Marco Rubio Thinks That Gay Marriage Is A Threat To ‘Religious Liberty’

Marco Rubio seems to be in lockstep with the extreme social conservatives when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Marco Rubio

Earlier this week, Florida Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio argued that the increasing recognition of same-sex marriage, which seems likely to become nationwide when the Supreme Court rules on the matter in June, is the first step toward a war against all Christians:

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio told the Christian Broadcasting Network that labeling those who oppose same-sex marriage as a “hater” or “homophobe” could pose a threat to Christianity.

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech, because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” the Florida senator said. “So what’s the next step after that? After they’re done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech. And that’s a real and present danger.”

The remarks, posted Tuesday on CBN’s website, came just weeks before the Supreme Court is set to rule on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Many legal experts believe the Court will invalidate gay marriage bans, in part because there are five justices who voted to advance gay rights as recently as 2013.

Rubio’s comments appear aimed at the evangelical base, a core Republican constituency that remains strongly against same-sex marriage even as a growing majority of Americans wants it to be legal. That dichotomy makes it a thorny issue: respected party strategists, including Rubio’s own pollster Whit Ayres, have warned that a candidate perceived as anti-gay won’t be able to connect with voters under 30. The Republican National Committee warned in a brutally candid 2012 election post-mortem that the party must be more “welcoming and inclusive” when it comes to gay rights or “young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

The rhetoric from Rubio, who is locked in a tough fight for the Republican nomination, was more aggressively in the CBN interview than last month when he was asked about the issue byMSNBC, a cable provider that attracts a largely left-of-center audience.

“Ultimately the decision on how we define marriage has always belonged to the states,” he said in the April 14 interview. “If in fact, as the polls indicate, a growing number of Americans believe that marriage between two individuals of the same sex should be legal, then they can petition their state legislatures and change their state laws. And in fact, I suspect you’ll see that happen. It’s already begun to happen.”

While Marco Rubio has not been the socially conservative firebrand that someone like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, or Rick Santorum have been, statements like this on his part are not entirely surprising given some of his past comments on these issues:

  • He once similarly cited “intolerance” against opponents of marriage equality — labeling them as “a hater, a bigot, or someone who is anti-gay” — asserting, “This intolerance in the name of tolerance is hypocrisy.”
  • He insists that people who disagree with him still have to respect him, insisting, “Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.”
  • Even though Rubio believes that homosexuality is a sin, he claims that he does not “pass judgment on people.”
  • In the same breath that he said that society should not “tolerate” allowing same-sex couples to marry, he claimed that it’s “not a discriminatory thing.”
  • He has cosponsored legislation that would allow government employees and business owners to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages for religious reasons with no penalty for the discrimination.
  • Rubio specifically told ThinkProgress that he does not favor “special protections” to ensure people are not fired just for their sexual orientation.

In addition to being consistent with his own past positions, Rubio’s comments here are consistent with an emerging consensus on the right that seems to clearly indicate how they will respond in the event the Supreme Court does rule in favor of same-sex marriage next month. As we’ve seen in recent months in Indiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as well as in cases involving Christian business owners stretching back several years now, the argument now isn’t so much against same-sex marriage itself as it is in favor of the argument that Christians ought to have the right to refuse to sanction or recognize such unions if they choose to do. One example of that idea can be found in North Carolina, where the Republican legislature passed a bill that would give government employees such as Court Clerks the right to refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding based on religious objections. That bill was vetoed today by the state’s Republican Governor but may still become law if the General Assembly is able to override his veto. As time goes on, one can expect to see measures similar to this proposed in states controlled by Republicans, although one has to wonder whether that is the image the the party will want to present to the nation heading into 2016. At the very least, the massively negative public reaction to the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which led to a quick decision to pass amendments to the law to make clear that it could not be used in a defense to claims of discrimination, along with polling on the issue, should make it clear that this is a huge political landmine for the GOP.

As for the substance of Rubio’s comments, they strike me as being mostly nonsensical. In the broadest sense, the assertion that because someone opposes same-sex marriage for religious reasons they should be immune from being judged for that opinion is utterly absurd. Very few people I am aware of have said that people such as Rubio shouldn’t be free to consider same-sex marriage immoral if and when it becomes the law of the land, so that’s pretty much a straw man argument on his part. What Rubio and others appear to really be saying, though, is that they should be free to hold their opinions about same-sex marriage while at the same time being free from being criticized for those opinions. Tolerance and free speech do not mean that someone is immune from criticism, nor do they mean that someone who speaks out against someone who continues to say that gay marriage is immoral is being “intolerant” or oppressing anyone. Rubio and other social conservatives are free to believe whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean that they are free from being criticized or free from the social consequences of expressing that opinion. In this respect, freedom of speech is very much a two-way street. It means that opponents of marriage equality are free to say whatever they want, but it also means that others are free to criticize them. As for arguments regarding business owners who discriminate against gays and lesbians being punished under the law, the answer there is to have an honest discussion about the reach and scope of anti-discrimination laws, not to give one group of people special exemptions from those laws based on religion.

Some analysts have suggested that Senator Rubio could be one of the handful of Republican candidates for President who will display an more open response to the Supreme Court’s expected action in the same-sex marriage cases. Based on these remarks, though, it’s pretty clear that he is more likely to fall in line with the hard-right social conservatives and double down on the rather ridiculous argument that granting people freedom and treating them equally is somehow a threat to religious liberty.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Religion, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    Your liberty stops where it impacts another person’s liberty. Nuff said.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    I think I have a two part reaction. Rubio’s actively campaigning for the vote of the GOP base, so there’s no reason to believe anything he says reflects his own opinions.

