Christianity Used To Mask Bigotry

25 10 2007

Nowhere does Christianity say that a Christian cannot discuss homosexuality with their child. The Bible does not say that a true believer has to to tell other people that homosexuality is wrong. All it states is that a Christian must believe themselves that it is wrong (which itself I take issue with but people are entitled to their beliefs). Furthermore Christianity does not state that a true Christian never sins. In fact, is not the very foundation of the faith that Christ died for human sins? As far as I was always taught the faith simply demands that when Christians sin they repent and seek forgiveness from God. It also says that God will forgive any mortal sin because we are his most beloved creation. Thus Christianity does not even require Christians to condemn homosexuality, contrary to what many claim. Christianity is actually about live and let live.

That is what is being missed here. Of course that’s an article from the Daily Mail, a newspaper so insanely extremist that even the KKK would blush at the rubbish they come out with. This couple are homophobic, contrary to what many of the comments there say, and to call this PC gone crazy or “insanity” is the sort of thing only a complete bigot would say. In response to their editorialised version (yes, shockingly that was their “unbiased” version) which you can find here (second story down), no, in a sane country anyone who holds extremist views would not be allowed to foster children. If this couple’s religious beliefs were that murder was morally acceptable they wouldn’t be allowed to foster children, would they? Anyone who cannot condone (not promote) homosexuality is extremist by today’s standards. If you don’t like that, tough.

Once you read a (only slightly) less biased take on it you realise that all the new law requires is that foster parents not foist their own homophobia onto their children. One of the biggest criticisms of this has been that birth parents are not required to follow the law, but if I had my way they would too. People should need to be licensed to have children because far too many parents out there are unfit and raise their children to be stupid bigots like their parents. The worry is that the Telegraph’s misunderstanding is causing the story to be mis-reported internationally. The law says nothing about “supporting” homosexuality, it’s more about acceptance of it.

The word “promote” seems to have caused a great deal of confusion. Nothing in the new law states that foster parents have to say homosexuality is fantastic or great, that it is somehow “better” than heterosexuality. Read this for a better understanding of what it actually requires. In particular note the way “promote” is actually used in the following sentence (and read the rest of the article to note their bias against the law):

Somerset Council officials cited the recently passed Sexual Orientation Regulations when they decided that people who open their homes to children in need, must also discuss same-sex relationships and promote homosexuality as normal and “equal”

If he claims he was told by social workers that he needs to promote it as “good” then either he’s lying or the social workers were misinformed. Having read a few different articles with many quotes from him, and even heard him speak on a talk show this morning my suspicion is Mr Mathers is lying to hide the fact that what is really at stake here is not his inability to promote homosexuality (which I would understand, under his religion) but his inability to condone it. He has much admits it when he says:

I can’t condone homosexuality but we don’t con­front people about it.”

All that is required is that they promote equality, that homosexuals are no less “worthy” as human beings than heterosexuals. People will say “But Christianity says they aren’t” which is true, but it also says that it is not for humans to judge, but for God to do so. A true Christian does not believe homosexuals to be less than heterosexuals, they believe that God considers them to be. That is a crucial difference.All these parents had to do was say that in society homosexuals and heterosexuals are equal. The key words in this article from the couple’s own local newspaper are:

they had been told by officials that they would be required to discuss same-sex relationships with children as young as 11 and tell them that gay partnerships were just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages.

Discuss, not promote, and obviously if a child enters puberty at 11 that would be the prime time to discuss sexuality with them. It’s when we begin sexual education in schools after all. Nobody said they had to say that either was “right” or “wrong”, and if their own religious beliefs came into it nothing in the law prevents a foster parent saying “My own beliefs are this…but those are just my beliefs, different people have their own beliefs and you have to find your own”. All parents should be encouraged to approach religion in this way with their children. It’s quite frankly disgraceful that parents force their own faith onto their children. All this law asked was to teach kids about homosexuality.

