Friday, May 9, 2014

"Progressive" Christians, hate, and the end of an experiment

A while ago, I wrote a post about how experience had forced me to regard "progressive" Christians as would-be allies of the New Atheists, whose problem with the Cult largely stemmed from not being singled out as exceptions to their diatribes. Casting religious belief in general, religious morality in general, and Christianity in particular as savage, stupid, hateful, dangerous and more? Quite fine. They simply would like acknowledgment that this doesn't apply to the "progressive" Christians. But the Cult of Gnu hasn't really made much of an exception for them, and so the "progressives" - some of them, anyway - oppose the Cult.

As the post outlines - I came to this conclusion based on my own interactions with "progressive" Christians, including some prominent ones like James McGrath. Time and again I've noticed that if someone calls themselves "progressive", they're usually beyond mere disagreement: they actively encourage and tolerant hatred of their opponents. With McGrath, it was painting any Christian who so much as refuses to bake a cake for a gay wedding as being on par with nazis and klansmen - and later, turning a blind eye and subtly encouraging a particularly virulent "progressive" jackboot who openly threatened to fuck with who he thought was my RL employer and tried to shatter my anonymity (protip: if you try that, do try to get accurate information) in response to my criticizing McGrath. And as of late, it's shown up with the hate speech of John Shore, demanding that war be declaring on "conservative evangelicals" - because, after all, they absolutely hate gays and want to beat them to death, as anyone would if they regarded unrepentant sinners as risking damnation.

By the way, if you haven't read Shore's speech, be sure to do so. Keep in mind that Shore's a prominent "progressive" - we're not talking a backwater figure like myself, but someone really at the forefront of "progressive" Christianity.

But what was really telling for me wasn't just Shore's speech. It was, in the micro-laboratory of Lothar's blog, where I called out Shore on his hate speech, and waited to see how many "progressives" with follow. After all, he was screaming that war should be declared on them, he accused them of wanting to beat "unrepentant" homosexuals to death with their bare hands, of having supported slavery in the US, and more. Surely all that talk of mutual respect, all that "bridge building" talk, would yield a few condemnations?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that, I have bad news for you: you have been suckered, just as I used to be suckered.

Oh, one guy did stand up and condemn it. A fellow by the name of JesusWithoutBaggage. I thanked him for his courage, and he deserved my thanks.

Otherwise? Silence or support for John Shore. Some attempts at topic-switching - 'No, no, let's not talk about Shore, instead let's talk about a completely sterilized re-interpretation of what he said that kinda-sorta sounds like legitimate criticism of some conservatives!' Some outright support and apologetics on his behalf.

By the way - really pause for a moment and take in Sheila's defense of the man. It's nice to know you can get away with just about any kind of demonization and hate speech so long as you chalk it all up to "metaphor". Metaphors, they sure are useful! Somehow, I suspect that the defensive use of "metaphor" talk flies out the window with the wrong people.

Now, Lothar's blog is a microcosm at best of "progressive" Christianity. A few regulars - a bigger blog than mine, but not by much. But you know... when you see these prominent "progressives" behaving this way, when you see the sheer hatred they heap on anyone who dares to oppose them, when you notice that any whiff of social conservatism now merits open and blatant firing of individuals from their jobs... well, you start to notice patterns. If there exists some sizable contingent of "progressive" Christians who oppose these actions, who oppose the hatred, they are doing an absolutely marvelous job of hiding - to the point where they are functionally inconsequential.

I write all this to urge you few people who read this blog to really understand what "progressive" Christianity in particular, and "progressivism" in general, is really all about. Know what kind of hatred they are directing at you, if you are all socially conservative. Know what they will justify. Know what lengths they will go to. Always be alert, and more than that, start to decide just how this should impact your life, your attitudes and your behavior.


malcolmthecynic said...

