More anti-gay bigotry: NYC preacher advocates stoning gays; Indiana bakery refuses to make wedding cake for same-sex couple

March 16, 2014 • 6:34 am

When is this stuff going to end? I’m absolutely convinced that anti-gay bigotry is attributable almost entirely to religion, mainly because those who practice it often explicitly cite their “religious beliefs.”  It’s one of those things, like opposition to stem-cell research, that there hardly seems to be a secular justification for.

So, here are two brief bits of bigotry called to my attention by reader Ginger K; both are reported by GayStarNews.

First, a preacher in New York City, of all places, has advocated the stoning of gays, and in no uncertain terms.

James David Manning, a pastor from New York City, is calling for Christians to stone gays.

Manning’s ATLAH World Missionary Church has a new announcement:

‘Jesus would stone homos. Stoning is still the law.’

According to the site Joe My God Manning said in a YouTube video that Christians who do not attack gays are ‘advocating lawlessness. Stoning of the homos is now in order. Stoning is still the law.’

The video clip has been pulled down from YouTube because it violates the site’s hate speech codes.

The pastor, whose church is located in the Manhattan neighborhood Harlem, proudly preaches anti-gay bigotry. At the end of February he railed against ‘homo demons.’

To be fair, the preacher is only following God’s dictates in the Old Testament, in particular Leviticus 20:13:

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

I wonder how literalists deal with that passage, as well as the many other odious orders of God outlined in Leviticus. And I wonder how William Lane Craig, who accepts “divine command theory,” would react.

Here’s the sign for the ATLAH church: it’s scary! And you can see the remnants of the original video (now taken down) on the church’s website:



Meanwhile, in Indiana (what’s with that state?), owners Randy and Trish McGath of the 111 Cakery have refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. But of course they harbor no hate—they’re just following God’s orders.

The couple, owners of 111 Cakery in Indianapolis, posted a lengthy Facebook message on Thursday (13 March) explaining they have ‘zero hate’ but that their Christian beliefs led them to decline to make a cake for Mike Stephens and Shane Laney.

. . . In their Facebook post, the couple stresses that as Christians they have ‘sincere love’ for people and a ‘commitment to treat every person that walks through the door with respect and kindness.’

The trouble was, they would not be able to ‘find the inspiration’ to make a cake for such an occasion.

‘It was not that we wanted to deny them a cake, it’s just tough to create something that goes against your beliefs,’ they wrote. ‘Was this the right thing to say? Maybe not. But this phone call caused us to do a lot of soul searching because we want to be right with our God as well as respect others.’

Well, maybe they should reexamine their beliefs! Is that unheard of, or do they have to slavishly follow what they see as the will of God? Here’s their Facebook post:

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 8.22.51 AM

It’s pretty bad to hear these people try to rationalize their decision as having no hate content, and simply the result of a “lack of inspiration.” But one admission is telling: they see that there’s a big conflict between being “right with their God” and “respecting others.” Clearly, God doesn’t want them to respect others (see Leviticus above).

What’s almost as bad is what follows this comment:

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 8.23.17 AM

I’m not sure whether this refusal to provide service is illegal, but—based on the proposed Arizona law that would have allowed such discrimination, but was deep-sixed on constitutional grounds—I suspect it is.

The bakery owners are, as reported in the article, getting a lot of pushback on Facebook (I haven’t read the comments), and Mike and Shane are having their cake made elsewhere.  In the meantime, I suspect they’ll soon have more cause to reexamine their beliefs.

115 thoughts on “More anti-gay bigotry: NYC preacher advocates stoning gays; Indiana bakery refuses to make wedding cake for same-sex couple

  1. While there may be some people around who are bigots because of Reasons of Icky as opposed to religious ideology; you will find that the only groups seriously trying to lobby against the legal rights of gay people to be treated and equals in society are entirely faith-based. That is pretty much a universal truth these days, no matter what country you look at.

    1. Reasons of Icky…nice. I know only a few atheists who are timid about gay rights, but they are not bigots. At least I have not met any of those types, but surely the secular-Icky crowd is greater than one.

    2. Hating homosexuality due to it disgusting you is a shallow emotivism.
      We Christians disapprove of it on theological moral principles, and we aim at challenging its acceptance out of love and respect for our fellow people.

