General Question

iamthemob's avatar

Is it possible for members of religions to claim that it is religious intolerance when they are called homophobic for subscribing to religious dogma that defines homosexuality as a sin?

Asked by iamthemob (17137points) January 23rd, 2011

Sort of inspired by this blog entry, which discusses the argument many religious people state that their assertions that homosexuality is wrong cannot be called homophobia because it is not motivated by fear or animus.

This is a major problem that has been generally insurmountable in discussions between certain faith-based groups and gay activists. Those on the religious end of the scale want, reasonably, their beliefs to be tolerated. However, regardless of the motivation for the message, the message is that being gay is somehow harmful.

It’s almost impossible for gay rights advocates to break through this barrier, as recognition of their relationships as worthy of the same rights and privileges as those relationships sanctioned by the religious dogma requires those committing to the dogma to, at least, stay out of the movement.

From an objective standpoint, remove the labels and there is one group that has government provided rights that the other does not. These rights are, at the same time, considered central and fundamental to everyone’s lives. Therefore, it seems necessary to admit that the group that has been denied the rights is in the better moral position in demanding that their argument be recognized.

Of course, once the labels are applied, we end up with the issue we have now.

Is it possible to claim that gay-rights claims of homophobia against anti-gay dogma is religious intolerance in a way that is genuine and workable? Is there a way to avoid accusations of homophobia against such anti-gay dogma and still effectively fight for civil rights in the gay community?

It seems to be a paradox. I’ve posted in “General” to avoid flame-ups and side discussions, if at all possible.

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67 Answers

BhacSsylan's avatar

I don’t really want to get into this too much (It’s late!), but to answer in a similar form to that article (a good read, by the way. thanks), there are many religious groups that now, thankfully, have been labelled as hateful/wrong/etc. This is not ‘religious intolerance’. Religions are free to believe whatever they want, but when it begins to infringe on human rights it’s supposed to shut it’s mouth, at least in our government. It doesn’t, of course, but it should.

And for examples, two easy ones would be the KKK and Westboro Baptist. Both are religious, and both are allowed to say and think what they like. Religious tolerance says we must allow them that much. But it does not ever say we must respect those views. And, of course “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. So any argument, based on religious views, should have no place in law. Civil rights are a law issue, not religious. Religious groups shouldn’t even be in the debate, in my opinion. They’re free to hate all they want, but law should in no way act on it.

Nullo's avatar

A few outliers aside, doctrine re: homosexuality as sin doesn’t get any nastier than excommunication, a sort of non-threat in this day and age – especially considering that most openly gay people aren’t terribly Christian in the first place.

Those special rights were put in place to encourage the establishment and growth of families by making it easier for married couples to stay together and have kids, thereby boosting the population and strengthening the workforce, thereby adding oomph to the economy.

koanhead's avatar

Any argument can be made to work if the interlocutor has enough forensic skill. That doesn’t make it right or worthwhile.
As far as I know no religion’s “holy” text prohibits homosexuality in an unambiguous way. The famous passages in Leviticus and in the Koran have been explained as prohibitions against other things such as rape or paedophilia; and such passages also contain other prohibitions which are generally ignored by the same folk which use the passages in question to justify their anti-homosexual stance.

Also, I don’t feel the need to be fair to such folks. If a tenet of your belief system requires you to persecute others, then you are not being fair to those others, and in my opinion that forfeits your right to be treated fairly by me.

iamthemob's avatar

@Nullo – It’s dishonest to refer to any retribution solely within the religious community. We’re not just talking about Christians here.

The religious doctrine is incorporated into significant parts of essentially all “traditional family” arguments regarding gay marriage, political movement against protecting gays against discrimination under statute, and many other rights-based movements in the gay communities. So the “harm” extends outside the religious in-group.

Further, there are many, many different views of Christianity. I would say that considering the basic tenants of Christ’s teachings, it’s in fact much less Christian to deny Christ’s love to someone because they are openly gay than it is to attempt to reconcile an openly gay lifestyle with the basic principles of the Bible.

jerv's avatar

Considering that we use lots of words imprecisely in other areas of our daily lives, I feel that those who argue that their intolerance of homosexuality is not homophobia are trying to avoid the issue by turning it into a semantic non sequitor.

Regardless, there is also the element of the pot calling the kettle black. If it is okay for them to persecute homosexuals and try to deny them rights then why is it not okay for them to receive the same treatment for equally arbitrary reasons? Anybody who says, “Because God says so!” will be force-fed ten gallons of STFU! You have been warned…

There is no practical way of avoiding accusations of homophobia unless we want to go 1984 and enforce Newspeak and there is no way of getting the anti-gay crowd to behave as they are often too dogmatic for any sort of compromise or tolerance, so we pretty much have to find a way of accepting the current conflict as-is.

iamthemob's avatar

@jerv – I agree with the pot/kettle argument. However, my concern is whether this impasse is something that makes any bridge-building between the communities impossible.

For instance, I can tolerate a belief that homosexuality is a sin. I get that – it’s easily folded into the idea that sexuality is a sin. Therefore, I would consider it intolerant on a personal level, and disrespectful of the person’s religious freedom, to attempt to throw accusations of homophobia at them.

