Why I outed “ex-gay” Matt Moore

When I was tipped off that an “ex-gay” writer for the Christian Post may have been using a dating site for gay men, I had two options. I could keep quiet and let others handle this, or I could do something about it. And when I saw that no one else was going to address this, I made the decision to go public about it. I first wrote about the simple facts of the matter: that someone on Grindr was using the name, age, location, and photo of Matt Moore, a self-declared former homosexual. I then contacted Moore himself, who personally confirmed to me that this was his own profile, and I published this admission as well.

Some people have argued that outing Moore was an invasion of his privacy and an unnecessary exposure of his personal life. Others say this is little more than shaming someone who’s obviously struggling with his sexuality and his faith. Some have even claimed that since Moore regards his orientation as an addiction he’s fighting, much like that of an alcoholic or drug user, exposing him publicly is tantamount to criticizing someone for “falling off the wagon”.

I don’t see any of these critiques as legitimate. Matt Moore has already made what would otherwise be his private life into the cornerstone of a very public argument. As recently as last week, Moore was writing about the “real power” of his testimony of “leaving homosexuality”. Moore stated:

…what I believe speaks volumes of the grace of God and the power of the gospel, is that year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day – I continue to fight the fight of faith. I have sought after Jesus and I have turned from sin daily.

This is not merely a personal stance of his. It is a message to a wider audience. In his earlier document, “A Biblical Perspective on Homosexuality”, Moore wrote:

The Spirit of Christ transforms the persons life – day by day, making them more and more into the likeness of their Lord – and ridding them more and more of the corruption that the presence of sin has caused in their hearts.

He’s also targeted children with his call to “conversion”. In a post titled “Dear Gay Kid”, he describes his life as an openly gay man as being full of meaningless and unsafe sex, and devoid of healthy and fulfilling relationships. He claims this “lifestyle” is “driven by sex and indulgence, not by ‘love'”. And he tells queer youth that they need God to “rescue” them from “eternal condemnation”.

So, how has that been working out for him? This is a relevant question. Of course, there are already plenty of other angles from which to attack the Christian “ex-gay” movement. Its metaphysics are just as unproven as those of any other religion, its interpretation of the Bible is just one among very many, and its notion that celibacy is the proper response to homosexuality contradicts both scientific evidence and human decency. These are all completely valid points, and even if Matt Moore did remain entirely abstinent, this would in no way support these ex-gay beliefs. But when he and the Christian Post have turned his personal testimony into a promotion for this movement, it’s equally crucial that we examine just how true that testimony really is.

Moore has set out to engage in a discussion about the morality of homosexuality, the desires of God, and the possibility of personal sexual change through faith. He has cited his own experience in support of the notion that devout Christianity can help people diminish and resist their homosexual inclinations. But if he has any interest whatsoever in an open and honest discussion about that, why should he be the only one who’s privy to the fact that this religious program has failed even himself? This fundamentally compromises the value of his testimony as evidence.

Why should the rest of us have to remain unaware of this, while he continues to deceive people about whether religion can change their sexuality? Not only is it hypocritical to present oneself as a model of sexual reformation when one is clearly anything but reformed. Such a substantial omission is just unfair to all the participants in a public debate such as this. He knows something we don’t, and he’s withholding information that impacts the soundness of his argument.

Revealing this vital information is anything but an act of shaming, and this is not some malicious and arbitrary outing of a random person who was simply going about their business. Plenty of people go looking for partners all the time, and this is certainly not deserving of shame. It’s not a problem that a gay man happened to be seeking the company of other gay men. Indeed, I hope he enjoyed himself. But his public complicity in the ex-gay movement is what makes this publicly relevant, and that complicity is what’s truly deserving of shame here.

I also don’t care if Moore regards his own inclinations as an “addiction”. I might consider it unhealthy and maladjusted of him, but that’s his business. However, it’s no longer just his business when he proposes that the rest of us ought to regard ourselves similarly. And we are in no way obligated to humor a twisted belief that treats our own loving relationships as no more than a relapse into an “addiction” that we would have resisted, if only we had been stronger.

