Cloaking hatred with a thin veil of love


One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is The Scathing Atheist, and it lives up to its name. One of the regular bits on the show is called the diatribe, where they just cut loose and fulminate for a few minutes on some subject that has sparked their rage, and while I don’t always agree with it, I do have to respect a righteous rant. Last week, they focused their fire on Ray Moore, and the topic of the diatribe was how Christianity has become, or perhaps always has been, a religion of hate. It has become a reliable motivator of evangelical Christians lately — they will throw away all their principles, cast off even the illusion of morality, and vote for whatever racist, sexist pig screams the loudest and angriest about Muslims or the gays or the liberals or the transgenders or the Chinese or whatever other has caught their eye this week. It has become an ideology that serves only tribalism, without regard for any positive belief.

I agree with that diatribe. Religion is not a benefit to mankind in any way, and we’d be better off without it — or more fundamentally, we’d be better off without this tribal thinking that divides humanity into Us and Them. But I also think the show didn’t bring up two other important points (which is OK, if they threw in everything the podcast would be longer than my gym time).

One is that religion is often a master of Orwellian subterfuge. You can point out how often religious thinkers are endorsing hate, but the true believer will simply look a millimeter deep at the holy texts and tell you that they are all about love. I’ve seen no clearer example of this than a recent declaration by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. It’s all about love and understanding and forgiveness, don’t you know.

At the outset they make their position crystal clear.

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).

No gay marriage — it’s unnatural. There are only two genders, male and female, and you will accommodate yourself to the one God gave you. That, bluntly, is what this document is about: a gang of old celibates are here to inform you of the truth about sex and gender and identity, and in the name of love will tell you who you get to love.

But they’re going to surround their authoritarian perspective with a good amount of fluffy padding. The only difference between Westboro Baptist and the Catholic Church is the amount of pretense they package around their hate.

A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.

Sensitivity and truth, patience and love…we know members of our communities are struggling with the complexities of identity and desire, and we’re going to listen attentively to you before we crush your concerns with brutal simplifications. And then we’re going to go all But the children! on you. You transgender men and women are hurting the children and destroying our society, but we love you anyway, if you’ll conform.

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

Religious leaders who claim their adherence to the scientific fact of human biology while dispensing fact-free ideological recommendations to medical institutions are disingenuous hypocrites. Fuck off, you frauds.

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

Read that paragraph again. Who is facing ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation? It’s not the frequently bullied transgender boys and girls, or the young people who are asexual or bisexual or androgynous or queer. These old assholes fear that acceptance of people’s identities will lead to them being ridiculed for trying to enforce a false binary. They are the victims, in their heads. How troubling!

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.

They desire health and happiness for all who accept the narrow dictates of the Church, who ignore the sexual identity expressed in their minds, and adopt one of two (and only two!) gender roles, the traditional masculine and feminine. And the genitals you were born with had better well align with those roles!

This is all counterfactual assertion and raw denial, with the intent of condemning and ostracizing the people who refuse to conform to their rules. It is a call to the tribal majority to reject the outsiders, the weirdos, those strange Others who do not accept their arbitrary rules, or their supernatural justification for them. But notice how they mask it all with the language of kindness and love. I’m sure the Inquisition also thought the thumbscrews were a loving way to bring heretics to the grace of God.

Hey, there’s a second point I wanted to make, but it’s one I’ve made before, and maybe I’ll let it rest with just a brief mention. If we’re going to rail against the hateful tribalism of religion, we should do likewise with atheism. There’s a significant component of the atheist movement that has sent it sliding off the rails: those atheists who equate reason and rationalism with hating Muslims, all Muslims, or with contempt for feminism. This represents a cheap appeal for popularity that is as vile as Catholic bishops spitting on gay marriage, and on transgender men and women — it’s an attempt to fuel the movement with hate. It might just work, as far as growth goes. But it also produces a framework for thinking that I don’t want to be a part of.

Can atheism, at least, be an idea that is willing to accept people for who they are, rather than trying to wedge them into ill-fitting pigeonholes?

Comments

  1. says

    I wonder what they make of intersex people?

    They’re not born with just the one set of genitals so how does the catholic church explain them?

  2. rpjohnston says

    My tribe is the one that hates Nazis, white supremacists, gay-bashers, hateful little troglodytes whose lives have no meaning beyond spewing “c***” and s***gering at us, and whatever other labels you could apply to THOSE PEOPLE, you know I’m talking about. I’d like my tribe be more strident in rejecting THOSE PEOPLE instead of agonizing how change their hearts and get them into their kumbaya drum circle.