    However, as a conservative, he’ll come to believe his own BS, and he’ll get himself locked in, so yes, these statements can be taken at face value as reflecting his policy on the off chance he becomes Prez or Veep.

  3. humanoid.panda says:

    You should all see what Dreher makes of all this (he has three posts on the issue today: one endorsing Rubio as an honest defender of religious liberty, another vying to never send his children to fight for Crusades for American Style Democracy of the kind Rubio is itching to start, *and another one complaining that the Catholic Church in Ireland didn’t condemn the entire nation to hell after the referendum.) It’s really something to see a mind consumed by madness, one blog post at a time.

    ** The thing about the wars, warmly endorsed by his commenters, really enrages me. Not only that the f*cker supported the Iraq war AND called America to fight ISIS to save ME Christians, but he also makes the argument that trads should not join the army because the American state sees them as enemy. What would he say to African American c. 1941, you reckon? Is he mad enough to actually believe that this is where he stand viz. the American state now?

  4. Lynn Eggers says:

    Interesting that Rubio is so worried about his own “religious liberty.”

    How about the liberty of those religious groups who have long been eager to perform legal marriages for same-sex couples? The Episcopal Church in Minnesota, for example, had been performing commitment ceremonies for some 15 years before civil marriage became an option. I’m sure there are other churches in other states which see marriage equality as a goal, and which are only held back by the laws in their states.

  5. superdestroyer says:

    Considering that Rubio had no influence on policy or governance in the U.S. and has zero chance of every being president, why is anyone paying attention to the good senator’s opinion on any topics.

    Until there is polling that shows that the Republicans have any chance of winning, can everyone just agree to ignore them.

  6. humanoid.panda says:

    @Lynn Eggers: There is an old story about a meeting between an ultra-orthodox Rabbi and Ben Guriyon, the first Israeli Prime minister, and a RAbbi called Chazon Ish, the leader of the ultra orthodox community. According to the story, B.G asked C.I why should the Israeli state fund religious education, but get no say in what is taught. C.I responded with a talmudic story, about two carts meeting on a bridge: one full and one empty. The empty cart, according to Jewish law, must always give way in those circumstances. This means, the Rabbi explained, that since the orthodox have eternal Truth, and the seculars move with spirit of time, the latter are the empty cart, and any clash between them must be resolved in favor of the orthodox.

    This I think is the GOP/socon/traditionalist unstated assumption: that since we liberals are pragmatists and utilitarians, and change our principles when facts change, and committed to the rights of minorities, while they have Truth on their side, any clash between us and them must always end with victory for them, because a defeat for us is not a big deal, and defeat for them means being coerced departing from Truth.

    This, to put it mildly, not a healthy attitude to take in a democracy, but that’s what allows people like Rubio and Dreher to, for instance, both support Hobby Lobby and cry about the possibility that people who oppose gay marriage will lose their jobs: what matters is not whether you support employers or employees, what matters is that the full cart always has right of way.

  7. Paul Hooson says:

    Just like Disneyland sets standards to ride a ride, you know “You must be this tall”, maybe minimum intelligence standards for presidential candidates should be required….Some candidate’s feet don’t reach the pedals it seems…

  8. John D'Geek says:

    @Lynn Eggers:

    How about the liberty of those religious groups who have long been eager to perform legal marriages for same-sex couples?

    The problem is that Gay Rights advocates are not pressing the issue on the basis of religious liberty — something that I could get behind.

    @Doug: Where does “criticism” stop and “bullying and oppression” begin? Considering that there are plenty — including several on this board — that feel the State has the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies they find religiously objectionable. (c.f. “the Hitching Post” discussion). The CEO of Mozilla was famously fired for a private donation (aka “free speech”. A pizza shop was shut down for expression an opinion on a hypothetical question (“free speech”).

    That’s not “rights” — that oppression.

    You are right that we need a real discussion on these issues —- but that is something that is physically impossible as long as words like “bigot” and “intolerant” are tossed at opponents of gay marriage.

  9. Kylopod says:

    In reality, people like Rubio do a lot more damage to Christianity than those he criticizes, by attempting to hitch Christianity to his reactionary politics.

  10. M. Bouffant says:

    I can only guess that the Republican candidates still believe that this will work the way they think it did in 2004. After all, the polls are all liberal lies!

    Sen. Rubio sure does like his religious liberty though. He likes to switch it every few yrs. & apparently is a Catholic & an evangelical. Way to cover those bases!

  11. charon says:

    @John D’Geek:

    Considering that there are plenty — including several on this board — that feel the State has the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies they find religiously objectionable.

    Unless you can demonstrate some actual examples, this will continue to look like total baloney.

    the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies

    would seem like a pretty clear conflict with the First Amendment, no?

  12. Kylopod says:

    @John D’Geek:

    That’s not “rights” — that oppression.

    You don’t have a clue what “oppression” is.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    The farther toward pandering to the theocrats Rubio pulls the primaries, the easier things will be for Hillary. Do Republicans really not see that?

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @John D’Geek: Um, you might want to look at the law involving corporations before you stick your foot down your throat any further. Under present law, a Board of Directors can fire a CEO if they don’t like how he ties his TIE.

    A CEO does not have a right to not be ousted through standard acceptable procedures. You can whine about that as much as you want, but good luck changing corporate law.

  15. Mikey says:

    Well, if one defines–as many on the right do–“religious liberty” to mean “the liberty to impose our particular interpretation of barely-coherent Bronze Age mysticism on others in such a way that their right to equal treatment under the law is destroyed” then, yes, I suppose same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty.

