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Caring Too Much
July 11, 2008 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar, has won her discrimination case after refusing to conduct same sex civil partnerships. " Islington Council cared too much about the "rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual" community, the panel ruled. "
posted by chuckdarwin (333 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
She asked to be excused from them because other registrars could conduct the services.

This does seem pretty reasonable to me, actually. Any largish office is going to have many duties and lots of available clerks. Excusing someone who is genuinely uncomfortable doesn't seem like it would be undue hardship for anyone. Of course, there's the problem of an entire office of homophobic nutjobs...

I do wonder what other practices her "orthodox Christian beliefs'' should be excluding her from, though. Like, does she process any divorces?
posted by DU at 6:29 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know, right? I mean if restaurant staff are genuinely uncomfortable serving black people, they can just go and get served where they're welcomed. Right?
posted by liquorice at 6:35 AM on July 11, 2008 [23 favorites]


What I mean is, don't have her performing marriages at all. Have her file tax leins. Or she can run the map room. Or count beans.

To use your example, which is better:

1) Force your racist waiter to interact with black customers, to the discomfort of both, most likely

2) Have your racist waiter clean bathrooms, where he doesn't come in contact with anyone

?
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


3) Not employ the racist waiter.
posted by lullaby at 6:45 AM on July 11, 2008 [18 favorites]


It's hard to tell from the sloppy writing in the news articles, but it would appear the ruling is over the way Islington Council handled the case (over-aggressively), rather than whether she has the right to not perform the ceremonies.
posted by cillit bang at 6:45 AM on July 11, 2008


3) Not employ the racist waiter.

First of all, it's too late, you already do. Second of all, especially in the case of the Christian clerk, you aren't allowed to not hire based on that criterion. (Although you could make "will serve black customers" or "will perform gay marriages" part of the explicit hiring criteria, I assume...)

Also: they can just go and get served where they're welcomed.

I'm not at all saying that the customers (or newlyweds) should go somewhere else. I'm saying the restaurant (or office) should redistribute it's staff for the best experience for everyone, while staying within the law for everyone.

We do still have the problem of the small office with one or two clerks, all of which are nutjobs. They will just have to suck it up and perform their duties.
posted by DU at 6:51 AM on July 11, 2008


Although you could make "will serve black customers" or "will perform gay marriages" part of the explicit hiring criteria, I assume.

The criteria isn't "serve black customers" (or "perform gay marriages") it's do your job.
posted by lullaby at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm not at all saying that the customers (or newlyweds) should go somewhere else. I'm saying the restaurant (or office) should redistribute it's staff for the best experience for everyone, while staying within the law for everyone.

Nope, sorry that doesn't work for me DU. The clerk, as the representative of the Islington council is the face of government. They don't get to insert personal moral beliefs into their job. I don't pay council tax to be given the cold shoulder by some clerk because she doesn't like the color of my tie.

I do not like seeing the state run over anyone's individual rights, but there are some places where individual rights should be surrendered. This is one of them.
posted by three blind mice at 6:56 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


And if one school doesn't want to have some kind of people in it, we can just have another school cover it. Separate but equal, everyone wins!
posted by burnmp3s at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2008


When I saw "a Christian registrar" my first thought was "there's a .god?"
posted by rokusan at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


(Although you could make "will serve black customers" or "will perform gay marriages" part of the explicit hiring criteria)

I am pretty sure that's implicit in "will perform the duties of the fucking job.".
posted by rokusan at 7:00 AM on July 11, 2008


I know, right? I mean if restaurant staff are genuinely uncomfortable serving black people, they can just go and get served where they're welcomed. Right?
posted by liquorice at 9:35 AM on July 11


Reverse it. The waiter is black and the customers are racists. The waiter is made uncomfortable or is offended by the customers. Can the restaurant require the waiter to serve that table? If not, are the racist patrons being denied service by having a smaller pool of waiter who can serve them?

That's the analogy. In both cases, the worker's fundamental right (to religion, or freedom from racial discrimination) is offended by the patron (regardless of your opinion of the offense), and the legal issue is whether they can be forced into the offensive situation.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:01 AM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't know about Britain but at least in the US if you go up for a civil service job I think you do sign a slip of paper that says you'll "uphold the law".

In the "cared too much" link the opinion writer (opinionist?) makes reference to pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives based on their religious beliefs. BUT I'm not sure it applies the same way. Pharmacists are not civil servants. So, unfortunately, they don't have to uphold the law and keep their religion out of their work. I do so wish it weren't fashionable to make a public statement about your faith.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:02 AM on July 11, 2008


The criteria isn't "serve black customers" (or "perform gay marriages") it's do your job.
posted by lullaby at 9:54 AM on July 11


I am pretty sure that's implicit in "will perform the duties of the fucking job.".
posted by rokusan at 10:00 AM on July 11


Again, imagine a slightly different scenario that isn't aligned ex ante with your political beliefs. Imagine you are gay and your work in the office that grants permits for demonstrations. A anti-gay group files for a petition. Assume that the political climate is such that a successful demonstration by this group will dissuade lawmakers from passing some gay rights bill.

Do you do your "fucking job" at that point?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:05 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank god that finally, Islington's council tax payments will be spent on essential utilities, such as underwriting those who believe in ghosts and spirits, and helping express their intolerance towards others.

Maybe she's just stopping people less insane and gullible than herself from playing in her own madpool of theism. For that, I commend her.

Islington has the largest population of same-sex couples in any UK borough. From personal experience, it also seems to have the largest number of church->luxury flat conversions. She's fighting against the tide if she's trying to enforce her heterosexual fundamentalist christian worldview on a place that has already double-rejected it.
posted by davemee at 7:06 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The problem with that, Pastabagel, is that the worker is offended by the very existence of the patron. Which is, on its face, pure bigotry and thus should not be considered grounds for discrimination targeted at the worker. Whereas if the worker says "I'm sorry, I won't serve you because you are a one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater, you'll have to leave." is discriminatory against the OEOHFPPE.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:06 AM on July 11, 2008


They don't get to insert personal moral beliefs into their job. I don't pay council tax to be given the cold shoulder by some clerk because she doesn't like the color of my tie.

In my plan, you wouldn't get the cold shoulder. You get a clerk happy to perform his or her duty in performing your wedding.

Look, some would call me a militant atheist. I'm also very much in favor of gay rights, marriage in particular. This woman does not really have my sympathies. But I'm also not fond of employers being able to force anyone to do anything just based on their boss's say-so.

If, at the time she was hired, gay marriage was part of the job description, then sure, I guess the employer is morally able to force her to do it. Although it would still seem pretty reasonable to me to remove her to a different function.

Imagine a person working in the butcher section of a grocery store. They decide they want to be a vegetarian and ask the manager if they can stock shelves instead. Should the response be: "No, you 'will perform the duties of the fucking job.'"? Or is it reasonable to take personal moral objections into account, if it doesn't disrupt the normal operations of the entire facility?

(And to forestall the objection of "she didn't just recently decide to be a Christian": One could also imagine a long-time vegetarian working at a meatless deli that decided to start serving meat. The vegetarian requests being put on bun baking duty rather than handle meat. Is that unreasonable?)
posted by DU at 7:08 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do you do your "fucking job" at that point?

Yes, or resign because civil service doesn't suit you.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:09 AM on July 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


A anti-gay group files for a petition. Assume that the political climate is such that a successful demonstration by this group will dissuade lawmakers from passing some gay rights bill. Do you do your "fucking job" at that point?

Yes. At least here in the US, people that nearly everyone disagrees with like Neo-Nazis still have the right to do public demonstrations. They don't need to find someone who works for the government that supports Nazis in order to get the things that are gauranteed to them by law.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:10 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


EDIT in response to Pastabagel:

and there we have the rub. If you don't like someone demonstrating against something you stand for. AND you give out the permits for demonstrations. THEN you have to do your fucking job and give out the permit.

Why? Because that's how government should work. People should have the freedom to demonstrate (and counter demonstrate). Your example works both ways.

Keep personal political and religious beliefs out of your office if you are a civil servant. Ideally personal beliefs would be kept out of gov't entirely and, in a representative democracy, representatives really would represent their constituents and not who pays them the most money.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:11 AM on July 11, 2008


Sam.Birdick, that isn't the case. The case is whether the restaurant is discriminatory by forcing the worker to serve people whose lifestyle offends them. In the Islington case, she didn't send the gay couples away, she asked her employer to find someone other than her to do them.

In my analogy, the black waiter asks the manager to find someone else to serve the racists The management refuses, forcing the black waiter into the uncomfortable situation.

In both cases, the gay couple and the racists patrons, the customer is denied nothing. They still get whatever service they came for. The question is whether the employer discriminates against the worker by forcing them to participate in situations that offend their religion and race, respectively.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:12 AM on July 11, 2008


DU, I understand where you're going; I do. But, she is a civil servant... paid for with the taxes of the people of Islington. She is duty bound to perform this service.

Personally, I think she should go work at Asda. Stocking shelves is probably more suited to her skill set.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:12 AM on July 11, 2008


Possibly this case is complicated by the precedent that sovereignty and power of law is invested in HM the Queen and her Government by God Almighty, who in a landmark 500BC ruling stated that homosexuals should not be treated with dignity and respect but should instead have their skulls smashed open with pointed rocks.

Or not! Not is an option too.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:14 AM on July 11, 2008


There are not many issues that can divide opinion even at the moral sledgehammer-to-the-face that is the Daily Mail Add Your Comment section.
posted by creeky at 7:15 AM on July 11, 2008


And before my position is lumped in with Pastabagel's, I'd like to point out a subtle, but vital, difference:

If you are the only clerk in the office, you have to do your job, period. You have to give out the permits, you have to perform the marriages, no matter how you personally feel. You are the only conduit by which the law "flows to" the public and you can't stand in the way.

BUT, if you are one of twenty clerks, I don't think it is at all unreasonable to distribute the workers in such a way that the law flows smoothly with a minimum of personal objections. Put the nutjobs in the back office where they won't bother anyone.
posted by DU at 7:15 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The clerk, as the representative of the Islington council is the face of government. They don't get to insert personal moral beliefs into their job.

So I take it you were clamoring for the firing of the mayor of San Francisco in 2004, when he issued gay marriage licenses that were against the law at the time.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:15 AM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


She is duty bound to perform this service.

But only because her boss has her on marriage duty. Is that they only thing she can do there? They don't have any other paperwork she can do? And maybe a fresh-faced up-and-coming clerk in the back room who would love to do a bunch of marriages? They could switch duties.
posted by DU at 7:18 AM on July 11, 2008


But, she is a civil servant... paid for with the taxes of the people of Islington. She is duty bound to perform this service.

What is your objection to having someone else in the office do it?
posted by oaf at 7:19 AM on July 11, 2008


I do agree that if there are others in the office who can do the duties without objection then it is the job of the manager to make sure that the office flows smoothly.

But, I'm sure one of these assholes would say that they were discriminated against by the manager when they were assigned other duties instead of giving out marriage licenses.

Look, this lady is just trying to prove a point and wave her "I'm a Good Christian" flag for all to see. It's political grandstanding and should be treated as such.

We're not gonna make any headway with people like this.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:23 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


homophobic

offended, disgusted, morally opposed or complete lack of interest in any social problems associated with anothers choice of behavior - none of these is a phobia.
posted by quonsar at 7:23 AM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Not that I don't see the quandary here, and I realize it's not black and white, but it doesn't seem unreasonable that performing marriage ceremonies would have been one of the duties listed in her contract of employment, if there was such a thing. I didn't seen anything in the articles about it.
posted by kingbenny at 7:24 AM on July 11, 2008


Her manager was probably making a point: we all have to do these marriages and so do you. Get on with it and stop moaning.

At which point she got the tribunal thing rolling and cashed in. I just can't get on her team, here. She should have done as she was told or quit.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:27 AM on July 11, 2008


I'm sure one of these assholes would say that they were discriminated against by the manager when they were assigned other duties

yeah, like the assholes a few weeks ago that were saying they were discriminated against when they could have picked from thousands of other wedding photographers.
posted by quonsar at 7:29 AM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


If it's legal and part of the job description, then you should be doing your job. If you think a black person serving racists is uncommon, I've got news for you. Harassment is one thing, and I think that employee would be hard pressed to show that someone legally getting married is harassing them.

If you can't do your job, it should go down as an inability to perform. There's also the confounding factor of public service employees versus privately owned business (like restaurants).
posted by cashman at 7:36 AM on July 11, 2008


Somebody check the thermostat in Hades, because I totally agree with DU on this one.
posted by tadellin at 7:37 AM on July 11, 2008


Is this not similar to the cases in the US, in which pharmacists who have moral (religious) objections to filling contraceptive and emergency contraceptive prescriptions have the right to refuse to fill them? It was decided that they could choose to not do their job, but instead have another pharmacist do it.
posted by Houstonian at 7:39 AM on July 11, 2008


> What is your objection to having someone else in the office do it?

I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I think part of the objection is that by shuffling the office around because of her nutty beliefs, by giving her any quarter at all, and by frankly doing anything but the absolute minimum required by anti-discrimination law, it might possibly be construed as validating her beliefs.

And to be honest I think there's some merit in that. If a society decides that it wants to actively work to stamp out certain beliefs (racism, homophobia, etc.), it's probably not unfair to take a dim view of claims brought by people asserting their right to have those beliefs, particularly in government.

I doubt the public in either the U.S. or Britain would tolerate reshuffling staff in a government agency because some of them refused to deal with black people -- we'd justifiably want the racists sacked. I think there's a growing public sentiment that homophobia is in the same category as racism (it's not there yet, but I think it's growing), and that's why there's such hostility towards the idea of tolerating those beliefs.

Fundamentally, the question is whether you should "tolerate intolerance," as well as what kind of conduct you want to allow religious objections to encompass.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:40 AM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think the difference is that Pharmacies are privately owned businesses.
posted by cashman at 7:41 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel, I am really uncomfortable with your analogy where legally-recognized, loving gay couples are equated with racists.

Racists are insufficiently socialized assholes, and arguably, that is a 'lifestyle choice.'

Gays, particularly those who are lucky enough to have found loving partners*, are simply living their life and pursuing happiness.

It sort of makes the analogy fall apart.

Also, laws change. And laws are, well, laws. And if they change in a way that affects your job description, that is just tough shit for you. You either perform to the new standard in its entirety, or find a new job. STFU and GBTW.

* and have done so in country that recognizes them as fully human and thus deserving of all the same rights as other humans
posted by CaptApollo at 7:41 AM on July 11, 2008


it's probably not unfair to take a dim view of claims brought by people asserting their right to have those beliefs, particularly in government

What if she signed on before the same-sex partnerships were legal?
posted by oaf at 7:43 AM on July 11, 2008


offended, disgusted, morally opposed or complete lack of interest in any social problems associated with anothers choice of behavior - none of these is a phobia.

I know, and I remember when the word "gay" just meant "happy"! Honestly, it's political correctness gone mad.

DU, the other problem with any argument based around allowing people to opt out of parts of the government job they've agreed to do on the grounds of "conscience" is obviously precedent. What about the bigoted solo registrar in the small rural office — why shouldn't they be allowed to opt out if the bigoted city registrar is allowed to? That's discrimination on the basis of the number of people who happen to work in your office. But the real issue here is the preference given to people's arbitrary subjective hostile urges towards specific groups of people simply because the bigots are members of a particular organized religion.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:43 AM on July 11, 2008


oaf,

then she can quit.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:45 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


chuckdarwin: Personally, I think she should go work at Asda. Stocking shelves is probably more suited to her skill set.

As long as she doesn't have to stack pepperoni pizza, or put the beef near the cheese, or use a mirror on a wednesday or whatever these whackjobs randomly choose to follow. And it is a choice. You can choose to be damned, or choose to be salivated, or choose not to be shoved around by insane 2000 year old doctrine, triple mistranslated.
posted by davemee at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I take it you were clamoring for the firing of the mayor of San Francisco in 2004, when he issued gay marriage licenses that were against the law at the time.

I don't generally equate an act civil disobedience on the part of a major political figure with the bigoted actons of a city clerk... so I'll have to think about this.
posted by three blind mice at 7:50 AM on July 11, 2008


What if she signed on before the same-sex partnerships were legal?
Then she's free to go find another job. She has a right to hold whatever beliefs she chooses. Acting on those beliefs, in a civil service capacity, is not, however, her right.

I work at a library. quonsar calls up, wants help finding court cases about what he feels are unfair government incursions into individuals' religious practices. My office is staffed exclusively by bleeding-heart liberals. So I guess he's just out of luck? Sorry, sucker, I'm not going to help you with that, and no one else here will either.

Every day, I get requests for research help, many, many times from folks whose politics aren't just disagreeable to mine, but directly antagonistic. Should my library be forced to hire Republican and Democratic help-desk staff? No, that wouldn't be enough--we'd need representatives of every political slant, those who supported Clinton's presidential bid, but who are now drifting towards McCain, etc., ad nauseam.

No one's forcing me to serve anyone I don't want to. I can choose to serve all patrons equally, or I can quit.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:53 AM on July 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


So I take it you were clamoring for the firing of the mayor of San Francisco in 2004, when he issued gay marriage licenses that were against the law at the time.
I don't generally equate an act civil disobedience on the part of a major political figure with the bigoted actons of a city clerk... so I'll have to think about this.


Depending on which part of the world we're talking about, elected officials are usually in some sense lawmakers, and whether they can or should be fired for opposing a law, especially a federal law in a federation of states, is obviously a complicated question based on all sorts of different constitutional matters and court rulings.

By contrast: an employee of Islington Council whose only job is to implement British law as a civil servant does not get to make the law up as she goes along!

Also: discriminating against gay people is bad and allowing gay people to get married is good. So there's that, too.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2008


then she can quit.

So the government has the right to put her out of a job by forcing her to do something she didn't sign up to do, and which offends her, even if others can be found to do the very thing that offends her?
posted by oaf at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2008


DU and chuckdarwin are both correct, she has demonstrated that she can not preform the job of registrar nor manage anyone performing it. If her employer has other jobs, like secretary jobs, then she should be transfered there. If not, then they have grounds for dismissal.

She won this case because her employer acted in a discriminatory way, threatening to fire her, when the thy could merely alter her position, and blackball her promotion options within the department.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2008


So the government has the right to put her out of a job by forcing her to do something she didn't sign up to do, and which offends her, even if others can be found to do the very thing that offends her?

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes, unless her contract of employment gave her a reasonable right to expect otherwise. If it did it was a badly worded contract. Maybe that is part of the detail of this ruling, I don't know.

Otherwise, you're establishing completely subjective and arbitrary "offendedness" as an inarguable standard when it comes to seeking exemptions from contractual agreements.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:58 AM on July 11, 2008


oaf,

she chose to be a civil servant. she can un-choose to be one if she disagrees with the law.

here, I'll give you an illustration. Lets say that pot were made legal tomorrow. And to celebrate you' smoke a joint on main street in Smalltown US. And the local sheriff comes up to you and arrests you for smoking dope because he doesn't like people smoking dope. He would be in the wrong. And, if he doesn't like the law he can quit his job as sheriff and go do something else. Or he can do his fucking job and let you get bombed out of your mind and stare at daffodils for a few hours.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:00 AM on July 11, 2008


I don't know, on an idealistic level I think that if it's part of her job, she should just do it. I remember, though, one time when I was working at a phone-survey job, and one of the surveys was asking Americans their opinions on gay marriage (back in 2002 or 03). After having person after person tell me about how not only should gay people not be allowed to marry, but they should also be hauled out into the street and shot, I asked to be placed on another survey. I asked people about cars or milk or something instead.

Now, I know that I wasn't a public employee, but I know how distraught and upset I was at having to deal with these assholes who would rather I be dead than gay. I also know how easy it was to reassign me to another section. So, I'm torn. I think that maybe as long as she wasn't rude to the couple and was able to refer them to someone else who could help them, maybe it's alright. If she was the only one, though, or it would cause a lot of hassle to get someone else to do it, then she should have to do it. The main importance should be that they can get this filed, not necessarily who does it.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:02 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


As long as she doesn't have to stack pepperoni pizza, or put the beef near the cheese, or use a mirror on a wednesday or whatever these whackjobs randomly choose to follow. And it is a choice. You can choose to be damned, or choose to be salivated, or choose not to be shoved around by insane 2000 year old doctrine, triple mistranslated.

An excellent point! A hateful smear of plagiarised scribbles on some Bronze Age papyrus should have no bearing on the rights of British citizens to enter into legal partnerships.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2008


Although you could make "will serve black customers" or "will perform gay marriages" part of the explicit hiring criteria, I assume.

The criteria isn't "serve black customers" (or "perform gay marriages") it's do your job.
posted by lullaby at 9:54 AM on July 11 [1 favorite +] [!]


So, how do you feel about the state employee who resigned rather than see that the flag was at half-mast for Jesse Helms?
posted by konolia at 8:06 AM on July 11, 2008


I'm slightly amazed there are people arguing that government employees should be able to pick and choose which parts of their jobs they have to perform. OF COURSE a gay employee has to give an anti-gay rights organization paperwork they are legally entitled to ask for. OF COURSE someone who's a registrar has to perform their tasks for those legally qualified.

