Is the ‘Gay Marriage’ Debate Driving Christians Away from the Church? Let’s Hope So July 4, 2012

Is the ‘Gay Marriage’ Debate Driving Christians Away from the Church? Let’s Hope So

I’m a broken record on this topic, but why not have another go at it.

The way the Christian church treats the LGBT community is both a blessing and a curse for atheists. We know why it’s bad for LGBT people — that’s pretty obvious — and I don’t want them to have to go through all that misery.  The upshot to it is that the church’s shameless bigotry when it comes to the issue of homosexuality pushes a lot of individuals — gay and straight, mostly young — away from the church. As an atheist, I love seeing that.

If the church wanted to do the right thing, it would treat the Bible verses about homosexuality just like they do all the other verses they don’t like — toss them aside as if they were never written in the first place, or rationalize them to the point where they don’t matter anymore. Thankfully, they’re not smart enough to do that.

The fact that some younger Christians are trying to reconcile what the Bible says with what they know is the right thing to do has a lot of older Christians flipping out:

A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows the generation gap between young Christians and their elders is large, with 44 percent of white evangelicals aged 18-29 in support of marriage equality compared to only 12 percent of those 65 and older.

“For young Christians, having gay and lesbian friends is just a part of our life,” [blogger Rachel] Held Evans said. “It’s just really hard for us to see them as mere issues to debate, because we’re talking about our friends here.”

“I think the main problem we have is that a lot of the folks voting about homosexuality, voting about gay marriage, don’t know any gay people,” she said. “And I’m certain that if they did, it would change their attitude.”

She’s absolutely right on that. It’s hard to demonize people you’re close to and that’s the reason it’s so important for people to be open about their sexuality (or their atheism).

Meanwhile, even when they mean well, the older Christians can’t seem to talk about homosexuality without saying things that are so obviously ignorant to the rest of us:

[Joel] Hunter, who leads a Florida megachurch, said he believes the government could establish a kind of civil marriage, which would not fit within the definition of Biblical marriage.

We don’t 100 percent equate this as a part of the civil rights movement because for us at least a part of this is a matter of choice, it’s a behavior, and so it’s a different category than skin pigmentation,” he said. “Having said that, we want to be sure that all Americans do have citizens’ rights to enter any legal relationship that they want to.”

Riiiiiight. Everyone just chooses to be gay or straight. That the sort of bullshit pastors spew when they can’t bring themselves to listen to what experts in the subject say.

It’s not enough to just wait for the older generation to die out.

Younger Christians have to keep pressuring their pastors, their youth groups, and their peers to quit the bigotry, stop treating homosexuality as a sin when there’s nothing wrong with it, and support marriage equality.

Silence is no longer an acceptable option.

If you’re not publicly speaking out on this issue — on a blog, on your Facebook wall, and to other Christians — then you are no better than pastors like Joel Hunter (and the panoply of right-wing haters) who are desperately searching for some reason, any reason, to treat the LGBT community as if they were second class citizens.

And if the Christian church can’t bring itself out of the dark side of this issue (and women’s rights and science education and so many other unnecessary controversies), then younger Christians need to accept the fact that their faith is not a force for good — that it’s the problem, not the solution — and get the hell out of there.

The rest of us have come to our senses. It’s about time you do, too.

(Image via Shutterstock — Thanks to Ben for the link!)

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  • Stev84

    he believes the government could establish a kind of civil marriage,
    which would not fit within the definition of Biblical marriage.

    The government already did, ever since they abolished coverture laws in the late 19th century. Even before that, it was an entirely civil matter for legal purposes.

  • LoganstoneRugburn59
  • when anyone says, “homosexuality is a choice,” your next question should be, “I see, when did you choose to be straight?”

  • Tom

    “a lot of the folks voting about homosexuality, voting about gay marriage, don’t think they know any gay people,”Fixed.

  • Recoveringagnostic

    Absolutely. I appealed for Catholics to take a stand when the letter on gay marriage was read out one Sunday, but it didn’t seem like such an issue for me. The CofE always had its share of nutters, but I thought the church as a whole was moving in the right direction.

    Then the church made its own statement on our marriage consultation, and it was just as spiteful and disingenuous as the Catholic letter. I want to take time to make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons, but I think that’s sealed my decision to leave and shake the dust from my shoes.

    I’ve hung on through a whole lot of doubts that put me between 5 and 6 on the Dawkins scale (inertia also played its part), but that ignorance and bigotry is what’s going to push me out. Maybe I should thank the church for making it so much easier to leave.

  • ortcutt

    Being gay is biological and immutable.  Being a homophobic religious assclown on the other hand is a matter of choice.

  • One would hope it would drive them away from THE church but what I have seen is it drives people way from A church. Christian friends of mine attended the same church for years and after a long battle in the congregation about sexual orientation the minority moved to another congregation that was more accepting. 

  • Crodley

    I agree 100% with this post, one question I have is where can I find more on this: ”
    can’t bring themselves to listen to what experts in the subject say.”

    Most Christians I debate would ask me to tell them the source for the idea being LGBT is biological and not a choice, I’ve no idea where to send them for the science behind it.  Help. 🙂

  • ortcutt

     These people really don’t understand that there is presently one kind of marriage,  civil marriage under the laws of a particular state.  In the US, you can enter into marriage by solemnization at a town hall, courthouse, church, synagogue, backyard, skydiving, etc…, (or even in the 10 states that allow common-law marriage by no formalities at all) but what results is a civil marriage regardless of the process by which it is entered into.  If these people want to meet afterwards and establish a “religious marriage” they’re free to do so, but any such religious status is a legal nullity. 

  • MaryD

    Does the promotion of homosexuality drive would-be atheists away?

    What on earth has Congenital Mental Disorder, (homosexuality), got to do with Atheism?

    This species seems to have got itself into a self-destruct mode when it raises those with CMD above the normal population. (What’s this ‘straight’ rubbish – keep your name calling to yourselves).

  • kenneth

    I can put together some links, but you’re just wasting your time quoting science to people who largely don’t believe in its methods. 

  • 3lemenope

    It sounds great, rhetorically, but it is actually ineffective because it mistakes the nature of the “choice” that homophobes believe that homosexuals engage in. They don’t believe that sexuality is a tabula rasa from which people imprint their choice of orientation. From their perspective, heterosexuality is not a choice, but is rather quite hardwired in (by God’s inculcation of Natural Law into the universe, no less). They believe that homosexuals are still hard-wired to be heterosexual–essentially still *are* heterosexual–but choose to deviate from their God-given nature through sinful acts.

