Prop 8 Opponents Attack Religion

Yesterday saw some very sad developments in the case against “Proposition 8,” a public referendum that banned same-sex marriage in California. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Challengers of California’s ban on same-sex marriage tried to show Wednesday that religion has promoted discrimination against gays.

Lawyers trying to overturn Proposition 8 presented testimony of a gay man who said his evangelical parents forced him into Christian therapy to change his sexuality, and the legal team later produced documents that showed close ties between leaders of the Catholic and Mormon churches and the Proposition 8 campaign.

Plaintiffs also brought in witnesses to show how evangelical Christianity in particular leads to abuse of gay people:

Ryan Kendall, 26, who grew up in an evangelical Christian family in Colorado, said his parents forced him to undergo therapy with a Christian group to try to change his sexual orientation. The therapy made him suicidal but did not change his sexuality, he testified.

“I was just as gay as when I started,” Kendall testified.

Kendall, a Denver resident, testified tearfully about how his mother abused him after learning of his sexuality from reading his journal. He said he was the target of slurs and his glasses were smashed when he was a student at an evangelical school.

The plaintiffs also brought in Stanford professor Gary Segura to testify. Segura took aim at the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptists for holding religious views that encourage people to believe that gays and lesbians are “inferior” (source).

I am not sure why the plaintiffs would put Christianity on trial, but they have. I would think it to be a losing strategy. We’ll see. Read the rest here.

32 Responses to Prop 8 Opponents Attack Religion

  1. Matt January 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Let’s give Kendall the benefit of the doubt about his experience at evangelical school. If true, that stuff should never, ever happen. It is proof of course of our need for Christ as sinners, but it is also true that evangelicals, on a personal level, are lacking in grace to homosexuals.

  2. Ryan K. January 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    “but it is also true that evangelicals, on a personal level, are lacking in grace to homosexuals.”

    To broad of a brush your painting with there Matt. The majority of Evangelicals I know are are quite compassionate toward those who struggle with homosexuality. As you can see this is to anecdotal to be a solid assertion.

  3. Nathan January 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    I agree that Christianity should not be on trial whatsoever. People should be free to believe whatever they want.

    It’s right (and biblical) to call homosexuality a sin and not recognize homosexual relationships as a marriage, within one’s own private groups, BUT I think it wrong and un-American to hold back civil support from people just because they don’t live according to the Bible. A lot of unbiblical things are completely legal. Why does homosexuality receive special ire from the Christian community?

  4. David Vinzant January 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    The plaintiffs are attempting to establish that various elements in society have historically discriminated against homosexuals. They aren’t saying that churches don’t have a right to discriminate based on their religious teachings.

    What I find truly absurd is that any sane person would deny that homosexuals have been discriminated against by conservative Christian churches. Most Catholics and Southern Baptists (along with many others) think there is something wrong or bad about homosexuality. That is exactly what they’re trying to establish at this stage.

  5. Darius T January 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    “A lot of unbiblical things are completely legal.”

    Nathan, could you give some examples?

  6. Nathan January 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Keeping the Sabbath holy. (Like homosexuality, it is a creation principl as well as an OT and a NT concept. Also, it’s been practiced historically by people all across the globe.)

    Remarriage of divorced people. One can argue what the Bible really says about it, but that just shows that banning this or that on what the Bible says or doesn’t say is just a ban based on religious opinion.

    Adultery.

    Raunch.

    Lying.

    Coveting.

    Pride.

  7. Darius T January 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    So what exactly is being “banned” in this case, Nathan? Gays can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, same as straight people. Everyone has the same rights.

    As for your list, it’s pretty obvious why some of those aren’t illegal (though lying is in many cases)… because they’re sins of the heart. Last I checked, I don’t know the heart of another… guess you do?

  8. Darius T January 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Your understanding of what the Bible says is pretty scary, actually.