Should post office employees not have to handle mail they find offensive? My issue of "Skeptic" might mysteriously stop showing up in my mailbox....
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:07 AM on July 11, 2008


(And it was a forced resignation, btw.)
posted by konolia at 8:10 AM on July 11, 2008


Lets say that pot were made legal tomorrow. And to celebrate you' smoke a joint on main street in Smalltown US. And the local sheriff comes up to you and arrests you for smoking dope because he doesn't like people smoking dope. He would be in the wrong. And, if he doesn't like the law he can quit his job as sheriff and go do something else. Or he can do his fucking job and let you get bombed out of your mind and stare at daffodils for a few hours.

No, let's say that beer were made available for free in reasonable quantities at all municipal government offices starting tomorrow. There's a Southern Baptist clerk whose beliefs prohibit enabling anyone to drink. Should the clerk be required to give you your beer even though she didn't come into the job expecting to be doling out alcohol to the masses? What if there's someone else there who's perfectly willing to staff the beer window?
posted by oaf at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2008


Konolia,

That's their right and prerogative.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2008


Employment legalities aside, Kadin2048 has hit it: there's a growing public sentiment that homophobia is in the same category as racism (it's not there yet, but I think it's growing)

If you personally do not group racism and homophobia in the exact same category, then the sentiments of DU, oaf and others make perfect sense.

If, like me, you find the two intrinsically the same phenomenon, then these positions make no sense at all.

And there it lies. I agree with Kadin2048: the tide of public sentiment is certainly growing.

Arcticwoman, I'm glad your boss reassigned you, but had she insisted, you would have been presented with the choice of being profoundly unhappy in your job, or quitting, right? If you simply sat in your chair and did not ask the survey questions, you would be fired for not performing your job, right?

Konolia re: the state employee who resigned: I applaud him and wish him well in his job search - I would gladly be a character reference.
posted by CaptApollo at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not a matter of being offended. It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions. Which is discriminatory toward said religion.

As long as all faiths are entitled to the same protection, what is the problem?
posted by konolia at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2008


Oh konolia, nobody is forcing her to be a registrar!
posted by CaptApollo at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


oaf,

That's fine. I'm not arguing that she should be fired because she won't do her job. But I am saying that she could quit.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2008


I don't generally equate an act civil disobedience on the part of a major political figure with the bigoted actons of a city clerk...

Your act of civil disobedience is someone else's bigoted action.
posted by splice at 8:16 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


You are right, CaptApollo. If my boss had been unwilling and unable to reassign me, I would have quit and I would not have sued, understanding that even though I don't like the opinions elicited from this particular survey, it was important to elicit the opinions. But I guess it also depends on my boss's reason for (hypothetically) not reassigning me. If I had been kept on the anti-gay survey because there was nothing else for me to do or no one to take my place, I would have quit thinking "I guess I'm not right for this job." If, however, I felt that my boss kept me there because she was anti-gay herself and wanted to make me uncomfortable, I would have been upset and if I were generally a litigious person (and the job was worth it) I may have pursued the issue.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2008


offended, disgusted, morally opposed or complete lack of interest in any social problems associated with anothers choice of behavior - none of these is a phobia.

Phobic doesn't mean "fear of".
posted by dirigibleman at 8:23 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions

Her religious convictions forbid her from marrying another women. I don't think her registrar's job required her to become a lesbian.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2008


It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions

She's not a slave. She's free to find another job.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:28 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia:

Just like with Newsom, I see no problem with him being fired for his behavior. While I was't necessarily "clamoring" for it in either instance, an employer shouldn't be required to employ people who refuse to do what is clearly part of their job.

It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions. Which is discriminatory toward said religion.

She wasn't forced to take a job she was unwilling to do. I'm fairly sure that "freedom of religion" doesn't require that the person be financially compensated with tax dollars for doing so.
posted by uri at 8:29 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Her religious convictions forbid her from marrying another women.

And from enabling it. You're splitting hairs.
posted by oaf at 8:30 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Arctic there's no way in hell you would or should have won a lawsuit. I'm not gay but that's not something I'd want to hear either. You had a job that involved some serious ugliness and they were in their rights to have you do it. What if they had a policy of seniority chooses and you were low woman on the totem pole? They could (as they did) accommodate you but they wouldn't be required to and frankly in a job with unpleasantness to go around who can really object if they were hard-asses about it?
posted by Wood at 8:31 AM on July 11, 2008


You don't get to cherrypick. You don't get to fill out just the easy forms, you don't get to sweep only the clean offices, you don't have to clean only the executive toilets, you don't get to serve only the white diners, and you cannot refuse to give a marriage license only to straight people. You do you job -- all of it, even the distasteful parts -- properly, or you find another job voluntarily or forcibly.

Your religion prevents you from doing some of your job?
You are not in the right job.
Get the fuck out.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:32 AM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think he was making a funny.

But his point still stands.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:33 AM on July 11, 2008


PUBLIC servant, PUB-LIC. That means everyone.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2008


So, how do you feel about the state employee who resigned rather than see that the flag was at half-mast for Jesse Helms?
I believe he should have been fired.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2008


All of these ideas of "accommodation" where your boss lets you do what you want and not what you don't because there are so many "other clerks" are naive. Some workplaces will accommodate you. Most expect you to accommodate them and they have their reasons for doing things that way. In fact to repeat myself many workplaces may choose to give employees choice in a particular order based on seniority or success and not based on whether the employee is a Christian or a vegetarian or black or a racist.
posted by Wood at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2008


It's not a matter of being offended. It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions. Which is discriminatory toward said religion.

Or, alternately - said religion proscribes that occupation. I am perfectly happy to let christians not be public servants, pharmacists or whatever else their religion feels they shouldn't be doing. I am happy to let muslims not be moneylenders, scientologists not be psychiatrists, or jews not be makers of pork pies.

But it's not the job that's doing the discriminating, because the job is not saying they can't do it. They are saying they won't do it. And the best place for someone who won't do a job ... is another job that they will do.

As long as all faiths are entitled to the same protection, what is the problem?

It discriminates against atheists who might wish to sue employers for buckets of swag, obviously.

posted by Sparx at 8:45 AM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


it's not the job that's doing the discriminating

The job changed. The religious beliefs didn't.
posted by oaf at 8:46 AM on July 11, 2008


oaf... we'll say it once more

NO ONE IS FORCING HER TO BE A PUBLIC SERVANT.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2008


Anyway it's a judgment call. There are two sides, first is the intent of the action to discriminate? OK, let's say no. Second, are reasonable accommodation being made. In other words: beards. In the past employers could say shave etc. Some people won't do that for religious reasons. I'm not sure what that status of this is. Employers could say: don't wear a hat. I'm pretty sure you can wear a yarmulke.

Ultimately there's no perfect logical solution to this, it's a judgement we make as a society.

As a liberal person I'm going to say that hey the entire idea of employers saying "here's what you should look like" is incredibly fraught with danger and perhaps we should regulate that. Annoying as it is I guess I don't have a problem with you not want dirty hippies to sell for you. But what if you want beardless men? That's a classic white sign of professionalism or something. But for various reasons that just doesn't fly with lots of people (e.g. Blacks.) So maybe we outlaw that stricture in the name of discrimination.

On the other hand NO QUARTER FOR BIGOTS. That's it, it's a judgment call and that's my call. Religion is part of your brain. Anything can be your religion. I'm not anti-religion in general but if your religion says that my miscegenated birth is an abomination then we're enemies and I'm not particularly put off by the fact that it's your religion that makes you a dickweed.

BTW this has nothing to do with customers. The customers are either behaved or not. If in my business a swastika tat or loud nasty conversation is enough to get you kicked out then so be it, if not then yeah the Jewish Black guy better get them their iced teas.
posted by Wood at 8:48 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


even if others can be found to do the very thing that offends her?

This is where I have a problem. What if all the other registrars decide that they don't want to deal with gay people either? At that point people are being prevented from doing something that is legal because the face of the government won't deal with them.

I do things at my job that I don't agree with, I just had to make the decision as to whether or not my disagreement with policy was greater than my desire to continue working here.
posted by quin at 8:49 AM on July 11, 2008


Whoa, Wood, I said I most likely would have quit thinking that I just wasn't right for the job. I listed a few reasons I would accept for the boss being unable to reassign me, but it wasn't an exhaustive list. Not being eligible for reassignment would fit easily within that list.

Also, I know what you are saying about employers not being required to accommodate workers, but what if they can? What if it is easy to accommodate a worker's request? Is it reasonable to deny that request just to make the person uncomfortable and pull a power-trip? Most places that deal with unpleasantness (and really, what job doesn't?) understand that some people are more sensitive to some forms of unpleasantness than others, and are thoughtful when assigning workers. If the woman who just had a miscarriage wants to be transferred out of maternity wear, should the department store fire her or ask her to quit because she won't do her job?

I understand that most of this is not quite applicable in the above case, but since we seem to be talking about the rights of employees to ask for accommodation I thought it applied. When I went to get married I had three or four marriage commissioners say "no thanks." Since number six said yes I just told myself "If the rest don't want me, I don't want them," but it would have been a much different story if I had been unable to find someone. If everyone in town had been uncomfortable performing my wedding, I would have expected the government to force them to do it anyway, as their personal beliefs would have restricted my rights under the law.


And from enabling it. You're splitting hairs.

She's not a marriage commissioner, she's a registrar. To my understanding the marriage was already done. Her filing the paperwork was not enabling anything.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:51 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the Daily Mail comments section

"Who pays this bill? The innocent council taxpayer. The whole thing is a 'politically correct' disgrace. I wonder if it was a white man who opposed this for the same reason if the same outcome would have occurred?

- David Haslett, Leicester, 10/7/2008 11:50
"
posted by fullerine at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2008


OK just one more. It's fine to discriminate against religion! Religion can be anything. Even ignoring internet religions if your religion involves multiple wives we discriminate against you. If it involves drugs we discriminate against you. There is no catch all against discriminating against religion unless you say that the discrimination is purely because of the religion. If it's a conflict between a general rule applied to everyone and the religion it is decided on a case-by-case basis and there is no particularly great advantage to religion.

Are Sikhs bringing knives to schools nowadays?
posted by Wood at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2008


The job changed.

No, it didn't. The law did (and this is assuming she even signed up before the law changed, anyway).
posted by dirigibleman at 8:53 AM on July 11, 2008


After having person after person tell me about how not only should gay people not be allowed to marry, but they should also be hauled out into the street and shot, I asked to be placed on another survey.

And you were still talking to the same bigots, the only difference is that you didn't know.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:55 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, it didn't. The law did (and this is assuming she even signed up before the law changed, anyway).

The job changed because the law changed. Thank you for arguing my case for me.
posted by oaf at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2008


So, how do you feel about the state employee who resigned rather than see that the flag was at half-mast for Jesse Helms?

If he felt that he was unwilling to do his job and follow the directive, then I don't see a problem with firing him for that. They told him to lower the flag to honor Jesse Helms, not lower the flag to honor Jesse Helms if he likes him. Just like this registrar is supposed to issue civil marriages, not issue civil marriages if she approves of them.
posted by lullaby at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2008


Well... arcticwoman, it sounds like a shitty task. It kind of depends on your relationship with your co-workers... maybe they ask for volunteers and would someone think "Well I don't really wan to do it but it's worse for her because she's gay so I'll help out." or they might just whistle and look at the ceiling or their fingers and you'd realize you work with jerks and that's gonna have a bunch of suckitude to it. But they might not be bigots, they might just be tired people trying to get a pay check with the minimum amount of trouble and maybe they don't see you as someone they're going to go to trouble for.

So... for what it's worth, I'd help you out because I'm a nice guy. But if my coworker was a homophobe who didn't want to call gay people? Hah, she's not getting any help from me.

That is problematic though. If I'm a boss & I consistently show a pattern of letting the Christians move around but not the gays (or vice versa) then sue. But if I'm just a equal-opportunity jerk and no one gets to choose their assignments then you're stuck.

(Even letting the coworkers such as myself express our biases would be a problem.)

So I guess I can see that you might have a suit. But even-handed lack of accommodation is a get-out-of-jail-free card in this case.
posted by Wood at 9:00 AM on July 11, 2008


NO ONE IS FORCING HER TO BE A PUBLIC SERVANT.

That's not the issue; the change in her job constituted a requirement by the government that she do things she hadn't been previously required to do.

What if all the other registrars decide that they don't want to deal with gay people either?

It's doubtful that they all would, and they could easily require all new hires to do so, because they'd know the job requirements coming in. In the meantime, put this clerk in a back room, doing something else, and let the new employees and the old employees who don't object on religious grounds (or other grounds that form a prohibited basis of discrimination) file the paperwork. If there aren't any who don't object, hire some.

Her filing the paperwork was not enabling anything.

Why was filing the paperwork necessary, then, if it was meaningless?
posted by oaf at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2008


The job changed because the law changed.

The job had always been to perform marriages within the confines of the law.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:05 AM on July 11, 2008


Your act of civil disobedience is someone else's bigoted action.

And the actor should expect to be punished, possibly by losing their job.

This came up long ago on another thread, and a better example was given. What if you're a doctor in 1930s Germany, and suddenly the requirements of your job include performing non-consensual abortions on Gypsies and killing Downs children with lethal injections?

You do one of three things - you can always do one of these three things*:

Flee - quit your job.
Assent - do your changed job.
Resist - and expect to be punished.

There is no option four:

Resist - and expect to get away with it.

That's just not how it works, in Godwinland, or in lefty Islington. Taking a moral position in opposition to authority has personal costs (or the risk of them.) Whether you're right ("I'm not doing that procedure, Nazi scum!") or wrong ("I'm not teaching white and black kids together, Commie!") a moral position has a personal cost.

If it doesn't? It isn't a moral position. It's another, permitted alternative position. And that's why people in this thread who dislike homophobia are so against this woman.

It's not just a management problem. If she can take this position without cost then it's a permitted alternative that's perfectly okay. If she can take this position then being a homophobic bigot is perfectly okay by the Government.
posted by alasdair at 9:06 AM on July 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


The job had always been to perform marriages within the confines of the law.

OK, so the law changed, so the job changed. What part of that don't you get?
posted by oaf at 9:08 AM on July 11, 2008


OK, so the law changed, so the job changed.

No, the job is still to perform marriages within the confines of the law.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:09 AM on July 11, 2008


These gay ceremonies were clearly put here as a test. You passed with flying colours, Zealot Lillian! Mount your trusty T-Rex and join Jesus in the stars, cavorting with a 4,000 year old Adam and all three gods, at once!
posted by davemee at 9:10 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


oaf - yes, we all agree, the tasks of this job changed in some fashion. This is the real world - job descriptions and the resulting duties change all the time. And employees are expected to do those new tasks. You can't just say, "I'm going to do it the old way, and you can't fire me for that." BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY CAN FIRE YOU.
posted by CaptApollo at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2008


This kind of thing just pisses me off no end. If you don't want to do Job_A properly, then hit the road and look for a Job_B that you find acceptable. Every time we excuse someone from doing their job because of this or that prejudice, we become just a little less moral as a society. It's a slippery slope and the best way to deal with slippery slopes is to never move down the slope at all, not even a little.

All employers should simply lay out the duties that the job entails, and explain that none of the duties are optional. If you're unwilling to do the job in its entirety, then...next applicant!
posted by jamstigator at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2008


konolia: It's not a matter of being offended. It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions. Which is discriminatory toward said religion. As long as all faiths are entitled to the same protection, what is the problem?

Now we get to the heart of the matter. This case is not so much about homophobia, really, as it is about the preferential treatment increasingly given in Britain to personal idiosyncracies, no matter how intolerant, providing that they can be packaged as Christian or Muslim (or, to a lesser extent, Sikh, Hindu or Jewish). If by "all faiths" you fully accept each person's right to be a "religion of one", with whatever views they wish, then you're at least consistent, though I can't see how you could run a civil service by allowing anyone to opt out of anything anytime.

If, on the other hand, by "faiths" you mean "big organized religions with political influence" — which is what it means in the UK at the moment — then you are suggesting that society gives in to demands for special treatment from certain groups, solely on the basis of justifications that are internal to those groups' belief systems, while denying that treatment to others. This is profoundly anti-democratic.

(If this woman had said she didn't want to perform gay unions for the sole reason that she found gay people to be horrible and disgusting, she'd never have had a shred of a chance of winning her case, of course. It was because she characterised her distaste as a Christian conviction.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:22 AM on July 11, 2008 [13 favorites]


arcticwoman, thanks for your insight, and I am sorry that you had such a hard time getting married, but congratulations on your perseverance.
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on July 11, 2008


"Who pays this bill? The innocent council taxpayer. The whole thing is a 'politically correct' disgrace. I wonder if it was a white man who opposed this for the same reason if the same outcome would have occurred?
- David Haslett, Leicester, 10/7/2008 11:50"


Reminded me of this, which the Mail clearly intended as a 'barbaric brown-skinned foreigners' story, but which, as the comments below reveal, ended up triggering a different reaction among the Mail's gloriously multi-facetedly bigoted readers.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, the job is still to perform marriages within the confines of the law.

Which has changed, thus changing the job.
posted by oaf at 9:42 AM on July 11, 2008


It's not a matter of being offended. It's a matter of being forced to violate one's religious convictions. Which is discriminatory toward said religion.

"Do X or you're fired" is not the same as being forced to do X, especially not if X applies equally to everyone in your position and is a substantial part of your job description. Jobs "force" people to violate their convictions all the time; if you want to talk "discriminatory", I'd say that's a great way to describe a system in which some convictions will get you out of doing your job, and others will get you canned, depending solely on how popular your belief system is.

Personally, I think that it would have been both nicer and probably wiser to shuffle this registrar's duties rather than firing her, but I also think that expecting someone to either perform the duties of their job or quit is not discriminatory... it's the same expectation that most of us labor under every day of the week, and applies equally no matter what your religion is. We're not talking about something peripheral like "I can't come to work on my sabbath", "I have to wear my special religious item", or "I need to have X holiday off each year", it's "I can't do a significant part of my job". IMHO, there is no reasonable accommodation for that -- if you're Muslim or Jewish, it is not reasonable for you to demand full pay as a butcher in a secular shop and simultaneously refuse to touch half of the meat; if you're Christian, it is not reasonable for you to demand full pay as a registrar and simultaneously refuse to touch a bunch of the registrations.

It's one thing to ask for accommodation if your religion requires you to do your job a bit differently, while still completing your tasks, but I think it's another if you expect to be accommodated because you refuse to do part of the job itself. The proper thing to do in this situation is to ask if an alternate job description can be worked out, and, if rebuffed, find a job which does not involve breaking your religious vows.
posted by vorfeed at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, how do you feel about the state employee who resigned rather than see that the flag was at half-mast for Jesse Helms?

He should be (and basically was) fired for not doing his job. Then there should be a massive party in his honor, at which he is given blowjobs and cake and the keys to an Ferrari.
posted by nicwolff at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


Pastabagel: Reverse it. The waiter is black and the customers are racists. The waiter is made uncomfortable or is offended by the customers. Can the restaurant require the waiter to serve that table? If not, are the racist patrons being denied service by having a smaller pool of waiter who can serve them?

That's the analogy. In both cases, the worker's fundamental right (to religion, or freedom from racial discrimination) is offended by the patron (regardless of your opinion of the offense), and the legal issue is whether they can be forced into the offensive situation.


Ahh, someone brings the stupid early. Places of business are only required to make "reasonable accommodation" for the religious and political beliefs of their employees. If the employee's desired accommodation poses an "undue burden" on the employer, then the business is not obligated to accept the accommodation, and the employee can be forced into the offensive situation or dismissed.

And the rudeness of a client or customer isn't racial discrimination.

And of course, this is comparing apples and oranges because it compares a private business, to a government office.

Again, imagine a slightly different scenario that isn't aligned ex ante with your political beliefs. Imagine you are gay and your work in the office that grants permits for demonstrations. A anti-gay group files for a petition. Assume that the political climate is such that a successful demonstration by this group will dissuade lawmakers from passing some gay rights bill.

Do you do your "fucking job" at that point?


Well, I am queer and believe that the harm of imposing prior restraint on political speech, thus violating the First Amendment rights of people like Fred Phelps is likely a greater problem than what outrage Phelps can muster. The best strategy would be to grant the permit, and then get the word out to some local activists about what is going down and when.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:46 AM on July 11, 2008


So, how do you feel about the state employee who resigned rather than see that the flag was at half-mast for Jesse Helms?

I think he refused to honor a fellow civil servant who refused to adapt when the law, and therefore the job, of representing more than just the white people of NC changed.
posted by trondant at 9:49 AM on July 11, 2008


The job changed. The religious beliefs didn't.

To split hairs even further than dirigibleman: the job didn't change - the number of potential customers/clients did. In fact, that number became more inclusive of society as a whole.

The only thing that prevented her from continuing to perform exactly the same actions her job required for these additional people was her religiously inspired bigotry irrationality magic-thing-that-is-religious. She is no longer a public servant, but a public-I-approve-of servant, which is something quite different.
posted by Sparx at 9:49 AM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


She should have resigned, end of story. If my job description changed tomorrow to include scrubbing toilets, I would resign rather than do it. Or my employer would be well within their rights to fire me.
I do not have a right to a job, much less to a job that never displeases me.

