233 thoughts on “Independent. Fundamental.”

        1. Natty’s are just Yankees. Damn Yankees are the one that move down South and won’t go home.

        2. Oops, that would be moi. Bostonian by birth and breeding. Southern by the Grace of God. Lol!

          But seriously… I thought Natties were national championships?

          BTW I still have my Boston accent. But I say y’all and fixin’ to. I’m a hybrid!

        3. Thought you were referring to Ohio State as Natty’s with them being in Ohio. They are just up the road from Cincinnati and I have heard people from there called Nattis.

          I just googled natty and you are correct. It has many meanings, but one is national championship. Never heard that one before. Oh the things we can learn on SFL!

        4. C G-C, Boston is one of my favorite cities to visit. I could use some Hilltop Steakhouse. I hated to see it had closed. (I know that’s actually Saugus, by the way)

        5. The Hilltop is gone??? With the plaster steers outside and the Western-named rooms inside? Say it ain’t so!! It’s bad enough that Harvard Square has turned into a blinking mall (as we discovered when we visited back in 2012). It’s bad enough that the North End and even *Southie* are now gentrified. But the Hilltop gone? Alas and alack. I can never go home again. 🙁

        6. C G-C, I’m very sorry to report the closing. I was thinking of it when I saw you are a Bostonian, and looked it up to be sure I spelled Saugus correctly, and saw posts about it closing. I think it was Oct. 2013. I was there last in “09.
          It is going to be a restaurant and shopping area., supposed to be finished this coming fall.

          My wife and I first visited Boston in 1992, saw the cactus and cows while driving up Rte 1 and decided to stop in. We have since made it a point to eat there on all subsequent visits to New England. We will miss it.

  1. I wonder how many IFB churches agree with the most well known phrase of hate for which Westboro Baptist Church is infamous, even if they would state it in a slightly less vulgar way…

    1. My mother says that if more Christians had the courage to speak righteousness, then churches like Westboro wouldn’t be necessary, now would they??

      My favorite Westboro moment is when a British reporter was interviewing the infamous Shirley Phelps-Roper and he asked about a sign that read: “Fags eat poop.” Shirley bugged her eyes out, as only she can do, and snapped, “Now that’s a proven fact!” Ooooh-kay.

      1. Let’s just say that I have factual evidence that the statement about eating poop cannot be 100% universal and leave it at that.

        And I’m left to wonder in what messed up way could anyone think that WBC is “necessary”?

        1. If you define “troll” fairly loosely, then yes, a (quite successful) band of trolls is exactly what it is.

      1. No worries. I’m amused. Besides, BamaMan only called first roll tide not first first. Though how you roll an ocean tide is beyond me. And in Alabama no less. :p

        1. PacBox, did you know that Alabama actually has a coastline on the Gulf of Mexico?

          The Gulf Shores area is a popular vacation area.

        2. It’s been ages since I’ve studied geography. But yeah, if I remember correctly, it has a very teeny tiny stretch. Still, rolling an ocean tide is problematic to say the least.

  2. You assume when Fred started he was as wacked out as he was near his end. What a person is at the end of the road is not necessarily what they were like when they started it.

    Most IFB guys didn’t have a problem with Phelps until much later when they started protesting the funerals of fallen soldiers.

    1. So that’s how crazy religions start. Everything’s normal, then suddenly the alpha of the group loses his marbles and everyone else in the group believes every word they say.

    1. I am almost hysterically happy to be out every time I think about anything that required me to take my young children anywhere there were other fundy mothers with young children. My kids always, ALWAYS, said something inappropriate. My oldest is 24 and until I left a couple of years ago, people still commented, pretending to find it funny, on her when she was 3 and refused to play with other kids because, “they are all stupider than me.”

        1. It’s one of those things you have to learn sometime if you don’t want to come across like Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game.”
          The smarter people are, the longer it tends to take them to learn not to rub it in.
          I recall having this conversation some years ago with a friend who is a generation younger than I. This brilliant young woman was disgusted at the unenlightened condition of some other people in our community.
          “Listen, Rapunzel (not her real name)” I said, “It’s very likely that you will spend much of your life around people who are not as intelligent or as well-informed as you are. You’re going to have to learn to get along with them. And I wish someone had told me that when I was your age.
          I’m happy to report that in the intervening year, Rapunzel has made great progress in humility and tact.

        2. My Rapunzel is going to uni, doing linguistics and neuroscience, volunteering with immigrants in her spare time and working customer service at Walmart. Tonight she texted me, ”Mom, I meant the sweetest girl tonight. She was tough looking and not very smart but she was so nice. You don’t have to be smart to be nice.” Yeah, she’s smart, yeah, she has grown up.
          By the way, I’m not mad, lol.

        3. So Big Gary has certainly learned to get along with us less intelligent/informed people….Heck, I couldn’t even tell! lol

  3. I would like to know how old this is and where it’s from. It would be interesting to know when in the history of East Side Baptist Church this occurred.

      1. Thanks. I wouldn’t think that in 1955, he had much to say about gay people unless he preached against Tennessee Williams. I wonder when East Side decided to disassociate from Westboro. But I won’t ask you to find out. Someone else may know.

        1. Anyone ever read a book called “Addicted to Hate”? It was a biography someone had written about Fred and the whole church family back in 1994 when they were notorious in Topeka but still unknown outside of Kansas. I forget where to find it but it’s free to read online. It was actually an interesting, if disturbing, story.

          One thing I remember from it was that Westboro had started as an offshoot of another church (probably East Side) and almost immediately afterward, something happened that made the parent church want nothing to do with Phelps. It seems a young man in the congregation was having marital problems. Phelps’ advice: “Sounds like she’s not being subjective enough, she needs a beating.” The next night, the man called Phelps from jail, asking for bail money.

  4. It was reported that shortly before his death last year, Fred Phelps got kicked out of his own church (now run by other Phelps family members).
    I haven’t managed to find out why.
    Anybody know?

    1. I understood that it was done to take advantage of a legal loophole concerning his estate. I don’t remember all the details, but from what I understood, it was consenting move that allowed them to keep doing what they’re doing.

        1. and in light of the clipping above, they have very few degrees of separation.

          If each of them are less than 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon, as the old saying goes, they can’t be more than 2 apart from each other.

  5. Of course, when starting a church, thinking of all the ways you might have an impact on the world, for good or for bad, the important thing to keep in mind is that you’re pre-millenial.

    1. In Tennessee i drove past a church whose name was a list of doctrines–obviously each doctrine represented a church split over that doctrine. The name was something like:
      Independent Fundamentalist KJV Only, Pre-Millenial, Free Will, Soul Winning Baptist church
      I figured they were really only defining themselves for other fundies who might visit their church. Their name was obviously not about changing the world but making sure those holding to their doctrines are the ones who came to the church.

        1. This is the point at which I’m tempted to blurt out…

          “I’ll bet my queer [behind]!”

          … maybe I’d best not do that. 😮

        2. Another church I drove by had a sign, “come as you are-leave different!”

          Hmmmm…. Maybe closer to the truth…? Lol

        3. The objective of Faith is not to remain the same, but to experience positive change. So “come as you are” always has a “leave different” tag to it.

          And that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the leaders and people often see positive change only in terms of their own prejudices, and are not content to let the Lord make the changes He wants in His order and His timing.

          It is the same problem of “having a form of godliness while denying its power.” They believe God can only work one way and don’t allow Him to be God or themselves to be fallible.

  6. Really, though, as much as the man could enrage me when he was alive, the whole Phelps saga is just sad. It’s fundamentalism taken to its extreme, its logical conclusion. Utter and complete separation from the world, to the extent that nobody in the world, not even other extremely conservative Christians, took him remotely seriously. Separation before love, first and foremost. And the monster of hatred he set in motion claimed himself in the end, apparently. At the end of his life, when he called for more compassion, even if it was only among his own church members, his own church members threw him out.

    I feel terrible for the people he hurled insults at, and protesting funerals is nonsense, but by the end he and his family were basically like the town lunatic shouting into the wind.

    What a sad legacy.

    1. It is a terribly sad legacy but like you said, it is the logical conclusion of fundamentalism. I wonder if they don’t feel uneasy about themselves, just sometimes. They seem mentally unstable.

      1. Fred Phelps was a more complicated character than most people realize. For a while, he was known around Topeka not for anti-gay activism or for picketing funerals, but for representing African-American groups in civil rights lawsuits (Phelps was a licensed attorney).
        During another period, he nearly killed himself and his family with extreme dietary experiments.

        His biography is not a happy story, but it has a lot of twists and turns.

        1. I wonder if Phelps spawned a monster which he could not control and he began to realise it towards the end. Maybe that is why he may have made the statements that got him kicked out. Just a thought.

        2. King David and King Solomon lived merry, merry lives,
          With many, many concubines and many, many wives.
          When old age crept upon them,
          With all it’s many qualms,
          King Solomon wrote the Proverbs and
          King David wrote the Psalms.

    2. Dear notquitesofundyanymore:

      You wrote: ‘… it’s fundamentalism taken to its extreme, its logical conclusion.

      I reply: This leads to the observation that the more ‘consistent’ and ‘separated’ a work is, the more unreal and unhinged it will be.

      Christian Socialist

    3. What few people in IFB circles will admit is that they basically agree with the Westboro doctrine. Maybe they are less Calvinistic, but for the most part, they are in agreement.

      The differences are only that regular IFB churches and people try to hide the depth of feeling they have. They want to be respectable among the world. Fundy businessmen would lose clients and customers if people had widespread knowledge of what they feel.

      An elderly gentleman in our IFB church, a Deacon Emeritus as it were, once boasted how he and a group of neighbors drove a gay couple out of the neighborhood. Those hearing the story responded with approval. Hate? Oh it is there in spades.

      Westboro is IFBism without the mask. It is IFBism without restraint. It is what most IFB churches would become with more confidence and zeal and less to lose in the pocketbook. What Westboro does dramatically, other churches do incrementally with less fanfare. What Westboro preaches for all the world to hear, IFB preachers proclaim from their pulpits. Gays will go to hell and burn. Period. God is Holy. God laughs at arrogant sinners. God will bring Great Tribulation on the world while the remnant feasts in heaven after the Rapture. And Jesus will dance in the blood of His enemies, and His Saints will sit on thrones ruling with a rod of iron.

