Focus on the Family Contacts Will & Grace Story Editor
April 10, 2001 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Focus on the Family Contacts Will & Grace Story Editor
...and gets more than it bargained for!
posted by quonsar (49 comments total)
As pathetic as "Will & Grace" is (not a single funny line - ever - predictable from Day One), it's even more pathetic for "Focus On The Family" to believe that they can influence the writers/producers/etc of the show. "W&G" cast/crew believe that they are on a mission of sorts - very much like "FOTF" - and nothing either of them do will persuade the other to change their position (no pun intended).
posted by davidmsc at 6:06 PM on April 10, 2001

It's funny to see the same documents can be on both a christian radio station's site as well as Brads (I'm not accusing the station of theft, I just think it's funny to see two opposing viewpoints presenting the same material - what does the christian station get out of it?).
posted by mathowie at 6:11 PM on April 10, 2001

I'm guessing because Focus on the Family is a syndicated show that the Christian station broadcasts.

Here, by the way, is the FotF flame-fanning "Will & Grace Outrage" astroturf campaign, where the materials originated. You've got to admit, they've learned how to play the victim card. I almost feel sorry for their self-denying asses. Then I remember that they haven't experienced actual discrimination.
posted by dhartung at 6:38 PM on April 10, 2001

The station gets loyalty out of it. The response clearly mocks the letter writer who represents a "Christian" organization. Fuel to the fire.

BTW, not all "Christians" share this point of view. I thought the guys response was we delivered.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 6:40 PM on April 10, 2001

Maybe the Focus on the Family guy should have simply written his letter as a "private citizen" instead of using the job letterhead......anyhow I think it is ridiculous to think a gay person is unable to change.

Besides, I don't understand why the "Will and Grace" guy is so reactive-no one is forcing him to change.
And shouldn't that be the point? If a person does not wish to be gay, why should they be made to feel they are stuck?
Just because something is not particularly easy does not mean it is impossible.

Token Christian
posted by bunnyfire at 7:22 PM on April 10, 2001

I think it is ridiculous to think a gay person is unable to change

You're right bunny, and I think it's ridiculous to think a straight person is unable to change. You'd be willing to "go gay" if you had to, right? I'm not forcing you or anything, it'd be just like if I wanted you to start being taller or shorter, or change your eye color or hair color, perhaps even your race, y'know, if you felt trapped in your current situation. Yep, that makes a lot of sense to me.
posted by mathowie at 7:35 PM on April 10, 2001

Bunny, the only reason people want to stop being gay is because there are ignorant, hateful people out there who have taught them to hate themselves. There's no real reason why anyone should be overly concerned with the gender of people they are sexually attracted to.
I could make some snide comments here, but I'll reserve them unless you mention people going to hell. Because at least so far you seem more reasonable than that.
posted by Doug at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2001

Bunny: It's just a guess, but I suspect the W&G guy is so "reactive" because he's aware that many people gay people have wasted years and tortured themselves needlessly in an effort to try to change a fundamental aspect of themselves that has never been shown to be changeable.

I'd be interested to hear the facts and reasoning that lead you so confidently to the position that it's "ridiculous to think a gay person is unable to change." I'd state the exact opposite -- and have the overwhelming preponderance of psychological studies behind me.

One thing that is very doable, however, is to teach people the self-confidence necessary to to honor and respect themselves, to accept who they are, and to realize that what religious nuts think about it is irrelevant.

(And I have to disagree with davidmsc for once, I think the show is a riot at least 75% of the time.)
posted by mw at 8:10 PM on April 10, 2001

So it's "once gay - always gay" and "once straight - always straight" Matt and Doug? No room for exploration of your sexual identity? If I for some reason suddenly felt the need to "go gay" would I be able to? I think so. So why can't the converse be true?

Yes, these gay conversion 'specialists' and thier converts oftentimes change their mind and go back to being gay, just like straight people change their mind and come out of the closet. But does every single one? Isn't that what free choice is all about -- being able to decide what you want to do and who to do it with?

I think bunnyfire's point is that nobody is holding a gun to anybodys head saying "you must go gay" or "you must go straight." If somebody wants to change their behavior, that their business. Suggesting that they're doing so because they've been taught to hate themselves implies that they have no choice in the matter.