Anyway, good Christians are expected to accept suffering for their religion - Jesus said so. Finding another job sure beats mud-wrestling with a hungry Roman lion.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:55 AM on July 11, 2008


So what a lot of you are saying is that it is just fine to discriminate against someone's religion.

You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs. And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example) you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job. Because you don't care about her right to worship as she chooses and to honor her God.

Whether or not she should quit is her choice to make. I think it is wrong to force her to have to make that choice when it is totally unnecessary. And I think that people who demand their own rights at the expense of someone else's are hypocrites. No matter whose rights are being discussed.

I've said my piece here.
posted by konolia at 9:56 AM on July 11, 2008


Let me second what Wood said:

NO QUARTER FOR BIGOTS.

Period. End of statement.

She's a bigot, fuck her. I don't give a damn about her precious "feelings", I could care less what her nutbag "religion" says, fuck her. No quarter, no giving in, no cutting slack, no looking at it from her side, no nothing. She's a bigoted asshole, and she's making a fuss in hopes of getting special treatment for her bigotry, fire her ass and hire a non-crazy person.

Sound vindictive? That's because it is. You don't win by being nice. You win by knocking them down and then kicking them while they're down. I want to see her, and all her evil cohorts, suffer.

NO QUARTER FOR BIGOTS.

oaf The job changed? So what? We're supposed to say "oh, poor little bigot, boo hoo, let me go out of my way to accommodate your bigot insanity"? Fuck that noise. The proper response is: "fine bigot, don't let the door hit you on your way out, enjoy living on welfare, hope you never get another job again you evil fucker".

Why?

Because think of the alternative. The alternative is to kowtow to her insane religion, to say to homosexuals "yes, we agree that you are sub-human slime so we're helping this bigoted fucktard keep her (taxpayer funded) job, homosexuality is evil and wrong." That's the message *ANY* accommodation of her pernicious evil sends. Force the bigots into the closet and let them see how they like it. Don't like serving queers? Suck it up bigot. I'll take great pleasure in watching them howl as, for once, for a change, they are made to suffer.

Let them worry, let them fear for their jobs, for once let the bigot feel what the homosexual has felt for centuries. Let them cower in the closet and worry that any action that outs them as a bigot will lose them their jobs, their homes, and their families.
posted by sotonohito at 9:56 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


(In other words, the gay marriages are in no danger of not getting registered here. Just wanted to make my last point clear.)
posted by konolia at 9:57 AM on July 11, 2008


bigot

That word does not mean what you think it means.
posted by konolia at 9:58 AM on July 11, 2008


I had a friend who worked in Human Resources in Seattle. One day during conversation my friend mentions that there have people who claim to be vampires working for them, who say they cannot work during the day. They threaten to sue under rights protection clauses if they can't work third shift all the time. I don't see any news stories about cases like that, but it does speak to the whole invidual-religion thing, to an extent.
posted by cashman at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2008


The whole thing about "the law changed the job" is bullshit. If you work for the government, you know that the laws and regulations are going to change from year to year. You don't get the option of deciding that you will perform your duty based on last year's tax code, or only give the motor vehicle competency exam from the year you were hired.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:59 AM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


From an article in the San Diego Union Tribune about the discomfort of county clerk's office employees with performing same-sex marriage ceremonies:

One employee initially asked to opt out of issuing licenses and performing ceremonies for gay couples because of “religious beliefs.” Two days later, the employee reversed course.

“I have given my decision some thought. As a county employee it is my responsibility to support my department; and uphold the state's decision,” the employee wrote.

posted by blucevalo at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2008


I've said my piece here.

Like the instantrimshot site, somebody needs to make fingernailhuffcuffbuff.com
posted by cashman at 10:01 AM on July 11, 2008


Let them worry, let them fear for their jobs, for once let the bigot feel what the homosexual has felt for centuries.

Committing more "bigotry" in the name of those against whom "bigotry" has been committed in the past (especially going back centuries or millennia) always ends well. Guaranteed.
posted by blucevalo at 10:05 AM on July 11, 2008



Because you don't care about her right to worship as she chooses and to honor her God
while continuing to receive taxpayers' money to hold down a job that is incompatible with her beliefs.. Please stop pretending that anybody is encroaching on anybody's right to worship here.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:08 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you're a jew and that's all I know but that's enough for me to know I don't want you at Harvard then that's "bad discrimination."

If your religion is political then Welcome to the Thunderdome. Are people seriously asking not to be judged based on their moral beliefs?
posted by Wood at 10:10 AM on July 11, 2008


konolia: So what a lot of you are saying is that it is just fine to discriminate against someone's religion.

You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs. And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example) you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job. Because you don't care about her right to worship as she chooses and to honor her God.


Refusing to perform one of the duties of a job, thus shifting the burden onto other employees can easily be an "undue burden" that doesn't require accommodation. And for that matter, employers are not required to provide accommodation around "bona fide" job requirements. If one of the duties of the job stated up-front is to certify all properly submitted government forms and applications, that office is not obligated to accommodate individual objections to specific forms. If the job requires 24/7 availability, the employer is not obligated to accommodate a desire for sunday, the sabbath or Christmas.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which has changed, thus changing the job.

Let's put aside the fact that this is the stupidest argument I have ever been dragged into, and accept your premise that the job changed from "perform all legal marriages, except the ones you're uncomfortable performing" to "perform all legal marriages, including the ones you're uncomfortable performing." It's a red herring. The worker is refusing to perform the duties of her job as laid out, and thus should no longer be employed in said position.

Well, unless the courts decide that "anti-gay bigot" is a protected class.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2008


oaf: what, do you really think people's jobs never change? People are commonly required to take on new job responsibilities; "waah, that's not how it was when I was hired so I won't do it" is typically not a valid excuse for failing to carry out your job.

If my job changed so that the job description included something which violated my conscience, and the boss wasn't willing to accommodate me with alternate duties, I'd either acquiesce, quit, or expect to be fired. I don't think "non-discriminatory" is the proper word for a system which allows only some classes of people to sue in this circumstance.

And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example) you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job.

The problem is, "I flat-out refuse to do part of my job" does not always require accommodation in the eyes of the law. For example, here is a case in which an assistance counselor was fired because she wouldn't counsel gays; the firing was upheld because accommodation would lead to an uneven workload (this seems directly applicable to the case under discussion). There was also a deaf-interpreter who was fired for refusing to sign swear-words -- the firing was upheld, because the job of interpreter necessarily involves signing swear-words. Here's one in which a Christian truck driver refused to share a truck with a woman he wasn't married to; also upheld, because it upset the company seniority policy.

At any rate, it's a bit of a moot point, since this happened in England, not "here in the states"... but religious accommodation law is by no means cut-and-dried, and does not mean that employers have to do anything and everything to accommodate religious employees.
posted by vorfeed at 10:27 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


EACH INDIVIDUAL HAS EQUAL RIGHTS. Even and especially the ones I happen to disagree with. I don't necessarily LIKE DAT, but if I want to have the freedom to daydream about Jenny McCarthy wearing Jim Carrey's bathing suit, then everyone else needs to have equal rights so my rights aren't stripped. That's how it works. Everyone, or no one.

This Christian registrar lady person whatever has the right NOT to perform same sex marriages if it is against her beliefs. Just like I don't wanna be force fed brussel sprouts cuz I think they're gross. That's my belief. I don't like them. I'm sure the brussel sprouts of the world are very upset with me but that's my decision.

If this woman's job includes performing same sex marriages and she was told that up front, then she should be fired for not doing her job. I can't go up to my boss and say I can't do what I was hired to do cuz it's against my religion. She'd laugh at me. Then she'd fire me. Then she'd laugh some more.

If this woman's job CHANGED because of the political bullshit that she has no control over, and she walks in one day and is told she now has to perform duties different than they were when she was hired, and those changes go against her personal beliefs, THEN she has a right to complain. If she and her employer can come to an arrangement temporarily then that's great. If they can't, she starts looking for a job where they won't make her do things against her personal beliefs.

If this woman wants to make a public spectacle of herself and turn this into a political statement? THERE'S FREE SPEECH ZONES! SHE CAN GO DO THAT THERE!

Personally I'm all for same-sex marriages. Not cuz I'm gay. Not cuz I support the gay agenda. Despite the fact male gay porn is about as gross to me as brussel sprouts, I got nothing personal against that whole thing. To each his own and all that. More power to 'em. I support the idea of equality regardless of sexual orientation. I support it from a relatively safe distance while inside my bunker wearing a radiation suit, but first I check the bunker and suit for spiders, cuz they freak me the fuck out.

I happen to despise the institution of marriage, and hope to live to see humanity realize how hypocritical and deprived and false and stupid and insidious and despicable and insane and pointless and backwater and manipulative and destructive and wrong the institution has become. Gay men married? Why the hell not? Let's marry those pandas while we're at it. Let's marry plantlife to sperm whales. I don't give a shit, cuz marriage is for pussies! not that I'm bitter...
posted by ZachsMind at 10:31 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


pastabagel: Reverse it. The waiter is black and the customers are racists. The waiter is made uncomfortable or is offended by the customers. Can the restaurant require the waiter to serve that table? If not, are the racist patrons being denied service by having a smaller pool of waiter who can serve them?

Being obnoxious and being black are two different things.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2008


konolia : You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs.

Purely as an exercise in hypotheticalness, what if the situation were an atheist or a Muslim who was, as a part of his job, required to determine the tax exempt status of an organization and refused to do any paperwork for Christian churches because of reasons of personal principle. Would you still feel right in defending them?
posted by quin at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


NO QUARTER FOR BIGOTS.

No quarter for sotonohito, at his very own request!
posted by oaf at 10:43 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread is a lot better than any of the shite I've read elsewhere about this case. game warden to the events rhino should get $5.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2008


As long as gay employees are allowed to refuse to service straight customers, I see no problem with this.
posted by troybob at 10:51 AM on July 11, 2008


The job changed. The religious beliefs didn't.

The job changed because the law changed.
posted by oaf


Lovely example of an eponysterical argument.

So, if our job is affected by a certain law, and that law changes to something we don't like, we get to keep on doing our jobs while ignoring the law and our employer has to suck it up and take it? Awesome. Does that work for things other than the law, like general workplace standards, requirements, anything like that?

Or does that only work if you believe in an all-powerful invisible being?

Obviously the morals of people who aren't religious are just personal opinions and should not be protected, only the faithful, right?

Or would you also argue that anyone anywhere has the right to refuse changes in their job responsibilities without being fired for it?
posted by splice at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So what a lot of you are saying is that it is just fine to discriminate against someone's religion.

If their religion prevents them from performing a core function of their job, yes.

You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs.

She doesn't have a right to a job.

And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example)

It's not true that it's a commensense accomodation, nor is it a legal requirement in the states for an employer to continue employing someone who becomes disabled to the point that they can no longer perform the core duties of their job. That's why many of us carry long-term disability insurance.

you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job. Because you don't care about her right to worship as she chooses and to honor her God.

No one's preventing her from worshipping or honoring her God, except to the extent that "worshipping" or "honoring" prevent her from actually doing her job.

I think it is wrong to force her to have to make that choice when it is totally unnecessary.

It's not unnecessary. She refuses to perform a core duty of her job, and the only "accomodation" requires an increased workload for the other employees.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:53 AM on July 11, 2008


konolia writes: You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs. And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example) you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job.

The comparison of bigotry to a disability is apt.
posted by anifinder at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't generally equate an act civil disobedience on the part of a major political figure with the bigoted actons of a city clerk... so I'll have to think about this.

In other words, laws with which you agree are fair and just, and those who object to them should be sternly disciplined, whereas laws with which you disagree are unfair and wrong, and those who disregard them should be commended. Very convenient.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


JabberJaw: "Being obnoxious and being black are two different things."

Unless you're Chris Rock in Lethal Weapon IV cuz... dayam!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2008


In some contexts a person refusing to do a job for reasons of morality are often called "conscientious objectors." This is not normally seen as a bad thing. In fact, it is often applauded and at very least respected as their right. In other contexts a person refusing to do their job (specifically in a context in which maintaining company secrets is part of the job) is often called a "whistle blower," and not only are these people often praised, we have laws specifically designed to protect them.

It would seem then that the attitude that one, even a civil servant, should just "do his or her job." Is entirely too simplistic. I'd suggest that such an attitude is often very, very bad to the health of society.

The obligation to refuse to compromise one's moral beliefs trumps any obligation to an employer. (And no, "he or she should just quit" is not an adequate response. Why should a person deprive themselves of income and an otherwise good job because they wish to defend their morals?)
posted by oddman at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


offended, disgusted, morally opposed or complete lack of interest in any social problems associated with anothers choice of behavior - none of these is a phobia.

Unless that offense, disgust, or moral opposition to said behavior is based on irrational fears. Then the response is a phobia. Homophobia, specifically, with respect to fears of same-sex couples who just want to get married.

I find it fascinating when people get upset and defensive at being called homophobes. They know their fears are irrational, so instead of dealing with their bigotry they rail against the label they've earned, desperately calling it anything else but what it really is.

They can't deal with their own problems, and so instead they strong-arm the government and bully others to project their fears onto gay people.

It's a mental pathology — if gay folks weren't involved, and the target was some other minority, these bigots would be called sociopaths. But we have apologia like that above, which tries to reinvent this sickness into something — anything — else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2008


oddman writes: Why should a person deprive themselves of income and an otherwise good job because they wish to defend their morals?

If you aren't willing to sacrifice anything to defend a moral belief, then it is not a moral belief.
posted by anifinder at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2008


I do wonder what other practices her "orthodox Christian beliefs'' should be excluding her from...

Seeking "huge monetary payouts" from litigation?

Oops, guess not!
posted by nanojath at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, those fundamentalists working at abortion clinics have got it made--full-time coffee break!
posted by troybob at 11:06 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would seem then that the attitude that one, even a civil servant, should just "do his or her job." Is entirely too simplistic.

And you would uphold this assessment if a white supremacist asserted the "moral" right to refuse to serve interracial couples?
posted by nanojath at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other words, laws with which you agree are fair and just, and those who object to them should be sternly disciplined, whereas laws with which you disagree are unfair and wrong, and those who disregard them should be commended. Very convenient.

People who disobey a just law should be punished. People who disobey an unjust law, at least for the purposes of civil disobedience, should be commended. They should not be punished, because the unjust law should not exist, but they should expect to be punished. So, your argument presents a false dichotomy, and I'm not sure how your thinly-veiled accusation of hypocracy applies.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:13 AM on July 11, 2008


DirigibleMan: "She doesn't have a right to a job."

Inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is, by its very nature, very vague. If her happiness involves a job, then I believe she has the right to persue one.

This is like the whole smoking/nonsmoking thing. The nonsmoker has the right to choose not to smoke. The smoker has the right to smoke. Second hand smoke causes the nonsmoker, if in the same vicinity as the smoker, to have to smoke whether she wants to or not. So she can choose to leave the room. However, if she was happy in the room without the smoke, then the smoker is infringing on her rights. If the nonsmoker insists the smoker leave the room, and the smoker was happy there? Then the nonsmoker is infringing on the smoker's rights. There's no simple answer to that conundrum. Someone's inalienable rights are gonna get violated.

Now, by performing the act of marriage, is this woman participating in the sexual act these two men will undertake on their honeymoon? No, but she is essentially giving State's blessing. Not necessarily her own blessing, but she's a representative of the State, and she took an oath of office if memory serves that she would do everything in her power to uphold the sanctity of that office. If she believes saying okay to gay marriage is weakening the office to which she has been entrusted? Well that opens a whole new kettle of fish. Doesn't it?

She can't do her job, if she's not allowed to protect it. However, if she as a religious person thinks she can't do her job if the State is allowing same sex marriages, and the State is saying why the hell not, we're looking at a conflict of interest.

Frankly I think this means we may have to take the separation of church and state one step further: Christians can't hold public office, unless they can prove their beliefs will not get in the way of doing their job. Like I said. Whole new kettle of fish that's also rather old and smelly. Do we really wanna go there, ladies and germs?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:13 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia Nonsense, and other, stronger terms of rejection for your entire fallacious argument. I support, unquestioningly and without hesitation, the right of anyone to hold any religious beliefs they choose. I will oppose, by force of arms if necessary, any attempts by the government to declare that some beliefs are forbidden.

She can believe her hate filled God will torture homosexuals, she can believe her evil deity declares homosexuality to be wrong, she can go (every Sunday and Wednesday) to a church and listen to the most vile, evil, putrid, sermons preaching such hate she wishes to. For that I will despise her, loathe her, and wish her ill. But I won't, under any circumstances, argue that the state should prohibit her from holding those beliefs.

That has nothing to do with the state accommodating her insane, evil, and altogether repugnant, beliefs when it comes to doing her fucking job. The state has no obligation to do diddily squat to change her job so as to enable her evil bigotry. That isn't denying her freedom of religion, its simply refusing to kowtow to her insane demands.

oaf Yup, you are completely correct, I must be a bigot because I oppose her evil shit. WTF are you smoking kimosabe?

Somehow, by some strange twisty bit of pseudo-logic, by opposing bigotry I'm a bigot? Any position other than squishy Chamberlainesque surrender and "accommodation" is, by magic, just reverse bigotry? Can you explain that, or does the sorry excuse for a mental process you just exhibited fail when you attempt to put that kind of nonsense into words?

She, not me, thinks that a certain subset of humanity is disgusting and must be kept from enjoying full civil rights. I fully support every right that evil woman has, and I will fight to preserve those rights. She does not, however, have a right to make the state accommodate her evil bigoted insanity by finding her a special job. She does have the right to work in her job, if she'd do the work. How, by any stretch of reason, is my position bigoted?
posted by sotonohito at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I can go to work for Microsoft and then pick and choose what I should work on based on their stance on DRM & their business practices? I think firing people who don't do what their told is a great idea. Most of the conscientious objection in the civil rights movement involved accepting the punishment.

I'm actually pretty amazed at the expectations people have of their employers in this thread. I'm expected to do what I'm told. To the extent I'm not it's not because of respect for my morals but I guess respect for the times when I do do helpful stuff.
posted by Wood at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2008


Do you do your "fucking job" at that point?

Yes, you do. Or if it's really such a big offense to your values, you QUIT.

You don't get to redefine the job to fit your beliefs.
posted by rokusan at 11:16 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I take it you were clamoring for the firing of the mayor of San Francisco in 2004, when he issued gay marriage licenses that were against the law at the time.

To draw a connection with Newsom's issuance of licenses and this woman's flagant disregard for existing law is, unsurprisingly, disingenuous or stupid.

Same-sex marriage licenses were not ruled to be illegal at the time they were issued, and were only interpreted to be illegal after the fact, after Governor Schwarzenegger directed the Attorney General to get a judicial ruling on the wording of the California Constitution.

Up until that point, there were no explicit rulings on the issue — which was the point of issuing the license challenge — and, for that matter, the state Constitution did, in fact, include an equal protection clause that thankfully was reaffirmed this summer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2008


The obligation to refuse to compromise one's moral beliefs trumps any obligation to an employer.

So, what, does this mean I can take a job at Blackwater and then get paid to do nothing for the rest of my life, suing if I ever get fired? Come on.

I agree that the obligation to refuse to compromise one's moral beliefs trumps one's obligations to an employer, but the employer's obligation to run a business also trumps his obligation to pay non-performing employees as if they were doing their jobs!
posted by vorfeed at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The slippery slope:

Rule: It's okay for an employee to refuse to perform her duties based on her religious beliefs.

1. What if all employees similarly refuse to officiate civil partnerships? Technically, under this rule, any employee may refuse to perform duties based on religious beliefs - thus, it's possible for each and every of them to refuse doing so.

2. What if we the duty is to perform a life-saving action, that is prohibited by religious beliefs (such as the firefighter and doctor examples in the article) - should we make an exception to the rule in such circumstances?

3. What if religious beliefs prevent a person from performing an essential function of their job? Should that person be excused from doing what her peers must do - such that her peers must shoulder the extra workload?

The common sense answers are obvious. First, people shouldn't seek jobs that require them to do something they are adverse to doing. If you're allergic to cats, you don't work at the animal shelter. If you don't believe in evolution, don't teach biology in public schools. Second, if it is reasonably practical, allow the offended employee to not perform offensive tasks. If it's not reasonably practical - i.e. when the duty is essential, or life-saving principles are at stake - then perhaps the offended employee should be fired. ("Offended", in this circumstance, is limited solely to performing actions that are in violation of religious beliefs.)
posted by jabberjaw at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


NOT that I agree with this woman's principles against gay marriage, but I do think in this case where her job description has changed somewhat that there is room for a grandfather clause and accomodation. If the registrar's office is large enough to allow for her reassignment, then yes, reassign her.

If she's the only person in a registrar's office who can perform marriages and her refusal/discomfort doing so would impact gay couples? Transfer or fire her. And screen replacement candidates for their willingness to do the job as it currently was. It would be like someone refused to learn a new computer system that had been installed.
posted by orange swan at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2008


Neither of these contexts are comparable to what she did, so why bring them up? Do you really think issuing a marriage license is analogous to killing men in cold blood, or allowing your employer to break the law?

The obligation to refuse to compromise one's moral beliefs trumps any obligation to an employer. (And no, "he or she should just quit" is not an adequate response. Why should a person deprive themselves of income and an otherwise good job because they wish to defend their morals?)