      1. “…out of love and respect…”

        That’s rich. I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

  2. I’m not sure whether this refusal to provide service is illegal, but—based on the proposed Arizona law that would have allowed such discrimination, but was deep-sixed on constitutional grounds—I suspect it is.

    That really depends on Indiana state law. Some quick googling, and I can’t find them having a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Best I can find is that state employees are protected by policy.

    1. The City of Indianapolis has an ordinance that prohibits discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation (in addition to race, ethnicity, religion, etc.). I am not a civil rights lawyer, and to my knowledge the Indianapolis ordinance does not provide its own specific definition of “public accommodation.” Under the federal civil rights laws, 42 U.S.C. 2000a(b) defines “public accommodation” in several lengthy paragraphs, to include hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, and businesses that sell food for consumption on the premises, etc. A bakery business that makes cakes would fall outside the scope of the federal definition of “public accommodation” unless there are federal court decisions that have expanded the breadth of the concept.

      In January of this year, a bakery in Oregon was found to have violated the civil rights of a gay couple in refusing to make and sell them a wedding cake, on the grounds that the bakery business is a “public accommodation.”

      Given the Hoosier
      State’s levels of ignorance-plus-bigotry that rely on “private religious belief” as a justification, it’s hard for me to imagine that kind of ruling coming down in an Indiana city other than Bloomington or Indianapolis, and Indianapolis has had a long backlog of civil rights complaints waiting to be processed by the agency in charge.

      The quotation that I always attribute to Frank Zappa is appropriate here: “The United States is a nation of laws — badly written and randomly enforced.”

      1. “The United States is a nation of laws — badly written and randomly enforced.”

        George W. Bush frequently publicly bloviated about “the rule of law,” never similarly reflecting on just who determines what is “the law.”

    2. There might also be a legal out due to the fact that they can argue that they would make a cake for a gay person, but not for a gay marriage.

      Several years ago I had two local print shops refuse to make some posters I needed for an Atheist Alliance convention. Their reasons were that they were “Christians” and such posters explicitly supported atheism (though they admitted that there was nothing on them which insulted or bashed any religion.) Just as they could refuse to do a poster for the Klu Klux Klan, they had the right to refuse to do a poster for an atheist organization.

      Yes, the first person used exactly that example.

      At the time I felt it was a gray enough area that I probably didn’t have a legal case. If they had refused to do party invitations or something neutral for me simply because I was an atheist — sic ’em. But if I could find legal justification an animal rights activist refusing to do work for a Hunt, then this might fall in the same area. I explained that no, this is bigotry and tried to shame them by truthfully telling them that even though I’m an atheist I would print posters for Children’s Bible School — which I personally consider immoral — but it fell on deaf ears. They were smug with righteousness and all smiles. I smiled too — as I called them bigots in a friendly voice. Fire with fire.

      At any rate, I was super rushed for time and the folks at Office Max had no problem with it being for atheism, thought it was downright weird that 2 other printers considered it a moral issue, and did a fine job.

  3. There is, of course, that famous scene in West Wing where Bartlet tears to shreds the biblical objections to homosexuality.

    “President Bartlet : I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.
    Jenna Jacobs: I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President, the Bible does.
    President Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus.
    Jenna Jacobs: 18:22.

    President Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I have you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophmore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here’s one that’s really important because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? “Think about that, will you? Oh, and one last thing. You may have mistaken this for your meeting of the ignorant tight-asses club but in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.”

    1. It works well for those who cite the OT prohibitions as evidence, but most Christians agree that they are no longer bound by most of those prohibitions. The problem is, the NT also has several anti-gay verses, and those are what are primarily used to support anti-gay views.

      Christians who are pro-gay rights fall back on creative interpretation to explain away those pesky NT verses, but they are there.

      1. On of those pesky ones is below.
        Jesus is pretty much calling the Canaanites ‘dogs’.
        I think though that this is one of the stories that is not in the earliest copies of the texts and appears to have been added in centuries later.
        I found the text on a Christian site which excuses away his behaviour.
        It was a very long excuse.

        A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.

  4. The first example is the scariest because that is true hate speech used to rile up others to hate a group.

    The second example is sad and unfortunate & an example of someone who is probably a good person and is struggling with the nastiness of the bible but can’t break away from religion because it’s too painful & prefers to suffer with doing a bad thing.

