I must admit, when my head topic scout Fred flagged the Equal Voices apology for the antipathy toward LGTB (or is it LBTG? Does it matter, if the letters still stand for the same things?) engendered by organized religion, I didn’t expect it to be controversial. As the comments revealed in due course, it was. Looking back deep into Ethics Alarms posts and even into the foggy past of the Ethics Scoreboard, I have tried to clarify the distinction between the moral rejection of homosexuality by those who are faithfully following a religion that still holds to ancient taboos, and those whose attitudes toward gays are rooted in irrational fear, gate and bigotry. Ethically, however, the distinction became hard to jutify. The harm is palpable, and the facts are clear. The religious tended to embrace false facts (no, homosexuals do not indoctrinate heterosexual children; no, same sex marriage does not threaten Western civilization; yes, gays are a likely to be decent, law-abiding, ethical people as anyone else) to avoid doubting their faith; the bigoted and hateful frequently used religion to justify their bigotry. The Equal Voices apology, I believe, is just one more positive step towards full cultural acceptance of the sad truth that the treatment of gays was a mistake, based in ignorance, and no longer defensible on religious or any other grounds. Ethics evolves when morality does not; that’s what’s good, and unsettling, about ethics. Things we thought were right turn out to be wrong, and vice-versa. There’s no shame in that, unless one denies what is right in front of one’s face.
Now comes veteran Ethics Alarms commenter Pennagain with a general commentary sparked by the post, focusing not on LGBT bias but bias against the religious and irreligious.
Here is his Comment of the Day, on the post, The Equal Voices Apology To LGBT Individuals:
I am addressing this to all interested readers of Ethics Alarms, not just the wonderful Steve-O, who has heard it all before, but it’s been a while since the subject has come up. It is clear that Ethics Alarms has a preponderance of commenters who have (and sometimes vigorously find it necessary to defend or decry) a religion. That everyone has a religion seems to be taken for granted, the way homosexuality was automatically assumed to be completely wrong/bad/sick/whatever not so very long ago, and the conversation went on from there. . .The way being politically conservative is the norm here as well.
But once in a while, I have to respond to this kind of statement:
I remain a member, partly because I loathe atheism and atheists,
I understand the part about your dad, Steve, but the “loathing” of atheism doesn’t make any more sense than your oft expressed loathing of homosexuality and homosexuals. And the loathing of atheists makes even less sense. People cannot believe what they disbelieve (or not be what they are) anymore than they can do the opposite. Nor is a disbelief any more negative than a belief. It am what it am. That is the power of faith reinforced by an individual’s conscious existence and identity. Not to mention your or anyone else’s inability to distinguish an atheist (and most homosexuals, for that matter) from anyone else.
Some people may go to church because it is the thing to do according to family, peers or community, not because of belief. Some people may declare atheism because of the same casual but pressing external reasons. I think the majority of people who feel one way or the other do so not by active choice but by an inherent “knowing” that something (usually called a god or higher power) has a presence — or NOT — in their minds. The intellectual argument is that of the agnostic who doesn’t “believe” in either direction, feeling that we can’t “know” either way. [okay, that’s an oversimplification, but I think that gets it across.]
I am aware that neither of us are going to change our spots so I will respectfully read any response you care to make (I have appreciated and often enjoyed the ones you create when not in your Mr. Hyde mode), but I don’t see any purpose in arguing it on a subjective level, a futile exercise that never ends in enlightenment on either side. I will simply loathe your loathing aloud when I am able to do so.