  9. Nathan January 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Really? How so? You are the first person in 40 years to tell me that my understanding of what the Bible says is scary. No one in conservative Bible college — No one when I taught at a conservative Christian school. No one when I was an AWANA leader. No one…

    Sure, friends, family, and I don’t agree on what the law should be regarding marriage, but we can’t agree on everything…

    Sins of the heart? All sin starts in the heart, right? All of the examples (accept for coveting and at some level pride) are not solely heart related. The other five are primarily things that can be made illegal. Why aren’t they? I see two reasons.
    1. The majority of Americans can see themselves actually doing those things, so they aren’t going to make hard rules that they themselves have to follow.
    2. The amount of harm they cause to the people that didn’t do the act is minimal, debatable, unknown, too indirect, etc.

    The reasons that I see that Christians are staunchly opposed (from a civil / legal standpoint) to everything queer and a lot things that they say are queer, but really aren’t:
    1. They don’t see themselves ever doing it or even being tempted by it, so it’s very easy to reject it
    2. They believe in trumped up harms that it causes.

    In my last post, I referred to the holding back of civil support, not banning.

    I think that remarried divorced people can call themselves married, but they can’t check the married-filing-jointly box on the IRS return. Too bad for them — they should know better and make biblical decisions.

  10. Jordan January 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Nathan, I am against allowing gay marriage because of what that would to to the children of gay parents. They would grow up with all the more belief that homosexuality is “normmal.” Do we want as Christians to tempt impressionable children into thinking that a sin is not a sin? Where we have the opportunity (as now) to define marriage as heterosexual, I believe we should do so for the sake of the children.

  11. Ryan K. January 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    @ Nathan

    We may all be covering the same territory here on gay marriage but I wonder why you constantly hammer the angle that Christians are attempting to impose their religion on others by prohibiting gay marriage, when this is clearly not the case.

    Truth be told the case against expanding marriage to include homosexual unions is quite stout without any appeal to religion.

    Governments originally got involved in certifying marriage because it has a vital, vested interest in procuring healthy, productive, future generations of citizens; not what kind of sexual relationships it would recognize.

    The state by sanctioning marriage between a man and a woman has historically done because all evidence tells us this is the absolute optimal environment for raising future generations. From a state perspective it was never an issue of sex, but of survival and thriving.

    We have already begun to see some of the effects of dismantling, and devaluing the state sanctioning of marriage in secular progressive nations in Europe.

    Though a Christian, I make no religious argument for maintaining the historical definition of marriage, when the case can be made by simply looking at how marriage has historically, throughout human history, been the best environment for the rearing of children and future generations. I am not saying that two men or woman can’t raise a child, they obviously can. Heck a child can be raised by an entire village. By social science is pretty conclusive that children receive the best upbringing when they have a stable home with both a mom and a dad.

    In addition, it seems quite foolish and arrogant to think now is the time, and our place for that matter, to change the meaning of the word marriage which has served human civilizations quite well up to this point.

    And though many may cry false slippery slope here, I find no valid reason to restrict polygamy or incest marriage if we are going to expand its meaning.

  12. russware January 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Challengers of California’s ban on same-sex marriage tried to show Wednesday that religion has promoted discrimination against gays.

    How is this even in question? Of course it has.

  13. Ryan K. January 21, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    Where is the discrimination Russ? Marriage has a specific meaning and by definition it does not apply to gay relationships. Therefore there is nothing they are being discriminated from.

    Its like saying that as a man, I am being discriminated from joining a sorority. Definitions matter. Claiming discrimination assumes the very point of the debate.

  14. russware January 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    I’m not sure I understand the usage ‘discriminated from.’ I am not familiar with that usage of the word.

    All I am saying is that religion in general certainly has promoted discrimination towards homosexuals.

    And in a sense, you are being discriminated against by being barred from the sorority. Not all discrimination is inappropriate. 🙂

  15. Ryan K. January 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Your first point duly noted. I will make a mental note to myself to abstain from making blog comments before rushing off to change a diaper!

    Your second point is that religion has at times promoted discrimination against gays, this is true. But not the point of this thread.

    And with your last point I have to disagree with.
    In order for you to be discriminated against there must be a right that your are entitled to and it is being withheld.

    I have no right to join a sorority because the definition of the word excludes me based on my gender. They are under no obligation to changed the definition of the word sorority to fit me because I claim I am being excluded.

