
posted by Tehanu at 9:54 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"religious" people still use their ghostlike god-creature to fuel their un-godly acts towards minorities?

To be fair, history is also full of religious sects committing un-godly acts towards majorities; that's just not as popular because it tends to backfire pretty badly.
posted by roystgnr at 9:58 AM on June 24, 2008


you wouldn't find it at all odd or inappropriate if the Pope came out with a "position" on fingernail clipping?
When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife
And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
I am generally opposed to LOLXTIAN histrionics, but Deuteronomy is usually good for some cheap shots at the family values which are sometimes seen as intrinsic to Judeo-Christian religions.
posted by whir at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


i also think it's completely ludicrous that the government blindly accepts any union blessed by the church as a legally binding arrangement. people who want the legal & social protections granted by marriage (um, insurance, i guess) should have to first get a marriage license from the state (or city or federal or whatever) government, which should be the only legally binding document in the bunch.

Sorry, but, are there states where this is not already the case? I was not aware that you could actually be married without the legal document. Sure, you can have a wedding in a church, but you aren't married until the state sanctions it. This is the heart of the whole issue - conflating the two when they are really already separate and can remain as such.
posted by odinsdream at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Were secular citizens to encounter their fellow citizens with the reservation that the latter, because of their religious mindset, are not to be taken seriously as modern contemporaries, they would revert to the level of a mere modus vivendi - and would thus relinquish the very basis of mutual recognition which is constitutive for shared citizenship. Secular citizens are expected not to exclude a fortiori that they may discover, even in religious utterances, semantic contents and covert personal intuitions that can be translated and introduced into a secular discourse.

So, if all is to go well both sides, each from its own viewpoint, must accept an interpretation of the relation between faith and knowledge that enables them to live together in a self-reflective manner.


Notes on a post-secular society
posted by xod at 10:02 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd venture a guess that it's pretty simple and just comes down to distrusting difference, or xenophobia basically. Sexuality is pretty central to the human psyche and if 90% of the population behaves in one sexual manner and 10% or less in the other, then it is a somewhat natural human response for the majority to distrust the minority.

I think there is the majority/minority divide but also our sexuality is dependent upon others and there's what could loosely be called a jealousy factor (no not jealousy of them having gay sex but jealous of them having sex they want). In my experience it is not generally sexually healthy people that have problems with gays. And I think you'll find a correlation in the religions listed between the most extreme attitudes against homosexuality and the most extreme attitudes against non-procreative and pre-marital sex.

btw, what would really be interesting to add is what non-religious people's attitudes are towards homosexuality. Are the majority really okay with it? Are they disproportionately tolerant towards gays compared to the religious populations? I'd taken this as a given until I started meeting a few very anti-homosexual atheists and realized it may not be a foregone conclusion.
posted by kigpig at 10:05 AM on June 24, 2008


what i'm saying, odinsdream, is that a church-sanctioned union would then become the responsibility of the church, not the state. right now, all the church does is the actual nuptials (and maybe some pre/post counseling). the church isn't bound to provide social services to the family of the union it sanctions. my poorly worded and hastily typed brain dump is that once you go beyond the state & seek the approval of the church, you become the ward of the church & the church assumes the social responsibilities as well as the spiritual ones.

this only seems logical to me, having been raised as a catholic with all the brothers' keeper philosophy and such. however, it seems to be abandoned in practice but touted in theory. have the church put it's money where it's teachings are.
posted by msconduct at 10:06 AM on June 24, 2008


I'm glad the linked article mentions the gay "lifestyle."

I do wish some of my neighbors would choose something other than the black, disabled and female "lifestyles" they've been variously seduced into living. And, while we're at it, my dogs definitely have a canine lifestyle (which is just so disappointing, after all we've done for them).
posted by maxwelton at 10:07 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are you saying you wouldn't find it at all odd or inappropriate if the Pope came out with a "position" on fingernail clipping?

If the pope thought there were spiritual implications on an individual or social level for fingernail clipping, wouldn't you find it strange if he didn't? You can disagree with his conclusions, but not whether or not he has a moral obligation to say something, given his good faith belief.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:10 AM on June 24, 2008


The Quakers were left out of the list.
posted by MNDZ at 10:15 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


btw, what would really be interesting to add is what non-religious people's attitudes are towards homosexuality. Are the majority really okay with it?

It's not that simple, although it may seem so because of all the action coming from faith-based communities. Several of which I would argue are really not so faith-based, but that's a side discussion. Homophobia is pretty firmly culturally rooted, like racism and misogyny. It's just that traditional interpretations of the Bible endorse them and give them a seemingly moral basis. It's where they thrive in many cases, but it's not where they live. They all exist quite well outside of a religious context, too. And religions can also be great creators of social change to move away from them. But I think in the U.S. in the moment many people are clinging to traditional social views and religion's sort of like the shield they're using to keep a changing world out. So it's the safe ground for these things at the moment. Because the old way is not only the best way, but also the right way. And so these new ways must be suspect.

And, while we're at it, my dogs definitely have a canine lifestyle (which is just so disappointing, after all we've done for them).

Have you tried an intervention? There are these ex-dog camps that I hear help them realize their true God-affirmed feline natures. They could be ignoring you and chasing string toys within months.
posted by Tehanu at 10:16 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


advance apologies to netbros for this threadjack.

i wrote: how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics? (NB: i was quoting from PostIronyIsNotaMyth, who also included the SAT, blood theory and phrenology in his/her statement)

dersins wrote: Are you fucking kidding? with a link to the wikipedia page for the holocaust



since you linked to wikipedia, i'll do the same:

Hitler, from Mein Kamf:
"What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and the reproduction of our race...so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission alloted it by the creator of the universe...Peoples that bastardize themselves, or let themselves be bastardized, sin against the will of eternal Providence."

and

"The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will."

or

'In Mein Kampf Hitler writes that Jesus "made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross.'

All here.


my point being, then, that hitler's religious justification of the holocaust elevates that historical event to yet another abomination done -- at least in part -- in the name of religion. you cannot deny or ignore the religious aspects of the holocaust. it's not a simple act of secular eugenics.

ergo, your righteous indignation at having proven me "wrong" is ridiculously and fundamentally specious. hitler is another example of what i'm trying to say: when individual and/or group religious thinking takes over secular policy matters it's NEVER a good idea.

and that's what's happening in this country. and it makes some of us very, very, very angry.


besides...are you REALLY trying to say that because you think you found an example of non-religious persecution of minorities that THAT justifies what some american religions are doing/trying to do to gays in this country? if so, that's some pretty damn fucked-up justification, right there.
posted by CitizenD at 10:20 AM on June 24, 2008


In Catholicism, marriage has religious repercussions.