Whether one obligation trumps another for an employee, that has nothing to do with the employer's own rights. If I refuse to do something that is part of my job, I should expect some negative consequences. If I refuse because I think it's the right thing to do, I would accept those consequences as the cost of my decision.

Unless that offense, disgust, or moral opposition to said behavior is based on irrational fears.

Don't bother arguing with quonsar. He excretes those gems of wisdom into every thread that has anything to do with homosexuality.

In other words, laws with which you agree are fair and just, and those who object to them should be sternly disciplined, whereas laws with which you disagree are unfair and wrong, and those who disregard them should be commended. Very convenient.

Perhaps, comparing the behavior of an elected executive with no direct supervisor with that of a supervised employee isn't too useful. Had Newsom been a registrar in SF, and had he started issuing marriage certificates to gays in violation of the law, I'd have expected him to be fired.

And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example) you would much rather she have to choose to leave her job.

I think it would have been ok if the employer had made an accommodation. That doesn't mean that the employer is required to make that accommodation. That's the employer's choice. Refusing to do your job is not analogous to being disabled.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:32 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Purely as an exercise in hypotheticalness, what if the situation were an atheist or a Muslim who was, as a part of his job, required to determine the tax exempt status of an organization and refused to do any paperwork for Christian churches because of reasons of personal principle. Would you still feel right in defending them?

Yes, of course!
posted by konolia at 11:34 AM on July 11, 2008


So what a lot of you are saying is that it is just fine to discriminate against someone's religion.

Ah, your usual argument. 'This person's religion tells them not to do this thing. The law says not doing that thing for some people is discriminatory. By forcing the religious person to do this thing, you're discriminating against religious people. Rights for everyone but religious people! It's not fair!'

And as usual, you ignore the responses to it. Being black, or disabled, or female, or old, or gay is genetic. It's not a choice, it's not a personal way of life, it's built in. To discriminate against someone because they are one of these things is to discriminate against them for something they cannot change. The law in the UK forbids this.

Religious beliefs are a choice. Nobody comes into this life religous. They learn it, are trained in it, come to believe it through whatever means, whether it's an encounter with God or because all your family go to a particular church. Some just go through the motions because of habit.

For whatever reason though, these are choices. Religion is a choice. Being black, or old, or female or gay - they are not - as far as the law is concerned, anyway. Yes, you can say that the religious are being discriminated against, because they're not allowed to be discriminatory. The difference is, religious belief is not a protected class, because it's a CHOICE, a BELIEF, not a STATE OF BEING.

To put it bluntly - your beliefs, no matter what they are, do not allow you to discriminate against those that are the way they are through birth. Whether you're a British National Party racist, or the ArchBishop of Canterbury.

Because you don't care about her right to worship as she chooses and to honor her God.

Not when it stops her doing her job, not when her 'right to worship' is used to trump the right of others who cannot change what they are to not be discriminated against.

She's perfectly free to practise her religion, and worship as she chooses - within the law of the
land.

She does not get to break the law when it comes to discrimination any more than someone can commit a murder and get away with it by saying 'my religion commands me to worship God by sacrificing people on an altar'.

And I think that people who demand their own rights at the expense of someone else's are hypocrites. No matter whose rights are being discussed.

And has been said many, many times before, your right to believe as you do as a religious person do not allow you to break the law. Your right to think what you like ends where those thoughts cause you to commit acts that are discriminatory against those who cannot change what or who they are. Believing that some set of rights trump other sets of rights is not hypocrisy, it's determining that some rights are more important than others.

I have a right to own a knife. I have a right to swing that knife. I do not have the right to swing that knife into you. Your right not to be stabbed supercedes my right to use my own property as I wish. This is how the law works.

If you want the law of the land to place optional discovered beliefs that require discrimination, above those of people that cannot change not to be discriminated against, you can either find a country that does follow that reasoning, or follow the principles of democracy to try to change the law to one more of your suiting. You have that right.

And I also have the right to tell you why you're wrong, just as you have the right to ignore this post, and the many like it, and bring up the exact argument in every. single. religious. thread. ever.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


Actually, since she won, I guess england is a country now where religious beliefs allow you to be discriminatory with impugnity - as far as an employment tribunal was concerned.

So why are you so upset Konolia? You now have the right under the law to discriminate against gays, blacks, disabled people as long as you can say your religion told you so. Move to the UK, be as discriminatory as you like, at work anyway.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2008


Unless that offense, disgust, or moral opposition to said behavior is based on irrational fears. Then the response is a phobia. Homophobia, specifically, with respect to fears of same-sex couples who just want to get married.

Trouble is, you rarely, if ever, have evidence that it arises from fear, but term "homophobia" is used nearly every time there's evidence of bigotry. That says to me that users of the term are doing so to make a surreptitious implication of fear. The most likely reason is to further discredit bigots (beyond the mere fact of their bigotry).

There's a reason it's called a loaded term.
posted by yath at 11:55 AM on July 11, 2008


One may hate and loath and find things inappropriate, but still do one's job as it pertains to that. The people of that municipality have spoken and said that they accept certain things. As a public servant, one is supposed to facilitate the law. That means, if not doing the job, allowing the job to go forth and be done.

As an aside, say what you will, but Konolia, I highly doubt your claims of 'let religions alone' would extend to me. I feel that deep in my circuits. I don't even dare proclaim my faith outloud, never mind at work, and there are few courts that would be sympathetic to my rights.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:03 PM on July 11, 2008


"Phobia" does not refer, and never has referred, only to fear.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:06 PM on July 11, 2008


So what a lot of you are saying is that it is just fine to discriminate against someone's religion.

No, we're saying that the law should treat people equally. When people decline to perform their duties as civil servants, the law should not take into account what their religion is.

You want your rights and at the same time you want to deny someone theirs. And rather than let someone make a commonsense accomodation (the kind of thing that here in the states is legally required for disabilities, for example)

You're deeply off-base here, konolia. The law in the US is and has been that your religious beliefs don't let you get away with anything. This has come up in the simplest of contexts: an orthodox Jew in the USAF is punished for wearing his yarmulke while on duty. His punishment stands, because the uniform is the uniform. If the regulations say don't wear a hat and you wear a hat for any reason, including to please your god or gods, including to avoid eternal damnation, you get punished. Likewise, the military doesn't have to let you wear a beard because you're Sikh.

To repeat: You don't get to do something that your coworkers aren't allowed to do simply because of your faith. Likewise, you don't get to not do something that your coworkers are required to do simply because of your faith.

This is the way that the "free exercise" of religion or religious toleration has been understood since Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration a hundred years before the Constitution.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:09 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


People are commonly required to take on new job responsibilities

Most of those people don't believe that their new responsibilities lead directly to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Lovely example of an eponysterical argument.

No, but thanks for playing. Also, get a dictionary.

She doesn't have a right to a job.

And nobody has an enumerated right to get married, either—I don't think you'd like where your line of reasoning leads.

Can you explain that, or does the sorry excuse for a mental process you just exhibited fail when you attempt to put that kind of nonsense into words?

I wouldn't be accusing me of that, mainly because of the braindead crap you're spewing about religious people being bigots if their religion tells them that they're going to hell if they're complicit in something their religion teaches is a sin. I realize you don't know what bigotry actually means, but this might be a good time for you to look it up and realize that that's what your hatred for people who are religious in a way you don't agree with fundamentally is.

So I can go to work for Microsoft and then pick and choose what I should work on

If Microsoft is the government, and some of your job responsibilities conflict with your religion on a basic level, and those conflicting responsibilities were tacked on after you signed on, then yes.

I'm actually pretty amazed at the expectations people have of their employers in this thread.

Some of us hold the government to a higher standard.

What if religious beliefs prevent a person from performing an essential function of their job?

Was that function made essential at some point after that person was hired? Is the person working for the government?

It would be like someone refused to learn a new computer system that had been installed.

What if you believed, back when computers were first being installed, that turning everything into numbers, and assigning numbers to everything and everyone, was tantamount to the Mark of the Beast? Should you have been forced to go along with computerization, or should your employer the government find something for you to do that didn't involve doing something that would send you to bed every night fearing you were bringing about the End Times?



Bottom line: the government should have acted in such a way as to accommodate, if at all possible, the fact that her religion proscribed some of her job responsibilities, which were added after she was hired. Instead, they moved to summarily can her. That's the problem.
posted by oaf at 12:11 PM on July 11, 2008


Interesting... we need a note taker, some folks are making a distinction between govt and non-govt jobs others aren't. Anyway... ironically enough I better get back to doing what I've been (implicitly) told to do.
posted by Wood at 12:14 PM on July 11, 2008


Or to make it simpler:

Person A is an atheist who just doesn't like gays, and refuses to process their marriages. Person A is fired.

Person B is a Christian who also just doesn't like gays, and refuses to process their marriages. Person B is allowed not to process those marriages.

In this case, what's really happening is that Person A is being punished for being atheist. The conduct of both people is the same, but only the atheist is punished. The facts of the matter are the same except that Person B has Christian beliefs and Person A does not. If the only difference between the two cases is that one person professes Christian beliefs and the other does not, then the punishment doesn't accrue from the conduct, it accrues from the atheism.

This is, of course, illegitimate. This is why your argument has no merit whatsoever.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:17 PM on July 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is, of course, illegitimate.

Except for that whole "protection of religion" thing.
posted by oaf at 12:18 PM on July 11, 2008


bigot

Main Entry: big·ot
Pronunciation: \ˈbi-gət\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, hypocrite, bigot
Date: 1660

: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

What bizarro world definition do you use, konolia?
posted by BeerFilter at 12:23 PM on July 11, 2008


No, but thanks for playing. Also, get a dictionary.

Aye Aye, Cap'n.

Main Entry: oaf
Pronunciation: \ˈōf\
Function: noun

1 : a stupid person : boob


I stand by my comment.

For some reason people who don't believe in an invisible deity don't get to refuse changes to their job because they have moral objections; they do it or they get another job. If you're not willing to give everyone the right to be employed along with the right to refuse any change in tasks after the hire date, then you're discriminating against non-religious people by not giving their morals equal weight to those of a religious person.

Either way, eponysterical.

Except for that whole "protection of religion" thing.

Ah, so this is the bottom line after all. If you don't believe in an invisible deity that watches your every move, then your morals aren't worth protecting.

So this isn't about being treated equally or fairly, it's about preferential treatment for people who belong to specific faiths. Got it.
posted by splice at 12:33 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


oddman: In some contexts a person refusing to do a job for reasons of morality are often called "conscientious objectors."

Certainly, and one of the commitments that one makes as a conscientious objector or a person who engages in civil disobedience is that you quite willingly accept the legal consequences, even if that means a trial or jail time.

oaf: Bottom line: the government should have acted in such a way as to accommodate, if at all possible, the fact that her religion proscribed some of her job responsibilities, which were added after she was hired. Instead, they moved to summarily can her. That's the problem.

Her job responsibilities were to rubber-stamp government forms. No additional responsibilities were added after she took the job, she just refused to rubber-stamp forms she disagreed with politically.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Except for that whole "protection of religion" thing.

That doesn't mean what you think it means, and it never has.

It does not and never did mean that you get to do things that other people don't, if your god or gods say so. It does not mean and has never meant that you get to not do things that everyone else is required to, because your god or gods told you not to.

It does and has always only meant that the state doesn't get to single out your specific faith so that you don't get to do what other people get to do, or so that you have to do something that everyone else doesn't.

Here, she's not being asked to do anything that everyone else with her job description isn't also required to do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:45 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The employee has the right to request that she not carry out certain activities that are objectionable to her for religious reasons. You might not like that, but it is the case under British law.

The employer has a duty to honour those requests where this can reasonably be done. That, again, is the law in Britain.

In this case, the request could easily have been honoured because there are other registrars willing to conduct the ceremonies, and plenty of hetrosexual ceremonies for this employee to conduct instead. The argument that this is a reasonable accomodation is strengthened by the fact that it was actually done for a long time until an unrelated change in the management structure occurred.

Of course, the gay/lesbian civil union couples also have rights, and they absolutely trump the employee's objections - but only if her rights and theirs are actually in conflict. In this case there is no conflict, because her objection can be accomodated without infringing the rights of the couples.

So in the British system, gay couples end up having their ceremonies conducted by registrars who actively support gay unions (which is presumably a nicer experience for them), the Christian employee gets to keep her job, and happily marries straight couples, who presumably enjoy that experience too, everyone gets what they want, and nobody is unhappy...

...except some fundamentalist left-wing Americans on metafilter who believe that a better outcome would be to force this woman to conduct the same-sex ceremonies precisely to punish her for not approving of them!

You know what? Screw 'em.
posted by standbythree at 12:46 PM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


And even if that was true, job requirements change all the time. An employer is not ethically or legally required to keep employees who refuse to meet new job requirements. An employer can't add prima facie discriminatory job requirements, but that is clearly not the case here. (Civil Partnership law in the UV was not created in order to purge the ranks of registrars.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:50 PM on July 11, 2008


People who disobey a just law should be punished. People who disobey an unjust law, at least for the purposes of civil disobedience, should be commended. They should not be punished, because the unjust law should not exist, but they should expect to be punished. So, your argument presents a false dichotomy, and I'm not sure how your thinly-veiled accusation of hypocracy applies.

Missing the point by a mile, check.
Lack of understanding of the word "dichotomy," check.

Oh, and it's not thinly veiled at all. People who praise Newsom while attacking this clerk are hypocrites.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


...except some fundamentalist left-wing Americans on metafilter who believe that a better outcome would be to force this woman to conduct the same-sex ceremonies precisely to punish her for not approving of them!
Who is saying that, standbythree? Force? As punishment? Who is saying that?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:55 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Who is saying that, standbythree?

Nobody has said it, but it's clear that some believe it. Since you have suggested that rather than having her beliefs accomodated, she should have "found another job", I assume that you are one of them.
posted by standbythree at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2008


Krrrlson: Newsom's ultimate employers, the citizens of San Francisco, have had plenty of opportunity to sanction him for his action.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:03 PM on July 11, 2008


People who praise Newsom while attacking this clerk are hypocrites.

I think Newsom did the right thing. I think this clerk did the wrong thing.

Newsom had no direct supervisor. To "fire" him would require a recall election or something along those lines. If that had happened, that would sadden me, but I wouldn't have objected to the right of the people to do that.

This bint, on the other hand, did have a direct supervisor who presumably instructed her to do her job. It's the supervisor's job to determine whether her failure to do so should be addressed by accommodation or dismissal.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:07 PM on July 11, 2008


By the way at the risk of being pointed at and laughed at even more, I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately. Seriously.

Even Leno made a joke awhile back about California fires and Divine displeasure.

Whether you like it or not, God's blessing (and Americans have been incredibly blessed compared to so much of the world) is being lifted off this nation. If my theory is correct, we are in for a very rough ride.
posted by konolia at 1:10 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


So in the British system, gay couples end up having their ceremonies conducted by registrars who actively support gay unions (which is presumably a nicer experience for them),

I think it would be nicer for a couple to simply walk up and get registered instead of being told that they have to wait over in that line for someone who's willing to process their forms, because I'm sure not.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:11 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


standbythree Everybody would be happy of course, except for the gay people who happily go to get married and are told by the clerk "Oh, you're one of *them*, go to Bob, he deals with your sort, I'm a special religious person and don't have to dirty myself by marrying your kind".

The most she should expect is to be reassigned to the scut work around the office while the real, non-evil, employees do the fun work of marrying people.

But, I maintain that even reassigning the evil bigot is a form of surrender and I would not advocate even moving her to the toilet cleaning detail. If she won't do her job then fire he evil ass and let her live on the dole. In my perfect world she'd hear adults whispering "bigot" behind her back and children would chant it as she walked down the street. She'd face derision and contempt in her every interaction and one day face the stark realization that she's a failure as a human being, realize the evil of her beliefs, become a better person, seek forgiveness and join a gay rights group to try and wash away the stain of bigotry in her past.

oaf So, are you really, honestly, preaching the "tolerate intolerance" BS, or am I missing something, because all snide commentary (which I shouldn't have put in) to the side I cannot see what you're getting at. I say "this person is a bad person because she is an eager participant in a centuries long keeping down of homosexuals", you say "sotonohito, you're just as bad, if not worse, than she is you evil bigot you."

Under your rationale is it possible for anyone to condemn the actions of another without being a bigot? She's an evil woman promoting an evil agenda, the exact same agenda that deprived the world of the genius of Alan Turing, that results in the torture and murder of homosexuals in the more primitive parts of the world, and is, in general, a blight on humanity.

konolia Freedom of religion is not a blanket cover for any evil a person wants to commit.

Freedom of religion means you're free to believe as you wish, and to conduct any religious ceremonies that don't break the law (ie: cause public nuisances, involve theft, rape, murder, torture, etc). It is not a blanket permission to violate the law.

To choose an extreme example the US government cannot forbid the worship of Kali, that's freedom of religion. Thugees can build temples to the Dreadful Bride, conduct prayers, hold ceremonies, and otherwise worship Kali as they choose. However existing statute does prohibit murder, and claims of Thugees that murder is an essential part of their worship would not make it legal for them to murder under freedom of religion.
posted by sotonohito at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


By the way at the risk of being pointed at and laughed at even more, I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately.

You don't mean "sin," you mean "fucking."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:14 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Except for that whole "protection of religion" thing.

It's not about "protection of religion", at least not in the US. It's about religious non-discrimination. Title VII states that "The term "religion'' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief", and goes on to state, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer [...] to discriminate against any individual [...] because of such individual's [...] religion". If the term "religion" includes all aspects of religious belief, then it pretty clearly includes the belief that there are no Gods. I'm not the only one who thinks so: case law states that atheism is included under Title VII.

until an unrelated change in the management structure occurred.

The "change in the management structure" involved the adoption of a equal opportunity policy which explicitly disallows sexual-orientation discrimination. That's directly related to whether or not employees should be allowed to discriminate. British law has clearly stated that employees' religion does not give them the right to discriminate against homosexual co-workers: "Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace whatever their sex, race, colour, disability,
age, religion or sexual orientation [...] Your workers do not have to be friends but you can insist that they treat each other professionally."
I find it rather troubling that the same does not hold for customers, particularly at a government office.
posted by vorfeed at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2008


ROU_xenophobe and sotonohito, UK registry offices don't work like that. You don't show up and hope there's a registrar free. All the arrangements are made - including paperwork revealing the gender of the people involved - weeks in advance. So there's literally no impact to the same-sex couples here.
posted by standbythree at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2008


If my theory is correct, we are in for a very rough ride.

Yes, we are. Because we're still stuck with His idiot followers.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:17 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If she was gay and refusing to deal with marriages between Christians because she found their religion immoral, I doubt there'd be many people who'd stand up for her right to sue for damages. I get the impression that most of the people arguing that she should've been allowed the right to decline are non-bigots coming from a sincere place, but really, think it through. Some jobs are incompatible with certain belief systems. It doesn't do a country any good economically, and it doesn't really benefit us socially, to force bosses to hamstring their workforce just to avoid offending someone's religious sensibilities. No one said morality - however you choose to define that - was going to be easy.
posted by RokkitNite at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


vorfeed - wong. The change in the management structure was the change from her working "effectively as a freelancer" to being under the direct control of the council. That's in the article.
posted by standbythree at 1:19 PM on July 11, 2008


By the way at the risk of being pointed at and laughed at even more, I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately. Seriously.

That's a very interesting observation. Did you also happen to notice the meteoric rise in the acceptance, tolerance, and celebration of Christian fundamentalism during the same period?
posted by vorfeed at 1:20 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


So there's literally no impact to the same-sex couples here.

... until one of the other registrars is on vacation, or something along those lines. Or, when other like-minded registrars in the same office decide to do the same thing - maybe not to gays, but to whatever group they dislike - because she got an accommodation.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:22 PM on July 11, 2008


standbythree: Nobody has said it, but it's clear that some believe it. Since you have suggested that rather than having her beliefs accomodated, she should have "found another job", I assume that you are one of them.

Well yes, if her religious beliefs can not be reasonably accommodated in a way that is compatible with the mission of the office so burdensome to the office as a whole, then she should look for a different job.

Furthermore, I see a radical difference between accommodating an employee's political choice to deny service to a class of customers, and accommodating neutral forms of religious observance such as dress or break time for prayer. Especially if the mission of the organization is to provide quality service to all clients regardless of sexual or gender orientation.

konalia: Whether you like it or not, God's blessing (and Americans have been incredibly blessed compared to so much of the world) is being lifted off this nation. If my theory is correct, we are in for a very rough ride.

Yes, isn't that the way things go 'round here. Start off with a whine about how Christians are so oppressed, continue with a bunch of ignorant statements about the scope of anti-discrimination laws, and when backed into a corner, make some vague end-times prophesy about how we are all damned, bless our souls.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:24 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nobody has said it, but it's clear that some believe it. Since you have suggested that rather than having her beliefs accomodated, she should have "found another job", I assume that you are one of them.
Finding another job = punitive enslavement. Gotcha.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:24 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia Freedom of religion is not a blanket cover for any evil a person wants to commit.

I think the definition of evil here varies considerably.
posted by konolia at 1:27 PM on July 11, 2008


"me & my monkey" - given the fact that are a very large pool of registrars available, and that ceremonies are arranged far in advance, it's realistically vanishingly unlikely that the situation you describe would occur. Remember, majority opinion in the UK is in favour of same-sex unions; it's very probable that this woman is the only registrar in the country who feels this way about this issue.

