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Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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51 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    This is why I like Reform Judaism and Judaism in general because of the Talmud. Reform Judaism acknowledges that humans wrote the Torah in search of the divine and greater meaning and this means certain sections became irrelevant or proven wrong over time. The Talmud does a great deal to mitigate the harshness of Levitvicus. Yes, Leviticus has a lot of death sentences but the actual requirements for when the death sentence can be implemented are impossible or almost impossible to get and can be found in the Talmud and other secondary writings. Even the most Orthodox Jews will tell you that the Torah can not be interpreted in a literal manner.

    Speaking of that church, it was the victim of vandalism recently:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/03/26/homophobic_harlem_altah_church_god_is_gay_vandalism_called_hate_crime_by.htmlReport

    • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

      my comment below was in response to yours. sorry for the misthread.Report

    • This is similar to the viewpoint of many Christian communities, as well, basically (roughly) that the Bible is a means through which one can seek to discern the will of God, rather than an explicit statement on the will of God.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to NewDealer says:

      I always find it particularly surreal when supposed Christians used the Old Testament to justify biases against gays, for two reasons.

      One, almost all parts of that, especially the parts giving out the Laws, start with ‘Say to the Israelites…’, or something to that effect. Seriously, check the start of any chapter in Leviticus. The Laws pretty explicitly are for the Jewish people. Guess what, most Christians? You’re not Jewish. You don’t *have* to be Jewish to be Christian. Christians actually had a pretty nasty drag-out fight about whether you had to be Jewish at the *start* of Christianity, and decided, officially, the answer was ‘No’.(1)

      Second…Jews do not follow the ‘Old Testaments’, or rather the Talmud, by randomly reading verses in it. The way to follow the Talmud is via teachers, aka, ‘rabbis’. So even if Christians *were* supposed to follow Jewish law, they’re probably supposed to do it via *the method in place at the time of Jesus*, not some random proof-texting method that’s less than 500 years old. (In fact, Jesus disapproved of people attempting to proof-text certain things. Check his response to him him being criticized for healing people on the Sabbath.)

      I.e., the actual people *officially* covered by The Law of the ‘Old Testament’, and operating under a system *Jesus himself acknowledged* (2), said that despite what it looks like, there’s nothing in there against loving homosexual relationship. If you must *pretend* Jewish Law applies to Christians for some unexplained reasons (And I don’t see any of these people refusing to shave the edges of their beard, or following rules about leprosy.) then the obviously correct thing to do is to listen to the people who are *supposed to be in charge* of Jewish Law, which are Jewish rabbis.

      1) There are a *few* Christian faiths that follow Jewish traditions also, that claim to be ‘Jewish’ and ‘Christian’ at the same time, so possible *those* people are supposed to follow Jewish law, but those groups are fairly rare.

      2) As far as anyone can tell, Jesus was an observant Jew, or that charge would have been leveled at him. He debated with the rabbis when they had gotten something wrong, he never asserted their authority was invalid.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/24/denmark-kashrut-and-anti-semitism/
    LOLWHUT?

    It should be easy enough to see that stunning an animal is more humane than simply letting it bleed out. If it is not easy for you to see, then I will provide more graphic descriptions, from a friend of mine who very nearly bled to death. Mammals of the bovine kind do indeed feel pain.

    [In other words: the Orthodox are idiots. I don’t care what religion you are.]Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    A guy I went to high school with has been reporting on the Harlem church. I keep seeing the pictures in my FB feed as he posts article. It put up other inflammatory messages in addition to the one pictured here. Then I was walking around Harlem a few weeks back, saw the church, and just had to shake my head. Apparently it was recently vandalized with “God is Gay” scrawled across it. The strange thing about that particular message is it is entirely unclear exactly who or what they are criticizing.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    You should have seen the billboards churches around Maine put up after the voters (in a referendum initiative in an off-year election) overturned the legislature on SSM. They were really hateful, too.

    When, a year later, the voters approved same-sex marriage, those same bill boards were silent; they had been repudiated.Report

  5. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I don’t see how this is any different from World Vision requiring their non-married employees to remain single. It’s not a matter of bigotry or hate; it’s simply wanting their employees to act in accordance with Biblical principles. And it requires a lot of twists and turns and rationalizations to get around the Bible saying that homosexuality is not compatible with a Christian life.

    That’s not the same as, or even comparable to, saying gay people should die, or that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, or that gay people should be ostracized. They’re not expressing hatred towards gay people, any more than it’s hateful for an Christian organization to require its workers to refrain for getting drunk or from using marijuana or from being in the military (to name things that are incompatible with the mission and values of certain other Christian charities and organizations).Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Surprisingly few, really. My faith believes that the laws on homosexuality were mostly fences against idolatry (who were the homos of the time).Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to KatherineMW says:

      “World Vision requiring their non-married employees to remain single”

      Their single employees can’t get married?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to KatherineMW says:

      You are a very strange leftist.