    1. The second example is sad and unfortunate & an example of someone who is probably a good person

      Sorry, no. Because if they were a good person, they could have used other bits of the bible to justify serving them (“Love the sinner, hate the sin”)

      1. I see their use of these parts of the bible as misguided but the fact that they are squirming in using probably indicates that they don’t agree with them. They start off saying they want to treat people with respect and kindness; they know what they are doing is wrong but they are bound to obey their religion. Contrast this with the first example where that person genuinely hates homosexuals. I used to see this with racism. There would be ignorant people who you could reason with, then there are those that really hate the other person. They spit venom talking about them. Those people, I hate them back.

        1. No, they *say* they are squirming. With other bakeries having gone out of business as a result of refusing service, why are we to believe this is anything but self serving?

          1. Could be self serving but I like to take people at their word first. These seem that they could be persuaded especially with the commenters holding a mirror up to them.

            1. When someone hides behind their holy book, they’ve lost all chances for me to trust their word. Only actions matter at that point.

              1. I still see them as bigots; I just think they have a chance not to be. There used to be a lot more outward racism too and those people changed their minds.

              2. @ Diana:

                I’ve been called more cynical than it’s healthy to be. I admire your take and it does make me rethink my own.

              3. Which is actually funny for me because I consider myself to lean toward the cynical side. Maybe I’m growing. 😀

              4. Paraphrasing Lily Tomlin, “no matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up!”

                Seems like there’s something in every news cycle reinforcing that.

        2. I have to agree with Rob. If they’re taking the nasty parts if the OT seriously enough to actually put it into practice like they have, then they probably are filled with fear and hate, despite any excuses they might try to make. You see it all the time: people trying to practice hate while simultaneously trying to deny that they’re hateful because, well gosh, it’s not them – it’s the bible! They’re just following orders, doncha know? Don’t shoot the messenger! They try to treat the OT injunctions like physical laws. “Hey, F=MA, and homos are evil. Just the way it is. What’re ya gonna do? Don’t blame me!”


    2. Yeah, I agree. I also feel that the second one is an example of someone being an asshole because of religion.

  5. Well, as my daughter and her girlfriend announced their engagement yesterday and will get married next year[squee,squee] I may be biased but I think these are typical small minded scum whose only pleasure in life is ruining other peoples life and pleasure. I despise them and their beliefs.
    With regard to their god, Bakunin was right, “If god exists it is necessary to abolish him”.
    (Apologies if I have broken Da Roolz Prof. Ceiling Cat.)

      1. I may have to break one of my own personal roolz here and say, that’s Awesome! Also, I want to believe you just made that up yourself.

        I have some marriageable daughters, so maybe there’s a chance I’ll get to use it myself.

        1. Oh, 100% D.G. original. 😀

          I’ve got a couple of kids in their 20’s, still single–que será, será, eh?

  6. Such a very, very common tactic used by nearly all religionists nearly all the time simply to deflect away from themselves THEIR own doings and thinkings, THEIR OWN comings and goings: religionists very often speak and write in third – person or third – party language — instead of doing same in direct ownership – pronouns such as I and we / my and our.

    “ lack of inspiration ” = read that: “ We don’ wanna ! “ and “ We won’t !”

    “ I don’t say; the ‘ scripture ‘ does ” = translation: “ I do, too, say; but I can’t have you pointing fingers at me for my thinking and my statement … … soooo I’m a – gonna act like .d$g. says ‘it’ instead ! ”

    An easy, short byte of I – statement rebuttal for such inanities when suddenly said around or to me inside my specific sphere and using THEIR same indirect, deflecting ploy: “ I need to leave this conversation. As is quite obvious and well – known to All: ‘ What is being stated here ‘ is not accurate nor true. Good – bye. ”


  7. “find the inspiration”??
    These people are so self important. Just bake the darn cake already. What happened to humility!

  8. I’m busy trying to memorize that West Wing dialogue for devastating riposte purposes. The Bible ought to be put to good use on those rare occasions when that is possible. I notice, though, that leading spokespersons for the scriptural literalist faction seem to maintain an unassailable Dissonance Defense System quite immune to all internal ideological inconsistency.