      Sit in any IFB church and you will hear most of that in due time. Westboro is just more in-your-face about it.

      1. I am disturbed by the way many Christians – not *just*Fundies, but especially them – seem to take great glee in the thought of “Wretched Sinners” burning in Hell forever. Jesus came to die for Sinners. All sinners. Even for Westboro Baptist. Or are there certain kinds of Sinners He didn’t die for?

        1. Well, in IFB churches or from other fundy types you may hear that Democrats are going to hell or people who support a “woman’s right to choose” are going to hell. Bryan Fisher, The notorious Dallas Theological Seminarian of the American Family Association fame recently said you cannot support Gay rights and be a Christian. It used to be that if you supported the Equal Rights Amendment you were slated for hell.

          IFBism is much more of a lifestyle and cultural preference movement than anything else. The Culture Wars exclude anyone of different faiths, beliefs, political perspectives or moral codes from being saved.

          So in the good old economy of scale, Calvinism believes in a limited atonement. God sent Jesus to die for the elect, not the whole world. The Sinners will Burn.

          Which begs us to ask, When will these people begin to act out the violence of their theology? “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

      2. “What few people in IFB circles will admit is that they basically agree with the Westboro doctrine. Maybe they are less Calvinistic, but for the most part, they are in agreement.”

        EXACTLY–even when the fundies around me have stated that Westboro is doing hateful things–they agree with what Westboro believes. “They are just taking it too far.”

        I have wrestled–if your doctrine leads you to hate, is it a good doctrine? But I am wondering if that is the wrong question. Is the issue more that their doctrine is their idol? They cannot differentiate between their doctrine and god. When your doctrine is your god, you must do all that you can to defend and protect it. If your doctrine is your god, then you cannot tolerate any questions about the doctrine, you cannot fathom needing to wrestle with your doctrine and refine it. You cannot fathom having to admit something is less than perfect with any point in your doctrine–because your god would be imperfect. And so hate and anger are natural because if your doctrine falls so does your god.

        1. I think you are right, Leanne. The PBs split and split and split over doctrine. ”Doctrinal evil”, was constantly used to condemn people and ”maintaining the purity of the Lord’s table”, was an excuse not to deal with a problem but walk away from it. Their god is a very nit picking one it seems to me. They talk a lot about ”the twos and threes” with much head shaking and inner smugness because of course, who ever is talking about it knows they are that remnant. Such arrogance and harshness and they call it pleasing God before man. Sad and so wrong

        2. But if your doctrine is your God, it is the wrong doctrine, anyway.

          Every person has an internal set of operating principles, much like a computer has an OS. There are bugs, conflicting commands and beliefs, different priorities, and so on creating the personal kinds of crises that generally arise in fallible human beings.

          Doctrine is that subset of the human OS that claims precedence over everything else, though it really doesn’t. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is pretty reliable on this issue. But Doctrine is pretty basic. Most unknown inputs have to pass through Doctrine to be Judged.

          What we believe about God determines what we believe about people.

          I know it is hard to give up some cherished beliefs. Certain ideas, actions, etc. leave us feeling revolted. We cannot make ourselves accept everything, nor should we.

          But doctrine that leads to hate or indifference seems to me to be wrong. Period. I don’t want to hate anyone! Not even fundies! I can understand why they are what they are and why they do what they do because I was once one of them. I hope for change. I’m willing to rescue those who are hurting. I hate it that their beliefs hurt everyone, including themselves.

          Or at least the better part of me feels that way. I have my bitternesses and sore spots, too. Bugs in the System.

        3. I don’t think they start with the doctrine and it leads them to hate; I think they start with the hatred and form doctrine to fit it.

          As I’ve said before, Fundamentalism started as a reaction againt modernist Bible analysis, but it (especially the Independent Fundamental Baptist flavor of Fundamentalism) grew and flourished as a resistance movement against racial and gender equality. When those banners became to tattered to attract masses, fighting homosexuality became the main rallying cry. That’s looking a little weak in the knees now, too, so demonizing Muslims is the current hope for a Fundy renaissance.

        4. I am not going to be disagreeing with you. But I think maybe it goes both ways, like a circulatory system. It depends in part on where and how you enter the vortex.

          In the beginning, I think you are right, that hatred and prejudice and defense of lifestyle or social perspective formed the doctrine.

          But after the doctrine for the group is in place, people either enter the group because they find the attitudes attractive or by, say, less voluntary measures. Children born into the group are often grounded in the doctrine before they have the real opportunity to practice the attitudes.

          It is like the Pharisees moving heaven and earth to make a convert, then tiurning him into a child of hell seven times worse than themselves.

          In any case, doctrine and prejudices are the same kind of thing, being what we believe. If you don’t believe it, it isn’t a doctrine *to you*.

        5. Probably “fear” or “grievances” would be a better term than “hatred” in what I’ve just said. But it doesn’t take much work to transmute fear and sense of grievance into hatred of the “other.”

        6. Big Gary,

          Curiously enough, the anti-gay stance unites them with conservative evangelicals across America. I wonder how that makes them feel..?

        7. Josh, the other issues I mentioned also put them in company with the majority of conservative Evangelicals, or at least did during the heyday of each reactionary movement.

      3. rtgmath:
        As you often do, you exaggerate to make your point. Why do you insist time and time again to caricature Scripture with phrases like “Jesus will dance in the blood of his enemies”? That obscene image is not the point of the reference to stomping grapes. Do you get some relief of your own personal turmoil by twisting the metaphor to make it say what you want it to say? Seriously–we all know that Jesus will never dance in blood like some bloodthirsty serial killer. You have so much good to say—so much truth to impart. I just don’t understand why you seem to feel compelled to twist what the Bible says to make it filthy and outrageous. Certainly there are some filthy and outrageous scenes depicted in the Bible. But Jesus conquering his enemies isn’t one of them.

        the Admiral

        1. Admiral, the caricatures Rtg referenced are just a few of the insane things hardcore fundies really believe. They may not outright say that Jesus will dance in the blood of the wicked, but that image would not necessarily be off-putting to them.

        2. Do you think He is going to do it timidly or slowly? That is not how you tread the grapes. It is an enthusiastic process. The grapes do not just swish, the spurt with the effort and stain the clothes.

          Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat?
          I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
          For the day of vengeance is in mine heart. … Isaiah 63:2-4a.

          Exaggerated? I don’t think so! There are other passages similar to this. God will not mourn these He destroys. It will be a deliberate, dedicated, heartfelt slaughter. People to be trodden on, their blood on God’s feet, their blood on all His garments.

          You can believe God will somehow be slow and deliberate. But have you ever seen someone who is fierce and furious? They joy in the destruction and wreckage. He will be a bloodthirsty serial killer on that day, as the Scriptures demonstrate.

          Then again, He is God. He demonstrates it with death and destruction. The Flood, anyone? The Cities of the Plain? The Firstborn of Egypt? Collateral damages? The innocent suffering with the wicked because God goes after things wholesale?

          I didn’t twist the Scriptures one little bit here. That they make you uncomfortable says good things about you. To the original hearers, that their God would be so vicious against His enemies made their hearts glad. To many fundamentalists, this is still great news!

          Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the flood His power; When He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. …. From 2 Thes. 1.

          God will do all that so that we will admire Him. The Book Has Spoken!

          I don’t try to dress it up or soften its impact. It is what it is. There is no psychological bent to try to twist it to make it say what it doesn’t. It is the horrible and glorious truth of Scripture.

          Pardon me. My stomach turns at these descriptions. But they are there and an abundance more of them.

        3. rtgmath:
          Thank you for replying with sincerity and for not taking offense at my harshness. I take no joy in feeling the need to rebuke. Likewise, I disagree that God will be joyful or happy in meteing out vicious judgment. I believe His judgment will be meted in sorrow and pain. I believe He feels sorrow at the loss of His children (all of human creation) the same way one of us does when one of our own children’s lives ends in destruction because of their own rebellious or foolish ways.

          the Admiral

        4. You can believe that. I understand why you want to believe that. But it is not what the Bible says.

          He that sitters in the heavens will laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision. Psalm 2:4.

          You see, sir, you are civilized. The characterization of Judgment in the Bible is foreign to your thinking. Even the kind of Ruler God is characterized as is something you find hard to fathom. And that is good. You want Gid to be kind.

          But according to Scripture, God is like an oriental autocrat, accountable to no one, only concerned with His power and glory, doing what he wishes with whomever He wishes without regard to anyone’s point of view.

          Does the vessel say to the One who formed it, Why did you make me this way? Has God prepared vessels (people) specifically to judge them or vent His wrath? Ask Paul in Romans 9-11.

          Oh, God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. And whom he wills, he hardens for the purpose of smashing them and showing his power.

          Pretty awful stuff there. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

          We focus on the things that bring us comfort. That’s okay. Frankly, I don’t want to believe in the God of vessels prepared for destruction. I don’t want to believe in the God who will tread the wine press of His Wrath.

          Most fundamentalists don’t understand what they are asking for insisting on inerrancy.

          I want to believe in Jesus, who shows a (mostly) different face of God, a human one. But the Scriptures are what they are, they say what they say, and according to the Book, if you aren’t saved you are going to burn, forever. Does it matter if God is happy or sad about it? The ones who didn’t hear will be there. The ones who never had a chance, the ones who God prepared to be destroyed–they will feel His wrath, not His sorrow nor His grace.

          It becomes a conundrum. Who is this God who will judge everyone by His own arbitrary standard? Is this the kind of God who deserves worship? Aside from the fact that if you don’t, there will be hell to pay.

          For God so loved the whole world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe the in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. And whosoever does not believe in Him for whatever reasons will burn forever, because He loves them that much.

          Yes, I am struggling with the concept of God’s arbitrary judgment, and whether eternal torture is the deserved punishment for temporal sins.