  16. JohnMcC says:

    @superdestroyer: I realize that this comment required BOTH synapses that function in that cute little head of yours and there’s no chance you thought much about it, but it made me wonder what my Senator was responsible for when he’s not a candidate. Here’s what I found: Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Committee on Foreign Relations; Select Committee on Intelligence; Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

    So if my Senator is full of stupid ideas, I get poorly represented on topics of importance to me.

  17. Tillman says:

    @John D’Geek:

    Where does “criticism” stop and “bullying and oppression” begin?

    Philosophically speaking, the border between bullying and criticism is probably a tad vague but I imagine there’s implied threats in the former at least. Like, “stop talking about not allowing gays to marry, or we’ll fire you,” but subtler than that.

    Now oppression (or my favorite word in this usage, persecution) doesn’t start until they remove property from you because you want to keep “traditional” marriage the law of the land. The Mozilla CEO doesn’t count since, as grumpy’s already pointed out, the bylaws there are fairly clear. But we shouldn’t speak philosophically, that presumes too much good faith on your part.

    What I love is the same people who don’t believe there’s such a thing as cyberbullying can get in an uproar over people on social media calling SSM opponents bigots. They don’t see how there might be the thinnest, insubstantial link between the two.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    No one even bothers to note that Christians have spent 2000 years attacking, imprisoning, torturing and murdering everyone who disputed even the silliest of church doctrines.

    Being lectured by the adherents of the church that assisted in the enslavement of blacks, worked tirelessly to deprive women of any shred of equality, gave aid and comfort and moral support to the subordination and annihilation of native populations in the US, South America, Africa, Australia and Oceania, is really a bit much.

    Christians long ago surrendered their right to lecture anyone, anywhere on morality. Maybe next week we can hear from the Nazis and Communists on their opinions of how we should treat gays.

    Thankfully the young are abandoning religion in droves, and they won’t be coming back to the church.

  19. Argon says:

    So, I guess Rubio is not a fan of the Benedict Option. But he whines enough to be one…

  20. Pinky says:

    Marco Rubio doesn’t believe that gay marriage is a threat to religious liberty; at least, nothing cited in this article demonstrates that he does. He says that those who support gay marriage are headed in a direction that would lead to violation of religious liberty. Is it possible? Sure. There is already a belief that opposition to gay marriage constitutes hate speech. I’ve seen people argue that individuals, companies, and religions should have to comply with gay marriage directly and indirectly. We’ve all seen it. You can’t see A, B, C, D, and E happen and dismiss out of hand predictions of F. Not when the people who predicted A, B, etc. are predicting F, and the people who supported A, B, etc. are promoting F.

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    I’ve seen people argue that individuals, companies, and religions should have to comply with gay marriage directly and indirectly.

    What on earth does this even mean? How would you have to “comply” with marriage equality, if you yourself aren’t the person getting married, other than accepting that in most of the US it’s the law of the land and you don’t have any rights to deny married couples their legally mandated rights out of bigotry?

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    There is already a belief that opposition to gay marriage constitutes hate speech.

    Well, yes, some people will believe that you arguing that they don’t have a right to marry the person they love is hateful. Folks are funny that way. It’s crazy, isn’t it! All you want to do is deny them their basic rights as people, as human beings, as American citizens, all you want to do is make them live as second-class citizens, the butt of shame and scorn, and suddenly they turn around and accuse you, you! of being hateful!

    It’s a world gone mad, I tell you what.

  23. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky:

    I’ve seen people argue that individuals, companies, and religions should have to comply with gay marriage directly and indirectly.

    Please run that through the babble to English translator widget for us…

  24. Tony W says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Do Republicans really not see that?

    No, they will say that he’s not conservative enough, that’s why he lost.

  25. anjin-san says:

    @John D’Geek:

    The CEO of Mozilla was famously fired for a private donation

    Are you lying or ignorant? Brendan voluntarily submitted his resignation. You can argue that he was pressured into doing so, but of course that is not the argument you are making.

  26. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “Until there is polling that shows that the Republicans have any chance of winning, can everyone just agree to ignore them”

    That was no option. Unfortunately it was voted down, and then we all just agreed to ignore you.

  27. wr says:

    @John D’Geek: “Considering that there are plenty — including several on this board — that feel the State has the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies they find religiously objectionable. (c.f. “the Hitching Post” discussion). The CEO of Mozilla was famously fired for a private donation (aka “free speech”. A pizza shop was shut down for expression an opinion on a hypothetical question (“free speech”).”

    Um, don’t know if you noticed this, but neither of those terrifying incidents of brutal prejudice you mention have anything to do with “the state.” Mozilla realized that it was a bad idea to have an executive wielding opinions offending the bulk of their customers. And the idiots with the pizza place got a lot of hate mail, and then got a lot of money from morons. Nowhere was the government involved.

    And sorry… if you same something in public, the public will respond. Period. Don’t like it? Shut up.

  28. Lynn Eggers says:

    @John D’Geek: “Considering that there are plenty — including several on this board — that feel the State has the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies they find religiously objectionable.”:

    Right … just like the Roman Catholics have been forced to marry divorced couples, or the Armenian churches are forced to marry people who are not baptized Christians.

    And then there’s the church in Mississippi that refused to marry the black-white couple — nope, no legal consequences there, either.

  29. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: …not even gonna touch the oversimplification, obfuscation, and cultural baggage tied up in all that. Aside from noting the oversimplification etc. I think we’ve had this argument before. (I had a good line about how you were either drunk or not drunk enough, but now I’m drunk so it comes off a little hollow.)