And as for the letter from the show's writer, if someone posted something comparable here, the word troll would be liberally applied.
posted by OneBallJay at 8:14 PM on April 10, 2001

Sexuality is a myth.
posted by holloway at 8:25 PM on April 10, 2001

I also think W&G is one of the funniest shows on TV. But I believe that in a couple of decades, it's going to be looked back on as the Amos 'N Andy of gay television: An important program in that it had gay main characters at all, but characters so stereotypical that many gays would prefer to keep it off the air.
posted by aaron at 8:30 PM on April 10, 2001

Amen, holloway.
posted by Ms Snit at 8:33 PM on April 10, 2001


and amen, aaron.
posted by Ms Snit at 8:35 PM on April 10, 2001

accountingboy: Of course there's room for experimenting. If someone thinks they're gay for a while, then realizes that they really don't like guys as much as they thought, that's fine with me.

That's not what these "ex-gay" groups are about, though. These are groups of people who are actually, really, honest-to-god capital-F-A-G homosexuals who think it would be easier to start chasing pussy than deal with their friends/family/religion/society/what have you.

Most people who realize they're not really gay after all would be pretty relieved. If it takes an organization of people with support groups and classes to "realize" that you're straight, then I have to wonder if you really are.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:36 PM on April 10, 2001

accountingboy: christ, of course I don't think of the world in strictly black and white terms. That was going one of my points, but if someone actually thinks "gays should change" I doubt they're going to be open to my rant on how no one is 100% gay or straight. I agree, no one I know is 100% either way, the world of sexuality is a million shades of gray in between, and people are capable of jumping from one shade to another as they see fit.

And as for free choice, I would agree anyone is free to choose anything they want, it'd be nice though, to not get a letter from someone (part of a group in the business of telling people to change) saying I should change anything about the way I am.
posted by mathowie at 8:46 PM on April 10, 2001

I don't think that the letter from Focus on the Family was telling the writer that "gays should change," and I don't think that bunnyfire said that either. The first letter was saying that "we ex-gays don't like being mocked on TV, why don't we get together and discuss your stereotype and why must make fun of what I do because you can't accept that I think differently than you." I know I don't appreciate it when people mock me for what I believe.

As a side note, I do believe that people are pretty much hard-wired as to their sexual preference. And I do think that since this was Focus on the Family, they probably are pushing an agenda (it's what they do, and I don't like it). I'm quite unhappy about how these ex-gay crusaders try to convert insecure people of the GLBT persuasion. But I'm also upset about this writer deciding to mock the 'ex-gay' community, then mock someone that (honestly or not) claimed to be offended. That just doesn't seem to be very understanding (and that's what the gay community is looking for isn't it -- what goes around, comes around). So basically, I agree with the guy, but I didn't like his response.

And I too think it is ridiculous to think someone's sexual orientation can't change. It may not happen much, but I'm sure it happens sometimes.
posted by OneBallJay at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2001

err . . . "and why you must make fun"
posted by OneBallJay at 9:26 PM on April 10, 2001

Just out of curiousity, what would some of you feel if I wrote:

"...the only reason people want to stop being straight is because there are ignorant, hateful people out there who have taught them to hate themselves..."

Anyone else now having the same reaction I had when I first read Doug's comment?
posted by tsitzlar at 9:45 PM on April 10, 2001

hello. this particular queer thought the retort was both hilarious and appropriate. some of us DO enjoy vindication authored by poison-penned bitter queens like jon kinnally. we enjoy it A LOT.
posted by patricking at 9:57 PM on April 10, 2001

...and i'd also like to note: that freak mike haley is a "youth and gender" specialist, which means he's teaching kids that if they're gay, it's wrong.

so based on that, can we please pick a more valid point of debate than whether or not mr. kinnally's being nice..?
posted by patricking at 10:01 PM on April 10, 2001

tsitzlar wrote:

Just out of curiousity, what would some of you feel if I wrote:

"...the only reason people want to stop being straight is because there are ignorant, hateful people out there who have taught them to hate themselves..."

If you wrote that, I'd think you were nuts. As far as I know, there isn't anyone out there telling straight people that they're immoral, wicked, mentally ill and/or going straight (pardon the expression) to hell. There are, by contrast, many people doing that to gays.