Of course, the problem is never on the personal level – it’s in the area of political discourse.

jerv's avatar

@iamthemob My take on it is that those that can be reasoned with will likely grumble and grudgingly grant gay people rights even if they don’t like it whereas those like Westboro Baptist will find a way to have a problem as long as homosexuals are not hunted down and exterminated.

The former group will build bridges in the interest of keeping our nation free and leaving the judging to God whereas the latter group will destroy any bridges built by anybody given the chance.

koanhead's avatar

I don’t think that the Westboro Baptist Church has anything useful to contribute to the conversation between religious folk and gay folk. They and their ilk may receive a lot of press, but their numbers are small and they are stupid.
The majority of religious organizations contain may homophobes, but they relatively few endorse homophobia as an institution. Those members of such organizations who firmly and honestly believe that homosexuality is an abomination before their God are not likely to respond to any argument, and will promulgate any argument that supports their position regardless of internal logic or applicability to the real world. In short, there is no reasoning with such people.
I don’t like to be callous, and I try to be fair in my dealings with others- but it takes more than one party to make a fair deal, and some people just won’t budge. Therefore I reject them and their position. I do not separate the two, just as they cast out and shun the homosexual “sinners” in their own lives even though they claim to “hate the sin but love the sinner”.

Kraigmo's avatar

Religious people who think homosexuality is a sin tend to be homophobic because not only do they have these personal beliefs, but they want the government to back them up on such beliefs. Ironically, they seem to lack faith in God, when they have such a desperate need for government backing.

I realize one can turn this all around and say gays have a desperate need for government backing, as a group, too.

Well, this is a group of people that traditionally have not had the same rights as us hetero people. They just want certain legal rights such as the benefits of getting married, and the ease of immediate hospital visitation and so-forth. Some conservative conspiracy theorists think gays are infiltrating schools and trying to lure new generations into that so-called lifestyle… but that’s just wacky to believe that.

The application of the word “homophobic” is a matter of interpretation and opinion.

But I would not apply it to spiritual Christians who have their beliefs about sex and marriage and sodomy… but who do not force their beliefs into law by voting for Proposition 8 type laws and voting for authoritarian Republican extremists.

If a Christian needs to follow the text of the Bible, they can do so, without swimming in the cesspool of laws, voting, and legislation.

iamthemob's avatar

@koanhead – The concern, however, is not so much with those that won’t budge, but those that find legislation “intruding” on their beliefs that is about gay rights as offensive and therefore campaign against it.

This doesn’t require any real significant indoctrination other than a general disdain for “that kind of thing.” And that, I would argue, is very prevelant. And it is that attitude that people go out and vote with and leeks from the personal into the public…far more dangerous than the obviously hateful.

@Kraigmo – I agree that many want the government to back them up. That’s why it’s all so tricky….

jaytkay's avatar

Tolerance is allowing others to have rights.
Tolerance is not allowing the restriction of others’ rights.

Nullo's avatar

@iamthemob I am answering the text of your question, which specifically refers to the religious community.
There may be a number of different views about what the Bible teaches, but actual, functional Christianity is not so broad – it can’t be, for the same reason that not all religions can be true. Think of wrecks in a junkyard: can you really call the one that’s been gutted for parts, that’s missing most of its engine, all of the seats, and lacks a rear axle, a car?

The basic tenants of Christ’s teachings are love, forgiveness, and repentance, not that we ought to embrace sin. And it is made abundantly clear in Scripture what God thinks of homosexuality. Excommunication is for the unrepentant, as a quarantine measure and educational opportunity for the above.

@jerv I take issue with the term ‘homophobia’ because it suggests that, rather than being the product of reason and principle, intolerance is rooted in a psychological disorder. Thus those so labeled, and all of their perfectly valid reasons, may be marginalized and ignored, in essence excluding them from the processes that are shaping the future – their future.

I do not hope for compromise – that would cause the Church to become less than it presently is.

Mikewlf337's avatar

The Bible tells us that homosexuality is an abomination. They shouldn’t have to be labeled as intolerant or homophobic because disapproval doesn’t always mean hatred and that they are entitled to their opinion. That said I personally don’t really give a crap who screws who.

Fyrius's avatar

I like your no-labels thought experiment.
But looking at it that way, ignoring the details in favour of the basic situation, we have one group that opposes another group, and the other group opposes the first groups’ opposition to them.
Or, putting the labels back on: the gay people’s intolerance doesn’t oppose the religious per se (even if plenty of them undoubtedly do by now), it opposes the religious’ opposition against gay people. Whereas the religious oppose the gay people themselves.
Clearly, then, the gay people’s intolerance of religion is on a different level than the religious’ intolerance of gay people.

As a side note, I think whether homophobes are actually scared of gay people is a matter of semantics. You know that’s not what they mean.
You’re a homophobe if you’re mean to the gay people just for being gay.
In the same way that you’re racist if you’re mean to people because of their race, even if you don’t actually believe in the racist social philosophy.

Oh, please.
It’s also made abundantly clear in scripture that “God” disapproves of sea food other than fish, and of clothes made of more than one fabric, and of tying your shoelaces on a Sunday. Oh, and slavery and spouse abuse are all dandy and fine.
This is the twenty-first century. And you’re still dragging around a bronze age code of conduct for reference on what to do?
Even the Christians at large have more sense than that.

kess's avatar

The one who is insecure in his identity will always have a strong desire to defend it…....

