I always notify my facebook friends when I write a new blog so sometimes I end up with a big, fat discussion thread there in addition to the comments here. Since not everyone is a facebooker, I wanted to paste some of the comments from facebook friends onto the blog so I could open the conversation to everyone. (There were some funny comments from friends that I didn’t bring over, just because there’s a lot going on here. I just kept it to the main thrust of the discussion.)
Also, sorry about the big blobs of text. I’ve been arguing with wordpress to give me space between paragraphs and I finally threw up the white flag.
From friend #1:
Why the need to picket a conservative Christian college for said beliefs as if a decidedly Christian school holding to such doctrine would be such an incredible shock to even the most hard core atheists? Is there such a shortfall in non-Christian colleges or even more liberal minded Christian colleges for people to attend where they could live as they please on campus, party hard, have loose sex and lead a life of general debauchery101 for their college experience with no ethical or moral code being expected of them? Why not simply um, now this is a radical idea I know…..not attend a school if they don’t believe what you believe? If you’re going to say it’s because it’s the civil rights issue of this century as the argument, then what you’re really saying is that conservative Christians, or anyone else who thinks that homosexuality and/or promiscuity is wrong, can only think what they think in private (sound familiar?) and can impose no restrictions on the attendees of their institutions regardless of whether it conflicts with their beliefs or not. If that’s the case, goodbye freedom of religion (and thought) and hello absolutism.
Dialogue is always important, but what if after the friendly, hopefully non-confrontational dialogue has taken place the school still wants to hold firm to its beliefs? Are they not permitted their beliefs at a private Christian school? What if I wanted to go to an Eastern Buddhist temple and I insisted that they serve meat in the cafeteria and started picketing them because they don’t serve meat? Why should I respect what they think, after all meat is tasty and good for you and besides that, they’re wrong to not eat meat aren’t they!?! …
What if I started hanging with some Hindus at their temple and I kept trying to convince them to serve beef to their guests? Would that be wrong and if so, why? Is it because it’s not respectful of their beliefs? Who cares what they think, they’re just not enlightened. I want a hamburger when I visit their temple, even if there is a more liberal Hindu temple down the street that will gladly let me bring a McD’s quarter pounder in with me to worship.
As someone who is constantly espousing the virtues of independent thought Trish, I would think that you of all people would honor a person or institution’s beliefs and not say that they should be coerced into changing their moral compass for the sake of others.
From friend #2:
Re-read the blog, she never said they should be “coerced” into changing their ways, just maybe open up and listen.
From friend #1:
I understand what you’re saying Nicole. My point (long winded as it was) was based on the fact that the arguments for and against conservative Christian’s beliefs on the issue of alternative lifestyles have been hashed out a gazillion times over. Both sides of the issue know the arguments well. So to me if a particular school wants to hold to … See moreconservative Christian values and then a group demands to have an audience to have their grievances heard it can only be because they are unwilling to accept and respect the schools beliefs and want them to change them. You can always have civil dialogue, but if all you can do is agree to disagree then will people be content to leave it be? I seriously doubt it because it usually doesn’t work that way.
From friend #2:
And (magnanimous me) I understand what you’re saying, just felt you were being a little hard on Trish at the end there, and it got my hackles up.
There are many, many issues where people need to agree to disagree.
First let me take the gun out of your hand by reminding you that I wasn’t part of the protest. I was just driving my child to school.
I understand your point about going to another school where homosexuality was accepted. If it were me, I wouldn’t want to go to this school anyway. However, I’m not someone who would be inclined to apply to a Christian college in the first place. I cannot speak to why this group chose this school. <BR>
I agree that people should be free to practice their own religious beliefs. Megan and I have had many talks about how people practice different religions and we all believe different things and that’s fine. People need to practice the religion that feels right to them, or no religion at all, if that’s what they choose. You can’t make someone have faith.
I don’t believe that there’s one “correct” religion and that everyone else is doomed. I think it’s the Hindus who say that there are many paths to God, which is how I feel about it. A book I recently read called Fingerprints of God looks at religious experience among different faiths and discusses how religion and science intertwine. When looking at near-death experience, people in every religion report nearly identical phenomena. The author describes this as a wagon wheel — we all pick the spoke we want to travel to get to the center but we all ultimately end up in the same place.
Now I understand that some Christian groups believe that the Bible tells them that homosexuality is an abomination. You and I are going to have a disconnect here because I do not view the Bible the way that you do. I think that there’s some good stuff in there — some great stuff, even — but I also think that it’s a book that has been politicized and used for various power plays over time. I cannot entirely trust that everything in there is the word of God. But for people who hold a certain interpretation of the Bible as the foundation of their beliefs, I understand that it’s not a cafeteria deal — you have to swallow the entire menu.
Which leads me to another question: Isn’t the Bible filled with stories of Jesus opening his arms to lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and other disenfranchised people? I can’t imagine Jesus sitting in front of a church and refusing entry to anyone. I think Jesus would say something along the lines of, “You’ve come here to this college because you want to learn what we’re teaching. Great. Have a seat.” That’s my takeaway from the Bible, at least.
I do respect the fact that this college has a set of beliefs that they adhere to, even though I don’t agree with them. I respect that we live in a country that allows for this disagreement. As far as having a dialogue, both sides may know that they will have to agree to disagree at the end of the day. But that doesn’t mean that there is no value in having the conversation.
For example, my father-in-law and I agree on practically nothing related to politics and religion. However, we discuss these topics all the time and I think that we both often walk away having learned something. Our edges become softened a bit. Our misconceptions of what the “other side” thinks are often surprising to both of us. So it’s useful to sit down at the dinner table across from someone with vastly different beliefs and attempt to get to know that person as a person, rather than a collection of opposing views. It puts a face on the argument. Then, instead of vilifying the person for their beliefs, you can perhaps understand their struggle and their frame of reference a little bit. This can be difficult and uncomfortable sometimes but extremely useful.
I believe that homosexuality is something that you are born with — and I’ve had many conversations with gay people that back this up. There was no moment of “choice,” it’s just the way that they always were. I actually have one gay friend who appears to be happily un-closeted and in a 10-year “marriage” who says that, given the choice, he never would’ve been gay. “Who would choose this?” he says.
So I have a hard time imagining that a loving God would create someone with blue eyes and then condemn all blue-eyed people. This next one is an admittedly rotten analogy, but I also don’t think God would create someone with legs that didn’t work and then condemn that person for not walking. So in my open-mindedness that you referred to, I have a real problem with any religion teaching that any person is lesser than another.
Another issue where I think we differ is that I do think gay rights is a civil rights issue. If you substitute the word “black” or “woman” into the issues that gays are currently fighting for, the argument looks very clear to me: This is a group of people who are being discriminated against. If there is truly a separation of church and state in this country, then there is no reason that gays shouldn’t be able to have a legally recognized marriage. Different faiths can tackle the issue as they please but from a purely governmental stance, I think we need to stop this form of discrimination.
Whew. I hope I covered everything. Thanks to everyone for your comments and I invite more if you’d like to chime in.