And again - this isn't the US. Reasonable accomodation of legitimate beliefs isn't optional; it's the law.
posted by standbythree at 1:28 PM on July 11, 2008


vorfeed - wong. The change in the management structure was the change from her working "effectively as a freelancer" to being under the direct control of the council. That's in the article.

Yes, and the council had an equal opportunity policy. Thus, the change in management structure had a direct effect on whether or not she, as a employee of the council, should be allowed to discriminate. Again, British law encourages equal opportunity policies in the workplace... I don't think it's a positive step if people can simply opt-out of that by claiming a religious exemption. In the long run, this is likely to lead to more religious discrimination, because if there's anyone who hates the members of religion A, it's the members of religion B.
posted by vorfeed at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2008


People who praise Newsom while attacking this clerk are hypocrites.

People who equate Newsom actions with those of this clerk are idiots.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


sotonohito said:
NO QUARTER FOR BIGOTS.

Sound vindictive? That's because it is. You don't win by being nice. You win by knocking them down and then kicking them while they're down. I want to see her, and all her evil cohorts, suffer.


then ya drag 'em behind yer pickup truck and hang 'em on a fence!

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
posted by quonsar at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet

You might be right. I have noticed a lot more people eating shellfish these past few years.

If my theory is correct, we are in for a very rough ride.

If only God had the capacity to be merciful.
posted by quin at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reasonable accomodation of legitimate beliefs isn't optional; it's the law.

It's not clear that this is either "reasonable accommodation" or "legitimate belief." Again, if I were her supervisor, I probably would have just shuffled her off to some other department, if that exists, but if other registrars start piping up that they don't want to provide services to the groups they don't like, I can't very well do that for all of them. And, frankly, it doesn't necessarily matter whether this would happen; it's enough that it could happen. Supervisory decisions have to take possibilities into account.

As for "legitimate belief," it's one thing to believe that God disapproves of gay marriage. It's another thing to believe that this entitles you, as a public servant, to choose who can and can't get their civil marriage papers stamped. If a registrar happens to be a worshipper of Odin, and believes that Christian people are meant to be slaves and that their marriages should therefore not be approved, I don't think that Islington Council would accommodate that belief.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:44 PM on July 11, 2008


Konolia I believe you have a black daughter or something? Let me be the first to say: the US is a far more moral country that it was 50 years ago. When my father graduated from high school in Missouri the colleges were segregated. I'd love to see what in your moral math cancels that out.

Anyway the general idea that society is in decline & we've lost God's blessing has been done over and over since at least the Roman empire. We'll manage. Maybe the rapture will put us out of our misery. God talks to you (or sends you signs), fine, I can't see it, we're all gonna have to disagree just like I think people that think that the US was a better country in 1950 are nuts and basically my enemies for ignoring what that era represented for people like me.
posted by Wood at 1:46 PM on July 11, 2008


So this isn't about being treated equally or fairly, it's about preferential treatment for people who belong to specific faiths. Got it.

No, it's about enforcing the law, but not selectively. If you don't like the protection that religions enjoy, get rid of the laws protecting them.

Either way, eponysterical.

Nope, sorry.
posted by oaf at 1:49 PM on July 11, 2008


Missing the point by a mile, check.

Then what was your point?

Lack of understanding of the word "dichotomy," check.

My definition of a dichotomy is a situation which is broken into mutually exclusive parts. Is that your definition? I looked it up in the dictionary, and that's pretty much the definition they use. Do you use a different one? Anyway, you stated:

In other words, laws with which you agree are fair and just, and those who object to them should be sternly disciplined, whereas laws with which you disagree are unfair and wrong, and those who disregard them should be commended. Very convenient.

Put in my words, either I believe that all people who object to any law should be sternly disciplined (and presumably I should condemn their action), regardless of whether I think the law is just, OR I should commend those who object to any law, regardless of my opinion on the law itself, OR I'm a hypocrite. That looks like a dichotomy to me. Did you mean to frame it some other way?

People who praise Newsom while attacking this clerk are hypocrites.

If I praise Rosa Parks for her civil disobedience while attacking George Wallace for his, am I also a hypocrite?
posted by dirigibleman at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The most she should expect is to be reassigned to the scut work around the office while the real, non-evil, employees do the fun work of marrying people.

And that's perfectly fine with me. The thing that pisses me off is that people think she should have gotten fired outright without the government making any accommodation, or even trying.

There are alternatives other than doing nothing and firing her.

Under your rationale is it possible for anyone to condemn the actions of another without being a bigot?

You're condemning her for believing that God is going to punish her for helping an activity her religion teaches is wrong. That generally falls under religious bigotry.

If she was gay and refusing to deal with marriages between Christians because she found their religion immoral, I doubt there'd be many people who'd stand up for her right to sue for damages.

The salient difference is that when she was hired, she did not have to perform gay marriages.
posted by oaf at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2008


konolia: even more folks getting struck by lightning lately. Seriously.

This is just about technically true but it's largely attributable to population increase, and meanwhile the number of lightning-related deaths is definitively falling and has been for years. Maybe God's losing his touch?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whether you like it or not, God's blessing (and Americans have been incredibly blessed compared to so much of the world) is being lifted off this nation. If my theory is correct, we are in for a very rough ride.

Oh, give me a break.
posted by oaf at 1:59 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


God loves you and that's why he's trying to kill you for wearing poly-cotton blends.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


So basically people do believe that they shouldn't be judged based on their moral beliefs? If I comdemn an atheist for hating X is a jerk I'm OK, but if I condemn a religious person I'm a bigot? But I can condemn that same religious person if they come from a religious tradition that doesn't support that belief. This is getting complicated.

Basically here's my position: discriminating against people just because they are of a certain religion is wrong. Except if you have a general issue that applies to all people then you're excused. Except that you should make reasonable accomodations. I think reasonable accomodations applies to beards and hats but not moral beliefs.

We're going to have to sort out "reasonable" using democracy I guess.
posted by Wood at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2008


There are only two things I can't stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's religious beliefs... and Christians.
posted by oncogenesis at 2:30 PM on July 11, 2008


oaf: The salient difference is that when she was hired, she did not have to perform gay marriages.

Well, she does not perform gay marriages now, she is asked to perform civil partnerships. And um, her job is to provide documentation of a number of life events that the government considers potentially important in regards to determining things like citizenship and benefits. Part of her job is to keep up with legal changes made to this process.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:40 PM on July 11, 2008


Wait, I get it now! When homosexuals ask for equal rights, that's "special rights", but when religious people ask for special treatment that's "equal rights", right? It all makes sense now....

oaf Then I suppose my position continues to piss you off, but I still can't see why. I only mentioned the "push her into the crap work" option as an example of something I'd still consider and unreasonable surrender to her basic, evil, position. I think she should have been fired, immediately and without hesitation. "Oooh, I can't work with faggots, my God will punish me if I do" is pure, unadulterated, no foolin, BS. She can believe anything she wants, up to and including that she'll go to hell if she dares to look on homosexuals without spitting on them, I fail to see why she, or you, thinks this means she's entitled to special, preferential, cowering, treatment from her employers. The government is not obligated to grovel before the towering evil and stupidity of religion.

If she's so dreadfully attached to her the hateful beliefs of her little death cult she can quit the job and get another where she won't have to deal with homosexuals. That's taking a stand for her religion. She could have said "Well, sorry boss but my God won't let me interact with faggots, other than via stoning, so I'm outa here, enjoy burning in hell." Heck, much as I find that viewpoint entirely repugnant I'd have to give her credit for gumption if she'd done that.

But she didn't. She sought special, preferential, treatment. She sought to have the government kowtow to her evil, hateful, religion. And that's wrong. That's where I say no quarter. She doesn't want a job, she just wants the government to grovel before her religion, and I say that's wrong.

Look at the guy who quit rather than put a flag at half staff for Jessee "I hate niggers" Helms. That's courage of convictions. He didn't say "my religion won't let me put flags at half staff for racist fucktards please give my religion super-special treatment". He quit.

"The salient difference is that when she was hired, she did not have to perform gay marriages."

Yeah, the world moves on and gets to be a better place, leaving behind evil fucktards with 14th century mentalities. Funny how that works. I bet that after Loving there were multiple fucktards who objected, on religious grounds, to giving marriage licenses to interracial couples. Should they have been moved to special "only white people" marriage license counters to accommodate their all important and impossible to condemn without being a bigot religious beliefs?

Religion is superprivilaged in the minds of many, and that's the root of the debate. Freedom of religion != privileging religion over all. It means you can believe what you want and the government can't prohibit you from believing that. It doesn't mean the government has to go out of its way to accommodate your evil religion. [1]

konoila I suppose that if you define "sin" to mean "violating the tribal taboos of early iron age Jews", then yes. If, OTOH, you care about little things like murder (down for several decades in a row now), rape (down), racism (down), etc then not so much.

But no, you and your hate god apparently only care about sex. I've always marveled at how fundies such as yourself can be so uptight about something that matters so little; while simultaneously not caring in the slightest about real evils. Over 600,000 Christian Iraqis have fled Bush's War, but that's not important. Uncounted Iraqis lie dead because of Bush's War, but that's not important. The US has become a regime that uses torture, but who cares? Men want to stick their penises into other men?!?! ZOMG!!! God will punish America indiscriminately for this travesty!!!

Its also kind of astonishing that you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, being that has such lousy aim. I mean, if he hates gay people so much couldn't he just blast them with lightning? Or send bears to maul them horribly? Or just give them heart attacks? Why would he, omnipotent remember, burn the homes of people who have nothing to do with homosexuality? Gee, its almost as if it weren't the actions of a deity, but rather natural forces....

[1] Er... That's "your evil religion" in the sense of people in general, not specifically directed at you oaf. I don't even know what your religion is.
posted by sotonohito at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forgot to add:

konoila That word, theory, does not mean what you think it means. You have an idea, a thought, or a conclusion, you don't have a theory.
posted by sotonohito at 2:56 PM on July 11, 2008


"Registration officers are statutory officers whose conditions of service are set out in the various acts and regulations relating to the registration of births, deaths and marriages." from the General Register Office (pdf) Her job is to perform the needed registrations defined by the current law, not the law when she first took the job. And if the GRO's website is any indication, there seems to have been a recent effort to ensure that services across England and Wales conform to national standards.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:58 PM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Religion is superprivilaged

Three words I wish I'd identified.

This coming from a gentleman that just enjoyed the hell out of the relentless darkness that existed before the final moments of Prince Caspian.

If that movie taught me anything - it was the same thing I took from the books before I even realised the xtian connection. If you take Aslan as imagination rather than jebus, there's a lesson in that for all of us.
posted by Sparx at 3:20 PM on July 11, 2008


The government is not obligated to grovel before the towering evil and stupidity of religion.

In the absence of a law saying it must, you would be correct. But, for better or worse, the government can't get away with saying "your beliefs are disgusting—they aren't valid and we don't have to pay attention to them one bit."

Er... That's "your evil religion" in the sense of people in general, not specifically directed at you oaf. I don't even know what your religion is.

Me neither, really.
posted by oaf at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2008


oaf: State your religious connections. You so don't have to, but I think your argument is based on certain religious understandings.
posted by Sparx at 3:39 PM on July 11, 2008


"... We're not gonna make any headway with people like this." [emphasis added for comic effect]
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:23 AM on July 11

Next you'll be telling us about all the council workers you have as close personal friends.
posted by paulsc at 5:04 PM on July 11, 2008


WTF? Konolia is blaming the economy on God?!?

Plainly batshitinsane.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:39 PM on July 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wish my religion were respected at work.

Us Rastafarians get no respeck, mon.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:42 PM on July 11, 2008


Actually oaf, from my POV the government shouldn't be paying attention to any religious teachings, disgusting or otherwise. I'm not asking that the government judge: "this religion is good, this one is bad", I'm asking that the government simply be completely neutral. By letting her religious convictions dictate its actions the government is privilaging them, and stating that they are good.

The neutral action, from my POV is to say "so your religion won't let you do your job anymore? Ok. Good luck finding a new job." It is not the obligation of an employer to try to accommodate the religious beliefs of people.

Look at the ultimate endpoint of this sort of nonsense, anytime you wish to use a government service you'd end up having to answer a questionnaire on your actions, beliefs, diet, etc and wait for the computer to find a compatible government agent. "Lessee, he eats beef so the Hindu clerk can't handle his case, he's gay so the Christian clerk can't handle his case, the Buddhist clerk might work... wait, no, he's too materialistic...."

Its preposterous. If a person signs on to be a clerk somewhere they either do the job or quit, they can't be allowed to pick and choose who they'll process on bizarre religious grounds.
posted by sotonohito at 6:04 PM on July 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think your argument is based on certain religious understandings.

They're not my understandings—I just don't think we can tell people to fuck off and die if they do believe these things. It shuts them down and isn't productive, and then they use it as evidence they're being persecuted.

It is not the obligation of an employer to try to accommodate the religious beliefs of people.

Do we not hold the government to a higher standard? It's the abrupt change, offensive to some, combined with the my-way-or-the-highway-right-now attitude, that I take issue with.
posted by oaf at 7:10 PM on July 11, 2008


I wish I had your employer, oaf, for surely it must be nice to refuse to do your job and not be fired. I had some new duties added to my roster that I quite dislike, but it turns out I can't tell my boss to shove it. You are a lucky fellow!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 PM on July 11, 2008


posted by splice at 3:33 PM on July 11:

For some reason people who don't believe in an invisible deity

...

If you don't believe in an invisible deity that watches your every move, then your morals aren't worth protecting.

Using the phrase "invisible deity" makes it sound like you believe that their deity has mass and exists in the physical world but cannot be seen, for magical reasons. I don't think this helps your argument.
posted by skwt at 8:01 PM on July 11, 2008


I just read this whole thread, and there are very good arguments on many sides of this issue. Firstly, to back up Pastabagel, "just fire her" and "just quit" are alternate versions of the same facile piece of advice derived from wilful ignorance of (or comfortable self-satisfaction with) the role of employment in people's lives in society. Except in the case of a very, very few fortunate people, employment is the direct source of a person's livelihood, the means by which they gain their personal money, which enables not just their participation in society but their very existence as a free and equal member of it. An unemployed person need not necessarily experience a great difficulty finding a new job, of course, but there is always a possibility (which varies from person to person and case to case) that he or she will not be able to do so. Wherever possible, causing a person to become suddenly unemployed ought be avoided. (The existence of a good social security system mitigates this to a very large extent; I'd happily support "at will" employment if coupled with a "social wage".)

This is one of the labor union movement's major positional arguments: so long as western capitalistic society requires a person to have a job to have meaningful participatory existence, the right to a job must be (to some reasonable extent) protected. Any rights of lesser importance to a person than having a job, become subordinate in practice to that need. If you can't exercise a freedom of speech because of fear for your job, you don't have freedom of speech. Ditto religion, politics, etc. The more protected your job rights, the greater the reality of your alternative rights. The more tenuous your employment, the less of a member of society you are.

Asking a person to choose between having a job and possessing rights of freedom of speech and religion is a brutal and awkward choice. Clearly the change in the job here is substantial; we can't celebrate the recognition of gay marriage as an excellent, important victory and simultaneously say that to the marriage registrar it is an irrelevance. She ought to have been asked if she was willing and able to do the duties of the job as it is now described, and if not, either found a new position within the organization that does not so directly force that choice upon her, or given a reasonable severance package and support to find a new job.

Secondly, members of a society must be able to fully exercise their rights under the law (again, with minimal effect on their employment), or else they do not have that right. There is no way, if the law permits same-sex marriage, that a marriage registration clerk who is not willing and able (and at times, some time to become willing and able is warranted, as per blucevalo's example) to register same-sex marriages can be allowed to remain a marriage registration clerk. Furthermore the county should not be allowed to contrive to not staff the position with a willing and able clerk.

I don't see these two positions as having to be in conflict. The right of people of any gender to register marriage can be respected; the clerk's right to employment can be respected. If they are directly in conflict, it could only be because the clerk is not willing and able to do her job as described, and no alternative position with that or another employer can be found for her. In which case, she need not be thrown out on the street.

I think the comparison of bigotry with disability is quite apt; it does seem that a bigot is missing a part of his or her rational faculties, or operates under a delusion that affects his or her decision-making capacity. Bigotry and prejudice, at a logical level, equate to a preference for a fantasy over a fact. If this affects one's ability to cast bigots as personally evil, rather than as persons whose actions and beliefs are evil, well, I'm OK with that. As with crime, I consider maintaining "personal responsibility" for evil actions to be of a lower priority than reducing the prevalence and harm of the evil actions themselves. I'd rather rehabilitate than punish; even if we must punish, the primary purpose is to prevent future harm.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:33 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the way at the risk of being pointed at and laughed at even more, I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately.

*points* *laughs*

I didn't know Mr Falwell had an account!
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:22 AM on July 12, 2008


aeschenkarnos Valid points, but I still say can the evil woman. Possibly I'm saying this out of vengeance. I recently lost a job that I liked because I'm an atheist. Unlike on MeFi, I'm not very aggressive in RL, and I'm very much not aggressive about my lack of religion. But I wasn't closeted. Someone at my job asked where I go to church, and I suppose that should have been a warning, he didn't ask "do you go to church", but kicked off on the assumption that I did go to church. I answered that I didn't go to church, and he looked a bit shocked then asked "(slightly awkward pause) are you an atheist?" I said yes, that was the end of the conversation, and the topic never came up again. A week later I was told that I didn't fit in and fired. I asked if I'd done something wrong, and the boss looked uncomfortable and said no, he just didn't think I fit in.

I've learned my lesson, I'm closeted now. At my new job if someone asks where I go to church I'm going to say I don't go often but sometimes go to the UU church. The fact that I'm going to be hiding my atheism shames me, but I've seen what happens if I don't and I can live with the shame but I can't live without a paycheck.

So I suppose part of my reaction to this, in addition to my general church/state objection, is that this evil woman fucking refused to do her job based on her religion she's vindicated, she not only gets to keep her job but gets to be lazy and not do some parts of her job. I did my job (quite well), never even talked about much less demanded special treatment because of my lack of religion, and I got fired by a group of asshole Christians for the crime of not believing in their hate god. Fuck her and her special treatment.

You bet that if there's fear of losing your job you don't really have free speech or free religion, I've got neither because I'm fearful of losing my job. That evil woman, self evidently, was able to talk about her religion, believe her religion, and practice her religion with no fear of losing her job. What should have cost her the job was that she wouldn't fucking do the work. No one fired her for being Christian, they wanted her gone for refusing to do the work.

And oaf whines that the job suddenly changed, well fuck, all jobs suddenly change. You either deal with it or you quit and get a new job. You don't whine about how your precious fucking (and extremely protected) hate god won't let you do your job. So fuck her and her protected, better than atheist, ass. I got fucking fired for no reason other than not believing in a god and you want me to be sympathetic to some evil asshole because she refused to do her job and ranted, raved, and went superpublic with her religion?

Fuck her. Just fuck her. She's not only a pathetic excuse for a human being, she's either incompetent or lazy, either way she won't do her job, and I, for one, could care if she's trying to justify her incompetent and/or lazy failure to do her job with some mystic mumbo jumbo. Do the job or quit. Demanding special rights, extra privileges based on your evil hate religion is not an option.
posted by sotonohito at 4:05 AM on July 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I got fired by a group of asshole Christians for the crime of not believing in their hate god.

no, you got fired because you didn't fit in. and you didn't. its not a difficult concept. you weren't a good fit for the job ("job", btw, includes so much more than the performance of a list of tasks). your subsequent behavior reinforces the good judgment of the decision maker - you are displaying a good deal of raw hatred, you are consciously and in a calculated manner engaging in the huge ongoing deceit of hiding the facts in your new position, indicating a flawed character which values material over principle and has no respect for truth. where is your vaunted secular morality now? in the shitter, thats where.

That evil woman, self evidently, was able to talk about her religion, believe her religion, and practice her religion with no fear of losing her job.

that ought to be a clue you are missing something critical about religion.
posted by quonsar at 6:05 AM on July 12, 2008


sotonohito, you think you're reacting to the unfair privilege given to a Christian's beliefs, versus the unfair discrimination you experienced against your own beliefs. But in fact, you're reacing to the fact that British law and culture is fairer and better than American law and culture in the area of employee rights.

Firstly, it is laughably unlikely that you would be fired in the UK for being an atheist. There are simply too many atheist employees and not enough fundamentalist Christian bosses around.

But hey, let's assume that you managed to find the one workplace in the UK where this is an issue. They still can't fire you for being an atheist; it's against the law. This would be an open and shut case of unfair dismissal. You would have the right to go to an employment tribunal - as the woman at the center of this story did - and they would order your previous employer to compensate you and/or give you your job back.

Atheists get as much protection under the law as Christians, or Bhuddists, or Rastafarians, or members of any other identifiable religious group.

So don't think of this in terms of Christian vs atheist. That's not your problem. Your problem is that you live in a shitty, selfish, right-wing country with the lowest protection for employment rights in the developed world, where it's considered normal and acceptable for a vindictive employer to fire someone "at will" for any reason, or even no reason at all.
posted by standbythree at 6:11 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


standbythree Its also illegal to fire people for being atheist in the USA, religious nondiscrimination is coded into law. Its also a fact that in the Texas panhandle, in a city where over 80% of the population voted for Bush both times, a jury of 12 random people would immediately understand that the boss was lying when he said it was because I didn't fit in and vote for him anyway just to kick the atheist. Like quonsar they'd know right off it was a case of firing an atheist for being an atheist and, like quonsar, they'd approve and move to protect the asshole who fired me.