        5. rtgmath:
          Interestingly, you and I essentially agree on the content of most of what you just said. Obviously, our point of contention is that you want to emphasize God’s wrath, judgment and angry haughty nature, and I choose to emphasize His loving, kind and forgiving nature. I think we can agree that elements of both are described in the Bible. I think you have been, as you often do, cherrypicking verses to make your point. This is a tactic that you no doubt learned from the IFB, whose ideology and methods you seem to detest.

          If you wanted to emphasize God’s kindness, instead of His supposed unkindness, you could have referenced Romans 2:4 which says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. If you wanted to emphasize God’s outrageous love and self sacrificing nature, instead of His supposed selfishness and brutality, you could have emphasized the fact that Jesus, who is Himself the eternal God (not a helpless pawn as some might portray Him), submitted Himself to a brutal death on the cross for the purpose of providing justice and the potential of eternal life to all of humanity.

          Regarding hell, I have serious doubts that you understand the Bible to teach eternal torture. I believe you are skillfully switching back and forth between stating your actual beliefs about what the Bible teaches and stating what most fundamentalists believe. It is disingenuous for you to try to have it both ways. Are you portraying your own perspectives, or those of the IFB?

          Do you really believe that the Bible teaches literal eternal torment or do you just state that to bolster your argument that God is cruel and unloving? Or do you state that view to demonstrate the inconsistency of fundamentalists who are unwilling to consider new perspectives about God and who seem content with the concept of a God who is simultaneously characterized by both love and hate?

          the Admiral

        6. I don’t think I leave too much room to question the thrust of my postings. I openly discuss the questions I have and the difficulties of transitioning away from fundamentalism.

          As for an eternal torture chamber, it was never spoken of in the Old Testament. The Jews added it to their theology along with a powerful Adversary picked up from Zoarastriamism. But Jesus talked about Hell, even though His descriptions are a good bit more vague than the Revelator’s.

          Ultimately, taken as a whole, the NT concludes that the end of people without Christ is an endless lake of fire and brimstone, eternal torment and constant agony. Fundamentalists wholeheartedly believe in it, view it as necessary and just, and many many of them want to see their adversaries thrown in.

          As for me, that is a bit more complicated. I no longer hold to the doctrine of inerrancy, for what I consider to be undeniable reasons. I do hold to inspiration, with the knowledge that inspiration was not the same as inerrancy, historically.

          I am finding fewer and fewer reasons to actually believe in hell. Double Ditto with demons. But I have not firmed up the theological foundations of this as yet. And I can discuss theology very well. In the context of what I was talking about, I very credibly did justice to basic fundamentalist theology, and I wasn’t nearly as graphic as some Puritan writers! We can talk about the Love of God in different contexts, partly because the Scriptures seem to separate those topics as well.

          On a personal note, I have prayed, talked to, yelled at and otherwise with God about this topic, and He declined to lightning bolt me at that time. Since leaving Fundystan my health has improved. I am generally happier. I still find myself praying and giving thanks on a frequent basis throughout the day.

          Being free to explore, to try to understand without being shackled by doctrine has been a real blessing. Understanding how the world the authors of Scripture lived in shaped their views of God have helped me in my own understanding. Being involved in math and science also helps.

          But as for what Scripture says, I try to faithfully tell it as it is. Judgment is a huge part of fundamentalist theology. You can find the topic prominently in any Christian college or university, on the web pages of churches and para-church organizations, in myriads of books and tracts. It is utterly fair to say that fundamentalism is obsessed with the topic.

          There you have it. Did I answer your questions satisfactorily?

          I am in the process of determining what beliefs to keep, what to reject, and what to modify. I don’t intend to do a sloppy job of it. I will, no doubt, get some things wrong. God knows all about that. I figure if His Goodness is bigger than his Ego, then He will be able to handle my questions without deciding to punish me, especially since my questions and motivations are honest ones.

        7. I may be way off-beam here up it seems to me that those who emphasise the wrathful nature of god tend to point more to the Old Testament than the New. I have always been lead to believe that the Rules changed when Jesus died and rose again and that He took the wrath of God upon himself when he died for us. ALL of us. Now there is a way to escape God’s wrath. To listen to some Christians you would think there was no hope for anyone except them.

        8. Paul Best:

          You are correct–most people do. But notice whose comment I was responding to. Rtgmath is equal opportunity when it comes to the OT and the NT regarding this subject. He is able to demonstrate God’s brutality from Genesis to Revelations.

          the Admiral

    1. Interestingly I never heard anyone at my fundy church criticize Westboro – I believe it was a taboo subject – perhaps because deep down they knew this?

      1. Dear Breaking Away …

        Good point. How interesting to inform some local IFBs that they differ from the Phelps family not in principal but on level of consistency, the chosen tactics, etc. Play devil’s advocate by inviting them to prove you wrong by declaring on what principle they distance themselves from Westboro Baptist.

        Christian Socialist

        PS: Likely, this assignment is unfair, since ‘Devil’s Advocate’ roles come to me very naturally. Although some others have said that they like how my admittedly twisted mind works in such matters … 😉

        1. I suspect the IFB would say they separate over Westboro protesting soldiers’ funerals. IFBxers love the military, unless one of their youths chooses to enlist over going to Bible college – then the military transforms into the place where Christians fall into sin. But they think the military is great for other people.

        2. Chris Soc said:
          “Play devil’s advocate by inviting them to prove you wrong by declaring on what principle they distance themselves from Westboro Baptist.”

          For many of the IFB churches discussed on Stuff Fundies Like, the point of difference is that Westboro Baptist allows women to wear pants.

        3. Unfortunately I’m late to the conversation and David has already made my point and several have unsuccessfully tried to counter it.
          Say what you will, Westboro is famous for “God hates f*gs.”. With very few exceptions, fundamentalists disagree because God loves everyone. You can not argue the sincerity of that by claiming that because Paul apparently (or clearly or possibly, depending on your perspective) defined homosexual behavior as sin, God hates them. This is an illogical conclusionary leap. Many types of sin are condemned in the Bible, but typically these condemnations of sin are not portrayed by people (rtgmath for example) as proof or indication that God hates anyone. For some reason, both fundamentalists and fundamentalist bashers like to exaggerate the implications of what the Bible has to say about gayness.

          How about everyone just chill on the subject?
          Fundies: stop categorizing homosexual behavior as some special heinous sin.

          Anti-fundies: stop pretending that the Bible doesn’t call homosexual behavior sin.

          Everyone can just keep swinging the pendulum back and forth with your exaggerated positions, or you can just agree to accept what the Bible actually says and move on. This goes for both sides. I’m sick and tired of this same old foolish argument.

          the Admiral

    2. “What I find damning is that so far as I can see, the fundamentalist movement has no theological/philosophical basis upon which to mount a credible critique of the Phelps’ family church.”

      That’s pretty far fetched – all you need is I Corinthians 13 to dismiss people like Westboro from a theological standpoint. Use whatever translation you like, the result is the same.

      1. I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think it is clearly cut and dried that way.

        It can be argued that Love (Charity for the KJVers) in 1 Cor. 13 is more about personal relationships than it is about doctrinal acceptance.

        After all, Paul laid a curse on those who would preach another gospel. Romans 1 heaps condemnations on sexual, uhh, “variants.” Paul named heretics, discommunicated those with open, unrepented sin, believed that God would take vengeance on the believers’ enemies in flaming fire and called for separation away from “the unclean”.

        As they see it, they are being loving by calling sin sin and not beating around the bush.

        The biggest problems we face is that we often retain the same patterns of judgment and attitude even when our perspective, understanding and focus changes.

        I can get out of fundamentalism. Getting fundamentalism out of me is a lot harder.

  7. Living here in Oklahoma, in the shadow of Kansas, we get more than our fair share of Westboro visits (or, in more recent years, threatened visits that never materialize). Moore High School in Moore, Oklahoma was a particular target for some time because they put on some gay one-act play (or something) and then, even worse, had the audacity to counter-protest during Westboro’s initial protest. Since Moore is conveniently located on I-35, straight shot down from Kansas, Westboro gleefully returned several more times. Until the big tornado, when they were going to do some sort of sicko “thank God children were killed in the school buildings” type of demonstration. Apparently the death threats were credible enough to scare even the Westboro crowd away.

      1. Now THAT’S funny! Imagine if there was a natural disaster of some sort. The Westboro peeps would have proclaimed God’s judgement. But I’m sure the rainbow was just a coincidence…

      1. Yup, Big Gary, the Crimson Tide is why the University of Alabama wins so many games!

        I lived in Alabama for 18 years and just six months ago moved to Maryland. However, I’m not a football fan.

        I’m still getting over the shock of seeing the local newspaper more interested in high school basketball than in college football.

    1. Very nice, but you just broke unspoken Alabama law: do not let outsiders know how nice our beaches are. Then everyone will want to come here, the prices will go up, it’ll be too crowded and we will be Florida.

      My father would be very disappointed in you 😀

      (No really, when he found out my Midwest in-laws came to Dalphin Island to bird-watch, he said “as long as they don’t tell anybody else”.)

  8. I disagree with many of the spiteful comments; I have been in various IFB churches for over 35 years (one by a fanatic JH follower), and I have NEVER heard any of the pastors say anything along the lines of Westboro’s famous saying.

    The bulk of them clearly state that homosexual behavior is a sin, but God loves the “gay” sinner as much as He loves every other sinner.

    I was never in any “inner circle”, so it could be that personally, some of these pastors didn’t hold to this. (I’ve been told that JH told very racist jokes in private, for example).

    1. What would their the response be if a gay man, or even a gay couple came to their church, genuinely seeking God? Would your pastor talk more about changing their lifestyle or more about how much Jesus loves them, and what he has done for them? Has that ever happened in any of the churches you attended?

      1. I don’t recall this happening, but unless the couple announced to the world at large that they were “gay”, I wouldn’t notice. I believe that the various pastors would concentrate upon salvation FIRST, and then seek wisdom to address the sinful lifestyle.

        1. Sorry; I read the first part of the question “a gay man”. I cannot speak for all the members, but I believe that the pastor would be welcoming.