This is about more than just Moore. There are people who are going to read his story, and it will lead them to believe that their gay son or daughter could become straight if they were just willing to try hard enough. By keeping up this charade, he continued to promote the idea that prayer was an effective remedy to homosexuality. Now, people can see for themselves just how effective this really is. And the sooner people understand that sexual orientation can’t be forcibly changed by this or any other means, the sooner they’ll stop trying to force such ineffective change on themselves and others.

Ex-gay Matt Moore confirms he was on Grindr

After my last post about a profile on Grindr using ex-gay writer Matt Moore’s photo and personal details, I contacted Moore, who responded as follows:

The grindr profile was really mine. I’ve been on it on and off for the last couple of weeks.

Like I told the guy who sent you the picture, I am wrong in having been on grindr. I haven’t changed my views on homosexuality, the bible, etc.

Creating a grindr profile and talking to guys on it was major disobedience on my part….disobedience to Christ. Disobedience to a loving and gracious God. Thankfully, I believe that He forgives me for this disobedience. I believe the blood of Christ covers this disobedience. And I won’t be on grindr again….ever.

The pastor of my church and the church body I am a part of were informed about me being on grindr (I told them) before all of this came out, publicly.

While I’m glad that Moore chose to own up to this rather than continuing to make excuses as others have done in the same situation, it’s disappointing that he ever put himself in such a deceptive and hypocritical situation in the first place. So-called “ex-gays” publicly promote the notion that LGBT people are sinning against a god who will torture them eternally if they fail to suppress and deny their true nature. But privately, they often seem to have trouble practicing what they preach. They proudly tell queer youth that their lives will be cursed with misery, illness, violence, addiction, a lack of meaningful human connection and an untimely death, unless they follow a faith that demands nothing less than the utter negation of who they are. Then they turn around and happily jump right back into a life that supposedly carries these most terrible consequences. And isn’t it wonderful how easily they can choose to forgive themselves for all this?

It’s faith-based nonsense. It’s reality-denying foolishness. It’s harmful, hateful, ignorant, irresponsible bullshit that puts shame on innocent people. And it’s all for nothing. Don’t fall for “ex-gays” – they don’t even believe what they’re selling.

I’d like to thank my readers who send me tips about these goings-on. You’re the ones who make this all possible.

At least Westboro is intellectually honest

I have more respect for the Westboro Baptist Church – barely – than I do for disingenuous fools like Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer, who beat around the bush when it comes to school shootings because even they realize that the implications of what they’re saying are too repulsive to be stated openly. Consider Mike Huckabee’s simultaneous backtracking and doubling-down on his earlier remarks:

…it’s far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools. It’s the fact that people sue a city so we aren’t confronted with a manger scene or a Christmas carol. That lawsuits are filed to remove a cross that’s a memorial to fallen soldiers. Churches and Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax-funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful and we call them disorders. Sometimes, we even say they’re normal. And to get to where… we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then ask, “Well, where was God?” And I respond that, as I see it, we’ve escorted him right out of our culture and we’ve marched him off the public square, and then we express our surprise that a culture without him actually reflects what it’s become.

To Huckabee, it is a “bedrock moral truth” that LGBT people are not even “disordered” but sinful, that businesses providing insurance to their employees ought to be able to pick and choose whether those employees can have their birth control covered, and that the government should provide its official stamp of approval to the Christian religion. And when we no longer regard sexual minorities as abnormal and condemned by God himself, we’ve somehow created an environment conducive to the mass killings of children. In the twisted mind of Mike Huckabee, LGBT rights and women’s rights and the Establishment Clause are part and parcel with school massacres. Either we side with Huckabee’s God, a God that hates gays and contraception and secular government while also supposedly providing some measure of protection from tragedies, or we must accept the inverse: gaining our freedoms at the cost of children’s lives, which Huckabee’s God allows murderers to take freely. Where was God? Oh, he would have helped out somehow, if only we’d kept paying our dues of misogyny and homophobia and theocracy.

It doesn’t sound so “rah rah God and country, amen!” when you put it that way, does it? But that’s what Huckabee means. Hate the queers, crush women’s reproductive freedom, disrespect the faith of everyone who’s not a Christian, or God will let your children be gunned down in their schools.