This is true for both the homosexual and his antagonist.
Also the same for the religious and his antagonist.

Those whose identity is secure will,declare truth to be true and Lie to be false.

That one is now beyond the arguments of either side on because he sees the benefits of both.

absalom's avatar


I take issue with the term ‘homophobia’ because it suggests that, rather than being the product of reason and principle, intolerance is rooted in a psychological disorder. Thus those so labeled, and all of their perfectly valid reasons, may be marginalized and ignored, in essence excluding them from the processes that are shaping the future – their future.

You lost me at ‘reason and principle’ and again at ‘perfectly valid reasons’.

The word homophobia is probably thrown around too frequently, you’re right. But do not pretend that whatever unlabeled animosity or suspicion or distaste you harbor toward homosexuals is justifiable by reason, because it’s not. Regardless of what you want to call this belief you’re clinging to – ‘Christian tenant’ [sic] or ‘homophobia’ or (knock yourself out) ‘principle’ – the fact remains that its expression results in the oppression of a particular group of people.

And, yikes, what’s with the victimization complex? You are not being marginalized; one of your beliefs – one that should be so minor as to not even figure into your Christian identity – is being marginalized, rightly, because it is ridiculous and anachronistic.

poisonedantidote's avatar

“their assertions that homosexuality is wrong cannot be called homophobia because it is not motivated by fear”

So they are obviously not scared of going to hell for having sex with another man then?

This is an interesting question, but I have only just woken up. Maybe I’ll come back and contribute to this question some more once I wake up. For now, suffice it to say It sounds like an excuse. A bit of a post rationalization.

lynfromnm's avatar

I think this is backwards. Rather than figuring out how to accommodate those who object to homosexuality on religious grounds, shouldn’t we concentrate on fair and equal application of all rights to all persons, regardless of sexual orientation (and sex, age, color, religion, etc.) The religions which proclaim homosexuality to be harmful are already protected – no one is forcing them to be homosexual or enter into homosexual relationships.

I submit that these religions are already tolerated, and indeed, are forcing the rest of society to abide by THEIR dogma. That’s backward.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Jeeze! Here again, christians lose out when they don’t take the most loving approach. Yes, the Bible teaches ( primarily in the Old Testament ), that homosexuality is wrong. Ok. It’s wrong. Now go and be kind to those who you feel are doing wrong, but without judging the person! It’s just that simple!

bkcunningham's avatar

@iamthemob who wrote the blog? I mean she is a lesbian clergy in a Christian church, right?

jerv's avatar

@Nullo Phobias are often defined as irrational fears, and last I checked, irrational things needed no reason our logic. And hey, there is that “fear” word again. Also, hatred often grows from fear.
If the shoe fits…

@CaptainHarley That is too reasonable for some people.

JLeslie's avatar

I have not read the above answers.

This subject got me in all kinds of shit trouble with a family member. I have always been pro gay rights. I have had gay friends since I was a teen (probably before, but I just did not know it) being gay has never been a thing to ponder much for me. Some people are gay, some people are straight, so what? But, I have said in the past that people who are against gay marriage, are not necessarily homophobic, and I was slammed for it, and it was one of the nails in a coffin of a very important family relationship in my life. Every bit of undertanding I have for gay people was for some reason tossed out the window when I said that. Even though I say it, and then follow it with: I think those people are narrow, ignorant, asking for separation of church and state to be ignored, and many other problems I see with their thinking. But this particular bisexual person has so much fucking anger, she got blind and deaf when I was having this conversation with her.

Sorry for the rant, but it really annoys me. I have no problem with listening to the point of view that it is homophobic, and I understand why it feels that way.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Perhaps so, but that is sad beyond comprehension. : (


Some people are so sensitized to a particular issue that they become irrational when confronted with what they see as resistance. It’s a pity, since I believe that many more people would support gay rights if some gays weren’t so militant about it!

LostInParadise's avatar

It is interesting how people pick and choose what they want from the Bible. The Bible also says that adulterers should be killed Fortunately, even fundamentalists ignore this. When you cobble together your beliefs from bits and pieces of your holy book, the responsibility for what is chosen falls on the chooser and not the religion.

absalom's avatar


I’d planned on writing a longer response, but in retrospect it’s not necessary. Instead I’m just going to respond to a couple things.

Every bit of undertanding I have for gay people was for some reason tossed out the window…

At that point it probably became apparent that you have little understanding for gay people. Which is fine. I don’t expect you to understand why gay marriage means, in my mind, equality. But more importantly: I don’t care, at this point, whether or not you understand. I neither need nor ask for the understanding of straight people, and understanding anyway is simply not enough. Saying, ‘But I understand you!’ is simply not enough.

I have always been pro gay rights. I have had gay friends since I was a teen (probably before, but I just did not know it) being gay has never been a thing to ponder much for me. Some people are gay, some people are straight, so what?

This is fantastic. Really. But I and other gay people know that equality does not exist on a continuum. Either there is equality or there is inequality and there can be nothing in between. And because most of us see marriage as one of the essential rights for said equality, it can be quite baffling – and frustrating – to encounter someone who claims to support gay rights without also supporting gay marriage.