Ultimately I put it to you would we have been so outraged if foster children were taken away from otherwise fantastic foster parents simply because those foster parents were racist? Or even closer to home, what if the foster parents were fundamentalist Muslims who supported the actions of terrorists? I can guarantee you the Daily Mail would be outraged at fundamentalist Muslims being foster parents but these two are fundamentalist Christians. Too many people are quick to notice fundamentalism in Islam and very slow to realise the same fundamentalism growing in Christianity.

After that massive wave of text I’ll leave you with a YouTube video on religion. I don’t agree with everything it says, because I’m not actually a fundamental atheist, as the author of the video clearly is, but I still think it’s well worth watching:

Edit: One of my readers sent me a picture that fits with this post wonderfully well. Not sure if they wish to be named so I’ll leave it anonymous until they tell me otherwise:


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11 responses

26 10 2007
Jayne d'Arcy

I’ll fess up to that graph. I’m no atheist, but I do find that funny. I still don’t know what to think about this article. I’m just shaking my head.

26 10 2007
Mr President

Oh I know you’re not. I was under the impression you were a woman of faith. My view on this whole thing is that I feel for the child but I think the foster parents are actually sacrificing him to make a political point, so if anyone is to blame it is them not this law and not the council. Do they not love him?

How many Christian birth parents would give up their child if they were forced to sign such things, and how many would actually put the child’s interests before even their misguided idea of what their faith tells them? Many would do the latter because they love the child unconditionally.

As I say in the post I’m not sure that Christianity even obliges this couple not to comply with this law. Nowhere does the Bible tell people to condemn homosexuality, simply that it is an abominable sin that will be punished by God when the time comes. It also says, after all, “Judge not lest you be judged” and also “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

26 10 2007
Reverse Racism « Textual Relations

[…] Reverse Racism 26 10 2007 In a way I feel somewhat dirty by allowing a story printed by the Daily Mail to inspire my post today but alas, I think they may be right in this case (well, even a stopped watch is correct twice a day). By means of a defence I would like to point out that story came to my attention through a TV show covering topical issues in the news rather than by actually reading that pathetic excuse for a newspaper. Regardless of how I came about the story the key is I think that blacking up is not racist, and to say it is would actually constitute a genuine case of political correctness gone mad (unlike the story I posted about yesterday). […]

28 10 2007
Andy D

I didn’t look up the particular couple, I decided to just comment on what you wrote. Two points..

First, homosexual relationships aren’t as acceptable as heterosexual ones. Homosexual relationships carry with them their own unique set of challenges. They have many of the same challenges as heterosexual ones, but an additional level because they aren’t the “norm” and some people will disparage or discriminate against those in homosexual relationships. Society as a whole hasn’t decided these relationships are equal yet, why should parents be forced to lie to their children and tell them otherwise? If a person decides to enter into a homosexual relationship, I think that is their business. However, we shouldn’t sugar coat the challenges they will face.

Second, I think I disagree with you in the role of parents in raising their children. Twice in your aritcle you seem to indicate that the government knows better than parents when raising kids. You mention a license for parenting, and you don’t think parents should “force” their beliefs on their children (adopted or otherwise). If this is your belief, I think you are way off base.

While there are examples of people who shouldn’t have children (i.e. Britney Spears?), those people are by and large the exception, not the norm. People who raise their children in a loving household and given them the values and encouragement they need don’t make the news. When has the government ever shown they can do anything better than private citizens? And if there is a license, who gets to decide what the subject matter is?

Parents pass on many of their values to their children. They pass on their faith, their sense of right and wrong, and often their political beliefs. As children grow and become adults, they compare the beliefs they were given to the real world and make their own choices. In some cases they keep those beliefs, in other cases they reject them and create their own beliefs.

To have the government step in and create a series of beliefs that should be taught to children by their parents (in this case homosexuality) is not just wrong, but repulsive.

28 10 2007
Andy D

Sorry about the post, I couldn’t stop writing…

28 10 2007
Mr President

No need to apologise, I appreciate the comment.

