Religious bigots are furious with Dan Savage yet again. This time their rage is inspired by a speech Dan gave at the National High School Journalism Conference, where he points out the “bullshit” in the Bible and a trickle of Christians get up and walk out of his talk. Watch the video for a wonderful speech and the poor butthurt Christians leaving (in a single file line that starts in unison…smells like a planned walk-out to me):
Here’s a transcript of the speech for those of you who can’t watch the video:
“People often point out that they can’t help it. They can’t help with the anti-gay bullyings because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong. We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.
The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say Christians don’t own people. Paul talks about how Christians own people. We ignore what the Bible said about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong. Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong: slavery.
What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%. The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – that a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, that she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days. People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.
One thing I want to talk about is – ha, so you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back in because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny that someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react to being pushed back. I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings but I have the right to defend myself, and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting that we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”
I transcribed that speech so I’m sure you know exactly what Dan Savage said… because right-wing lunatics seem to have listened to an entirely different speech. Focus on the Family was the first time chime in, opportunistically on their bigoted anti-Day of Silence event:
“Using profanity to deride the Bible—and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room—is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling. This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of “tolerance,” Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments. Incidents like this one stand in stark contrast to the principles we’ve continually espoused on our Web sites, truetolerance.org and dayofdialogue.com, which call for a free exchange of ideas and respect for different viewpoints, including those that are faith-based and socially conservative.”
You see, it’s exactly the same. On one hand, we have someone pointing out that certain ideas of an oppressive majority group are wrong. On the other hand, we have that oppressive majority group bullying children until they commit suicide because those children have a biological trait that the oppressive majority finds abhorrent because their invisible sky daddy told them so in a really old book. And Focus on the Family is pro-dialogue because they’re allowed to talk about their beliefs, but you have to shut up about yours.
It’s not just Focus on the Family: the various conservative fundies have chimed in with the typical “Help, help, us poor Christians are being oppressed and bullied! Waaaah!” The concept of Christians being persecuted in the US is laughable, but I’m not laughing. Why? Because Christians who scream “persecution!” are doing it to silence dissent. It even worked on Savage, who apologized for calling the walk-out “pansy-assed” (which it was) and explained that he wasn’t calling Christianity bullshit:
“I didn’t call anyone’s religion bullshit. I did say that there is bullshit—”untrue words or ideas“—in the Bible. That is being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue. I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised. I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against—and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying “motivated by faith”)—because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong. Yet the same people who make that claim choose to ignore what the Bible has to say about a great deal else. I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy. My remarks can only be read as an attack on all Christians if you believe that all Christians are hypocrites. Which I don’t believe.”
Sure, not all Christians are hypocrites. We have the Westboro Baptist Church, Ken Ham, and other Biblical literalists as perfect examples of unhypocritical Christians. But they’re still wrong. They’re still following a bullshit book and a bullshit religion. And despite the whining of Focus on the Family, Christians deserve to have their faith mocked and belittled, because it is an idea worthy of only mockery and belittlement.
And I’m not just talking about the Phelps of the world. I mean the moderate and liberal version of Christianity too. Because it all boils down to believing in ludicrous superstition you have no evidence for, and much evidence against. That sort of thinking wouldn’t be tolerated or respected in our society if it weren’t for the unfairly special status religion holds. We can use “bullshit” to describe ideas like astrology, reptilian conspiracies, alien abductions, Big Foot… but God is off limits, despite being equally ridiculous.
That’s why Christian groups cry foul when someone points out flaws in their religion. It’s not their emotions that are so fragile: It’s their faith. Because Christianity, like all religions, simply cannot stand up to questioning. It’s why so many parts of the Bible actively denounce questioning faith. It’s why Christians have to run out of talks and make press releases about persecution. Because Christianity crumbles in the face of history, biology, and analytical thinking. Silencing dissent is the only way for Christianity to survive.
And I don’t want a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, anti-science, and simply false idea like Christianity to survive.
Now, am I going to be violent toward Christians? Am I going to enact laws banning Christianity? Am I going to run around burning churches? Of course not. I’m going to be a radical evangelical atheist by writing blog posts for whoever cares to read them, and by giving talks for whoever cares to attend. I’m going to destroy religion through convincing arguments that people have to understand on their own time, not through guilt or social ostracization or threats of eternal damnation (the tactics of religious evangelicals).
That’s why Christians want to shut up people like me and Dan – because they know our tactics work.