Circular argument.


How so? if you're going to claim an argument in invalid, at least explain yourself please.
posted by jmd82 at 10:22 AM on June 24, 2008


"How many branches of science have issued statements supporting or opposing gay marriage? How many sports teams? Businesses? Would it be appropriate if any of them had?"

The self-declared spheres of interest for organized religion are morality and tradition.

And arguing that science has a comparable role to religion is retarded. The sports analogy is stronger, but still stupid. There have been many businesses that have issued statements supporting or opposing homosexuality, even to the point of a lengthy court case in Ypsilanti, Mi. So, you're arguing from ignorance toward an idiotic conclusion.

"how many people have been burned alive, boiled in oil, jailed, "disappeared" or the like because of eugenics?"

At least six million, dufus.

"that's the whole point. as long as there are religious people and/or religions as a whole that have the political power to make secular, policy decisions based on what their god/s believe or dictate, there are no shades of gray.

there IS NO NUANCE involved."


Congrats, CitizenD, this is the dumbest thing I've read on Metafilter in a long time. Well, that and the idea that eugenics never led to the deaths of anyone.

"What I find odd is that it's okay for religious outfits to hate the gays enough to affirm marriage between straights, but yet they are oddly, publicly, very quiet about the other religions. How about a Pew survey on a Baptist's honest opinion on another Baptist marrying a Jew, etc. That sort of survey would be very eye-opening, helping put religious views of GLBTs in the proper context of the irrational hatred that it is."

Yoked to a non-believer, I understand they call it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Netbros - thanks for this post. Truth is, lots of people don't even know what the official stance of their own denomination is. At the risk of sounding naive, I finally left the Lutheran church when I realized how exclusive they'd become after a particularly startling, hateful sermon.

Anyhow, after doing similar research to this (abstracted) study, I've been a happy, proud member of a UCC congregation for a few years now.
posted by assoctw at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2008


I am a proud member of the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, and therefore don't care who you sleep with. Or anything else.
posted by paddbear at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


People are only allowed to have opinions to the extent the opinions don't influence their exercise of political power? Sorry, but that's not how it works.

so, would you support a biblically-based movement in america which sought to strip a wife of her secular, legal rights to visit her husband in the hospital as he lay dying, if that movement used all the myriad of citations in the bible which advocate against basic human rights for women? "GOD told us that women are second-class citizens at best," after all.

we all have the fundamental right to believe whatever in the hell we want to believe. ACTION based on those beliefs, however, MUST be beholden to SECULAR agreements, not religious ones.

the strangle-hold that american christianity has on decisionmaking and influence over public policy in this country is deplorable. if specific religious organizations wish to bar gays from marrying within their church, that's a private fight. when specific religious organizations mobilize power to deny basic secular rights of citizens, based on private religious belief, THAT is an abomination.

religious americans who believe that their private faith should dictate the actions and freedoms of secular institutions should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by CitizenD at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


what i'm saying, odinsdream, is that a church-sanctioned union would then become the responsibility of the church, not the state. right now, all the church does is the actual nuptials (and maybe some pre/post counseling). the church isn't bound to provide social services to the family of the union it sanctions. my poorly worded and hastily typed brain dump is that once you go beyond the state & seek the approval of the church, you become the ward of the church & the church assumes the social responsibilities as well as the spiritual ones.

msconduct, I was actually responding to the part of your post where you thought that churches can legally marry people. I believe this is not the case. As far as I know, no matter what type of religious ceremony you have for your wedding, if you actually want legal marriage rights you still need to do the state paperwork. I'm fairly sure this is the case in all states.

As such, churches and the state already handle things separately. It doesn't actually impact a church at all if the state in which it operates sanctions gay marriage, because the church can refuse to perform that religious service on its own terms.

That doesn't affect the ability of gay couples to be married by the state, though.
posted by odinsdream at 10:37 AM on June 24, 2008


Religions have official positions on this matter (and others) becuase their members look to the church for guidance on reconciling their secular opinions with their faith. Those members, as citizens, have as much right as any other citizens to lobby their government to make legislation they agree with.
While you may disagree strongly with their opinions (as do I), try not to get wound up about the fact that they have them, or, worse, entertain the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to.
posted by rocket88 at 10:38 AM on June 24, 2008


...sorry to interject - back to the vitriol... [ducks]
posted by assoctw at 10:39 AM on June 24, 2008


Like it or not, but most people in this country take their cues from their church, primarily the many different denominations of the Christian church. If you want to see true change happen in this country, you could do worse than to start there.

Now, it's easy enough to dismiss religious people as mindless drones who march in lockstep on every issue, but the truth is many Christians have an active, engaged and inquisitive relationship with their church. The fact that so many denominations are having a debate over the place for homosexuality in church life (and by extension, society around them) is evidence of that.

It's foolish not to seize this opportunity to form a coalition with these people--to realize that we share so much common ground--just because it's so much easier to alienate them by sneering about a "ghostlike god-creature".
posted by turaho at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


my point being, then, that hitler's religious justification of the holocaust elevates that historical event to yet another abomination done -- at least in part -- in the name of religion.

I wonder (and I am really wondering here, no snark intended) was Hitler's motivation in part based in his faith or was he to some extent using and twisting religion to shore up his arguments because he thought his intended audience would be more likely to buy in*? To be sure, much evil has been committed in the name of religion, but I have also wondered how many evildoers have attempted to justify their acts by just claiming they were acting on a god's behalf? It may be impossible to know, and maybe the difference is not important, but I do wonder.
*(which is a mark against blind following of faith at the least, I would think)
posted by pointystick at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


are you REALLY trying to say that because you think you found an example of non-religious persecution of minorities that THAT justifies what some american religions are doing/trying to do to gays in this country?

