Opinion

What I learned after the Pulse nightclub shooting

Nick Tucciarelli and his daughter Campbell visit a vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jim Young

ORLANDO, Fla. (RNS) Our natural tendency after a horrific event is to rush too quickly into blame and explanation.

After the Pulse nightclub shooting here in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which targeted the LGBTQ community and left 50 people dead including the shooter, I was probably not alone in asking, “Who did this and why?”

But the question was not merely for information; it was for exemption from the responsibility of human (and religious) hate.

I wanted to blame terrorists, or at least bigots, and assign the act to a crazy person. But Jesus had taught me, “Before you point out the speck in someone else’s eye, note the log in your own.”

Unfortunately, this was more than a speck. And it has proved to be more than a log.

Differences in the interpretation of scripture, detached from personal relationship, can grow into distrust, then into division and possibly into destruction. We have what has been termed “a hermeneutic (interpretation) of suspicion” when we do not take the trouble to know the context and the person whence the difference comes.

That was the beginning of my journey. I knew and was friends with several Muslims, so I had no temptation to blame Islam. I could just assign the act to insanity or hate, but something else troubled me.

I didn’t know the victims. I didn’t know anything about their community. I was brokenhearted not because I had so many relationships in the LGBTQ community, but because I had so few. Was I complicit in the divisions that led to this destruction? Could anything I said, or preached, have led to this kind disrespect or prejudice or ostracism for that community?

The price of ignorance is distance, not only in relationships but from truth. It is not a benign distance. If Pulse taught us anything, it was that communities that have been isolated (even self-isolated) because of societal rejection can be attacked by more than words. When religious rejection happens because we have no understanding or relationships, it can be even more malicious because we think we are defending morality and faith.

We also know from Pulse the benefits of a second chance. The Orlando community did pull together, including the religious communities — even the conservative evangelical churches. We all wanted to be a part of the response and a part of the healing. So many prayer services were held and not a few new relationships across gay/straight lines were initiated. The problem with second chances, though, is that they quickly fade in priority when life as we know it returns. The question remains: How will Pulse make for a new community with less division and distancing?

To all of this, those of us in the Christian faith should be best prepared for repentance and changing our ways. We should be able to admit that we have been a part of the condemnation people feel and even though our interpretation of scripture labels certain behaviors “sin,” it does not make us judges of other people’s acceptability. In fact, the story of our faith is that WE were unacceptable, and the God we worship sent his son to build a relationship with us. We are “saved by grace” (unmerited favor) so who are we to relate to anyone with anything other than grace?

So here are the lessons I’ve learned and am still learning:

  1. Catastrophes help us face both our faults and our faith.
  2. Differences will either educate us as to other perspectives — or can grow toxic, isolating, and possibly end in some sort of attack.
  3. We are not fully responsible for the terrible things that happen but we are not fully exonerated either. All of us can unwittingly be contributing factors by the way we have discounted people, and all of us can do better in valuing people.
  4. Religious people — and Christians in particular — have an extra obligation to learn from and love people who interpret scripture differently than we do. The obligation is to God, because those people were made in his image and have innate value. The price of not doing so is a self-righteous anger that hurts people and makes our faith null. When we want to condemn others instead of trusting God to judge them, we are not being people of faith. We are being people who just want to fight with someone who is different than we are.

Nearly a year after Pulse, I am still learning the cost of ignorance, the benefits of a second chance and the depths of grace.

(Joel C. Hunter is the senior pastor of Northland Church in Orlando)

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Joel C. Hunter

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  • In light of the gay nightclub (Pulse) mass-shooting, it’s good to ask, “Was I complicit in the divisions that led to this destruction?” as Hunter does. But NOT to the exclusion of raw public facts.
    Hunter chooses not to mention that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was:

    (a) a regular Pulse patron who often tried to pick up other men (multiple witnesses, but the FBI said it was unable to establish Mateen’s “sexual orientation”, leaving the issue unresolved), and
    (b) a Muslim who pledged his support to ISIS in a phone call to News 13 Orlando, while killing people.

    So the honest fact is: There is no evidence that **Christians** caused or even influenced the Pulse shooter / shooting at all. There were other factors involved, like possibly — or especially — homosexuality and Islam.

    Hunter’s question is still appropriate, but don’t ignore the facts on the table.

  • “I wanted to blame terrorists, or at least bigots, and assign the act to a crazy person. But Jesus had taught me, “Before you point out the speck in someone else’s eye, note the log in your own.”’ People tell me, judge not lest ye be judged. I always tell them, twist not scripture, lest ye be like Satan. Paul Washer
    John 7:24 – English Standard Version
    Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
    Christ taught that homosexuality is a sin

    ” I was brokenhearted not because I had so many relationships in the LGBTQ community, but because I had so few.” God never intended His children to become intimate with evil in order to communicate the gospel to those in it’s grasp. Robert Mounce

    “Religious people — and Christians in particular — have an extra obligation to learn from and love people who interpret scripture differently than we do.” There is only one interpretation for the scripture on homosexuality. Anything else is apostasy, or a heretic trying to read scripture needing guidance. Which are you?

    There have been children murdered in Manchester England and in London on the London Bridge and you feel the need to “support” immorality at this time?

  • Every good parent warns there children to stay away from danger. If this club reopens to carry on the same behaviors, in the same way…hooking up for a few minutes or a night or two, then what is it you are asking of us Mr. Hunter? Each man has free will and God’s graces are always present to shine the light on a soul if he accepts them. It must be our constant hope that souls desire to live in the freedom of God’s grace in a pure and chaste life. The LGBT community suffers , in that it does not want to live a chaste life but demands that we accept their behaviors, to the point of persecuting Christians through the courts, who in good conscience cannot abide by their behaviors .
    On a human level we mourn with those who have had such a tragedy happen and their families who are in agony. We pray for them in their need for consolation. Jesus told us not to fear him who can kill our bodies but to fear him who can kill our souls. The soul will live in eternity in one of two places. Our prayer must be that , in Christ, all will come to the knowledge of the truth. We have all tumbled around in the darkness and have only God to thank for His grace that has enabled us to become children living in his light. It is always the choice of the soul as to whether it cooperates with His grace. This is because God does not force a soul. His gift to us is free will. This is my hope and prayer, that these youth return to the house of their Father as he awaits them with open arms. Forgiveness is always there for us, but in this age we live in, how many amongst us even consider that they have sinned? The crisis of our times said Saint john Paul 11, is the ‘loss of the sense of sin.’

  • “The price of ignorance is distance, not only in relationships but from truth.”

    You need only the responses of a number of so called Christians whenever the issue of gay people comes up. They are so willing to repeat whatever nonsense they have been told, no matter how much divorced from facts, logic, and experience. You can point out to them the deficiencies of whatever it is they think and say, but it makes no difference to them whatsoever. It fact, it just proves to them how enmeshed you are in the coils of sin.

    However, what it really points out is a simple fact. not all bigotry is hate. So much of it is a completely unwarranted faith in their always present and totally imaginary sulerukirty as moral people. As Christians, and as human beings.

    Well. That and a certain degree of sociopathy when it comes to other humans.

  • Mateen’s sexual orientation was never established, and the FBI forebore to do so because of lack of evidence– not that that has ever deterred you.

    But a homosexual hating homosexual poisoned by the toxic religious belief that you and your ilk regularly spew and call “Christian love” is as good an explanation as any. It doesn’t matter whether it was Christian or Muslim– the effects on innocent lives is the same.

  • “I knew and was friends with several Muslims, so I had no temptation to blame Islam.”

    Wow. This is the stupidest sentence I have read in days. The implication is that the only reason anyone might blame Islam for acts of jihad is that he does not have Muslim friends.

    How about reading the Koran and the Hadith, learning some history, and learning what is being taught in mosques?

    How about letting go of the brainless post-Modernism that says all religions are all about LURV?

