Saturday, August 23, 2008

Arguments From Religious Conviction...Bigotry?

The issue of gay rights leads to the following dialog: If you are against homosexuality you are a bigot (the term is "homophobe"). Response: But my religion tells me the conduct is immoral. It's right there in the Bible or the Catholic Church's official catechism. Dilemma: Are these traditional religious convictions "bigotry"? Or do they give one a pass from "bigotry"?

I'm not going to answer that directly (because the question is, admittedly, a tough one).

Rather, I want to raise an analogy. What about bigotry against Christians? Does it exist? What about anti-Catholic bigotry? Bill Donahue's Catholic League is dedicated to fighting it. John Hagee recently was termed an "anti-Catholic bigot" for terming the Church "the Great Whore" of Babylon. Admittedly Hagee's interpretation of the Book of Revelation is quite novel and theatrical. I want to say "bizarre" but the whole Book of Revelation strikes me as bizarre no matter what one's understanding of it.

Yet, there is a longstanding tradition in Christendom of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches as viewing one another as "apostate." This dynamic was more pronounced before the politically correct era of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together."

Enter John MacArthur about whom I've blogged before. He is in many ways the poster boy for evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity. And he is especially notable in that he does not let politics pollute the purity of his understanding of the Bible. His evangelical understanding is also well within the tradition of hundreds of years of reformed Christianity and thousands of years of Christendom. (Perhaps that's the biggest difference between MacArthur and Hagee). Hagee recently seemingly retracted his anti-Catholic sentiments after getting into "trouble" after endorsing John McCain. MacArthur would never do this. He avoids politics, it seems to me, precisely to avoid these kinds of dilemmas.

So I'm going to play a clip of John MacArthur's on the Roman Catholic Church. Note, his criticisms are quite harsh. But again, they are well within the longstanding tradition of reformed evangelical Christianity. Question: Do MacArthur's sentiments qualify as "anti-Catholic bigotry"? Because if they do, I'll simply note, they come from the SAME PLACE (longstanding traditional religious teachings) that both the evangelical and Roman Catholic opposition to homosexuality come from.


Ron said...

Jon, as I believe you know, I am not an advocate of literalistic, dogma-driven, authoritarian,orthodox religion. I believe that we are, each of us, ultimately responsible for our own religious beliefs and convictions. Free-agency is the message of at least that segment of the Radical Reformation that I personally embrace. So, from my perspective there is absolutely no way we can or should "get a pass" from hateful and hurtful thinking by saying that the "Bible says it, and therefore I automatically and unquestioningly believe it."

Of course I can't speak for anybody else on this, but my own religious tradition doesn't consider that to be nearly as "tough" a question as some others.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Thanks Ron!

Always appreciate your comments.