    2. Guilt ridden, sounds like you went to churches similar to my old IFBC. While the reason that I left was burnout due to the high demands put on me and my wife, I can’t say that there was any hate spoken towards (or about) homosexuals. But I did see some members who seemed quite adamant that there was “no chance” for them. I believe the attitude varies by degrees in different fundy circles, and even family to family within the local church.

    3. I’m not sure how you went from your experience to disagreement. Are you implying that no one else on the thread has had experience with IFB, or are you saying that they are misrepresenting their experience? I for one have experienced both attitudes, although to be honest the most hateful attitude toward gays I have experienced was in an SBC church (which does NOT mean it wasn’t FB; it just wasn’t I).

      1. It seemed to me that the comments were slanted toward “all IFB churches really believe, deep down, just like Westboro – they just don’t have the courage to say so out loud.”

        1. Exactly, GR. The broad brush works well on some subjects on SFL (like music styles and legalism), but other topics such as raping of minors or hatred of gays would be better referenced on a case by case basis. Otherwise broad categories of innocent people get lumped in with the Schaaps and Phelps’s who perpetrate these heinous acts.

          the Admiral

    4. Spiteful? I have had fundy friends who have said “God hates homosexuals.” I have also heard fundy friends say “God hates the sin of homosexuality but loves the sinner.” Oddly both types of friends speak of homosexuals in a less than human manner when in deeper conversation. Both those who proclaim God’s hatred for the person and those who try to soften their theology–will dehumanize those in the LGBT community as animals just wanting sex or demonic people who just want to lure your children into the lifestyle. So–no not all will openly declare hatred for homosexuals–but the language they use dehumanizes those in the LGBT community which indicates a hatred deep down inside.

      1. As with everything else, words are cheap but actions are where the truth is. How do people act when they are actually confronted with the “sinner” they say God loves? From my experience it is not very kindly.

        1. That’s a point… far too many IFB churches have people who are (apparently) afraid to be around “sinners” lest they be somehow “infected” or “made unclean” by sin. If their neighbor smokes or drinks, they will never invite them over to their house.

      2. As a real, live follower of Jesus who also happens to be gay (and so far, single and abstinent, at least for now, so I should theoretically be good as far as traditional sexual ethics is concerned), I fully affirm what Leanne and Miriam have said.

        To say “we love the sinner while hating the sin” is cheap. They may say they love us, but when they compare compare the innate, natural desires of LGBT people to incest, bestiality, rape, murder, and other similar sins, we don’t feel loved. When they hold us at arm’s length (or even further away) even while we live within the sexual purity standards they set, we don’t feel loved. When they support people who push for the right to fire us from our jobs and evict us from our housing merely for finding out that we’re attracted to our own sex / gender or that our gender doesn’t match our birth sex (in the case of trans* people), we don’t feel loved. When they insist that the only way we can be truly pleasing to God, or that the only narrative for our lives once we’ve been “truly saved,” is for us to stop feeling what we feel inside and “become straight,” we don’t feel loved (hint: contrary to what the paid professional “ex-gays” you’ve seen on TV say, that rarely if ever happens).

        “Love the sinner, hate the sin” usually carries much of the aforementioned baggage. When it does, I can be reasonably certain that the LGBT people who hear it will not feel loved by the person saying it, regardless of how much the person saying protests to the contrary.

        1. Well said! Thanks for sharing!

          My wife has a cousin who is gay. Fortunately his family did not reject him. He had a significant struggle as he tried to be straight, finally couldn’t be, and suffered rejection of friends and religious acquaintances. He still is a Christian and worships, but is careful not to associate to closely to any church except as a musician.

        2. He should try one of the denominations that openly accepts GLBC people as a matter of policy, such as the UCC.

        3. The first really visible and impossible to ignore crack in my fundy persona came at the funeral of a co worker of my husband. He was a gay man who had committed suicide. At the graveside his partner reached over to the casket and laid a CD on it, barely able to function for grief. I saw love, true love and it touched me. When I got home my sister called and asked where I had been, she had been calling. I told her and she said, “Wasn’t he a queer?” It was said with such disgust and I recognized it for hatred, contrasting so bleakly with the love I had just witnessed, I couldn’t pretend agree with her any more. Looking back, it was the beginning of the end.

        4. Good story. That is often the way it works. Sometimes reality intrudes into our consciousness and allows light to help us see doctrines and attitudes clearly.

          That was a moment of Grace in your life, highlighting the lack of grace in others.

          Once a crack is made in our armor, we can begin to peel away the layers separating us from reality.

        5. Miriam, that was so touching!

          Big Gary, just think of it as a Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato with Guacamole. 😉

        6. Witnessing that moment of love made me admit what I already knew, love is love and we need more of it in the world, not less.

        7. Josh, I have recently got to know a number of gau people recently, some Christian some very anti-Christian. I think most of them would agree with you. Would I be right in saying that many people, including Christians (especially Christians?) cannot separate the “gay” feelings of attraction from the sex act from the lifestyle? Some people I know have homosexual feelings but are celibate. The do however, on occasion have difficulty convincing some christians that they actually not having sex with other men …. I also know that in any church with more than a hundred people there is probably at least one person, probably a Christian, who is struggling with same-sex attraction.

        8. Well, churches are usually self-selecting groups, except for the children. So there may not be that many IFB churches with people who are attractto others of the same sex.

          That said, in our IFB church the daughter of a prominent member came out as gay. She was allowed to attend but was banned from all ministry activities — especially with children, but also singing in the choir.

          I think it toned down some of the rhetoric there. People were embarrassed and felt awkward. Although she didn’t flaunt it at church she had come out on Facebook pretty openly and unapologetically. That was good for the church, in my opinion.

          That said, my wife got awfully nervous when I inquired about how she was doing.

        9. “Would I be right in saying that many people, including Christians (especially Christians?) cannot separate the “gay” feelings of attraction from the sex act from the lifestyle?”

          Paul,

          As an aside, there are as many straight lifestyles as there are straight people, and as many LGBT lifestyles as there are LGBT people (there is no one monolithic “gay lifestyle,” no matter how much Bryan Fischer bloviates to the contrary), so I’m going to pass by that bit, because the “gay lifestyle” is only a thing in the minds of some Christians (who seem to spend more time thinking about gay sex than most gay people I know).

          It is true that some Christians can’t separate the concept of “being gay” from the concept of having gay sex, which causes them to misunderstand what everyone else means when they use it. For example, when I say “gay” or “LGBT” without any qualifiers, I make no implication about whether the person in question is having sex or not.

          Other Christians can separate the concepts of same-sex attraction (i.e. being gay) and same-sex sex, but consider both to be sinful. This view is far too common, and it shows a profound lack of understanding of the fact that a temptation (if that’s what you consider it to be) is not a sin.

          Finally, still other Christians separate the concepts of being gay and having gay sex, but maintain against all reason that merely saying “I’m gay” means that one is taking on a “gay identity” which is purportedly wholly incompatible with and mutually exclusive of one’s “Christian identity.” Needless to say, I’m not convinced…

        10. Here’s the thing: As a heterosexual person, I have never been quizzed by anyone in any church about what sexual activities I was having and how often, with how many other people.
          For all they knew, I might spend every night at a swinger’s club.
          A different standard seems to be applied to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

        11. Indeed. If you assume people who are “gay” are having gay sex, then you should be assuming that people who are “straight” are having straight sex. The only people who should be having no sex are those with no sexual attractions whatsoever.

          But if you think about it, this is the way Fundamentalists want things to be. Before you are married you are supposed to feel no sexual pressures at all. You are to be ignorant of it all, “pure,” and undefined in mind and heart. You aren’t supposed to masturbate. Sex is evil and nasty and dirty and perverted. Couples should suppress public displays of affection. You aren’t supposed to have sexual urges. The 12-inch rule, the no touching rule and the required dress codes are supposed to help keep you safe. Thus, there isn’t supposed to be an “orientation” for the unmarried.

          Then, magically, when married you are supposed to know what you are doing and have a great sex life with your spouse. In reality, ignorance leads to fumbling, no communication and misery. And of course, if you try to find out how to have a great sex life, there is nothing the church will approve of that will help you. Nothing. If you go online and are caught, well, porn is very bad and wicked and sinful because that is what sex is. Even if the people you saw were married, it would still be wicked for you to learn by looking. You have to fumble around with your spouse and maybe you will get some satisfaction by accident. Or maybe not.

          I would say this area has been the worst part of my married life, and I know there is no curing it in this marriage. My wife is unwilling to learn or to try. Any attempts on my part to make things better are always counterproductive.

          It isn’t just the attitudes of the church toward the LGBTQ community that are bad. It is their attitudes toward sexuality of any sort that are bad and terrifically damaging.

        12. All good points.
          A big part of the discomfort Fundies have with gay sex is that it’s sex, and they don’t want to think about any kind of sex except to denounce it.

        13. Josh, in regards to misunderstanding the difference between “temptation” and “sin”, I have seen this myself so frequently, though not so much in the area of sex. (Being a single, straight female, most people assume I have no temptations in that area – ha!)
          Example: I am a cutter. I will always be a cutter. I haven’t cut in years. But on the rare occasions I would confess to someone that I’m having thoughts of cutting, I was encouraged to repent of my sinful thoughts. For that matter, I was shadowed and threatened with expulsion at PCC for those thoughts. Not for my own safety, but so I wouldn’t spread my poison to others.
          Now I’m fortunate to be in a congregation which understands mental illness. I can ask for help or prayer without fear of being shunned or of losing my teaching position. Had I stayed in Fundyland, I’d be dead now.

        14. “Example: I am a cutter. I will always be a cutter. I haven’t cut in years. But on the rare occasions I would confess to someone that I’m having thoughts of cutting, I was encouraged to repent of my sinful thoughts. For that matter, I was shadowed and threatened with expulsion at PCC for those thoughts. Not for my own safety, but so I wouldn’t spread my poison to others.”
          Yuck! (That yuck is directed to PCC) Compassion much?
          I struggle with depression, and the cluelessness of otherwise well meaning church people gets me upset. Even out of the IFB, often the answer given is have more faith, for both mental illness and addictions. I’m glad my own (non-IFB)bchurch has a Celebrate Recovery, and do not hesitate to tell people to get professional counseling if needed.