Contrast that with the Westboro Baptist Church, who share this opinion but make no effort to hide it whatsoever. To them, the shooting was a direct act of God to punish an insufficiently homophobic nation, and they’re ready to tell the world. No evasions. No prettying it up. No circuitous, long-winded explanations to try and dance around what they really mean to say. They just say it: God sent the shooter. God hates fags. God will kill your children because you accepted gay people. So deal with it.

They’re all scumbag religious vultures feeding on the still-warm corpses of children. But it’s even more insulting that some of them would try to disguise themselves as anything other than the revolting, merciless opportunists they are.

The company they keep

Guess who the Salvation Army chose to give a speech at their 2012 annual luncheon? Dinesh D’Souza, a homophobic conservative commentator who blames American liberals for causing the 9/11 attacks by angering Islamic terrorists.

For the 2012 annual luncheon Salvation Army leadership tapped renowned New York Times best-selling author and filmmaker (2016: Obama’s America) Dinesh D’Souza as guest speaker. He rewarded the audience of more than 500 with a talk on the influences that Christianity has had on religions and people worldwide. His talk at the Hilton Americas-Houston received a standing ovation.

Chaired by Penny and John Butler, the luncheon, hosted by the Salvation Army Advisory Board, honored Rob Mosbacher. Proceeds from the fundraiser topped $425,000, all for Salvation Army coffers.

In his 2007 book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D’Souza wrote:

I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage—some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice—but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.

In his book The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis rehearses what he calls the “standard litany of American offenses recited in the lands of Islam” and ends with this one: “Yet the most powerful accusation of all is the degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life.” As these observations suggest, what angers religious Muslims is not the American Constitution but the scandalous sexual mores they see on American movies and television. What disgusts them are not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing each other and taking marriage vows. The person that horrifies them the most is not John Locke but Hillary Clinton. …

Thus we have the first way in which the cultural left is responsible for 9/11. The left has produced a moral shift in American society that has resulted in a deluge of gross depravity and immorality.

The homophobia in D’Souza’s book is not an isolated occurrence:

– As editor of the conservative Dartmouth Review, he outed the officers of Dartmouth’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He then accused the GSA of using the university’s money for “gay parties, gay orgies, or whatever.”

– In 2003, he offered his opinion of gay men and lesbians:

Journalist Andrew Sullivan argues that it is social ostracism that encourages the reckless promiscuity and socially destructive behavior of male homosexuals. If gays are allowed to marry like everyone else, Sullivan is confident that this outrageous element of gay culture would diminish. Sullivan’s argument can be condensed to the slogan, “Marriage civilizes men.” But Sullivan is wrong. Marriage doesn’t civilize men, women do. This point is even evident in the gay community: it helps to explain why lesbians are generally much better than male homosexuals in sustaining long-term relationships.

– And in 2008, he had this to say about same-sex marriage:

Yet if it’s discriminatory to gays to require that marriage be between a man and a woman, why isn’t it discriminatory to Mormons and Muslims to require that it remain between two people? Isn’t incestuous marriage also between “consenting adults” who have a right to equal protection of the laws? And why doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment protect the fellow who wants to walk down the aisle with his poodle on the grounds that “I love my dog and my dog loves me”?

This is the man the Salvation Army selected to speak at their $425,000+ fundraiser. They saw no problem choosing someone who would blame our own country’s values of equality and civil rights for provoking Islamic extremists into launching the most deadly terrorist attack in our history. They chose someone who considers gay people “socially destructive” and compares our commitments to poodle marriage. He’s their man.

If the Salvation Army wants to counter their public perception as a homophobic organization, this isn’t helping.

The Christian’s Thanksgiving mistake

John MacArthur of the Washington Times has a real stumper for all of us atheists: if there is no God, then why do we feel gratitude?

Ingratitude is dishonorable by anyone’s reckoning, but to be willfully ungrateful toward the Creator is to deny an essential aspect of our own humanity. The shame of such ingratitude is inscribed on the human conscience, and even the most dogmatic atheists are not immune from the knowledge that they ought to give thanks to God. Try as they might to suppress or deny the impulse, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them,” according to Romans 1:19.