    I’ll hate both Nazism and the Nazi, thank you very much, they’re the ones that started the war, I’m just saying we should fight back, you can’t “just get along” with cancer, metaphors yada yada, you get the idea. I don’t think tribal thinking can ever be completely erased, nor should it, because it allows us to identify the Bad Actors and remove them before they, oh I don’t know, take over society and set to murdering and enslaving everyone else. Something that rather abandoned for the kumbaya drum circles the past few decades.

    I mean it’s all relative, God doesn’t exist and the Universe doesn’t care what system of governance we have, the ones who care are all us. And I, for one, would like MY tribe to win, because I’m in it and everyone I care about is in it. So when people declare me and mine their mortal enemy, I’m quite comfortable treating them as such.

  3. rpjohnston says

    My tribe is the one that hates N***s, white supremacists, gay-bashers, hateful little troglodytes whose lives have no meaning beyond spewing “c***” and sniggering at us, and whatever other labels you could apply to THOSE PEOPLE, you know I’m talking about. I’d like my tribe be more strident in rejecting THOSE PEOPLE instead of agonizing how change their hearts and get them into their kumbaya drum circle.

    I’ll hate both N***sm and the N***, thank you very much, they’re the ones that started the war, I’m just saying we should fight back, you can’t “just get along” with cancer, metaphors yada yada, you get the idea. I don’t think tribal thinking can ever be completely erased, nor should it, because it allows us to identify the Bad Actors and remove them before they, oh I don’t know, take over society and set to murdering and enslaving everyone else. Something that rather abandoned for the kumbaya drum circles the past few decades.

    I mean it’s all relative, God doesn’t exist and the Universe doesn’t care what system of governance we have, the ones who care are all us. And I, for one, would like MY tribe to win, because I’m in it and everyone I care about is in it. So when people declare me and mine their mortal enemy, I’m quite comfortable treating them as such.

    Apologies to PZ if this gets stuck in filter a lot because I’m trying to figure out what word your thing is censoring.

  4. rpjohnston says

    (test. either something is getting stuck in the zealous censor, or I’m moderated, for some reason).

  5. rpjohnston says

    Ok, I don’t know what’s sticking in its craw so I’m just going to go ahead and censor every noun in the first paragraph.

    My tr*be is the one that hates N***s, wh**e sup**macists, g*y-bas*ers, hateful little trogl**ytes whose lives have no meaning beyond spewing “c***” and sn**gering at us, and whatever other l*bels you could apply to TH**E PE**LE, you know who I’m talking about. I’d like my tr**e be more str*dent in rej*cting TH**E PE**LE instead of agonizing how change their hearts and get them into their ku*baya d**m circle.

    I’ll hate both N***sm and the N***, thank you very much, they’re the ones that started the war, I’m just saying we should fight back, you can’t “just get along” with cancer, metaphors yada yada, you get the idea. I don’t think tribal thinking can ever be completely erased, nor should it, because it allows us to identify the Bad Actors and remove them before they, oh I don’t know, take over society and set to murdering and enslaving everyone else. Something that rather abandoned for the kumbaya drum circles the past few decades.

    I mean it’s all relative, God doesn’t exist and the Universe doesn’t care what system of governance we have, the ones who care are all us. And I, for one, would like MY tribe to win, because I’m in it and everyone I care about is in it. So when people declare me and mine their mortal enemy, I’m quite comfortable treating them as such.

    Apologies to PZ if this gets stuck in filter a lot because I’m trying to figure out what word your thing is censoring, and to others for cutting up my message.

  6. fernando says

    Catholics (and other christians) must be homophobic: just check their holy book.
    If a catholic (or other christian) is not homophobic, he is not following his holy book.

    Every good catholic ( or other christian) must suport: slavery, women inferiority, abusing children, raping, genocide and other atrocities; because their all-loving god seems to like that, and if you don’t do what the said god orders (not thinking and grovel before his altars are also mandatory), you will be sent to a very unpleasant place to be tortured forever.

    But have hope! If you are a True Chatolic/insert other christian denomination: you will openly hate gays, openly opress women, openly abuse children, openly suport the rape of that particular harlot “because she deserved what hapaned to her”, openly defend the death of all that “subhumans”, and you will be rewarded: you will pass eternity groveling at the feet of your all-loving god in his paradise, while enjoying the vision of the damneds being tortured forever.

  7. davidnangle says

    “What God has created is good.”

    I’d like to introduce these folks to that South American barbed fish that swims up pee holes.

  8. says

    We need to pay attention to all those pious republicans too, because too many of them think that a good percentage of the population exists merely as convenient ovens for creating labour forces, and that we should be forced to create the labourers of the future.

  9. chigau (違う) says

    …marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society.
    Which society is that?

  10. says

    The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

    Yeeeeaaaahhhhh. That’s not the most terrifying sentence there. But then it is an institution that’s never happy unless it’s imposing its will on the state, and we’ve seen how well that’s gone throughout history.