  • How about reading Leviticus, which so many so called Christians on these very pages are happy to do? How about putting people in Prison for “that infamous crime against nature, notto be named among Christians?” How about the toxic spew put out by so called bible believing so called Christians, wherein they blame gay people for every single problem of heterosexual society, the fall of civilization, and the danger we (certainly don’t) pose to family, children, freedom, faith and western civilization, such as its is?

    The hands of so called Christians are hardly clean in this matter. You’ve just been forced to wash them, unlike the Muslim countries.

    They still smell bad.

  • Like I said — multiple witnesses said in the media that the shooter Mateen was a Pulse customer, and had been seen trying to pick up guys more than once. The FBI never disproved any of that.

    Instead, the FBI carefully chose its media words (remember, Mr. Comey was in charge at that time!), and they officially said they are unable to establish Mateen’s “sexual orientation”, and then they just walked away.

    But it seems clear that homosexuality (and Islam & ISIS, but NOT Christianity) was an issue in this tragedy.

  • It’s almost the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shootings, I believe that’s why this article is appearing now.

  • Sad…..how many people have been hurt in the UK recently, but the focus is on homosexuals who have been hurt by an islamic terrorist. Sad.

  • No, if ANYTHING is clear, it’s that the self hatred so carefully inculcated in (possibly) homosexually inclined people by conservative religion is an issue. Conservative religion is infested with these closet types like cockroaches…

    except for the ones like Oscar Lopez and Douglas Mainwaring and Scambra who pretend to be homosexual– they are not, they are bisexual– and then attack people who are not infected with it so that they can work out their own issues. They get so much out of it, including pretending to be moral, pretending to have risen above their sinful natures, and the praise of their christianist masters/enablers. Prasie Jesus! Once I was lost in the depths of sin and degradation, and onw I am loved by on less a person than Jesus, who has raised me up!

    On the whole, I prefer cockroaches.

  • Yes, dear. Because there is only so much shock and horror to go around, and we wouldn’t want to waste any of it on THOSE people.

    You really are a piece of work.

  • There is a good start toward healing, and sadly, the first to find exception and/or object in the Disqus comments are the same usual voices of animus, intolerance and bigotry, whose words and attitudes fuel young fools like the Pulse shooter into tragic action. There is mounting evidence that some social conservatives were so unhinged by the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015 that they have become willing dupes of Putin against the national security and interests of America. Their anti-gay bigotry runs so deep that they would literally betray the same nation that gives them their civil rights. Chances are that if any Americans willing colluded with Russia, aside from personal greed, their motives will likely prove to be religious extremism. That is the sad legacy of religious extremism, regardless of which religion it is.

  • No all people are children of God Arb. You must be a Christian to be a child of God.

    John 1:12 ESV
    But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

  • In this he’s no different from the Christian Religious right figures like Ted Haggard, George Rekers, Billy James Hargis and the like in his having some gay attraction (probably Hargis was bisexual; the others just exploiters) while belonging to a religion which denigrates LGBTs. One cannot have lived in the United States without having witnessed the intense hatred of LGBTs by right-wing Christians so there can be no doubt that influenced him.

  • I see you still have to reach back 4000 years for anything remotely comparable to Orlando, and even then, it’s just some words on a page.

  • Nope. I don’t have to reach back that far at all. It was merely one case in a long long line of cases…
    which you simply chose to ignore.
    There are plenty of Christians on these very pages today which advocate the death penalty. There are plenty of them active in public life today in this country. And of course, there are those who call us threats to everything good and holy,. they can claim they love us while they are clearly willing to let others do the hating so that they can follow along.

  • I not only dismiss your comment, but I dismiss the Bible as essentially a combination of delusion and fraud compiled during a period in history when ignorance was virtually all anyone had to work with. There is absolutely no legitimate evidence that a god exists.

    And regarding homosexuality: . . . People are finally realizing that its existence causes no harm whatsoever to anyone, and thus it is not immoral despite the views of people still clinging to the writings of ignorant ancient writers.

    Actually, the earth and humanity would benefit by more homosexuality and less heterosexuality because 1) it would reduce the vast number of unwanted/unintended pregnancies, and 2) it would provide more adoptive parents to care for the unwanted/unintended children still being produced. Therefore, the Bible should be ignored on the issue of homosexuality because the assertions contained in it have no basis in rational thinking and evidence.

    And furthermore, advocating the full social acceptance of gay people strengthens family bonds, and thus it is the authentic pro-family position. It is the anti-gay crowd who are actually anti-family by doing everything they can to tear families apart.

  • Ben, I have noticed that most recently I have replied to and, or queried you on some of these questions and had no reply. Without yielding my own understanding of things, I endeavor to be as clinical as possible in my questions. I suspect that because these are difficult and emotive questions for us both, that I may have injured your sensibilities…that is not, and is never my intent. I have elected, largely as a function of my dialogues with you, not to hammer on the issues of what the State decrees’, but only on the question of what is required of the Church. If I have touched a jangled nerve a bit too heavily, I seek your forgiveness. I do enjoy and learn from our exchanges, and I think they have broadened my understanding of what it means to be a Christian, as exemplified by the commentary of the author above. And as odd as it may sound to you, I consider you a friend.

  • Not everything taught in mosques hews to the same line. Some concepts and attitudes that arise from the teaching of the Koran are quite moderate, others are quite predatory, and the difference lies in the heart and theology of the teacher, and the willingness of his audience to embrace or reject it. That said, as a conservative evangelical, my greatest objection to Islam is that it is a false and deceptive understanding of God; this said without personal prejudice to any Muslim. Every person must be assessed by their own acts towards their fellow creatures.

  • I think the author’s point is that even as we reject the idea that homosexuality is natural and normal, and that it in no way can be conformed to the life of the Church, except through the act of a celibate life, we are obligated to treat those with whom we disagree as lovingly as we can without adopting or endorsing their point of view. For some, from either side, this is wholly insufficient.

  • A play on Shylock’s plea, perhaps? Not that it isn’t an valid question. I don’t think Sandi is cold and hardhearted, as many surmise. She is, however, passionate and uncompromising in her scriptural perspective and little inclined to nuance. I prefer nuance, but some view that as smarmy. “Children of God” as a measure of Creation, yes. Human? Absolutely. Worthy of our sympathy for their untimely and unrepairable loss? Of course. “Children of God” within the New Testament concept of spiritual “adoption” as heirs with Christ? The circumstances and evidence of the milieu in which they were slaughtered suggest otherwise if one adheres to the traditional and orthodox understanding of Christian thought and theology. This position does not make their deaths less tragic, rather more so.

  • “It doesn’t matter whether it was Christian or Muslim” because facts are irrelevant when one is advocating a moral equivalence agenda.

  • In other words, no matter how many Gays are killed by Muslims the Christians are still to be to blamed because of the Jewish Old Testament book of Leviticus?

  • Truthfully Edward, at best, I see him as sitting on the fence. Perhaps I’ll re-read the article.

  • 2nd comment:
    “Differences in the interpretation of scripture, detached from personal relationship, can grow into distrust, then into division and possibly into destruction. We have what has been termed “a hermeneutic (interpretation) of suspicion” when we do not take the trouble to know the context and the person whence the difference comes.” Got that far, Edward. Is he trying to say that “thou shall not murder” depends on the person and context? It could mean something different. Noooooo, I don’t trust the author.
    “…and even though our interpretation of scripture labels certain behaviors “sin…” Furthers my point.
    … When we want to condemn others instead of trusting God to judge them, we are not being people of faith. ” In reference to homosexuals, Christ did condemn them. He said they would not see the Kingdom of Heaven. Repeating what He has taught and told us to teach others is not condemnation.