        15. I appreciate the concrete examples; I have also had my experiences at being kept at arm’s length because I didn’t “fit the mold” of what others expected me to be. There is a tendency to lump sins into “big” sins and “little” sins; we are too willing to ignore the “little” sins and keep those with “big” sins at arm’s length. In practice, the “love the sinner; hate the sin” doesn’t work out as well as in theory.

          At the same time, I don’t find many “gay” men who will admit that homosexual acts are a sin against God. God calls it an abomination.

          Also, there is deep resentment toward the LBGT community when a Christian baker who firmly believes that such actions are an abomination to God is forced to make a wedding cake for a homosexual “wedding”. The cries for tolerance seem to be very one-sided.

    5. I know the church I was at would never claim to have anything less than love for single mothers or those who were divorced. I received hate mail when I left my husband though. Another single mother had her son (a minor) physically assaulted by a man at church who openly hated single mothers – and was still allowed to teach in the children’s church.

      Fundamentalists rarely teach their true feelings from the pulpit.

    6. I’ll sort of agree with Guilt Ridden here. I’m not denying anyone’s personal experience. However, I had decent IFB credentials (long since expired) and as far as I know, only encountered one person who expressed any sympathy for Westboro Baptist and they always gave me the vibe that they were either a repressed homosexual and/or someone who’d been abused and had never confronted it. Also, I think I read exactly one comment on a forum (perhaps PCC Student Voice) that expressed support for Westboro.

      So, I’m in no position to deny that anyone encountered such people. However, in all my time in IFBdumb, I saw only a couple faint traces of support for Westboro. I don’t think it’s widespread.

      1. I don’t think that most IFB would express their support of Westboro. I just know that most privately agree with Westboro. Their words might never say so, but their actions clearly do.

        They joy of being privileged is that you never get to feel the pain that the unprivileged feel when they are denied wholeness. When you are straight, you listen to straight people talk and never hear anything that might make you think that that same conversation would make a gay person unwelcome. The reality is, that many, many gay people tell stories of being treated abysmally in IFB churches – churches that would never come out and openly support Westboro.

        I believe that the GRACE report had something to say about how victims of sexual abuse will often pick up on teachings that are designed to cause them blame and harm while people who have not being sexually abused will hear the same sermons and not pick up on that message. The same thing is happening here.

        If you want to say that your church/past churches have not been cruel to gay people, go and ask all the gay people who attend that church how they feel about it. Their stories have more validity in this conversation than the knee-jerk cries of those who have never been disadvantaged by homophobia.

      2. All fundies I know have condemned Westboro’s actions–especially their protesting the funerals of soldiers. But as I said before–some I know have made the strong statement that God hates gays—now they wouldn’t put that on a sign and protest somewhere but they have said this is what they believe.
        Then there were the people who would say they condemn Westboro’s actions and with Westboro’s belief that God hates gays—but the problem is when the preach or speak about homosexuality–they do so in a very demeaning and dehumanizing manner–which indicates they have more in common with Westboro than they really want. Westboro just takes it to the extreme….but they are already on that trajectory.

        1. I wonder how many of those churches who condemn Westboro would stand up against them and actively protect a gay person or a group of gay people who are being harrassed by Westboro? I don’t think I have heard of many examples making the news.

        2. Hi, I was recently talking to a guy, though FaceBook, who is openly Gay who is very bitter against Christians. He said that Christians had plenty to about how much God hates his “Gay LifeStyle” but he does not recall any instance where a Christian told him “God loves YOU”. I hope he is suffering from Selective Amnesia, but if he isn’t…… So I told him “God Loves You” I’m praying he will realise that.

  9. I’m sorry, rtgmath, that fundamentalist attitudes toward sex have negatively affected your marriage. I can understand not being interested in watching porn, not because it’s evil, but because it’s not realistic–actual people in ordinary sexual relationships don’t do most of what is portrayed in pornographic scenarios. There are, though, low-key, realistic sex manuals available. Rabbi Boteach wrote one some years ago called “Kosher Sex” that has some decent reviews. It isn’t intended only, or even primarily, for Jewish couples, despite the title. Parts are available free on Google Books, and the whole book at Amazon for a couple of bucks for a Kindle. My apologies if this comes across as entirely too much interest in your sex life, but you mentioned relationship troubles in your comment above.

    1. The problem with fundies attitude toward sex is that it is natural and healthy and they treat it as it if were unnatural and unhealthy and so it goes underground and gets twisted. While someone feels they are enjoying something that is deviant and sinful they will feel they are sinning. To me it is a wonder there are any happy fundy marriages at all! As a young woman in fundyland, I found most of the older men seriously creepy. I know I am not alone in this.

      1. This comment is an unfair generalization of fundies, but is understandable coming from you, because of your own negative experiences and is what is to be expected in this forum. Unfortunately, you will not be asked to cite sources for your statistics as you would otherwise be requested to do, because you agree with most commenters here at SFL. This is what groupthink is all about. And it is your right to unfairly generalize, just as it is mine to disagree. I would say that probably just as many fundies as not believe that sex is healthy and natural. Going off my own personal observations just as you did.

        the Admiral

        1. The fundy school my ex used to teach at censored out the sex ed portions of the high school text books they were using. It was absolutely seen as dirty, and that was from the leadership of the church. Read the GRACE report and see if BJU and its many, many feeder churches have healthy views regarding sex.

          When you add in the patriarchal views of women submitting to husbands and not disrespecting them as well as teachings we’ve had featured here, like a woman being expected to drop everything and give her husband sex whenever he demands it – and I know that Michelle Duggar has come out and taught this – a whole bunch of different issues snowball together to cause a lot of problems for spouses.

        2. Something that struck me reading your comment, Tiarali, is that the men might actually be ignorant of how the woman feel, in fundy circles. Women are taught to embrace their position with patience and joy. It is an admonition many take very seriously. I know I did. I even tried to make my husband treat me MORE like I thought a Christian man should treat his wife. It is impossible to overestimate the power of early, constant training.

        3. Statistics? What statistics?
          Miriam tells what she experienced. That’s not a statistic; it’s an anecdote, if you want to be picky about it; but it’s still her own experience.

        4. Fair enough, Admiral, as this is not a scientific article, all we can each go off is our own experience. Mine was bad. I do not speak for everyone certainly. There were couples that seemed happy and comfortable but they stood out. To be healthy somehow a middle ground needs to be found, repression and complete lack of control are equally dangerous, I believe.

        5. Big Gary:

          As you and I both know, the statement “fundies…treat (sex) as if it were unhealthy and unnatural . ..” has an understood “all” in it. If Miriam meant “some” or “many” she could have said so. My point was (but I think you understood my point) her broad brush was unfair and would have been called out by you or one of the other dominant SFL commenters if it had been in conflict with the predominant views expressed here on this blog. Granted, I used the word “statistics” incorrectly to make my point.

          I love the intelligent, mostly polite debate found here at SFL. But I don’t see the point of the group informally setting understood standards of logical discussion and civility and then arbitrarily enforcing them depending on whether or not the commenter conforms to the groupthink of this community.

          As much as I hate to say it, the “we are all right and everyone else is wrong” attitude displayed here is no less predominant than it is in IFB circles. I’m not the first to observe this and I won’t be the last.

          SFL is a great place to be. I suggest to everyone here (myself included) that we make more of an effort to treat diverse opinions with the same respect as the ones the dominant ones.

          the Admiral

        6. Miriam stated:
          Something that struck me reading your comment, Tiarali, is that the men might actually be ignorant of how the woman feel, in fundy circles.

          I believe this is a lot more true than most Fundy men are willing to admit. The teachings I received in Fundystan (multiple speakers in multiple churches/Fundy High chapel services, as well as two Fundy Us) left me with a lot of false teaching and ideas. I have found that I can go “mixed swimming” without wanting sex with every woman I see, and that women respond to more than just kind words and touches.
          If I still believed the way I was taught, I would think women only wanted sex when a man wooed them, and that men think of nothing else. More than once I “learned” men are visual, women are naive and respond to kind words and attention. What I learned from experience was that men and women are visually excited sometimes. men and women respond to attention sometimes. That many factors are involved in sexual attraction, and they are not always the same between even the same people in every situation.

          My conclusion has been that sexual teaching of most Fundies was invented as a way to excuse bad behavior for men and exert control over everyone.

  10. There is another side to the debate – the attitude of many gay rights activists to Christians who dare criticise any aspect of any kind of gay lifestyle. I haven’t often seen much tolerance there. Many Christians have been bending over backwards, forwards and every which way to show love and tolerance to Gays but there hasn’t been much flexibility in those who claim to claim to speak for the Gay comunity. In European countries where same sex marriage has been legalised there is a growing movement which is demanding that churches be *forced* to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. If they don’t, they will be designated as hate groups and shut down. Those who do not wholly support same sex marriage are seen as being no different from those who would oppose interracial marriage. I think there is a big diffrence, but it is frightening in its implications because it means there is no room to make choices.

    1. The only information I have found is in Denmark where the Parliament states people have the right to get married in the church.The priest is allowed to refuse to do the service but the ceremony is to be allowed to be in the church and another priest can come in and perform the service. Just because it has happened in Denmark, does not mean it is going to happen here. Our congress, Supreme Court work differently than the Danish government.
      As for the tolerance issue of others—that really is not my concern. My concern is that the Church who claims to be followers of Jesus Christ–should act like Christ–who ate with sinners, who brought healing when others wanted to theologize. The world does not have to show us love or tolerance. But we have to show the unconditional, radical love of the gospel which loves enemies in the same manner it loves friends.

    1. I’m not sure how much you have kept up with this, Paul, but because of a Supreme Court decision about a key portion of a law outlawing same sex marriage in one state, laws against same sex marriage in a lot of states are falling like dominoes. More and more states are making same sex marriage legal at a speed that makes your head spin.
      That being said, although there has been some for profit businesses that have been found breaking the law by not making cakes or performing photography at same sex marriages, and a for profit wedding chapel that have been found breaking the law by not performing a same sex marriage, I have not heard of any cases where there has been any churches that have felt any pressure from not performing same sex marriage. I think our church state separation provides a great deal of protection with this. Also, our Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a main group in the US who determines hate groups has time and time again said that merely preaching homosexuality is a sin does not make a church a hate group. It’s groups like Westborough, who picket about gays, and Faithful Word Baptist (Steven Anderson’s church) who say that gays should die, that they classify as hate groups.