Second, you're still missing the point. It isn't her religion thats the issue, its the fact that she won't do her job. She *SAYS* its because of her religion, but who cares? If she won't do the job, for whatever reason, she should be fired. She hired on to do X, now she refuses to do X, if it weren't for the fact that anytime religious woo gets involved people fall over backwards trying to superprivilage religion the case wouldn't even exist.

If she'd been an atheist who just happened to hate homosexuals she'd have been fired and no one would blink. But because she's got some mystic babble along with her hatred of homosexuals suddenly its very important not to fire her for refusing to do her job.

My own case is why I'm so furious about the issue, but remove the fury and my position both remains the same and, I think anyway, has a lot of backing. She refused to do her job, that's grounds for termination.

My current job is computer tech support for a local company. We're switching to IPV6 internally, it is (and I'm talking to you oaf) a new and sudden change. If I declared that I wouldn't work on machines with IPV6 they'd fire me for failure to do my job, and they'd be right to do so. It doesn't matter what the reason is: if a person is capable of doing their job but refuses to do so that person gets fired.

Unless, of course, that person can claim that religious woo is involved, in which case (apparently) many people here think that it is the obligation of the employer to keep the person employed doing nothing. And, let's not fool ourselves, it isn't just *any* religious woo that gets this super privilege, oh no, it is only hate Christianity that gets the super privilege. And that's what infuriates me, the super privileging of religion, and specifically the most hate filled version of Christianity that exists.
posted by sotonohito at 6:59 AM on July 12, 2008


sotonohito, everything you say confirms my thesis that it is the hate-filled culture you live in that is the real source of your anger. And you're not just "in it" - you're part of it, as evidenced by the hate you display towards this woman.

For what it's worth, if you were a member of an identifiable atheist group which opposed homosexual unions, in the UK you'd be entitled to the same rights and protections as a Christian in that situation. And there's no red-neck jury to deal with; just a tribunal panel of professional mediators, who often come from a union background and are if anything, unfairly biased against employers.

So really, everything you're saying is wrong, or at least grossly oversimplified. The things that you think are self-evident truths, like "She refused to do her job, that's grounds for termination," don't recognise the complexity of the situation and the need to balance the rights and interests of the different parties.

That's the core cultural difference here. It seems to me that in the USA everything is a matter of principle. Everyone wants to make a stand. Compromise is weakness. My way or the highway.

In the UK, and in Canada too for that matter, principles are secondary to practicality. It is considered more important to do what is best for everyone involved, rather than necessarily what is right (because while it's usually possible to agree on the best practical action in a particular situation, getting people to agree on who is "right" will never happen.)

I know you Americans are very attached to your principles, and there is something very noble about that, but the truth is that while your country is splitting itself apart based on conflicting principles, the UK is learning to live peacefully and happily with compromise.
posted by standbythree at 7:22 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone who's written in this thread so far please mentally replace "gay marriage" with "interracial marriage" and then hang your heads in shame at the silliness of the arguments presented so far. They just don't fly when you're trying to afford equal opportunity and equal protection to people under the law.

Remember kids: It's only discrimination if the consensus of society sez so. Feel free to bring back the terms "faggot" and "queer" and "homo" while you're at it. You'll need them to quickly and effectively vilify a whole group of society at once.
posted by Talez at 8:22 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


replace "gay marriage" with "interracial marriage"

apples and lawnmowers.
posted by quonsar at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ironically, this woman's religious text tells her flat-out what she is to do. Romans 13:7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. It is followed by an admonishment to love everyone equally. That's two of her own God's rules that she's breaking by being pig-ignorant of her religion.

The problem is not so much that religion is protected from discrimination, but that falsehoods in the name of religion are protected.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:11 AM on July 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


When did you et all religious, quonsar? Or is it that you just hate queers?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2008


standbythree Compromise is nice, but where can you find compromise between people who say "homosexuals are evil slime who should be denied equal rights" and people who say "equal rights apply to all, including homosexuals"? Should we compromise by only denying homosexuals some rights? By only beating homosexuals on alternate Wednesdays?

Compromise is a good thing in many cases. I can't say I much like it (I'd rather get my way), but I don't see it as a sign of weakness. That said, there are areas you can't compromise without losing sight of principle. Human rights is one of those areas.

More to the point, in the US anyway, the language of compromise is always, always, aimed at those of us on the progressive front. No one ever asks the conservative side to compromise. Nope, over here "compromise" means "surrendering to the right". Look at the recent press over the FISA bill. The Democrats "compromised" and gave the Republicans everything they asked for, and more. Look at the entire Iraq war issue, the Democrats keep "compromising", which means giving Bush blank checks for the war without any binding requirements for anything, much less getting out. On every major controversial issue the Republicans in the Senate have voted in lockstep and the Democrats have split. They call that "compromise". The good guys give everything, the bad guys gives nothing, and that's compromise US style.

Here, I see the same thing. I'm told to surrender every shred of principle, to surrender the very concept of not letting people fuck over other people in the name of religion, and I'm told this is "compromise". She gets to keep her cushy job, she gets to give the middle finger to homosexuals, she gets to force the government to say "yes, we agree with your hate religion, homosexuality is evil", and on the side of good what do we get? Nothing. Lovely compromise.

My vitriol towards that woman, and all her evil ilk, is because she is evil. She promotes an evil and harmful agenda that is actively anti-human, anti-civilization, and results in actual death, torture, and other lesser mistreatment of homosexuals. She is proud of her agenda of hate, she takes pride in her work to make the world a worse place, and she wants to use that as an excuse for being lazy at work. She not only demands the right to hate homosexuals (which she has, and should have), but also demands that the government legitimize and praise her hate. That last is what I so strongly object to, most especially because for most of recorded history she and her kind have won.

England only recently decriminalized homosexuality. Alan Turing, the man who all but singlehandedly saved England from Nazi Germany was driven to suicide by the very government he saved. Why? Because he was homosexual. And now, finally, some small victory has been achieved. Homosexuals are still beaten and murdered, and the police never quite seem able to catch most of the perpetrators, but at least the police can't arrest you simply for being gay anymore. Still, the government demands "compromise" with the evil haters, gays can't marry, they get the separate but equal treatment, and apparently even that is insufficient kowtowing of the government to the religious loonies. No, now the government must retreat even further from the idea of homosexuals as full humans and acknowledge that it is good and proper that government functionaries refuse to deal with homosexuals.

What more compromise can we find? Shall the government put up signs saying "Faggots aren't real people, but we'll kind of pretend they are sometimes"? Will that be enough compromise? Of course not, she and her kind will demand ever more kowtowing to their evil agenda, all in the poisonous language of "compromise", until every right gained by homosexuals is overturned.

How can you compromise with people who won't stop? With people who have the basic position that some humans simply should not be treated equally?

She has every right to hold her beliefs. She does not have the right to use those beliefs to justify not doing her job. If she can't be a registrar then let her get a new job. I'm not proposing that she be forced to register gay partnerships, that would be wrong. If she objects to the content of the job she should get a new job, and the idea that we must, or should, compromise with her religious insanity by giving her special rights not granted to others is just plain crazy.

If you say that compromise would be to find her a different job in the same organization I might, with extreme reluctance, accept that. I still maintain that even that is not genuine compromise (what, exactly, would she have given up in exchange for me saying that her position is good, pure, and right?) but rather disguised surrender, but you may note that isn't what was mandated. What was mandated was not compromise, but surrender.

It has been ordered that she shall remain a marriage registrar and that the organization shall waste time, resources, and goodwill by tiptoeing around her insanity, offend taxpayers, by directing homosexuals to other, presumably lesser, registrars. If that is compromise I want nothing to do with it.
posted by sotonohito at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2008


Talez - it's not the same at all, because there is a legitimate social and moral question around gay marriage which is not the case for interracial marriage. What's that you say, there isn't any such question? But the law recognises that there is, which is why the ceremony in question here is "civil union" not "marriage".

Please note, I'm playing devil's advocate here. I'm a Christian, but I attend a church with somewhat different beliefs from the woman in this story.
posted by standbythree at 9:34 AM on July 12, 2008


[Italy also has a long way to go:]
An Italian court has ruled the government must pay 100,000 euros ($157,700) in damages to a man who was told to retake a driving test because he was homosexual.

When 26 year-old Danilo Giuffrida told doctors he was gay at his medical examination for military service, they passed the information to the transport ministry, who told him he must repeat his driving test or have his license withdrawn due to his "sexual identity disturbance."

Giuffrida agreed to re-take his test, passed it for a second time, but the ministry renewed his license for just one year rather than the usual 10 years because of his homosexuality.

The judge ruling on the case in Catania, on the southern island of Sicily, said the actions of the defense and transport ministries showed "evident sexual discrimination" against Giuffrida and ran counter to his constitutional rights.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2008


no, you got fired because you didn't fit in.

So it's perfectly ok to fire anyone for their religious beliefs, if those beliefs are different from everyone else's. Good to know.

your subsequent behavior reinforces the good judgment of the decision maker - you are displaying a good deal of raw hatred

Maybe the raw hatred comes from being fired, you think? Maybe if you got shit on by your employer this way, you'd be a little angry too.

where is your vaunted secular morality now? in the shitter, thats where.

Did it hit you on the head on the way down? You think it's immoral to lie about your personal beliefs, or your sexual orientation, or any other private thing, to avoid persecution?

apples and lawnmowers.

So you say, now. You're firmly in the intellectual tradition of the folks who were against Loving v Virginia, though.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2008


there is a legitimate social and moral question around gay marriage which is not the case for interracial marriage.

Plenty of people believed there was a legitimate social and moral question around interracial marriage.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:43 AM on July 12, 2008


When did you et all religious, quonsar? Or is it that you just hate queers?

What's the difference, these days?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


standbythree wrote there is a legitimate social and moral question around gay marriage which is not the case for interracial marriage

Nonsense. Prove it. And other similar sentiments.

During the time in which interracial marriage was a hot issue the exact same pack of loonies came out. They quoted the Bible, they swore that there would be horrible social, moral, and supernatural repercussions if interracial marriage were permitted. The language used by opponents of interracial marriage is all but identical to the language used by the opponents of homosexual marriage.

There is no difference between the two. On the one side we have people who believe in freedom, justice, human dignity, civilization, and that which is good. On the other side we have people who are blind haters propping up their bigotry with quotes from an ancient and mistranslated book, those who oppose freedom, who despise justice, who shit on the very concept of human dignity, and who thing that civilization was a mistake.

I know which side I choose. There are no legitimate objections to basic human rights, either you support human rights and stand on the side of good, or you oppose human rights and you stand on the side of evil. There are no legitimate questions, no legitimate objections, either you support human rights or you're evil. On this issue I do completely, utterly, and without hesitation discard the very notion of compromise. Other issues I'll compromise on, but not human rights.
posted by sotonohito at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


has been ordered that she shall remain a marriage registrar and that the organization shall waste time, resources, and goodwill by tiptoeing around her insanity,

YOUR OPINION is that it's "her insanity." You don't have the right to choose for all six billion people on the planet what "insanity" is. Any more than I do.
posted by konolia at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2008


So, up untill this century can anyone point me to any place on this planet where same sex marriage has existed as part of a society?

I am dead dog serious. I want to know.
posted by konolia at 10:57 AM on July 12, 2008


So, up untill this century can anyone point me to any place on this planet where same sex marriage has existed as part of a society?

Certainly.

Greece, Rome, the Balkans:

The practice of same-sex love in antiquity often took the form of formal pairings of men with youths, which had many of the attributes of marriage but were limited in duration.
...
There were also marriage between men, at least among the Romans, as this practice was outlawed in 342 AD by the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans... In spite of this, gay unions are believed to have continued until the late Middle Ages.
...
The fact that marriage occurred between two men among the Romans is proved by a law in the Theodosian Code from the Christian emperors Constantius and Constans which was passed on December 16, 342. [5] Martial attests to same-sex marriages between men during the early Roman Empire.[6] The first recorded marriage between two men occurred during the reign of the Emperor Nero, who is reported to have married two other men on different occasions.
...
In the Balkans, same-sex marriage survived until modern days, in the form of the Albanian rite of vellameria, "brother bond."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on July 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


So it's perfectly ok to fire anyone for their religious beliefs, if those beliefs are different from everyone else's. Good to know.

No, it's perfectly OK to fire anyone for not fitting in.

It doesn't suddenly stop being OK just because religion is involved.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2008


So, up untill this century can anyone point me to any place on this planet where same sex marriage has existed as part of a society? I am dead dog serious. I want to know.

If we're going to take a stand for and against things because of the social practices of our ancestors, then we better start killing adulterers and divorcees (Luke 16:18), and those who fornicate (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).

Hey, waittasec... there's a fornicator in your family, isn't there? I seem to recall your daughter has a bastard son. How come she gets off scot-free?

Funny how you only like the religious laws that don't affect you and yours.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:00 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, up untill this century can anyone point me to any place on this planet where same sex marriage has existed as part of a society?

What precisely is your point in this particular derail?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, up untill this century can anyone point me to any place on this planet where same sex marriage has existed as part of a society?

Since, technically, we appear to be talking about "civil partnerships" I'd say The Netherlands, since Jan 1, 1998. That counts as earlier than "this century", right? Full marriage rights are since 2001.

Society here hasn't collapsed yet.

Early on there were some civil servants who had religious problems with registering same sex marriages, quite similar to this case. A few short lawsuits later, and that issue has disappeared completely.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2008


konolia No, actually, it is not my opinion. It is a matter of fact. Morality is absolute, human rights are absolute, she and you are simply acting in an immoral fashion. Opinion does not enter into the equation.

You, and she, have deceived yourselfs into thinking that evil is good, and good evil. I'm sorry you have done that, and I wish you a speedy recovery from the evil you are inflicting on yourselves. I am sorry that you, and she, are incapable of recognizing morality when you see it.

I can, if not prove, at least provide compelling and rational arguments to demonstrate that I am correct, that by opposing gay marriage you, and she, are behaving in an immoral manner. What can you offer to prove the opposite? Quotes from a tribe of iron age goat herds? A book that has been subject to 2000 years of transcription and translation error? You can't even follow the actual rules published in your book, and yet you wish me to take that seriously as a moral argument?

Equal rights for all is a moral imperative. The world of today is a more moral place than the world of 1950. Morality, like all other aspects of human knowledge is progressive. We have learned that oppressing homosexuals is immoral, as we have learned that germs cause disease.

As for history, who cares? We should study it, learn from it, but we cannot let it shackle us. Just because something is new does not make it bad.

Can you point to me any civilization in the previous centuries that had electricity? Or computers? Or flying machines? We progress as a species, learning that some things are true and others false. We have learned that much of what you believe is just as false as phlogiston physics.

I say that we should not, cannot, kowtow to the literally insane beliefs of you and Ms. Ladele any more than we can kowtow to people who believe that disease is caused by an imbalance of black and yellow bile. You are simply wrong, and giving your incorrect beliefs any official credence is damaging to society, government, and civilization.

You are, of course, perfectly free to believe any false, wrong, incorrect and immoral things you wish. The study of morality, law, and so forth has shown that the consequences of attempting to prevent people from freely believing anything they wish, no matter how foolish, wrong, or immoral, are vastly greater than the consequences of letting them believe. In that too we have progressed, in centuries prior to this one there was always an Established Religion and disagreement with it was a crime, we have learned that was wrong, and indeed immoral. But that does not mean that either society or government can, or should, change itself in accordance with your own immoral desires.

Believe as you wish, but don't try to force that insane, immoral, wrong, belief on the government or me. Human rights are sacrosanct, any violation is immoral, and marriage is a human right.
posted by sotonohito at 1:01 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's perfectly OK to fire anyone for not fitting in

Not if by "fitting in" you mean "belonging to a specific religious group." At least, that's not OK here in the US. By sotonohito's account, he fit in just fine until they discovered he was a godless atheist. Of course, his employer fired him because he didn't "fit in" without telling him what that meant. He could sue them if they told him why he didn't fit in.

I seem to recall your daughter has a bastard son.

That's a stonin'.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:11 PM on July 12, 2008


Hey, waittasec... there's a fornicator in your family, isn't there? I seem to recall your daughter has a bastard son. How come she gets off scot-free?

She's married. She was married when the baby was born.

But, since you asked, you don't even have to pick on someone who isn't even here. I used to be a fornicator. And I did drugs. And I drank to excess. And I probably littered here and there.

I never said I was sinless perfection. I do know I have sinned. I also know I was saved by the grace of the Lord. Who has justified me-making me acceptable to the Father. Who is in the process of sanctifying me-conforming me to His image.

I don't rank sins. They all stink in the nostrils of the Lord. I was and am no better than anyone else . And the only difference between me and anyone else now is He plucked me out of my pigpen and is in the process of cleaning me up. He made me a new creature, and rescued me from a sure eternal doom.

So, after doing all that for me? What He wants from me, He gets.
posted by konolia at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2008


When I worked in the states, I kept my atheism a secret from everyone.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2008


Sonohito, on what basis do you claim human rights? Where do human rights come from?

And I don't think I'd be saying "other humans." Because if you do, other humans get to change their mind from time to time what those rights are.

As to the question I had re history, I really did want to know, but I do still note that the vast majority of cultures-true, with some exceptions-still see the definion of marriage between male and female.
posted by konolia at 1:39 PM on July 12, 2008


I do still note that the vast majority of cultures-true, with some exceptions-still see the definion of marriage between male and female.

You get a list of historical examples provided to you on request, and yet you continue to maintain that fiction.

I can see why people get frustrated with you and call you a troll, konolia. Lord knows you are trying my patience.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2008


konolia Let's address history, since you seem to be stuck on that topic for some odd reason.

To the best of my knowledge there has not been any government in the history of the planet that acknowledged homosexual unions until 1999 CE. I rather seriously doubt you genuine sought information when you asked your question since the answer is available to anyone with even the terrible knowledge of history that the US public school system will provide. I think you asked it as a rhetorical device, a prelude to the "well, if no one's tried it until now they must have had good reasons" type of line.

Let me cut that off by observing that several historic societies had views of sexuality that are sufficiently different from those of the modern US that comparison is, difficult. Ancient Greece, for example, viewed homosexual relations between adult men and teen and tween boys to be normative, and indeed the only possible expression of true love. Marriage was a bond between bloodlines expressed through individuals and was part of the self sustaining economic unit that each ancient Greek house was supposed to be. So the average ancient Greek man was married to a woman, who he viewed as sub-human and incapable of reason and he had sex with her for reproductive purposes. He had sex with little boys for pleasure and to find true love.

The concept of homosexual and heterosexual didn't actually exist in many societies, rather recreational sex was seen, essentially, as an act of rape, as something aggressive men took from whoever couldn't resist: women, young boys, weaker men, etc. Reproductive sex, by biological necessity was exclusively between men and women, and always has been.

The falsehood you doubtless wish to perpetuate here is that acceptance of homosexuality is wrong because it reduces the population. Which is total tripe. Alexander the Great, one of the most famous homosexuals in all history had several children. I personally know three homosexual couples (two lesbian couples, one pair of gay men) who have children. Homosexuals do reproduce, it just takes a bit more effort on their part. The gay men and one of the lesbian couples are friends and their children are the result of the gay men donating sperm to the lesbians. The lesbians got one of the resulting children, the men got the other, the pseudo-siblings spend quite a bit of time together and are approaching their fourth birthday.

Are we done with history and able now to move on to more pressing topics, or are you still stuck both morally and conversationally in the past?
posted by sotonohito at 2:05 PM on July 12, 2008


I love how persecuting homosexual families is done in the name of 'protecting marriage' by religious people who don't make a peep about divorces, because they're too busy getting them.
posted by mullingitover at 2:45 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia writes "By the way at the risk of being pointed at and laughed at even more, I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately. Seriously."

Oh man I missed this gem.

Yes, you were right. This idea is certainly worthy of ridicule.

I really get torn up about these things...do people who claim to believe this stuff really believe it, or are they just doing it out of an obligation to their families and communities to support the native culture and folklore? I really want to think that deep down people know that belief in magic, angels, demons, an invisible sky wizard, and a supernatural paternalistic hierarchy is obviously, hysterically wrong. However, people go and earnestly post things like this and I get depressed at the idea that, no, people really believe this.

*weeps*
posted by mullingitover at 2:55 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The falsehood you doubtless wish to perpetuate here is that acceptance of homosexuality is wrong because it reduces the population

What????

No, don't be silly. What does that have to do with anything?
posted by konolia at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2008


mullingitover, I have seen miracles. And I know people-that is plural, please notice-that have seen demons. I have had plenty of answers to prayer. I could go on and on.

Just because you don't believe in a supernatural realm doesn't mean there isn't one.

While we are at it, I am not one of those who winks at divorce, either. I get ticked off at those who do. Marriage is serious business. If one ends, it is a tragedy. I don't want someone to HAVE to stay with a serial adulterer or an abuser, but having had friends who split up for absolutely stupid and selfish reasons, it's enough to make me want to pull my hair out.
posted by konolia at 4:35 PM on July 12, 2008


So when do we schedule the stoning, konolia? Matthew 5:17-18 and 23:1-3 make it abundantly clear that Christ expects his followers to maintain and uphold the Old Testament laws.