    It’s the type of rhetoric that is effective for mocking the enemy (and there is certainly a place for that), but not so good at inducing introspection or thought in the target, or really even in audience members who might be sympathetic to a homophobic stance. To effectively dismantle an argument, even for the purpose of scoring rhetorical points, it is best to first understand what the person who is arguing means by their terms and contentions, and what their position is actually intended to indicate about what they believe.

  • kenneth

    Meth kills! Get some sleep!

  •  Hey, Ortcutt:

    Here’s one of those homophobic religious assclowns you were referring to in your earlier post.

    I’d welcome you to the discussion, MaryD… but realize you have no desire to actually “discuss” anything — just another opportunity to spew more of your ignorant hate-filled drivel.   

  • I don’t often say this, but I’m quite happy if you’re not interested in being in any club I’m a member of.

    Why don’t you start your own club of would-be-atheist bigots.  I’m sure you’ll find some but certainly not very much company.

  • 3lemenope

    No easy answer to that, especially since it seems that the actual biological account is much subtler than a simple genetic cause. It bears many similarities to left-handedness in its prevalence in the population and its weak but not insignificant correlation of occurrence within families, suggesting some genetic link. Many theories today focus on the idea that there is a genetic component which additionally needs to be triggered by exposure to certain levels of prenatal hormones at particular stages of development to actually be expressed behaviorally as homosexuality. 
    There may well also be post-birth developmental triggers or environmental causes. Wikiis a decent place to start, with many links to individual studies and theories

    But if you’re arguing with Christians, the argument actually becomes much simpler, because there is a show-stopper in the well-cataloged homosexual behavior of several animal species. Since they insist that natural law indicates that heterosexuality is the natural state, and that animals lack the capacity to sin (for several metaphysical reasons), this presents a huge problem for their theory of homosexuality, and provides some gross evidence of a biological origin even though we aren’t yet able to pin down exactly how it works.

  • LesterBallard

    And hopefully it’s driving “gay Christians” away from Christianity. 

  • Kodie

     I suppose it makes logical sense to some people, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. I know some people raised in one denomination may not be satisfied with it for some reason (not always their stance on homosexuality) and look for another church as if they have to fill a slot. Like changing careers or changing dentists. This is a utility that people have to have on the list. I don’t know what they are looking for. To me, it would be to think, these people made up a bunch of stuff and I don’t agree with it, and what else don’t I agree with? What else about what they are saying might be nonsense I don’t agree with, and where did it come from? Why should I believe any of it?

    That’s the problem that I think comes from being raised to think of the bible as a very magical book about a very real person-deity. You just think these people are interpreting it all wrong and go for someone that interprets it “right,” also known as cherry-picking, which is a famous way of getting god to agree with you.

    Other people suffer in the church, and that’s bad too. If you believe something is true, even if it makes you mad that it is, doesn’t change its “truth” to you. If these are the rules that god made, then you have to live with them whether you like it or not. If that means “gay is bad” and you’re gay or someone in your family or school is gay, even if you would otherwise like that person and get to know them, you still can’t change your mind or be swayed by something that contradicts whatever you conceive as “truth.” Contradicting at least one of the quotes up there, parents are famous for throwing their gay children out of the house. It doesn’t matter if you like the person or know them or love them or are related to them to make you consider that any part or all of it may not be true.

  • The whole argument of whether or not being homosexual is a choice or not is pointless.  Neither side actually cares if it’s a choice or not.  Liberal minded people wouldn’t suddenly change their mind about whether it’s wrong or not if it was suddenly shown that it actually was a choice people made.  And religious conservatives aren’t going to change their minds about whether it’s wrong or not if it’s shown not to be a choice.  It’s the action that they have the problem with.  

    I was born left-handed, but i could make the choice to use my right hand instead.  It would be uncomfortable and I’d hate every minute of it, but it could done.  And religious conservatives are find with being unhappy and uncomfortable.  Just so long as their behavior is right.

  • fett101

    ”We don’t 100 percent equate this as a part of the civil rights movement because for us at least a part of this is a matter of choice, it’s a behavior, and so it’s a different category than skin pigmentation,”

    Such stupid reasoning. As if the Constitution guarantees “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of biologically based choices”

  • fett101

    “when it raises those with CMD above the normal population.”
    Who is raising gay people over straight? We’re just trying to level the playing field. It’s sad if you think being allowed the same rights as everyone else is somehow giving them privilege above others.

  • You know – I don’t give a damn if it’s a choice or not (I personally believe it’s not) – I should have the right to do with my body as I wish, whether it is a choice or not, without somebody else imposing themselves on me. As an individual, do I have bodily autonomy or not? Do I or do I not get to decide how I interact with other consenting adults, regardless of choice or biology? These people seem to only seek control over others; they don’t give a damn about the age, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else: They only want absolute control. They sicken me. They anger me. I will fight them until my dying day, because to succumb to them is to admit to being their slave.

  • I mostly agree, but I did come across one theist on here who’s ‘proof’ that homosexuality was purely a choice was that otherwise it would be the only sin that wasn’t purely a choice.  And his stance wasn’t “you can just not act on it”.  His stance was that if God made people gay, then they were somehow unequally charged with resisting a sin, and God wouldn’t do that.

    I’ve considered “if there was a pill that would change your skin color, would that make interracial marriage a sin”, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to use it.

  • Gaby A.

    Egggsellent!  (a la Mr. Burns)

  • Stev84

    I’ve seen it work for people who just haven’t thought about it much. There is a YouTube video where someome goes around and asked the question and when they say “it’s a choice”, he asked when they made it. Several of them realized their mistake.

  • Stev84

    Of course their standard reply to the natural argument is that animals may be animals, but humans are better and don’t have to follow their instincts

  • 3lemenope

    That’s a good point. It’s true that for some people the rhetorical point of “it’s a choice” doesn’t even rise to the level of a thought; it’s just parroting. For them, the question may well be effective.

  • LesterBallard

    Jesus Fucking Christ!