  16. David Vinzant January 21, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Another Republican sees the light.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100121/ts_ynews/ynews_ts1066

  17. Nathan January 22, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    @ Ryan K

    ====================
    You said…
    States have a vital, vested interest in procuring healthy, productive, future generations of citizens

    I would add…
    States also have a vital, vested interest in creating an environment that creates healthy, productive citizens in general

    ====================
    You said…
    [It is not] an issue of sex, but of survival and thriving

    I would add…
    People in committed relationships that are supported by society thrive more than those that don’t have the luxury of that kind of relationship.

    ====================
    You said…
    Children have the best upbringing when they have a stable home with both a mom and a dad.

    I would add…
    Children have a better upbringing when they have a stable home with two parents than they do in a home that is unstable because society demeans that home, stigmatizes the parents, and withdraws a multitude of benefits that help create and support a stable home

    ====================

    You probably know by now where I’m going with this —

    All your arguments FOR hetero marriage only are really arguments for committed relationships. You see, society is better off allowing AND encouraging two people of the same sex to commit to supporting each other emotionally, financially, etc. Even if I concede that same sex commitments aren’t the best case scenario, same sex marriages still aren’t the worst case scenario. In fact, it is far superior to discouraging same sex commitments. What we get if we encourage and support committed relationships: people equipped to support one another — financially & emotionally, people that feel like they belong to society and want to contribute to its success, people that are healthier, people that are happier, etc. etc.

    Two are indeed better off than one.

  18. Nate January 22, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Who cares what the reasons were for the people (citizens) who voted to ban same-sex marriage in California. That is entirely outside the boundaries of our legislative processes. This was put to the vote of the people (citizens) of California, some of whom are Christians, some atheists, Jews, Muslims, etc.

    And the people (citizens) of California voted to ban same-sex marriage. The court may as well say that blond haired, blue eyed people were at fault, it would be no different. The Constitution gives freedom for religion under the 1st ammendment and anyone is free to vote their beliefs, religious or not.

    Nathan: People are free to believe whatever they want, and the people of California believe same-sex marriage to be wrong. This is not a civil right, it was a legislative act. Homosexuals have no more right to marry another homosexual under the law than I have the right to marry my mother under the law.

    Russ: Religion has also produced discrimination against murderers, adulterers, rapists, and other items that they find sinful, so I’m not sure what that has to do with this issue. The US Constitution and State Constitutions do as well.

  19. russware January 22, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    Religion has also produced discrimination against murderers, adulterers, rapists, and other items that they find sinful…

    Yes! Exactly. Discrimination is not always inappropriate. But, even in cases where it is, it can be expressed wrongly and in a way that does not reflect Christ-likeness. I think both of these statements apply in this context.

    So, yes, religion (including Christianity), broadly speaking, has promoted discrimination against homosexuals. In the case of Christianity, there is a way to recognize the legitimacy, in terms of our faith, of that discrimination in some form, while also acknowledging and expressing sorrow for the times that discrimination has twisted into ugly, unloving and therefore un-Christian forms.

    I’m just saying, we shouldn’t be surprised by the claim, because it is true. And we shouldn’t be saddened by it unless it is the sadness of repentance, as it is pointed out to us that we have behaved badly (sinfully) in the way we have treated others in this context. And inasmuch as we have done this in the name of Christ, we should be deeply sorrowful.

  20. Nate January 22, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    “Yes! Exactly. Discrimination is not always inappropriate. But, even in cases where it is, it can be expressed wrongly and in a way that does not reflect Christ-likeness. I think both of these statements apply in this context.”

    I’m trying to follow your argument here, but I am slow. How does this after-effect of this post reflect a non Christ-likeness. Due process of legislation has been carried out by the people. What am I missing?

  21. David Vinzant January 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Ryan K. wrote: “The state by sanctioning marriage between a man and a woman has historically done because all evidence tells us this is the absolute optimal environment for raising future generations.”

    and

    “By social science is pretty conclusive that children receive the best upbringing when they have a stable home with both a mom and a dad.”

    Suppose that I can provide research showing that children receive the best upbringing when both parents are of the same race. Would that justify banning interracial marriage?

    Suppose I produce research showing that children receive the best upbringing when they have at least one, but no more than 3 siblings. Would the state be justified in mandating that all parents must have been 2 and 4 children?