I’m glad you’re socially conscious, or whatever, and I’m glad you’re ‘progressive’ (I am also doing scare quotes with my fingers here), and I’m glad you’re kind to gay people and want to be understanding and all that wonderful beautiful stuff. I’m terribly, terribly glad you don’t care about my private life.

But I don’t care about yours, either. I frankly don’t care whether you’re ignorant or, instead, intelligent enough to assess someone’s character beyond his or her sexuality. If you’re a homophobe, I don’t care. If you go to bed every night and pray for a gay plague, I don’t care. If you are a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, I don’t care. I don’t care if you hate me for my sexuality and, conversely, I don’t really care if you ‘support’ or ‘understand’ or ‘get’ or ‘are okay with’ my sexuality. Nor am I impressed if you’re able to realize that my sexuality is unimportant. These are not accomplishments and should not be stated as such. They don’t justify anything or give you a reprieve if, despite any and all professed comprehension, you still don’t support my right to marry somebody I care about.

I kind of just want to keep typing these things over and over in different ways; I cannot stress enough how little I care about your ‘every bit of understanding’, and I imagine your bisexual friend felt exactly the same way. All your words of support and encouragement and all your understanding and all your gay friends and all your experiences with gay people – all that adds up to literally 0 if you don’t also share our desire for equality.


I know you weren’t expressing your own sentiment; but that is probably the absolute worst and most cowardly reason to refuse to support gay rights. It’s not even logical. I cannot respect anyone, whether in intellectual or empathetic terms, who withholds his support for these civil rights because he doesn’t like the way they’re being asked for. Give me a break.

CaptainHarley's avatar


We both know they’re out there!

JLeslie's avatar

@absalom I have always been 100% in favor of gay marriage. It is a civil rights issue to me, an equality issue. I don’t see how the government can say a civil contract, which is basically what civil marriage is, can be only between two people of a certain gender, that is ludicrous to me. I am disgusted that black people around me are against it, considering the discrimination in their history, but too many of them are caught up in the religious bullshit. I am going to go ahead and assume you have not seen my many many many answers in support of gay rights previously.

HomoPHOBIA to me means people who fear gay people. I equate it to racism. Some people out their are just stupid and ignorant, and not necessarily hateful. Their opinion is wrong in my opinion, but it does not mean they purposefully are trying to hurt the other person, they just don’t get it. It does hurt the other person, in this case gay people.

iamthemob's avatar

@absalom@JLeslie is writing a response now – I’m stepping in quickly to say that your response seems to misunderstand her. She was attacked because she said she didn’t think that those against gay marriage weren’t necessarily homophobic. That’s part of the issue this question is meant to discuss – how can we get the discourse to a point where we’re all listening. Being against gay marriage is wrong, I think…but homophobia needs to be limited as a label as well to those firmly entrenched in intolerance. What @JLeslie went through seems… well, she just answered…I’ll just say now that it seems you’ve misinterpreted her.

absalom's avatar

Oops. In that case I apologize. I don’t know how I misread your post so severely, @JLeslie.

Disregard all that stuff.

JLeslie's avatar

@absalom Don’t worry about. The other person I am talking about has no excuse, she has known me 40 years.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of course it’s possible and has been done. But I don’t have to consider it a good enough argument in favor of hurtful comments. If a person wants to let their religion shape their opinions on any queer person without thinking for themselves, let it be. I don’t have to respect it.

iamthemob's avatar


It’s an imperfect term…but it’s the one we have. But I think that it has to encompass something more than fear and hatred, and that’s why I asked this question.

I think that it’s best to consider whether a belief is objectively harm-producing. We talk about the belief or idea, and anyone can have a bad one…it doesn’t make the person bad themselves. So perhaps it’s best to never use “homophobic” in reference to a person unless it’s really, really true.

What do you think of this: Homophobic beliefs are those which encourage deprivileged treatment of the LGBT community in a social, political and legal manner that is different from the heterosexual community based solely on the fact that they are LGBT, or privileged treatment of the straight community over the LGBT one.

A homophobic belief can later prove to be valid as generally applied, or the policy may be valid as well, but the burden is on the person holding it to show objectively that it is. There’s an analogy to sex/gender as a class coming under intermediate constitutional scrutiny…it is a sexist idea that men are stronger than women. It is a sexist policy that women cannot be fire fighters. But it is also valid that men are generally physically stronger than women – so is the policy valid. No, because the characteristic that is important is strength, not gender. So, we change the policy to say that “x” amount is what a firefighter needs to be able to lift. If “x” amount is accurate, and more women than men are eliminated, it has a gender-biased effect, but not a sexist one. If “x” amount is higher than necessary so that, although neutral on it’s face, the effect is sexist, then we still need to change the policy.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Indeed – that’s the dividing line between “tolerance” and “respect.”

I’ll tolerate ideas that have no negative effect on me that I think are completely bonkers – therefore, I have no respect for the idea. Refraining from criticizing it and just letting it be as much as possible is respecting the person, not the idea.

liminal's avatar

I prefer the phrase heterosexism or heterosexist: Basically it means a person who believes a heteronormative is the superior or “right” way for people to be and relate. It doesn’t accuse anybody of being homophobic but it doesn’t preclude the possibility either.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob Why do you still need to change the policy if there is a need to lift say a certain amount of weight in that job? If women wind up at a disadvantage, I accept that, assuming the requirement is justified, and not put in to eliminate women specifically.