  11. Bruce says

    The Catholic Bishops say:
    The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

    Do the bishops say that it is a fact of biology that people get married and are not celibate all their life? Does the State need to suppress organizations that push mandatory celibacy, because such churches are unnatural and perversions, according to these bishops?

    It reads to me like a cry for help, in which the bishops admit their club is illogical, inconsistent internally, and causing self-harm to its own members.
    You know, they all could just resign at once from their club and put it out of business.

    When I read a statement that talks of “a fact of biology,” I expect it to point out the DNA relation between humans and single-cell life, and to note the obvious that all life on earth is related, thus all religious creation books are false. So I deduce the catholic bishops are trying to confess that no religion is true. OK, then.

  12. howardhershey says

    Aren’t priests supposed to be celibate asexual males? Yet they do seem to be bothered by hormones and those dangly things between their legs. Might I suggest that are surgeries that can make being celibate asexual males (being male is what they were at birth and always will be) much easier. There are even chemicals that can help if you don’t want surgery (sometimes given to rapists and pedophiles in return for lighter sentences).

  13. howardhershey says

    My post should be taken as sarcasm. It is the Catholic Church that requires assigning sex irrevocably at birth, not doctors who see intersexes at birth. And I would never recommend such surgery (nor chemical treatment) as a condition of priesthood, but it would solve some of the Church’s problems with priests who have zipper (do cassocks have zippers?) problems due to their “natural” endowments.

  14. Sili says

    If God created man “male *and* female”, it seems to me that the bishies are being rather heretical in insisting they be male *or* female.

  15. hookflash says

    I don’t think it’s fair to include Muslims as victims alongside gays, liberals, transgenders, etc. Muslims are just as hateful as Christians, and Islam is just as disgusting as Christianity. Both sides deserve “the diatribe.”

  16. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    hook flash,

    1. All Muslims? (And for that matter, all Christians?)
    2. You do realize that it’s possible to be both oppressed and oppressor, right? Sometimes simultaneously (context matters).
    3. Muslim people have the same rights as anyone, and one of those is the right not to be persecuted for your beliefs, however distasteful or vile they may be.
    4. Intersectionality. There are, for example, gay Muslims.

  17. Saad says

    hookflash, #21

    In the context of the discussion, it’s fair.

    Last week, they focused their fire on Ray Moore, and the topic of the diatribe was how Christianity has become, or perhaps always has been, a religion of hate. It has become a reliable motivator of evangelical Christians lately — they will throw away all their principles, cast off even the illusion of morality, and vote for whatever racist, sexist pig screams the loudest and angriest about Muslims or the gays or the liberals or the transgenders or the Chinese or whatever other has caught their eye this week.

    If anything, it would be wrong to focus equally on Muslims when talking about the damage religion is doing to America.

  18. hookflash says

    What a Maroon, living up to the ‘nym @ 22,

    1. Yes, all Muslims and all Christians promote a hateful ideology (either directly or indirectly).

    2. Yes, but being oppressed (as Muslims are in Christian-dominated societies, and Christians are in Muslim-dominated societies) doesn’t exonerate you as an oppressor.

    3. Agreed. I am not advocating persecution, I am advocating scorn towards Christians, Muslims, and any other hateful, misogynistic, homophobic, racist group. We need to stop viewing certain hate groups as “victims” just because they are oppressed by other hate groups.

    4. I’m sure there are some gay people in every hate group (there are many stark examples of homophobic Christian hate-mongers who turned out to be closeted homosexuals).

  19. hookflash says

    Saad @ 23,

    I was more taking issue with Muslims being placed alongside gays, liberals, transgenders, etc. as victims. The latter are not systematically promoting an ideology of hate.

  20. Saad says

    Muslims are a marginalized minority in America and evangelical Christians are among their oppressors. I’m not sure how you’re going to argue against that.

    And most American Muslims aren’t promoting an ideology of hate either.

    The latter are not systematically promoting an ideology of hate.

    There are gay Muslims, liberal Muslims, and transgender Muslims. You sound like you have a pretty strong bias against Muslims.

  21. hookflash says

    Saad @ 26,

    Christians are marginalized minorities in many predominantly Muslim countries. Does that stop us from acknowledging that Christianity per se is an ideology of hate?

    As to most American Muslims not promoting hate, I disagree. They are promoting hate, whether intentionally or not, in precisely the same way that Christians (even so-called “progressive” Christians) promote hate: By legitimizing an ideology that can be (and mostly is, and mostly has been) used to rationalize homophobia, racism, sexism, and every other modality of hate humanity has been able to dream up.

    And as to your last point: Again, the fact that a tiny fraction of a group consists of gays, liberals, transgenders, etc. doesn’t mean that group isn’t homophobic, anti-liberal, or transphobic. See the Republican Party, for example.