    We live in a nation that values individual liberty over the state’s interest. Would you change that?

  22. Ryan K. January 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    David I am really not sure of your point and I do not think it follows.

    Race and gender are far from being synonymous.

  23. David Vinzant January 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I didn’t say they were synonymous. You seem to be arguing that the state’s interest in having the best possible situation for child-rearing overrules an individual’s freedom to marry whom they choose. I’m trying to find out if you really believe that.

  24. Nate January 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    @David: “We live in a nation that values individual liberty over the state’s interest. Would you change that?”

    Other than the Bill of Rights, which does protect individuals (very important rights, but very few in the grand scheme), State’s have far more power than your statement implies. My individual liberty is actually pretty thin compared to all the laws of the state that I must follow.

    This law (Prop 8) outlaws a person’s individual liberty to determine whom they can marry, or should I say limits it to a member of the opposite sex. Furthermore, that State limits that to someone who is not closely related to the other person.

  25. David Vinzant January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    Nate,

    So you have no problem with the government deciding who you should or shouldn’t marry?

  26. Nate January 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    The people of California decided that. We are the government. I have a problem with courts usurping the power of the people.

  27. David Vinzant January 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    So you must have a huge problem with Brown v. Board of Education. You see, the people in southern states voted again and again for segregated schools, but then the Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional. Most states in the South also outlawed interracial marriage until 1967. That’s when the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia declared that to be unconstitutional.

    If the people of a state voted to strip a minority, say Jews, of their rights, would that bother you?

  28. Nate January 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    David, you are attempting to take the argument into places I have not suggested. Prop Eight has been a result of courts initiating laws into the state that were not already there. The citizens of California rose up and refuted that usurpation of the court.

    However, I am in full agreement with court cases or laws being elevated to the Supreme Court. While I always don’t agree with their rulings (Roe v. Wade for example) it is part of the US Constitution and our Triparte government.

    This post is discussing the merits of whether a State Court can rule Prop Eight was inacted becuase of a religious bias (which is bogus), but should the State Court rule in favor, it would go to a US Court and then to the Supreme Court for final ruling.

    Moreover, while your example of Brown v Board of Education is an applicable example of how the process works to take a matter to the Supreme Court, it is a poor example in this case, as Ryan has already pointed out. Race and gender are not synomous.

    Nathan has argued your point as well and if homosexuals are given the right to marry, then any and all forms of marriage must be given equal access.

    We could have a similar discussion about the age of adulthood and why those under 18 don’t have full rights and privileges under the law. It isn’t fair. They are good people. They just want the same thing as everyone else.

  29. Darius T January 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    David, gays have exactly the same rights as everyone else. Everyone can marry whomever they choose and as long as it is someone of the opposite gender, they can expect the government to officially ratify it. What you’re talking about is a special right.

  30. David Vinzant January 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    What I’m trying to get at is the principle, which is that in our country the majority does not have the right to trample on the rights of the minority. The plaintiffs in this case are arguing that the 14th Amendment rights of gay individuals to equal treatment under the law are being denied.

    We should have all learned in junior high civics class that our system is designed to maximize individual liberty. The limits imposed should only be ones that protect other individuals from harm. Your right to throw rocks is limited by my right to not have rocks thrown at me or my property.

    Thomas Jefferson expressed this when he said: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    Darius, I think you know your argument is specious. In fact, it is the exact argument that opponents of interracial marriage used. They said that everyone can marry whomever they choose as long as it is someone of the same race.

  31. Nathan January 25, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    American law isn’t there to keep people from sinning or to teach Christian principles — its sole purpose is to protect and balance people’s rights and liberties.

    Nate, your age of adulthood comparison is close, but not quite. Young people don’t have all the rights and privileges that adults enjoy because young people don’t have (because they can’t handle) the responsibilities of adults. I agree 18 is an arbitrary number — maybe there’s a better way, but laws need to be tractable.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. » The End of Prop 8? | Denny Burk - August 5, 2010

    […] in witnesses to show how evangelical Christianity in particular leads to abuse of gay people (read about it here). Throughout the trial, the plaintiff’s subtext has been that Christianity promotes bigotry. […]

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