Just had a little foray into the world of James F. McGrath - one of those 'progressive christians' whose Christianity seems largely to consist of attacking the dreaded 'conservative Christians' and cozying up to atheist. His post about gay marriage was what drew me in.
Straightaway - his opening image with 'NO COLOREDS ALLOWED' and 'JUDEN VERBOTEN', juxtaposed with a sign reading 'NO GAYS ALLOWED'? Yeah, the 'No Gays Allowed' sign was apparently brought in by a politician to highlight what he insists the effect of the law in question is going to be. This, he cops to in the comments, not the original post - because it doesn't have quite as much punch if you mention it's a mock-up.
I've mucked about in the comments there - largely a dull crowd. Lots of 'you're a BIGOT!' responses, and expressions of incredulity that knowingly supplying tools or services for an act makes one complicit, however minorly, in the act. The most interesting argument was the one arguing that refusal to take part in 'same-sex marriage' may not be discrimination against someone due to their sexual orientation - I managed to bury that claim altogether - but it is 'sex discrimination' because technically a woman can marry someone a man can't marry and vice versa. That's a fatal move for a defender, as I noted, since A) sex discrimination of that variety is far, far more muddied (try to take a piss in a women's restroom as a male heterosexual, and tell me what judge will decide that's A-OK) and B) it gives away the store and concedes that the opposition to same-sex marriage doesn't even need an 'sexual orientation' component. If this were the intellectual group forced compliance with same-sex marriage were being fought on - or, hell, 'gay marriage' in general - the fight would probably be over. That kind of convoluted technicality reasoning doesn't have the emotional pull, not to mention intellectual pull, of 'You are a BIGOT and are HURTING someone just because of how they were BORN'.
McGrath mostly stayed quiet, save for +1ing everyone who disagreed with me - but he did wade in to say this:
I'm going to tackle this in a separate post, but if one of the caterers that wants to discriminate in this way also refuses service to Hindu weddings (others gods are invoked) and divorcees (in clear violation of Jesus' teaching), and specifies this up front in their publicity material, I would be far more sympathetic to their claim to have a genuine religious stance and objection. But are any of the companies in question actually systematically and consistently applying their religious texts' teachings in the way I suggested? Or are they invoking religion now as an ad hoc justification for their disgust and discrimination? In most cases it seems to clearly be the latter, and that just makes the use of religion in the service of discrimination all the more reprehensible.And my reply:
Let me get this straight. You'd be sympathetic - but only if they agree with your interpretation of their own religious texts? So you're trying to pull out a win here on the technicality of 'Sure, if you object to gay marriage, I'm sympathetic to you not being forced by threat of state intervention and violence to you taking part in this gay marriage by baking the cake. But... only if you're following what I, James McGrath, thinks your religion teaches. And if you're not, then I'm going to determine you're insincere.'
That's your defense?
Really? Please, provide evidence of this. 'In most cases it seems to clearly be the latter.'
You just told me that none of the businesses involved deal with people who sincerely believe that same-sex marriage is wrong. Strangely, even the ones who said they are entirely willing to serve gays - they just don't want to take part in a gay marriage.
But no, you're sure this isn't the case. Which is why you're entirely comfortable with legal bullying of people who just don't want to take part in gay weddings. If they refuse to bake a cake or take a photograph, you think the state should punish them, take their money, maybe even jail them.
Because 'civil rights'.
And you don't think this at all sounds a little like some good ol' New Testament pharisee thinking?The funny thing is, McGrath is a 'progressive Christian', so if anyone's going to be under the gun for being hypocritical and inconsistent in their picking and choosing of Christian religious teachings, it's McGrath. But really, McGrath's concern here isn't consistency, intellectual or otherwise - much less fairness, giving the benefit of the doubt, or treating his Christian opponents as having sincere disagreement.
Nope. They're just bigots, period. And bigots must be hassled, harangued and, if necessary, driven out of the public sphere.
Now, I know various "liberal Christians". I have a few on my blogroll. I agree with them about many, various things, even if I have my disagreements. I believe in finding common ground with sincere Christians of different political and even religious views, and I reject some of the more short-tempered approaches (to put it mildly) that exists among some orthodox or conservative Christians.
But now and then, I see guys like James McGrath - whose role as a progressive Christian seems to be dehumanizing conservative Christians, chiding them, and (now) looking to the state and LGBT jackboots to erase them from the public square... and I have to admit, my blood runs cold. This is why I say that mutual respect, and some common ground, is needed for there to be any meaningful dialogue. With James McGrath, I see no mutual respect, and - despite both of us professing to be Christians - I see no common ground. And it's hard not to walk away with the impression that I am dealing with a man who calls himself Christian largely because he thinks that identification will aid him most in doing damage to those political and social groups and individuals he has a low opinion of.
I am supremely suspicious of any Christian who seems far more interested in attacking and 'converting' fellow Christians, with next to zero interest in convincing non-Christians to become Christians.