I almost wish there was a new word, rather than trying to clarify the definition of homophobic. Like how global warming is being thrown out, and we are now using climate change.

What you did clarify for me is when I was talking to my family member was we had different definitions in our head of the word. I appreciate what you wrote. She still should know better, because when we are not stuck on the word, but what I support, and how I feel, which she should know, I think it is obvious I don’t think gay people should be treated any differently than straight people.

liminal's avatar

@JLeslie I offer you a new word ^^^^.

iamthemob's avatar

@liminal – You know, I think you’re right. The main issues are, divorced from the parties, heterosexist and not homophobic. They often are both, but it’s probably best to address them as heterosexist until proven otherwise. Thank you.

crisw's avatar


“I believe that many more people would support gay rights if some gays weren’t so militant about it!”

It’s interesting how some people are called “militant” for simply demanding the rights that others take for granted.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Which is one of the main reasons I adhere to the core beliefs, all of which in involve love. The very first question anyone ( especially those who call themselves christians ) should ask is” What is the most loving thing I can do in these circumstances?”


[ See above ]

JLeslie's avatar

@CaptainHarley I don’t think it is being militant that is the problem. I do find it frustrating when gay people go on the brutal defense; obviously. But, I think the people against gay marriage for religious reasons don’t care about logic, or rational arguments, so it is like hitting your head against a wall. Frustrating.

crisw's avatar

As for the question at hand:

I don’t think the label matters. Whether we call the behavior of religious fundamentalists “homophobic” or “heterosexist” or some other label obscures the true points- which is whether such behavior is either justifiable or logical, and whether it harms people.

I think that the answer is clear- this behavior is immensely harmful, and entirely lacks logical justification. Furthermore, the fundamentalist community blows the issue entirely out of proportion. As others have mentioned, shrimp and mixed fabrics don’t seem to cause the perseverance that homosexuality does. In addition, even in the direct sphere of the beliefs about homosexuality and its effects from fundamentalists, there is an extreme imbalance. They claim that gay marriage “harms the family” by “depriving children of a mother and a father” and they spend enormous amounts of time and money stopping marriage equality while paying much less attention to things that are much, much more of a real threat to children and families.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I understand. Actually, I have no problem with anyone being militant about their rights… up to a point, although I’m not sure where that point is ( I know it when I see it ). I suspect it has something to do with the limits of good taste.


I don’t fundamentally disagree with anything in your last post above.

iamthemob's avatar

@JLeslie – I think that “being militant” and “going on the brutal defense” are kind of the same thing in the end.

The problem is that in civil rights movements, the militant segment is often a necessary evil. You’ll find it in every single one. I think it’s important to internally and externally try to negotiate and find ways to bring aggressive elements into a more inclusive discussion – but that negotiation is an important element, as it shows how much anger there is. Therefore, it’s short-term harmful as a tactic, but may very well be essential in the long term.

But, as we see from @CaptainHarley‘s reaction, we have to realize that getting militant can lose allies in the early stages of civil rights movements. To what extent they are “necessary losses” is something we have to be careful to always consider.


I disagree about the importance of the labels, in this context, as it’s kind of what the OP is about. So I guess that’s expected. ;-)

The importance of using the right terms for me is about initiating dialogue instead of triggering debate. There are some people whose beliefs you will not change. They will not change yours. If it’s a debate situation, that’s just endless. If it’s a more dialectical approach, we possibly can get to a policy stalemate. It’s like the Cold War – neither side moves policy forward after a certain point for fear of mutually assured destruction.

So we can’t really get to the God Hates Shrimp discussion if we’re putting one side or the other on the defensive. It’s why I think @liminal‘s post is profoundly valuable. Calling someone “homophobic” is often the beginning of a long and unproductive talk. A focus on heterosexist aspects actually illuminates the issue – it removes the whole “gays asking for special rights/new rights” and moves the discussion potentially too “see how these policies favor you over me…why is that justifiable?”

lillycoyote's avatar

I admit that I have not read the previous comments on this thread, I should but I haven’t, I am late to the game and am going to dive in anyway.

I try to tolerate people’s deeply held religious views and beliefs regarding homosexuality. They are entitled to those views. Where I draw a very solid line is when it comes to advocacy and lobbying public policy. You think homosexuality is wrong because your religions teaches that it is? Fine, you can believe that and I accept that you believe that, I don’t have a problem with that. But you start advocating and lobbying to deny complete and equal freedom, access and opportunity to homosexuals? No, sorry. That is not a matter of tolerance that is you trying to legislate and form public policy regarding homosexuality based on specific religious doctrine and I won’t tolerate that. Tolerating a viewpoint and belief system and tolerating the efforts of people to have that doctrine and belief system codified into law are two different things.

iamthemob's avatar

@lillycoyote – Perfect and succinct.

lillycoyote's avatar

@iamthemob No, maybe not quite perfect. I should have made the last sentence, to be very, very clear read:

“Tolerating a religious viewpoint and belief system and tolerating the efforts of people to have that religious doctrine and belief system codified into law are two different things.”