  22. Saad says

    hookflash, #27

    Christians are marginalized minorities in many predominantly Muslim countries. Does that stop us from acknowledging that Christianity per se is an ideology of hate?

    And how bizarre would it be for PZ to do a podcast about Roy Moore and the religious right in America and then segue into how some marginalized Christians in Pakistan also rationalize homophobia.

    As to most American Muslims not promoting hate, I disagree. They are promoting hate, whether intentionally or not, in precisely the same way that Christians (even so-called “progressive” Christians) promote hate: By legitimizing an ideology that can be (and mostly is, and mostly has been) used to rationalize homophobia, racism, sexism, and every other modality of hate humanity has been able to dream up.

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if the world were so simple. You think you’re being rational and objective here, but the group called “Muslims” or “Christians” is more diverse than atheists like to think.

    I wonder though when you’re going to turn focus on all the atheists that are disgustingly racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic.

  23. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    3rd’ing Saad.

    Also, in re: #1 adamcolley:

    They’re not born with just the one set of genitals

    Wow. Um. Maybe no one has addressed this because they’re just not equipped to deal with ignorance on this level, but …

    … yes. Intersex people have only one set of genitals. And, by-the-by, you probably shouldn’t use the existence or qualities (real or imagined) of intersex folks in your arguments unless and until you can do so without furthering nonsense, oppression, or both.

    It’s plenty easy to disprove huge numbers of Catholic beliefs without ever mentioning intersex folks, so you can still contribute positively in the meantime.

  24. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Also, hi to everyone (not just What a Maroon, Tabby & Saad, but really all you folks up thread as well). Haven’t been around much lately, but I might be in the near future, we’ll see.

  25. hookflash says

    Tabby @ 29 wrote: “Three times! The exact same bad wording three times! Are you just pasting it in at this point?”

    Yes, I was using the wording from the original post. Is that really what you’re going to choose to focus on?

  26. hookflash says

    Saad @ 30 wrote: “And how bizarre would it be for PZ to do a podcast about Roy Moore and the religious right in America and then segue into how some marginalized Christians in Pakistan also rationalize homophobia.”

    Ok, fair point. But, knowing what we know about Christianity as a whole and its potential as a weapon of hate, if someone were to paint those marginalized Pakistani Christians as blameless victims, alongside “gays, liberals, and transgenders”, wouldn’t that make you uncomfortable? Wouldn’t you be thinking, “One of these things is not like the others”?

  27. Tethys says

    Seriously? This pile of bigotry is the official decree of the same organization that has also sponsored a few thousand years of partiarchal abuse? I’m thinking the child rapists should shut-up forever, and study the early depictions of their god that was created male and female. Here is just one of the many statues that shows the ancient Greek concept of the perfect humangod.

  28. gijoel says

    Recently I’ve come to detest the ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ mentality of these bozos. It’s clearly an attempt to deflect criticism from their hateful beliefs.

  29. Saad says

    hookflash, #36

    if someone were to paint those marginalized Pakistani Christians as blameless victims, alongside “gays, liberals, and transgenders”, wouldn’t that make you uncomfortable?

    No, because when I look at a minority who is being systematically marginalized, I don’t judge them worthy of their rights based on whether they’re “blameless” or not. You are including this blameless requirement, not me.

    And why are you calling all “gays, liberals and transgenders” blameless? I thought you fee uncomfortable painting a group as marginalized if some of them have something to be blamed for.

  30. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Lofty @2:

    Christian “love” isn’t actual love, it’s terror and fear of rejection.

    When I was in middle and high school, there was a couple who had been ‘going steady’ since second grade. And she regularly came to school with black eyes, a fat lip, fingertip bruises on her arms and legs. And every time, she blamed herself — I didn’t answer the phone so he thought I was cheating on him; I said ‘hi’ to another guy — and rationalized the abuse as love. She viewed herself as such as horrible person, an unredeemable sinner, a nasty person, that no one else would ever love her. And his fists and words showed that he did love her and, more importatn, she worshipped him.

    Sort of like gods. You better love me or I will hurt you and make you burn in a lake of love forever. And I will abuse you to make you love me more (and for amusement).

    (No, the school did not intervene in any way. I guess they saw the relationship as normal.)

  31. says

    Hi, Crip Dyke!

    hookflash @35 – You are correct. I missed that PZ used it in his original post. That being said, he used it once and sarcastically. You repeatedly used those terms in trying to make a serious argument.

  32. hookflash says

    Saad @ 41 wrote: “And why are you calling all ‘gays, liberals and transgenders’ blameless?”

    Because they, as a group, are not systematically promoting an ideology of hate; in fact, they are more often than not the *targets* of hateful ideologies like Christianity and Islam. Think of it this way: If you were gay, how welcome do you think you’d be in a Church full of “marginalized Pakistani Christians”?

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