      What happens off hours should be only the concern of the employee as long as the behavior is lawful. Last I checked, it was lawful for adults to engage in consensual sexual activity.
      Now I doubt Worldvision has many gay people or even many secular or non-Christian straight people but an employer should not as a matter of law, liberty, and justice be able to dictate off work hours of their employers.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to NewDealer says:

        In which case the employer’s religious freedom’ would be violated, for the current definition of ‘religious freedom’ 🙂Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        Does this mean that an Orthodox yeshiva shouldn’t be able to fire an employee for appearing in some raunchy videos outside of work? In general your right but certain specifically organizations do have a theology or philosophy behind them and they should be allowed to expect certain conformance. I don’t think most of us would bat an eye if an animal rights organization fired somebody for having a collection of fur coats or going hunting in their free time even if that employee didn’t necessarily see a contradiction between animal rights and owning fur cots or hunting.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to NewDealer says:

        You are a very strange leftist.

        What happens off hours should be only the concern of the employee as long as the behavior is lawful.

        We’re not talking about Wal-Mart or Whole Foods or Ford here. We’re talking about a Christian charity. If charitable organizations want to set standards for their employees I have no objections to them doing so. Sometimes those requirements relate to sexual behaviour. Sometimes they relate to non-violence. Sometimes they require people working in developing nations to live at a bare-subsistence level in order to effectively empathize with and form relationships with the surrounding population. A Muslim charity might require its employees not to drink. Working for such organizations isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It’s a calling; it’s a career; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a deep and challenging commitment, and you probably won’t be paid particularly well for doing it. It’s something you go into because you deeply believe in what the organization stands for. And if you don’t, then you and the organization aren’t suited for each other.

        Have you looked at some of the other requirements for work in some Christian charities? Especially ones for serving overseas? You may die in the line of duty. If there is violence, we will not evacuate you, because the people we serve do not have the opportunity to be evacuated.

        The very concept behind such organizations is self-sacrificial.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        Though I generally disagree with employers attempting to police the off-hours behavior of employees that does not impact their ability to do their job, @katherinemw makes a compelling argument the other way. I suppose I could square the circle by saying that actively resisting sin — however that might be defined — is seen as a fundamental requirement of the job. As such, failing to do so does serve to impact the person’s ability to do their job. Probably not on an objectively measurable level, which puts us in some really gray area, but life isn’t black and white. Nor would we want it to be.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

        Lee,
        I would. But then again, I speak out against Australia too
        Kat,
        How far does this extend? Can Americorps require its participants to be on food stamps?
        Can a secular charity require its lobbyists to subsist on cocktail weenies?Report

      • @kazzy
        “Though I generally disagree with employers attempting to police the off-hours behavior of employees…”

        I generally agree with your sentiment. Targeting one (married!) group you don’t like, however, doesn’t jibe with Christian love. That’s where the inspiration for the OP came from, rather than from the labour law perspective.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        @jonathan-mcleod

        But I’m curious… are they just focusing on marriage and sex? Obviously, this press release is, but that is because it is discussing a change in policy regarding marriage and sex. If this is changing item #42 on a list of #76 such prescriptions, then it seems less problematic.

        That said, my broader sense of Christianity (disclaimer: recovering Catholic) jibes with yours. I’m just trying to thread some hypothetical needles.Report

      • @kazzy
        Sorry, I’m not quite following you. They had a policy of not hiring people in SSMs. A couple of days ago, they changed that and announced that they would hire people in SMMs. Yesterday, they switched back and said that they would not hire people in SSMs.

        This isn’t about a list of hiring requirements/prohibitions. It’s about being gay being an absolute, 100% deal-breaker for hiring.

        If they have 75 other hate-based restrictions, then it’s even worse than we thought.

        If they have 75 other valid (non-hateful) restrictions, this one restriction is still hateful.

        But maybe I misunderstood your comment.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        Let’s say they have a list of 100% dealbreaker requirements, all of which they connect one way or another with living what they define as a “Christian Life”.

        Including but not limited to:
        – No dancing
        – No drinking
        – No drugs of any kind
        – No tobacco
        – No meat on Fridays
        – No sex out of marriage
        – No marrying people of the same sex
        – No marrying people of other faiths
        Etc.

        You or I or anyone else could argue about whether those are TRULY the measures of a Christian life. But I’m not sure how much that really matters.