Indeed. How can we possibly account for the urge to be thankful, without recognizing the crucial role of this specific deity of this specific faith with this specific mythology? Because, of course, the fact that people feel gratitude has everything to do with the story of the Christian God, its creation of the world and its interactions with humans, as relayed by one particular religious text which is completely reliable. People feel stuff, and that means God. How could this ever be explained otherwise?

MacArthur continues:

One atheist has practically made a hobby of writing articles to explain why atheists feel the need to be thankful and to answer the question of whom they might thank. His best answer? He says atheists can be grateful to farmers for the food we eat, to doctors for the health we enjoy, to engineers for the advantages of modern technology, to city workers for keeping our environment clean and orderly — and so on.

Here’s the problem with that: Tipping the waitress or tipping one’s hat to sanitation workers doesn’t even come close to resolving the problem of whom Mr. Dawkins should thank when he looks at the stars, stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or studies the world of countless wonders his microscope reveals in a single drop of pond water.

Clearly, whether something is spiritually satisfying is unambiguous evidence of the truth of a particular religious claim. Atheism must be invalid if it can’t explain people’s feelings of awe and undirected thankfulness, because this is obviously a problem of theology and metaphysics – not one of human psychology. I’m surprised MacArthur didn’t get into more of the weak points of atheism, such as its failure to provide emotionally fulfilling answers to human wonder at childbirth, dogs, fire, and magnets. Such feelings must point to a God, because it says so in the Bible. And we know the Bible is true, because there’s obviously a God as indicated by Richard Dawkins’ feelings about canyons and Shaggy 2 Dope’s awe at rainbows.

Check and mate.

This is what a Catholic country looks like

A nightmarish ethical dystopia that succeeded in slowly and painfully killing an innocent woman for the sake of nothing.

Savita Halappanavar, 17 weeks pregnant, was miscarrying. There was no chance that the fetus would survive. In excruciating pain, Savita asked for an abortion. The hospital, University Hospital Galway in Ireland, refused. Why? There was still a fetal heartbeat, and as Savita and her husband were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

They forced Savita to wait, “in agony”, for another two days until the fetus died. By that time, she had to be taken into intensive care, and died a few days later of septicemia and E. coli infection.

Where Sister Margaret McBride made the choice to ignore the rules of her church and order a life-saving abortion at a Catholic hospital for a woman who was otherwise going to die, the doctors at Galway evidently could not bring themselves to do the same.

The fetus was certain to die. At that point, the staff’s only concern should have been ensuring Savita’s well-being. There was no justifiable reason whatsoever to allow an already doomed fetus to survive a couple more days while its presence made her so ill that she required intensive care.

Yet they were willing to stand by, watch her condition deteriorate, and do nothing, for the sake of a fetus that was not going to survive anyway.

This should have been the simplest moral decision in the world. Even if they consider the fetus a “life”, or a “person”, that life was already going to be lost. So, should one person die, or should two people die? Any one of us could have made the right choice here. But Savita’s life was in their hands, and she died because of their perverted ethics.

She died because of a faith that values adherence to a rule over saving a life, a religion that thinks its laws are more important than whether she lived or died.

And they would have been willing to put any one of us in the same situation as Savita. That should scare us. Catholic hospitals should scare us. Catholic countries should scare us. Here, they’ve shown that their beliefs are more than just an empty expression of piety. They’re willing to put our lives on the line for their church. Are you okay with that?

Lisa Graas, mind your own business

I have a suggestion for religious homophobes: Stop acting like the rest of us are stupid.

Jeremy Hooper recently posted a video of a panel at a “town hall meeting” of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the campaign working to ban gay marriage once again in Maryland. In the clip, panelist Reverend Robert Anderson claims that “those who practice such things are deserving of death”. Just to drive the point home, he further adds that “if we don’t vote against it, then we are approving these things that are worthy of death”.

Then Catholic blogger Lisa Graas decided that this was something she needed to defend. In a reply to Jeremy Hooper, she insisted that Anderson’s statement “refers to the death of the soul. In other words, going to hell. He is saying that God will send sinners to hell.”

Here’s why everything about this excuse is crap. When a member of a politically powerful religious majority declares that a historically disempowered minority is “deserving of death”, and goes beyond mere disapproval in the religious realm to insist that these beliefs also justify unequal treatment of that minority under secular civil law, that is a threat. It is a threat because they are using their religion as a reason to impose inequality on us in the legal sphere, and because they believe their religion designates us as “worthy of death”. There’s no way around where this line of reasoning leads, and that is why it is an obviously threatening act.