  • I don’t disagree with you, though Christ condemned a host of other types as well, which often gets lost in the conversation. I’m not talking about surrendering any ground, I accept that correct judgment is not self-righteous or hateful judgment, but I appreciate the author’s emphasis on tenor and tone when dealing with those that we are in theological and spiritual conflict with.

  • Mr. Hunter seems to suggest that if Christians knew more gay people that they would come to understand them better and hence have a tendency to soften their stance in the way they interpret scripture. We are not cafeteria Catholics who pick and choose what we like and ignore or reinterpret what we don’t like to suit our behaviors. This is the damage that was done by Martin Luther when there was a rupture in the CC in the 1500’s.That is relativism run rampant. Pope Benedict called it the ‘dictatorship of relativism’.
    All humans are created in the image and likeness of God. All humans deserve respect and their dignity is not in their being LGBT, their dignity is in being made in the image and likeness of God. In our society today there exists an insidious and radical form of peer pressure that demands that those who are Christian swallow the argument that acts that go against nature and what God had ordained for his children, are all good and to be accepted. No, I would go so far as to say…they EXALT their status. Just because something has been legislated as ‘legal’ does not in any way mean it is moral. Look at abortion. Hundreds of millions of children murdered in their mothers’ wombs. The Blessed Virgin Mary told Sister Lucia, one of the children she appeared to in Fatima in 1917, that the final battle between Christ and satan would be over marriage and family. How true that has proved to be. We are living through this very battle as we speak.

  • You are free to dismiss whatever you chose and think even these crazy and absurd propositions that you propose. But you dismiss God, His Commandments and His love for you at your peril.

  • I appreciate your comment, my friend….
    Homosexuals are lied to most places that they go. They have agencies “advocating” for them who are making enormous sums of money from business and governments, and receiving a lot of rewards because of such. All the while, the homosexual goes along the path further, and further toward death and Hell.
    Their only source of hope and help is maligned (Christ), lied about and discounted and children believe the lie the devil is telling them when turning to Jesus would rectify that problem – and has countless times.
    Even if they still experience the problem, they are going to Heaven and not to torment. None of us deserve even that.
    God is Sovereign and He knows best for each of us.
    These people live in a world that cares nothing for them. Hurting someone is not loving them.
    These people believe the lies about homosexuality being innate and immutable – when Christ taught differently. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
    Their hope is being taken from them on a regular basis by the world, and the so-called “homosexual advocates”, many of whom just want company on their journey to perdition as they have no respect or love for themselves or they would not put themselves into such a position.
    This is not something to candy coat and speak softly on. These precious people are far too valuable to be lost to Hell and the world with it’s lies hurts them more and more every day.
    God gave us His word to instruct these people in the manner He chooses and this “pastor” is granting credence to the lies of the enemy with this article with his “different interpretations” trash. He is setting people up with an untruth and failure. That is not godly.
    The man should be best thinking about Galatians 1:8-11.
    This is not the time to pussy foot around with someone’s salvation especially when they have so much against them, as they do at this time.
    Thanks for letting me rant, my friend. Blessings.

  • amen raphael. As I’ve said below in my rant, these people are being used, and made fools of by the very same people who say they are trying to help them. Sending someone in the direction of Hell, and away from Christ’s blessings is not helping them. And just because society has decided to worship their filth does not make it an un-sin.
    I do worry about and for homosexuals. Only Christ can help them.
    Toronto has made so much money because of their “pride” parade that they now help to pay for it.
    Money being made on the backs of people they are sending to Hell. How much more corrupt can one get?

  • Cockroaches?
    Are you pulling my legs?

    I appreciate the the article Mr Hunter has written. I would summarize it like this way.
    As the light is turned toward our evangelical pantry some of us white crackers are finding out we’re surrounded by cockroaches…and a lot of our own bad fruit.

  • That seems to be the usual reaction.

    What few seem to understand is that radical Muslims like this identify Christianity not with any kind of opposition to homosexuality but with the EMBRACING of it. To them it is part and parcel of Christian infidel civilization’s decadence and profligacy that must be overthrown. How they must laugh when they open fire on one group they despise only to have them turn around and fire back upon another group they despise. Two for the price of one — what’s not to like?

  • Sandi Luckins is without a doubt one of the most hateful human beings one will encounter on the web. She’s the most “toxic” person on the RNS site and she destroys any good will that her fellow Evangelicals engender. She has a deep-seated hatred of gay people that rivals anything that Westboro Baptist says about gay people.

    Fifty people were murdered and you can’t even express once ounce of compassion. Instead you damn gay people to hell.

    At long last Sandi, have you no human decency?

  • Christianity has always been about free will. We never force others to accept our beliefs regardless of how passionate we may feel about the issue. There was a time when christians were persecuted for their beliefs. If any one should understand the need for tolerance, it should be christians.

  • As usual, you do not mince words, and I appreciate your forthrightness, I can take it. This is why though our styles differ, I regularly defend you to others who don’t see your heart. I never try to compromise the clear language of scripture, I merely strive for a meek and mild tone even as I take the stand for unequivocal biblical precepts and truths. I make no claim to greater effectiveness, but I identify with broken people who may not recognize their brokenness, because even as I endeavor daily to walk with Christ, I remain broken myself. As always, you have my good will, and I pray God’s Blessings to you.

  • What you fail to understand is that so-called radical Islam isn’t at all extreme when compared to the violent verses in the Quran and the hadith — verses that have no counterpart in the New Testament despite your moral equivalence argument.

  • In other words, “at least we’re not as bad as the muslims” is the current refrain.

    The point is, you USED to be. Finally, maybe, a majority of Christians, at least in the civilized world, have finally grown up. In Africa, of course, the viciousness continues. You ALL of you Abrahamists have destroyed lives, blood, and oppression on your hands. That you are no longer legally enabled to do what you USED TO DO FOR CENTURIES doesn’t mean that the past never happened, and that there aren’t so called Christians at this very moment who would like to bring the past back.

    But if you need to pretend it is all about Leviticus, you are part of the problem even now.

    Have a nice day.

  • So what is the difference between radical Islam and radical right wing Christianity? Read the comments on these very pages about other Christians who are not obsessed with homosexuality the way you radical right wingers are. Then read their comments about Muslims, Mormons ,and everyone else in their gunsights.

    As you say– not me– two for the price of one. WHat’s not to like?

  • And here, right on schedule, is Exhibit A. A glowing example of the kind of “infidel” they laugh about saying, We can push these guys off buildings, mow them down with gunfire in their clubs,, do anything we want to them, really, and still they will lick our boots and and court us and fawn over us and defend us and viciously attack anyone who tries to slow down our proliferation — thinking that we will vote their party, which we surely will for as long as it serves our interests, and then they will convert or die.

  • I appreciate your sentiments– this is not an attack– but it is revisionist history.

    Virtually ALL of the antigay campaigns in this country ever since Anita Bryant first raised her well coiffed reptilian snout above a Florida swamp 40 years ago have been initiated, promulgated, funded, manned, and energized by hyper conservative Christians intent on using the law to force their antigay bigotry– which hides behind their “sincere” religious belief like a serpent under a rock– on gay people, atheists, and liberal Christians.

    You’re right, if anyone should understand the need for tolerance, it should be Christians. In general, Liberal Christians do. As far as I can tell, in general, hyper conservative Christians do not.

  • Nonsense. And right on schedule. Mateen was AMERICAN born, and fed on the vile poison of antigay belief just as surely as so called Christians are in this country by the likes of the Family Research Council and their fellow travelers.

    I don’t excuse the Muslims murderers, not by a long shot. And you know that, You are being–how shall we put it delicately– as viley disingenuous as you usually are in this matter. They only people I find more vile than virulently antigay Christians, who at least are now constrained by progress and civil law in the West– are virulently and violently antigay Muslims.

    That you would even begin to think otherwise is a good indication of what I have always maintained about you– you’re not a lot different than the sordid likes of the Steven Andersons and Fred phelps and of the world.