I've lost a ton of respect for Marc over these last couple of posts.It's much worse than him not condemning the hate speech - he's outright defending it. He has some bizarre idea that Sheila is this ideal poster because she only gets mad at people he does, and then claims that she's no, really, very peaceful and Christlike, and Marc eats it up. It's a shame.

Crude said...

In Marc's defense, I think he may flat out be tired of me getting upset at him. Which I can understand in a way - really, I've been kind of wall to wall upset at postings on his forum. Didn't plan to be that, it just worked out that way.

malcolmthecynic said...

That doesn't really change any of what I said though - support of hate speech is support of hate speech. That is, after all, WHY you're upset.

Crude said...

I suppose that's true. I didn't see Lothar actively supporting it so much as 'not talking about it', which does bother me. But it's not like he was saying (unless I missed something) 'John Shore said nothing wrong', which is the game Sheila is playing. I think Lothar said he was going to think about it more.

I think the problem Lothar in particular is having is that to him the problem worth talking about (and I realize he may read this, so hey, he can pop in and correct me if he so chooses) is 'people are mean to gays'. But you'll notice I've been bugging Lothar for some actuals /examples/ of this meanness, of this supposed hate. And I really have noticed, it's not forthcoming. If I rant about New Atheist bullshit and someone asks for evidence, I'll yank quotes and more in a heartbeat. If I rail against progressives, I've got examples aplenty.

So when someone says 'evangelical conservatives hate gays!', and I ask for evidence and I get 'Well just go talk to them', I get leery. Because I have talked to them, I've watched a lot of them deal with gays, and I not only don't see that, but I see counter-examples. I see conservative evangelical leaders denouncing the Uganda laws in 2009. I see guys like Tom Gilson bending over backwards to be nice on that topic. Yes, I also see some assholes, but even the assholes don't match Shore's depiction.

It's as if people think that politics, media portrayals... all that stuff is merely hypothetical and doesn't take place when it comes to this topic.

malcolmthecynic said...

Sheila is a real piece of work. She's a hypocritical, self-righteous mess. And the fact that Marc has such a high opinion of her (I've seen him several times, both now and in the past, praise her posts, defend her, and compliment her, and I'm pretty sure one of the reasons he thought I was too much of a "culture warrior" is because I was so harsh with her in the past) really bugs me.

Sheila is feeding him one Hell of a line of B.S., and he's eating it up.

Crude said...

I think sheila has her problems - but then again, who doesn't? She's dead wrong on this issue, and I think it's trivial to demonstrate as much. I actually don't mind her responses since, as I said, they're convenient; when she sits there trying to excuse Shore and respond with mockery and laughter (and little else) to a pretty fair accusation, I can just turn around and use her as an example of what's wrong with this culture, this debate, etc. And considering one of my goals there (in the microcosm of Internet Arguing) was 'show how one-sided, hypocritical and manipulative the Progressives can be', hey, what a convenient presentation.

Lothar will do what Lothar will do, and if he commits to buying the line that Shore is right and did nothing wrong, that's unfortunate, even upsetting, but ah well. So on we go.

malcolmthecynic said...

I guess Sheila rubs me in particular the wrong way, probably because of the abortion debacle and Marc's reaction.

Crude said...

That I can understand. Clearly I wasn't exactly thrilled with her responses to me - there's very little reliance on argument, which is always a bad sign.

Gay rights is one of those issues where the people involved tend to claw desperately for the appearance of a Moral Highground always, to the point where conceding LGBT activists may be doing something wrong is impossible to wrap one's mind around. You even saw that with the Evangelical Liberal, where the big push was 'Let's stop talking about what Shore said and instead talk about what really matters: sometimes people are mean to gay people'.

Crude said...

BTW, don't take my measured response as disagreeing with most of your criticisms. I just am giving a calm analysis, since I'm very interested in the basic dynamics of what's going on here than offense. As I said, for all Sheila's antics, she just provided me with a great example of what progressives do when it comes to hate speech, demonizing people, etc.