Because there will be the inevitable argument, if it has not been made already, and as I said I have not read the previous comments that “Well, isn’t the pro-homosexuality lobby trying to impose its beliefs on us?” And no, it is not the same thing.

lynfromnm's avatar

It’s a critical distinction to make, @iamthemob. The missing element in the argument you just cited (...“isn’t the pro-homosexuality lobby trying to impose its beliefs on us?”) is that we all start with the same rights – rights aren’t granted by government, they are a birthright. For a person to claim his personal rights is not “imposition”. Any attempt to restrict those personal rights is the “imposition”.

iamthemob's avatar

@lynfromnm – I think that may have been meant for @lillycoyote. But I personally think of this more about one group being afforded special rights that others are arbitrarily not provided. I don’t think the focus should be on the Christians or religious organizations at all…I think that it should be on the government. They need to justify why they are able to discriminate.

lynfromnm's avatar

I was applauding your statement, @iamthemob – I meant that people making the argument that the pro-homosexual lobby is imposing on others are missing that crucial piece of understanding about rights being inherent. Sorry if I was confusing. Absolutely the government needs to justify any restriction that is imposed on a group.

iamthemob's avatar

@lynfromnm – I got that (just wasn’t sure if it was to me or to @lillycoyote – but thanks then! ;-))

I do agree that precedent has stated that marriage is a fundamental right under the constitution – but I waiver on claiming that it’s a right deprived as in theory I can get all the important social recognitions from those around me. On a Federal level, I think that DOMA is utterly inappropriate – it’s a sweeping family law legislation, completely outside federal competence (marriage law is inherently state-based). I really do think that it should be left to the states as a decision – and then, at that point, if the governments of the states are to deny the state benefits and recognition, they have to justify it.

I really don’t even care if they don’t want to call it marriage and have it be separate, as long as it gets fed benefits too. I don’t want to be married, in all honesty, if it means even a bit of what they think it means.

lillycoyote's avatar

@iamthemob and @lynfromnm I should have left well enough alone, left “perfect and succinct” alone. I guess I was trying to do a preemptive strike against an argument that might be made against my comment and I seem to have only muddied the waters.

iamthemob's avatar

@lillycoyote – eh, the waters are a little muddy. But only in terms of figuring out how to make them understand what the pro-gay marriage movement is about.

lynfromnm's avatar

Not at all muddy, @lillycoyote, quite brilliant.

Jenniehowell's avatar

I didn’t read all of the comments either but would agree with the statement by (i think) @lillycoyote regarding:
“Tolerating a religious viewpoint and belief system and tolerating the efforts of people to have that religious doctrine and belief system codified into law are two different things.”

Religious intolerance has nothing to do with not tolerating any thing that would perpetuate inequality on a legal level global, federal, state or otherwise. Personally, I don’t feel as if I’m being intolerant of religious people anyway, considering that a huge majority of the people claiming particular religions, in my experience/observations, tend to take the scriptures they reference both out of context and also out of the true definitions per the original text/language.

I make that point because I believe by not tolerating/speaking against religious zealots/fanatics etc. who are unable to decipher the fact that the Old Testament is no longer applicable as law after Jesus/The New Testament came along isn’t religious intolerance it is intolerance of ignorance or denial rather than intolerance of religion/truly religious people.

To be intolerant/speak against those, for instance, who take the verbiage of the New Testament out of context by cherry picking verses rather than reading and referencing the entire story, or who choose to believe the translation they have rather than take a bit of time to actually study the bible by researching a bit about the original languages/history that any particular portion may have been written in, isn’t religious intolerance, in my opinion, as much as it is intolerance of both ignorance and pseudo-religion/faith.

I would argue to some extent that if you are claiming a particular religion and unable to abide by the tenets or be changed by the faith as it is written in the scripture of that particular religion, then you are not REALLY of that religion as much as you are simply going through some sort of toxic mimic of what you perceive to be fitting of that religion based on those around you and/or a bit of peer pressure. How can I be religiously intolerant of someone who isn’t even abiding by a religion.

I could claim to be a surgeon because I went to medical school for some time and have a bunch of doctor friends that I hang out with, but in the end that does not make it so & if someone were intolerant of my views on surgical procedures it wouldn’t be intolerance of surgeons as much as it was intolerance of charlatans committing a toxic mimic of a surgeon right? That is my view of many of those who claim to be against homosexuality based on religious views because many of their arguments and references don’t hold water when they are broken down into language, history and context – therefore they are not of that religion, for how can you be of a religion if you do not know truly know it’s views and have not “studied to show yourself approved” so to speak?