  • 3lemenope

    Of course, but by answering in that manner they have  conceded that the person is acting upon an endogenous instinct, not upon a deliberate choice to “sin”.  Their only way out from there is to argue that instincts can have some other basis than a biological basis, which usually leads to incredibly entertaining discussions about demons that most Christians don’t even believe in and even if they do definitely blunts the moral impact of their charge that the homosexual is a sinner who freely chooses to sin rather than is compelled to do so by some other force.

  • jose

    I certainly hope so. Numbers is an important factor for the church’s power.

  • Randomfactor

     The question isn’t whether it’s a choice.    Which religion you follow is a choice.  The question is whether you’re willing to apply the same standards to yourself as you do to others.  And not in a bullshit, heads-I-win-tails-you-lose way.

    So:  Would this pastor be OK with a civil form of marriage which same-sex couples AND Christian couples were allowed to enter into–and other, more beneficial forms of marriage that same-sex and Christian couples were forbidden to enter into?  If he’s OK with both, it’s a position he’s entitled to argue for.  A rough rule of thumb is:  if it INCREASES options, it’s probably good, at least in theory.

    Is he willing to apply a uniform numerical definition to both groups–no marriage until you’re 18, for example?  Or no marriage where one party is mentally incompetent or a farm animal?  Or no marriage where one of the parties is already married?*   If he can define his restriction such that he wouldn’t mind if the other group used it against him…then it’s probably fair.   Parents know this as the “one brother cuts the cake, the other one chooses the pieces rule.

    *(Yes, that last one discriminates against polygamy, and I think it’s legally justifiable though I don’t care one way or another.) 

  • Randomfactor

     The answer to that one is that it’s not a SIN.

  • Randomfactor

     I like Dan Savage’s take on the question.  Although it’s mostly good for pissing off the religious wrong.

  • Randomfactor

     In my area local Episcopal congregations have decided that their church is becoming too liberal about homosexuality (etc) and have affiliated instead with an Anglican branch based in Africa which is more to their bigoted liking.  Which I would say is their right, but they took the buildings with them…

  • “”We don’t 100 percent equate this as a part of the
    civil rights movement because for us at least a part of this is a matter
    of choice, it’s a behavior, and so it’s a different category than skin

    Religion is a choice yet we’re constantly hearing screeching about their “religious freedom” to do this and that–often *to* other people.  Religion and religious people have extensive (some would say excessive) rights and protections under the law.     Even if being gay is a choice, why should gay people not have the same rights and protections? 

  • Cheron22

    Not any more at least

  • Randomfactor

    ” Does the promotion of homosexuality drive would-be atheists away?”

    God, I hope so.

  • Let me guess–you consider yourself part of the “normal” population?

  • Not trolling:
    I’d be really interested to see the science to back up this statement.  As far as I know (and I readily admit I could simply be ignorant) no science has found a ‘gay gene’ or any other underlying biological immutable basis for having a homosexual inclination (rather than heterosexual).  

  • look to social science, Dan. think about it. would many people really ‘choose’ to be queer, given how we are often treated in society, and the difficulties we face finding partners in certain areas? i know so many queers, people who are generally out and mostly proud even, who have admitted that if it indeed had been a choice, they would’ve chosen to be part of a majority just because life can be so much easier for you all. 

    it’s not a choice, it’s a fact of who you are. as to a specific ‘gay gene,’ i don’t expect them to find one. there are many genetic combinations that lead to what we call ‘brown’ eyes; there are many different ways in which non-normative sexual preference is expressed as well. 

  • Natural Law is not the same as saying ‘occurs in nature’  otherwise we would also have to deal with infanticide (gorillas, lions, etc.), cannibalism and a host of other behaviors generally considered bad by civilized people.  To equate the two is bad philosophy nevermind theology.

    Your counter argument works only because the ignorant (Evangelical/Fundamentalist) Christian is also typically unaware of what “Natural Law” really means.

  • Well, agreed, nothing is a sin.  But that’s a harder move to make I think.  I think believing in the concept of ‘sin’ is a requirement of religion.  I’d be happy if they gave up the idea of things being wrong just because a god said so, but I’m less optimistic that I can convince them of that.

  • don’t kid yourself. all over the world, including the US, plenty of families still believe, and disown kids and family who break this rule, that it is wrong to marry the “wrong” hued person, of any gender or orientation. i have often been struck by meeting friends from lesser known minority cultures and realizing how strongly they hold to “anyone but *those* people” meaning some other lesser known minority with whom the first group has a long history. all over asia there are some really funky hue traditions, for example, that are rarely talked about here in the US, for all asian-americans may be deeply aware of them and still practice them. white americans tend to think “race” = “the relations between pink and african/brown americans” but it goes in so many other directions for those people who take it seriously as a category by which to judge people. 

  • You write: ”
    As an individual, do I have bodily autonomy or not? Do I or do I not get to decide how I interact with other consenting adults, regardless of choice or biology?”

    The answer to the first question is yes and the answer the second question is a qualified yes.  For example, dueling with pistols is outlawed.

    That said, what does your question have to do with gay marriage?  No one (since the Supreme Court struck down state sodomy laws) is attempting to use force to prevent adults from interacting sexually in anyway they so choose (in private – in public is another matter).  No philosophically substantial church wants to force gay people to not have sex with each other.  Most of them do want to *persuade* gay people that it isn’t in their best interests to have homosexual relations and asks that they voluntarily, by their own act of the will, be celibate.

  • Completely agree with chicago, but also there is some evidence that having older brothers makes a man more likely to be gay.  Apparently, nobody has decided to study women in the same manner.  Sorry, no links at hand and I have to go.

    But really, if everyone says their own sexuality isn’t a choice (homosexuals and heterosexuals) isn’t that evidence enough?

  • Jeff Xenobuilder

    This link from LoganstoneRugburn59 is Spam.

  • 3lemenope

    Natural Law is not the same as saying ‘occurs in nature’…

    That’s true, though I’m confused why you’re pointing that out here since I did not use it in that way. In Christian thought the Natural Law is normative, not merely descriptive, and so the belief that heterosexuality is consonant with Natural Law is to imply not just that it occurs naturally but also that that occurrence is believed to be proper. Romans 2 is usually indicated for scriptural support, in Paul’s commentary of the Gentiles having innate knowledge of aspects of divine law without having knowledge of the Word.