      1. Thank you, bone. Just as I hit the Post button it occurred to me that I might have asked for something like a link to a compilation of scriptural literalist rebuttal Biblical verses and examples of robust reasoned retorts. This is almost like the answer to a prayer.

  9. The comments on the 111 Cakery FB page are near-universal condemnation of the of the bakery’s actions. That is a good thing.

    Jerry… It isn’t clear (to me at least) what you are referring to with this sentence:

    “What’s almost as bad is what follows this comment:” The little image below is just the “like” and comment counts. “Like” doesn’t necessarily indicate approval and what is more interesting are the comments themselves.

      1. Yeah. Think if this happened in the 80s – you wouldn’t see so many people condemn them. You didn’t even see gay weddings!!

    1. Additionally, even if the likes do express approval, there is no ‘dislike’ button for non bigoted people to express their disapproval. I’d like to think that more than 456 people found this objectionable and would have ‘disliked’if the option was available.

  10. Ah, but you’re denying religious freedom by not allowing the religously-minded to discriminate against gays! Judging from a recent post on Andrew Sullivan’s blog or website (given – forgive me – in full below), he is girding his loins to defend the indefensible and the freedom of the religious (though not, I imagine, anyone else) to discrminate against gays – though not of course against blacks, or Jews, or women, or…

    The Christianist Closet? Ctd

    Mar 14 2014 @ 5:37pm
    A reader writes:

    You are right that much of the Christian self-pity on the issue of homosexuality is pathetic. However, events on university campuses (which can herald broader cultural shifts) suggest that things are moving faster than perhaps you realize.

    The debate right now surrounds Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) that have access to campus facilities and even funding. Christian RSOs are facing de-recognition (or have been de-recognized) because of their discriminatory policy on homosexuality. Here’s the problem: most of these Christian RSOs allow any student to join and become members, but they require that the student leaders agree with the organization’s statement of faith. I don’t have to belabor the point. You recognize how insane it is to require a religious organization to not discriminate based on religion in its selection of leaders. In 2012, Vanderbilt went ahead and de-recognized 13 Christian RSOs for requiring that the student leaders agree with their basic beliefs. Other schools have followed suit.

    Andrew, you promised Ross to fight for religious freedom. I don’t remember you writing about this issue. Perhaps you can begin here.

    (Confession: I’m a long-time reader, haven’t subscribed yet.)

    That is indeed a troubling development. I guess I’m going to become really unpopular again with some of the gays.

    That last paragraph is Sullivan’s.

    1. What the universities’ are forbidding is the a priori requirement on agreeing with a statement of faith for any candidate or officer (and also presumably a veto by an outside the university organization). It is perfectly legitimate for the student voters to ask whether candidates agree or disagree with certain statements and then to vote individually depending on the response. It is perfectly legitimate to have a recall election if the student group’s constitution allows. An outside affiliate always has the power to remove affiliation (as happened to many local Greek chapters in the 1960s when they began admitting non-Christians and non-whites over the objections of the national organizations).

  11. > I’m absolutely convinced that anti-gay bigotry is attributable almost entirely to religion

    Anyone’s seen the excellent documentation “Out There” by Stephen Fry? It underpins that strongly. For example, he got interviews with preeminent homophobe politicians from Uganda, Brasil and Russia, all of whom where religious, the first and last one even trained as minister and priest, respectively.

    1. I would say that “almost entirely” is rather too strong. I’ve noticed quite a bit of anti-homosexual sentiment among, shall we say, the least well-educated portion of the non-churchgoing public. But it seems to be only within religious groups that it is considered socially acceptable, let alone deserving of advertisement.

    2. The question is whether religious beliefs cause the bigotry or are just used to justify it. It’s possible that fear of anyone or anything different could be the root cause, and the OT provides the rationalization.

      1. Humans are naturally tribal. It’s surprising how quickly we can form into groups and then compete & dehumanize the other group even if members of that other group are our friends. I see this happen in teams at work all the time and this is the reason you see many organizations trying to “break down the silos” to get employees to be more productive.

        Religion or any other movement can easily exploit this natural human tendency. It takes energy to go against it.

