Who Will Speak Up for Christianity in an Age of Rampant Girl-on-Girl?

If only it had a champion, such as the Tribune’s John Kass:

I’m not opposed to same-sex unions. Americans have the right to equal protection under the law, and same-sex couples should be able to expect the same tax benefits and other considerations allowed to those of us who are now being called, in some quarters, “opposite-sex couples.”

As far as I’m concerned, Americans have the right to do as they please as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others. America is all about liberty and freedom.

But this all comes now during the season of Lent, a time of fasting and prayer, when Christians are compelled to confront the obligations of their faith.

And while I hear the new moral arguments, about equal rights and equal protection, I’ve read little about the religious freedom aspects and what the Supreme Court’s ruling might mean for houses of traditional worship.

You’ve readLITTLE?Really?Wherehaveyou been?

And by the by, “opposite sex” is what heterosexual couples have been called since I was a kid. The opposite sex, that isn’t a pejorative, unless you make it one in order to feel put upon.

The federal government has already told religious institutions that run hospitals that they must provide contraceptives to their employees, even if it runs counter to their beliefs. So now, if the government ultimately compels us to describe same-sex unions as marriage, what’s next?

No, they’ve told religious institutions that run hospitals that they must provide COVERAGE for contraceptives to their employees, if they employ large numbers of employees. They don’t have to hand out condoms at gunpoint and put the pill in with the W-2s every spring.

Plus Catholic women are already on this. Never mind the non-Catholic ones who just want to get jobs.

As for “what’s next,” I think the answer is church-mandated man-on-dog. We’re only a minute away from that at any time.

To speak of faith in this context is to invite the charge of bigotry — if not outright, at least by comparison to angry fire-and-brimstone preachers who seem to use the Bible as a lash. Some wield the Old Testament like a cudgel, and avoid the New Testament, in which Christ asked us to refrain from judging and to love our neighbor.

No one with half a brain wants to be thought of as a bigot. But that’s what I and others risk as members of a distinct and irritating minority — as traditional Christians in journalism.

No, being a bigot is what invites charges of bigotry. There is nothing in “traditional Christianity” as embodied by Jesus Christ that makes you a bigot. There is much in the politics of traditional Christianity and Roman Catholicism as embodied by its present leaders that makes it glacially slow to change and pathologically quick to conflate religious and secular practice in an effort to hold onto power, but that has absolutely dick to do with Jesus. So to speak.

As to the minority status Mr. Kass is so quick to claim, nailing yourself to the cross and then bitching that your hands and feet are sore and you’re thirsty is not martyrdom, it’s self-indulgence. Nobody is going to fire you because you go to church on Sunday or wear a cross.

Being incoherent and maudlin, on the other hand, should be a dismissable offense:

It is a world of language and political symbolism, a world where ideas are often framed so that they may lead to inexorable conclusions favored by the dominant culture. In this media world, I sometimes wonder whether the word “sin” has been outlawed by the high priests of journalism for fear of offending one group or another.

So you really WANT to write a column calling all gays sinners, but you’re afraid for your job? What? What does this even mean?

As to the great risk you’re running here, Mr. Kass, I’d note you’re writing this in a major metropolitan newspaper. You’re not exactly preaching in the desert, to the stones.

Now that the debate has been framed, if I hold to my faith and resist applauding the changes, I’m easily cast as some drooling white cartoon bigot of the Jim Crow era, denying black Americans the right to sit at a lunch counter and have a meal with the white folks.

You know, you can’t claim to be the voice speaking up for the unpopular view, and then lament that it is so unpopular and makes you a target for negative attention. I mean, you can, but the rest of us find it exhausting.

What is also clear is that, given demographic shifts and attitudes, particularly by young people regarding sexuality and family, traditional Christianity is no longer the dominant culture.

It is the counterculture, fast becoming a minority view.

No, opposition to marriage equality is fast becoming a minority view.Christianity is in no danger whatsoever. Mistaking the one for the other is the central problem with this piece.

And while I struggle with the fast-moving issue of the redefinition of marriage and its effect on our culture and how to reconcile the rights of others and my own religious beliefs, I ask only one thing:


Remember that word? Tolerance?

Tolerance for those whose faith and traditional beliefs put them in what is fast becoming the minority.

Absolutely no one is breaking down your door demanding you marry another dude. You can go to church without fear of ever having to see two women plighting their troth before the altar. This changes nothing for you, except that you have to deal with losing privilege and impunity to say whatever you please without fear of disagreement.