Sexuality is certainly something that evolves over time, but it tends to set at some point and not change thereafter. When it sets varies from person to person. I know a lot of gay men who knew they were gay at 12 or earlier and nothing has ever happened to cause them to question that assessment. I didn't admit to myself that I was gay until I was 37 and had been married 12 years. And I was probably bisexual for some period of time, and since I was faithful to my wife, I was effectively straight. But having admitted who I am, I have a comfort with my sexuality that I never had before, and it strikes me as exceedingly unlikely that I'd ever move back down the Kinsey scale. I do know men who know that they're gay but decide that they want to be straight so badly that they'll just deny who they are and get married and have a family. Those are the kind of men who cruise rest stops on the highway. What a life.

When my now-ex-wife told her family that we were divorcing because I'm gay, my former sister-in-law insisted on sending me some materials from Exodus ministries, even though my ex pleaded with her not to. I didn't read them, but my ex thought they were pretty funny. I know a number of guys who tried the Exodus routine, and what they've all told me is that the rate of so-called success is effectively zero. A friend of mine was in a group for over four years, and during that time, he said that over a hundred men came and went, and the only person who didn't drop out was the leader. The leader dropped out after my friend left.

And then I know guys who say (as a joke, I hope), "Yeah, sure, I go to the Exodus meetings. There's a lot of guys there, and they're all single!"

Anyway, making fun of the Exodians is only fair. There's been plenty of fun poked at gays in the media over the years.
posted by anapestic at 10:57 PM on April 10, 2001

anapestic rocks my tiny little world *so* very hard.
posted by patricking at 11:41 PM on April 10, 2001

I embarrassed to admit that even I have experimented with heterosexuality. In 1989, I slept with a straight man.
posted by bradlands at 12:09 AM on April 11, 2001

Who ever said that the version of religious veneration that the country that Focus on the Family resides in was true? Besides themselves and like adherents? Through the course of billions of years in this Cosmos, to say that in the mere blink of years homo sapiens have been present we have the low-down on this thing such as where we should be sticking our tongues and penises is absolute disbeliever fodder.

You wanna get more people to enjoy your religion with you? Quit judging others. Quit telling the same it's the only way and if you don't believe, you get to burn in hell (that gets the untreated mentally ill to sheeple-ize themselves everytime). Like I said, it's the fodder for the comfortable in the face of chaos, the disbelieving in protest of the blindly believing. This is why the writer addressed the Focus on the Family Letter as such. He was brave, brazen and healthily takes lightly the myths in which the people of Focus on the Family cling.

Nothing can possibly be more out of touch than a religion which has run its course. Go to Europe for details. And you Americanized Christians, read your Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Native American et al mythology if you don't think highly venerated gods can't die. They do. Unfortunately it seems America's corpocracy/theocracy would rather take us all out in a blaze of splitting atoms than find out that we're all wrong about most everyting form time to time.
posted by crasspastor at 4:10 AM on April 11, 2001

The thing *I* liked best was the way that the FOTF guy kept trying to co-opt the phrase "coming out", didn't you?
posted by baylink at 12:02 PM on April 11, 2001

Aaron, I agree with you. But then to me most sitcoms are like watching a celebrity autopsy.

And tsitzlar, if the entire structure of our society had reversed (I'm told it has something to do with the fscking of women) along with your social semantics, then I'd agree with you. (Though if it could change that easily we wouldn't be having this conversation.) So until such time as churches and politicians use their sacred powers to attack straight folk as immoral and depraved and there are frequent straightbashings in our cities I'll suggest you're making my point for me and that we're in agreement.

Here's an example, ripped from today's papers (if it were yesterday and was printed on paper):

Fla. Legislator Attacks Gay Youth
Barbara Dozetos, / Network
Tuesday, April 10, 2001 / 07:52 PM

Gay and lesbian high school students came face to face with homophobia on their trip to the Florida state capital, as one legislator accused them of being the "downfall" of America.

A group of gay and lesbian Florida high school students looking for legislative sponsors for an anti-discrimination law instead got an anti-gay lecture from one state representative.

"I don't understand why the gay population is becoming so vocal," state Rep. Allen Trovillion, 74, told the students after he listened to their request for support of the Florida Dignity for All Students Act, according to a report in the Tampa Tribune. "You are going to cause the downfall of this country."