    You just dress better, smile better, and know better than to be so obvious about it,

  • Actually, for Christmas, I’ve always wanted the Sig Sauer M400 Elite with the tripod, scope, and silencer, but please don’t tell anybody. (It’s a secret.)

    My guess is that I’ll just wind up with a Daisy BB rifle and some Styrofoam ducks again. But I seriously prefer it that way anyway.

  • Shawnie5, you vile person, you!! We got your vile number!!

    You stop being vile right now Shawnie5, you paragon of Vileness !!

  • Thank you for your support, my friend. Each of us may have different manners of sharing Christ’s love, but that doesn’t lessen the motives of the heart behind the words – no matter how we write them.
    I have seen you defend me, and others and it is greatly appreciated. I try to do the same also for the few of us who defend Christ and sinners on this website also.

    “If we want to penetrate the darkness of their unrepentant hearts, we’re not going to do it with half-measure compromises about the veracity of God’s Word, or the nature of His creative work. We can’t hope to illuminate darkened hearts with the light of God’s Word if we’re busy making concessions to the flawed theories and blind assertions of unrepentant men.” J. MacArthur

  • Muslims, whether born here or elsewhere, identify Christianity and all of western culture with the embracing of homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality, not with opposition to it. To them it is the logical conclusion of being an infidel. To anyone immersed in radical Muslim ideology it is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw — for the gay bandwagon is, unfortunately, he creation of the Judeo-Christian west, certainly not of any other world culture.

    “I don’t excuse the Muslims murderers, not by a long shot.” Not buying it. You’re far too busy trying to create moral equivalence between Muslims and Christians where none exists, and trying to blame the latter for the actions of the former, to be taken seriously when you protest otherwise.

    Think as you please about me; no skin off my nose. What I think about YOU is that if ISIS were to throw you off the nearest building, which they very much want to do both here and abroad, you would blame the Christians all the way down to the ground.

  • First paragraph: nonsense. We have plenty of Muslims in our lives, not one thinks the way you claim they do

    Paragraph 2: nonsense again. I am against anyone who uses their faith as a weapon. Just because Christians in the west are no longer murdering gay people, doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening, or that there aren’t a sufficiency of those like Phelps and Anderson who would if they could.

    Paragraph 3: simply twisted.

    Until next time.

  • Thank you for that.

    I want to underline something I suspect you already know. My issue is always when faith used as a weapon against others. The excesses of “the faithful” are what get me going, not faith itself. Sometimes, my anger about it spills over onto people who are not doing that. I have no issue at all with people who wish to live in peace with their neighbors.

  • Edward, sorry. I have been really busy this past week, dealing with my husband’s surgery. (he’s ok, thanks). And then, there are myown health issues, though I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (no, not THAT light!)

    I also have been writing a lot of small responses to things as time as permitted. That has generated a lot of responses. I know I did respond to you a couple of times, but I have been so overwhelmed that it is likely I missed a bunch. For that, I am sorry, and I am sorry if I caused you any distress.

    For the record, though we do disagree on many items, our disagreement is respectful. And unlike certain people I could name, you clearly have your faith, but don’t wish to impose it on others, or use it as a weapon. In no sense have I been offended, hurt, or injured. So I simply have no issue at all when it comes to you. And I have never sensed in you the slightest bit of bad intent. That’s not the kind of man you are, as your current posting so clearly demonstrates.

    It doesn’t sound odd to me that you consider me a friend. I also feel the same. In the online world, that is one of the pleasures. And I truly appreciate it.

    On another subject. I hope you are recovering from your job loss, and are exploring ways to keep yourself going. My business finally collapsed about five years ago, though for 25 years, I had done wonderfully well. I was lucky because my husband has a great job and great security in it. At 62, when it went down. There weren’t a lot of options for me. I would suggest that you try to retrain if you have that option. Would it be out of character for me to say, “Have faith!”…

    At least in yourself, if not elsewhere.

    Good luck, my friend.

  • The point is we are in the 21st Century while Islam never left the seventh century.
    Or is your calendar broken?

    And any argument you have to the contrary is as lame as the Islamic sycophant who could never say “Islamic terrorism” but who did say that ISIS was just a JV team.

  • Sure we do. But every single attempt to regulate the gun industry is successfully fought by the gun industry.

  • I do know that, I want other people to know that about you.
    Let me ask you something off topic for this article. The apple farmer in Michigan getting kicked out of the market because he won’t lease his orchard out for same sex weddings. I don’t know the farmer and he may very well be just a jerk, that said, what if he isn’t? What if he is just an old guy who has been taught something his whole life and same sex marriage goes against what he has been taught. Forget about which way the law is going to side for a moment and think about what will change an opinion.
    If you have been told your whole life a certain kind of person is a devil, what will your opinion be when those devils put you out of business?

    If your crusade is about changing the law game over you’ve won. If it is abot living in peace don’t lose the war celebrating some battle victories. Something to think about I hope. Thanks.

  • The question is a good one, but unfortunately I don’t really have time to answer it in the depth which it deserves, though I have done so other times. If you have nothing else to do for the next four hours, you could research my comment history……. :0).
    Let me give you a short answer now, though. Well, not an answer, but two questions.
    1) Is discrimination on the basis of religious belief in public accommodations, of which this a clear example, and which is against the law at every level of government, something we should never allow, something we should always allow, or allow only in this one instance?
    2) If you know that such discrimination is illegal or, as a business owner, SHOULD know it, and you have very easy ways to avoid breaking the letter of the law, but can still break the spirit of the law, which way should you go?

  • Always question good answers.;) Let me think about your questions. I know what answers they lead me to on the one hand. We are in agreement there. Changing laws don’t change attitudes, interacting with people can. That is the other hand. I don’t think it is one hand over the other, I think it is both hands.
    Short answer. Thanks for replying, let me think more about your position.

  • I don’t damn homosexuals to Hell. They do that all by themselves Tuesday. What are you doing to help them not go there?

  • And how many local elected officials in your hometown have endorsed your suggestion? Hmm?

  • Well, yes you do “have an issue” with them, on that last sentence. Be honest.

    If a mom-and-pop Christian business refuses to bake a specifically gay-decorated wedding cake upon request, or to provide the gay-wedding’s floral set-up upon request, or to do the gay-wedding’s photo services, or if they refuse to rent their bed-&-breakfast to the gay-wedding or wedding-reception,

    …in short, if the Christians refuse to knowingly participate in and support a gay marriage event with their goods & services, even if they offer immediate referrals to pro-gay-wedding vendors…

    …then any pretensions of you “living in peace” with such neighbors disappear immediately, even if the Christians have a track record of serving gay customers, hiring gay employees, AND supporting gay marriage in principle.

  • you are both delusional nitwits.
    religion and its followers poison everything.
    oh and to remind you, your gawd, you and all followers still condone and are complicit in raping of our children. Stop!

  • help them realize that the likes of you are the enemy
    of humanity of ever truly reaching any semblance of civility

  • But I’m not making a moral equivalence argument. I’m agreeing with you. At least most fundamentalist Christians are not as bad as the Muslims…

    …Now.

  • “Moral equivalence is a term used in political arguments or debate. It is an informal fallacy. The phrase describes a kind of indirect proof, but the reasoning is flawed because it distorts issues. It draws comparisons between different things to make a point that one is just as bad as the other or just as good as the other…

    “The general form of the context for the use of the trope is:
    The actions of A are morally equivalent to the actions of B, therefore A is just as good or bad as B, regardless of what the actual actions are…

    “The concept of moral equivalence is not a term of philosophy; rather, it is only a logical fallacy used in arguments.”

    https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_equivalence

  • What I learned from Orlando is that there are good people everywhere around us, and then there are also people who have sold their souls to false causes. Several, harsh, infamous “Christian” preachers used the gruesome massacre to spew pure hatred toward the LGBTQ community in the wake of the horrific event. Other American extremists used the race and origin of the killer to attack non-Christian religions and/or immigrants.