Are you a troll or just a gibbering halfwit? I said nothing of the sort, or even close to it. I merely pointed out that your claim that nobody was ever killed for the sake of eugenics was an idiotic one.
posted by dersins at 10:47 AM on June 24, 2008


Can we all calm down and at the very least enjoy the shades of gray and nuance that are an inherent part of this debate?

that's the whole point. as long as there are religious people and/or religions as a whole that have the political power to make secular, policy decisions based on what their god/s believe or dictate, there are no shades of gray.

there IS NO NUANCE involved.


I agree. That's pretty dumb, CitizenD. Who says religion has to even include a "god?" I'm not going to look up a definition, but "organized religion" is a very big group that includes plenty of non-deists.

"Going back even further, 21 percent of Unitarian Universalists in 1979 said that the concept of God is irrelevant or harmful, down from 30 percent in 1967."

Also see buddhists. Kudos to the UUA for taking a strong position, pre-DOMA.

For the record, I consider myself a anarchocommunibuddhist. Without property, there's not much need for legalized marriage.

I am a minister and may be starting my own church soon, for tax purposes. Yes, I realize the fundamental hypocrisy. Fortunately, I am not a fundamentalist.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:50 AM on June 24, 2008


turaho, FWIW i agree with you. and i've been on that path for +20 years now.

but after +20 years, i've become quite discouraged -- disgusted, even -- that so little has changed. i try not to respond to the righteous indignation i encounter in "true believers" with anger and scorn, but it is becoming more and more difficult each day.

personally, i'm for the separation of marriage and state. in 2008, there simply is no reason that the US government should be in the business of doling out benefits for people who choose to be married, regardless of whether/what church is involved.
posted by CitizenD at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2008


religious americans who believe that their private faith should dictate the actions and freedoms of secular institutions should be ashamed of themselves.

LOL.

we all have the fundamental right to believe whatever in the hell we want to believe. ACTION based on those beliefs, however, MUST be beholden to SECULAR agreements, not religious ones.

"All persons are created equal." Please explain that agreement in secular terms.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


so, would you support a biblically-based movement in america which sought to strip a wife of her secular, legal rights to visit her husband in the hospital as he lay dying, if that movement used all the myriad of citations in the bible which advocate against basic human rights for women? "GOD told us that women are second-class citizens at best," after all.

No, I wouldn't support that. I'm not religious, and I don't find religious arguments compelling. In fact, there are a lot of things--some religious, some ostensibly secular--that other people find compelling that I don't. I'm not about to tell people that they can't act on the basis of their beliefs, though--that they can only act on the basis of my beliefs. That would be a bizarre thing for me to insist, frankly.

we all have the fundamental right to believe whatever in the hell we want to believe. ACTION based on those beliefs, however, MUST be beholden to SECULAR agreements, not religious ones.

This seems clearly wrong. Please explain why you think it's the case, and what you mean.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2008


mrgrimm, clearly if there wasn't a creator nobody has basic human rights.
posted by odinsdream at 10:59 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


For example, 70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that "many religions can lead to eternal life," including majorities among Protestants and Catholics

The other 30% are the same 30% who still support Bush.
posted by cjets at 11:02 AM on June 24, 2008


i think it's really lame that christianity has such a stranglehold on supposedly secular stuff in our country, like our laws and politics. but the saddest thing is that i guess it really is the will of the people to some degree, otherwise it would change. basically, we hate gay people. so lame.
posted by snofoam at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2008


what would really be interesting to add is what non-religious people's attitudes are towards homosexuality

We've already seen that. In America, at least, the majority of christians are non-religious people. They just become religious when they find something in their neighbor's house to disapprove of.
posted by troybob at 11:10 AM on June 24, 2008


"All persons are created equal." Please explain that agreement in secular terms.

You've already edited it once, so I'll take a stab at the requested additional edit. "All persons are created equal." What do I win?! I don't need another right to vote, since I got one of those in 1920. Because the wording is actually "all men are created equal," although that meant white men who owned land at the time. And then slaves were 3/5 human in mathematical theory for awhile, but mostly that was just for representative counting. And then they got freedom (sort of) and to vote (in some places sometimes). Lately it's mostly ok unless you cast a provisional ballot in a black neighborhood that trends Democratic in a highly Republican area in a swing state. And don't forget that for a long time even white men could serve in the military for 2 years before they could start to vote. That was after women's suffrage, which was successful about 100 years after it really got going.

But certainly let's not edit the hallowed word choice. It reflects only the Bible not in the slightest the Enlightenment tradition. It was perfectly clear in its intended meaning from the onset and remains so in practice. We all have the right to life, liberty, and happiness, unless happiness means being married to someone the same sex as yourself. And the liberty thing is totally ok for backsies if there's a war on.
posted by Tehanu at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


thanks for the post, netbros.

the pew guide is well-organized and informative.
posted by ericbop at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2008


I appreciate all the hand-wringing about the undue influence of Christian churches, especially fundamentalist evangelical churches, but the separation between church and state has been breached in the other direction as well–the republican party, and the sitting President in particular, have draped themselves in the trappings of Christianity in order to court the favor of Christians, even as they devise and execute decidedly un-Christian policies involving torture, death, and hatred. A particularly insidious activity is the establishment of "faith-based" service grants. Implicit in these grants is the idea that they can be wielded to punish or reward churches for temporal actions.

Couple that with the increasing politicization and polarization of relatively mild, mainstream groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, and you have a very dangerous mix of religion and politics. It's unthinkably irresponsible to let religious agendas drive government policy, and it is equally dangerous to allow the government to hold sway over religious life.
posted by Mister_A at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


HURF DURF JESUS EATERS
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2008


DU, I'd be a bit more cautious about calling out circular reasoning in this thread, lest you fail to notice the plank in thine own eye. You define religion as dealing with "imaginary" topics, and thus whenever religion impacts the "real" world you claim it's out of its element. Never mind that your conclusion only follows from your own (hardly unassailable) definition.

All major religions I know of share a starting point: there is some sort of supernatural force or entity, or system of thus. There's your "imaginary" definition, to be sure... in that most religions acknowledge (or even relish) the fact that their deities are unprovable. Your error is in cutting off the definition there, when in actuality every religion further claims that these forces care how we live our lives; our behavior in the "non-imaginary" world. You pretend that religious dogma is simply descriptive, when it's also prescriptive to virtually everyone else using the term.