The legislator, who represents the suburbs of Orlando, told gay students visiting the state capital as part of Equality Florida Youth Lobby Day that they were throwing their lives away and that God would destroy them. Ann-Marie Manchise, a University of South Florida journalism student, reported the legislator's comments in the Tribune.

According to Manchise's report, Trovillion's comments left at least one student, 17-year-old Chris Vasquez, in tears. "The Florida Legislature says we're going to hell," Vasquez said. "The part that really bothers me is the fact that he's one of the people we're supposed to look up to for moral guidance and support," he added. "[Trovillion is] spouting ... ideas that only make the world more dangerous for gay youth."

In his comments to the students, Trovillion also quoted scripture and said, "God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and he is going to destroy you and a lot of others," Manchise reported.

The students had better luck with other legislators and hope to introduce the bill, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to state non-discrimination laws, to the Legislature early next year.

ps bonus link: Student council candidate bounced from race after fake kiss
posted by retrofut at 12:50 PM on April 11, 2001

[crasspastor] Through the course of billions of years in this Cosmos, to say that in the mere blink of years homo sapiens have been present we have the low-down on this thing such as where we should be sticking our tongues and penises is absolute disbeliever fodder.

That would be a reasonable argument if everyone held the same assumptions about our universe. However, if you believed that the Earth was created 10,000 years ago and that everything on it was created in pretty much the form it exists today and that the supernatural creator in question handed down a set of rules (including details on where it was appropriate to stick our tongues and penises) to his devoted followers, then that's not such a big logical leap.

The "ex-gay movement" seems pretty silly from most of our points of view (which, of course, are the unfailingly correct), but from the POV/belief system of FotF and their target audience, it's a pretty reasonable idea.

Brad, you're hilarious.

Aaron, you're totally right about Will & Grace's place in the future of history.

To sum up my POV, I agree with Holloway: "Sexuality is a myth." Or at least it should be from a social point of view. Whether it's set in genetic stone or a personal choice, I don't see why it matters whom you have sex with, in what manner you have sex with them, or whom you fantasize about while you're having your dirty, kinky, disgusting sex with this first person. I mean, who cares? I certainly don't.

Unless I had dibs on her first.
posted by daveadams at 1:11 PM on April 11, 2001

What's embarrassing about the portrayal of the gay protagonists on Will & Grace? Aside from the fact that Will and Jack can talk about homosexual relationships but never actually demonstrate physical affection for men, I don't see anything that merits future Amos & Andy treatment.
posted by rcade at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2001

You know, I for one would never say that gay people have a corner on hankypanky ....plenty of straight folks that misuse their sex drives(remember now, i am the token christian).....I do agree it is more than disingenuous for straight folk to point their finger at gay people as if straight peoples' sins didn't matter. God has a definite opinion on self-righteousness, for example.......before you accuse me of hating gay people let me point out that my date for the senior prom was gay(this was back in the Seventies) the way, Matthowie-to respond to your post earlier in this thread-I actually did color my hair last week.
Burgundy looks rather cute on me.

posted by bunnyfire at 6:31 PM on April 11, 2001

The thing that is not being addressed here is the belief system of Focus on the Family. Of course Mike Haley thinks it beneficial to change, he is a Christian, and Christians are taught that homosexuality is sinful. As far as "Christians" pushing their beliefs on others, I don't think they do as much as other groups out there. Every special interest group makes their particular view known, and because Christians believe their way to be the only way, the true way, then why wouldn't they want to share it with others.

As far as changing sexual preference, why not? If you are saying that once you are one way, that is the way you are, you are wrong! Read "Gender Outlaw" and you will find that the whole transgender argument centers around how society cannot define our personal sexuality. That is not to say that this is the correct view, but that there are many views out there. If you are truely open-minded, then hopefully you will realize that people can change, and they don't like to be made fun of. I guarantee that any other show put down the gay community, saying that all gay people are "freaks" or sexually disoriented, or whatever, the response would be enormous. The network would probably even have to publically apologize.
posted by Littlebro at 8:27 PM on April 11, 2001

Brad, you crack me up, seriously, things came out of my nose.

> An important program in that it had gay main characters at all, but characters so stereotypical that many gays would prefer to keep it off the air.