      1. That said, I’ve seen on a number of occasions that pastors who are homophobic have spread straw man fallacies claiming that they are being persecuted and will be arrested if they refuse to marry gay people. They take stories that show a for-profit business being held accountable for discrimination and try to claim that this is evidence that religious groups are facing persecution.

        To be honest, I’m surprised (as a christian) to see the idea that christians who bend over backwards to show love to gay people are being treated badly by those who fight for gay rights. How are they bending over backwards to show love to gay people if they’re not fighting for gay rights, or if they’re at odds with those who fight for gay rights? Are they ‘loving’ gay people by trying to convert them (ie convince them that they’re a broken person who needs to be fixed) or just not actually hurling the first stone at them? I don’t understand. It just seems to be a very odd statement.

        1. I know the story of the bakery that refused the gay rights cake – it happened here in northern Ireland. I just wonder *why* they chose that particular bakery, when there are hundreds of others…. Suppose a Muslim women went into a bakery and asked for a cake saying “Support the rights of Muslim women everywhere” and she was refused, would the media really care?

        2. “How are they bending over backwards to show love to gay people if they’re not fighting for gay rights, or if they’re at odds with those who fight for gay rights?”

          We treat them like human beings who, like ourselves, cannot be pared down to one belief or agenda. Heterosexual couples don’t sit around and talk about having sex all the time. Nor do the gays that I have known. As with some on this forum, There are gays in my own extended family. We never have felt forced to agree with their lifestyle. But we accept it. One cousin( Andy), we saw every Christmas and Easter. His mother was one of the sweetest Christians you’d ever meet. He chose no religion.

          When he was in college, years ago, he was nearly beat to death by a group of straight guys. His face healed, but was quite changed from how he looked before this hate crime happened to him. Years after the fact, a man came to my wedding (friend of my bride) and saw Andy filming it for us. Later he asked us, “why’d you get that Andy ________ for your wedding!? Don’t you know he’s gay!?”

          I told him he is a family member. He belted out a laugh and said, “me and my buddies used to beat the shit out of him back in college!” This man is a professing Christian.

          Now, who do you think I loved more, bent over backwards for? My Christian friend? My family?

          Who do you think I wish I could beat the shit out of?

        3. And to be clear, I am a Christian, and the anger you read in my words is towards my “fellow Christian” who committed a crime against my family,and bragged about it. No anger towards you or your question, Tiarali. But the generalized statement that true loving Christians can only show love by marching for gay rights just doesn’t compute in my brain. The world cries “tolerance” but when I say that I am a Christian, many times the reply is, “oh, you hate science” or “why do Christians hate gays?” All of this is broad-brushing me as a human being. No, I’m interested in science, and no, I don’t hate gays. I fail to see how I am the intolerant one when asked these questions.

        4. When asked or challenged you simply tell them about how you react. It is important to not dismiss the stereotype–even though it is incomplete. The person asking you has heard or felt the very public and frequent antagonism to science and sexuality and the label (“Christian”) it was made under.

          We tell our stories–witnessing, as it were–to help others understand. Be always ready to give an answer of the hope that lies in you to whoever asks, with meekness and awareness of its importance.

          So you get broad-brushed? So what? We all do the same thing with others, and a little inconvenience helps us be more aware so we don’t do it to others. We are big enough to play in the sandbox. We don’t own it all. We have to share.

          The world needs our voices, our willingness to love the unloved, to respect the weak, to defend the defenseless, to reason with the unreasonable, and to make peace where others will not compromise. Jesus did say that the peacemakers are blessed. We are to love our enemies and do good to them.

          So I haven’t participated in a “march” for marriage equality. But I give my support to it. I welcome gay couples in church and believe God can clean up their lives better than I can. Besides, there is so much in my own life needing attended to!

        5. That said, I’ve seen on a number of occasions that pastors who are homophobic have spread straw man fallacies claiming that they are being persecuted and will be arrested if they refuse to marry gay people. They take stories that show a for-profit business being held accountable for discrimination and try to claim that this is evidence that religious groups are facing persecution.

          I agree that is a straw man fallacy, Tiarali. In fact, here in the states, I am thinking it is the same separation of church and state laws that find that for profit businesses can not exclude gay couples also provide protection for churches who do not sanction homosexuality from being forced to perform same sex weddings.

        6. Dr. Eric:

          Are you suggesting that people should fight for the right of gay people to not be beat up? Gay people already have that right. As do all Americans. Please don’t confuse the issue by describing beating someone up as a violation of their rights. Our laws have already done that and have created a “privileged” class of victims. Hetero people also have the right to be not beat up. But when they are beat up, it isn’t described in human/civil rights terms. It is assault or attempted murder, which are in fact brutal crimes deserving of harsh swift punishment.

          the Admiral

        7. Admiral,
          I am saying that no one should be beat up on either side. I did not beat up my Christian friend although I was angry enough to do so.

          But my christian friend was never questioned by the police, never answered for his crime. This was because the victim was gay, the police weren’t that interested. And decades later he was still gloating about it to me, to his children and anyone else in the room. Even after he found out that Andy was a cousin of mine he wouldn’t back down.

          In light of this, I would say that I am not confused at all.

      2. The debate between Christians and Gays, this side of the Atlantic, has enevitably degenerated into a bloody brawl between Gay Rights and Christian wrongs. It may not be enshrined in law but the media with very few exceptions will choose the wide of Gays over Christians. Comments have been said about christians regarding this issue that I would not be permitted if said about Gays or any other group. Orwell was right: animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

        1. So are these christians loving gay people as you claimed? Or are they engaged in a bitter war against gay people, as you also claimed? Why would anybody be saying anything mean about them if they’re acting in a loving manner towards gay people? That’s not even logical.

        2. Some christians are loving. Some are not. It is unfair to “tar every one with the same brush, but that is what happens, as part of human nature. It also seems to be human nature to take more notice of negative attitutes, opinions and actions than positive ones. That was particularly true of the Christian environment in which I grew up. 🙁

        3. I guess with the, ”some Christians are loving, some are not,” it is unfortunately the unloving, extremist ones who are outspoken. I have indeed met with many loving fundamentalist Christians but they are not tolerant of other points of view. It is the nature of their beliefs to be exclusive of all other beliefs. This does not mean that they are all outspoken about it but it is there and knowing it is there makes me, personally uncomfortable. That is my opinion.

        4. I’m sorry, it’s 2am here, and I might be missing something. It’s just that it seems like you originally claimed that christians who are bending over backwards to show love to gay people are being attacked because of their hateful attitudes towards gay people.

          I’m not trying to lump everybody into the same boat. I’ve already said that I identify as a christian. And I was raised in a fundamentalist home which was not gay-friendly. I know that people who identify as christians have a range of behaviours. Some of them are criminally abusive, and some of them are amazingly loving.

          It’s just that your statements seem to indicate that you think that those christians who have done nothing wrong are being attacked. Or that you’re using the slippery slope fallacy; that if we allow gay people to get married, soon heterosexual marriage will be outlawed or something equally ridiculous. As I said, it’s late and I might have misunderstood you. But that’s the vibe I’m getting from your posts.

        5. Miriam, someone once made a comment “i usef to be open minded but my brains kept falling out”. You cannot be accepting of everything. jesus did make some pretty exclusive claims about being The Way, The Truth and the life

        6. Good point Paul. I do not accept everything but I do believe in everyone’s right to believe as they do believe, exclusive of harm. I am so tired of living with people who insist they are right in every particular. It takes so much energy and I am pretty drained of energy by it. Obviously one cannot accept everyone’s beliefs. I don’t believe many more things than I do believe. I just am no longer going to tell someone else how to believe and I for sure am intolerant of people telling me how to believe. It is true that I am going through a period of questioning but I believe that to be healthy.

  11. This appeared on Facebook a while back. I put it into my favorite quotes but didn’t note who said it.
    “A culture hadaccepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone you must hate or fear them. The second is that to love someone you have to agree with everything they say and do. Both are nonsense. You do not have to be compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

    1. There is a difference between disagreeing with someone, and trying to control somebody or limit their options because of that disagreement. I would argue that the latter does equal hatred.

      1. And it happens from the extreme of both sides. I have been asked at work how I felt about a certain political issue (unrelated to this subject). When I replied, the guy angrily said, “you can’t feel that way!” He meant I am not allowed to have that opinion. Then why did he ask? It was about taxes or something. It seems that people her in the Midwest have no clue how debate works. We’ve somehow bred a land of narcissists. I yearn for deeper, thoughtful discussion with those I disagree, but it rarely happens. This site is one place where it does happen. But we all must work to keep our minds open to the fact that disagreement doesn’t equal hate. And yes, I agree that trying to control someone or limit their options could equal hate. But it rarely feels that way from the controlling party. They just don’t want to give up any ground in their belief. That’s why hate appears on both sides of the argument.

        1. Both sides, maybe better stated = controlling party says don’t change the laws, underdog party says you are not allowed to think that way any more. They both seek control.

    2. The trouble, Paul, is that most people don’t know how to hold convictions and be compassionate at the same time.

      To say there is no compromise means that one will not even listen to what the other is saying. It takes the position of Absolute Right while posturing the other into Absolute Wrong.

      There is no absolute right. Jesus showed us the inflexibility of the Law was wrong, that people have broken the Law and yet been just. Perhaps it is time for us to examine our own motivations?

      When we say “those people” we are (whether we realize it or not) putting them down. Why did “they” have to go into “that shop”? Wouldn’t they know they weren’t welcome?

      Why should “they” have to be concerned about whether the shopkeeper wants “their” business? Why should that be a consideration? I wouldn’t want people to treat me that way. So I shouldn’t treat them that way, either.

      “Letting” them have “rights” doesn’t diminish my rights or your rights whatsoever.