    But some people, such as the largest group of American Islamic mosques, showed their solidarity with the LGBTQ community, noting that gay Americans were among the first to offer real inclusion to Muslims in America. Reaching across cultural differences to respect human life and civil rights is no small thing, but it is the very thing preached in the Christian Golden Rule. It’s a sad irony that so many “Christians” so quickly put aside the three most important admonitions of Christ in pursuit of their various forms of hypocritical bigotry.

    The most important lesson from Orlando is to follow our own personal moral compasses, free from the undo influence of manmade dogmas and prejudices. That is the one true path to enlightenment, regardless of religious affiliation. Those who cannot do so, can sometime err as badly as the Pulse mass murderer did, himself the slave of his own ghosts and wounded soul.

  • Floyd, “knowingly refuse” is where I have a problem with public vendors. I’ve read what has been printed by both sides in the florist case. The florist claimed the she and the customer had been friends. When the friend requested her services for his wedding she let her feelings be known, and referred other florist. From how she told her side of the story it sounds as if she did this earnestly. The customer could have honered the florist request, he chose not to.
    So #1 that bothers me and that is part of my question to Ben.
    But #2 how the florist responded bothers me more. She knowingly refused to participate.
    So my better question to Ben is this. If we take the florist case, and we tweak the outcome, the florist does the wedding. Not only does she do the wedding but she exceeds the customers expectations. Afterward, she bills the customer and the balance is $0.00 with a note that says something like. “I’m old and old fashioned I don’t know if I can reconcile this change in the marriage law, but you are more important than our disagreement over the new marriage laws.”
    If you experienced that, or something like that, would you give a referral to the florist if asked by someone planning a samesex wedding? And if yes how would you word it, or address the fact she might be hesitant? Would you suggest being relentless in demanding her services?
    That would be my question to Ben. To Floyd I say, as christians I understand our conflict with this new law concerning marriage, but we have the freedom to have this kind of attitude. To model this kind of attitude.

  • ” We never force others to accept our beliefs regardless of how passionate we may feel about the issue.”

    History contains many example to the contrary.

    I can’t believe any observant adult would utter such.

  • I’m looking forward to hearing Ben’s answer, but in the meantime I offer my response for you too.

    In my secular job that I worked for over 2 decades, I was trained to give good customer service to everybody.

    And that’s what I’ve done. Including all five letters of LGBTQ. Even guys wearing dresses and makeup.
    I served ’em with the same sincerity, positivity, & affirmation as persons, as all other folks. No joke.

    But just because you wash a customer’s feet, that does NOT mean that you are free to tacitly participate in or affirm events that diametrically oppose Jesus.
    1 Cor. 6:9-11 and 1 Cor 10:13 are authoritative no matter what the Supremes say.

    So the Christian florist, Baronelle Stutzmann, only had ONE choice if she wanted to serve Christ and display, as His servant and florist, His love to all her customers (gay or straight.)
    She made the correct choice; she displayed the right “attitude.”

  • Interesting article. But I would say, my obligation is to the Lord. And those who seek a different interpretation of the scriptures are totally wrong in my point of view. No offense. In the scriptures is clear that it condemns those acts in simple words. Now, it is not for Us to pass judgement to those, our job is to stay faith full to the Lord. And it will be the Lord’s job to pass judgement to them. Thank You.

  • You are just a fascist from the far Left. Stop undermining our Constitution. Start a movement to amend our Constitution.

  • Hmm…an ISIS sympathizer walks into a bar and kills a bunch of people, and suddenly Christians are complicit in the tragedy. What I learned from the Orlando shooting is that some people will blame Christians for just about anything. In my world, I would be much angrier at the guy who walks into a bar to slaughter a bunch of people than at someone who doesn’t want to bake a cake…but then that’s just me. My guess is that it’s easier to blame the Christians because you’re likely to get more sympathy from them than you are from ISIS and their supporters.

  • No. absolute nonsense, not what I am saying or have EVER said. I have no truck for the murderous and hate filled actions of ANYONE directed at ANYONE else. Read my last sentence, and see that both groups are included. But if you understood that, you wouldn’t have a way to make your anti Muslim point.

    I blame the Christians in this country for the actions of Christians in this country. No one else. As I wrote earlier, just about every single bit of antigay crap in this country for the last 40 years has been at the behest of the hyper conservative Christian religious establishment. I don’t blame Christianity itself, but the teachings of hyper conservative Christianity that enables the Vicious and violent to have some religious justification for their viciousness and violence.

    That Mateen was Muslim has not escaped my notice. But I don’t blame the entirety of Muslim people for it. I do blame the teachings of Islam that allows vicious and violent people to be vicious and violent.

    And it’s easier to pretend that it is really all just them dirty mooslims that are the problem, rather than the anti Gay rhetoric coming from the hyper conservatives, especially theChristian Reich, for the past 40 years,

  • Another thing about all of this moralizing on that really bothers me is that ISIS has slaughtered Christians by the thousands in places like Iraq and Syria. Not to mention repression of Christians in places like Egypt and Libya, and the kidnapping and rape of hundreds of Christian girls in Sudan. It’s genocide in the most literal sense of the word. Yet we don’t hear one peep about any of this from the PC moralizers who seem to want to lay this tragedy at the feet of a minority of Christians who don’t cop to their world view.

    As a Christian, I feel horrified and saddened by what happened in Orlando last year. But guilty? Nope, not so much. Not one bit, actually.

  • “That Mateen was Muslim has not escaped my notice. But I don’t blame the entirety of Muslim people for it.” Yet you blame the entire Christian community for one idiot who doesn’t want to bake a cake.

  • What I learned from the Orlando shooting is that there are always people (like Joel Hunter) who will ignore the facts of a tragedy and exploit it for their own political ends.

    A Muslim shoots up a nightclub, and the fault lies with… Christianity?

    Sadly, Pastor Hunter is being disingenuous on several levels. First, while he includes himself in language suggesting that he “may” have contributed to anti-gay animus, he certainly doesn’t believe it; he has long been a left-wing activist with extremely close partisan ties to the Democratic Party at the highest levels, and has not used anything but pro-gay language.

    Second, Pastor Hunter ignores the fact that the shooter originally scouted Disney World as his preferred massacre site, but decided that the layout and security there made a high body count impossible. Since when is Disney World the preferred target of anti-gay activism? Clearly the ability to massacre gays was a secondary consideration to the shooter, not his primary motive.

    If Joel Hunter truly wants to be helpful, to gays and to everyone else, he would acknowledge the obvious: the huge global problem of radical Islam (including, but by no means exclusively drawn from, the demand in Islamic holy texts to kill gays) and the fact that many Muslims are drawn to it and become killers as a result.

  • I’m not radical left, nor am I defending Islam. Why does the radical right so often accuse everyone with straw man arguments?

    As far as I am concerned, radical right wing religion is the problem. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, communism, Nazism, or anything Else. The problem is people seeking power and dominion over the lives of other people, and using either the law or violence to achieve it, all the while singing hymns and praising god.

  • To say Stutzmann had only one choice and to base it on the scriptures you did is a glass house. The Bible has much to say about settling disputes and generally it says to “submit” to authority. But beyond that I would say that when Jesus tells us to settle disputes quickly that gives Stutzmann more than the one choice. In James we are told to consider it all joy when trials come. Stutzmann has made her choice. Now she should choose to consider the hardship it causes as joy. Perhaps she does, and if so, good for her I applaud her. She has reconciled much and I believe God will be glorified in her decision even if it is a different decision than the one I would make in her position. It seems to me though that those who have taken up her cause are wanting to redefine the meaning of considering it joy to encounter various trials, to settle disputes quickly, to submit to authority. Your argument puts God into a box that you define. I do not submit myself to the God you have defined. I submit myself to whom God has revealed Himself to me to be.

