Christian Bigots Trying to Claim Persecution

Christian Bigotry is still Bigotry

I have not yet weighed in on the Chick-fil-A situation. I had not planned to do so.  Two things changed that, a blog I read last night on CNN’s Belief Blogs by R. Albert Mohler Jr. titled “My Take: Chick-fil-A controversy reveals religious liberty under threat” and an article on the Charisma News titled Chick-fil-A Breaks World Sales Record After Hateful Attacks.   These two articles together have created a need for me to weigh in.

Mohler is a regular contributor to The Christian Post and I am familiar with his work.  He is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his views often reflect that position.  His article is completely off base.  He writes:  “And yet the controversy over Chick-fil-A is a clear sign that religious liberty is at risk and that this nation has reached the brink of tyrannical intolerance from at least some of our elected leaders”.  How does he justify this claim?

Mohler’s justification comes in the form of quoting what Dan Cathy (Chick-fil-A’s president) actually said.  He quotes several of Cathy’s religious statements against same-sex marriage.  Mohler, who agrees with Cathy’s view, sees no problem with those statements.

In a sense he is correct, Cathy has every right to say and believe what he chooses.  To deny Cathy that right would certainly violate the “freedom of speech” clause of the First Amendment.  However, if the article ended there, I would have no issue, at least legally, on this story.

Mohler continues to quote the words of Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Chicago Alderman Proco Moreno, and New York City Councilor Christine Quinn.  Each of these three elected officials made statements implying they would try to prevent Chick-fil-A restaurants from opening in their jurisdictions.  Some of those officials have since back-pedaled on their words.  They perhaps did speak a bit hastily and cannot deny a restaurant from opening simply because they disagree with the owner of the restaurant’s religious and political views.

So far, from a legal standpoint, I agree with Mohler.  It is the closing part of his article that I take issue.  Mohler argues:

“The threats made against Chick-fil-A betray the principle of religious liberty that is enshrined within the U.S. Constitution. Civic officials in some of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities have openly threatened to oppose Chick-fil-A for the singular reason that its president openly spoke of his Christian convictions concerning marriage”.

He continues later:

“This country is deeply divided over the issue of same-sex marriage, and the controversy over Chick-fil-A is an ominous sign that many of the proponents of same-sex marriage are quite willing to violate religious liberty and to use any and all means to silence and punish any individual or organization that holds the contrary view”.

This, in my opinion, is another example of the misuse of religious liberty.  I do not for a second believe that the politicians in question were attacking Christianity.  What they were attacking is bigotry.  Christian bigotry to be sure, but bigotry is bigotry—its source does not matter.  I agree with Mohler that we cannot deny Cathy the right to open a restaurant.  I disagree with him when he claims that Cathy’s religious freedom is being attacked.  What were attacked were Cathy’s bigoted views.

Many Christian leaders seem to have trouble grasping this concept.  Let me state it as plainly as I can.  Simply because one’s religion states it is acceptable to hold belief x, does not mean that it is a socially, legally, or politically acceptable belief.  Nor does it automatically exclude it from criticism or the label of bigoted.  A person with the opposing view can criticize that belief without violating religious freedom.  Religious freedom does NOT mean that religious views can never be criticized.

What complicates this matter further is that Cathy has donated tremendous sums of money to anti-gay causes, some of which may have been corporate donations.  This cannot be criticized?  Explain to me then how it is that Christian groups can criticize, boycott, and protest corporations such as JC Penny, Target, Kraft foods, etc that take the opposite stance?

The second article is much more offensive than Mohler’s.  The opening line of the article is: “What the enemy meant for harm, God turned around for good.”  The article goes on to explain how Chick-fil-A broke its record for one day sales—in fact many stores ran out of chicken.  It continues with the following statement, “But God used fellow Christians—and others who believe in the biblical definition of marriage—to bless the chicken chain above and beyond anything it expected.”

Those two statements are nothing more than pure idiocy.  Taken in conjunction with Mohler’s piece, the situation becomes quite offensive.

Let me explain in as simple a way as possible.  If you went to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday you are a bigot.  Period.  End of story.  You went and paid money to support a cause that is explicitly aiming to deny a group of people (homosexuals) the same freedoms and right as everyone else.  That is bigotry.  If you do not like it, do not do it.

It does not matter that the source of the bigotry stems from a religious belief.  What is toxic is the belief that this Christian god has “created” this display of bigotry and it is seen as a “good thing”.  It is toxic to believe that your (non-existent) god blessed the restaurant with an outpouring of bigotry.  If your god actually existed, he would certainly not be worthy of anyone’s worship if that is the type of behavior that he promotes.  Further, he would be about as “un-American” as possible.  This deity would be “blessing” the idea that all humans should be treated equally under the law.  That some of humans–heterosexual humans—are “better” than others and deserve special treatment.