I’m not intolerant of religion or religious people but I’m intolerant of charlatans, the pseudo-religious, false prophets, hypocrites (though I frequently have my own moments of hypocrisy), ignorance, inequality and hate. I think there is a clear line and that those who claim others are just perpetrating religious intolerance are often times attempting to simply turn the spotlight away from their ignorance with tricky words due to the discomfort of ignorance. I will always call those above categories of people or behaviors on the carpet and would expect no less of anyone else with regard to me as I am learning and struggling with my own hypocrisies every day and feel that the best way to learn is to be shown the truth whether it be about a topic or oneself.

lillycoyote's avatar

@lynfromnm and @iamthemob I still haven’t read the posts on this thread but I did read The Rev. Chellew-Hodge’s argument and I understand and agree with it to a great extent. I’m not saying she’s wrong but there are many ways to fight the good fight, and not only the room for, but the necessity for a number of styles and approaches to changing people’s hearts and minds. I myself fall into the gentle but unwavering persuader category. I talk to people, I try to get them to see where there might be places where I can get a leg in, places in there thinking where I can nudge them, where I maybe I can even, maybe find a place to insert a small to medium size chisel in their thinking, in their worldview, but this approach and it has a lot of value in my mind requires that people be willing to listen to what you have to say and I take a very practical, utilitarian and down to earth bottom line approach whenever I go about the arrogant business of trying to change people’s hearts minds and that is that people, for some reason, Jeez! What could it be are simply not willing to listen to what you have to say with as open a mind as they capable of after you’ve essentially just called them an ignorant, bible-thumping homophobe. I don’t like labels To begin with, they are a substitute for many things and I simply find much this name calling and labelling counter productive. There is a goal to all this and if something gets in the way of that goal, or if it get in the way of how I, being who I am, can help achieve that goal; I will not stand on principle if it doesn’t get anybody anywhere.

lillycoyote's avatar

I wrote the above comment on my iPad and that’s not as easy as Steve Jobs would have you believe; but if you try to make sense of it, it really does make sense, at least I think it does.

Buttonstc's avatar


They do have external keyboards for ipad now, did you know?

They didn’t when they first came out. But some enterprising entrepeneurs saw a need and filled it.

I do all my writing on the iPhone without any external keyboard. Hand and wrist cramps galore.

Consider yourself lucky :)

lynfromnm's avatar

@lillycoyote I appreciate your IPad efforts.
Challenging people when then generalize is my usual method but I cannot say that it is any more effective than your “gentle persuader”! I have found that I must, in order to sleep well and face the person in the mirror, challenge bigoted statements. I used to try to ignore them (because people have the right to be bigoted), but I think that you slowly change the culture by making it known that bigoted remarks will not stand. My “theory” is that if bigoted attitudes are challenged in social settings and in the workplace, those issuing such statements will feel less confident about suggesting legislation based upon those ideas. Of course this is the “silence implies consent” reaction on my part. It’s important to live who I am too, and I am a person who is passionate about equal rights being inherent. So how do I live that? One way is by challenging threats to that value. Will I anger some people? Eh, probably. But I am glad that some gentle persuaders are having success with that method as well.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I am under the impression that some on here are still not understanding what I mean when I say that extreme militance can turn potential supporters off. It’s the difference between what Dr. King advocated in the way of nonviolence, and the LA riots after his death. It’s like the old saying that you can get more files with honey than you ever could with vinegar.

I was also talking about extremes of dress and behavior, particularly in the case of gay militancy. Most so-called “mainstream citizens” are truly repelled by things like this. And a great number of them aren’t repelled because the participants are homosexual, but because their dress and behavior are so extreme.

Is that a bit more clear?

iamthemob's avatar

@lynfromnm has described my position exactly. It’s important to note also that if they are not challenged wherever they make these statements, those who are silent and listening and not getting into the discussion or even intending to are at risk for believing that the ideas are okay, or people believe them, which could push them to the discriminatory side of the fence, a dangerous risk.

And @CaptainHarley gets at the delicate line. It’s why I asked about whether the charge of homophobia is productive. It will be in some cases, but the suggestion of “heterosexism” as the tool for the more day-to-day and civil interactions, where the idea is challenged rather than the person, is a really good one for dealing with the problem of alienating people further and deeper into these discriminatory beliefs.

CaptainHarley's avatar


What discriminatory beliefs?

iamthemob's avatar

@CaptainHarley – That being gay is wrong.

CaptainHarley's avatar


But… I don’t think it IS wrong, just a normal human sexual variant! [ perplexed look ]

iamthemob's avatar

I was referring to your talk about the militant way the conversation can go from some gay activists, and the fact that the rhetoric was damaging at times, @CaptainHarley. Not saying anything about what you think is right or wrong – but those who disagree and talk about policies that end up discriminating against homosexuality have to be responded to, and your comment on militancy.

However, those that are very out, and very noticeable in dress, appearance, etc. are reacting against years and years of oppression. It’s natural that they celebrate who they are.

Jenniehowell's avatar

@CaptainHarley I can understand what you are talking about RE: “gay militancy” & “extreme dress & behaviour”. I am a lesbian & of course a firm supporter of equal rights for all & at the same time I am often annoyed when going out to eat & having to sit near loud & flamboyant people (gay or not) who seem determined for everyone to focus upon them as opposed to everyone simply experiencing a tolerable dining atmosphere. I am also annoyed at times when gay men refer to themselves as bitch or girl and talk as if they have a vagina when refering to their “parts”.