Choosing to defend this means that, just like them, you’ve elected to value religious beliefs over human life and well-being. The consequences of this should be unacceptable not only to minorities, but to everyone, because there’s no telling which religion will one day rise to prominence, and what morals that faith might decide it’s entitled to force upon the entire population via the state. Why would anyone want to be potentially subject to that?

Not only is siding with those who make such threats an act of foolishness and inhumanity, but Graas’ explanation is intellectually dishonest garbage. Pretending that those who say gay people are “deserving of death” only mean it in a spiritual, theological, metaphysical sense, rather than a literal and physical one, is plainly unconvincing. People know what “deserving of death” means. It means deserving of death. The real phenomenon of death is something that everyone understands, and if a religion instead decides to use it to refer to what they believe is part of a supposed afterlife that isn’t supported by even the thinnest of evidence, their use of the term in a general setting without clarification is extraordinarily careless.

And this was a general setting – the panel was part of a campaign working to bring about a change in the civil, secular law via a measure that will be put to a referendum. Citizens of all faiths, belief systems and philosophies will be voting on it. It was not a sermon directed solely at those who choose to affiliate themselves with Reverend Anderson’s church and its beliefs. It was delivered to a general audience of voters. To say that a certain minority in the state which is about to vote on their equality is deserving of death, without specifying that you actually mean something much different from the most prevalent understanding of “death”, is both irresponsible and a failure of communication – if that was even what he meant to say.

Historical religious attitudes about sexual “sin” and the death penalty make it impossible to conclude that we should only interpret Anderson’s remarks in the most charitable, metaphorical light. The Bible itself does indeed state that a man who “has sexual relations with a man” is “to be put to death”. Regarding this as merely a metaphor for something-or-other would require reading adjacent passages – such as those saying “kill both the woman and the animal”, “the members of the community are to stone him”, and so on – as also being metaphorical rather than literal. This would make no sense.

It is obvious that the Bible contains passages which clearly refer to homosexual activity, and prescribe the death penalty in plain language. And even the common apologetic defense that this is no longer the case due to Jesus or something must implicitly acknowledge that this was once the case, and that there was indeed a time when religious disapproval of homosexuality had very real consequences beyond simply telling someone that “God will send sinners to hell”. There is an extensive history of religiously-based laws against homosexuality which prescribed punishments up to and including death, and this still occurs today.

Expecting listeners to ignore both the common meaning of “death”, and the historical record of religion being cited to justify killing gay people, is simply untenable. It means asking people to deny the violent and dangerous implications that are right in front of their own eyes. We’re not the ones who should be obligated to interpret a political campaign calling for our death as just a figure of speech. Anderson is the one who should have exercised better judgment instead of speaking so recklessly.

Finally, if he was indeed only claiming that gay people are going to hell, then the proposal to ban gay marriage is both ineffective and irrelevant. First, banning gay marriage never stopped anyone from being gay. And second, saving “souls” is not the government’s business. Our civil law does not exist to force people to do whatever some religion believes will keep them out of hell. Why is Anderson’s church free to believe what they do even if some other faith claims they’re going to suffer eternally for it? Because whatever someone’s religion says about the afterlife, this is only their own concern, and it’s never grounds for telling the entire population what they can and can’t do.

The only reason they’re able to practice their own faith without interference is because of this fundamental principle of individual religious freedom, and disregarding that freedom jeopardizes everyone’s rights. If the government ever told them they needed to stop being who they are for the sake of their own “salvation”, they would be outraged at the total lack of respect for their freedom of conscience and self-determination. And you know what? So am I! We don’t need a nanny state in the name of a nanny god. If your god really exists and wants to send me to hell after I die, then that will be between me and your god. But right now, we all live on earth, where there are things like basic human rights and secular governments that do not endorse religions.

Lisa Graas and her pathetic excuses reveal the worst aspects of every campaign to ban gay marriage: they can’t even be honest with the people whose rights they’re trying to take away, they don’t know the difference between the law and a Bible, and they just can’t seem to mind their own business.