    @Pinky: Not to pile on, but come on man! You make the (correct yet socially-inappropriate-around-here) point of people making lazy inferences about what Rubio said based on vague extrapolations of cultural signifiers, and then you go on to make lazy inferences etc. concerning people opposed to people opposed to same-sex marriage. First, it reflects badly on all of us (as people who make lazy inferences on this board all the time, barring a few who consistently cite data for their viewpoints) and second, it reminds me of a Jesus saying about logs in eyes that doesn’t make any sense unless you have a sense of humor.

    Sure, Rubio’s alluding to a slippery slope, but he’s also alluding to a worst-case scenario and presenting it as likely without any sort of caveat or mitigation. That’s not a statement worth defense. At best it’s a statement worth ignoring.

  30. Tony W says:

    @Tillman:

    not even gonna touch the oversimplification, obfuscation, and cultural baggage tied up in all that

    I did not see a single exaggeration or untruth in Mr. Reynolds diatribe. Any good that any church does has to be balanced with the evil done in its name. That includes molestation of little boys. That includes burning witches at the stake. That includes the torture and murder done in England under Henry VIII and Bloody Mary (among many others). That includes Mother Theresa’s horrific acts to the very poorest among us. These are evil people who are responding to voices in their head. Any sane society would lock them up, not put them in charge.

  31. Mikey says:

    @John D’Geek:

    Considering that there are plenty — including several on this board — that feel the State has the right to force religious officials to preside over ceremonies they find religiously objectionable. (c.f. “the Hitching Post” discussion).

    This is a total misrepresentation of the positions expressed in that discussion. Nobody on the equal treatment side asserted any religious official should be forced to perform a gay marriage. What we asserted was that a business must obey the laws that apply to a business. It’s those who oppose equal treatment under law who are demanding a special religious privilege to evade the laws that apply to every other public accommodation.

  32. Gromitt Gunn says:

    What the heck is the Hitching Post discussion??

  33. Lynn Eggers says:

    Gromitt Gunn says:
    Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 01:39
    What the heck is the Hitching Post discussion??

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/idaho-ministers-threatened-with-jail-for-refusing-to-perform-same-sex-wedding-ceremonies/#comments@Gromitt Gunn:

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    I am still amazed how many self-described progressives have defined their politics in terms of what the Republicans do wrong. I believe that use of the Republicans as a scapegoat for everything wrong in the country is impeding real political discussion and a real look at relevant political data.

    However, I guess it is easier and more fun to nitpick the other guy when the other guy is totally irrelevant to politics rather than focus on the dominant trend in American politics. Shouldn’t there be as many post of all political websites about Bernie Sanders than all of the Republican candidates since there is some slim chance that Bernie Sanders could be president (he just has to beat Hillary Clinton in a couple of early primaries) rather than focusing on totally irrelevant Republicans who stand no chance of winning a general election.

    Instead of focusing on what one Republican says and trying to extrapolate it to all Republicans (even though Republicans are irrelevant to policy and governance in the U.S.) why not focus one what the Democrats will do in the future when changing demographics will give them an unbeatable coalition and politics will be about entitlements, who gets them and who pays for them?

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Your religion does not trump my freedom. Keep it to yourself. I’ll even be polite and say “Please.”

  36. Mikey says:

    @superdestroyer: There are states within which Republicans are very far from irrelevant. In fact, 24 of the 50 states have both Republican-controlled legislatures and Republican governors, while only seven are similarly dominated by Democrats. Given that the discussion of marriage equality is in large part a state-level discussion, it makes sense to focus on the states, no? And so the Republicans are indeed relevant.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I am still amazed how many self-described progressives have defined their politics in terms of what the Republicans do wrong.

    You have misinterpreted the situation. Progressives do not define their politics in terms of what Republicans are doing. If Republicans were doing even remotely sane things — say, like they did during the Eisenhower administration — then progressives would be working with them in some areas and against them in others. Because the unifying feature of progressive policies is that they are progressive, not that they are anti-Republican. The former is necessary; the latter is contingent.

    I believe that use of the Republicans as a scapegoat for everything wrong in the country is impeding real political discussion and a real look at relevant political data.

    Again, you have mistaken cause for effect. What is impeding real political discussion in America is that the Republican party has gone batsh!t crazy, building an entire platform on protection of wealth at the expense of the economy, xenophobia, foreign military boondoggles, and the imposition of a de facto state religion. When there is a madman in the room swinging an axe, it is not the time for real political discussion.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: That fact is irrelevant to SD.

  39. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    Gonna shoot in both directions today. Pinky first. Pinky, Dreher’s argument ( and yours) is what’s called the slippery slope fallacy. (If A is allowed, then B,C,D, E inevitably follows) . It’s a logical fallacy. The reality is that every single step beyond A will have to be justified on its own merit. So making SSM legal does not inevitably mean that clergy will be required to officiate gay weddings, or that the Catholic Church will lose its tax-exempt status.
    Note that the Roman Catholic Church clergy are still not required to officiate at weddings where one or more of the celebrants are formerly divorced. The Roman Catholic clergy can , if they want to, refuse to offer communion to those who use contraception or who advocate for the right to have an abortion.

    Bottomline: SSM can be legal and constiutional and Christian churches can still be free to practice according to their faith-which is indeed the situation in every state where SSM has been made legal.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I am still amazed how many self-described progressives have defined their politics in terms of what the Republicans do wrong.

    Projection.