    Catholics, who did most of the development of the concept after they borrowed its antecedents from Hellenic and Roman philosophers, generally believe that the Natural Law is revealed through conscience, intellect, and observation of the physical world (i.e. natural revelation, as contrasted with special revelation of direct contact with God or his Word). Which is why animal homosexuality, for example, presents a real problem for the Natural Law argument against homosexuality, since mere observation of the natural behavior among animals fails to reveal the behavior’s moral flaws, unlike, say, cannibalism or infanticide which when observed is accompanied by reactions of revulsion and disgust.

    Acknowledging this usually requires a Christian debater to then retreat to Levitical citations (and all the problems that brings) and some poorly translated NT passages from Paul, where they have essentially conceded a draw for debate purposes because non-believers do not consider arguments from special revelation in any way persuasive for pretty obvious reasons.

  • ” Most of them do want to *persuade* gay people that it isn’t in their best interests to have homosexual relations and asks that they voluntarily, by their own act of the will, be celibate.”

    Oh, do elaborate.  Tell us how it’s “in our best interests” to live a life devoid of love, companionship an intimacy.

  • Most of them do want to *persuade* gay people that it isn’t in their best interests to have homosexual relations and asks that they voluntarily, by their own act of the will, be celibate.

    That’s the crux of the problem right there. The vast majority of human beings find that intimate relationships give joy and meaning to their lives. To say that gay and lesbian people should have to live a celibate existence “for their own good” strikes me as utterly cruel. For those who desire a relationship, there is nothing good about a life devoid of intimacy, a life without the possibility of having a partner or children. It’s tragic that religion has convinced so many people that there is something wrong with a loving relationship between two consenting adults.

  • ortcutt

    The science to back up immutability is the fact that tens of thousands of people have tried very hard to change their sexual orientation with no success.  Even Exodus International now says that sexual orientation can’t be changed.  The group’s President Alan Chambers said recently that 99.9% of people he’s encountered in two decades with the group hadn’t been able to change their sexual orientation. 

  • Pseudonym

    FWIW, here’s a clear counter-example to the notion that sexual orientation is immutable.

    Not that this makes the fundie’s case by any stretch. Examples like this are remarkable precisely because they are vanishingly rare.

  • ortcutt

    If anything that case reinforces the idea that there is something biological determining sexual orientation that is outside our volitional control. 

  • freemage

    What is this “THE Christian church” you speak of, Hemant?  Sorry, but even as an atheist and skeptic, I get a bit leery of attempts to pretend that Christianity is some form of monolith.  Sure, the fundies are rabidly  obnoxious, but I know of too many Christians who actually have set aside those passages, just as they have others that are repugnant to them.

    It’s a sloppy writing technique.  I’m no lover of false compromises–I’m very much in the camp of the New Atheists on that front.  Speak out, be loud, make noise, and never back down.  But recognizing your opponents’ true nature (a fractured, often internally conflicted group held together by an extremely loosely defined term that even many of them disagree on the definition of) is one of the best ways to gird yourself against them.

    So when writing columns like this (and the underlying point–that members of specific denominations are responsible for pressuring the leaders of those denominations for change–is a vital one for most humanist atheists, I think) it’s imperative that we make sure to keep our language clear.  “Some Christians”, “conservative Christians”, “Evangelicals” and “fundamentalists”.  Among other things, it reminds ~them~ that they are divided, and forces them to make choices about what side of that division they wish to fall on.

  • Pseudonym

    Err… Dan F didn’t state an opinion on whether the line these “philosophically substantive” churches were pushing it was right or wrong. Nor did I see anything in any other comments (I only looked in this story, obviously) to indicate an opinion on the matter.

    Incidentally, many churches (and many non-religious people) draw a distinction between “love, companionship and intimacy” on one hand and sexual activity on the other hand. People in Roman Catholic orders, often report extremely deep and intimate relationships that are completely celibate.

    (FWIW, I happen to think that if anything, this makes the positions of those who disapprove of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage even less tenable. Either sex is important in intimate relationships or it need not be. Seems to me they want to have it both ways.)

  • observer

    It’s also hypocritical, one of the reasons homophobes deem homosexuality to be “immoral” is because they can’t create children.  (which is not completely true, via surrogate, but not the point I’m getting at.) And yet, homophobes have no problem of homosexuals becoming celibate. Frankly, I see this as proof that this is just about the “ickyness” of homosexuality.

  • eskomo

    Oh, great. They are allowed to have sex.  But if one of them ends up in the hospital, the other has as much say in what happens as a stranger on the street.

  • LMAO! You’re parodying homophobia… right? How I hate Poe’s Law sometimes…

  • I’m hoping he was only illustrating what some churches preach, and not that he agrees with it.

  • Well, to be fair, most conservative Christians are consistent on that point. They think that any sexual relationship is immoral outside the bounds of marriage, which they define as being ordained by their god and thus restricted to heterosexuals. They view celibacy as the moral and correct choice for all unmarried people, both heterosexual and homosexual. I’m not sure it’s about homosexuality being “icky” so much as it is blind allegiance to what they believe their holy book says is the correct expression of sexuality. Of course, religious homophobia is also influenced by culture. Indeed, it originates from the culture, and modern culture has the unfortunate legacy of homophobia from ancient cultures to deal with. We’re still seeing the ramifications of the biblical authors’ sexism and homophobia, thousands of years after those books were written.

  • Sadly, clicking on Dan’s blog seems to confirm that he does agree with it.

  •  Some of them are just blindly following what the Bible says (though they ignore whatever might inconvenience them).  But the more rabid ones obsess about gay sex and how dirty they think it is.  Read anything by Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber or Bryan Fischer for a taste of some really vile, graphic garbage.  

  • Patterrssonn

    Philosophically substantial yet creepily homophobic, how refreshing.

  • Patterrssonn

    I don’t know how consistent they are on sex outside of marriage, I haven’t heard of any fundie propositions to ban masturbation. Of course it’s early days yet.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You need to look into it more, then. 

  • Patterrssonn

    I think the fact that he called these churches “philosophically substantial” indicates that this is his position too.

  • Yeahhh… no.

    It reads more like “gay man played at being straight, and accepted his innate orientation after having a stroke.”

    You don’t just “wake up gay”, even after massive head trauma.

    (Plus, it’s the Daily Fail. Dude, it’s even less accurate than the National Enquirer!)