What do you want, gay characters that think and act exactly like straight characters? That would only serve to make the show more easily digestible for uncomfortable straight people. Pandering to the masses, now that *would* be offensive. I'm not saying that I think the show is true to life, I mean really, it's a sitcom. When was the last time you saw an african american character on Friends? But saying Will&Grace is in some way "too gay" for its own good doesn't fly with me.

I'm sure plenty of gay folks would be happy to have the show off the air, but they have issues. Y'know, some folks fit some of the stereotypes, there's nothing wrong with that.

> I guarantee that any other show put down the gay community

What are you talking about? Gays/lesbians/etc. are the butt of jokes all the time in popular media; typically nothing becomes of it, because it's stupid and pointless. But if something is offensive enough to anger a lot of people then hell yeah it's going to be attacked. Do you think that if some show ragged on any other minority group it wouldn't elicit a response? As for this show, yeah, it's a double standard, but that's just how it works: it's the difference between laughing with - and laughing at. It's the way in which the joke is delievered and it's final intent.
posted by Craig at 10:47 PM on April 11, 2001

What do you want, gay characters that think and act exactly like straight characters? That would only serve to make the show more easily digestible for uncomfortable straight people. Pandering to the masses, now that *would* be offensive. I'm not saying that I think the show is true to life, I mean really, it's a sitcom.

Can you tell me how stereotypes of gay people are different than uncomfortable straight peoples' stereotypes of gay people? And how that's different than pandering to the masses? I can't see the distinction here.

But for all the hype as "the show every gay man must see" that I see in the trades I don't know a single gay man who watches it (though as always that may be more self-descriptive of how I spend my time than of gay men in general).
posted by retrofut at 12:03 PM on April 12, 2001

"I don't know a single gay man who watches it"

I don't watch it regularly (I don't even know when it's on), but if I'm channel surfing (through all five channels) and it's on, I'll stop and watch. And I happen to think it's pretty funny.

The show every gay man must see? Nah. Worth checking out to see if you like it? Sure.
posted by CrayDrygu at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2001

> Can you tell me how stereotypes of gay people are different than uncomfortable straight peoples' stereotypes of gay people? And how that's different than pandering to the masses? I can't see the distinction here.

Sorry for being unclear, I'll try and elaborate.

By pandering to the masses I meant homogenizing gays to act and think just like straight people in an effort to make them more palatable to mainstream culture (and by mainstream culture I don't mean LA, I mean everybody, including rural middle america).

aaron indicated earlier that these elements of gay culture the show demonstrates are so stereotypical they're offensive. While some of the stereotypical elements from the show might be a little off the wall (I don't think they are, but for the sake of argument) - it would still be more untrue to the show's intent if the characters behaved the same way straight characters do. Granted some gay people are exactly like straight people (except for the obvious), but many are not. Saying that there is no distinction between the two groups in a general sense, I believe, is wholly erroneous. I don't interperate the inclusion of a colorful gay character (Sean Hayes) to be offensive, I see it as an effort to show variety in the community -when juxtaposed with the character of Will.

Does that make sense?
posted by Craig at 1:13 PM on April 12, 2001

I think it's fairly obvious that the gay community has just as little knowledge of the Christian community as the Christian community has of the gay community. If individuals could just meet each other as people instead of standing on soapboxes telling each other what they KNOW the other believes, that would be a start.

So, I'm a Christian who doesn't believe I should ask someone to change their sexual orientation. Now, is there someone who's gay who doesn't think all Christians are mentally unbalanced bigoted hatemongers? OK, let's talk...
posted by jmcnally at 9:21 PM on April 12, 2001

jmcnally, your religion is based on the fact that the word of god was passed to man in the form of a book which advocates stoning the gay to death. It's pretty hard for me, at least, to overlook something like that.
posted by Doug at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2001

Craig: there was a black character on Friends just two weeks ago. She was the object of Ross and Joey's desire.
posted by raintea at 9:50 AM on April 13, 2001

Not having seen the show, but knowing the tastes of network TV, I'm predicting she was the sort of black woman often referred to (affectionately or derogatorily, depending as the speaker is white or black) as 'chocolate milk'.