        The easiest way to defeat it is to know those people of the other group – this was a defining moment in the movement for gay rights – when you started seeing people come out and you already liked those people. This challenged bigoted ideas and people started reevaluating their earlier stances. I’m hoping the same will happen for atheists.

    3. In the case of Uganda at least I have seen several reports suggesting that the source of much of the present bigotry is US christian “outreach” programmes. Presumably if there is at least some legal limit at home you go elsewhere to spread your poison.

  12. The cakery comment about ‘we sincerely wish them the best’ is a load of crock and bogus bull shittery.

    Could all their conscience-squirming have more to do with loss of patrons? Boycott them, I say.

  13. “We have happily done cakes for gay people, as well as people with different believes [sic].”

    This sentence gives away the inconsistency of their position against gay marriage. Their bible and religion does not have an explicit rule against gay marriage; to the extent it has anything on the subject, it has general condemnation of homosexuality.

    Trying to claim that their religion is okay with “cakes for gay people”, just not okay with “cakes for gay weddings,” is entirely made up stuff, even in the context of their religious belief.

    “We are just a small family business trying to bring happiness with cake.”

    That’s a good goal, and you are almost there, just try a little harder.

    1. Yeah, I think the inconsistencies show them struggling – they know deep down they don’t hold the moral high ground but they are trying to make it all fit together. Sort of like when you think something is right but you know it isn’t so you can either admit what you thought was right was wrong and look at things all over again or keep trying to jam those square pegs into round holes while your brain gives you little punishment chemicals.

    2. Their struggle could reflect one teaching about how to handle homosexuals. Some churches are trying to be ‘more accepting’ by saying that gays are born that way and therefore shouldn’t be condemned, BUT still, sexual relations and marriages are forbidden and deemed to be sinful and deviant. It’s the sex thing again.

      So it’s just not good enough. That’s still bigotry against gays, and all of these torturous attempts by the churches to make themselves right are still unjust.

  14. A decade ago, my partner and I were preparing for our commitment ceremony. We visited a cake maker recommended to us. We had a good long visit and chose our cake.

    A few days later, we got a phone call. The baker had only realized late in the visit that we were two lesbians about to celebrate our union, not a straight bride and her friend. The baker didn’t feel right about making the cake and thus condoning homosexuality. My partner listened patiently, assured the baker we didn’t want her to do anything that she felt uncomfortable with, explained how highly her cakes had been praised by the person referring us, expressed her sorrow over the baker’s choice and her belief in the baker’s good wishes.

    A day or so after that, the baker called back saying she had thought it over some more and felt she could make the cake. And a truly wonderful cake it was, good looking and (unlike so many ceremonial cakes) good tasting.

    Truly nice, kind, respectful people can be placed in difficult conflicts by the hateful parts of Christianity (which conflict so much with the loving parts). Let’s give the bakers in Indiana the benefit of the doubt regarding their personal conflicts, while definitely disagreeing with their professional choice.

    1. I’m glad the cake maker came to the realization that it was okay to make the cake for your wedding.

      Changing bigoted opinions, one dessert at a time. 😀

    2. Sure, it is fine to acknowledge that some people are conflicted when their bigotry becomes apparent to themselves. Progress can be made in cases like that.

      But I also think it is important to be clear that bigotry is bigotry and that religious mumbo-jumbo is no excuse to refuse to sell cakes to same-sex couples, even if it makes the baker feel uncomfortable.

      1. When you want to call ideas bigotry or people bigots, you have to think about what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to mark these ideas or people as bad so your friends will notice, go for it; it will work. If you’re trying to change the minds of people like these Indiana bakers, using these words is worse than ineffective; it will backfire. The insult in these words makes the bakers defensive and cements them in their position.

        Unless you have good evidence that people are stuck inbigoted positions, you can hope to change minds if you talk about how you feel or refer to ideals you all share.

        Of course, if you find people truly stuck in bad positions (e.g. the preacher described at the start of the post, it doesn’t matter what you say.

        1. How about if you are trying to accurately describe things?

          In my preferred world that is always the point of departure.

      1. Some countries do have anti hate laws. They are contested because they limit free speech. I used to think ours was bad in Canada for that reason but I actually like it now as it has been used to stop neo nazis from doing just this kind of thing.

