So Long, Anti-Gay Christian ‘Values’ December 10, 2010

So Long, Anti-Gay Christian ‘Values’

You may have heard the awful story about how Belmont University fired the women’s soccer coach, Lisa Howe, because she is expecting a child… with her same-sex partner.

The best commentary I’ve read about it comes from Christy Frink, a social worker in Nashville. In her life, she has gone from Southern Baptist to Focus on the Family magazine reader to pro-life-activist to George W. Bush-supporter… to having gay friends over the past few years… to now being completely free of any lingering homophobia:

… I’ll gladly go stand on a sidewalk with a bunch of gay people and hold up a rainbow-colored “Equality” sign if I think it’ll help, and I don’t really care if someone driving by thinks that I’m gay.

What Belmont did to Coach Howe disturbed me enough that I was finally able to shake that last bit of homophobia out of my heart and recognize that treating a human being that poorly because of her sexual orientation is completely and utterly wrong. Because of its position of leadership in this community, the Belmont administration’s enforcement of a policy rooted in ignorance and exclusion is poisoning the city of Nashville and painting a face on all of us that is hateful and unwelcoming. It breaks my heart to think of that attitude driving the future of Belmont and of Nashville, and I’m beyond committed to doing everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. It starts with an open and honest dialogue, and that can start right here.

I’ve said this before, but if there’s one good thing to come out of all the anti-gay forces in the Christian church, it’s that people — young people, especially — are finding it so easy to walk away from the church. They see how their friends get treated by True Christians and they want nothing to do with it. They may still hold on to their god, but the homophobia disappears quickly.

It’s one of the biggest issues on which the church is so obviously wrong. Everyone can see that. And if you’re still attending one of those churches where the pastor rails against homosexuality, you’re part of the problem. As the saying goes, “Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads ‘not guilty'”…

I really do think the longer churches hold on to this position that homosexuality is somehow wrong or immoral or a sin that’s somehow “more equal” than other sins, the more quickly they’re going to bleed young followers. Which is better for everyone, really.

To anyone still in those churches: break away. You’re better off without them and their vile beliefs.

(Thanks to Jon for the link.)

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  • Jen

    Thanks for posting this, Hemant!

    As a Nashvillian and graduate of Belmont I just wanted to point out that the school, though obviously it still has a ways to go, has made strides to being more accepting of people with various backgrounds over the past several years.

    It still considers itself a Christian University, but it broke away from the TN Baptist Convention several years ago and leans on the more liberal side of many issues. It’s known as a major liberal arts school, its biggest programs being the Music Business and Music schools. That said, there are a lot of LGBT students that attend.

    They are feeling a lot of pressure from students, alumni and faculty to change their non-discrimination policy. I feel positive that with time (and threats from rich donors) they will change it.

  • Theresa

    It’s encouraging to know that people are looking to their personal experience to realize that the homophobic doctrines are wrong. Maybe this will lead them to question the authority behind religion as a whole.

    Also, many religious groups will become less homophobic in order to retain members who won’t accept the old ways. Either way, society is better off.

    I just worry who will become the next scapegoat and moneymaker for the fire-and-brimstone set.

  • Tyris

    I don’t know. As an atheist, I’m not offended in the slightest by a graduation ceremony being held in a large building that also happens to be used for church services a few days a week. The presence of the cross is iffy, but if it becomes an issue it can be covered with an American flag or a banner honoring the graduating class. The only part that I would take issue with is the video message from the preacher. That is the point(when the venue owners start proselytizing) at which we can draw a line and say “Good luck finding another guaranteed source of yearly income.”

  • I love reading stories like this. It’s so good to know when someone starts to at least take their humanity seriously and at least takes that part of their life to start thinking for themselves instead of letting other’s hateful words echo in your head.

  • Good for her. The homophobia of my church is what got me away from it, then it was a slow rationalizing process for me to dump being Christian at all, followed by my realization of my own bisexuality and gender confusion.

  • MsLeading

    It’s a nice commentary, except for the “open and honest dialogue” part. We are not going to change the minds of fundamentalist groups, and it’s a waste of time to try. What we need is a commitment to the fact that there is no “other side” to human rights and equality, and we need people refusing to deal with groups who take anti-humanitarian and anti-equality stances. They need to be shunned and shamed for their backward, ignorant views, not given a voice in a dialogue. They are on the wrong side of history, and it’s about time we start treating them as such.

  • Cheryl

    I graduated from Belmont in 1985 and was an RA there for four years. My best friend was gay. The Dean of Admissions was gay. There were at least three homosexual professors that I knew of and a couple of others unconfirmed. There were several gay and lesbian students. As an RA, I can tell you there was a lot of sex in the dorms.

    Attending Belmont is what made me finally realize the stupidity of religion. Belmont is the reason I’m an Atheist. Belmont is the reason I stand up for GLBT rights.