I've always thought it was an odd sort of racism to be mad at white guys because they like black chicks -- but *only* if they have Caucasian-leaning features. Hey... they're *black*. Doesn't that sort of pop the racism bubble, right there?
posted by baylink at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2001

> there was a black character on Friends just two weeks

I didn't know that, I really don't watch enough tv... however, once in [however long the show has been on]. How many black folks are there in New York city? My guess is more then one.

The general point is still valid. Thanks for the info though, I'll be sure to use a better analogy in the future.

jmcnally, the honest truth is, I am very much afraid of christians, for the simple fact that I have yet to meet one that said what you just did.

So I have to admit, I am a little curious, how is it that you are able to justify the rejection of that particular belief? I only ask because so many people use the excuse of "god commands it, blah blah" or whatever, so I'm interested in hearing the counter argument from an insider. You're welcome to email me if you're uncomfortable discussing your personal beliefs in a public forum.
posted by Craig at 1:01 PM on April 13, 2001

jmcnally, the honest truth is, I am very much afraid of christians, for the simple fact that I have yet to meet one that said what you just did.

I think that this is because the most vocal "Representative Christians" are precisely the ones that harangue gays and the gay community, whereas those of us for whom a person's sexual-orientation is irrelevant aren't as vocal (precisely because it isn't, and shouldn't be a big deal; let people be people).

jmcnally, your religion is based on the fact that the word of god was passed to man in the form of a book which advocates stoning the gay to death. It's pretty hard for me, at least, to overlook something like that.

Okay, I have a problem with this, not only coming from those who are atheist or agnostic, but also from Christians who advocate "an eye for an eye" or think that homosexuality is a sin (amongst other things). The Bible wasn't written all at once, but rather, each part was written (transmitted, what have you) to speak foremost to a specific group of people, and later to all people. There are many obvious contradictions, but they are contradictions only if you place equal weight to every single word. For Christians such as myself, what is said later (chronologically) carries more weight because it tends to address and even change what was advocated earlier.

So, when we read that the Bible advocates stoning, it is important to keep in mind that (for Christians), this was before the happy, hippy, bearded fella (Jesus) called for those without sin to throw the first stone and then said to the accused adulteress, "They do not condemn you, and neither do I."

I'm sorry, I truly didn't mean to preach, I just get frustrated sometimes...
posted by Avogadro at 1:21 PM on April 13, 2001

> For Christians such as myself...

For christians like you? But just how many christians like you are there? For every christian pastor willing to perform some kind of marrage/commitment ceremony for a gay or lesbian couple there are hundreds of jewish rabbis more willing to do the same. If what you say is true, and that there are a fair amount of christians that think the way you do, then why the fuck are things the way they are? I'm not aware of a single christian denomination that is prepared to say anything nearly as bold as you have, officially. If a bunch of you feel that way then get off your collective asses and tell your christian representatives that 'no, you don't speak for me.'

If you're content to let these people speak for you, and say the things they do (to indoctrinate the next generation) then you're just as bad as they are.

If you're angered by people like that, but feel that you're really unable to do anything about it then admit you're in the vast minority of christians and don't act all shocked and offended when someone speaks up against the church for being stupid and hateful.

I'm sorry, I get frustrated too.
posted by Craig at 3:24 PM on April 13, 2001

Avogadro, I respect your opinion, and it even makes some sense, but I can't really see someone believing the weird stuff that christianity requires one to believe when the source is so clearly corrupt. It'd be like someone joining the kkk nowadays cause, ya know, they don't lynch blacks anymore. Why would anyone want to be a part of that institution?
posted by Doug at 4:08 PM on April 13, 2001

The gap between gays and Christians isn't necessarily always as wide as you think. Even though I'm straight, I would only be a member of a church that practiced tolerance with regard to sexual orientation as well; that's the personal line that I can't cross. I couldn't pray next to someone who couldn't accept a gay person praying next to him.
posted by dhartung at 4:42 PM on April 13, 2001

I was aware there were a few gay-christian organizations, even a few churches with gay pastors, but gay baptists? Geez, that's almost as confusing as log cabin republicans. Thanks for the link, I've seen every thing now.
posted by Craig at 5:23 PM on April 13, 2001

Doug and Craig, I utterly understand your points of view. Perhaps I can offer another analogy; instead of the KKK, I think Christianity is more like the U.S. (or nearly every other nation). Whilst the U.S. was founded with slavery being legal, it has in its history rejected it, and though not presently perfect, there are still people both within and outside of the federal government that strive to make it better.

