Friday, November 7, 2014

Atheists Don't Own LGBT Issues

One of Larry Krauss's  great arguments as to why "Skeptics" for which you may safely substitute the word "atheists" should eagerly anticipate the demise of religion within a generation is the citation of gay marriage.

 “People say, ‘Well, religion has been around since the dawn of man. You’ll never change that,’” Krauss stated.

“This issue of gay marriage, it is going to go away, because if you’re a a child, a 13-year-old, they can’t understand what the issue is,” he continued.  ”It’s gone. One generation is all it takes.”

Which is the kind of thing you might expect to hear from a straight guy who knows little to nothing about gay folk and even less about gay history.  The fact is that most gay folk are religious.  Since the go-to source for these things, quite often misrepresented in atheist and media presentations is the Pew survey, here's a chart of its results in just that question.

And I strongly suspect that the presentation probably minimizes the actual identification of religious belief among LGBT folk.  I wouldn't say I'm a member of an actual church but I am certainly religious.  Membership in a church is often a formal thing but religious belief is not formal, neither is identification with a particular religious tradition.   As I've also pointed out, Pew would include me in their catch all category of "Nones" which are often claimed by atheists as belonging to their club.   I am certain that these survey organizations report their results in ways they know will generate buzz and click counts just as the online magazines and news organizations that misrepresent their numbers do.  And for the past decade, the dedicated haters of the atheist community are one of the surest means of doing that.  Like all haters, as can be seen in the activities of other hate groups, online, they have an insatiable urge to give themselves that self-affirming charge.

So, no, atheists don't get to claim gay folk or gay marriage as one of "their" issues.   As I've pointed out before, in my state it was specifically the support that churches and religious organizations gave to marriage equality, citing the justice tradition of The Bible, in most cases AND THE VOTES OF CHRISTIANS, JEWS AND OTHERS which made it possible to legalize gay marriage over the objection of the sitting governor, the repulsive Paul LePage.

There is certainly a long history of gay folk being involved with religion,  among the earliest supporters of rights for "homosexuals" were ministers and clergy.  In the United States, the United Church of Christ has a history of welcoming LGBT people that half a century ago was far ahead of many secular and scientific institutions.   They began ordaining openly gay ministers in 1972, the year before the psychiatric-psychological establishment were unwillingly forced to stop calling being gay a mental illness.   I doubt that anti-gay invective would be tolerated among liberal Christians and Jews I know, not even among those who are relatively moderate.  If you wanted to get jumped on for making those kinds of comments, try making them in a Quaker discussion group.  I would bet you that you would get faster and more decisive flack for that there then you would on a comment thread on many atheist websites.

In my experience, having been the victim of anti-gay violence several times and threatened more times than I'd care to enumerate, those men and women (yes, women) who threatened me were notably not motivated by religion.  Certainly if their willingness to take The Lord's name in vain and to do unto others as they would not have done unto them, their treatment of the stranger among them, etc. is any indication, they would qualify as non-religious, if not anti-religious.  My experience of those most severe forms of discrimination are totally secular.   I doubt that the general atheist welcoming of gay folk is all that atheists like to pretend it is.   In online brawls, I've gotten downright gay-hating comments that had more in common with what my attackers said than with what any strongly religious liberal Christian ever said to me.


  1. “This issue of gay marriage, it is going to go away, because if you’re a a child, a 13-year-old, they can’t understand what the issue is,” he continued. ”It’s gone. One generation is all it takes.”

    Slavery is gone, too. While it was defended by religious people, it was opposed by religious people, too. The latter carried the day, even in the North where most people figured the issue had nothing to do with them; except for the moral issue, pushed hard by religious people.

    And one could easily argue that gay marriage became inevitable the moment Protestants in this country disconnected marriage from religion and turned the latter over to the state (why do you think the state authorizes who can officiate at weddings?). Protestants didn't want marriage to be a sacrament (a la Rome) and saw no reason for the power to marry to reside in the church (again, a la Rome). So they established marriage as a state institute first and foremost, with religion actually providing no more than a picturesque setting and a religious blessing. The marriage itself is authorized by state law (the church doesn't tell you you can't marry your cousin) and governed by state law.

    Which is pretty much why gay marriage is now so widely accepted. Churches may not accept it, but they really have no say in the matter.

    Krauss is an idiot. He should stick to cosmology, he's out of his depth here.

  2. So, I posted that comment, then I found this:

    The only people who take Krauss seriously on the subject of religion are the ones who know as little about religion as he does.