        1. This would definitely be hate speech in Canada. However, in the US, which mostly lacks hate-speech laws, there is still a standard of incitement: you may not directly call for violence against others. If there is a reasonable prospect that your words will be taken seriously, you can be prosecuted.

          I agree that the pastor’s words qualify not just as hate speech but as incitement to violence. They should be reported to police, and the media (to make sure the police take it seriously).

  15. But this phone call caused us to do a lot of soul searching because we want to be right with our God as well as respect others.’

    I’m going to disagree with some of the above statements concerning this couple’s basic personal natures being unfriendly, unkind, bigoted, and/or bullying. From reading their rationalizations it seems to me that they really ARE nice people — respectful, compassionate, and concerned with helping others and enhancing the world.

    Which puts us New Atheists into the right.

    Because this sort of thing is what makes it obvious that the real problem here is religion. It’s not the believers. Our target shouldn’t be improving people’s hearts and minds. Our goal needs to be dethroning religion from its high and mighty moral pulpit.

    Christianity can take perfectly nice people like Mr. and Ms. Baker and turn them into bigots against their will. They want to do the right thing, but their beliefs give them no choice but to do the wrong thing and consider it right.

    If they thought for one minute that God approved of gay marriage then from what I can tell they would never have come up with some other reason to deny the wedding couple a proper and beautiful cake. They are kind. Their theology is not.

    This is where the accomodationist argument that “the problem isn’t religion, it’s people” falls apart. That claim works on the assumption that bigots naturally seek out and follow a bigoted religion … and nice people will always choose a ‘nice’ religion. Easy peasy.

    Bullshit. That isn’t how it works — especially with religion. There are all sorts of confounding factors which lead people into the churches they are in. Thus you usually get the same range of personalities in any organization and that goes for the denominations and sects. If the kind, nice, helpful folks who try not to rush to judgment and always give the people around them the benefit of the doubt when dealing with cake sales and house building are suddenly raging bigots on homosexuality and pointing to scripture for the justification, THEN BLAME SCRIPTURE.

    Sure, they now have the responsibility of changing. But they’ll have to change either their interpretation or their religion FROM their hearts. They won’t have to change the nature of their hearts.

    The basic decency of the average fundamentalist (and theist in general) is — along with their basic intelligence — our greatest weapon. It’s the fulcrum on which we can pivot them around.

    1. Yes! I agree. I see that couple as misguided and struggling to make the bigotry of their religion fit into what they know is right & hitting running into conflict.

      Of course, there is the Steven Weinberg quote we’ve all heard that fits this situation:

      Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    2. You’re making the assumption that religious doctrine instilled a dislike of gays that would otherwise not be there. That’s a possibility, but also likely is that people fear anybody different from them, especially in something as fundamental as sexuality, and religion provides a convenient rationalization to justify their bigotry.

      1. I partly agree, in that there is probably a preexisting tendency to feel uncomfortable around people or practices which are seen as “not normal” and these deep-seated prejudices and intuitions are easily structured into the Obvious Moral Truths of religion. Technically speaking then, from the standpoint of human history a social distaste for homosexuality may have preceded religious proscriptions against it.

        But in this case we’re dealing with a 21st century situation and a couple who have clearly imbibed the humanistic Enlightenment-fueled concern with tolerance and respect for those who are different. I mean, look at how pathetically eager they are to bake a cake for these gay people as long as it’s not a wedding cake. Their religion has drawn a line which they can’t cross without feeling like they’re bad persons.

        These simply don’t seem like bigots looking for justification for what they’d do anyway. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Their God-Who-Cannot-Be-Wrong and who they believe inspires them to condemn cruelty and promote love is actually an asshole. Imagine that.

        1. Minor quibble… IMO, bigotry is measured by actions not by the level of guilt felt while doing the actions. I think this is an example of bigotry. It is possible that these (presumably) otherwise nice folk will realize this, become more accepting, ignore this bit of their religious dogma, and change their behavior. To that extent they will become less bigoted.

          1. Yes, it is bigotry but the good thing is there seems to be some cognitive dissonance about the bigoted actions. It could go either way, but I’m hoping the discomfort remains until they realize they need to dump the justification that their religious crowd has allowed them to hold on to.