    Shouldn’t there be as many post of all political websites about Bernie Sanders

    The media, including OTB, are in the entertainment business. The current GOPs are way more entertaining than Bernie Sanders. A shame, because Bernie is saying stuff that deserves an audience. And Bernie’s polling even with what, the bottom 6 or 8 active GOPs combined?

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools:

    SSM can be legal and constiutional and Christian churches can still be free to practice according to their faith-

    Here is where your argument falls down. Their faith demands that they impose their beliefs on all others and any who do not comply must submit themselves to the judgement of the Inquisition.***

    ***snark, but not by much

  42. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: If you find the discussions that the hosts here choose, why don’t you go away and find someplace you can ride your little hobby horse until your legs fall off?

    The only thing more tiresome than an old racist hack who is terrified of everyone who doesn’t look exactly like him is a nag who posts message after message whining about how people are talking about what he thinks is important.

    And now I know we’ll get your standard lecture about how liberals only use snark because deep down we know you’re right. But take it from me — it’s not snark when I say that since you are so clearly dissatisfied with the level of conversation here everyone involved will be happier if you simply go away.

  43. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Alas, I have but one thumb’s up I can give to this comment.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: There. I helped.

  45. Tillman says:

    @Tony W:

    I did not see a single exaggeration or untruth in Mr. Reynolds diatribe.

    Perhaps history isn’t your bailiwick?

    Nearly all the torturing and murdering he ascribes to one religion was “secular”* authorities promoting laws against witchcraft, laws which existed prior to Christianity. (Ever read the phrase “traditional pagan witch hunt” before? That’s an odd one.) Later, the torture and murder is best understood as the medieval version of the chemtrails conspiracies: superstitions whipped into furor by local authorities (like that Qu’ran-burning crazy guy in Florida). The theological witch trials, notably the Inquisition, arose to prominence during the Reformation, also a period marked by widespread warfare in Europe.** Hell, the most infamous document on witch trials, the Malleus Maleficarum, was banned by the Catholics and the Inquisition. Fun fact: it was written by a disgruntled priest who’d been expelled from a bishopry for trying out his particular brand of “witch prosecution.”

    That includes molestation of little boys.

    Yeah, molestation. That’s something that never happened before Christianity, right? 😀 Or even on such a widespread scale supported by institutions, right?

    That includes burning witches at the stake.

    No real scriptural authority for burning witches, but as I noted above, laws against witchcraft were common as hell throughout the entire world. Again, all Christianity’s fault.

    That includes the torture and murder done in England under Henry VIII and Bloody Mary (among many others).

    That specific example is a wonderful one of political authorities using religion as means to rally people to their cause, what with it taking place during the Reformation, the greatest of excuses for English monarchs to squeeze out from inherited arranged marriages*** to avoid Spanish influence over the seas. The whole reason Henry couldn’t get a divorce had nothing to do with Catholic dogma as it applied to the rich and everything to do with the fact that his wife was Charles V’s aunt. And the Holy Roman Emperor had a lot of sway over the Pope, what with being the nearest “secular” authority.

    Read up on Charles V, he’s a very interesting figure. Could’ve wiped out Protestantism militarily if he wasn’t constantly dealing with Suleiman and the Ottomans.

    the adherents of the church that assisted in the enslavement of blacks

    Well that’s just racist! We enslaved plenty of people white, black, and every color inbetween for hundreds, thousands of years before black people got their, er, time to shine. But again, Christians did it. Never actually read anything about whether the particular racism of American slavery came from clergy writings or widespread practice being justified by clergy (so as to avoid social ostracism), I should look up a book on that…

    worked tirelessly to deprive women of any shred of equality

    I’m sure patriarchy didn’t exist until Christ was dead on the cross. See molestation, slavery, etc.

    gave aid and comfort and moral support to the subordination and annihilation of native populations in the US, South America, Africa, Australia and Oceania

    Can’t speak to Africa and Oceania, but I do know the Americas were mostly conquered for the white people by disease rather than force of arms. Without that factor, very likely the U.S. would be called something else. Or the exact same thing, but have a very different ethnic makeup. They might’ve named more states after defeated English kings, that would’ve been a nice irony. (Good historical fiction book for a scenario somewhat like this: The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson.)

    This isn’t apologetics, this is pushing back against lazy thinking and narratives. Note I only cite Wikipedia, and I found most of those with simple Google searches (probably placed me on a few interesting watchlists). To be fair I’ve also read a few of the books cited in those articles. It’s a fine narrative that religion can embody human depravity, but it’s plain wrong, as I said before, oversimplification, obfuscation, and cultural baggage. But no, equate Christians (or really any “purge” in history) morally with Nazis, that’s the truth.

    * Part of the real issue here is authorities before, say, 1650 in Europe anyway, were best described as “politicoreligious” — the Roman Emperor was both a deity and a worldly authority, divine right of kings to rule, state religions, and so on. Religion has been a facet of maintaining community for as long as humans have existed, so every time I put the word secular in quotation marks, that’s why.
    ** Glossing over a lot of complicated history here, but it mostly falls under the politicoreligious rubric. The Reformation was the undoing of a millennium-old social order in Europe from its theoretical (i.e. religious) underpinnings. That political violence followed isn’t hard to see, and that especially insane things are said and done in a world suffused with violence isn’t hard to imagine.
    *** Catherine of Aragon, the first wife, was engaged at three years old to wed Arthur, Henry VIII’s older brother. You’ve probably never heard of him because he died six months after their marriage. Fun fact: he probably wasn’t poisoned.