Firstly I think that you’re wrong about homosexual relationships not being as acceptible. Whilst I completely agree with your points about the unique challenges faced, that relates to whether they are “accepted” not whether they are “acceptible”. It may seem like semantics but it is not; all the law requires is that parents teach a child that homosexual relationships are not “evil”.

Equally whilst you may be correct that US society has not accepted that they are equal, it is now a matter of law in the UK that they are. There is no practical difference between UK Civil Partnerships and marriages, any right a heterosexual spouse has, a homosexual spouse now has too. Equally homosexuals have equal rights to adopt in the UK.

I think the problem is that you hadn’t read into the law in question. The law is not specifically about parenting, it is a law against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. There is no arbitrary set of beliefs that should be taught to children by their parents. Foster parents are agents of the state, the law requires anyone who works for the government to adhere to rules which now include promoting equality on the grounds of sexuality. The law does not apply to birth parents or adoptive parents.

When I say I believe it should, I simply mean that parents should be encouraged to teach their children not to be homophobic. You say society doesn’t accept homosexuals as equals but my retort to that would be that if parents continue to teach their children that homosexuality is “wrong” or “evil” then it never will be. What about racism? There was a time society didn’t consider blacks as equals, it took government action to change this. Does that mean parents should not be discouraged from raising racists?

Secondly I think you misunderstood my point about values and licenses. My point wasn’t based upon news stories, it’s based upon the children I see in every day life. I can only speak about UK society but our kids are being raised by parents who leave them in front of the TV or a computer don’t actually take any responsibility for “parenting”. The chav culture clearly hasn’t crossed over to the US (one of my US readers didn’t know what a chav was). If it had you’d know why I think some people should not be allowed to have children. If for no other reason than spreading their genes.

The rise in gun and knife crime amongst youths in this country is testimony to the terrible excuse for parenting that’s happening. I even heard of a mother who encouraged her child to carry a knife because he was being beaten up. Now I ask you, what sort of value is that to teach a child? She even discouraged him from going to the police because “the police won’t do anything”. Teaching your child to be a vigilante is pathetic.

Also my suggestion of licenses was not serious, it was facetious, designed to highlight my disdain for poor parents. In truth any such scheme would be full of the very holes you point out. The government is already too involved in our lives, I’m in favour of less state intervention not more.

However I think you overly expanded my point about forcing “faith” onto children. My point related purely to religious belief, which I think should be an internal thing not an external one. You cannot possibly “teach” religious values. Spirituality is internal. If a parent wants to tell their child about their religion they should have enough confidence in their beliefs to teach their child about ALL religions. Then let them choose.

Equally I disagree with parents passing on their political beliefs, which I suspect is a cause of low voter turnout amongst young people. You say that adults challenge the beliefs their parents gave them as children but the problem is that most have been so brainwashed as children that they actually don’t. In an ideal world what you suggested would work but this is not an ideal world. Besides, why is teaching your children to question things a bad thing? That’s all I say, people should discuss politics with their children but encourage them to research and question things.

I didn’t question the faith my parents raised me in until I was 21, and I was raised by parents who encouraged me to explore other religions. When I was young they sent me to Church and to Hindu temples.

All joking about licensing apart, whilst I don’t think the government should mandate a set of beliefs to pass on, I do disagree with the way many parents instead of passing on wisdom and knowledge (and a sense of right and wrong) pass on blind faith. Why not encourage children to research religion at a young age and choose what’s right for them?

Too many parents want to raise clones of themselves. I think that’s bad.

30 10 2007
Andy D

I don’t think encouraging children to explore other faiths is wrong at all. My plan is to raise my daughter in the same religious tradition I was raised in (more or less). However, if she is anything like me or her mother, at some point she is going to question if that is the right religion for her. I hope at that time to give her whatever help she wants in exploring other faiths, but I will leave that decision up to her. When I got to college, I started studying other faiths. I decided the faith i was raised in most represented my belief. My brother came to the same conclusion, and never once questioned his faith.

