The SSA Hates Puppies Now? July 19, 2012

The SSA Hates Puppies Now?

Leah Libresco, the atheist-turned-Catholic blogger on Patheos, has written a post calling on her readers to donate to the Secular Student Alliance to combat the harm done by those responsible for the Distributed Denial of Service attack on the SSA website.

As Adam Lee has pointed out, atheists have come together twice now to pay for the removal of pro-atheist/anti-Christian vandalism on churches. It’s only fair and just that those with different metaphysical beliefs but similar beliefs about free speech and peaceful coexistence should stand up for each other every so often.

Of course, there might still be some hesitation; why should anyone give money to an organization with views diametrically opposed to theirs? Well, in this case, people of all religious backgrounds should be able to recognize the importance of the Secular Student Alliance, of strengthening all kinds of student groups so that young people have a place to feel safe and welcomed, of protecting and empowering the marginalized, and of fighting against church-state separation violations. Leah certainly seems to feel that way, but one reader (“Gilbert”) had this gem of a comment:

“Any chance of collecting the money on our side? ’cause I really don’t feel like giving the Puppy Kicking League my contact info and ending up on their permanent friend file. I already have enough regular fundraising spam from organizations I actually support.”

Yup. In addition to being baby eaters, sinners and evil little things, we’re now puppy kickers to boot. We are coming for you with our pictures of smiling atheists and updates on successful student groups!

300+ students at the SSA conference (via

Look, Gilbert: atheists aren’t welcomed in the Boy Scouts, an organization supported by public land and accommodations.

We have to contend with gleefully law-breaking obstructionist administrators in their high schools.

And we have to stay closeted at conferences for fear of being kicked out of their homes.

These all took place over the last two weeks. Who, exactly, are the puppies and who the kickers in these scenarios? And who is fighting back, defending the minority, and providing haven, resources and support? The SSA.

It’s also worth pointing out that in addition to all of their excellent work, the SSA is basically the nicest organization representing atheists at the moment. Nothing they do is militant or unreasonable. There are much angrier and meaner ones out there to fight discrimination, ostracization, and bigotry. I suggest you make alliances where you can. You don’t want this guy coming after you:

Truth is, he’s a teddybear. But don’t tell.

There’s plenty of room for legitimate disagreement and anger in the religious sphere. By all means, pick fights with us, argue with us, be annoyed with us. We don’t mind. But take care who you casually demonize, because the SSA are the good guys, and we’re going to stand up for them.

Also, we fucking love puppies.


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  • Kate Donovan

    This is so great. I don’t even. 

  • Well done. 

  • mcbender

    I’m vaguely amused, but frustrated at Libresco’s condonation of this comment – have a look over there. Her replies are concerned with giving the commenter a way to give money while avoiding the feeling of guilt-by-association, rather than pointing out that such feelings are unwarranted.

  • Pollo Diablo

    Atheists love puppies! we even provide post-rapture care for Christian pets!

  • 1000 Needles

    Every SSA group could begin their meetings with a ritualistic puppy-kicking, and we’d still be morally superior to the child-rapist-protecting, treasure-hoarding, women-loathing, STD-spreading league that is the Catholic church.

  • 3lemenope

    I would just point out, if we wanted to go the direct route, that Christianity has a rather nasty recurrent history of drowning kittens. I’d rather kick a puppy than drown a kitten, especially since a kick can be a little love tap, whereas there is no really gentle way to drown something.

  • Lucilius

    Careful. Somewhere on a fundie website right now, someone is “remembering” that your last line actually said “We love fucking puppies.”

  • Randomfactor

    I, too, enjoy the occasional puppy–but only because babies are so expensive these days when you buy them by the pound.*

    *(No, not that kind of pound, that’s where you get the puppies.)

  • What utterly offensive clap trap. I love puppies. Nothing would make my day better than rolling around on the grass with a dozen puppies. Theists have said some terrible things about our lot, but this really crosses the line. 

  • Ibis3

     I went there too. Just so’s you know you aren’t alone in your depravity.

  • 1000 Needles

    Or we could emulate Jesus by casting demons into a bunch of puppies and then running them off of a cliff.

  • Marco Conti

    If you read another post by this “Gilbert” guy, you’ll also see that he wants to donate in some way that ‘doesn’t make him feel dirty”.

    Do the SSA really need the money so badly that they will accept it from people like that?
    I find the “puppy kicking” comment extremely offensive. I spent my life giving shelter, food and care to stray animals, dogs and cats mostly, but I’d do it for a baby alligator if I had the chance.