  • There’s nothing “normal” about a grown up having an imaginary friend…

  • I don’t think she has an imaginary friend.  I think she’s worried about the fact that after thousands of years of recorded history of gay people not doing their part to procreate, that the human population is only about 6 billion and only expected to reach a max of a least 10 billion.  You know, we may well go extinct at that rate.

  • 3lemenope

    It’s sad if you think being allowed the same rights as everyone else is somehow giving them privilege above others.

    That’s how people generally react when their own deeply ingrained social privileges are challenged.

  • Sorry about that — I’m usually pretty careful for the same reasons you mentioned. I was referring more to the broader evangelical church that tends to push these anti-gay views.

  • The only thing worse than the vile, graphic garbage that lot posts?

    The mental image I have of them fapping furiously over it.

    *distributes brain bleach*


  • Oh, they’ve been there and done that.

  • Baby_Raptor

    We don’t want to burn in hell, do we? I mean, yeah. God created us this way. But he hates icky gayness. Think about it…ETERNAL TORTURE! /snark

  • Theresmore


    I really resent your persistent use of the term LGBT.  I much prefer the more (but not entirely!) inclusive LGBTQIA acronym which is far more indicative of the entirely fluid nature of sexuality.

    Not sure why you use the term LGBT which is offensive to those who don’t fit neatly into such rigid categories.  Please educate yourself to all the other types of people out there and in the process stop perpetrating the very hurtful boxes of mainstream sexuality. 

  • Seriously? I see LGBT all the time, everywhere… including from gay rights groups. If you want to be totally inclusive, the acronym would go on far longer than your suggestion, I presume. So I’ve always just used that shorthand for the same reason I often write “atheists” instead of atheists, Humanists, Brights, Naturalists, etc. It gets the point across without being annoyingly unreadable.

  • Seems to me the only way would be ‘non-Het’ or something.  As it is I see two definitions for the ‘A’, asexual and ally, although asexual seems the more common.

  • NickDB

     Ummmm, it’s currently over 7 Billion and expected to reach 10 billion around 2100 and carry on growing from there.

  • Yes, and it’s somehow not a mental disorder to have imaginary friends as an adult? Oh, or threatening other adults with the imaginary wrath of your imaginary friend for not measuring up to -your- bizarro-world idea of “normalcy”?

    YOU are one who is disordered and unnatural. Not me.

  • Theresmore

    LGBT is fast becoming obsolete as people recognize that there’s really no such thing as rigid sexuality.  Many, many, many people do not fit into such categories; attempting to fit everyone into a box, even a supposedly inclusive LGBT box, parallels mainstream homophobia.

    And yes there are many others who understand the offensive and almost discriminatory nature of LGBT:

    Hemant: you really should consider starting to use LGBTSTGNC (described in link) so as not to offend your many readers who refuse to let the archaic (and often religious) constraints of society, even supposedly allied individuals like yourself, dictate who they are.  Just because you write posts about being an ally does not mean you’ve truly invested yourself in understanding the hardships of being a sexual outsider. 

  • Oh, DO shut up already.


    Just because YOU have a nit to pick about how it’s not super-duper-inclusive of ALL the variations of sexuality (which, if we had such an acronym, would be entirely too cumbersome to type out), doesn’t make LGBT “discriminatory” or “exclusive” or whatever you want to whinge about.

  • Guest

    The same reason why nobody chooses to be an atheist, when it’s so much more socially acceptable to be religious?

  • I’m not sure how 
    LGBTSTGNC includes asexual.  It doesn’t seem to me that GNC includes asexual, am I wrong?

  • Guest

    I agree. I don’t think it’s necessary to make “excuses” for gay people – “They can’t help it, it’s biological!” – because even if it were 100% volitional, there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

  • Tim

    Not a good comparison for many reasons but I’ll give you just one to think about.  The percentage of atheists vary country by country from virtually none to the majority, partly because of the social environment differs from country to country. 

    I don’t think you see this with gay people.  They are found both were it is relatively easy to be gay and where it is extremely difficult.

    I am straight, I have no direct experience of what it is like to be gay, but I’d say being straight is hardly a choice, so it seems sensibel to conclude that being gay isn;t either.

  • Tim

    …I’d also add that the nature versus nurture argument isn’t important anyway to my way of thinking,

    To my mind it isn’t moral issue at all because everything else being equal being gay or straight does not effect the happiness of others.  If it isn’t a moral issue then it really is noone else’s business.

    Gay, straight, Bi , whatever,  It is all just a question of who you fancy of no more significance to anyone else as to whether you prefer blondes or brunettes,

  • Tim

    I have never heard of LGBTQIA.  Perhaps Hemant doesn’t use it because he regards clarity to be as important as being PC.

    “the entirely fluid nature of sexuality.”  don’t be silly.  Yours might be fluid (and that is fine by me) but for most people it isn’t.  My sexuality has stayed unchanged for 37 years. 

  • Tim

    “that there’s really no such thing as rigid sexuality”

    Surely by your own reasoning that statement itself is offensive to all the staight and all the gay people who are happy with having a single non-changing sexuality.  

    LGBT is a entirely sensible acronyn not more offensive that using the term “black” or “white” to cover a range of skin-tones

  • Tim


    How do you promote homosexuality? 

    Please describe the kind of advert that would make you “switch teams”.  Think about it like that and it is pretty laughable.

  • Len

    Dan, try this: – the second para mentions what are believed to be contributing factors.

  • Remi

    I’m an atheist, not a christian apologist, but ignore for a moment the pastor’s unfortunate belief that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, because the other half of his statement is actually very positive:

    he believes the government could establish a kind of civil marriage, which would not fit within the definition of Biblical marriage.”
    This is what’s actually required, isn’t it?  Fundamentally, marriage is a legal contract between two consenting adults, sanctioned by the state, which does not need to have any relationship to any given church’s view of marriage.

    I’m surprised no one has pointed this out and is running with it.  Regardless their beliefs on sexuality, if religious groups start adopting this position, I would expect a compromise is possible where we can work together with these groups to push equality forward.

