Note to the Theopolitical Right: Beliefs Have Consequences-Own Them

Update: Thanks to everyone visiting. I worked really hard on this post too, and it’s also kinda important and about kids too, so please stop by that one too.
Dan Savage has exactly the right approach to dealing with the sanctimony of the theopolitical right. In response to an interview Savage gave about the “It Gets Better” campaign to combat anti-gay hatred directed at teenagers, a Christian who describes himself as “someone who loves the Lord and does not support gay marriage” writes to Savage:

If your message is that we should not judge people based on their sexual preference, how do you justify judging entire groups of people for any other reason (including their faith)? There is no part of me that took any pleasure in what happened to that young man, and I know for a fact that is true of many other people who disagree with your viewpoint.
To that end, to imply that I would somehow encourage my children to mock, hurt, or intimidate another person for any reason is completely unfounded and offensive. Being a follower of Christ is, above all things, a recognition that we are all imperfect, fallible, and in desperate need of a savior. We cannot believe that we are better or more worthy than other people.
Please consider your viewpoint, and please be more careful with your words in the future.

Savage responds:

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt by my comments.
No, wait. I’m not. Gay kids are dying. So let’s try to keep things in perspective: Fuck your feelings….
The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children–having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry–feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools.

The theopolitical right has received a tremendous pass on their bigotry and ignorance because they gussy it up as sincere belief. I’m sure that the writer does truly believe that gay marriage is wrong. It’s probably a strongly held belief, perhaps even fervently so.
And I don’t fucking care.
Because the consequences of this belief are that children are killing themselves. Fervency is as much as a hallmark of the decent as it is the insane.
But for some reason it has become fashionable to disassociate the consequences of beliefs (religious or otherwise) from their consequences, and, thus, they become unassailable. I believe them, therefore, they are legitimate. While this marks me as one of the remaining few humanists (albeit a religious one), ultimately beliefs have to be judged by their results.
Any belief, religious or not, that leads to a climate where children are more likely to kill themselves is one not worth having.

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19 Responses to Note to the Theopolitical Right: Beliefs Have Consequences-Own Them

  1. Kevin says:

    And I don’t fucking care.
    Because the consequences of this belief are that children are killing themselves. Fervency is as much as a hallmark of the decent as it is the insane.

    Careful Mike – someone might mistake you for one of them militant atheist types.

  2. Eric says:

    …ultimately beliefs have to be judged by their results. Any belief, religious or not, that leads to a climate where children are more likely to kill themselves is one not worth having.

    Uhm… there is that whole issue of truth to deal with though. I frankly can’t understand thinking that beliefs should be judged by results – they should be judged by truth. If it’s true that allowing gay marriage will have an overall negative impact on society, then you SHOULD believe that allowing gay marriage will have a negative impact on society, no matter what your inclinations are. If it’s not true, then you shouldn’t believe it.
    Your beliefs are a map of the universe that your brain uses to navigate – to pick future actions which will lead to a state of the universe that you desire. Having an accurate map does not, itself, have any “results,” it just tells you how to get certain results. Once you have an accurate map, then you can figure out where you want to go and how to get there. But this idea that you should choose the beliefs that give the best results… no. Just no. You choose true ones.

  3. natural cynic says:

    This is the kind of situation where the message of “love the sinner, hate the sin” fails. When someone hears this message, what gets the emphasis: love the sinner or hate the sin? This is where communication of the whole message fails. These appear to be – and in actuality, are – two contradictory messages and the latter is the one that is heard and acted upon, especially by children. Some Christians who think that they are sophisticated in their understanding of the situation may think that they are performing a balancing act between the two phrases, but in reality, this hardly ever happens. A few may accomplish it, but only a few.
    This is especially the case in children and adolescents where there seems to be almost a natural fear of the different. A different color, religion, behavior, dress etc. is conceived to be a threat to the norm. Bullies will seize on this idea of difference and aggressively use it for their own psychological reasons. Conformity must be maintained.
    Another issue with the message of “love the sinner, hate the sin” is: what do you do about the sin? If something is a sin, it should be changed to the right behavior. So, how do you change it? Physically and psychologically enforcing the norm, according to the bully. The gentler bullies in the clergy will try to move the conflict to slightly more rational grounds by trying to give reasons for hating the sin: HIV/AIDS, lack of heirs, disappointing grandma, the fact that their boss might hold them back or even fire them, it’s icky etc. But eventually comes down to: why is it a sin? And the eventual answer is: ‘cuz I said so, saith the Lord. End of discussion. Only those who have troubling questions will ask: are you sure it was the lord? why would he say such a thing? why would the lord make people this way just to condemn them?