      My IFB pastor showed me a petition against gay marriage some years back. I was a deacon at the time, and I told him he shouldn’t bring it to the church. “Why? We need to defend marriage,” he asked. I told him that with the abuses and divorces in Christian families we weren’t defending marriage anyway, and signing a petition to discriminate against others wasn’t going to solve anything. All it would do is focus our attention away from our own issues. Gay marriage wouldn’t hurt my marriage in the least. Fighting it only proclaims my own bigotry.

      What was needed was for the church to focus on improving the family lives of the people in the church, helping them to be more loving, to be better parents, to be supportive of people in need.

      He took that advice. While I was there the matter didn’t come up again. But there were classes on marriage and parenting and other profitable things.

      1. Doesn’t religion, by it’s nature separate people? I am not arguing here, just saying that it is all very confusing. Saying the Bible clearly states anything is misleading I think. I am just thinking about Matt. 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” and yet other places, Isaiah I believe, calls Jesus the Prince of Peace. The Bible is confusing if read without preconceived ideas. I wish I could just say, loving the God of the Bible makes me love my fellow man but I don’t find that to be true. It is simply confusing.

      2. People want Rights, and that is good, but many often do not want the Responsibilies that come with them. Such as a responsibility to treat others as you would like to be treated.

  12. People can carry on about how the Christians really love the gays and the gays just want to persecute the Christians all they want, but that’s not what I’m seeing, and that’s not what I’ve heard from all of the Christians who are LGBT whom I’ve talked to.

    I can’t stop anyone from living in an alternate reality, but based on widespread shared experiences, regardless of what they think about themselves, the majority of conservative evangelical (never mind IFB) churches in America are not effectively welcoming to even celibate LGBT people – unless you practice the requisite self-flagellation and live in a constant state of trying to change your orientation through prayer and therapy, though even that’s not a foolproof path to acceptance…

    It’d be reasonable if they were to treat LGBT couples the same as they’d treat unmarried, cohabiting straight couples (but most of the time they treat LGBT couples worse, so never mind that), but let’s face it, if they can’t even show love that looks like actual love – as opposed to self-righteous condescension and condemnation – to celibate LGBT people, what can we expect?

    I know that we’ll never convince the paranoid that the persecution boogey man isn’t out there – they’re not going to force your IFB church to do same-sex marriages – so I leave them alone in their precious little bubbles… it makes them happy (they’d be happier if we LGBT people didn’t exist, but screw them, they’ll have to put up with knowing that we’re out there somewhere), and it keeps me from going insane.

    1. Problem: They are not satisfied with staying in “their precious little bubbles” they was t to drag everyone else with them and condemn to hell those who resist.

  13. It takes someone like Phelps to remind us that we (Christianity) is not that far removed from the excesses currently embraced by the extremists in the Muslim religion. No, we no longer burn heretics at the stake or throw witches in the river. But to the extent that we ostracize or marginalize those who life styles and adult life choices differs from ours, we are no better than the hypocrites of Jesus’s day.

    1. No, we don’t stone people or burn them at the stake any more. We used to. The future on that is uncertain if you listen closely. Many fundy pastors have preached about how gays are worthy of death. And there is little doubt that many would take the matter into their own hands if they could.

      Just a bit of a breakdown in civilization is all it would take.

      A recent poll showed the more religiously conservative a person was, the more likely they were to approve of torture, very harsh punishments even for minor crimes and restrictions on personal and civil liberties.

      1. “….gays are worthy of death…” In the same chapter of Leviticus, people who commit adultery should be treated the same way. So where does that put jack Schaap? Was he guilty of adultery?

  14. Almost certainly, all of us here would agree that those individuals who comprise the LGBT community are entitled to the same legal protections regarding their personal safety and the security of their property that anyone else would expect. Beyond that, simply on the basis of being human beings created in the image of God, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. What some of us here would disagree with, however, is the idea that government has the moral right to force individuals to violate their own consciences in order to conform to current public policy.

    For example, would the state have the right to defend a woman’s “reproductive rights” by forcing a “pro-life” doctor to either perform an abortion or lose her medical license? For that matter, should a devout Christian or Jewish sculptor be forced to either give up his livlihood or else make an image of Vishnu for a Hindu temple? If we were to follow the logic of those who seem to believe that anyone operating a for-profit business forfeits their religious protections, the answer to both of those questions would probably be yes.

    There was a quality Christian school I know of that on at least one occasion operated at a profit. If one of the male teachers at that school were suffering from sexual dysphoria and began taking female hormones and testosterone blockers, should that school be forced to keep that teacher on the faculty? The same principle holds true for yeshivas, private schools operated by conservative Muslims, or, I think, any organization that has a morality clause in its employee contracts. In these and other issues, we are not talking about anyone having the right to deny those identifying as gay basic necessities such as food or emergency medical treatment because they think “queers” deserve to die. We are talking about individuals respectfully excusing themselves from taking actions which they believe would force them to either facilitate, or become participants in activities they regard as morally wrong and/or sinful. Whether or not we support “gay marriage,” I think we ought to respect the rights of those businessmen and women who decline to participate in what they may at best believe is a legal fiction, or at worst sin against God, by providing services such as photography or wedding cakes. Seriously, if we recognize conscientious objector status with regards to military service, is it too much to ask a gay couple to find more accommodating baker, florist, photographer, justice of the peace, or what not.

    Abraham Lincoln said something to the effect of, “No man is good enough or wise enough to rule over another against his will.” Likewise, I think we’re on dangerous ground when we think we have the right to compel others to adopt our faith and morality in favor of their own. I say these things with sincere respect to those with whom I disgree on this matter. Also, please accept my apologies for the length of this rant.

    BP

    1. For example, would the state have the right to defend a woman’s “reproductive rights” by forcing a “pro-life” doctor to either perform an abortion or lose her medical license?

      Answer this, what if a woman’s life was in danger? Should they have a right to withhold the procedure?

      Or, should the rights of those who wish to practice in that medical field be curtailed by those who object to the field!

      No one is advocating forcing doctors to do abortions. The efforts have ALL been the other way, attempting to prevent it. However, I do think pharmacies should be required to fill prescriptions without the license to discriminate. In saying that you should not force them to serve customers they object to you are handing them power to force their religious choices on others.

      1. “Or, should the rights of those who wish to practice in that medical field be curtailed by those who object to that field!”

        On that point, we could possibly rephrase the question as, “Should the rights of those doctors who wish to perform abortions take precedence over the right to life of those developing unborn children?”

        With regards to your contention that ALL the efforts have been the other way, while you may be right, those efforts haven’t been particularly successful–at least in my opinion.

        Getting back to the first question, I am not a doctor, but it seems to me it would be a rare situation where the mother could die while her unborn child lived. If there were some rare medical condition where it were impossible to save the fetus without jeopardizing the life of the mother, I can’t imagine any doctor anywhere not placing a higher priority on the woman’s life. In any event, it seems even more unlikely that such a situation would present itself as a medical condition that required emergency treatment and that the only physician/surgeon available was one who might refuse such medical treatment as was necessary to improve the woman’s chances of survival.

        Like everyone else, I sure don’t have all the answers. At any rate, was it Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “Hard cases make bad law?”

        Peace,

        BP

        1. A hospital in Ireland allowed a woman to die rather than providing an abortion that could have saved her life. She was miscarrying, but the hospital refused to intervene since they said the child had a heartbeat. As a result, both woman and child died.

          A life lost to rigid moralism.

        2. rtgmath,

          That tragedly probably occurred because of the abortion laws currently on the books in Ireland. My personal belief is that it should be obvious that the life of the mother is preeminent. In this country, it would be almost inconceivable for something like that to happen. Even the staunchest anti-abortion politician in the U.S. would support a “life of the mother” exception in any bill they put forward.

        3. Buzz! Incorrect! Many bills in many states have been written without “life of the mother” exceptions. They are summarily found unconstitutional, but they are passed even with that kind of guaranteed invalidity.

          Hatred produces irrationality.

          I don’t blame you for your position. But your facts and suppositions are wrong. I don’t even blame you for that. Bad information is the name of the game, as are threats, intimidation, and the occasional murder of an abortion doctor and bomb threats (and real bombings) of clinics.

          It took me years to see things more clearly. I can’t blame you for being in roughly the same position I was years ago. All I can do is tell you where I am now, and why.

      2. I’m in a pharmacy technician course in Canada, and one of the issues we’ve looked at especially is emergency contraception and the fact that some pharmacists have moral objections to providing it. Pharmacy techs don’t matter, we don’t have authority anyway 🙂 What we were taught was that, under our provincial law (or federal, not sure), the key point was that it be available somewhere. This could mean that your pharmacy doesn’t stock it, but you need to be able to refer the person to another pharmacy not unreasonably far away that does stock it. Even in a store that does stock such product, there should always be someone on duty who is willing to make the sale if one of the pharmacists employed there is not.

        The key point being that a legal medical service is provided by someone; as long as you can find someone who will provide it, you don’t have to. Mind you, we are also one of the provinces with very restrictive abortion laws, currently being protested. But pharmacies are responsible to help people access legal drugs, regardless of their feelings on the drugs in question. If you refuse, you’d best be able to document a medical or other non-discriminatory reason why. I hope I’m not over-generalizing too much – the details are elusive at the moment.

    2. How in the world would providing a wedding cake to a gay couple be considered a sin against God?

      The same people have provided wedding cakes to fornicaters, adulterers, thieves, and other sinners without wounding their conscience.

      No, the issue appears to be hate and discrimination, not a matter of faith or an intention to keep from sin.

      1. The question isn’t whether you would feel that it’s sin to provide a wedding cake (with two brides or two grooms on the top perhaps), it’s whether the baker would feel that he or she were participating in a ceremony ( religious or otherwise), or helping to celebrate a ceremony they sincerely believed was wrong. Just to throw this out, neither you nor I have any problems kneeling during Episcopal services. Because we have no objections, would we have the right to force a Muslim or religious Jew to do the same?