  46. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No one even bothers to note that Christians have spent 2000 years attacking, imprisoning, torturing and murdering everyone who disputed even the silliest of church doctrines.

    Being lectured by the adherents of the church that assisted in the enslavement of blacks, worked tirelessly to deprive women of any shred of equality, gave aid and comfort and moral support to the subordination and annihilation of native populations in the US, South America, Africa, Australia and Oceania, is really a bit much.

    Michael, gonna have to part company with you here. Present Christians should not be charged with the sins of their ancestors, any more than athiests should be prohibited from criticising others for the sins of their ancestors. (Athiests also supported slavery, subjugation of native populations, and female subordianation, offering up various “scientific” rationales instead of religious one.Athiests such as Carleton Coon continued to do so into the 1960s.). This is a definite “both sides” situation. So Pinky has a point here (that’s a sentence I didn’t see myself writing…).

    It’s best to stick to criticizing arguments, not attacking groups to which critics belong. Otherwise, we’ll be getting into arguments as to whether Torquemada was better or worse than Beria. Such arguments can lead to nothing good.

  47. Grumpy Realist says:

    @stonetools: what’s the old statement:”madness! Cats and dogs living together! Man-on-turtle sex! “

  48. Mikey says:
  49. ElizaJane says:

    Apparently Marco Rubio also believes that the whole problem in the Middle East is that Obama disengaged us, and we need to get back into the fray pronto. See his almost unbelievably ill-informed editorial in today’s Washington Post. So much for my hypothesis that he was a viable presidential candidate. Judging from the ample comments at the Post website, there is not even a single Republican troll willing to support his views.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @ElizaJane:

    See his almost unbelievably ill-informed editorial in today’s Washington Post.

    Wow.

    Yeah, that’s a pretty good description.

    “Middle East interventionism — because it has worked out so well every other time!”

    (I also love the fact that he can use the phrase “our regional partners” to refer to places like Jordan and Egypt, as opposed to say Canada and Mexico…)

  51. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    No, it’s not a both sides do it because only one side is making a claim to unique moral standing.

    I take as my Bible text, Matthew 7:2: “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

    The comparison to atheists fails because the faith is represented by a number of institutions, most importantly the Roman Catholic church. There is no atheist counterpart. Atheists are individuals, we have no institution.

    Christians do not claim to be just another item on the ideological menu. They claim to be divinely inspired. They claim to posses the capital T truth. Thy claim to be translating the thoughts and preferences of Almighty God to the world. They deserve to be judged by their deeds in light of their claims. By their standard of measure.

    Let’s take dealings with the Nazis. Now, apologists will claim that the church’s abject cowardice and sheepish collaboration with the worst regime in human history is no worse than that of any other institution – big business, for example. But the church claims a position on a moral pedestal and thus cannot properly be compared with institutions that claim no special moral standing.

    See also: torture, ethnic cleansing, slavery. One cannot prance around claiming to speak for God and claiming moral superiority and then, when confronted by uncomfortable reality, demand to be held to standards far lower than you apply to others. That’s hypocritical bullsh!t.

    Judging Christianity by Christianity’s own standards the results are disappointing to say the least. If I may paraphrase another Bible verse, Matthew 7:5, maybe they should get the plank – or the molested child, or the tortured orphan, or the whipped slave, or the massacred native – out of their own eye before daring to comment on anyone else’s presumed sin. By their own standards the church has no credibility as moral guide.

  52. stonetools says:

    @ElizaJane:

    Ordinarily, I welcome political candidates laying out their policy positions for all to see. But if I was an advisor to Rubio, I would advise him to quit. He is quickly making it clear that he is just not ready for the top job. His solution to the Middle East problems seems to be “Back to 2004.” Yeah, because things were so stable and peaceful then. Does he still think Iran and ISIS are on the same side? Sadly, the likely answer is yes.

    One WaPo commenter:

    ” this editorial disqualifies Rubio for President”

    +1.

  53. Another Mike says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    ***snark, but not by much

    Don’t be so modest, it’s total snark.

    It seems to me that a religious faith has the same power to force its values on others as any group has the power to force its values on others. Elected legislators acting within their constitutional authority decide which values to foster through law. Whether good or bad, we are stuck with the law until changed.

  54. JohnMcC says:

    @Tillman: Gosh, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army were actually mere land developers trying to improve the living conditions in Ireland. I know if I wait long enough you’ll explain those unfortunate mass murders to us, my friend.

    I am nostalgic for my adolescent belief. Sincerely wish I could feel that assurance that there is a loving God Who really cares about me enough to sacrifice Himself for me. But what I know of life tells me that nature and history are somewhat determined by the sequence that began with the ‘BigBang’ and prior history and to the individual, it is random. And what I experience of believers is that their faith is a way of drawing the line between US and THEM. Plenty of Christians would agree, I think, that there is a very, very slender thread of Jesus Christ growing through the church(es).

  55. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Judging Christianity by Christianity’s own standards the results are disappointing to say the least.

    Most serious Christians would agree with this, and would advance theological doctrines such as original sin to explain why this would be the case. But as an atheist, don’t you reject the very idea that there can be such a moral authority? A problem for atheists is that they are quick to judge historical Christianity, but the standard they use is pretty much that of -Christianity. They don’t really have an agreed upon standad to measure Christianity against.
    In the end , we’re left with the maxim ” Judge not, lest ye be judged”-which is a Christian standard. Even “don’t be hypocritical” is again, a Christian standard.

    For atheists, it is a puzzlement!
    But again, this is probably way OT. we should probably get back to Rubio.