Those are my own reactions based upon being brought up in an environment where I was taught independence & equality & therefore regarding that topic I don’t feel the need psychologically to flaunt myself for any reason. But I must understand (as we all must) that unfortunately not all of us grew up with the privilege of understanding that we matter in the world & so whether due to psychology or maturity or both, people (of all types) often feel the need to flaunt themselves & get attention for themselves because all their lives they’ve been taught they literally don’t matter & the only way they know to get recognized is by acting out. (that’s what happens as a result of sub par parenting regardless the orientation of a person – we’ve all dealt with the annoying attention getters) it’s important to recognize that upon being treated as if they matter, are important, are recognized & are equal those same flamboyant people slowly grow into their new position in society & we no longer have that issue. Much of the “acting out” that results in extreme dress & behaviour is a direct result of a lifetime of inequality. If there were more people who literally treated homosexuals with respect & taking action toward affording them equality in our society then there would be less “extreme” behaviour coming from homosexuals. There would then be less reason for such “militance”.

Of course due to parents who lack the skills to grow balanced children we will always have issues with people in general acting out & usurping themselves upon us be it in the workplace, at the ballgame, in traffic or anywhere else. But of course we’re used to that & it to is solved by people being treated as if they matter rather than as if the only time they can get attention/what they want is when they act out.

Of course, I will also add that we in general must also understand that much of that behaviour is natural in some cases. I will never understand why some people have to dress to the nines when going to the grocery store & yet others wear their houseshoes. Are they both an extreme behaviour that results from inner insecurity or are they simply being themselves & doing what makes them happy? There is often a fine line between the two & when it comes down to it we must all recognize that freedom combined with equality cannot be conditional or it in fact becomes something other than freedom & equality. A person can’t say they support & care about equality & then restrict some from it due to judgements about what we don’t understand about their appearance or behaviour without becoming a hypocrite & liar. A failure to understand someone which results in annoyance & judgement about them in turn effecting our views toward them or tolerance/acceptance of them is a problem that lies within each of us rather than a problem with the individual we are uncomfortable with. That is basic projection when it comes down to it &it is definitely not the unconditional love that most of the dogmatic religions we’ve all referred to via this topic require. Interesting how that works. Our own baggage tends to turn the spotlight away from unconditional love & acceptance required by these religions & instead highlights our discomfort with our own psychological baggage in turn making it easier to recognize the same psychology in others & as a result we land in an area where ego is spotlighted & love lies in the shadows. Annoying/extreme/militant/flamboyant people are the ones who have the biggest capacity to give us the opportunity to learn not only about our own true selves but bigger than that to learn what true unconditional love/freedom/equality really are. Just my two cents.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

[…. which discusses the argument many religious people state that their assertions that homosexuality is wrong cannot be called homophobia because it is not motivated by fear or animus.
Homophobia is some nebulous term to say in code, if you are against gay sex and gay unions you are a homophobe, aka bigot. It is in essence no difference than gay people who feel inbreeding or relations between close relatives or even in relations where ideology trumps biology is wrong, not because it is factually wrong, or somehow proven to be wrong from a universal scientific stance, but because of emotions on the issue or personal or cultural perception.

However, regardless of the motivation for the message, the message is that being gay is somehow harmful.
I cannot speak on what saints believe in congregations where you live or areas I do not live in. However, that is not the universal belief. The saints I fellowship with do not believe homosexuality is more or less harmful as adultery and fornication in general; and it is quite evidence the havoc those have raised on the family unit. If anything it is a greater departure from the intent of the design God had for men and women, there is not even the opportunity for natural procreation from it. Other than harm to the family unit or to the person engage themselves, in the sense of purpose and community there is no direct harm to those not doing it.

It’s almost impossible for gay rights advocates to break through this barrier, as recognition of their relationships as worthy of the same rights and privileges as those relationships sanctioned by the religious dogma requires those committing to the dogma to, at least, stay out of the movement.
It would fit the same mold for gay rights advocates if a group supported incest or biology over ideology unions where biology determines when a female or male is mature enough to decide who and what sexual conduct they chose to engage in. Gays would not simply say (since they have no religion) those unions are no more debased than the one they choose to do. While they are saying Steve and John should be able to have the same relationship as Steve and Stella, they are disingenuous in the fact they will say Steve and Cindy is wrong because though Cindy is biologically able to be a mother, cultural ideology says she is not mature or responsible enough to decide what to do with her own body and sexuality, and they (gays) will come up with all sorts of ways to justify their belief in the way they think about it which has no backing in faith, just ideology. It is just as impossible, if not more so, to breech that barrier with the dogma gays would employ.

From an objective standpoint, remove the labels and there is one group that has government provided rights that the other does not.
When it comes to rights, people being emotional beings trying to act like logical ones, employ the salad bar or buffet style of rights. You say remove labels, if that were to be done in true essence then biology would determine when a woman was a woman, and any female reaching that biological landmark would be free to marry, fornicate, or whatever with whom she pleased and there would be no penalty against anyone, not her or her partner. But because we have labels and ideology in place of biology certain groups (at least in the US) have their sexual conduct controlled or curtailed, and if you do not adhere to them, a very negative label. Again, there is nothing faith backing for it, and nothing truly concrete for having it in place, but yet it is. Gays will argue left and right and down every alley that there is a difference, but strip away all of the BS, the issue is so close you cannot stick a playing card between them.

Is it possible to claim that gay-rights claims of homophobia against anti-gay dogma is religious intolerance in a way that is genuine and workable?
No, because one can take a sexual issue that gays will see the same way faith based people will see their sexual activity, only anyone applying such aversion to gays will leave gays with nothing but their opinion and likes with no higher mandate directing them.

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