  4. Lyle says:

    One again the christian right ignores that inconvient fellow Jesus Christ. Jesus said judge not lest ye be judged, and also discussed the spec in the neighbors eye and the log in your own, and said let him who is without sin cast the first stone. But of course this sort of religion is no fun, and there is no discipline.
    It also says that you are bigger than God, according to the belief God will do the Judging in his time, thinking you are helping god by doing it yourself is to aggregate to yourself some of his power, making yourself a tinhorn god.

  5. Russell says:

    Eric, unless you have magically crossed the is-ought barrier that Hume pointed out, your moral thoughts are NOT a map of the universe.

  6. Neon Sequitur says:

    Won’t someone please think of the (gay) children!!!

  7. Fr. Birch says:

    In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said (regarding prophets or those who claim to speak for God) “You will know them by their fruits.” The fruits of the Spirit, according to Paul, are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Nothing there about children killing themselves.
    The fruits of sinful human nature include hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions,and envy. Children mentally and physically tortured because of the way God made them seems to fit into this list very well indeed.
    May God and all those made in his image forgive his church for what we have done.

  8. Eric Lund says:

    Russell @5: The issue I have with the other Eric’s post @2 is more a confusion of the map and the territory. Consider the problem of trying to drive in an unfamiliar area today by using a map from 1950. Not impossible, but you will find it difficult: most if not all freeways and turnpikes won’t be on the map, and other highways may have been renumbered or realigned. In this case, nobody is harmed, but if you don’t have a good sense of geography it will take you a lot longer than it should to get anywhere.
    Likewise with these fundamentalists: they are trying to navigate the universe with a map where gay marriage is one of several regions bearing the annotation “Here Be Dragons”. It has the consequence that they reject actual people who come from these regions. Unlike the 1950 road map example, this one is not harmless: people using this map are likely to mistake others who come from a region marked “Here Be Dragons” for actual dragons, and try to harm or kill the supposed dragons.

  9. Tuco says:

    But for some reason it has become fashionable to disassociate the consequences of beliefs (religious or otherwise) from their consequences, and, thus, they become unassailable.

    This is an excellent point. This kind of resolute, unyielding fealty to “Teh Rules” is also quintessentially characteristic of The Bureaucrat; “Gosh, sorry, I’d really like to not condemn you as vile, depraved, and subhuman, but the rules are clearly spelled out right here, so it’s out of my hands.” I wonder why this is obviously so psychologically satisfying for so many people.
    Clearly there are many behaviors, rules, etc. that affect others demonstrably (murder, assault, theft, etc.), but with regard to homosexuality – along with a whole host of other (I’m not even sure how to characterize them) “issues” – what the fuck difference does it make if your neighbor falls in love with Stephen or Stephanie? Which, as it happens, brings me to my next point:

    Consider the problem of trying to drive in an unfamiliar area today by using a map from 1950. Not impossible, but you will find it difficult: most if not all freeways and turnpikes won’t be on the map, and other highways may have been renumbered or realigned. In this case, nobody is harmed, but if you don’t have a good sense of geography it will take you a lot longer than it should to get anywhere.
    Likewise with these fundamentalists: they are trying to navigate the universe with a map where gay marriage is one of several regions bearing the annotation “Here Be Dragons”

    I think I see where you are going with this, but I guess I see the disconnect as even greater: Instead of trying to navigate with an old map, they are trying to force the territory to match the map – an absurd, arbitrary, imaginary map at that. It’s almost like driving across Kansas using a map of Oz or navigating Medellin with a map of Macondo, except instead of realizing the futility and tossing the map, they instead scream, “No, no, this isn’t right! You people should all be short and you need to get some flying monkeys, and put a yellow-brick road here so that reality conforms to the dreamed-up map in my little book here.”
    Yeah, we’ll get right on that….