And while we're in the way-back machine, upholding all that great ancient social tradition, I guess we'll have to change some more laws: the age for marriage will have to be clawed back to about 12 years old, as will the age of consent. Kiddy fuckers rejoice, your time is come and the religionists approve!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2008


Just because you don't believe in a supernatural realm doesn't mean there isn't one.

Just because you do believe in one doesn't mean there is one, either. And whether there is one or not, your beliefs about this thing should not affect how I am governed.

I believe that your belief in a supernatural realm is irrational, that your claiming to witness miracles is delusional, and that you should clearly be locked away from society for the good of the rest of us. If people who shared my belief were in the majority, would you consent to that?

What does that have to do with anything?

Why else would it matter whether gays get married or not? That's the only obvious difference between a gay couple and a straight couple.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:57 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I weep for humanity. I really do.
posted by Talez at 5:54 PM on July 12, 2008


konolia writes "mullingitover, I have seen miracles. And I know people-that is plural, please notice-that have seen demons. I have had plenty of answers to prayer. I could go on and on.

"Just because you don't believe in a supernatural realm doesn't mean there isn't one. "


*Sigh* I guess you really believe that. The people telling you they've seen demons probably really believed it too. If I must point this out, I will: believing you experienced something is not the same as it being real. There is no evidence that the supernatural exists, and a lot more reasonable to assume it was a malfunctioning mental process. Of course if you can prove that your experience was not a hallucination but real evidence of the paranormal, please get off your computer and find James Randi immediately. He has, and I'm not kidding, a million dollars for you.

Our minds are reality simulators. We are mostly wired to simulate the actual world around us, but we're free to simulate monsters, demons, angels, magic, and a common thread among humans is that we do this quite regularly.

Overall, I'm not saying that religion is inherently a mental illness or completely worthless. At it's best, it's a powerful instrument for good, wrapped in a set of harmless fairy tales. However, when it gets perverted and becomes an instrument to allow people to act on fear and hatred, something is broken. Religion is best for reminding us of the suffering of the less fortunate, and encouraging us to help those in need. It's there so that when things are really bad, we don't behave like a pack of amoral killers fighting over the last grain of rice. (Hopefully.) Religion can and should focus on helping. So it's really disgusting to see some self-appointed ambassadors for their religion pick on a tiny part of the population who acts different and just wants to be a family, or pick on women who are making a painful and personal decision. The people who do this in the name of religion are wasting precious breath that could be dedicated to helping orphans, or those suffering from disasters, or famine, or disease. It's absolutely breathtaking to see someone, in the name of religion, say that the towns and cities destroyed by flooding in the midwest right now, or the people going bankrupt from gas prices, deserve their fate because they just love this thing you call 'sinning' so much. That's some good witnessing, right there. You're too busy judging them, and our nation, for our acceptance and openness toward *people who want to have families* to speak out about helping those in need.
posted by mullingitover at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2008


konolia We've had, and continue to have, differences. Because of that history I want to make it absolutely clear that what I am about to say is not part of our argument, it has nothing to do with our disagreements, and it has nothing to do with my opinion of your religion or my certainty that you are immoral. What follows is not an effort to be nasty, or to cast aspersion on your position in this most recent argument.

If you are experiencing hallucinations please seek psychiatric help. Whatever arguments I may have with the medical/industrial complex anti-psychotic drugs have improved tremendously over the past few decades and many people who have experienced hallucinations are able, with the help of a competent psychiatrist, to overcome that problem with only minimal damage to their other mental processes. The drugs aren't perfect, of course, but they have fewer, and less severe, side effects than they once did. Hallucinations are not a laughing matter, and may also indicate minor strokes or other potentially deadly brain problems.

I disagree with you, but I don't want to see you suffer from untreated conditions.

If you wish to continue this discussion, I'm certainly game, but I'm a bit worried about you, and vitriol to the side I don't like kicking people while they are down or going all out with an injured foe.
posted by sotonohito at 6:03 PM on July 12, 2008


Muslims believe in the same God as Konolia. Some have visions, see angels or demons, and have witnessed miracles. But somehow their invisible sky-friend isn't legitimate, while her invisible sky-friend is, so they get sent to hell and she gets a pass to heaven.

Yah, that makes sense.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2008


So when do we schedule the stoning, konolia? Matthew 5:17-18 and 23:1-3 make it abundantly clear that Christ expects his followers to maintain and uphold the Old Testament laws.

Read further-remember the story about Jesus and the woman caught in adultery? He said to the crowd,"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

To her, he simply said:"Go, and sin no more."

But to address your point, He took our punishment for sin at the crucifixion.

And sotonohito, you can relax. I don't hallucinate. The only time I ever did was back in the late 70's when I dropped acid a couple of times.

Perhaps you should read up a little bit on charismatic and Third Wave churches. My belief system is fairly orthodox for that segment of Christianity.
posted by konolia at 8:20 PM on July 12, 2008


Maybe you could point out the story where Jesus condemns homosexuality? I couldn't find it.

But in any case, no one would care about your beliefs one way or the other, if it weren't for the threat that those beliefs are to the rest of us, and the effect that those beliefs have within the law.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2008


He lumps it in with all kinds of immorality.

Look, this reminds me of 1978 when I sat in the bookstacks of the NC State library trying to find biblical loopholes so I could go sleep with a boyfriend. I'm sure I twisted a few braincells into pretzels in the process.
posted by konolia at 8:44 PM on July 12, 2008


Let me ask y'all a question- can you find ONE place where Jesus specifically condoned homosexual sexuality?
posted by konolia at 8:46 PM on July 12, 2008


And the only difference between me and anyone else now is He plucked me out of my pigpen and is in the process of cleaning me up.

You have been seduced by Satan into a lifestyle of hate. You haven't been cleansed at all.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:24 PM on July 12, 2008


Can you find ONE place where Jesus specifically condoned bending the government to your religious beliefs?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 PM on July 12, 2008


Let me ask y'all a question- can you find ONE place where Jesus specifically condoned homosexual sexuality?

Matthew 19:12. As Jesus wisely says, "He that is able to accept [homosexuality], let him accept it."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 PM on July 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


He lumps it in with all kinds of immorality.

Oh, really? How convenient for you. I'll bet you can fit all sorts of stuff in there, as it suits you. I'm sorry, but that's a bullshit answer you gave right there.

can you find ONE place where Jesus specifically condoned homosexual sexuality?

Uh, no. There are all kinds of things he didn't mention. He did condemn lots of things. Presumably, if he cared enough about it, he'd have mentioned it. I do remember the "judge not, lest ye be judged" bit. Perhaps you've forgotten that? I don't remember Jesus mentioning using the government to impose your beliefs on others, but I do remember "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." I remember the bit about turning the other cheek and loving one another as he loved us, and rich men having a bit of trouble getting into heaven.

These don't seem to be the lessons you've learned from Jesus, though.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:14 PM on July 12, 2008


Not being a Christian, I don't have a dogmatic system of belief, so even if Christ had angrily condemned homosexuality I'd have to consider whether or not that makes sense.

This is what I like about the Buddhists:

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
-- Buddha
posted by mullingitover at 1:39 AM on July 13, 2008


I take it all back. Miracles are real.
posted by mullingitover at 3:44 AM on July 13, 2008


Mullingitover, you might be interested in the lyrics to that little vignette....song by Rich Mullins.


Oh when He rolls up his sleeves He ain't just puttin' on the ritz,
Our God is an awesome God
There is thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fists
Our God is an awesome God

And the Lord wasn't joking when He kicked 'em out of Eden
It wasn't for no reason that He shed his blood
His return is very soon and so you'd better be believin' that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
with wisdom, pow'r and love
Our God is an awesome God

And when the sky was starless in the void of the night
Our God is an awesome God
He spoke into the darkness and created the light
Our God is an awesome God

And judgment and wrath He poured out on Sodom
Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God

posted by konolia at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2008


Is your God a living God, or a static, unchanging God? If the OT/NT are to be believed, he changed significantly between the founding of the Israelite peoples and the death of Christ.

Used to be a God that would rejoice in having his chosen people stone to death a fornicator like yourself; then he became a God who said loving others is the most important thing and offers you forgiveness.

Was that the end of God's growth? Has he become a static God? Over the course of two thousand years, with revolutionary changes in the structure of society, the globalisation of human interactions, the densification of human populations, he does not change?

There's a word for beings that do not change: it's dead.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2008


Here, FFF, this will help you out regarding that:

First part of Romans 7:

1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.


One of God's attributes is His immutability-He does not change. He feels the way about sin the same way He always did. However, His dealings with mankind are progressive.

It might be a good idea for you to peruse the entire book of Romans. The whole purpose of the book is to explain some stuff to Jewish Christians who were probably struggling with the same questions you are throwing up here.

And as for society changing, yadda yadda yadda-God exists outside time and none of it is a surprise to Him. He was, is, and always was cognizant of the entirety of human history, to include every bit of it in the future. Including my destiny, and yours.
posted by konolia at 1:43 PM on July 13, 2008


Society changed significantly in the years between the founding of the Israelite nation and the birth of Christ. God's behaviour, as documented in the bible, also changed. He started off with the smashing of infants against rocks, the wholesale slaughter of towns, the visiting of all sorts of atrocities upon the people. Come Christ's time, though, he's a different God.

So he was a living God, if the bible is to be believed: he was mutable and growing and, dare I say, quit being the petulant, childish God of the Israelites, and became the mature young God of Christ's time. Seems to have quit growing since that time, though, if you're to be believed.

Of course what with Christianity being essentially a death cult, what with the fixation on crucifixtions and cannabalism and so on, perhaps it isn't surprising that the God it worships is no longer capable of growing.

Whichever way around, it's back to the ol' "render unto Caeser" commandment: regardless the health status of your God, He made it pretty clear that you need to separate state from religion. If you have a government position, do your damn job and save the holy rolling for your personal time. That, or go find a job that is compatible with your religious requirements.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on July 13, 2008


everyone responding to konolia is definitely caring too much.
posted by perianwyr at 3:19 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


You mistake staying indoors, hiding from the blistering heat of a 35°C sun, for caring.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:28 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uh, yes konolia I'm familiar with the song. I grew up hearing it almost every Saturday, and every freaking day at camp meeting.

The important thing here is that this cat can walk on water. This is like Jesus in the lolcat bible!
25. OK so iz liek teh nites and Jesus camez out, and he iz srsly wlking ontop teh waterz.

26. Teh dscpls sawed him and ar scured and tehy sayed "OMG haxx!"

27. But Jesus sez "Oh hai! Iz just me. lol."

28. "Hay dood," sez Peter, "I can comez ontop teh waterz plz?"

29. "Yah lol," sez Jesus. Peter comez ontop teh waterz and iz goes to Jesus.

30. But Peter sawed teh windz and he iz scured and he fallz in teh waterz and is liek "Halp! Invisible sidewalk!"

31. Jesus halps Peter and sez "U iz stoopid noob becuz u duznt beleev."

32. N when they climb into da boat, the wind died down.

33. Den those who were in the boat sai liek "OMG UR LIEK T3H SON OF GOD!1111one."
So it's probably a good idea to find that cat, since it might be Jesus. Just to be safe, we should definitely worship it. It's like Pascal's Wager: if we're wrong, we just spent our lives happily worshipping an awesome cat and it's ok. However, if we're right we'll go to heaven, which is full of ponies and bacon and totally worth the risk of being wrong.
posted by mullingitover at 4:23 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Study shows distinct links between religion and conspiracy theory.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:56 PM on July 13, 2008


So it's probably a good idea to find that cat

Aslan is NOT a tame lion.
posted by konolia at 8:49 PM on July 13, 2008


Again with the mistaking of myth and fantasy with reality.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2008


Again, with the mistaking of metaphor and simile for myth and fantasy.
posted by konolia at 8:11 AM on July 14, 2008


konolia, have you found the part of the new testament where Jesus condemns homosexuality yet? All this crap about C.S. Lewis, cats, etc, while very entertaining, is irrelevant.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2008


konolia, have you found the part of the new testament where Jesus condemns homosexuality yet?

I cited a part of the new testament (Matthew 19:12) where Jesus not only condones homosexuality, but instructs those who have found Christ to be inclusive and tolerant.

I'm waiting, Konolia, for you to acknowledge the existence and meaning of Matthew 19:12, even if you have not taken Christ's lesson into your heart.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 AM on July 14, 2008


http://biblecc.com/matthew/19-12.htm

Okay, above is the passage in question, in a whole long list of translations....and in NONE of these translations does this have anything to do with homosexuality. It refers either to men who are NOT having sex either because of birth defects, being castrated or because of personal choice to be celibate.

On what possible grounds could you derive from any of these passages that homosexuality was approved by Jesus???

(If you want to know which version is which, see the link as the labels didn't copy.)

because some men are celibate from birth, while some are celibate because they have been made that way by others. Still others are celibate because they have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
................................................................................
................................................................................
"For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."
................................................................................
................................................................................
For example, some men are celibate because they were born that way. Others are celibate because they were castrated. Still others have decided to be celibate because of the kingdom of heaven. If anyone can do what you've suggested, then he should do it."
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are men who, from birth, were without sex: and there are some who were made so by men: and there are others who have made themselves so for the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to take it, let him take it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
for there are eunuchs which have been born thus from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs of men; and there are eunuchs who have made eunuchs of themselves for the sake of the kingdom of the heavens. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, which were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, which made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mothers womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
................................................................................
................................................................................
There are men who from their birth have been disabled from marriage, others who have been so disabled by men, and others who have disabled themselves for the sake of the Kingdom of the Heavens. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
................................................................................
................................................................................
For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it."
................................................................................
................................................................................
for there are eunuchs who from the mother's womb were so born; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who kept themselves eunuchs because of the reign of the heavens: he who is able to receive it -- let him receive.'
................................................................................

posted by konolia at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2008


Back then, homosexuals were called eunuchs ("born that way from the womb") -- including the usual court eunuchs.

Have you yet found a specific passage where Jesus condemns the gays? Matthew 19:12 preaches tolerance, while you have not yet shown us anything that is contradictory to that Scripture, in clear, unequivocal language.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2008


On what possible grounds could you derive from any of these passages that homosexuality was approved by Jesus???

OK. So in YOUR bible, only things that are specifically, explicitly approved by Jesus are allowed? So, your typing a response here on Metafilter - not allowed! Driving to work - not allowed! Women's participation in government - not allowed!

That's good to know.

You're able to twist that book of yours however you like. I don't believe in God, or Jesus, but if I did, I'd expect him to berate you like Jesus berated the Pharisees. You're good at making up rules, and telling others how to behave, but bad at following the simple rules Jesus clearly laid out for his disciples.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:56 PM on July 14, 2008


Back then, homosexuals were called eunuchs ("born that way from the womb") -- including the usual court eunuchs.

Cite, please.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:41 PM on July 14, 2008


me & my monkey: you mean rules like those laid down in Romans 13, which is heavy on the "do what the government says":
Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn't been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore, whoever resists the government opposes what God has established. Those who resist will bring punishment on themselves.
And John 13:34:
I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
These seem to be the passages the evangels just love to ignore.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:48 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a puzzler:

The religionists would have us believe that getting gay married will send us to hell, and that they're all so concerned for our afterlife fate, and all that.

Except... those of us who get gay married are going to go to hell because we don't believe in Christ, not because of anything we actually do during our stint on earth.

Stopping gay marriage isn't going to save souls. It's only going to serve to make people miserable while they're alive.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on July 14, 2008


Cite, please.

It's right there in Matthew 19:12 — "For there are eunuchs who from the mother's womb were so born".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2008


I think he meant we want you to cite proof of your assertion that a eunuch is a homosexual.

By the way, the eunuchs who were born that way would refer to babies with birth defects in the genital region that would prevent them from reproducing.
posted by konolia at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2008


I think he meant we want you to cite proof of your assertion that a eunuch is a homosexual.

We want you to cite proof that Jesus condemned gay people, konolia, which we have yet to see.

In any case, homosexuals were considered eunuchs in antiquity:

In some translations of ancient texts, individuals identified as eunuchs seem to include men who were impotent with women, those we would now call transgender or homosexual, and those who were simply celibate.

I would consider the Bible a work of antiquity, as would most with a basic education. Further, the term "eunuch" has been used since in similar ways:

The Pardoner in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" is referred to in the General Prologue as either a "geldynge" or a "mare" (a gelding is a castrated male horse; a mare is a female horse). Neither the literary pilgrims nor modern scholars know whether he is a eunuch or a homosexual, as the text can be interpreted either way.

It is clear that Matthew 19:12 calls for those who have found Jesus Christ to accept and love gays, just as Christ did.

Now it is up to you, konolia, to show the courage to follow in the way of Christ.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2008


BP, first of all Jesus did condemn sin in general and immorality in particular. Second of all Romans is part of the New Testament, and as much a part of the Word of God as the red letter parts of the Gospels. Third, Romans makes it abundantly clear God's position on homosexuality-and a few other things...

Romans 1:16-32

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."


18For (AJ)the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who (AK)suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19because (AL)that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20For (AM)since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, (AN)being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21For even though they knew God, they did not [c]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became (AO)futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22(AP)Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23and (AQ)exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [d]crawling creatures.

24Therefore (AR)God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be (AS)dishonored among them.

25For they exchanged the truth of God for a (AT)lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, (AU)who is blessed forever. Amen.

26For this reason (AV)God gave them over to (AW)degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, (AX)men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, (AY)God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are (AZ)gossips,

30slanderers, (BA)haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, (BB)disobedient to parents,

31without understanding, untrustworthy, (BC)unloving, unmerciful;

32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of (BD)death, they not only do the same, but also (BE)give hearty approval to those who practice them.


Now, if you don't want to believe this is God's word, or you think God is an invisible sky fairy, or for whatever reason do not take this as pardon the expression, gospel-then you are certainly free to lead your life as you choose.

But I am not free to tell you that gay marriage is okay, and I am not free to tell you that God smiles on same sex couples. Because that would be a lie. And God has an opinion on lying too.

I am still going to treat every member on this site equally well, and I am still going to treat any gay people I come across just as well as I do anyone else, because they are people just like I am, and homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin.

That is the best I can do.
posted by konolia at 4:02 PM on July 15, 2008


Oh, and one other thing, BP...in the passage you quote? The context is clearly that of heterosexual marriage and divorce. Basic hermaneutics.

We cannot make the text say what we want it to say or we wish it to say. We have to take what it says in context with the Bible as a whole.
posted by konolia at 4:05 PM on July 15, 2008


konolia writes "I am still going to treat any gay people I come across just as well as I do anyone else, because they are people just like I am"

To their faces, sure, but you're going to degrade and persecute them when you're hiding behind the ballot box. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by mullingitover at 5:33 PM on July 15, 2008


konolia writes "We cannot make the text say what we want it to say or we wish it to say. We have to take what it says in context with the Bible as a whole."

Sure you can, and you do. Unless, of course, you only read the scriptures in the original hebrew and greek, and you're somehow steeped in the culture to which the words therein owed their context. In which case είσαι τρομερός.
posted by mullingitover at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that you've made a grave mistake Blazecock Pileon. The Bible is such a mess of contradictions that you can "prove" absolutely anything by quoting it.

I correspond with a former Calvinist who has recently converted to Universalism. On average he spams his email list (which includes me) with nine or ten collections of Biblical quotations to "prove" that Universalism is true. konolia, I know from our former conversations, considers such a position to be the most vile of heresy. Yet both use the same Bible, they just cherrypick different parts. Engaging in Biblical discussions does nothing but give power to people like konolia and distract from the real issues.

konolia Here's the deal. Your mistranslated book of the tribal taboos of an early iron age band of goat herds are completely without value, merit, or worth. I don't care one whit what the Bible says, doesn't say, etc because it is completely irrelevant to issues of morality, and more to the point you don't either.

Despite any protestations to the contrary I know that you don't actually draw your morality from the Bible. I feel confident in this statement because its very easy to see that not one person on this planet actually uses the Bible as a moral guide.

Instead you cherrypick, and have the most astonishing array of pseudo-logic to justify your cherrypicking. Homosexuality == bad, you say, but miscegenation != not bad despite the multiple injunctions against miscegenation that are found in the Bible. You quite cheerfully ignore the fact that Jesus himself said divorce was a sin, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, John McCain and the other Republican perpetrators of divorce and remarriage are, in your book, not sinners at all and assured of their place in heaven; but homosexuality you condemn. You believe that my cousin, who has been in a monogamous lesbian relationship for her entire adult life, will burn in hell, tortured without end by your sadist god, while Newt Gingrich (divorced three times!) will live in perfect bliss in heaven.

That wonderful book you keep quoting, Romans, also contains injunctions directing slaves to be obedient to their masters, yet I rather doubt you will claim to believe that slavery is good or right. Morality from the Bible you say? Yeah right.

I'm sure you can spew kilobytes of nonsense justifying your cherrypicking, but it doesn't change the simple fact that you are cherrypicking. I'd rather you didn't start spamming this thread with yet more Bible verses because, quite frankly, I don't care about the bizarre mental processes you go through to justify claiming Biblical backing for your own personal taste. You want this "God" person on your side because you see him as the ultimate authority, and therefore a discussion stopper. "Don't argue with me, argue with God" is ever the argument of Christians with no real moral ground to stand on.