        If the charity sees adherence to those requirements as a fundamental requirement of the job, such that someone who fails to do so lacks the spiritual purity necessary to do their work, I’d be hard pressed to make an argument against that if they were sincere and consistent in the application of their requirements.

        That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t argue with their definition of Christianity. It just means I think you can simultaneously say, “Businesses in general should not be concerned with off-hour behavior,” and, “The charity sees a good reason to be concerned.” From their vantage point, it isn’t off-hour behavior.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        KatherineMW, I’m going to quibble with you and point out for many charities and not for profit organizations, especially the larger and more established ones, a lot of their staff does work their because they need a job rather than having a particular calling. This is especially true at the lower and middle levels.Report

      • @kazzy
        That’s fair; I can totally see that side of the argument. Personally, I was just writing about this Christian organization (with a tie-in to the church in Harlem) spreading and re-inforcing hate. My quibble is entirely with their theology. They make the world a worse place than it could be, otherwise.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        I don’t disagree with you much there, @jonathan-mcleod . I was talking more abstractly.

        I’d be curious to know what brought about the initial change and then the reversal. The fact that they considered the change leads me to believe that they might not be in the exact same league as the Harlem church. But I don’t really know anything about them.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

        @jonathan-mcleod,
        a policy of not hiring people in SSMs. … It’s about being gay being an absolute, 100% deal-breaker for hiring.

        Not if they’d allow a celibate and non-romantically involved gay person to work with them. It’s not to our ideal, but it’s less than a 100% dealbreaker.Report

      • @jm3z-aitch

        Demanding that people deny parts of their very humanity in order to do the work of Christ is something that, at the very least, borders on hate. We’re not supposed to be pushing people away. That’s not living Christ’s love.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer says:

        @jm3z-aitch

        That gets at a question I have about Christian opposition to homosexuality. If it is the act which is sinful, then shouldn’t that be were the focus is? The idea that a business can refuse a gay patron with no knowledge of the extent of his supposed sinning does not compute for me.

        I guess what I’m asking is what, exactly, is it about homosexuality that Christian’s find problematic or sinful? If it is the fact that they put the P anywhere other than the V, well, there are large swaths of gays who don’t even have the opportunity to sin. Yet they seem to be cast aside all the same. Which is why I tend to fall back on the idea that opposition to homosexuality might be an artifact of a sincere religious belief but all too often is just ugly “Ewww, icky!” bigotry.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to NewDealer says:

        Kazzy, I’d say that it used to be understood that the condemnation of homosexuality was the condemnation of acts of homosexuality. The idea of a homo- or hetero-sexual identity is fairly new. Yes, there have always been people with strong leanings one way or another, but no one would categorize a person as a homosexual unless they were actively so (gossip excepted).Report

    • “And it requires a lot of twists and turns and rationalizations to get around the Bible saying that homosexuality is not compatible with a Christian life.”

      Seems you may have mis-typed. Here you go:

      “And it requires a lot of twists and turns and rationalizations to get around the Bible saying that homosexuality is not compatible with a Christian life.”

      It’s actually quite easy see the compatibility of homosexuality and Christian life. Many of us see everyday!

      Selecting an interpretation that homosexuality as sinful is one thing (which I heartily disagree with), but even if we allow that such an interpretation isn’t steeped in hate (again, I would disagree, but that’s a different point), choosing to exclude one specific class of “sinner” when you let the rest of us (yourself included) slide is totally hate.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        It’s stated pretty flatly in several different places in the epistles that homosexuality is sinful.

        And I agree that the church shouldn’t single it out while ignoring other sins, but there is a difference between recognizing that everyone struggles with sin and everyone falls short in some ways, and endorsing sinful behaviour as something that is positive and should not be struggled against. Two gay people choosing to be in a relationship and deciding that’s morally right for them isn’t struggling against sinful behaviour and failing; it’s deliberately choosing sinful behaviour and claiming it’s not sin.

        World Vision, like many other Christian charities, expects their employees to endeavour to live a Christian lifestyle. Avoiding homosexual relationship is one of several requirements in that regard, not the sole one. I don’t consider that to be bigotry.Report

      • It’s interesting that there is no record of Christ condemning SSM, yet still a literal interpretation of Biblical texts (that don’t purport to be the words of Christ) can be used as ironclad proof that Christ disapproved of SSM.

        Usually, humility is considered a Christian value.Report

      • I think you’re giving Katherine’s point too little credit here.

        The key, as Katherine pointed out, is that World Vision, a charitable and explicitly evangelical religious organization, requires its single employees to be abstinent. Now, we can argue whether, from a secular standpoint, that policy is a wise policy (it’s not), a fair policy (it’s not) or an abhorrent policy (it is) for an employer to implement. But it’s not an illegal policy for even a secular business to have.