  10. Glenn says:

    Interesting. So the message here to conservative Christians is: Lie, and pretend your beleifs are different.
    Or, stated differently: True, your belief is not that people should kill themselves, but because willr eact irrationally to your beliefs, you should pretend to think like me.
    I guess it’s cool nd hip because you said fuck. But it’s still idiotic.

  11. Wow says:

    > If it’s true that allowing gay marriage will have an overall negative impact on society,
    Define “negative”.
    Oh, you have to use your moral compass to decide? Then there’s no “truth”, there’s only “consequences”.
    Oddly enough, your request to ignore mere consequence actually requires measurement of consequence: a negative impact on society.
    Ironic?

  12. Wow says:

    Or, alternatively, Glen, “why should your belief impact on someone else?”.
    Do you wear polycotton mix clothes?
    That’s an abomination.
    Yet you don’t see people hounded for it.
    You can think what you damn well please, Glen, as can all other skyfairyists. But keep it inside your head.

  13. Mike Hanson-Haubrich says:

    Interesting. So the message here to conservative Christians is: Lie, and pretend your beleifs are different.
    Or, stated differently: True, your belief is not that people should kill themselves, but because willr eact irrationally to your beliefs, you should pretend to think like me.
    I guess it’s cool nd hip because you said fuck. But it’s still idiotic.

    No, what are idiotic are the conservative Christian beliefs that they have the right to judge and condemn other people’s sexual lives based on a real funky notion that their inscripturation is really relevant to people who they have no business directing. That’s what’s idiotic.
    Let the dead bury the dead, and worry about how you deal with your own lustful thoughts.

  14. David says:

    Hume’s is-ought idea – if I remember it correctly – is:
    Just because something is, doesn’t mean it ought to be.
    For example, just because human beings have always performed x, or are constantly performing x, doesn’t mean that x is the most moral action.
    For example, slavery in the 1700’s. Just because it is happening, doesn’t mean it’s ought to be happening.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_problem
    So I don’t see that it has relevance in the idea about beliefs and consequences. I much more like the ideas of maps and true beliefs.
    My 2 cents.

  15. Miles says:

    I’m with David. Eric was talking about beliefs about matter of fact, not moral beliefs. The best-approximation map of reality metaphor is a great one; I’ll have to remember it.

  16. Stevarious says:

    The problem, of course, is that with the religious, earthly consequences are immaterial. The fact that children die because they can’t handle ‘god’s truth’ doesn’t matter. The whole heaven/hell thing badly warps perceptions of suffering. Who cares about what paltry amounts of suffering you go though down here if you get to go to heaven? Any amount of worldly suffering is worth heaven. And if you are instead, bound for hell, then no amount of earthly suffering will remotely compare to the first, say, 10 seconds of hell. So why does it matter? Ultimately, all that matters is whether you get saved.
    This skewed world view is why (IMHO) so many religious people are so insensitive.

  17. Sherrie VandePutte says:

    “The theopolitical right has received a tremendous pass on their bigotry and ignorance because they gussy it up as sincere belief.” I am reminded of Ronald Reagan’s “Axis of Evil” speech given to Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, Orlando, Florida, March 8, 1983. “A number of years ago, I heard a young father, a very prominent young man in the entertainment world, addressing a tremendous gathering in California. It was during the time of the cold war, and communism and our own way of life were very much on people’s minds. And he was speaking to that subject. And suddenly, though, I heard him saying, “I love my little girls more than anything -” And I said to myself, “Oh, no, don’t. You can’t – don’t say that.” But I had underestimated him. He went on: “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.”
    There were thousands of young people in that audience. They came to their feet with shouts of joy. They had instantly recognized the profound truth in what he had said, with regard to the physical and the soul and what was truly important.”
    Chilling.

  18. Hey, I wrote a post inspired by your post! In case you’re interested:
    http://closetpuritan.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/beliefs-have-consequences/

  19. Sounds good. I was thinking briefly you would still be exposed to state changes committed before for JsonResult throws, but that’s moot because it’s true for any script src where the target doesn’t have AcceptVerbs POST.

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