That isn’t being a “minority.” It isn’t being persecuted. You long for bastions of traditionalism; well, you have those in your churches. You can go there and feel the comfort you need. And when you say, over and over, that you support gay people having the same rights as everybody else but you are just afraid this will start some kind of pogrom against Christians … I mean, remember the way the cities of Iowa were in flames for months after the first gay wedding? People were eating their household parakeets to stay alive. It was monstrous.

Pray, I ask you all, for peace in the Middle West.

Snark aside, somewhere in this mess is a good column, about the inability of many to articulate the fear of change that strikes us all at one point or another, and how that fear of change can prevent us from being the people we know we should be. I think what Kass is really asking for is not tolerance, butpatience.

Patience with the struggle of people to understand their own faith (and their own religion, and the diferences between the two), to reconcile their childhoold lessons with the consciences God gave them, to grow and change and love each other not just in words and hugs at Christmastime but in actions and rights and responsibilities.

And if he’d asked for patience, for time to adjust, I’d still respond, and direct him to a fierce and unapologetic proponent of Christianity forsome words upon the subject:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

There is, you see, atradition here as well.


Update: Whet has more on the utter allergy to facts going on here.

14 thoughts on “Who Will Speak Up for Christianity in an Age of Rampant Girl-on-Girl?

  1. You give “Mr.” Kass far more credit that I can. While it may be true that “somewhere in this mess is a good column”, I’ve often given up long before I make it to the end with such a charitable belief. The best days are when someone else is occupying that lofty space.
    The best he’s written is how to make “beer can chicken”. THAT’s a lovely summary for a career in newspaper journalism, no?

  2. Beer can chicken is actually pretty redeeming.
    Every once in a while he just blows the doors off the place. He wrote one of my favorite columns ever, after a pitcher pitched a perfect game. He wrote about the guy who made the catch to end the game. It was gorgeous.
    But this contrarian thing he does, I mean, I just have no patience for it. All this self-inflicted martyrdom is so arrogant. Yes, princess, you’re the only one who cares. EXCEPT FOR THE ENTIRE HIERARCHY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, which has been making just this point for eight years.

  3. A, Well Said! I hope Mr Kass sees this, I would be interested in his response to such a thorough deconstruction of his commentary.

  4. A., you give him a lot more credit than he deserves and read into his column a lot more than is actually there.
    This is nothing more than a “more in sorrow than in anger” version of the old Christianist waahmbulance cry, “I used to be a bigot and still be considered a good person! Why does that have to change!!”

  5. Interesting, innit? Not so very long ago, proponents of full participation of homosexuals in our society were told – in no uncertain terms – what depraved individuals we were. “Tolerance” was a dirty word, one that didn’t fit into the lexicon of those like Mr. Kass, who were secure in their majority view, and confident that it would be ever so.
    Now? Mr. Kass has seen his majority status slip away, and he’s pleading for gay rights proponents to show a little tolerance. Whatever happened to tolerance anyway, he whines. Well, Mr. Kass, you and your pals murdered tolerance years ago, and now you want assurances that the new majority won’t pay you back with the same coin you spent so freely just a few years ago.
    Yeah, acting and talking like a bigot is going to invite a certain amount of approbation. Boo hoo. But you probably won’t have a gang of gay people descend on you and beat the ever-loving shit out of you, and hang you on a fence rail to die in the freezing cold. So, you know, it’s sad-making to be called out on your bigotry, but it won’t be fatal if you indulge it in the wrong crowd.

  6. Funny; I wasn’t aware that hospitals had beliefs. I thought they had rooms, patients, and employees. Plus a lot of fancy stainless steel, plastic, and computer gizmos. And the occasional gamma- and x-ray point source. But not, you know, beliefs.

  7. *stunned* *dragging feet* *sigh* “Better than, Communitarianism, Cavalier-tradition of shunning, just ain’t gettin’ it anymore.”
    See also: GOP re-branding initiative.
    It’s not entirely about how they brand themselves. It’s about how they brand others and the entire practice of branding people – because B school ‘fundamentals’.

  8. Yes, after nearly ten years of marriage equality, Ontario is nothing but a smoking ruin. Here in British Columbia, it’s unsafe to leave your house for fear of being captured by roving bands of gay-married gays.
    All right, I confess. Same-sex marriage in Canada has resulted in one major change — the wedding industry has gotten a terrific boost. To the point that some hetereosexual couples have difficulty booking the more attractive wedding venues in Vancouver. I mean…the horror. Be warned America…this COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. (And the sooner the better.)

