1/07/2009

No More Free Passes

Saints Sergius and Bacchus. 7th Century icon. ...Image via WikipediaBill Maher pointed out in his film Religulous that in America we have developed a social norm whereby people are allowed to explain away any prejudice by simply saying "it's part of my faith."

This argument has been used by politicians and everyday people to shut down any discussion of the factual or logical fallacies in their arguments about gay marriage or equal rights. Instead of being forced to defend their position logically they can simply say "It's my faith." and all discussion is supposed to cease.

Barack Obama has used it in the past to justify his belief that same sex Americans are not entitled to the same protections extended to heterosexual couples by marriage. Rather than giving us point by point reasons for his opposition he simply says "It's my faith." and everyone nods gravely and drops the subject.

The same is true for everyday discussions as well. People tend to shrug their shoulders and resort to the religion response rather than actually thinking about why they oppose something. It's a lazy way out and it's a cowardly act not to press these people on this statement and make them personally defend the position with logic and facts.

Allowing religious people to cop out with such phrases does a great disservice to this country and to those people. Religion, traditionally eschews knowledge and logic in favor of magical thinking and faith in the stories of others. Allowing people to become so immersed in this type of thinking that they begin to apply it to non-religious questions and situations can be dangerous and counterproductive for the community.

I've asked people who oppose same sex marriage rights why they also don't seek laws banning divorce or outlawing the eating of shellfish (both listed as abominations in their Bible). Without fail the response I get involves how the texts don't really mean that or that Jesus' preaching negates these parts of the Old Testament or how society has changed and it's dangerous not to allow divorce because of violence.

Yet, when pressed on Same Sex Marriage the response invariably returns to "It's my faith" and "That's what's in the Bible." In this matter Jesus' lessons are lost and the idea that society has shifted is lost. They simply cannot justify, logically, their opposition beyond "It's my faith."

But, that's not really what's in the Bible. In fact, there's lots in the Bible about heterosexual marriage and hardly any of it is followed by folks who profess the Bible as infallible and it's teachings as their "faith."

What do you think would happen with Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, the Mormons (OK, maybe the Mormons would love this), Southern Baptists and particularly Fundamentalist Evangelicals if we proposed the following law:

A Proposed Constitutional Amendment Codifying Marriage Entirely on Biblical Principles:

1. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Genesis 29:17-28; II Samuel 3:2-5.)

2. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Samuel 5:13;I Kings 11:3; II Chronicles 11:21)

3. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

4. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Genesis 24:3; Numbers 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Nehemiah 10:30)

5. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deuteronomy 22:19; Mark 10:9)

6. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Genesis 38:6-10; Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure the outrage would be loud and swift from the same people who justify their opposition to equal rights for us as a "matter of faith."

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