  • Thanks for this. As a member of a Christian denomination that, in the past few years, has voted to affirm the gifts of gays and lesbians who want to serve the church and are in committed relationships, as well as allow pastors to bless same-sex unions (and yes, the voting part is important, because it means it’s written policy and not just something a few radicals within the denomination do), I take offense to the giant blanket you have thrown over the Christian church. I’m in no way trying to diminish the harm caused by many Christians, but let’s be fair to those of us who are working toward full equality for the LGBTQ community, both in the legal and church worlds. I know it doesn’t help fulfill your dream that all Christians would run screaming from their churches, but it’s unfair to say “the Christian church” when you really mean “some members of the Christian church.”

  • I can appreciate that argument but it doesn’t really answer the question.  I don’t doubt that the *experience* of being gay is generally speaking not seen as a *choice* – at least I’ve never known any gay person to say they made a choice to be gay.  With genetic science advancing rapidly and yet no known ‘gay gene’ or combination of genes  could then the ’cause’ be environmental or nurture related?

    Then comes the (for now) hypothetical: if the cause of homosexuality was demonstrated to be a combination of certain known factors would we be justified in deliberately avoiding or counteracting those factors?  In other words, if it was possible to genetically or otherwise eliminate homosexual orientation (say in utero, leaving aside the possibility of ‘treatment’ which I don’t think is really possible) such that over the course of many years there would eventually be no homosexuals – would that be a moral thing to do?

    Maybe it will never come to that (hopefully).

  • It’s not a bad article but like a lot of wiki stuff it’s very imprecise.  That paragraph essentially states that “there are likely a lot of factors involved” which is the same as saying “we don’t really know but here are some scientists that are paid to make guesses.”

  • Kaoru Negisa

    She’s absolutely right on that”

    I don’t think Held Evans is right on that in many cases. Maybe if we get them early before the brainwashing kicks in, but far too many xtains will rationalize away their bigotry, mostly commonly under the cowardly, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” mantra, which basically gives them the chance to be as awful as they like and still sleep at night.

  • Spherical Basterd

    You do know that we are on your side, don’t you?


  • Natural Law in this case shows that the human male and the human female to be complimentary in reproductive form thus leading to the conclusion that reproductive organs *naturally* are intended (telos) to be utilized male-female rather than some combination of reproductive system and digestive system.

    The Natural Law argument is that telos is connected to morality thus that homosexual acts being contrary to Natural Law are thus immoral.  You will note that I still haven’t resorted to a quote from a book in which you have no belief.

    The fact that some animals exhibit homosexual behaviors does not tell us much of anything about whether or not those behaviors are ‘natural’ (telos) or whether or not those behaviors are ‘good’ (moral).  So again, ‘occurs in nature’ is not equal to “Natural Law”.

    Also, feelings of repulsion have little to do with whether a thing is moral or not.  Otherwise the clear ‘ick’ factor which drives many (older) Christians to be bigoted towards gays would be a legitimate defense of their behavior (which it’s not I think you would agree).

  • Julie: Having established some cred with you on this point, I’m now going to ask how often your church actively attempts to publicly condemn the more hateful branches of Christianity.

    I ask because what broke me from organized religion (long before the word ‘atheist’ was even thought to be an option) was the WBC’s infamous campaign of protesting at the funerals of gay AIDS victims.  Those started receiving national attention in the media in the mid-90s.  However, it wasn’t until 2005 that any sort of organized counter-measure was taken–and then, it wasn’t taken by any Christian organization, but instead by a bunch of motorcycle-riding veterans offended by Phelps’ clan targeting the funerals of war veterans.

    That was my wake-up call–the complete and total apathy of the organized churches in the face of willful hate being committed in the name of their God.  I realized that if even 1% of the churches in America had devoted 1% of their resources to a one-year campaign to counter the hate of the Westboro back in the mid-90s, the group would’ve slunk off in defeat–it was the failure of the large majority of Christians to confront such things that made it clear that the organized denominations weren’t worth my time as a (at that time, non-secular) humanist.

  • Stev84

    Massive personality changes after trauma to the frontal lobe are very well documented in medicine. It’s not entirely implausible

  • Stev84

    Not per law, but they definitely forbid it in church. Always have. The Catholic Church is against it too.

  • Stev84

    It’s progress I guess, but the problem with it is that marriage is already a civil legal matter, completely independent from any religious rites as far as the legal aspects are concerned. The better course of action is to get them to acknowledge that churches are already optional. He is still mired in his religious privilege and thinks you have to get married in a church or that he performs some legal function no one else could.

  • ?
    Doesn’t have the recognition of LGBTQIA let alone LGBT, but at it IS pronounceable.

  • Patterrssonn

    I think with the prevalence of homosexual behaviour in nature and in human societies, and the fact that neuroscience has discovered that many of our behaviours have a biological basis, the onus would be on the argument for choice. After all is there any reason to believe that sexuality is a choice apart from dogmatism? Any evidence at all to indicate this?

    As far as eliminating homosexuality, sexuality seems like such complex deeply ingrained behaviour, with likely complex deeply ingrained origins that elimination of a specific type of sexuality would require massive reengineering of the human race.

  • Brian Scott

    Granting the premise of teleology just for the sake of argument, how does one jump from “intended for a purpose” to “immoral to use it for other purposes” without some very hidden assumptions? It’d be like me saying driving a car is immoral because feet are made for walking, not pushing a gas pedal.

  • Brian Scott

    You know, for me, personally, it’s not that people are leaving the church that I think is the good news here (it doesn’t matter to me one way or another whether some people still continue to participate in faith communities and hold religious beliefs in general) but that the reason they’re leaving is because of anti-gay rhetoric prevalent in these institutions. It’s of greater priority to me that homophobia is losing ground, whether it leads to apostasy or to merely switching to another denomination or religious tradition.

  • You can’t masturbate in church? Well, that about kills the last reasonable way to kill time while the joker in the robes rambles away time you’ll never get back.

  • Remi

    But that’s my point.  Most churches *do not* admit that marriage is largely a civil legal matter.  Stating that it is is a tacit acknowledgement of that fact, and that’s a really good thing.

  • Poorly written and over-generalized, as I imagined. 

  • Brian Scott

    “No one (since the Supreme Court struck down state sodomy laws) is attempting to use force to prevent adults from interacting sexually in anyway they so choose.”