          2. Oh, you’re right: they’re still bigots because they’re doing bigoted things. But like anything else there are degrees. And like you, I hope this is the sort which can change. Their hearts don’t seem to be in it.

        2. I agree with gbjames. I don’t think you’ve described the psychology inaccurately…but…actions speak louder than words.

          And if we’re going to get people to stop acting like hateful bigots, we’re going to apply pressure in the form of saying “hateful bigot is as hateful bigot does”.

        3. …how pathetically eager they are to bake a cake for these gay people as long as it’s not a wedding cake.

          I’d like to see the gay couple then ask the bakers for a rehearsal dinner cake, and see how that goes.

          As to whether this kind couple will see the light, I think it’s much more likely their fellow bigots will rally around them, saluting their brave stance, and their pastor will make such a big deal of them that they’ll be totally convinced they did the right thing

  16. This was a timely post… There has been some info going around the web that Fred Phelps is dying, e.g.,:

    Pastor Manning shows that absolutely *nothing* will change when Phelps dies. There are dozens and dozens of Fred Phelpses in the Republican Party who *hold offices* to which they were elected by other Fred Phelpses. There are Fred Phelpses in pastor-ships all over the country, including at Mars Hill church in Seattle. There are Fred Phelpses in the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Taliban consists 100% of Fred Phelpses. Life will not even get infinitesimally better for gays (or women) with the death of Fred Phelps.

    1. Oops, I meant at ATLAH church in NYC. I had cut an pasted a comment I made on a site with a more regional audience.

        1. Perhaps the signs should read, “The Nicest, Sweetest Person Who Ever Lived.” (Assuming the sarcasm would not be lost on any conscious person.)

  17. The church has had issues right through with facts. First it was when Bruno ( forget his first name) said that the earth is not the only planet in the universe; then it was when Galileo said that the earth was round and not flat. Now it is the gay issues. Science says it genetical whereas the ‘good’ lord seems to have said that it is by choice. Just the way those primitive ancient priests behaved towards science, these ones are doing now. There’s nothing new.

  18. These people from the “church” in New York have their theology so messed up that they oughtn’t be called Christians but Pharisees. If they had actually read the entire Bible rather than just the little bits that seem to prove their cause, they would realize that there is absolutely no grounds to Biblically make the case for stoning anyone. Of the scriptures they cited, John 8 even goes directly against what they’re saying. The Old Testament laws cited are also laws for the Theocracy of Israel, not for all time. And Acts 15 clearly states that the gentile believers are not under the Old Testament law. And they also cite one of the most misused passages to defend legalism, Matthew 5:17, in which Jesus says that His purpose is not to abolish but to fulfill the Law, and if you look up the Greek, the word for abolish is καταλύω, meaning to overthrow or destroy, and the word for fulfill is πληρόω, which also means to complete. A much better interpretation of this passage is that Jesus didn’t come to throw away the Old Testament law but to complete it, to fulfill the many prophecies about Him and to die, not that the law may be overthrown, but that its demands may be met. It is impossible for a person to uphold the entire law, so Jesus’ death provides another way, not that the law may disappear, but that there be a means of escape from it, and then the law becomes something strived for out of love and in the Holy Spirit, not out of fear. These people do not stand for Christianity. It is impossible to take the entire Bible literally and make this case. “If [they] had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ [they] would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matthew 12:7)

    1. If I understand you correctly, they just are doing it wrong! If they were real christians they would pick different bits of scripture to emphasize. Right?

        1. When I was in high school I attended an hour-long, M-F bible study group. We worked our way through every verse of every chapter of every book in both the old and new testaments. I’d be willing to bet a considerable sum that many other atheists have read the bible, at least to the extent your average believer has. Why are you so confident that gbjames hasn’t read it?

          So how does “taking the bible as a whole” make difference? Where does the bible instruct one on which parts of itself to ignore? The old chestnut that New Testament laws replaced Old Testament laws doesn’t cut it. You still have to explain Romans 1:26-27.

        2. And you know that gbjames and Jesper have not read the entire bible based on a few sentences? No, of course you don’t.

          You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. I’ve read the bible. Front to back, back to front, maybe even side to side. I don’t really want to have a talk with you though, based on what you have written so far.

        3. Actually, runmaestrorun, I think you wandered into the wrong room for that comment to be effective. Many of have read the thing. Most of us have some sort of religious background we recovered from.