        I am not saying you may not be right in your assumptions– at least some of the time. I am saying that neither of us is wise enough to presume to know the thoughts and intents of someone else’s heart and neither of us is wise enough and virtuous enough to force our morality on another individual–at least not without some utterly compelling life or death reason to do so. I am also saying that I do not believe that one forfeits a portion of their religious liberty simply by opening a business. In closing, we both spent a lot of years in Fundamentalism. We both see things in that system that we think are harmful. That doesn’t mean that we have the right to force our religious or philosophical beliefs on current Fundamentalists or demand that they behave as if their beliefs did not exist the moment they step outside the church.

        1. ONLY if they keep clear records showing they have examined the lives and morals of all other buyers of wedding cakes to make sure they were not participating in sin there, too.

          Ben, the idea that selling a wedding cake is participating in the wedding is as ludicrous as the idea that a hardware store selling a hack saw is participating in a bank robbery. You would use that kind of equivalence no where else (you are a smart guy!), so why use that kind of guff here?

          Your comparing it to forcing a person to kneel in a worship service who doesn’t want to is similarly bunk.We do not force their attendance. Nor does buying flowers from them for the altar make them a participant in the worship.

          What sin will you be participating in by selling a wedding cake to a gay couple? You get started on that slippery slope and you won’t stop until you reach the pit of hell. You won’t be able to interact with anyone in the world in any way lest you contribute to their sin. Good luck with that.

          But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17.

          Think, Ben. Suppose you wanted to witness to this couple about the Grace of God. Would refusing to sell the wedding cake bring them closer to understanding God’s love, or push them further away from it? If they had to judge your faith from your actions in that transaction, would the Gospel be magnified or lost in their perceptions of your hatred?

          Ultimately, you are the gospel most people around you will read.

        2. Yes, that argument is preposterous posturing to justify discrimination/bigotry. There’s absolutely no analogy of selling a wedding cake to forcing someone to kneel in a religious ceremony. The cake merchant is not being forced to worship anything by not being allowed to discriminate, and there is no religious significance to cake making.

        3. RobM – It is a slippery slope. First you bake them a cake and then they will want to redecorate your house. Where does it end? 🙂

          I hope I am not using too broad a brush. Because you know, that is what we do on SFL.

        4. Regarding the various “Gay Cake” fiascos, nobody has adequately explained WHY a gay couple would specifically go to a *Christian* baker for a cake when other bakeries could do them as good a cake without controversy. Or is controversy the whole point of the exercise?Not so much about obtaining a cake as making a statement that nobody has a right to say no to a gay person, under any circumstances?

        5. “ONLY if they keep clear records showing they have examined the lives and morals of all other buyers of wedding cakes to make sure they were not participating in sin there, too.”

          I dare say that if a cake baker refused to sell a wedding cake to any couple whose marriage is ill-advised and/or whose bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom) are sinful, that baker would quickly go bankrupt.

        6. Btw it is not just cakes. I few moths ago there was a highly publicised case in London England where a Gay Rights group went to a Christian publisher requesting they print a Gay magazine for them. The publisher refused because he considered some of the contents to be pornographic. It is uncertain how many of the other hundreds of publishers the group went to in London before choosing the christian one, but they are still trying to take legal action against the Christian publishers on grounds of homophobic discrimination. Only a totally paranoid person could possibly think that was “targeting”….

      2. How is it discrimination for a private business to refuse service to someone? They should be able to provide or refuse business to anyone for any reason. I don’t see this as a “religious” controversy. It may not be fiscally wise but private business has the right to make their own decisions. I also agree with rtg that providing a service doesn’t mean approval of or participation in “sin”.

      3. The question of compelling churches to provide marriage ceremonies is different in those European countries with state churches that are sponsored and funded by the national government. There, religious activities could be seen as a public service.
        In the U.S., churches are almost completely unregulated, and they don’t get government funding (although it could be argued that tax exemptions amount to a subsidy). No government entity tells the Catholic church that it has to preside at second marriages of divorced people, or tells IFB extremists they have to preside at interracial marriages, or tells the LDS church it can’t baptize dead Jews. So the chance of the government forcing churches to bless same-sex marriages is zero.

        The wedding-cake debate that seems to have caught the public imagination is a question of public accomodation. Under our Civil Rights Acts, a business that provides services or goods to the public can’t refuse a person’s business because of that person’s race, national origin, or religion. Sexual orientation is increasingly seen as forming another protected class, as I think it should be.

        My first reaction to the cake story is to say, “So that baker doesn’t want your business. Go to another cake shop.” But what if every baker in town has the same policy, or what if there is only one baker in your town?

        It’s true that being denied a wedding cake is less of a hardship than being denied food or shelter or other necessities. But where do we draw the line?

        As all of you must be aware, it was very real discrimination, not a hypothetical problem, that led to the public accomodations laws. There were whole towns where a person of color could not get a restaurant meal, a haircut, or a room for the night. Here in south Texas, the civil rights movement was spurred in part when a fallen World War II hero was refused funeral home services in Falfurrias, Texas because of his race (Mexican-American).

    3. In 29 states, employers of secular businesses (i.e. not churches and non-profit religious organizations, who are still free to discriminate, contrary to the BS you hear on Faux News) can fire you merely for being LGBT, never mind actually being in a relationship. In most of not all of those states, you can be refused housing for the same reason.

      I don’t expect you to care, as many conservative Christians don’t, but I tell you this so that you might be able to catch a glimpse, should you care to try to understand, why a growing body of straight people – not to mention the LGBT folks – support non-discrimination statutes that cover secular employers (churches are always exempted in these bills). A sizable number of conservative Christians actively support this type of discrimination, and yes, I do think it’s the antithesis of being loving, so no, I won’t believe that you’re “loving” me while you’re fighting for the right to fire me for a minor but nonetheless intrinsic part of my being.

      1. Josh,

        For what it’s worth, I don’t spend a lot of time these days pondering”where I’ll spend eternity” or trying to figure out who’s saved and who’s not. I also don’t tune in to Fox News and I’m not too interested in most of what the right wing gas bags have to say. Thing is, if I still had any “standards or convictions” I don’t believe I would try to force them on anyone else. One last thing, and forgive all the first person personal pronouns, if I were to describe extreme Fundamentalism’s effect on my life in one word, the word would be “ruinous.” With that said, conservative Christians and even Fundamentalists still have a right to freedom of religion and refusing to celebrate or attend a same sex wedding would seem to fall in that category. If someone were to try to refuse service to a gay couple in a restaurant or decided not to sell someone a rake at their hardware store because they thought that individual were homosexual, that would be another matter entirely.

        While it would be impossible to make the case from scripture that God approves of physical relations between individuals of the same sex, there is certainly nothing wrong with a non-sexual love between individuals of the same sex e.g. Jonathon and David, Ruth and Naomi. Also, it would be interesting to see someone try to prove that merely being attracted to someone of the same sex is sin. In any event, it would be easy to have a lot more respect for a monogamous gay couple than for heterosexual “swingers.” Anyway it’s late, so sorry for rambling. If there is any point here, it’s that there is arguably a difference between orientation and actual behavior and there is a difference between religious people discriminating against behavior they regard to be sin (homosexual or heterosexual) and discriminating against people out of hatred and self-righteousness. As far as you personally, I wouldn’t presume to judge you and sincerely wish you the best. Finally, for a lot of us, what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is a matter of disinterest.

        Have a good night, Sir.

  15. I think its very unlikely that the just united couple in a gay marriage would attempt to consummate the marriage during the wedding reception. So I think that the cases we’ve heard of so far have been about cake decorators and photographers just wanting to make a “statement”. It doesn’t seem to me to be congruent with the example Christ left during his brief ministry in which he associated with Pharisees and sinners. Hatred is a terrible thing and we have plenty of examples of so-called Christians doing unspeakable acts in the name of religion. Don’t like Jews or African Americans? Deprive them of their property or their rights. No one is asking you to enter into friendships with those who life style you differ with, But if you operate a business offering service to the general public – whether it is taxi, tree trimming, catering, photography or whatever? Then you should offer that service to everyone or get out of the business. Keep going to Chick-Filet if you want and shop where they say “Merry Christmas”. Keep your TV tuned to Faux and listen to commontaters marginalize your neighbors. But please don’t discriminate against your customers or potential customers.

  16. The subjects of abortion and homosexuality have the ability to heat up any room, regardless of external temperatures. Imagine the money we could save on heating if only these issues were required topics of conversation whenever the temperature went below a certain level!

    Joking aside, it was only as an awareness of the lives of friends and family members affected by these issues that my opinions began to change. I found that the issues were not all black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Getting involved in the lives of others can help us get rid of prejudices.

    1. In many christian circles, in America and ceratainly hear in northern ireland a persons attitute to Homosexuality and Abortion are too often seen as the key indicator of whether a person is a Christian or not. Show anything except utter condemnation of either and you are NOT a Christian. Period. Everything else appears to be irrelevant. Does the phrase “Missing The Point” mean anything? Personally I have much greater difficulty with abortion than with homosexuality.

  17. I think it is safe to say that some of us here at SFL would actually agree with Westboro Baptist Church on some of their teachings. Homosexuality and abortion are hotpoint discussions even here, and while you may not agree with holding picket signs saying “God hates fags,” you might be inclined to deny civil rights to the LGBT community, or wish that “being gay” was illegal somehow.

    The same with abortion.

    We are not far off from the caricatures ourselves. The ludicrous isn’t. We have that potential to be as they are, to be as odious and judgmental and self-righteous and unwilling to consider that we are sinners of fully equal culpability. There is a Westboro in you. There is a Westboro in me. What do we do with it? Do we conquer it, or do we give it rein in what we think are controlled situations?

    No one’s mind will be changed because of the conversations here. The only way minds get changed in situations like these is getting close to someone we care about, and for whom we cannot change the situation. Only then can we find a way to apply the grace of God to others. Without experience there is precious little ability to comfort others.

    All of us have experienced situations we could never have understood without experience. Be assured, it will happen again! And when it does, you may well find your perspective a lot more gracious to the ones with whom you now disagree.

    2 Cor. 1:3-4
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

    1. “There is a Westboro in you. There is a Westboro in me.”
      Yes, there is. The temptation to believe that those whose opinions are opposite mine are servants of evil is never far from me.

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