Don Davis

On Saving Us From The Immoral, Or "Ready, Fire...Aim!"

Filed By Don Davis | August 19, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Christian beliefs, GBLT, LBGT, LGBT history, politics, Prop 8, Religion, same-sex marriage

It was about a week ago that we saw the ruling throwing out California's Prop 8; that decision has now been appealed, and we will see, at some point in the future, how the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handles the matter.

A couple of days later, I had a story up that walked through the ruling, describing the tactics used by the Prop 8 proponents, which, in the opinion of the Judge who looked at the evidence, were basically to try to scare Californians into thinking that gay people, once they're able to get gay married, will somehow now be free to evangelize your kids and make them gay, too.

In the course of answering comments on the several sites where the story is up, I noticed that there were those who felt the Bible should be guiding our thinking here...that if it did, we would be better off than where we are today, with all those immoral gay people running around free to do all those immoral gay things.

This led me to an obvious question: are those who have been using the Bible as a sort of "divining rod" to figure out who is immoral and who is not...actually any good at it?

There are those who seem surprised that a defective rattrap like the Mulford law could be endorsed by the legislature of a supposedly progressive, enlightened state. But these same people were surprised when [California's] Proposition 14, which reopened the door to racial discrimination, was endorsed by the electorate last November by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

--From "The Nonstudent Left", by Hunter S. Thompson, published in "The Nation", September 27, 1965 (links were added for this story)

So as I said above, there are lots of folks who are just absolutely convinced that the Bible can effectively help us figure out who is being moral and who is being immoral; others are convinced that, with the proper application of the "Judeo-Christian values" that form the basis of our system of Government, we can protect ourselves from the immorality that constantly threatens out American Way Of Life.

Let's see how that's been working out.

For about 400 years Christians tried, and tried again, to save Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the immoral Muslims; we know those efforts as the Crusades. In the effort to save the world from that immorality thousands upon thousands of Christians and Muslims were killed in war, thousands more Jews were killed who just kind of happened to turn up along the way, and in 1212, thousands of children either did or did not participate in another Crusade that led virtually all of them into either death or slavery.

Still another Crusade ended the immorality of rivals competing for Venice's monopoly control over the marketing of Byzantine trade goods. (That took two years, from 1202 to 1204 and led to the sacking of Constantinople).

Here's what happened with yet another effort to protect Europe from the immoral:

When national feeling and the adoption of religious ideas later associated with the Protestants made Bohemia a threat to European stability, at least in the eyes of the Holy Roman Empire and the pope, a Crusade was declared against Hussites, who were named for John Hus, their first leader. Some decried this as a false Crusade, saying that greed was being sanctified by ecclesiastical banners. But most of Europe endorsed the brutal warfare and the reimposition of Catholicism. This was, in their eyes, a Crusade for Christ's church and people, as valid as any of the expeditions to the Holy Land.

It turns out that believing in "ecclesiastical poverty" was another one of those immoral things that had to be stamped out to protect the rest of us...and that's why certain French Christians were subjected to the Inquisition, starting in the 1300s.

Being a Jew could be immoral, too, which is why officials of the Spanish Inquisition killed somewhere between 10,000 and 600,000 of those who refused to convert to Christianity as the Moors were being driven out of Spain.

Ever heard of Galileo? He became famous because he built telescopes that could prove that the Earth orbits the Sun...which was immoral because it was heretical (which essentially means the Church, who told everyone else what the Bible really means, did not agree). He did not have a fork shoved through his chest and jaw to shut him up before he was burned at the stake for those beliefs because he had friends in high places who could protect him.

Ever heard of Father Giordano Bruno? He believed the same things, he had no friends in high places...and he did get the Heretic's Fork, after which he was burned at the stake to protect the public from his particular brand of immorality.

Sorcery was immoral from the beginning for Church theologians, but magic was OK. Believing in witchcraft was immoral, before 1400, and those who believed in witches, the Bible told us, were heretics who needed to be punished for the protection of the rest of us...but by 1487, when the Malleus maleficarum was published by the Catholic Church, practicing the witchcraft which recently didn't even exist was now considered idolatry and apostasy, punishable under law...and all that is a long way of saying that thousands and thousands and thousands of "witches" were killed, on orders of the Church and local authorities, partially to try and stop the bubonic plague, which, as the Bible taught us, was being caused by witchcraft...which only recently, the Bible taught us, didn't even exist.

Do you know what a Bruloir might be?

It's an oven that is specially designed to cook the living person inside in the most painful way possible (you put them in a cold oven, then heat it up)...and it really gained popularity as a moral means of killing those plague-promoting witches in the second half of the 16th Century.