  9. We use that phrase “the wrong side of history” so much, it’s easy to think it’s just words. I think (I’d like to think, anyway) that people are realizing history is now, and they are (visibly) on the wrong side. And of course, obviously, they believe this can’t be right, they aren’t the bad guys here. But mostly, I think they are just pissed because it is hard for them and it’s work and they don’t want to have to think about this stuff.
    As I’ve said before,my pet peeve is “Well what am I supposed to tell my kids?” (Like Louis CK says) What you tell your kids is your problem. These are your beliefs. They are yours to uphold and defend and reconcile. Expecting the rest of the world to make it easy for you seems sort of antithetical to the whole concept of faith.

  10. Jude, I appreciate your snarkiness on hospitals. I also appreciate the underlying argument that when you say you’re a ___________ you are advertising that you provide what people expect a ____________ to do. (going back to at least Aristotle’s Ethics). Imagine if a hospital should arbitrarily decide it didn’t treat appendicitis.
    But for a couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the way certain people use company finances for political gains (blatant example being the “mom and pop” small business of the Koch brothers). When these businesses donate money to campaigns (or more likely SuperPACs) they write it off on their taxes – meaning that they essentially don’t pay taxes on it and may even possibly use creative accounting to get even a bigger break than the taxes on the donated amount. They might use company resources (company jets, staged press events at their company, etc.) for promoting a given political ploy.
    In short, the tax laws are used in such a way that a corporation can not only use company resources to preach a given dogma but be free of tax liability for the money they use to do so. It isn’t just the churches.

  11. somewhere in this mess is a good column, about the inability of many to articulate the fear of change that strikes us all at one point or another, and how that fear of change can prevent us from being the people we know we should be. I think what Kass is really asking for is not tolerance, but patience
    Where it goes awry (besides “everywhere”) is how he asks for patience and tolerance. Instead of saying “look, this is a deep-set belief and one that’s slow to give way,” or “this runs counter to my faith, here is why,” his first instinct is to insult and to play the victim: “I would say why this is important to me, but you’re mean and intolerant.”
    Keep in mind that gays have been fighting for equality for years, bravely and fearlessly, in the face of unimaginable hate and horrific violence. And Kass’s response is to get the vapors because someone (perhaps an internet commenter!)might call him a bigot.
    And not even that: a bigot, “if not outright.”
    (thanks for the link, btw.)

  12. I was talking with a friend earlier this week, who is an atheist, and we agreed that 2/3 of the stupid fucking conversations that happen about homosexuality, abortion, etc, happen because the participants don’t actually know jack shit about their beliefs, their religions, why they think the way they do, and thus they interpret any question as a threat and start posturing instead of listening and speaking.
    Insecurity. And that, as my very favorite writer said recently, “nobody’s the villain in their own movie.” If you’re Kass, or his like, and the story you’re telling is that you’re a good guy, then when confronted with evidence that you’re not you’re going to come up with a reason you still are. That reason is some other piece of shorthand we use for “good guy,” which is religion. If you’re a good Christian, you can’t be an asshole, even if your blind adherence to a particularly punitive version of Christianity is what makes you an asshole in the first place. Round and round we go.
    Radical misinterpretation of sacred text, miscommunication of doctrine, and just plain shit-breath stupidity results in this thing where people think they can say, “I believe” and they don’t have to back up whatever comes after. As if it’s some kind of shield against the need to think critically. St. Augustine, asshole that he was, would bludgeon the lot of them with heads of cabbage. God gave them brains, and they use them as hood ornaments.

  13. I find it almost barf-inducing for ANYONE in the Christian community to ask for “tolerance” towards their religious beliefs. This “religion” has proven throughout history to be one of the most intolerant belief-systems that has ever existed, with a few million dead and a couple of whole societies wiped out to their credit. Take your plea for tolerance and stick it up your Kass.

  14. A, Right on.
    I am always frustrated that those quoting their favorite scriptures are generally the most ignorant of the scriptures. Generally their level of morality and knowledge of their religion stopped in the grade school (obvious connection to other post on first-draft about how folks are proud that they never changed their beliefs). How else can we explain things such as the radical evangelical rebirth of Ayn Rand?
    Connected, in the process of teaching religion, we beam with pride when we have our children parrot some religious saying while ignoring that they have no idea what they are saying. Leads to adults parroting catch phrases while having no idea what they’re saying – but mistaking that for piety.

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