  • “Since when is Disney World the preferred target of anti-gay activism?”
    Ever since the very first Gay Day at Disneyland some 30 years ago. As for the rest of your post, you’re being disingenuous at best, starting with “he has long been a left-wing activist with extremely close partisan ties to the Democratic Party at the highest levels.” Way too much top unpack there.
    No one is saying that Muslims are any better than radical rightwing Christians in this matter. Given the activities of the latter, the best that they can say is “at least we’re not as bad as the Muslims.”
    And isn’t THAT just a damning commentary on conservative chrisitanity, and just too sad?

  • Liberalism is the defense of the defenseless against bigotry, but we sadly live in an age in which the social bigots claim to be victims because they believe they have a “right” to persecute and claim preventing them from bullying others is the “real bigotry.”

  • Now I finally have time to answer your question. I’m sorry it took so long.

    In the RNS article on this issue of Mr. Appleman, I actually dealt with a lot of what I want to say here. I would suggest you go and read the comments there, because both my comments and those of others all illustrative. But I will try to make it all in a series of points.

    1) The very first thing is this. We have laws at every level of government which forbid discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours–a generic you, not you personally :0)– or mine, in the matter of public accommodations. This is a public accommodation. Why is this case different? My position is that it is decidedly NOT different, any more than religious objections to interracial marriage are different, or neighborhoods that exclude jews are different, or any other place where religion is the excuse for poor or malicious behavior.

    either these laws mean something, or they do not. Claiming that there are exceptions to them merely underlines why we have them in the first place. Moreover, the claim that they are being forced to participate in sinful activities is nonsense. They are renting a property or providing flowers or whatever. They are not engaging in the activities they consider sinful. I know of no Christian principle which avers that providing flowers or renting your business property is a religious act.

    2) My point is usually that these people usually have no problem renting their facilities to Jesus denying jews or muslims, false god or idol worshipping or demon invoking hindus, Christian God rejecting Buddhists, or god ignoring atheists. Likewise for people who have been divorced for any reason except adultery. Their usual answer is that those unions are not in themselves sinful, which they consider same sex marriage to be. (The divorced people excluded, but of course, that is not a question that they would ever dream of asking, but their intrusion into the lives of gay people is open).

    I contend that this is a distinction without a difference. They are witnesses in the case of ALL of the Jesus-denying faiths, Jews included, to a rejection of their basis religious principles. They are renting their facilities or supplying products to people who are invoking false gods in the case of hindus or Buddhists, but they have no problem with that. It’s a sin not to believe that Jesus died for your sins, as so many Christians will tell you on these very pages. Idolatry is a sin. False gods are a sin. You will go to hell if you don’t believe that. So why is this case, and this case only, different?

    In the case of appleman, he considers marriage to be a Jesus based, religious act. So if someone is not invoking the Christian god, that would also to appear to be a violation of his religious beliefs about what marriage is. But again, no problem for him anywhere else.

    3) But let’s get this down to some more brass tacks. There are plenty of gay Christians. There are plenty of Christians churches and denominations which do not think that gay people and gay marriages are sinful. (My husband and I were married by a dear friend who is a DOC minister. My oldest friend in the world is New apostolic, a not-exactly gay friendly denomination. and he is a minister. He has no issue with it at all. If I had asked him to, he would have performed our marriage). So in fact, Mr. Appleman IS discriminating on the basis of religious belief, at least for them.

    Under a separate posting, I will quote verbatim an online conversation I had a year ago that will illustrate the rest of my points. For now, I will say this much. I’m not interested in forcing anyone to do anything. That’s another story they tell themselves, like their pretend participation or their pretend approval being required. The last person I would want to have at my wedding is someone like appleman, or stutzman, or the handful of others who think they are just so damned special. But I am also not willing to accept patently transparent excuses for antigay bigotry, whether religious or lacking even that extremely thin justification. I expect them to obey the law. And given that they have lost virtually every case where they have demanded an exception, the law agrees.

    I’ll tell you what I think this really about.

    It is highly telling that just about the only complaints about refusing to do one’s job because of supposed “religious beliefs” crop up whenever these people have to behave politely or decently, let alone amicably, without animus, to gay people who don’t share their unfounded beliefs about gay people. Sometimes, apart from the marriage issue, they might well do so, or at least, claim to. But the marriage issue is simply an assertion that “how dare you think you’re as good and valuable as I am?” The marriage issue is simply what activates them at last to action that it simply too much trouble to engage in otherwise.

    In other words, as always, I can reject the whole of Christianity– as 2/3 of the world has– and this bothers no one but the most rabid of fundamentalists. But let me say that I am gay, and reject just this itty bitty little ditty they love so much to sing of conservative Christian belief, and whoa, Nelly, the sky is about to fall and they are being persecuted for our beliefs.

    Sorta makes you wonder if it is REALLY about sincere religious belief at
    all, dunnit?

    I think it is also about THIS: For the Christian dominionists and theocrats, their Grand Canyon sized egos have taken a big hit and they really can’t handle it! They have said for 2000 years that gay people are evil and despicable, the worst of the worst, enemies of god (they still use that one) and that is how it is suppose to be in society. For 2000, years have they used gay people to project all their own wickedness onto. And they lost to the people that you were certain god and society despise almost as much as they do. They lost to them filthy, dirty sinful homosexuals! And how THAT must eat away at their sense of superiority, entitlement, and moral perfection!

    I guess we should feel bad for the poor, little persecuted things?

  • Here is the conversation I had about a year ago. I have even more I can write about it, in case you’re a glutton for punishment, but this will do for now.

    “I want to know why Smith thinks he is entitled to disrespect and disregard the
    religious beliefs of Jones when Smith would in no way be injured by deferring
    to Jones.” The same question applies in reverse. In fact this is MY question: “since we’re talking about good Christians who follow Jesus and all. “You have a strongly held religious belief that forces you to act like a royal jerk? Interesting. I gather you’re not a Christian, then, because treating other people so unkindly would be utterly contrary to Jesus’ teachings.”

    “And I don’t see why a person has to lie about his reasons.” Sound business
    practices? The law? Courtesy? maintaining your reputation?

    “What’s wrong with the truth?” The laws.

    “How is anybody injured by somebody else’s disapproval or refusal?” The law
    forbids it. And who are you to claim that someone isn’t injured by it, especially if said business is the only one for 50 miles, or if a venue will only work with its list of preferred providers, and not allow any others. As a wedding photographer for 30 years, I can assure you of that reality.

    “Suppose Jones is an acquaintance of Smith whom Smith invites to his wedding and Jones refuses on religious grounds.” We’re not talking about a personal
    invitation, but non-discrimination laws.

    “Is Smith injured? Miffed maybe, but injured? How?” See two paragraphs above.
    Non-discrimination laws don’t care about that. Again, if you don’t like
    non-discrimination laws, work to repeal them. But seeking exceptions merely
    underlines why we have them.

    “And how is Smith injured if Jones refuses to bake a cake or arrange a bouquet or take pictures of Smith’s wedding? There is no injury.” according to you.

    “The law should deal solely with genuine injuries, not ruffled feathers or bruised
    pride.” This is neither. It is discrimination on the basis of religious belief, which is illegal.

    “You are not injured if somebody doesn’t like you or think well of you or approve of your life.” no, but I am if they use that to harm me, my family, or my
    civil rights.

    “I don’t need the approval of other people to live my life.” Good for you.

    “and I don’t need the police power of the state to trample other people’s
    consciences to satisfy my ego.” Their consciences are not being trampled.
    They are not being asked to participate in the alleged sin themselves. They are
    not being asked for their approval. They are being asked to provide the same
    services they willingly supply to all of the other people they think are going
    to burn in hell forever, or people who reject the entirety of their religious
    beliefs, not just the antigay bits. It’s not about satisfying your ego– that’s
    another change of subject. It’s about the law.