You'd be much more reasonable joining, on a full-time basis, the argument others here have made: that while religions are welcome to dictate personal opinions and behavior of their constituents, they have no right or authority to push for the establishment of religiously-founded laws that impact non-believers.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2008


Tehanu, while there are admittedly problems with the implementation (stemming partially from the compromises that led to its original language), would you not agree that "all persons are created equal" is kind of a fundamental premise from which our other protections follow? The question stands, and is one I struggle with often: if you believe (as I do) that our laws should not have religious foundations, how do you resolve some of the basic tenets of our legal system in secular terms?

In other words, why does "all men are created equal" get to be a Truth That Is Self-Evident, while "honor the sabbath and keep it holy" is religious doctrine that has no place in American law? I wish I had a good answer.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


religious-marriage has been conflated with societal-marriage both linguistically and emotionally.

actually, you have that ass backwards. marriage has always been religious. monogamy, perhaps an argument could be made that *it* is not, but marriage? religious from the get-go. later on, it also became a legal matter, and legal ceremonies (divorced from religion, pun intended) evolved.
posted by quonsar at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2008


In other words, why does "all men are created equal" get to be a Truth That Is Self-Evident, while "honor the sabbath and keep it holy" is religious doctrine that has no place in American law? I wish I had a good answer.

Pragmatism, if nothing else. Man exists, is here, has to coexist with everyone else. Sabbath is a concept, it may or may not exist. Our secular system allows you to believe in and honor the sabbath, if you choose. But our equality prevents you (supposedly) from forcing your beliefs on others.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2008


Well, in terms of influences on the U.S. Constitution, I'd rate highly the Massachussets Constitution written a decade beforehand:

Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

If your question is whether "natural, essential, and unalienable" must in some way come from a religious context, I'd say no. I'd further venture that our separation of church and state supports that interpretation as well.
posted by Tehanu at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


...the separation between church and state has been breached in the other direction as well–the republican party, and the sitting President in particular, have draped themselves in the trappings of Christianity in order to court the favor of Christians...

In related news: Dobson accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible
"As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement's biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution....'I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,' Dobson said. ...'He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.'"
Um, Mr. Dobson, here's Mr. Pot and Mr. Kettle. They're sure glad to meet 'ya.
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on June 24, 2008


actually, you have that ass backwards. marriage has always been religious.

Conflated doesn't mean predated. The point, an important one, stands.
posted by xod at 12:17 PM on June 24, 2008


Pragmatism, if nothing else.

Problem there is, if it's pragmatic to violate those tenets (such as, I dunno, stripping people of habeas corpus because we say they might be terrorists), are we justified in doing so? My gut says no, but if pragmatism created them then it seems like pragmatism could defeat them as well.

If your question is whether "natural, essential, and unalienable" must in some way come from a religious context, I'd say no.

Great! That is indeed my question, but for full credit you need to show your work... why do they not require a religious context? I've taken some basic philosophy courses, nothing advanced, but it seems like everything that might lead down this path starts from the (proto-religious) assumption that being a "person" is more than just being a bag of meat and bones and complex neurological chemistry.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:17 PM on June 24, 2008


So then religions also have a legitimate interest in my fingernail clipping procedures? I'm actually kind of glad they are so comprehensive, because I've been having trouble figuring out what to give my Mom for her birthday.

Okay, I'll play. Religion, at its best, does play a role in any number of life decisions, and not just minutia of old testament law. Many people consider decisions like whether to own a car very religious.

As some people have alluded to above, the whole landscape is really going to change in the next few decades. The most ardent supporters of the "religious right" agenda are becoming further and further disenfranchised from mainstream Christianity, while mainstream Christian churches are making decisions that would have been considered fringe even ten years ago. Dr. Dobson's reign is coming to a close.

Tehanu is right. Uneducated people use religion as a shield to defend kneejerk views. And as the shield becomes smaller and smaller, they'll become more and more naked.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2008


I don't see where the language about men being created equal needs to have a religious justification. It's an axiom that describes how the founders wanted to set up their new society (and, though I'm no expert, I always saw it as partly a statement in opposition to the English monarchy). Natural human rights can derive from secular principles such as the golden rule, can't they?
posted by whir at 12:22 PM on June 24, 2008


I can't wait until this thread is over, when everyone will have arrived at an agreement. Someone let me know what they come up with!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 PM on June 24, 2008


quonsar, that's precisely my point. There should be a separate term for legal-non-religious-socially-sanctioned-marriage and in-the-eyes-of-god-marriage. Since there isn't, or since people refuse to be specific, we end up in this morass.
posted by odinsdream at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2008


Great! That is indeed my question, but for full credit you need to show your work... why do they not require a religious context? I've taken some basic philosophy courses, nothing advanced, but it seems like everything that might lead down this path starts from the (proto-religious) assumption that being a "person" is more than just being a bag of meat and bones and complex neurological chemistry.

Why exactly would I need a supernatural component to my being in order to have rights?

Tehanu is right. Uneducated people use religion as a shield to defend kneejerk views. And as the shield becomes smaller and smaller, they'll become more and more naked.

I didn't say uneducated. Educated people can also be very afraid of social change. And you're describing something similar to how religious people view secularism, which is not what I meant at all. People will either learn to step out from behind the shields or will spend much thought on making them bigger, I would think. Until they can't really be moved around any more and are just a kind of sociological burden.
posted by Tehanu at 12:29 PM on June 24, 2008


actually, you have that ass backwards. marriage has always been religious.

Many disagree.

As grubi stated above: "Marriage is a social construct that stemmed originally from property laws, not religion."

For example, in pre-Christian times, Greeks and Romans were married and not via religious grounds. So, too, the Egyptians.
"Why do people...need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity." *
Marriage was a social contract -- about the transfer of property and in the case of the elites, also involving power and sometimes the "sealing" of treaties, etc.

Then -- "The notion of marriage as a sacrament and not just a contract [defined by proxy or dowry] can be traced to St. Paul who compared the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and his church (Eph. v, 23-32)."*.

Related to this discussion:
The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love.

What Gay Marriage Teaches About the History of Marriage.

What is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution.
posted by ericb at 12:29 PM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I didn't say uneducated. Educated people can also be very afraid of social change.

True that. "Uneducated" was a poor word choice that betrayed my own prejudice.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:38 PM on June 24, 2008


Natural human rights can derive from secular principles such as the golden rule, can't they?