Which brings me back to my point: morality and the Bible have nothing in common, so discussions of Biblical teachings, while moderately interesting as mental masturbation and logic games, are completely irrelevant.

If you want to claim that homosexuality is wrong please make a case for that position, but don't waste our time with nonsense from the Bible. Anyway, as the US Constitution forbids the government to act as the muscle for religion such nonsense is, regardless of whether you believe it or not, utterly irrelevant to any discussion of US law.

But I really would like to see you justify your claim, with something real, that homosexuality is wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 6:23 PM on July 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


We cannot make the text say what we want it to say or we wish it to say. We have to take what it says in context with the Bible as a whole.

I hope you've never eaten any shellfish, then.

I think you're full of it. I also think you know full well that you're full of it, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2008


One cannot use the Bible as 'proof' of anything, especially not if you're trying to understand the mindset of the hundreds of people who contributed to it over the years (there is hard evidence that some of the monks who transcribed it added and subtracted bits to please themselves). The collection of out-of-context quotes above proves nothing. Only that cornhole can use a Bible search engine and press CTRL+V.

It the height of silliness to think that modern distaste for homosexuality is religious in nature... it is simply prejudice and ignorance.

"It's unnatural."

If that were true, then why do bonobos (a primate that is as closely related to chimpanzees) practice it?

It'd be a lot more honest just to admit that you think it's gross.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:21 AM on July 16, 2008


We cannot make the text say what we want it to say or we wish it to say. We have to take what it says in context with the Bible as a whole.

I hope you've never eaten any shellfish, then.

I think you're full of it. I also think you know full well that you're full of it, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon more than 12 hours ago [+]


I had shrimp for lunch.

While we are on the topic...This is from Genesis 9, spoken to Noah after the flood:

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

The later dietary restrictions were given to the Jews alone, and later on Jesus did repeal them.


This is why I keep repeating over and over that you have to know the entire Bible on these issues. You cannot and should not pull one part out without understanding in context how it relates to the whole.

As to the slavery thing...the point was NOT disrupting the established social order of the day because Christians were more interesting in spreading the Gospel itself-to attack slavery directly at that time would have interfered greatly with the primary goal. However do note that the Old Testament does list slave trading in the following verse (this translation uses the term kidnappers...I am including a snippet from a commentary referencing this verse regarding slavery and the Bible's attitude to it.

The most heinous offense against the eighth commandment. No stealing of a man's goods can equal in atrocity the stealing of a man's liberty. Slavery is not directly assailed in the New Testament; to have done so would have been to revolutionize violently the existing order of things. But Christianity teaches principles sure to undermine, and at last overthrow it, wherever Christianity has had its natural development

1 Timothy 1:8-11
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
posted by konolia at 11:22 AM on July 16, 2008


But I really would like to see you justify your claim, with something real, that homosexuality is wrong.

What would you consider real?

Look, I am a lot more interested in seeking God and figuring out how He wants me to live and serve Him than I am trying to prove this particular point to people who would rather not hear it.

I figure that before one hundred years are out, everyone on this thread will have their chance to hear God's opinion straight from Him. I simply chose to take Him at His word before then. Because I truly believe that He leads those folks who truly want to please Him to the truth.

I understand that there is literally nothing I can say or do to convince anyone of anything ever. Only God can do that, not me. All I can do is share why I believe as I do.
posted by konolia at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2008


Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, John McCain and the other Republican perpetrators of divorce and remarriage are, in your book, not sinners at all and assured of their place in heaven; but homosexuality you condemn


I never said any of them were going to heaven. But divorce is not the unpardonable sin either. Having said that, I have no idea if any of those men are genuinely born again. I have my doubts on most if not all of them.
posted by konolia at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2008


konolia writes "I understand that there is literally nothing I can say or do to convince anyone of anything ever. Only God can do that, not me. All I can do is share why I believe as I do."

So in summary, outside the classic 'appeal to authority' fallacy you have no rational basis for your desire to institutionalize discrimination against homosexuals.

Fair enough, after all this is painfully common, indeed, one could say it's 'the established social order of the day.' We wouldn't want to upset that, given that it would interfere with our goal of memetically infecting more minds now would we?

Unfortunate that Christianity has the same growth philosophy as cancer.
posted by mullingitover at 12:15 PM on July 16, 2008


I had shrimp for lunch.

Sinner!

Leviticus 11:9-12 says:

9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.


To return to what you said: "We cannot make the text say what we want it to say or we wish it to say. We have to take what it says in context with the Bible as a whole." The Old Testament is certainly as much a part of the Bible as the New Testament, for the same reason you guys quote Leviticus when preaching hatred of the gays.

For you to eat shellfish is as sinful as for you to hate Jesus enough not to follow His teachings in Matthew 19:12.

Repent!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2008


Related?
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:27 PM on July 16, 2008


Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

And this is why oral sex is a blessing!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2008


I know of at least three separate places in the New Testament where it is made plain that dietary laws are no longer required of Christians. (Including specifically one place where Jesus declared all foods to be clean now.) In the book of Acts, as a matter of fact, they had the discussion of what would be required of gentile believers-they decided that as long as we abstained from strangled meat and sexual immorality, we were cool. The guys don't even have to be circumsized anymore.

Blazecock Pileon, I want to put this in a nice way, so please take it in that spirit-you are showing how much you do NOT understand about the Bible and about Christianity with these questions. However, if you wish to continue to ask because you truly want to know how these things are reconciled, I'll be happy to try to accomodate you.
posted by konolia at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2008


Yes, Blaze, you need to get your facts straight. Everyone who truly believes in god is in perfect agreement, after all. Why aren't you?
posted by mullingitover at 4:46 PM on July 16, 2008


Hey, it all works out perfectly fine in the end. The born-agains think the Muslims are going to hell, the Muslims think the Jews are going to hell, the Jews think the Christians are barking up the wrong tree, the Hindus think all three sets of them are going to go around in circles, and the Buddhists sit back and laugh. Meanwhile everyone of every faith everywhere dies eventually, and would discover that annihiliation is what happens... except that there's nothing remaining to discover it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:31 PM on July 16, 2008


Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

So, cannibalism is cool then? Er, I mean outside ritual magic transformed cracker cannibalism, and while I'm on this tangent am I the only one who thinks the whole edible messiah thing is kind of odd?

Actually, now that i think of it the whole "blood of Jesus" thing is also a bit creepy. I know a hymn that begins "There is a fountain / filled with blood / drawn from Emmanuel's veins".

There's a lot of Christianity that looks like a Rob Zombie movie when you get to thinking about it. Yup, blood, torture, death, ritual cannibalism, all the hallmarks of true morality there.
posted by sotonohito at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2008


Look, this reminds me of 1978 when I sat in the bookstacks of the NC State library trying to find biblical loopholes so I could go sleep with a boyfriend. I'm sure I twisted a few braincells into pretzels in the process.

You're not alone.

From where I stand, anyone who resorts to quoting The Bible, The Koran or any other Religious Fiction in an argument is not worth arguing with.

I would like to posit that as sin in general is more and more accepted, tolerated and even celebrated in America, our economy is going more and more in the toilet,(gas prices, mortgage crisis, forclosures) natural disasters are increasing in scope and strength, (New Orleans, California fires, Midwest flooding, etc) and even more folks getting struck by lightning lately. Seriously.

Seriously, I am not laughing. If you choose to absolve the greedy from the blame for economic disasters or the polluters from the blame for environmental disasters in favor of people who have sex with the wrong people, you have every right to, but you are deeply delusional. But don't worry, there are millions and millions like you, and working together, you can achieve the End of the World you so eagerly look forward to, even though people like me will work diligently to stop you.

And to the so-called seekers of truth who try to refute konolia's claims by quoting the same Bible? Stop legitimizing the absurd. Anything in that Book of Collective Fantasy that corresponds to real, reasoned morality* is either by coincidence or the political necessity of the writers at the time. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"? Good advice when you have no chance of overthrowing Caesar, but once you do, make damn sure "IN GOD WE TRUST" is printed on every dirty dollar bill.

sonohito, Mel Gibson can out-zombie Rob Zombie with one hand tied behind his back. There have been few movies in the history of the moving picture more violent, sadistic and mean-spirited than "The Passion of the Christ". No wonder so many churches recommended it to their followers. It's a soul-killer.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing about konolia's "Leave Lillian Alone!!" YouTube video, but I promise you, I will not waste the time to watch it.

*Yes, morality IS rather easily achieved through reason for anybody who has ever taken the time to learn how to be honest with yourself (the 'honest with yourself' thing is the hard part).
posted by wendell at 7:05 PM on July 16, 2008


Wendell, who hacked your account, old buddy? And on what would you base your morality? The sand is shifting under your feet, my friend.

(And I have no video camera, so you aren't gonna be missing anything-but truth to tell all you'd be seeing me upload would be video of the grandbun and possibly the antics of the feral herd of cats that live on my block.)
posted by konolia at 8:21 PM on July 16, 2008


One would be excused for thinking "Cannibalistic Death Cult" was a German heavy metal rock band, and not the Roman Catholic church.

Although it should also be a German heavy metal rock group.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 PM on July 16, 2008


Blazecock Pileon, I want to put this in a nice way, so please take it in that spirit-you are showing how much you do NOT understand about the Bible and about Christianity with these questions.

Konolia, it's pretty clear that, not only do you not follow parts of the Bible you haven't read, you don't even follow those parts of the Bible you have read. Just because you flagrantly disregard the Word of God on shellfish, you shouldn't be so flagrant as to disregard Jesus' teachings in Matthew. If you have Jesus in your heart, you will follow Matthew 19:12 and love and accept gays as God's children. If you don't have Jesus in your heart, then keep hating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on July 16, 2008


aren't many of the nation's current ills rightly laid at the feet of the administration that seems to have caused them? is the only source of moral authority religious? i mean, do unto others as you would have them seems pretty obviously self interest based rather than based on some kind of sloppy relationship with an imagined divine and another thing this woman is just a bad person lets not even argue it anymore by any standard shes a bad person and i say this because if you all catch me pulling that kind of crap throw down seriously post me up on the blue cause that is just being a bad person plus i mean wendell is right anyone who quotes an authority not based on reason cant be reasoned with although as in many notable cases they like to pretend they are reasonable yeah but thats a kinky fantasy thats going noplace.
posted by ewkpates at 4:09 AM on July 17, 2008


konolia I can't speak for wendell of course, but I argue that morality can quite easily be founded on reason. There are several excellent books on the topic, and several religionist philosophers, despite the handicap of being religionist, recognize this fact.

To answer your prior question:
Me: But I really would like to see you justify your claim, with something real, that homosexuality is wrong.

You: What would you consider real?
The answer is quite simple, anything that does not involve the supernatural, the subnatural, the paranormal, the I Ching, ghosts, e meters, demons, astrology, angles, palmistry, gods, tarot cards, spirits, or any of the whole panoply of made up nonsense that so many people believe in.

In less snarky terms I'm asking if you have any arguments that don't, ultimately, come back to the false claim of authority of the Bible. Because if all you've got is the tribal taboos of early iron age Jews that's not what I'd call a convincing argument.
posted by sotonohito at 6:19 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kinda funny (it that not-funny way) how the born-again Christian crowd's God is so completely hung-up on this worshipping Jesus thing. By their metric the only way their God is going to let you into heaven is if and only if you say magic words about the divinity of the Christ character.

You can live a behaviorally flawless life, and your neighbour could be the most wretched scum on the earth... but if you don't "accept Christ into your heart" and he does, you're going to hell and he's going through the pearly gates. Actions and purity count less than incantations.

A religion perfect for those who wish to exclude, or who wish to feel extra-special, or need to be told what to do instead of figuring it out for themselves.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 AM on July 17, 2008


You can live a behaviorally flawless life

But that is the rub. NO ONE CAN DO THAT.

We are all corrupt, every one of us, and none of us even wants to seek God. Salvation is more than saying "magic words." It is a literal supernatural act in which because of Christ's sinless life, substitutionary death and resurrection, we are in a legal sense redeemed and restored to full fellowship with God. Literally born again.

Any righteousness in me is fully from Him. My own is literally as filthy rags before Him. He is THAT HOLY.

Now I grant you that there are some folks who have repeated a prayer and think they are "in" but their lives have not shown the fruit of it...those people simply think they are saved. If one is truly born again, they begin to show evidence of it. That part is a process (called sanctification) but no one who truly is born again goes and keeps wallowing in the same old sins. If they are not continually showing fruit of the change, they may very well NOT BE CHANGED.

True saving faith will be shown by people's actions. The actions themselves are not what save one. They are simply the evidence that something has occurred.

As to people who are "good" but not born again, the doctrine of common grace applies here...however "good" is a misnomer. Some sins are evident but others, like selfrighteousness or pride or...rejection of God's provision for salvation-which is pride of the highest and stinkiest order-well, let's just say that even the best of us has enough sin to sink us into the utter pits of hell and deservedly so.

BECAUSE GOD REALLY IS THAT HOLY.
posted by konolia at 7:21 AM on July 17, 2008


Sonohito, I can appeal to basic health principles. Those that obey God's rules for sexual conduct get to avoid a multitude of health issues. But that's a side issue. The only matter that matters to me overall is-do people embrace their Creator or rebel against Him? That is the only thing that ultimately matters in this crazy world.
posted by konolia at 7:23 AM on July 17, 2008


konolia So, that's a "no, I don't have any non-Biblical justification for my hate against homosexuals and my desire to see the state oppress them by any and all means", right?

The "health principles" you bring up (I assume you mean "eewww, anal sex is icky" when you say "health principles") don't actually exist. Anal sex is not inherently more unhealthy than any other sort of sex despite claims by the various homobigot groups. More to the point, only male homosexuals are characterized by anal sex, lesbians (while they may engage in anal) are not. More straight couples have anal sex than lesbian couples.

Oral sex, whether between opposite sexes or between members of the same sex is significantly more healthy than penis/vagina intercourse as there is no risk of pregnancy, which was the most common cause of death among women for most of human history and still remains dangerous. Even in the USA the maternal mortality rate is 17 in 100,000, which makes pregnancy a more common cause of death than suicide (11 per 100,000) and homicide (5.5 per 100,000) combined [1]. The hazards of straight sex seem quite a bit more deadly than those of homosexual sex.

Since you're a Calvinist, I wonder why you're even bothering to hate on and and oppress homosexuals. It isn't as if you believe they have a choice. IIRC Calvinism necessitates the belief that, even prior to the creation of the universe, that your kind and loving god had the intent that they be born specifically so they could later be tortured, in his mercy and love, for all eternity without even the respite of death and oblivion.

Really, and again with no snark at all, since you are a Calvinist why are you even trying to talk to people about religion?

[1] And, on that note, I should add that if a woman is pregnant and wishes to avoid death, she's much better advised to get an abortion than to carry the pregnancy to term. 17 deaths per 100,000 deliveries, vs 0.5 deaths per 100,000 abortions in the US. That makes childbirth 34 times more dangerous than abortion.
posted by sotonohito at 9:54 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those that obey God's rules for sexual conduct get to avoid a multitude of health issues.

I know. I mean, the way that not using those sinful condoms has nearly completely wiped out all traces of AIDS from Africa is a sure sign that following the Church's advice on sexual health issues is a great idea.
posted by quin at 10:01 AM on July 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


for the like millionth time... gays marrying has nothing to do with sin or right or wrong it has to do with the right to enter into contracts... you can't discriminate about who can enter into contracts... if you start arguing about right and wrong then either the bible worshipers end up in charge or in jail... religion is not a public policy issue... nor is a religious concept of right and wrong.

please stop arguing about the bible. it's not like we've got a historically sound document that has been well translated and wasn't tampered with by a religious governing authority. you are hurting my head. no one cares about your jesus fantasises or the arguments you have with those who are fantasizing.
posted by ewkpates at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, obviously someone cares, otherwise why are they asking me questions?

(Oh and for the record, I am not a hyperCalvinist, and there are some points in Calvinism that I don't necessarily sign off on. God is bigger than Systematic Theology. ;-)
posted by konolia at 11:00 AM on July 17, 2008


no one else. sheesh.
posted by ewkpates at 11:07 AM on July 17, 2008


The idea that morality should be founded on anything other than reason is just silly. Arthur C. Clarke nails it:

"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn't require religion at all. It's this: 'Don't do unto anybody else what you wouldn't like to be done to you.' It seems to me that that's all there is to it. "

Hillel implicitly agreed: "Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do until you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary."

One can try to refute this by spouting nonsense about building your house on sand, but reason is objectively a more solid basis for morality than the hallucinated whispering of instructions from a deity in your ear.
posted by mullingitover at 11:50 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reason never kept anyone out of hell.
posted by konolia at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2008


konolia writes "Reason never kept anyone out of hell."

Sure it did. I used reason to deduce that staying with my girlfriend would make my life hell, and I bailed. QED.
posted by mullingitover at 1:09 PM on July 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


All jokes aside, reason is used to keep people out of a living hell (the existence of which is beyond serious debate) quite frequently. It should go without saying, but the claims of a post-mortem, devil-with-horns-and-pitchfork-tormenting-you-for-eternity kind of hell are dubious at best as there is no evidence whatsoever of its existence.
posted by mullingitover at 1:30 PM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


BECAUSE GOD REALLY IS THAT HOLY.

Shouting your irrational and delusional personal beliefs does not make them true.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, this is the best thread ever. I'm going to replace all the quotes on my profile page with this shit.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:02 AM on July 18, 2008


We reason about this world to avoid the hells that others create for themselves in this world out of their imaginings.

When you depart from reason, you can say nothing more. Your voice becomes a howling wind that means nothing and says nothing.

There is no limit to the irrational. It contains everything and nothing. In the irrational there are infinite hells, and the irrational are condemned to them all.

p.s. there is an especially bitter flavor to the hypocrisy of the religious... their beliefs judge others and call for action in support of those judgements... but such judgement and action is never so harsh when they fail their own measure.
posted by ewkpates at 11:32 AM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Occam's Razor is also helpful.
posted by mullingitover at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2008


Reason never kept anyone out of hell any imaginary place. Dare I say 'fixed that'?

Reason also saved me from the "hell on earth" created by the delusions of someone who used to be very close to me. A lot of introspection as well as a lot of conversation with other people (very few of whom were 'professional therapists') helped me to find a moral center not dependent on believing that the Universe would EVER provide a 'short cut' to ultimate Truth as Religion claims to.

And, just because I love to play with silly metaphors, the best way to stay on top of shifting sands is to keep moving. Standing firm on anything you interpret as "a rock" will ultimately get you buried (although you probably won't notice it).

When you depart from reason, you can say nothing more. Your voice becomes a howling wind that means nothing and says nothing.

Which explains why konolia's words of "spiritual wisdom" have become more and more noise the more I try to listen to them.

"Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do until you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary."

It's not that easy. Some people inflict great pain and damage on others while "doing unto them" exactly what they would want "done unto themselves". The true basis of logical/reasoned morality is holding onto as much REALITY as possible, accepting that we do not have access to Ultimate Truth and living and learning means realizing that there are things in your past that seemed 'right' at the time that were not. That's not being sinful, especially if you learn from your past mistakes and work to set things right. That's Progress, the good kind of Evolution (and the main reason I'm taking time to write this here). I have found that the Hipocratic thing that says "First, do no harm" is a truer First Law (not JUST for doctors or people who play them on TV) and the practice of logical/reasoned morality is all about learning what does harm, and then doing something else.

And it's always harder to do The Right Thing than it looks. But it sure beats following an imaginary God.
posted by wendell at 7:59 PM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


I follow a nonimaginary God, Wendell.

BTW you sure sound really different-is that really you or is someone hijacking your account? Cuz that ain't the Wendell I am familiar with.
posted by konolia at 8:14 PM on July 22, 2008


I follow a nonimaginary God

Wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on July 22, 2008


While this thread is drifting - the point is this: Whether or not Ms. Ladele (remember her?) or anyone else thinks that something is true that no one has ever been able to prove or demonstrate (and most people would get off the bus sooner or later unless they are mental... if you can't prove it then its basically astrology) we are reminded again that people who say something is true when it cannot be proven are lying... because they are saying "what is undemonstrated is manifestly so".

These people then make laws and take other action to disenfranchise those who think other unprovable things are true, people who only accept proof, homos, etc.

This is not a basis for a form of government. Nor is this the basis for the conduct of a government employee.

Claiming secret knowledge is one thing, claiming secret knowledge about how to run the government is a whole other kettle of fish.
posted by ewkpates at 3:47 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


is someone hijacking your account?

When reality strikes, you always look for some highly unlikely reason for it. The Flying Spaghetti Monster hacked wendell's account!

That's Progress, the good kind of Evolution (and the main reason I'm taking time to write this here).

Sounds like the real wendell to me. Why else would he point this out?

*pops popcorn*
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:07 AM on July 23, 2008


Chuckdarwin, I have interacted with wendell for a long time and am used to his usual tone. This is NOT it.
posted by konolia at 6:38 AM on July 23, 2008


Why don't you email him?
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:43 AM on July 23, 2008


I probably will-or see if he's over at MeCha.
posted by konolia at 8:50 AM on July 23, 2008


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