I myself am Catholic, and there are numerous things about what the authority pushes with which I vehemently disagree. However, I think that there are also things about the Catholic Church that are quite wonderful (among them its Social Justice mission). I cling to the parts of the Church that I like, and I work to get rid of parts of the Church that I believe are wrong (I could talk about this some more off thread). Like every other institution, Churches too are ever evolving.

Not all Christians (or their denominations) are the same, nor are all denominations as united behind a central ideology as they would want you to believe.

Oh, and I think that a denomination that represents a liberal (not in the political sense) orientation is the United Church of Christ, whose Board for Homeland Ministries filed an amicus curiae brief for James Dale in Boy Scouts of America et al. vs. James Dale. I think that their particular flavor of Christianity comes from an intentional absence of a central authority, and so it is much more in tune with the realities of the world.

By the bye, I'm not trying to convert anyone; I'm just lending my voice to this debate.
posted by Avogadro at 5:03 AM on April 14, 2001

Just as the bible is not a monolithic work, neither is the church. Even between two churches of the same denomination, there are often huge differences.
The church is not one institution. It is just a group of people, or rather, many different groups of many different people. Thinking of it as one body is as silly as thinking of homosexuals as one body, or people with blond hair.

If it seems that all the christians are insane hate-mongerers, it's because the most fanatical people are always the loudest, just as in any other forum.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:24 AM on April 14, 2001

Avogadro, in a lot of ways I agree with you. I even agree to some degree with your America/Christianity analogy. One thing does bother me about it, however. Why haven't the offending statements been either amended, or taken out of the old testament? Sounds insane, I know, but come on...there's some particularly horrible, primitive stuff in that book that I'm SURE you don't agree with. And the very reason it will never be taken out is because the Bible was supposedly transmitted from God, and is thus all true, and cannot be amended. But if it's all true, we're again at a point where a man who touches a menstruating woman should be killed. What is the exact relationship between modern Christianity and those old testament texts?
posted by Doug at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2001

I'm with Doug, if some of the words of your god have been declared void why are they still in there? If you think they're important enough for posterity, do like the constitution and have them printed with that line thingy through them -to clearly show that they're no longer valid.

Avogadro: I'm quite suprised to hear that you're a catholic. My previous experiences with catholics have not been favorable, quite damaging actually. You've given me much to think about. Ultimately though, I'm too cynical to be able to give all christians the benefit of the doubt. It's like expecting wolves to behave around sheep, it might happen once or twice, but eventually some of the wolves get hungry. Maybe it's unfair to the rest of the wolves to say that the they are bad, but tell that to the dead sheep.
posted by Craig at 1:58 PM on April 14, 2001

(previewing this, I realize that it's bloody long; sorry)

Well, IANAT (I am not a theologian), but to expand on the Christianity/America analogy, I think that one of the reasons that such parts of the old testament have not been excised is that they are (like it or not) a part of the Christian heritage, and to toss those things out would be the same as rewriting history books by clipping all mentions of slavery.

Look guys, while my faith is central to who I am, I'm the last person who should claim any sort of scriptural knowledge (you'll nearly never see a Bible in my hand, though I do occasionally read books that appeal to my own faith life), so I can't answer these kinds of questions.

Also, I too am pissed off with the way "holier-than-thou" folks act, particularly when such actions damage others. Craig, if I were in your shoes, I's probably be cynical as well. I can only speak for the people with whom I chose to be; for the most part, they are the most down-to-earth, accepting of all folks, life-enjoying, beer-sharing people you'd ever run across, and if you didn't know them , you wouldn't realize that they were Catholic, much less folks who went to seminary or seriously thought about devoting their whole lives to God.

Speaking for myself, I seldom bring up my own faith (contrary to my actions in this thread) when I deal with folks that don't know me well because I know that in many cases it will produce an instant barrier. I'd rather let people get to know me, then later find out more about me. Folks who are out to convert the whole world all at once don't have those qualms, and in my opinion, doing so is in itself divisive.
posted by Avogadro at 7:30 PM on April 14, 2001

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