  56. superdestroyer says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Go look at any progressive website. Out of the first ten posts, more than half will be about Republicans. However, there will be an absence of posta about Congressional Democrats, Democratic Party governors, or state legislatures controlled by Democrats. It is if all political stories must be about Republicans, how progressives hate them, and how they are stupid. Even many conservative sites have adopted the same manner of making posts. It is almost a 100% disucssion of the totally irrelevant Republicans instead of focusing on politics in the future when Democrats will control everything.

  57. superdestroyer says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yet, how many in the media are every going to ask Senator Sanders a gotcha questions. Many of the Republicans have been described as standing the path of social change and yelling stop. Yet, Senator Sanders can be equally seen as standing in the path of economic change in the world and yelling stop. Yet no one is ever going to describe Senator Sanders as crazy, reactionary, or just wanting to massively increase the power of the public sector at the expense of the private sector.

  58. Tillman says:

    @stonetools: that’s what happens when one religion controls an entire sort-of continent for a thousand years and change: it seeps into everything because for the longest time it was everything. Even secular and ethical humanism, the replacement for Christianity among thoughtful atheists, has its roots in metaphysical Christian thinking. It’s infuriating, or at least I imagine it is.

    @JohnMcC: Of course the Irish hated the Brits because of Christianity to begin with. 🙂 As I said, not practicing apologetics. Christianity as an institution has done horrible things, but to reduce its crimes down to a bland “religion has caused all the world’s problems” ethos, which I encounter everywhere in popular atheism, ignores human history. It’s a scapegoat for people who want to think humanity will somehow be better without religion.

    And to bring this back on-topic, it’s worse than poor thinking. It’s a political statement purely in opposition to idiots who think immunity to criticism amounts to “religious liberty.” You make the statements now, and in some decades they’re reinterpreted to fit those times sans context. A great deal of good ol’ country evil is perpuated by such reinterpretations. It’s like giving ammunition to the future to commit atrocities, or speaking about the Clinton Foundation. 😀

  59. superdestroyer says:

    @wr:

    I just believe that when anyone starts a serious wonky-type post about someone who is totally irrelevant to politics, policy, and governance; then, at least one person should point out how irrelevant the subject of the post is and what a distraction it is. Just like Progressives cannot pass up a post without writing about the Koch Brothers, the Clown Car, or blaming everything on Republicans, maybe a few people should point out that nothing that Senator Rubio proposes or says will ever become law. Even if Senator Rubio ever managed to actually propose legislation (something his staff appears incapable of doing) getting that legislation passed by Congress (something that he has no leadership ability to do) and managed to get it funded (even though the Republicans have managed to do nothing for 6.5 years) and get a Democratic President to sign it (which of course will never happen), the judifical branch will quickly strike it down.

    There is nothing less important in politics than a policy proposal from a Republican.

    So, once again, why not focus to those public figures who actually influence policy and governance such as Valerie Jarret or David Axelrod instead of irelevant Republicans. But then again, when politics is about status seeking instead of actual policy or governance, it makes sense to focus on the irrelevant.

  60. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    So, once again, why not focus to those public figures who actually influence policy and governance such as Valerie Jarret or David Axelrod instead of irelevant Republicans. But then again, when politics is about status seeking instead of actual policy or governance, it makes sense to focus on the irrelevant.

    LOL!
    Interesting that your so-called irrelevant Republican Party has shutdown the federal government 2 times in the past 5 years, and each time thought that a federal default was nothing to be concerned about. That brand of “actual governance,” and not Valerie Jarrett or David Axelrod, is what rightfully concerns me and any other sane voter.

  61. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “I just believe that when anyone starts a serious wonky-type post about someone who is totally irrelevant to politics, policy, and governance; then, at least one person should point out how irrelevant the subject of the post is and what a distraction it is”

    Distraction — from what?

    Do you think this is some kind of serious forum where the issues of the world will be debated, and then serious change will be instituted?

    This is a website where people come to BS about politics and whatever else. Nothing said here has any effect on anything in the world, except, apparently, your blood pressure.

    If you’ve been posting your drivel here for all these years thinking that you could actually accomplish something by doing so, you’re an even sadder cartoon that I imagined.

    You want to make a difference in the world? Great — go out and do it. But doing think that by posting here — or by pestering others into posting on your approved subjects — you’re doing anything but amusing yourself.

  62. stonetools says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Frankly, I wish that say, Valerie Jarrett was more influential in policy making than Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Chief Justice John Roberts, or John Boehner. But alas, I live in this universe.

    The world of SD is a world that most liberals would love to live in. Maybe one bright day….

  63. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:

    No. Morality predated religion, which explains why moral standards are almost identical in cultures as different as France and Japan, one of which barely encountered Christianity. My moral sense does not derive from Christianity – a religion just 2000 years old, coming into existence 1754 years after Hammurabi.

    So if you want to know how I know that murder is wrong, I would point to the fact that almost every religion, as well as religions that have no actual deity accepts that murder is wrong, and say that I got my morals the same place they all got theirs. We were once a tribe and then a people and later actual civilizations, and our moral code serves to maintain order and coherence and continuity for that tribe/civilization. Morality-ethics-manners are all there to serve the needs of broader organizations of humans. They evolve as necessary but you see very few cases where they lose touch with certain underlying basics, which suggests those basics may be hard-wired into the human brain.

  64. DrDaveT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Go look at any progressive website. Out of the first ten posts, more than half will be about Republicans. However, there will be an absence of posts about Congressional Democrats, Democratic Party governors, or state legislatures controlled by Democrats.