  • Mike G.

    “I don’t really care if someone driving by thinks that I’m gay.”

    Finally! I am a founding member of my University’s Freethinkers’ Society and we do work with a particular GLBT Group on campus. Well, because of this I often have a lot of their fliers and such and I like to keep them on my desk at work so (homophobic) people can circumvent my area. =) Works out oh, so sweetly!

  • It’s harder to dehumanize a class of people when you personally know them. This is the key to gaining more acceptance of homosexuality, and it’s the model we should be following as atheists. The more people know an atheist personally, the harder it will be to vilify us or listen to the hatred spewed against us by the Religious Right.

  • LeAnne

    I definitely agree with The Big Blue Frog.

    It is indeed harder to dehumanize a group when you know them personally. One of the things that lead to the denouncing of my religion was exactly this. My grandmother is a lesbian and I had an incredibly hard time coming to terms with the fact that my religion (at the time) said she was wrong, immoral, etc.

  • Big Blue Frog above is right – when you know good people who are gay, it’s hard to maintain your homophobia.

    That’s why “coming out” has been such an effective strategy for gays to win rights and social acceptance. They started demonstrating that they really were a substantial part of society all across the U.S.

    Atheists need to mimic this and be bold enough to “come out” when asked about their religious beliefs. The more individual atheists who take this courageous personal stand, the quicker America will accept us as a viable, legitimate group in society.

  • I agree too. When you personally know a good person who is gay, you know all that homophobic speech is bullshit. However, doesn’t that work with everything though? If you personally know a good person who is a pedophile, wouldn’t you find it hard(er) to believe hateful things generally said of all pedophiles?

    Just a thought.

  • Larry – the difference is, we know that pedophiles, as nice as they may seem, do harm to children. What harm do gay people do (besides making baby Jesus cry)?

  • Samiimas

    I’m amazed this hasn’t gotten a commenter yet claiming theirs nothing wrong with their church saying gay people are sinful and evil, that it has absolutely no correlation with gays having a higher suicide rate and that theirs a huge difference between them and the southern baptists/mormons/etc who thought blackness was a sin. *the huge difference is that they say the bible means A and the racists say the bible means B*

  • SecularLez

    I agree VERY much with Big Blue Frog.
    There are a few bisexual people in my family but I’m the only one OPEN about my attraction to women.
    In any case, I notice being more open about my life has helped people in my family sort of ease their opinions with homosexuality.
    I know some of them probably have issues with it but they’re not going to vote against my rights at the ballot box and won’t support anti-equality candidates.

    It isn’t full acceptance and I’m just fine with that. I’m 20 years old and vowed to myself some years ago that I would live my life for me, not for the approval of others.

  • Um, Larry, pedophilia is a bad behavior. I personally know of one who’s been a fire fighter going on 4 decades now. He’s still an asshole. That’s kind of like saying is an arsonist (something else some firefighters have turned out to be) a good person?

    I too have to agree with Big Blue Frog. It’s much easier to hate a group than it is an individual. I agree it’s important to come out but I don’t think anyone should be outed against their will. I hated when the gay movement did that and I don’t think we should either. That’s an individual choice each person who has to live with the consequences of doing so needs to make for themselves.

  • JustSayin’

    I agree it’s important to come out but I don’t think anyone should be outed against their will.

    I agree, unless the individual is in a position of power and uses that influence to undermine other gays or gay rights. Then it’s gloves off!

  • Hmmm…. JustSayin’, in that case, it serves them bloody well right and also takes some of that power away from them. Yep, I think I can agree with outing them in that scenario.

  • amber

    The Bible stays the same. A church isn’t (and shouldn’t) randomly change their minds about something because their culture tells them to. You have to admit, you need to be tolerant of Christianity’s beliefs.

  • whatever the case, God’s Will Be Done, seek His Word, and Truth, Indeed

    God Willin In The Bible, read and believe God Willin with
    God Christ Spirit, belief, etc. open heart and mind and eyes n prayer
    as The Bible requires to be truly understood God Willin

    may all come reverently for all are welcome PLGB


    ‘Go it With God As He With you! Read n believe PLGB’ n pray God’s Will Be Done and for all in need Amen  choose life praise God PLGB

    Praise The Lord For He Is Good (ps/chron thanks be to GOD) His Mercy Endures Forever

    “but of course, there’s a time and place for God, Christ, And Spirit….
    ….and somehow and someway By God
    that’s Always And EVERYWHERE!!!!” PLGB

  • n indeed show the love to these folks n all in need, welcome all unto The LORD for God Willing all are welcome ^.^t, but recall that ‘support’ doesn’t mean ‘agreeing’ with one’s actions always, nor does loyalty God Willin, sometimes it can mean the opposite, seek God’s Truth God Willin, PLGB

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