        In this case, though, the organization promotes itself as a religious ministry, and is in fact organized as such. It’s at least arguable that all or most of its employees are thus performing religious tasks, even though they’re barred from proselytyzing – there doesn’t seem to be much dispute that it should be allowed to hire only Christian employees such that it should be exempt from religious discrimination laws, and so far as I can tell, they require their employees to attend religious services during the work day. This looks an awful lot like a church to me, even if we take issue with their interpretation of Christianity. Surely churches may require that their actual ministers (ie, their religious employees) be good representatives of church doctrine, right? Surely, we would think it offensive if a church could not dismiss deacons found to engage in acts of adultery, would we not? What I’m saying is that religious organizations generally have a strong interest in having ministers that are exemplars of their religious doctrine – that is the very core of religious freedom, it seems to me.

        We also recognize that religious marriage and civil marriage are two very distinct concepts, that the former is a religious sacrament and the latter a legal right. We further recognize that religions have an absolute right to determine their membership, who may receive their sacraments, and what rituals those sacraments entail. Without such a right, freedom of religion wouldn’t exist at all.

        So we accept that a church may require its ministers to be abstinent without being hateful and that a church may (and indeed, inherently must) establish its own rules with respect to what constitutes marriage within that church without regard to whether something constitutes civil marriage.

        Why then, is it necessarily hateful for the church to decline to create an exception to those rules for one particular type of civil marriage that it doesn’t recognize?

        Don’t get me wrong – there are circumstances where I think such a thing absolutely could be regarded as hateful – specifically, where the organization appears to be cherry picking when it will and will not require its ministers to act in accordance with its religious doctrine. But Katherine’s point – and she seems to be correct – is that they’re acting pretty consistently in this regard rather than cherry-picking.

        That doesn’t mean this is an easy case for religious freedom, either, though. I think there’s room for argument as to whether the employees in question are truly ministers or are instead really secular. If they’re secular employees, I think there’s a strong case to be made that the organization should be expected to accept the validity of the civil marriage.Report

      • @mark-thompson
        First, I’m not arguing for or against the legal right to put such religious requirements in their hiring practices. That’s a side issue to me right now (not that it isn’t important).

        My argument is that by targeting a specific segment of the population to be excluded, and further to claim that the lives of those people can’t be compatible with a Christian life (when this is demonstrably false by merely visiting or reading about some Christian communities) is, absolutely, spreading hate.

        Now, we can get into definitions about “hate” here. I’m looking at it more from a spiritual or faithful perspective, since that type of perspective is applicable, so it’s different than more overt instances of hate… but this is semantic for this discussion.

        Their theology may be 100% sincere, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t steeped in hate. To think that only straight married people can do God’s work, and to use that to try to separate other people from Christ is pretty hateful. I mean, we’re talking about following a guy who hung out with hookers and tax collectors.

        TAX COLLECTORS!Report

      • @jonathan-mcleod I got a little carried away with throwing in the legal analysis, but I still don’t agree with your characterization. Or at least, I don’t agree with it based on the facts that have thus far been put forth.

        It doesn’t appear to me that they’re actively targeting gays here – as Katherine pointed out, it’s part of their abstinence policy, which they seem to enforce regardless of whether the person is gay or straight.

        So I think the fairer characterization is whether it’s hateful of them to refuse to carve out an exception to their abstinence policy for gay couples who have entered into a civil marriage contract but who have not entered into a religious marriage.

        I have a hard time concluding that it’s hateful for a religious group to say that it will only consider its ministers to be married if they have a religious marriage, and that’s all that this looks like to me. It’s conceptually no different from the Catholic Church defrocking a priest that openly keeps a mistress.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        @mark-thompson Can’t we back it up a step and say that any religious doctrine that holds homosexuality to be a sin is inherently hateful? Which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be protected under the first amendment, of course, but as far as being a bigot goes, I don’t think religious beliefs should free you from condemnation. The alternative is excusing the World Church of the Creator.Report

      • @dan-miller
        That depends:

        (1) If a group says that simply being gay is a distinct sin in and of itself, then I can see that reasonably being called hateful.

        (2) If they’re saying that gay sex is inherently a sin, then that may or may not be reasonably viewed as hateful, depending on their rationale: (a) If the rationale is that they view all non-procreative sex as sinful or all sex outside of religious marriage as sinful, and gay sex is no more than an instance, then I don’t think it’s inherently hateful. But (b) If their rationale is that gay sex is in some way its own category of sin, then I can see that reasonably being called hateful.