    Go to any house and garden website. Out of the first ten posts, more than half will be about termites, carpenter ants, Japanese beetles, powdery mildew, etc. There will be an absence of posts about butterflies, ladybugs, different colors of petunia, or flagstones vs. brick.

    Seems natural to me. When there are no more termites to worry about, we’ll talk about ornamental options.

  65. george says:

    @gVOR08:

    However, as a conservative, he’ll come to believe his own BS

    I doubt it, no more than the liberal politicians who were on record as being against it a decade ago came to believe their own BS.

    He, like just about every politician anywhere in the world, more than anything else believes he should be in power. Everything else – including principles, ideology and religion – is rounding error. Their positions on issues depends on what they think will get them there. For him, being anti-same sex marriage works now. If it turns out in a couple of years that Republicans (primarily the young) think otherwise, he’ll discover he really believed in same sex marriage all along.

    Its almost impossible to be too cynical about politicians.

  66. george says:

    @george:

    Its almost impossible to be too cynical about politicians.

    I’ll add that sometimes (like in the Democrats sudden discover that allowing same sex marriage is good) that cynicism is a good thing – it allows politicians to do the right thing despite having spoken against it recently.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @george: I certainly agree that politicians lie, all politicians. Worse than lying, they’ll say anything they think will work at the moment without regard to truth. There’s a good book on the subject, On Bullshit, making the case that BSing without regard for truth is actually worse than consciously lying.

    When Obama favored civil unions but not marriage, for gays, that was probably a lie, or at least not an expression of his personal opinion, but it was a political calculation. He knew exactly what he was doing and is probably completely honest with himself that that’s what he did.

    But I think that if you watch conservatives you’ll see a repeated pattern of lying for political purposes, then coming to believe it. Death panels, Nancy Pelosi is a terrible person, Benghazi, tax cuts reduce the deficit, etc. Oh wait, no, you won’t see it because you believe it all.

  68. Dave D says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Sincerely wish I could feel that assurance that there is a loving God Who really cares about me enough to sacrifice Himself for me.

    It is even worse than that. A loving God who sacrificed himself for me from himself, because apparently he couldn’t just make some sort of executive decision.

  69. Stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Will all due respect, Michael, you seriously underestimate the diversity of religious and moral thought in history. You probably got murder is wrong not from some rational thought process but from society around you, which got it from -you guessed it ,the Ten Commandments. FWIW , there are plenty of societies out there that would not define murder as you and I do-not even close. I’d also disagree with you that historical Japan and France had similar moralities. Modern Japan and France have similar moralities today because they are both part of modern Western civilization , which has a morality based largely on you know what religion.

  70. Stonetools says:

    @gVOR08:
    I think a lot of politicans believe their own BS. Sadly , I think Rubio is one of them, which makes him even less qualified to be President. If he truly believes that Iran and ISIS are on the same side, then it’s not a question of just him being dishonest- he would actually be a danger to himself and the rest of the world if he was elected President.

  71. Ian says:

    @george:

    My thoughts exactly!

    @george:

    Case in point: LBJ on Civil Rights, and Nixon in Beijing and Moscow. In fact, it’s largely because Johnson dominated the Dixiecrats and Nixon had a “tough” reputation that they could grease these things through. Even then, it took all their skill to do so.

    Sometimes you need a thief to go after a thief.

  72. Ian says:

    @Tillman
    Of course the Irish hated the Brits because of Christianity to begin with. 🙂 As I said, not practicing apologetics. Christianity as an institution has done horrible things, but to reduce its crimes down to a bland “religion has caused all the world’s problems” ethos, which I encounter everywhere in popular atheism, ignores human history. It’s a scapegoat for people who want to think humanity will somehow be better without religion.
    :

    I personally think that religion can be used for social good. Spirituality aside, I think there is a necessity for ritual in society, and if religion is used for that purpose, that’s fine. It can also be used for social bad, and in history, it has often turned out that way once it gets integrated with the power structure. To an extent this was necessary in history-Buddhism is famous for non-violence, but the sects who had to up against Islamic invaders were thus wiped out for a reason-but more often, it wasn’t. The problem thus isn’t with religion itself, it’s with those who would corrupt it.

    Faith is something that is up to the individual, to believe or not to believe. To each his own.

    What is the inescapable truth is that even though much of the West is not religious anymore, much of the world still is, and thus it is crucial to state that religion is not the problem, religious extremism is. Not just because that is the truth, but cultural contempt doesn’t win allies.

    BTW, one thing I’ve found interesting is that people in East Asia are often attracted to Christianity for the same way that many Americans are interested in Buddhism. It’s exotic, it’s not “corrupt” or part of the state, etc. Of course, this worked out in some places better than others. South Vietnam had strong religious tensions between Catholics and Buddhists.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Another Mike: Wow.

    Just “Wow”.

    According to you, “Leave me alone.” Is exactly the same as “Do what I tell you or else!”

  74. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: Well, dear Michael, I really think you push your argument a couple of yards too far. “No religion” has ever practiced murder? Even granting you the definition of ‘religion’ that would exclude frankly murderous sacrificial cults that could be listed (the Mayans, the worship of Ba’al) there still is a fairly target rich environment. The Christianity of the deep south quite recently accomodated lynching. One of my favorite quotes is from the time the British Raj forbade the Hindu practice of Suttee (or as I see it is now spelled – Sati), the immolation of a widow upon the death of her husband:

    This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

  75. gVOR08 says:

    I thi9nk it might be more correct to see war and morality as largely a matter of tribalism. And religion as a primary marker of tribe.