Friday, April 20 , 2018, 7:25 pm | Fair 59º


Randy Alcorn: Bible Thumpers a Tedious Obstacle for Justice, Civil Liberties

The animus from a broad coalition of religious groups has been the obstacle against not only same-sex marriage but also against homosexuality itself, which many, but not all, Christians and Jews consider sin. The reaction by these religious groups to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which effectively legitimizes same-sex marriage and prohibits discrimination against it, is telling in that it clearly demonstrates the danger to secular governing and to fundamental civil rights that religion has been and can be.

Here are several samples of those reactions — the thunder of thumping Bibles.

Southern Evangelical Seminary president Richard Land said, “Defining marriage for the American people is way above the Supreme Court’s pay grade. God created marriage and he has defined its parameters, regardless of what the majority of Supreme Court justices might think.”

Tim Wildmon, president of the religiously oriented American Family Association, said, “We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country — a country that was founded on biblical principles.”

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued a statement affirming “the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages.”

From the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City: “While civil law establishes societal standards of conduct, we must also consider the natural law, moral law and divine revelation. It is from these fonts of wisdom and grace that we Catholics understand that marriage between one man and one woman is a gift to humanity. The blessings of such a marriage cannot be legislated, litigated or changed by civil authorities.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: “Jesus Wept, 5 people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of CA and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May he forgive us all.”

One wonders if these people are wistfully envious of those nations where Sharia law, the moral code and religious law of Islam, supersedes secular law as the law of the land.

In a healthy democracy, religious morality and secular law will not and should not always correspond. Religious moralities are encased in theology; fixed, frozen ideas rejecting any contradictory evidence or logic. As the universe evolves and things change, theology remains chained to ancient “truths,” and can stagnate into a pond of ignorance breeding fear and hatred of anyone or anything not compliant with “divine” doctrine.

On the other hand, secular law, like the U.S. Constitution, while ensuring basic human rights, can be amended to recognize and respond to new knowledge, changing conditions, evolving sensibilities, discoveries and reason.

Theology, without any credible evidence or even cogent logic, assumes it has found the ultimate truth, so no need to keep searching for it or to consider any new ideas or knowledge. Indeed, for some religious folks, critical thinking is dangerous. Certain members of the Texas Legislature attempted to prohibit critical thinking classes from public school curriculums because they feared that such intellectual exercise would cause children to question the Bible. Apparently for some folks, ignorance is bliss and critical thinking leads to heresy.

Brainwashed in a baptism of biblical bunk, many Christians have condemned homosexuality as an affront to God, and homosexuals as immoral deviants who are certainly not entitled to the rights concomitant with marriage as enjoyed by heterosexuals. These devout stone-throwers contend that morals are determined by God and that there can be no morality without hope of divine reward or fear of divine punishment — without which civilization would descend into darkness and debauchery.

Real-life evidence, however, refutes these contentions. Moral behavior is not predicated on having religion.

The core issue here is belief versus reality, faith versus fact. Until any of these religious busybodies can provide irrefutable evidence that their version of god is real and that their holy scriptures and moral codes are written by that god, they have no superior standing in shaping secular law or dictating what is moral behavior to which all of society must adhere. It has become a tedious annoyance that society has to continually wrestle with these religious bigots in order to maintain equal justice and civil liberties.

Belief is not knowledge, and religious belief is at best hope that some omnipotent something has everything scheduled out and under control. The truth is that no one knows for certain what is or if there is such a power. The most truthful thing any of us can say is that creation is a mystery.

That mystery will never be solved by deluding ourselves with religious fantasies and clinging to petrified theologies. Better that we employ theory rather than theology. Theory is a tentative explanation that is receptive to further research, discovery and evidence that will confirm, refute or alter the theory. It is a process toward truth, intellectually viable and vibrant.

Whatever created us, we were given brains capable of tremendous comprehension, inventiveness and discovery. Why disable that to cling to obdurate dogmas and delusional fantasies? That is truly immoral.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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