    Man, you must have missed that pastor a couple months ago who wanted to round up gays to put them in concentration camps or that other pastor who said gays should be put to death or that guy from Salvation Army who said guys deserve death or people like Tony Perkins and other Dominionists who propagate the “America is a Christian nation” propaganda or entire state GOP platforms like Texas continuing to support the enactment and enforcement of anti-sodomy laws or places outside the US like in many places of Africa that inherited anti-gay views and policies from colonial times and continue to perpetuate them under religious pretenses supported by groups from the US…

  • walkamungus

    There likely isn’t a single “gay gene” — homosexuality’s biological basis probably rests on a combination, or multiple combinations, of the expression of a given group of genes.

    Three things I read about recently that seem to reflect an increased possibility for homosexuality are maternal fecundity, fraternal birth order, and left-handedness.

  • Patterrssonn

    I know but for consistency’s sake I want to see Catholic and fundie clergy harrassing single parishioners, anti-wank councilors, billboards and church signs “touch god not yourself” “keep your fingers out let Jesus in”.

  • 3lemenope

    Quite so, and the point I was trying to illustrate was that those assumptions depend, in Natural Law theory, on things like the observations of conscience and intellect. In other words, people come to know the Natural Law from thinking about consequences and considering morally-oriented feelings that arise from experience.

    As your example of the foot and the gas pedal indicates, readings of purpose into natural structures can be as loose or as cramped as the existing prejudices of the person making the determination. To bring things closer to the topic at hand, the question of whether oral sex is moral gets dicey fast under Natural Law application. 

    Usually the Natural Law argument against anal sex is predicated upon negative physical consequences of the act, and that is what is usually relied upon to argue that the act is unintended in a teleological sense (leaving aside that vaginal sex can also cause physical harm, and that oral sex generally does so at a lower rate than vaginal sex). It does amuse me, on some childish level, that the whole argument depends upon an irrational fear of butthurt.

  • Kevin S.

    Actually, my experience was quite the opposite. I was driven away from the RCC primarily because of their stances on human sexuality. I had it in my head that I’d make my way to the Episcopalian Church, but I wanted to look at the alternatives first. It was at that time though that I realized I didn’t believe any of it.

  • Yeah, I really think this is an area where most churches have existed in the middle place of voicing opposition to hateful groups and being silent about them. They’ll say they’re against it when they’re asked, but might not generate those comments on their own.

    I think that, for the more liberal denominations, there’s been a lack of speaking out because they know that the hateful groups are just going to condemn them, which gives the hate groups the publicity they desire but doesn’t actually change their point of view. Where I think that falls short is in really speaking out as an ally to the LGBTQ community in times when they most need allies.

    So what I’ve appreciated from denominations like mine (ELCA, for the record) are measures that show support for the LGBTQ community without giving national attention to hate groups (because, again, they love all the publicity they get). The presiding bishop of the ELCA did an “It Gets Better” video, and one of the speakers at our upcoming youth gathering (where over 36,000 people are participating) is Jamie Nabozny, who sued his school in Wisconsin for allowing other students to bully him because he was gay. Several other speakers at this gathering are either gay or are outspoken allies as well.

    The WBC and other hate groups have made it clear that they’re not going away, and they’ve studied the constitution enough to know that they have a right to engage in these protests (even as we all agree that this is a horrific use of those rights). I wonder if where “the church” can step up is in continuing, on a national scale, to do things like what I’ve mentioned above (and more!) that communicate open and welcoming places for ALL people, but don’t give hate groups any more airtime than they’re already getting.

    On a more practical level, directly addressing the hatred of the WBC, I’ve found that whenever there is a funeral or other event the WBC is protesting in a particular area, there are groups of church leaders who go out and help form a wall to block the protest signs from the family and friends in attendance. My friends who are pastors go in their clergy collars to help communicate that there are those of us in “the church” who publicly stand against hatred.

  • LifeInTraffice

    I am now cleaning ice water off my keyboard and monitor. 

    There has to be a way to sneak this idea into a fundie church somewhere,  because I really need to see these as billboards.

  • The focus on homosexuality is beyond what one would expect, especially considering how much heterosexual “fornication” goes in churches. They do indeed focus on shaming and stigmatizing gay and lesbian people while leaving heterosexuals mostly alone, at least legally, although I believe the assault on reproductive rights is connected to this. And not all churches ignore heterosexuals who engage in extra-marital sex. The local newspaper had a story the other day about a local councilman       who lost his church position because he was in a “nonbiblical” relationship with a woman. So the more extreme churches (think Mars Hill) do indeed punish and stigmatize people for consensual heterosexual sex.

  • The focus on homosexuality is beyond what one would expect, especially considering how much heterosexual “fornication” goes in churches. They do indeed focus on shaming and stigmatizing gay and lesbian people while leaving heterosexuals mostly alone, at least legally, although I believe the assault on reproductive rights is connected to this. And not all churches ignore heterosexuals who engage in extra-marital sex. The local newspaper had a story the other day about a local councilman       who lost his church position because he was in a “nonbiblical” relationship with a woman. So the more extreme churches (think Mars Hill) do indeed punish and stigmatize people for consensual heterosexual sex.

  • Patterrssonn

    If I had the resources I’d try and start a poe group. I’d bet you it wouldn’t be hard to get a few pastors on board. You could probably claim that masturbation is akin to homosexuality, after all isn’t it same sex sex?

  • In other words, if it was possible to genetically or otherwise eliminate homosexual orientation (say in utero, leaving aside the possibility of ‘treatment’ which I don’t think is really possible) such that over the course of many years there would eventually be no homosexuals – would that be a moral thing to do?

    Morally speaking, I don’t have a problem with it, since the only parents who would “cure” homosexuality in utero would be the type who would not accept a gay or lesbian child. I’d rather they tamper with their fetus than mistreat their child once it’s born. However, I doubt such scientific techniques would ever eliminate homosexuality because there would be plenty of parents who do not see having a different orientation as a disease or illness. There would be thousands of people who would refuse to convert their gay fetus to a straight one.

  • Kodie

     Only “thousands”? Maybe not a disease or an illness, but a disadvantage. I think most parents are ok with it now after the fact, and glad that they and their child may have a happy relationship, but I think those parents in the same position before having that experience would choose not to place their children at a social disadvantage if it could be avoided. Then there are the parents who “in theory” would not mind if their child was gay because none of their children happened to be gay. Then there are… I don’t know what to call them. Parents who socialize their children according to their gender, strongly. If these same people did not tamper with genetics, and found out their fetus would be a gay child, they might over-compensate, just like people find out the sex of their child now and decorate a nursery before the child even has a personality. But it’s a girl, or a boy, and all their clothes and toys reflect that and how their room is decorated, etc. I don’t know, I just imagine a gay baby disco themed nursery with lots of feather boas to play with.