Furthermore, the god that Christians believe in is responsible for all creation.  Why would this supposedly benevolent creator/deity create homosexuality then?  Just so that his followers would have someone to discriminate against?  Pathetic.

Do you see the difference here?  I am attacking your religious beliefs because they are foolish.  The politicians above were attacking only your bigotry.  There is a difference.  That stated, I fully believe that each and every one of the people who went to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday and spent their money to support bigotry has the right to do so.  I would fight to defend your right to do so.  However, I, and others who oppose you, have the right to criticize and call you out on that.  If you do not like that…too bad.  If you do not want to be called a bigot, then do not act like one.  If you do not want your religious views criticized, do not use them as a justification for your bigotry.  It really is that simple.

Going back to the first quote by Mohler we see that he accuses the politicians in question of “tyrannical intolerance” towards Christianity.  What we have in reality is intolerance of bigotry (and what a great thing to have!).  If that bigotry happens to be religious in nature, and it is in this case, that is your problem, not ours.

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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12 thoughts on “Christian Bigots Trying to Claim Persecution

  1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    This is an issue which I've seen coming out of the christian camp over and over again. They confuse the right to express a belief with the NON-RIGHT of superimposing that belief on others.

    Certainly, Dan Cathy has the right to run his organization as he chooses and to donate to those causes he feels an affinity with. So long as he operates within the law, there should be nothing to stop him from opening franchises in Boston, Chicago or Tuscaloosa. What Tom Menino and Rahm Emanuel did, beyond anything else, was to call out Dan Cathy on his stance. Cathy may frame his position as reflecting family or biblical values. We See Them as BIGOTRY, and considering that Cathy's bias against gay marriage has no rational basis to justify itself, the term "bigotry" is both appropriate and applicable.

    I see this ultimately as a good thing, because it highlights the irrational and unfounded discrimination and bigotry which is part and parcel of the bible. It's homophobia, on top of its misogyny and promotion of violence against those who stand against it is coming more and more into the public eye because of incidents just like this. I have to believe that some people are finally going to wake up to the reality of the bible, having heard of Cathy's bias and his justification for that bias and label the bible for what it is:

    Crap.

    Reply
      1. vjack from Hattiesburg, MS, United States

        Yes, this is definitely something along the lines of "Groundhog Day." They are counting on the notion that people will believe their lie if they repeat it often enough. Sadly, they are probably correct that it will work on some.

        Like you said, bigotry is bigotry. That should be all that needs to be said, but we must retread this ground again and again.

        Reply
    1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

      The one thing about "Groundhog Day" was that each iteration saw Bill Murray's character get a little bit better. Same deal here. Every time the bigots show their hand, their despicable attitude becomes that more evident to the rest of the country.

      It may not be today or tomorrow … but eventually we'll wake up to February THIRD … and that's why we have to keep working and maintain the pressure on Cathy and people like him.

      Reply
    2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

      Dan Cathy had every right to express his opinion. Rahm Emanuel likewise had every right to tell Cathy he was a bigot. However, when he started claiming he would use his political power to harm Cathy financially, that's where he crossed the line and because of it, a huge swell of support for the little guy rose up. Had he never tried any of that nonsense, there would never have been a Chik-fil-a Appreciation Day.

      Reply
  2. Angela N from Saint Louis, MO, United States

    "Simply because one’s religion states it is acceptable to hold belief x, does not mean that it is a socially, legally, or politically acceptable belief. Nor does it automatically exclude it from criticism or the label of bigoted. A person with the opposing view can criticize that belief without violating religious freedom. Religious freedom does NOT mean that religious views can never be criticized."

    Thanks for stating so eloquently what I've wanted to say but couldn't get out all week!

    Reply
    1. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

      That's generally the point I was going to make. Freedom of religion guarantees the right to hold a belief. It does not guarantee that expressing that belief will be free from consequence. There are plenty of people out there who are racist for religious reasons. If they express their racism, they can, and should, suffer the consequences thereof. If you lose your job or suffer financial setbacks because you hold a socially unacceptable belief, so be it.

      As they say, if you don't want your beliefs to be ridiculed, don't hold ridiculous beliefs.

      Reply
      1. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

        "If you don't want your beliefs to be ridiculed, don't hold ridiculous beliefs."

        That one is a KEEPER, Cephus!

        Reply
  3. Maria from Traverse City, MI, United States

    Great Post RB. My mom and I had a similar discussion & came to a similar conclusion. She has a right to express her bigotry and I have a right to call her an asshole for it. At least we agreed on something.

    Reply
    1. denny from Manama, Manama, Bahrain

      Maria, no one should ever call their mother an "asshole." That is just not right. Ah but then you might say I am a bigot against vulgar children. And the beat goes on.

      Reply

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