        (3) And if they’re just saying that religious marriage can only be between a man and a woman, then it’s really hard to say that’s inherently hateful. It might be, it might not be, again depending on the rationale.

        Look, tradition has value in a religious context that it doesn’t and shouldn’t have in a government context. Organized Religion specifically in many ways IS tradition – the Bible doesn’t explicitly or unambiguously command that there be a Pope, nor does it command that Christmas be celebrated on December 25, nor that all Christians celebrate Communion, nor that exemplars of the faith be sainted, nor that marriages are religiously valid only if performed in a church, etc., etc. Tradition does, and a lot of times the bases for those traditions aren’t even necessarily clear. Yet acceptance of those traditions are precisely what makes someone a Catholic rather than an Eastern Orthodox or a Lutheran, etc., etc.

        In this specific case, the group has gone out of its way to express that its decision not to change its policy is based entirely on its belief as to what constitutes Christian marriage combined with its longstanding beliefs about abstinence generally. It’s gone out of its way to proclaim that it does not and will not discriminate solely based on sexual orientation.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        @mark-thompson I’m with you on your first point, and to an extent on your second as well (although it interacts with point 3). I’ve got a few issues, though, with point 3. Tradition has value, but it can’t be a blanket excuse for unfairness–it should be accorded the benefit of the doubt, but ultimately it has to be justifiable in some way, especially a tradition like “marriage is only between a man and a woman”, where there’s an obvious group that’s harmed (as opposed to something like sainting, where there’s no harm done).

        I also think it’s a bit inaccurate to say that the group “does not and will not discriminate solely based on sexual orientation.” Straight people can get married and have it be recognized; gay people can’t. Saying that “it’s totally OK if you work for us and are gay, as long as you’re abstinent outside of marriage [oh, and you can never get married]” simply is discrimination. This is essentially the same argument that was used by proponents of don’t ask, don’t tell, and it doesn’t work any better here.Report

    • I find this comment deeply perplexing.

      Saying that gay people should be stoned to death is somehow different from saying they should die? Help me parse that, because I really can’t fathom the argument you’re trying to make.

      For what it’s worth, I couldn’t possibly give a crap less what a church in Harlem or elsewhere wants to put on its billboard. Free country, and all that. If they want to proclaim themselves the happy home for the community’s bigots, that’s on them.

      And you’re right, there are a handful of passages in the Bible that condemn homosexual sex. Why they should be treated as sacrosanct while contemporary Christianity is perfectly happy to jettison whole swaths of the Bible is beyond me.Report

  6. Avatar Jonathan McLeod says:

    @mark-thompson

    (Down here.)

    A couple of things:

    (1) they’re discriminating against civil and religious marriage. Christian SSM exists.

    (2) you’re also assuming their rejection of SSM (I assume their particular sect doesn’t perform it) isn’t based in hate if some sort. I would argue it is.

    (3) they’re trying to separate homosexuals from the work of Christ-and saying that they can just be celibate ignores basic humanity-I can’t see how that isn’t hateful from a Christ-word prospective.Report

    • (1) This doesn’t get very far with me. The Catholic church doesn’t recognize plenty of marriages that other Christian sects recognize, but that doesn’t make it hateful.

      (2) I think you need to provide actual evidence of this. As I said above, tradition has power in a religious context that it doesn’t and shouldn’t have in a secular context.

      (3) I just don’t buy this. Yes, as a practical matter it’s unrealistic to expect gays as a group to be celibate; then again, it’s also unrealistic to expect any group to remain celibate for their entire lives if they can’t find a partner. That doesn’t stop the Catholic Church, for instance, from requiring both straight and gay priests to be celibate for their entire lives. Again, this just doesn’t come across as trying to “separate homosexuals from the work of Christ” – it comes across as refusing to bend their (perhaps unrealistic and overly rigid) rules for gay people.Report

    • Follow up to point (3):

      It’s easy enough to claim that World Vision sees homosexual activity as sinful, so people knowingly engaging it are knowingly engage in sin, but this leads to two things:

      (3.1) They’re suggesting that all the ways that they sin are done innocently. That seems like bunk (and quite insulting to their flock).

      (3.2) They’re assuming that people in SSMs are knowingly committing sin. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe people in SSM think that a same-sex relationship is sinful. Even if we assume they’re wrong and they are committing sin, it is not the job of Christians to push sinners further away from Christ. It is the job of Christians to invite sinners (ourselves included!) even closer to Christ; to do otherwise may not be an act of hate, but it sure as hell ain’t an act of love.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater says:

    We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority continue to be persecuted by us and our fellow Christians.”Report

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