Isn't the problem, though, explaining why the golden rule has any normative force (if indeed it does)?

I tend to think many religious people actually have a sensible explanation. There's an all-powerful autocrat who will punish you if you violate his (moral) law. I happen to disagree, but that's pretty straightforward.

Secular morality, on the other hand, is totally mysterious to me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2008


Why exactly would I need a supernatural component to my being in order to have rights?

Why else would a sack of organic matter with human genetic material have more rights than a sack of organic matter with bovine genetic material? Why "all men are created equal" rather than "all species are created equal"? Why doesn't an interestingly-shaped rock have rights?

The assumption is that we're special because we have will and sentience, both of which are only distinguishable from sufficiently-advanced chemical reactions if you assume a supernatural "soul" in the driver's seat. Unless you can argue otherwise, which I would be only too eager to hear.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2008


secular principles such as the golden rule

We're likely talking at cross-purposes here (i.e. using a different definition of "religious"). Why is the golden rule secular? I associate it with Greek philosophy, but I'm sure it's been a part of organized religion for a long time. Is religious tolerance a secular principle, or a religious one?

Right on, Riki tiki. That's what I was (very inelegantly) trying to get at earlier. Thanks. I'm curious to hear responses.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on June 24, 2008


The assumption is that we're special because we have will and sentience, both of which are only distinguishable from sufficiently-advanced chemical reactions if you assume a supernatural "soul" in the driver's seat.

Well, I think it's fair to say that most governmental systems are based on the assumption that humans have free will and sentience - I'm not really sure where you'd end up if you were to attempt a determinist system of law. I don't think that it's necessary to believe in a supernatural soul in order to believe in free will and sentience, however; I think it's likely that most atheists are in this category.

About the golden rule, it does maybe muddle the issue since it is an important principle in most religions. I guess what I meant about that was that one can come up with a moral system which is based on people's empathic feelings towards one another - "I won't do that because I recognize the pain it would bring to another." Such a system does not necessarily depend on a religious context, even though it often appears in religious contexts.
posted by whir at 12:56 PM on June 24, 2008


Has anyone seen my duck?
posted by oddman at 1:05 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Problem there is, if it's pragmatic to violate those tenets (such as, I dunno, stripping people of habeas corpus because we say they might be terrorists), are we justified in doing so? My gut says no, but if pragmatism created them then it seems like pragmatism could defeat them as well.

That's the genius of our system. Pragmatism may have birthed the system*, but it can't, hopefully, kill it. The founders enumerated a set of "minimum standards"; core concepts considered more or less inviolate. They also made the claim that people are born with rights that are beyond the control of government - government does not "give" people those rights, nor can it take them away. If a future pragmatic solution violates those rights, it's supposed to be a non-starter.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2008


Well, I think it's fair to say that most governmental systems are based on the assumption that humans have free will and sentience - I'm not really sure where you'd end up if you were to attempt a determinist system of law.

This isn't clear to me. Free will isn't necessary for law to shape people's behavior, and that's all it's really supposed to do. Legal systems may pay some lip service to the notion that it's within everyone's power to obey the law, but I don't think this is really all that important.

I guess what I meant about that was that one can come up with a moral system which is based on people's empathic feelings towards one another - "I won't do that because I recognize the pain it would bring to another."

Yeah, but what about people who don't have empathic feelings for others? What about situations where other concerns take subjective priority? I just don't see how you get from "some people do feel empathy some of the time" to "all people ought to act in an empathetic manner all of the time."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2008


They also made the claim that people are born with rights that are beyond the control of government - government does not "give" people those rights, nor can it take them away.

Maybe they did claim this, and maybe they even based everything they did off of it, but that doesn't make it true. I have to assume that if the US Constitution were duly amended to add a 28th amendment that incorporated the full text of the KJV bible, the bible's newfound pedigree as supreme law of the land wouldn't change your evaluation of its contents.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why is the golden rule secular? I associate it with Greek philosophy, but I'm sure it's been a part of organized religion for a long time.

The golden rule as an aphorism, exists in command form but it seems to have an inherent logic statement behind it:

If you do onto others as you would want done onto you, and they in turn agree that one should do onto others as they would have done onto them, then you will have done onto you as you would like to have done onto you (caveat: only works on largely consensus ideas and there's a corrected form that better encompasses differences in desires between people).

It also suggests that if you do not do onto them as you would want, others will in turn cease to do onto you as they would want and therefore you will not have done onto you as you would like to have done onto you.

It's something like the tit-for-tat game theory strategy but "do onto others as you would want done onto you" makes a lot more sense to kids (and though I'm not a child psychologist, in my experience, I think they do kinda get why at least the bright ones. It sure as hell made sense to me as a child without any morality attached to it).
posted by kigpig at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2008


Isn't the problem, though, explaining why the golden rule has any normative force (if indeed it does)?

Well, Kant thought this is a worthy problem -- his famous categorical imperative is precisely an attempt to find a rational (as opposed to a scriptural or other authoritarian) basis for morality.

I certainly don't think he was entirely successful, but it's not like his efforts were completely futile -- we're still thinking about it, and making progress. In the scientific realm, for instance, it seems like we're addressing approaching the question in terms of biology, neurology, evolution, game theory, etc. Sure it's a difficult problem, but that doesn't mean it's unsolvable or that our sense of morality is somehow inherently opaque to secular comprehension.
posted by treepour at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2008


however, anyone who wants a union blessed by a church in addition to the legally binding paper should forever after take all their problems to the church.

Right, so then religious people become second-class citizens, not eligible for legal and social protections offered to others, flipping the current situation on its head?

And this is better how, exactly?

Equality. Period.
posted by Dreama at 1:28 PM on June 24, 2008


Free will isn't necessary for law to shape people's behavior, and that's all it's really supposed to do. Legal systems may pay some lip service to the notion that it's within everyone's power to obey the law, but I don't think this is really all that important.

I don't think I follow you. Surely the notion of deterrence, for instance, is based on the idea that people have a choice about whether to break the law or not? Moreover, if were no free will, wouldn't laws be kind of redundant? (I think I'm maybe just having trouble envisioning any practical legal system that doesn't assume free will.)
posted by whir at 1:35 PM on June 24, 2008


oops... if there were no free will, I meant.
posted by whir at 1:36 PM on June 24, 2008


MPDSEA: Secular morality, on the other hand, is totally mysterious to me.

i have to say, that statement rings very true, when one reads your comments in this thread.
posted by CitizenD at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2008


religious americans who believe that their private faith should dictate the actions and freedoms of secular institutions should be ashamed of themselves.