The Family Research Council is demonstrably wrong

In a recent press release, the flagrantly anti-gay Family Research Council claimed:

As more churches move away from biblical authority, their attendance suffers. Just ask the Episcopal Church, whose pews are virtually empty after the decision to endorse homosexuality. It’s time to push back on the spin that’s feeding our weak brethren who say that compromising truth in pursuit of love is the way to reach the lost.

Is any of this factually accurate? As usual, no.

First, the Episcopal Church has experienced an overall decline in attendance (PDF) of 3.7% from 2000 to 2010 – hardly “virtually empty” pews.

Second, the idea that churches have lost followers due to “compromising truth” is wholly contrary to reality. A series of studies of young Christians and ex-Christians found that three out of five of them will leave their churches for a lengthy period, often permanently, after age 15. Why? Were their former faiths just too accepting of gay people? Were they driven away by churches that prized love over “truth”, and compromised their doctrines in order to appeal to more people?

No. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Those who left their churches offered several reasons for leaving, such as the perception that Christians “demonize everything outside of the church”, that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers”, that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in”, that “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date”, that “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths”, and that they feel “forced to choose between my faith and my friends”. Do these sound like people who wanted more “truth” from dogmatic churches which demand they place religious belief before reality, humanity, and love?

According to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 69% of Millennials believe “religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues”. In other words, people aren’t leaving because their churches are too tolerant of homosexuality. They’re leaving because their churches are too intolerant of homosexuality. The FRC is operating outside of reality, in a world that exists only in their fevered imagination.

With God, everything is permitted

Like killing children. Charlie Fuqua, candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives, recommended child execution in his book, “God’s Law: The Only Political Solution”:

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. … This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scrpture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

I can think of at least 3 problems with this plan. First, in order for a threat to be effective, it has to be credible. The target of the threat must believe there is a possibility that it will be carried out. That’s what makes it so ridiculous for Fuqua to try and walk the line of “we need this as a disincentive to bad behavior, but I’m sure no one will ever actually execute their kids!” If it never happens, it starts to lose its power to influence anyone, as it becomes difficult for people to believe it could actually happen. If he really finds child executions so dreadful that he seeks to downplay how likely this is, maybe he shouldn’t want to make explicit legal allowances for it. And if he does believe that the goal of discouraging disobedience is so overwhelmingly important that it warrants the execution of children, then it makes no sense within his own value system that he would want to get in the way of doing what he believes is necessary to achieve the very objective he considers so crucial. It’s almost like the guy who supports child execution is being irrational or something.

Second, people have killed their children for religious reasons on plenty of occasions, both intentionally and unintentionally. People also kill children for reasons other than religion. What grounds does he have to be so certain that parents have never, ever wanted their children dead? And how can he possibly believe that the world he envisions, with a religious community that has a social norm of executing children for parental disobedience, would be at all averse to doing just that?

Third, you seriously want to make mere disobedience a capital crime for children when there’s already substantial debate over whether the death penalty, an irrevocable act which allows for no reevaluation or correction or pardon after the fact, is appropriate even for morally culpable and mentally sound adults? What is wrong with you? Knock it off!

Sally Quinn’s hollow faith

At the Washington Post, Sally Quinn said something that’s probably much more true than she thought:

This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.. We’ve got the Creator in our Declaration of Independence. We’ve got “In God We Trust” on our coins. We’ve got “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. And we say prayers in the Senate and the House of Representatives to God.

Claiming a belief in God. Even if you are not Christian. It really shows just how much religion matters to Sally Quinn: enough for her to cite America’s unfortunate habit of plastering pointless professions of piety onto our pledges and currency, but not enough for her to care about whether anyone truly believes in this god. The only thing that’s important to her is that we keep on saying it, even as it’s separated from all meaning by her notion that people’s actual beliefs are irrelevant, and her demand that they say the words anyway. Quinn is simply representing the religious America of today: a nation of faithful who have so prioritized devout appearances over walking the walk, they don’t even bother to hide this anymore. They plainly state their expectation that we all do the same, saying the magic words no matter what we believe. It’s so out in the open, it’s right there in the Washington Post for anyone to see.