    Anyway, in the long run, rather than becoming an acceptable way to be, it will diminish and become “freakish” again because of the parents who decide not to put their children at a disadvantage, not mostly because of parents who would hate a gay child. If this is something they would tamper against (their) god to create, then they have to admit they’re born that way, first of all. Why would you rearrange what (your) god made so you can live the rest of your life not hating your own child?  Absolutely arrogant from that angle.

    That leaves the mere “thousands” you think would leave things be. In essence, we’re all left be and most of us are straight. And then there is the question of what benefits homosexuality has for evolution that would become limited. I think now gay people create fewer new babies, percentage-wise, than straight people do – if you made everyone straight, I’m not saying it would be a baby boom, but it would. Just because being child-free is more visible doesn’t mean it’s all that common, and I don’t really see much of a change in attitude about it in the near future.

  • Well, actually, a lot of women around the world don’t even have access to basic prenatal care, so in that respect it would be millions of people who don’t have access to the technology to convert gay fetuses to straight ones. That might actually result in a greater percentage of gay people in the developing world, not because those areas are less homophobic, but because women in Bangladesh or Mongolia or Uganda or wherever simply won’t have the opportunity to interfere with their child’s orientation.

    But speaking of the first world, I do believe there would be thousands of people who would have moral objections to tampering with fetal orientation. Not the religious conservatives, but what about the rest of the country? I would never do it. Granted, I was conceived by donor insemination and raised by lesbian moms myself, so I’m biased, but I can’t think of any of my friends who would try to ensure that their child is straight. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. Homosexuality isn’t a defect, and the people I know would be happy to have a child of any orientation.

    I’m not sure what homosexuality has to do with being child-free. After all, childbearing isn’t compulsory and plenty of straight people choose not to have children. Perhaps some ignorant people still believe that a gay or lesbian child will never provide grandchildren, but that’s just basic ignorance. It isn’t true now, and it will be even less likely to be true in a future that is more aware and accepting of same-sex parenting.

  • At least it’s sex with someone you love.

  • Kodie

     It’s still a barrier to becoming a parent that straight couples do not, for the most part, have. Straight people do not often consider adoption if they don’t have to resort to it to become parents, and still rather go through some means to create a new baby instead of finding one that’s already born. Gay people do need donors or surrogates or adoption to raise children. I never said they didn’t want to be parents, I just say it’s a barrier. Adoption is probably the most difficult way if you are gay or straight to have a child. I’m not morally opposed to donation, surrogacy, or IVF, and they do have their difficulties, but adoption, to me, seems like a win all around, so maybe I was projecting that attitude.

    I think if you could choose your child’s sexuality, it would grow up to be a person who probably won’t have to consider adoption. I bring up the “child-free” because straight and gay people may be people who don’t want any children. Most people do want children, probably fewer than have them, but more than those who don’t have and don’t want to have. If you have a chance to love and care for a child that isn’t yours biologically because it needs a home because you have to stop and think which way you are going to be parents you might consider adoption over some other method. If you don’t have to stop and think about it, you will probably just make one if you can.

    You know, unless changing all the gay genes to straight caused sterility or something.

    I think it’s your use of “thousands” that just seems like there will be hardly any gay people within a generation or so – thousands will not mind at all or thousands will not mess with nature, or thousands will miss their window of opportunity or choose not to find out until it’s 15 or 20, or if it’s something much fewer are, it might become taboo again. I still think the vast majority would, if only to make sure their child is not disadvantaged socially. I think if such a thing were discovered and enabled, perhaps we need another hundred years so everyone living isn’t some asshole who would think there’s a disadvantage, because maybe by then, it wouldn’t be.

  • Kabbolger

    The Christian church already embraces homosexuality.  Just ask the United Church of Christ.

  • Ember

    In 1991  Simon LeVay first documented differences in the hypothalamus of gay and straight men.  If you Google:  Brain Scan Homosexual  –  you’ll find lots of scientific research showing   that there are measurable differences between the brains of homosexuals and hetrosexuals.   

  • Isilzha

     There doesn’t need to be a gay gene there are also developmental factors which have great effects on our orientation.  Look up “older brother effect”.

  • Isilzha

    Well, dubious source notwithstanding, massive head trauma absolutely DOES change a person’s sexual behavior.  There was one case where a guy became a pedophile and he was found to have a brain tumor.  Once the tumor was removed, the urges and behavior stopped.  Later he started having urges again and doctors found that not all of the tumor had been removed and it was growing again.

  • Just replace DOES with CAN.

  • Mike Eck

     Read this or some of the results from a google search of gay gene.

    There is probably not one single gene that can determine homosexuality but a variety of genes and other factors. What we do know is that it most certainty is not a choice. If you are heterosexual, ask yourself when you chose to be heterosexual. It is the same with homosexuals. It is simply how they are.

    There are many factors involved. One interesting factor is that the more sons a women has the more likely the younger ones are to be gay. The mother creates antibodies in response to the male proteins in her body and this in return effects the babies hormones and sexual orientation.

    Bigots absolutely cannot stand when science refutes their beliefs but the truth is the truth. Homosexuals do not choose to be gay. It is ridiculous to think anyone would choose to be gay in todays world anyway.

  • Rosemary

     According to some recent research (google it), the cause of at least some forms of homosexual preference is to be found in the genes of the MOTHER.  Having lots of children leads to the increasing liklihood that the womb environment will change and a future child (usually a boy) will be bathed in hormones of the wrong type, or the right type at the wrong time, which leads to brain wiring changes that manifest at puberty as a same sex preference.

    For some reason 🙂 anti-homo supporters are avoiding investigating or acknowleging research of this nature.

  • Unfortunately, the UCC is a tiny fraction of Christianity in the United States. The vast majority of the Christian church as a whole is nowhere near embracing homosexuality.

  • No doubt. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before they’re caught with their pants down like George Rekers.

  • Kristian Gore

    Do we really choose to be Atheist? I couldn’t be Christian if I tried. I couldn’t lie to myself that much. Some people value evidence and are naturally curious and think critically. So is Atheism a choice? Can you make yourself believe something you don’t really believe? 

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