I could go on and on and on...but let's have a look at where we've been so far, and see what we can learn:

If you believed that the Earth orbits the Sun, and you taught that to others, you were immoral, a heretic, and a menace to society, and had to be exterminated for the good of the rest of us.

If you believed that being Islamic and living in Jerusalem was no big were immoral, a heretic, and a menace to society, and for hundreds of years entire Christian armies were going to try to exterminate you for the good of the rest of us.

Immoral, at least once.

Immoral, at least twice.

Exterminations all around, please.

When the witches caused crop failures, or the plague, or engaged in their orgiastic behavior, we were darn lucky to have the Bruloir available for the protection of our collective

Even to this very day, theologians warn us to beware of rock 'n' roll, I kid you not, because "these musicians have been primarily responsible for the dramatic rise in Satanic practices among young people today."

And now it's the damn homos, wanting to destroy our American Judeo-Christian Bible Law And Morality with their efforts to get fag married and turn our babies into lesbian cannibals...even though Pastor Fred Phelps very clearly tells us that God hates Fags....which they somehow can't seem to understand, which is why we have to pass laws to try and protect our Judeo-Christian values.

Now I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade here, and I know this is a great campaign issue for Republicans, but if you're standing in front of the "Protecting Morality Scoreboard", and the score reads, say, 0-11, and you're the 11, and every time you've screwed it up so far piles of bodies end up strewn all over the place...and now you're here to tell us that God and the Bible want to shut down the same-sex weddings because you just absolutely know that they're a moral threat to society...why, exactly, are we supposed to believe you have any idea what you're talking about?

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You realize you're going to make fundie brains hurt if they read this, right? I doubt most of them made it past the jump without giving up after words like "proponents," "divining," and, worst of all for fundies, "evidence."

I mean, why would you insult them like that in the first paragraph? Evidence? You demand evidence? God says fundies don't have to do it your way. Top that. So there. Nyah.

Or something.

i had someone tell me that students from the 1880s are more literate than today's students--and it makes me wonder if the real message behind "back to basics" is that we want our kids knowing things...but not too many things.

Somewhere on your European scorecard, Don, you ought to include the perception (I will not call it a "fact" although it probably could be proven) that, as we now begin the 21st Century, North and Western Europe is one of the most pro-atheistic areas on the globe ... along with Communist China, where secularism is virtually mandated ... and after all those European crusades, campaigns, wars, purges, beheadings, royal intrigues, and inquisitions, what do the Christians of Europe have to show for it? Other than a lot of very old, very ornate churches that attract a lot of tourist dollars?

Yet the Muslims are still the "bad guys" ... but now for social, political and cultural reasons, not directly religious reasons.

I would say the score is at least 0-12 ... would you agree?

depends on where you are.

i wouldn't necessarily be thinking of italy, for instance, as one of those atheist-leaning countries. germany, austria, and poland are most assuredly catholic countries, and, underneath the facade of no religion allowed, france is also a very catholic country.

bit of religion being practiced there as well, i'm thinking.

know what i think?

i think we've had so much religion being practiced so fervently in this country for so long that when we see a "normal" level of religious engagement in another country, to us it looks like near-atheism.

one more comment:

the romans grew a giant empire, as did the persians, as did the greeks...and then came islam, in the name of allah, and then islam was driven out of europe...and then, in the name of god (same guy, by the way, as allah), christians went to save some real estate from people who believed in the same god they did.

and in the middle of all that were vikings and vandals, celts and mongols, and various and sundry warlords--and as far as i can tell, every single one of 'em was basically looking to jack something from one or more of the others, or from some third party, and i don't know if that's because of the evil nature of empire...or if it's the evil nature of man.

Great article Don! The bible was never meant to be used as a weapon to oppress!

the funny thing is, most of the history we're talking about in this story was from a time before the printing press.

when printing became available, people thought having the ability to interpret the bible for themselves would lead to a better world, as they no longer had to depend on the church to tell them how to get to heaven.

as we now know, that didn't work out as well as folks might have thought.

Yeah, too bad no one could read Koine Greek for themselves. The translations were, and are, horrendous.

i'm not sure it's even that: it seems to me that a lot of folks at the time thought this would end the ability of the church to manipulate them by twisting the meaning of those words to fit their own needs--but, in fact, we saw both the reformation and the very history we're talking about here, one right alongside the other.

if you really wanted to get deep about it, you could almost say that this is a comment on the collision between our utopian nature and our ignorance and malleability as a species...and you could easily say that that history is a big part of the civil rights discussion that takes place, on these pages, every single day.

Great points all around. As soon as you say something else is in charge of your morality, there will be three dozen people looking to exploit that faith.

that's it exactly: own your own morality.

even if you choose to associate with others in a shared morality, you still have to be watchful, and you have to make sure you're not being led off the path you wanted to take.