          The point is that every christian picks and chooses bits of scripture to “follow”. No exceptions. The question for you is this:

          On what basis do you determine which bits are really real and which bits are not so important? Once you answer that you’ll have a better reception here.

        4. As did muscial beef and darrelle, I read the entire bible end to end (well, I did skip over a bunch of the who begat whom nosense)in high school. That’s largely what converted me to atheism. It’s really a pretty boring collection of myths — the Norse, Roman and several other sets of gods are considerably more interesting.

        5. Herein lies the problem when basing your moral decisions on an ancient text. I looked up the Koine Greek for Matthew 5:17. The Greek is straight forward enough and I looked it all up in my Liddell and Scott. Then I read that the big confusion is all about the ηλθον καταλυσαι αλλα πληρωσαι of the sentence, in particular the πληρωσαι. What does πληρωσαι refer to with Wikipedia saying it could be “establish, confirm, validate, complete, bring into actuality by doing, set forth in their true meaning, accomplish, and obey”.

          Now, when I learned how to translate ancient languages, a lot depends on context and a lot of that context comes from understanding the culture of the time. I started wondering about this.

          Then I woke up.

          I like understanding ancient texts. It’s fun for me. But, I wouldn’t do this to try to figure out how to live my life, understand what is right or wrong. And this is the problem. No one should read this ancient book to determine if homosexuals should be respected like the rest of us and love who they want to love. I have empathy for that. I have gay friends who are good people who I look up to. I have science showing me that homosexuality isn’t wrong – hell, it’s even natural (though I don’t really care).

        6. I’ve read the Bible. Also took three college courses in it. Continued my reading about it, and later about other religions, sporadically over the next forty years. You might agree or (more likely) disagree with my religious ideas, but you wouldn’t get to assume they come from ignorance of what’s in the Bible.

  19. There are some subtleties to this topic that I think we should be careful with. As a rule, I oppose all discrimination and censorship of any opinion, and nobody should be allowed to refuse to offer goods or services based on bigotry. Mein Kampf should be allowed to be published and sold, Fred Phelps should be allowed to speak his twisted mind, and lunch counters should be open to all.

    But to compel creative people to provide services to ideas they oppose is a bit different, and I’m not sure what is right. Should a designer be forced to create the book cover for Mein Kampf, especially if he/she had Jewish relatives in WWII Germany? Did the band Heart have the right to tell the McCain campaign to stop using their song?

    Legal arguments can’t be based on perceived morality, ie, you can’t argue that anti-gay bigotry is wrong and not liking Hitler’s ideas is right. The law has to be neutral. Again, I’m not sure what the right answer is.

    1. I don’t think book cover art would fall under the umbrella term “public accommodation”. Food service, on the other hand, does.

      1. Well, because a cake decorator or a wedding photographer could make the argument that it is a creative service.

  20. When the couple who owns the bakery claims not to be hateful, they probably mean that the don’t feel the emotion of hate. But that doesn’t make their actions any less hateful. What they feel is far less important than what they do.

    1. If the couple had a small grocery store, could they get by with refusing to sell food to a gay couple, claiming that, while there is a (U.S.) constitutional right to life, there is not a right to food, as good, pious conservatives here like to frequently remind us (even though one must eat to live)?

  21. In America if this man attempted to hurt a person based on sexual orientation, that man would be prosecuted with a hate crime.

    In Iran that man would merely be enforcing the law.
    The Christian pastor’s dehumanizing and demonetization demonstrates how genocides are promulgated

    and Iran shows why they are not stopped

  22. Just because this is the 21st century doesn’t mean that, in America for glaring example, people are any more enlightened than they were in the 17th century, when accused witches were burned. After all, they’re still reading the Bible and using it as an excuse to quash the “Better angels of our nature.” The other problem is that in “Freedom’s Land” there is apparently a sad rate of mental illness that goes undetected until it is, (surprise!) expressed in the ludicrous sentiments of they who believe they are doing “God”s Work.” I find this more pathetic than funny, and it makes one want to become a born again atheist, or at least pagan-any thing other than “Christian!”

    1. In general society itself is more enlightened than the 17th C. There may be individuals, even groups of individuals who are anachronisms, however.

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