Wait, does this include, say, Martin Luther King Jr., the Baptist minister who was engaged in faith-based activism to "constrain the freedom" of secular restaurants and buses to discriminate based on race? Or Gandhi attempting to dictate what the British Empire should do? Religious activism doesn't only swing one way, folks. I say this as a queer boy who grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household and went to private fundamentalist schools and who totally rejected Christianity as a teenager in order not to think of myself as essentially sick for being gay, so I know how dangerous and oppressive Christian fundamentalism can be. But, look, people can continue to frame everything as Enlightened Progressive Science versus Oppressive Backwards Religion with NO NUANCE and I can't stop them but I do see a few problems with such an approach: 1) it ignores the history of religious individuals and groups working towards liberation and equality, the Quaker abolitionists, much of the civil rights movement, the Sanctuary churches in the 80s, the organizations mentioned in this post who support same-sex marriage, 2) it ignores the positive role that faith plays for many oppressed people as a source of community, support, inspiration, and empowerment (see the radical faeries and Queer Spirit movements, feminist theology and Goddess worship, liberation theology in Latin America, the traditions of Native Americans and other indigenous groups, Black Liberation Theology), 3) it obscures the difference between potential allies and enemies so that you can't see that there are plenty of religious moderates, progressives and radicals who support some or most of your goals. I'm one of them. I'm pagan, and if you're working to oppose the Religious Right and secure reproductive rights, equality for queer people, sexual freedoms for consenting adults, and access to real sex education, I'm with you. I'm you're working to protect books from censorship and to allow biology teachers to teach science in science class, I'm with you. If you're working to portray all religious people and traditions as a monolithic force of evil, ignorance, and/or insanity, if you're trying to ostracize and shame anyone who professes any sort of faith in an apparent quest to eradicate spirituality from the world, well, I can't get on that wagon. Instead, I'll be working to educate people about religious diversity, to spread empathy and interfaith dialogue, and to tell the story of the ways my current spiritual tradition has helped empower and heal me from the very wounds wrought by the Christian fundamentalism we jointly oppose, and hope that people of all faiths and none are willing to listen.
posted by overglow at 1:43 PM on June 24, 2008 [14 favorites]


I don't think I follow you. Surely the notion of deterrence, for instance, is based on the idea that people have a choice about whether to break the law or not?

I don't think so. For deterrence to work, it merely has to be the case that people's actions are at least partly caused by their prospective evaluation of likely consequences. I don't think this is what people normally mean when they say "free will."

Moreover, if were no free will, wouldn't laws be kind of redundant? (I think I'm maybe just having trouble envisioning any practical legal system that doesn't assume free will.)

I would say no, because the law can still shape people's actions even if they don't have free will by affecting their expectations.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:49 PM on June 24, 2008


overglow:

Well said. I agree. Religious belief can lead to good and productive action. I can support it if the goal is inclusive and the aim is to raise people up.

But there is a history of religion as a weapon. Our choice to be a secular nation sprung from that. (Pragmatism, again?)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:51 PM on June 24, 2008


secular principles such as the golden rule

I can't believe someone wrote this non-ironically.

*Ahem*

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
--an ancient Jewish rabbi named Jesus (c. 4 BCE - c. 29 CE) as recorded in Matthew 7:9-12

As much as it gratifies me that secular agnostic folks thing that this is a swell idea, it's a bit much to claim it as a secular principle.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2008


Our choice to be a secular nation sprung from that.

we never chose to be a secular nation - we chose to have a secular government - a choice that remains controversial because generally, we are NOT a secular nation

just as the religious need to accept that we have a secular government, the non-religious need to accept that we have a strongly religious nation
posted by pyramid termite at 2:03 PM on June 24, 2008


Adept Kung asked: "Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?"

The Master replied: "How about 'shu': never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?"

-Analects of Confucius (500 BC, give or take)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:10 PM on June 24, 2008


I can't believe someone wrote this non-ironically.

I phrased it badly; I am of course aware of its prominence in religious systems of morality. What I meant to say was that as a moral principle I don't think the golden rule requires a religious justification.
posted by whir at 2:14 PM on June 24, 2008


I believe that, while the principle of the Golden Rule had been around for a while, it wasn't articulated in its present commonly-known form until Jesus: he was the first one on record to say 'Do good to other people' as opposed to 'Don't do bad to people.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:15 PM on June 24, 2008


Pater Aletheias, I suspect "don't eat pork prepared with sanitation standards from 200 B.C." is a perfectly reasonable secular argument, despite also being a religious doctrine. To be clear, I think it entirely possible that the Golden Rule can't be defined in purely secular terms, but "it was said (possibly originated) in a religious context" does not itself permanently annex an idea for religion.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2008


On preview: thrice beaten to it. Curse my metal fingers, I wasn't fast enough!
posted by Riki tiki at 2:20 PM on June 24, 2008


Why else would a sack of organic matter with human genetic material have more rights than a sack of organic matter with bovine genetic material? Why "all men are created equal" rather than "all species are created equal"? Why doesn't an interestingly-shaped rock have rights?

The assumption is that we're special because we have will and sentience, both of which are only distinguishable from sufficiently-advanced chemical reactions if you assume a supernatural "soul" in the driver's seat. Unless you can argue otherwise, which I would be only too eager to hear.


Let me see if I follow your point here. Humans are sentient and have free will. These are complex things, beyond the constraints of mere chemistry and biology, and therefore their existence requires that humans also have a non-physical component called a soul. You can't prove the existence of the soul, yet based on your assumption that sentience and free will require something metaphysical, you're charging me with the proof of the existence of rights in a scenario where the soul does not exist? The burden of proof is on you if you're going to make the assertion that some human traits and the human ideas in question, namely rights, require the existence of something you believe to exist but can't directly observe.
posted by Tehanu at 2:21 PM on June 24, 2008


MPDSEA: Isn't the problem, though, explaining why the golden rule has any normative force (if indeed it does)?
I tend to think many religious people actually have a sensible explanation. There's an all-powerful autocrat who will punish you if you violate his (moral) law. I happen to disagree, but that's pretty straightforward.
Secular morality, on the other hand, is totally mysterious to me.


