Monday, December 8, 2008

Okay. I guess I'm a religious nut.

I wrote this letter to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty today and, reading over it, realized that I am, indeed, a religious nut and Constitutional whacko:

Dear brothers and sisters at the Becket Fund and co-signers of the No Mob Veto public letter,

The inflammatory No Mob Veto letter drowned valid points about religious freedom in fiery and destructive rhetoric against detractors of the LDS Church. Some of these folks are bigots, but most of the ones I have heard simply have theological and doctrinal disagreements with the church and have differing interpretations of the role that religion ought to play in the drafting and passage of laws. This is America, and I would hope that people could engage in lively debates on religion without being tarred as "anti-religious bigots."

The tone of your letter causes me to think that it was not provoked by violence. In fact, it fails to mention a single incident of violence. I couldn't find any records of violence on the Web site, either. (Intimidation, which you cursorily mention, is not inherently violence, and you fail to substantiate that it meets the violence threshold here; many people felt intimidated by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, but I don't recall Him ever condoning or committing an act of violence. Neither is disrupting a church service violence; it's not even inherently sinful. Christ caused plenty of disruptions at religious services and locations, and thank God He did so.)

Apparently, your real goal is as you state it at the end of the letter: "We commit ourselves to exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry." Apparently the Christians among you have forgotten Paul's advice to bring a brother's or sister's faults to their attention personally and attempting to resolve disputes this way before bringing them to the public eye. I think Paul would be fine with public debate -- he did it in his letters -- but shaming is clearly against the spirit of what he writes

I also condemn anti-religious bigotry, but Americans are free to engage in it so long as they do not violate the law. Similarly, religious leaders are free to engage or choose not to engage in anti-homosexual bigotry as long as they do not violate the law. Why, it's the constitutional right of every American to be a bigot of whatever stripe he or she chooses, as long as no laws are violated. Of course, I don't think Jesus would advise any of us to be bigots, but my fellow believers are free to disagree.

My heart will be filled with joy when I can sign a letter with you all that condemns bigotry and violence in all forms, while defending the Constitutional right of every American to be a bigot. Naturally, this letter will also need to refrain from pronouncements in favor of public shaming. Please let me know when you want me to work with you to help draft it.

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