    They have an option. SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICES. COURTESY, AND RESPECT. They have another option. ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ALLEGED BELIEFS INSTEAD OF CLAIMING THE SPECIAL RIGHT OF DISOBEYING THE LAW THAT GOVERNS ALL OF US.

    Here are few alternatives to flouting anti-discrimination laws, whether for religion or sexual orientation. 1) I’m booked. Why don’t you call so and so. 2) I don’t think I could do a good job for you, because I am uncomfortable around any same sex displays. However, I will comply with the law. (that couple will not stick around to hear more). 3) I don’t think I could do a good job for you, because I am uncomfortable around any same sex displays. But I’ll do my best for you if you choose to hire me anyway. If not, Why don’t you call so and so. (Ditto). 4) The state requires me to do business with all comers. I oppose same sex
    marriage, but I will follow the law of my state. (I can guarantee you no couple
    is going to stick around). 5) The state requires me to do business with all comers. I oppose all homosexual equality before the law. If you choose to have you event here, I will comply, but I will donate $XXXX to Big-Anti-Gay, Inc. (Ditto).

    So there are plenty of legal ways to avoid gay cooties. But there is also this and
    it bears repeating: if you disagree with a anti-discrimination laws, then work
    to get them repealed. Trying to find exceptions to them merely underlines why
    we have those laws in the first place.

    And of course, some Christians would cry like big ol’ babies if the civil rights
    protections that they expect from anti-discrimination laws were denied to them,
    because someone doesn’t like their religion, their beliefs, or that they think they can act like oryal jerks without an consequence to themselves.

  • Thank you for this post. It sums up precisely what the real Christian response has been – more hate of LGBT based on ignorance and superstitious belief. The author has rose colored glasses thinking the evangelicals supported LGBT in the aftermath. It’s a load of crap.

  • True but it has been almost 2000 years since a Christian was persecuted for their beliefs in the west. They have been persecuting others for so long it has become part of the theological practice.

  • Oh okay intra faith persecution maybe. But that does not count in my book. True persecution has been Christian led (heck, even your example is Christian persecuting Christian.)

  • But what about the Bible (God’s own Word)? Do we Christians, agree with and submit to the Scriptures on this gay marriage issue? After all, God reveals Himself to us, and His will for us, through the Bible.

    That issue is 1000 times more important than overturning Obergefell, even though we need it overturned.

    When it was time for florist Baronelle Stutzmann to make her crucial decision, she made the right decision, she lined up with the clear teachings of God’s Word. (Gay marriage is against God, period.) She thereby submitted to God, and flat-out obeyed Christ.

    She did it as charitably and caringly and customer-service oriented as anybody could possibly do. But she had no other God-honoring choice.

  • Thanks, I was going to go full Shylock but decided it would get the point across without it. Thank you also for your nuanced view. I understand the theology – but still disagree obviously.

  • “Religious people — and Christians in particular — have an extra obligation to learn from and love people who interpret scripture differently than we do. ”

    A very Christian-centric vision that very conveniently forgets that Islam has zero tolerance for the scriptural “interpretation” this writer implies. The Quoran is never studied in translation, as Muslims believe Mohammed’s actual words must be learned as originally spoken….that any sort of translation would alter their meaning.

    As such, Muslims have no interest whatsoever in “translating” their scriptural texts into rhetorical pretzels like many Christians do.

  • That’s over generalizing. Yes a lot of right wing Christian organizations have persecuted members of the LGBT community and muslims. Christianity has been deployed as a tool of colonialism and class control but that doesn’t make every christian a bigot or racist. Same way radical terrorism doesn’t make every Muslim a terrorist.

    Today in the west there might not be an outright attack on Christianity but there is a growing disenchantment with religion as a whole due to increased scientific education and secularism that has paved the way for atheism and agnosticism. That’s something that simply cannot be helped.

  • “that doesn’t make every christian a bigot or racist.” I am trying to see where I said anything close to that?

    “there is a growing disenchantment with religion as a whole due to increased scientific education and secularism that has paved the way for atheism and agnosticism. That’s something that simply cannot be helped.”

    If that is persecution, I would love to be a Christian in the West! One never had it so good.

    Again, I was merely pointing out that in the West, since the middle ages, Christianity has been the dominant religion and the primary persecutor. That is actually not an “over generalization” but a demonstrable, historical fact.

  • The problem with that statement is that it fails to distinguish between the different denominations of Christianity. I’m fully aware of how Christianity has been perverted to satisfy the needs of bigotry, slavery and American exceptionalism. I’m just saying it’s no different from how Islam has been twisted by some groups to further radical idealogy. There were wars fought in the past due to different interpretations of the tenets of Christianity as one or both sides sought to dominate or be independent of the other. The Middle Ages weren’t as good as you may have thought them to be either. The Catholic Church monopolized religious thought and persecuted as well as tortured those they branded as heretics. It was no different from living in a sharia state. I would say that, that was not true Christianity as taught by Christ which is supposed to be a religion of love, peace and free will. Instead, religious leaders paired themselves with monarchs and hijacked the religion in order to maintain control of the populace. Not so different from what’s happening to Islam today. It’s no wonder religion has been popularly branded as the opium of the masses by its harshest critics.

  • My thanks, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with Disqus which is the link I use to access RNS for posts, today it is wholly inoperative and I’m posting this via the Disqus webpage, rather than by its link on RNS. Though I love what the Internet has brought in terms of engaging a vast number of people with different views and experiences, the frequent hiccups are terribly annoying, as well as the frequent efforts of less than ethical people to hack and pillage.

  • All well and good – let’s get back to and stay on the original point. I commented that Christians are not persecuted in the West (I guess I can add, “for being Christian”). That is is certainly the case. Your examples are great but they have nothing to do with Christians being persecuted. (One Christian persecuting another, like the Catholics hating protestants and vice versa is not persecution….they are both Christian sects. Try being a non-Christian in a Christian state – say the US – and you’ll know Christians are not persecuted at all.)

  • Can’t recall if I replied to this. Though I generally agree with Mr. MacArthur theologically, I occasionally disagree with him, but not in the context of the quote you have posted.

  • Obviously they’re not under persecution. Muslims are the ones facing that problem currently. My point was, christians have been persecuted in the past. So having that history, they should not be in a rush to persecute muslims or marginalize members of the LGBT community.

  • Yes, but their persecution is so distant in the past, and (my point) they have been the oppressor for so long, it makes sense they would not have the required empathy to sympathize with LGBT or muslims.

  • Not all. When a family member you love comes out as gay, the issue is no longer about some other you have no connections to. It’s personal now and you’re forced to reconsider your stance. It’s no surprise right wing politicians that once denied rights to homosexuals have increasingly changed their stance as members of their families or friends turn out to be part of the group they’ve been campaigning against.

  • This seems so off topic….(I would love to know right wing politicians who changed their stance when members of their families came out…Portman didn’t. Cheney didn’t.)

  • There’s also Jon Huntsman and Bob Barr even though they didn’t have family members that came out.

  • Interesting. Very nice ‘aside’ but little to do with our other discussion. But good to see some decent folks out there.