Perhaps our disagreement comes with the difference between the UK and the US. My own personal experiences have taught me that teenagers and young 20 -somethings in the US question everything. I did, my wife did, most of my friends did. I believe children should be raised with a strong foundation of beliefs (both religious and otherwise) so they have something to compare everything else they discover against. I don’t think questioning should be discouraged at all.

While I agree that there are parents who we should worry about, I believe the vast majority of parents do a good job. Some of the examples you site (like telling a kid to carry a knife to school) are somewhat scary, but i think they are the exception, and not the rule. As I said earlier, kids that are raised in a loving household, and who become productive members of society, just don’t make the news.

I think at the core, you and I agree for the most part, I think there are a few nuances we disagree on. That probably comes from the whole British thing :D.

30 10 2007
Mr President

Andy, as a regular reader of your blog I’m fairly certain there are few things we ever disagree on. Your view of the world is not too different from mine. What you mention about how you plan to raise your children is exactly what I envision being the right way to do things. My issue rests firmly with those that actually force their beliefs on their children and refuse to let them explore things.

I suspect that you’re right, the differences in our views stem entirely from the differences between our two societies. We have a state religion, you do not. We never complain (which is why we pay the highest prices for consumer goods and get terrible service. We are a society that accepts things at face value in every respect and I suspect that is the key difference between our countries, and ultimately, our views on this issue.

You’re also correct to point out that the “horror stories” are the ones that make the news but, and perhaps this is simply as I live in an unsafe neighbourhood, my experiences match those I read/see in the news.

7 11 2007
marsha galinsky

Actually, if you read the words in red, Jesus never said a single word about homosexuals or homosexuality. He said a whole lot about not judging, about tolerance, about acceptance and about the paramount importance of love. Considering the importance he placed on love and tolerance, I find it hard to believe that The Son of God would judge a person based on whom they choose to love.

The mentions of homosexuality in the New Testament is from Paul in Corinthians 6:9-10, and Romans 1;26-27. and many people think that Paul’s advice in general has been taken out of context or mistranslated. Others believe that Paul, never having even been a disciple, might not be the Last Word on what Jesus might think about something He never mentioned. As for the Old Testament, the clearest prohibition against homosexuality is found in Leviticus, the book that also mandates (with fearsome consequences) against mixing fibers, eating shellfish, and picking up sticks on the Sabbath. There is also considerable scholarship (supported by most Protestant denominations) that reveals that the proper translation of the term used in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy and Kings), qadesh, (which is also the term Paul probably used in the Hebrew in Romans) refers only to the temple prostitutes (of either sex) of pagan religions, which at the time had sexual ceremonies as part of their observances. The reference in Judges is clearly a warning against inhospitable treatment (i.e., murder) of visitors, and has nothing to do with homosexualtiy.

My personal conclusion, as a Christian, is that what people do for love in their bedrooms, is none of my business, nor is it relevant to the validity of their religion or chances on heaven. For more, see: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hombiblot.htm
and
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hombiblnt.htm

7 11 2007
Mr President

What an excellent comment. Thank you. Although I have read the bible several times, I don’t claim to be a Christian scholar so it’s great to hear from someone who is. I learnt a lot I didn’t know so I thank for that.

Equally it’s great to hear a Christian preach the message of tolerance which is what I believe Christianity is all about. Like all religions, ultimately, it is about love for your fellow human being and tolerance for one another. At a time when we see religion being used, yet again, as a divisive force I think it’s great to hear more about why it’s actually a unifying one.

Thank you so much for showing that Christianity does not preach a message of homophobia. All that goes to prove is that the couple in this article are using their religion to hide their own feelings, rather than opting, as you have done, to read the scriptures and see the message of tolerance. This couple claim they have been discriminated against because they’re Christians. I say they’ve been discriminated against because they’re bigots.

11 11 2007
Crazy Christian Couple Back Down « Textual Relations

[…] Christian Couple Back Down 11 11 2007 Remember the Christian couple who hid behind their beliefs rather than admit that it was their own bigotry that prevented them from signing an Equality […]

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