Different, thus dangerous

According to a report on NPR, almost a dozen states have joined together to file a lawsuit seeking to protect bigotry and privilege against an onslaught of justice and equal rights for minorities.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, says the federal government has “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

Yes, a “massive social experiment.” Those evil government officials, with their bubbling test tubes and unstable nuclear reactors, rubbing their rubber-gloved hands together and gleefully cackling, “Let’s take a bunch of innocent, harmless people and see what happens if we mind our own business and leave them alone, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

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What “apocalypse” looks like

I was listening to Christian talk radio on the way home again, and one of the two co-hosts had an interesting story to share. It seems he and his son stopped at one of the larger gas station/convenience store combos so his son could use the bathroom, and while he was waiting outside the single-occupant mens room for his son, a man came up and said, “You waiting to use the rest room?” The dad said yes he was, whereupon the newcomer said, “Well, I guess I’m feeling like a woman today,” and entered the women’s rest room and locked the door and used it.

And that was the end of the story. No women were involved, no sexual assaults occurred, no one was injured (unless you count the tarnished pride of the guy who was so desperate he had to use the ladies room). All that happened was that a person who might otherwise have suffered an embarrassing and messy biological malfunction got to use a perfectly serviceable facility that would otherwise have gone unused.

Of course, this being Christian talk radio, the discussion thereafter was all about “how far America has fallen” and “haven’t Christians been warning us this would happen” and “isn’t it shameful that the President would get involved” and so on and so on. But I couldn’t help but think, “This is the end of America they were so worried about? A guy making a joke while taking harmless steps to avoid peeing himself?”

And they wonder why more and more people are ceasing to take Christianity seriously.

Procrustean pants

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has released a statement about the Obama administration’s new bathroom policy. Forest states, in part,

North Carolina will not stand by and let our locker rooms and high school showers be used for social experimentation at the expense of the privacy and protection of our young boys and girls. I do not think it is appropriate for teenage boys and girls to share the same bathroom. I don’t think it appropriate for teenage boys and girls to shower next to each other.

Which sounds almost moral until you realize that this is his argument in favor of forcing high school girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers with transgender boys.

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A martyr for “clarity”

Poor, persecuted Roy Moore. As you may have heard, he’s been suspended (with pay!) pending the outcome of proceedings against him in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. The suspension follows a complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center after Moore’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court decision upholding the right to gay marriage. But according to the Christian Post, this is all just a big misunderstanding. Moore wasn’t trying to obstruct justice. Not at all! He just was a little confused about a few things.

Travis S. Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, told The Christian Post that while the Supreme Court decision is clear, Alabama’s high court has not contemplated the full impact of this decision on all pending orders. Chief Justice Moore was simply stating that fact.

“Chief Justice Moore has merely pointed out this lack of clarity, and noted that until the state’s high court rules with finality, the administrative order to probate judges from last March remains in effect,” said Weber.

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Christian colleges shamed by discrimination disclosures

Over 200 Christian colleges, and growing, have claimed a Title IX exemption in order to discriminate against transgendered students. But, according to the Christian Post, that’s not the story. The story is that the Department of Education is publishing a list of the schools that have done so, at the behest of those mean old human rights activists, in order to bully and embarrass those poor helpless Christians once again.

LGBT activist groups have been calling on the government to publish the list as part of a shaming campaign called the “Shame List” to pressure Christian colleges to consent to their agenda…

The article goes on to quote Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) saying, “the Department of Education has been bullying schools to comply with policies that simply do not have the force of law.”

But here’s the thing: why don’t Christian colleges want people to know they’re using taxpayer money to fund discrimination against transgendered people, as an expression of their religious belief? If they’re doing God’s will, and if God’s will is supposed to be a good thing, why are they upset that their counter-cultural witness is getting free publicity from the government?

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The name is not the problem

When I was young there were still a fair number of fundamentalist Christian churches around, and by that I mean churches that were proud to be fundamentalist and often even used the term “fundamentalist” as part of the name of their church. To them, fundamentalist meant they had abandoned the accumulated centuries of man-made traditions, and gotten back to the fundamentals of the faith. They had separated the wheat from the chaff, the gold from the ore, the essentials from the distractions. And they were proud of it.

As time went on, though, these groups became famous for other things: narrow-mindedness, judgmentalism, dogmatism, and ignorance. The term “fundamentalist” started accumulating negative connotations, and being linked to stereotypical attitudes and behaviors. Believers grew reluctant to identify themselves as fundamentalists, and wanted to be known as evangelicals instead. Evangelicals, you see, were the ones who understood what was really important about the faith. They wanted to get away from all this divisiveness and denominationalism, and go back to what was truly important about the faith.

As a young believer, I was glad I was an evangelical rather than a fundamentalist. Fundamentalism was bad. Fundamentalists did bad things and had bad attitudes. But you know what? As time went on, I realized that the evangelicals were doing the same things and promoting the same attitudes. Narrow-mindedness. Judgmentalism. Dogmatism. And a really, really proud and defiant ignorance. They weren’t called fundamentalists any more, but they were still doing the same behaviors and preaching the same attitudes, and thus acquiring the same stigma.

What I learned from that experience is that, in the long term, changing the name does no good if the underlying attitudes and behaviors don’t change with it. It happened with fundamentalism and with evangelicalism, and now it’s happening with plain old bigotry.

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Why can’t conservatives discriminate too?

Writing for townhall.com, Christian apologist Frank Turek asks, “Can Bruce Springsteen Refuse to Play a Gay Wedding?”

I agree with Bruce Springsteen who cancelled his concert in my adopted home state of North Carolina because he objected to HB2 (the bathroom law). I also agree with Paypal, which cancelled their plans to expand in Charlotte because they think the law is “discriminatory.” Why? Because I believe that performers and businesses have every right not to do business with whom they disagree. In other words, they have the right to discriminate against the people of North Carolina.

But if liberals can deny services to people with whom they disagree, then why can’t conservatives?

And while we’re at it, why can’t you peel an apple the same way you peel an orange? Life is just so darn unfair!

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The Case of the Exploding Wedding Cake

A Michigan TV station is reporting that a local cake decorator is taking some heat after she backed out of a deal to decorate a cake for what she later discovered was a gay wedding.

A recent status update by Bake It U.P. Cakes explains that the business denied services to a same-sex couple after it was commissioned to decorate a cake for an upcoming wedding. The decorator was unaware it was for a same-sex couple, and as soon as she found out, the business backed out of the transaction. The post states, “This has nothing to do with the person, or the lifestyle they choose. This is about me not participating in the event… I have nothing against this person for their choice in lifestyle. If this person had come to me for any other occasion and needed a cake I would have gladly made one for him.”

Public response was immediate and negative.

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When to say no

If you’re not a software developer, you may have missed it, but there’s been a huge outcry recently in the world of functional programming, about a conference called LambdaConf. The problem is not the conference itself, but the fact that one of the papers selected for presentation turns out to be the work of a well-known racist whose online postings have argued that blacks are naturally suitable for slavery. In fact, this same person submitted a similar paper to an earlier conference called Strange Loop, who initially accepted it, and then rejected it after they found out who the author was. The LambdaConf organizers were familiar with that incident, and decided not to reject the speaker, on free speech grounds, as long as he agreed to abide by the conference Code of Conduct while in attendance.

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