  • 🙂 like when the doctor says, “does it hurt when I stick my finger in that wound?… I’ll take that as a yes.”
    The things that make you mad make me mad when I start to see them. I have not experienced what you have so I don’t know the pain you know, I just know it is real.
    Let me say this. Those people you speak of, there was a time when I would have been among them. Not the worst among them to be fair to myself, but in the crowd. Let me say something else and please hear my tone when I say this. True story. My wife, who loved her late sister, and my late lesbian sister in law who loved my wife had some conversations that sounded like the one you had a year ago. My sister in law would vent much the same way you just did and my wife would be in tears because of what she was being accused of by association. I hear your rant, and I hear your hurt. I began to hear it years ago in my sister law and it made me aware of some things. Over time that awareness slowly changed some of my views. My wife on the other hand has some scars remaining that were left by her sister. Many times I can hear my sister in law when I’m reading what you write. She had a MBA in accounting. She worked in Manhatten for one of the big seven firms later becoming a partner in a smaller firm in the northeast. Her younger sister was no match for her when making an arguement. She hurts to this day by some of the things that she heard from her sister.

    I’m not comparing my wife’s hurt to yours. I never have compared her hurt to that of her sister. It is not comparable, but it is real. I do not want to defend what is toxic to people like you and my sister in law. But in the case of my wife and her sister, looking back with hindsight, that could have been handled better. When you rant, you know there are people who already care. You also know there are people who will never care. When you rant there are people who are not ready to care, yet, don’t be blind to them. Look for those people. They are the people you will influence next.
    You can be the first to care, you can be the second to care, or you can never attempt to care, but you can’t be none of the above. That don’t mean never rant. Please hear my tone.

  • As I always like to say, one is not being oppressed when other groups have the same rights one has always enjoyed.

  • If you say the Bible is the “inspired word of God” I will agree with you on some of your points. For me inspired means the writers were inspired to write what they wrote by the Holy Spirit. For me that also means that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers inspires the readers. If knowing God, and knowing His will is knowing the Bible and only through knowing the Bible, then relationship to God is somehow tied to IQ or intellect. I don’t agree with that kind of thinking. Relationship with God is not an intellectual persuit. God has certainly given or gifted some with a brain wired to study the Bible vocationally and many of those people honor God by doing just that. But the Bible is not Gods brain, all answers to everything are not in the Bible. When we read it like they are we miss what is really in there. The Bible is more like God’s eyes and Gods ears. We use the brain He has designed for us to “see” with his eyes and to hear with his ears.
    There is a story about Peter walking on water. I don’t know if Peter really walked on the water. But I believe that there was a reason why the story was recorded the way it was. All my life I’ve been told that when there is a storm in my life I just need to keep my eyes on Jesus to have faith to walk on water. I might have even told a few kids the same thing through the years. One day I’m reading that story and I’m thinking, Peter is the only guy out of the boat. Peter is only guy walking on water. Peter is the only guy who was told he had little faith. That suddenly doesn’t make any sense, unless, unless they took the boat back to shore and didn’t walk back. So I see now that walking on water looking at Jesus is not big faith. I hear Jesus say why are you out of the boat sinking in these waves? I look at the choice Baronelle Stutzmann made and I thinking… ya’ll quit tell’n her to just keep keep’n her eyes on Jesus and to get back in the da gum boat.

  • Alright home now and able to look at all of 1 Corinthians chapter 6. Here is what I read before verses 9-11
    Verse 6-But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers! Paul’s exclamation point, not mine. Obviously lawsuits don’t make good impressions on people.

    7)The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
    8)Instead you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

    What do you see when you read that? What do you hear when you read that?

  • Floyd, I will say I thought of you when I read about a sermon recently preached by Pastor Keith Gomez, Northwest Bible Baptist Church, Illinois who said many related things on the topic of slavery but this of note –
    “People will try to come at us — usually atheists or people like that — they’ll come at us and say, “Well, the Bible is wrong because the Bible condones slavery.”
    We’ve all heard that before, right?
    But here’s the thing about that, is that if the Bible condones slavery, then I condone slavery. Because the Bible’s always right about every subject…”

    Pretty sure that this is a theological argument that is being taken up more and more to the ‘gay marriage issue’ as well in terms of ‘submitting to the Scriptures’.

  • He is saying that Christians should avoid taking each other to court. The passage is written to Christians, and makes it clear that both parties in Paul’s indictment were Christians.

    However, if OTHER folks, unbelievers, Gay Goliaths, want to use our government to rip off Christians, force them to participate in things that go against God, on penalty of taking away their livelihood and life savings, Paul is NOT saying “Go ahead and let them have their way with you.”

    If I see an elderly church mother getting mugged, I’m not going to stand there and say, “Turn the other cheek; count it all joy.” That’s not justice.

    That’s why I’m glad Christian lawyers stepped up to defend Stutzmann in court, and I’m glad she chose to fight instead of fold under pressure. Win or lose, that was the right thing to do.

  • I can get with Gomez’s statement, “The Bible is always right about every subject.”

    (Indeed, that’s exactly what you would expect to see from the one book that Jesus Christ called “unbreakable” and “the word of God,” John 10:35.)

    But at the same time, the Bible absolutely did NOT condone the American (nor the British) systems of slavery. Multiple biblical violations, as the abolitionist Grimke sisters wrote. Some of the violations, like obtaining slaves via kidnapping, carried the (biblical) death penalty.

    So when the skeptics and gay activists come calling, Rev. Gomez needs to say something other than “If the Bible condones slavery, I condone slavery.” Gotta make things clearer than that.

    For most people only know of the racially-based USA horror show — and the skeptics try to scam folks on that basis. They won’t even tell you that 1 Cor. 7:21 actually encourages all slaves to go get their freedom if any opportunity arises to do so.

  • Acts 5:29 – English Standard Version

    But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

  • Thanks for this. Nothing you said felt bad to me at all, just sad. you mentioned your sister in law before. It’s a pity, because this pernicious poison of antigay theology, which is really just plain old prejudice given the thinnest veneer of “respectability” by calling it “sincere religious belief”, has harmed so many families. It is so sad, and so unnecessary.

    I believe, tough, that it is often a failure of self examination. I had pretty much given up on my parents by the time I reached my early thirties. They had made it clear that no matter what I did, I was never going to have a relationship with them that I would want to have. (they weren’t fundamentlists, BTW). I eventually realized that issue was not really my being gay, but our entire relationship. My bring gay was just what they presented as the issue, so that they wouldn’t have to do any work, and I would be “responsible”. There were a lot of clues about this.

    For myself, I have rarely been really hurt in all of this, not personally. The thing with my parents bothered me for a while. My brother, who was gay, kept that fact from me for 20 years because he hated himself so much. I got attacked on the street a few times, but since I was at the time benching 250 lbs, let’s just say the attackers lived to regret their rash decision. A couple of old time cops tried to get me fired 35 years ago when I was in law enforcement, but they were so stupid, and I was so good at my job, that they got reprimanded. But that was about it.

    My anger is about the sheer waste and dishonesty of it all, and the price our entire society has paid for it. How many soldiers died because gay translators were kicked it of the army? HOw much money has been wasted trying to stop my marriage when kids are dying, or lack an opportunity? how many beautiful gay and trans kids commit suicide, because they didn’t have the strength I did when I was their age? How many marriages and families have imploded because some gay guy married a woman he hoped would straighten him out? (If you have to hope that, you’ve already conceded to hopelessness).

    The reason I write is because of people like you, people who have not yet been irretrievably poisoned by toxic religious belief, hate, fear, ignorance, bad parenting, self hatred, stupidity, a never-filled quest for power, money, and dominion, and a host of other issues that I have seen played out over and over and over again. I know that I have changed a lot of minds over the years, because I have been told so by those people. We reach people one person at a time, one heart at a time. I have found almost no one who decides to hate if that hate was not in their hearts to begin with, but plenty who had it in their hearts and saw the poison for what it is.

    So, I did hear your tone, and I thank you for it. ???

  • Thanks for the Grimke sisters nod – I read a number of their (Sarah’s) writings and then went back to look at scripture and related commentaries and analysis. I am tempted to use Pauline as an adjective in terms of her analysis. However, their arguments required using both Constitutional law with Scripture abut focused largely on the practice of generational slavery. I am looking forward to reading their writings on women’s rights as well.

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