Secular morality appearsto flummox many religious people, especially the ones who like to debate on the internet. Because, you're right, there's no autocrat in charge, and yet we're not totally depraved and criminal. That must really creep out some of the religious folks. Unnerving stuff.

What creeps me out is their self-image. The religious folks who argue that obedience to God is the only protection against depraved criminality have only one case study they can base their argument on - themselves. Do they really think they're so bad? Are they really straining at the leash to rob and rape?
posted by WPW at 2:23 PM on June 24, 2008


Humans are sentient and have free will.

that's what a lot of us believe anyway
posted by pyramid termite at 2:31 PM on June 24, 2008


Why do people keep conflating "religious" with "believes in God"?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:32 PM on June 24, 2008


Secular morality appearsto flummox many religious people, especially the ones who like to debate on the internet.

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not at all religious.

Because, you're right, there's no autocrat in charge, and yet we're not totally depraved and criminal.

You're confusing two very different questions. On the one hand, there's the question of why people actually aren't totally depraved and criminal--this is a question for psychologists. On the other hand, there's the question of why people ought not be depraved and criminal. This second question is what I'm talking about.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:32 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


MPDSEA, I saw that you exempted yourself from your argument and meant to exempt you from mine. As to your second question, it's unlikely that we'll be in a position to settle it here. But my guess is that far from explicit systems of ethics being involved, people generally have found that their lives generally work out better if they're generally good to the others around them. That's my (somewhat optimistic) belief. Nevertheless, there are folks who would have you believe that it's essentialy impossible to be good without subscribin to whatever organisation they're a member of. Which is odd, as it's plainly untrue. Either they fear their own instincts, or they think the rest of us are faking it for some reason. Which is odd.
posted by WPW at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2008


...you're charging me with the proof of the existence of rights in a scenario where the soul does not exist?

Well that's essentially what you're asserting, unless you and I are using different definitions of "secular." My definition limits it to measurable and observable phenomena and anything that logically follows thereafter.

All that stuff about will and sentience requiring a soul are my own theories, and I'm not asking you to support or debunk them. I'm asking you to (thoroughly!) explain to me how you arrived at this statement:
"If your question is whether 'natural, essential, and unalienable' must in some way come from a religious context, I'd say no."
In terms a reasonable layperson can understand. I'll then take your post to a reasonable layperson and get them to explain it to me.

I also admit the possibility that this is like Fermat's Last Theorem... a seemingly simple concept with a complex proof that's inscrutable to we unwashed masses. If you can't, won't, or don't clarify your position here, I'm not going to assume that you're wrong.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:41 PM on June 24, 2008


Sweet mother of Christ, this thread is full of stupidity and ignorance, to the extent that many of you should have your civics cards burned and your teachers slapped.

"so, would you support a biblically-based movement in america which sought to strip a wife of her secular, legal rights to visit her husband in the hospital as he lay dying, if that movement used all the myriad of citations in the bible which advocate against basic human rights for women? "GOD told us that women are second-class citizens at best," after all."

I would support their ability to argue such things, even as I disagreed with them, and I would be confident in my ability to persuade people that they're a bad idea.

"we all have the fundamental right to believe whatever in the hell we want to believe. ACTION based on those beliefs, however, MUST be beholden to SECULAR agreements, not religious ones."

Sez you, champ. Many with religious beliefs consider them so fundamental as to guide every action.

"If your question is whether "natural, essential, and unalienable" must in some way come from a religious context, I'd say no. I'd further venture that our separation of church and state supports that interpretation as well."

"Must" is a bit of a red herring here, in that regarding nearly all the early American papers, they did. "Natural rights" in this context refers to the arguments put forth by Locke, notably in his second treatise on government. The "natural rights" philosophy is explicit in arguing that all rights stem from the natural explications of God's will; current "natural rights" political philosophy is really the province of Jesuits.

And while this is all a bit of a derail, "natural rights" is really the only solidly anchored rights conception that I know of, and that has the big rotted core of requiring a belief in a creator. Otherwise, rights become social contracts and are not ends in themselves, but rather require justifications for their preservation.
posted by klangklangston at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2008


overglow: your point is well taken.

and it also points to an inconsistency in my communication/thinking on this topic. so thank you for that.

as far as i can tell, those who oppose gay marriage all end up at the same conclusion: they oppose gay marriage because they oppose homosexuality; they oppose homosexuality because their god and/or holy book condemned homosexuality. period.

i believe it is fundamentally wrong when people extend the meaning of religious doctrine beyond the sphere of religion. specifically, i think it is despicable that religious language/ideology -- and religious language/ideology ONLY -- is used to support secular policies which restrict freedoms.

i understand and respect the opinion and belief of those who condemn homosexuality. i do not believe those private, religious opinions or beliefs should be the SOLE basis upon which very real freedoms are denied to otherwise equal citizens.

yes, religion can have a remarkable ability to inspire, uplift and join together. indeed, religion's capacity to do so is part of the reason i'm so disgusted by religious-based opposition to gay marriage. why are god's occasional admonitions of homosexuality given so much more creedance than the overall message (so often summed up by the sermon on the mount)? why do those who oppose homosexuality on the basis of religion choose to look past the clear entreaties of their god to love one another, even thine enemy?

there is nothing loving about denying gay marriage. it is spiteful powermongering. pure and simple. there is no earthly or divine reason to deny the simple assurances that come with legal marriage. it all boils down to righteous indignation, fuelled by a nasty superiority complex.
posted by CitizenD at 2:45 PM on June 24, 2008


Those of you advocating that all marriages should be civil affairs only followed by a religious ceremony if that's what the couple desires might be interested to know that at least one Episcopal Bishop agrees with you: Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California is encouraging all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to obtain secular marriages before seeking the church's blessing, as a way to support same-gender couples and "our continued witness to God's inclusive love."

I love my church, I really do.
posted by Biblio at 3:02 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people are so caught up about religion and homosexuals. Most people's aversion to male homosexual activity - which is really what this is about - is basically Freudian. People dislike the thought of something going in through the out door. Everything else is bullshit handwaving because most Americans are sexually repressed and transfer their sexual aversion into some sort of moral outrage. If it's exciting or disgusting and it makes me feel funny then it's against God's will. Except for hot chocolate, cold beverages with caffeine and Six Flags. Those are OK. Because if you look at this as a social justice issue any church's stance should obvious and gay people should be getting supported the same way nearly every church supported the civil rights movement. But once the ol' poop chute gets involved, woah there, no social justice for prostrate exams. No sirree.

So cut religious groups some slack. Opposition to gay marriage has little to do with a dead Jewish guy and a lot to do with a dead Austrian guy.
posted by GuyZero at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can't believe someone wrote this non-ironically.

*Ahem*

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
--an ancient Jewish rabbi named Jesus (c. 4 BCE - c. 29 CE) as recorded in Matthew 7:9-12


As much as it gratifies me that secular agnostic folks thing that this is a swell idea, it's a bit much to claim it as a secular principle.


The golden rule did not originate with Jesus but with Greek philosophers hundreds of years before, and was most certainly rooted in the decidedly secular ideals of those who expressed it, and how they suggested people should get along with others. It's a bit ironic, but not surprising, that Christianity would try to take sole ownership of this moral idea.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dear Religion,

Please stop getting in my gay.

Warmest regards.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:10 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


overglow, those are great points. Fwiw, I guess I make the following rather crude and provisional distinction:

a) Religions attempting to limit secular freedoms based on their own peculiar moral values, when it's not at all clear that those freedoms present any real danger to anyone -- bad.

b) Religions working to remove restrictive and oppressive secular institutions (e.g., promoting justice, civil rights, equality, etc) -- generally good, and welcomed.

I guess in the first instance, I see religious institutions as authoritarian politics-in-disguise, whereas in the second I see religious institutions as doing what they generally claim to be all about.
posted by treepour at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2008


I also think it's completely ludicrous that the government blindly accepts any union blessed by the church as a legally binding arrangement.

Worth repeating.

The problem is not with gay marriage, it's with religious "marriage." Given that you aren't considered married if you don't sign the secular government papers, religious marriage is merely a subset of marriages, not a superset.

Religious organizations need to grok that. They don't define marriage: the government defines marriage. Religious organizations merely provide icing on the cake.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


nothing from the moonies?
posted by jonmc at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2008


Thanks to some of the comments here and a series of unrelated clicks, I stumbled across the fascinating Bristol Stool Scale. Which is exactly what it sounds like.

Category: things I didn't need to know ever existed
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2008


That chart is kind of amazing, Civil_Disobedient. Seeing something I thought about only in private listed in such an official-looking context. I've had every one of those!
posted by roll truck roll at 7:43 PM on June 24, 2008


Benny Andajetz: Oh, definitely, religion has been used for negative purposes too, and someone could make as long of a list of those. I think the important thing is to think about both sides.

CitizenD: I was a little concerned that my comment was too ranty, so I'm glad you took it so well. It's awesome that you did so. I think that literalist interpretations of holy books are one major source of and justification for homophobia but at least at this point in time anti-queer feelings have other causes too--I see a lot of it as being tied to rigid understandings of masculinity/male identity. Conservative religion is still a major force of course, and actually supports rigid gender roles too. And I totally agree with you about how disgusting and hypocritical it is to foster hate and oppression in the name of a loving Divinity.
posted by overglow at 7:52 PM on June 24, 2008


In Catholicism, marriage has religious repercussions. Fingernail clippings do not.

In Canada, milk comes in bags. Fingernail clippings do not.
posted by oaf at 7:55 PM on June 24, 2008


Treepour, thanks. I think that's a pretty good provisional distinction.
posted by overglow at 7:57 PM on June 24, 2008


I was brought up believing in anything I wanted, as long as it's tasteful.

The fact that I don't go to church anymore hasn't changed that.
posted by oaf at 8:05 PM on June 24, 2008


Milk comes in bags? Do you mean that milk comes in milk bottles and milk bottles come in bags? Because if you really meant that in Canada there is thing called a milk-bag that is pretty much a wineskin for milk, then that is pretty freaking awesome.

That would be awesome enough to make up for all of the pathetic comments on religion and gay rights in this thread.
posted by oddman at 8:27 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, milk in Canada is available in polyethylene bags. Which, of course, one puts in a milk jug.

I don't recall having seen bagged milk for ages, but then it's not like I'm exactly looking for it either. I buy 1L cartons. Milk is for coffee and baking, not for actual drinking.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 PM on June 24, 2008


Milk is for coffee and baking, not for actual drinking.

Milk is indeed for drinking!

As well, there's always 'Milk and Cereal.'
posted by ericb at 9:11 PM on June 24, 2008


Are you people done changing the world to conform to your enlightened values yet? No?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:15 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because if you really meant that in Canada there is thing called a milk-bag that is pretty much a wineskin for milk, then that is pretty freaking awesome.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that all US milk is sold in cartons or jugs. So much packaging for milk! The first time I lived in the states I spent quite a bit of time searching grocery stores for milk bags until it finally dawned on me that you don't have them.

I stumbled across the fascinating Bristol Stool Scale.

You should watch 'The Road to Wellville' sometime: "My own stools, Sir, are gigantic and have no more odor than a hot biscuit." I expect Dr. Kellogg would have been an admirer of the Bristol scale.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2008


Sigh.

Guess I got irritated by the wording on the website:
others may choose to follow the Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu text that allows for homosexual behavior.
The Kama Sutra doesn't "allow or disallow" anything, it only describes, ummm, possibilities.

Pet peeve and I've posted on this before, but Kama Sutra is not nyaya (law); it's a shastra (science). You _cannot_ read theology into the Kama Sutra; it'll be a bit like trying to get an insight into Christian thought by reading, say, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Or something.

While Indian law has no provision for gay marriage, same-sex couples have gotten married under agama rules. As I understood it then, same-sex marriage was interpreted then to fall under the category of gandharva vivaha, as specified in the Manusmriti.

Although, it must be said that the Manusmriti doesn't really talk about same-sex marriages. One really liberal interpretation would be that all sex-before-marriage scenarios would be Gandharva vivahas, which, according to this book, is verboten for Brahmanas; you simply cannot have excellent progeny through this route. Sex though, would presumably be better.

In short, who effing cares. Nothing stopping anyone in Hinduism, is my take. At least in the flavour I prefer.
posted by the cydonian at 12:07 AM on June 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some people drink milk.

Some people drink milk to get drunk.

Shudder.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on June 25, 2008


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