    I don’t want some jerk to associate me with animal cruelty even in jest or as a sarcastic joke. It offends me deeply, probably more than it should, but what offends me even more is that it comes from a catholic. 
    I was born in Rome, Italy, and I was baptized in St. Peter in Rome. I know Catholics. This business of fucking small boys is nothing new. I grew up hearing the adults and the other kids joking about staying away from the “padri”. 
    Tragic as it is, we had a centuries old tradition of macabre comedy, including the rape of little boys and girls on the part of the Church’s official employees .

    If I were still a catholic, I certainly would be very careful about who I go around offending by accusing them of being filthy and molesting the young of a species. Go get a fucking mirror if you want to see some real filth. Asshole.

  • Thanks, darling!

  • Donalbain

    I’m not even a little bit surprised. The Catholic Portal on Patheos is full of vile, hateful people. It was inevitable that they would flock to her blog since her conversion.

  • kev_s

    Wot? Kittens not mentioned anywhere!!

  • LeahLibresco

    I think it’s reasonable to feel qualms about donating to a cause you oppose.  I had some serious misgivings about donating to the church cleanup last year because money is fungible, and I didn’t support their work.  I can’t blame for having the same doubts when the situation is flipped.  

    And Gilbert didn’t feel guilty about donating, but he didn’t want to end up on the SSA’s donor list and get pinged for more contributions or receive cheery updates about atheist growth.  That’s why Adam set up his ChipIn.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s reasonable to feel nervous about giving money to someone you disagree with. 

    Insulting them? Not necessary at all. And, frankly, you should have called him out on it. Instead, you let him get away with it. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    An immature child throwing a fit that someone doesn’t agree with him. Nothing new, coming from the religious. 

  • Not wanting to donate to a cause you oppose is fine.

    Not wanting to wind up on the mailing list of a cause you oppose is fine.

    Setting up a ChipIn to collect the money is fine.

    Calling your opponents ‘the Puppy Kicking League’ is not fine.

    Completely ignoring that simple and clearly explained complaint to address some other issue in your half-arsed, self-serving, and utterly cowardly response, is also not fine. And it makes you look like just another routine Catholic stooge wilfully blinding themself to bad behaviour as long as it comes from someone ‘on your side’. It’s pathetic.

  • Donalbain

    That’s how it works on the Catholic Portal. Its wrong to sue a fellow Christian. And in that hateful little piece of Patheos, that includes even criticising them.

  • JenniferT

    I don’t fucking love puppies. I fucking hate puppies. Does this mean I have to be a Christian now? That’s so unfair. 

  • Xeon2000

    I was going to make a dark joke about the joys of kicking puppies, but after it was written out I saw a cute little puppy face in my mind’s eye and I was overcome with deep sadness. You can’t joke about that shit. *wipes away a tear*

  • Tainda

    I don’t like puppies or dogs!

    I’m a cat person!  Cats rule and dogs drool!

    I still wouldn’t kick a puppy though.  Unless it came to my door dressed in a suit preaching about the joys of Mormonism.  

  • LeahLibresco

    This is why my comment policy (which I really need to link at the top of the blog) explains that I don’t screen comments except for spam, and I don’t see it as my job to comment on each one to state whether or not I agree with its content and tone.

    I let every non-spambot comment through because that way you know not to assume that I approve of the content and/or tone when a comment shows up (as you might if I moderated comments).  And my safe harbor policy goes one step further.  Sometimes commenters ask me why I haven’t rebutted them or someone else in the thread.  If the offending commenter is Catholic, someone might add that I have an obligation to respond, since otherwise people can’t tell if I agree with that person’s interpretation of doctrine.I refuse to be held hostage by the most aggressive commenters.  I respond to the comments that interest me or anything where I think I can help with a quick question or clarification.

  • amycas

     Except you did respond to him, and you ignored his insult. You could have easily answered him and told him to not demonize at the same time. It wouldn’t have looked like you tacitly approved of the insult. If you hadn’t responded at all, I could understand you not saying anything. You run a blog and there are a lot of comments to wade through. Nobody expects you to go through all the comments and reply to each one you disagree with. But in this instance, you replied, so you could have easily said,” By the way, don’t demonize this group. They do great work.”

  • The Other Weirdo

     For that to work, we’d have to admit demons exist, then demons actually have to exist, after that we have to find someone possessed with a lot of demons, next we have find a lot of puppies, and then we need a nearby cliff.  Sounds positively exhausting to me. I’d rather just cuddle with a puppy instead.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Is it still considered wrong to open the door to a bunch of Mormons while wearing nothing at all?

  • LeahLibresco

    I reply to whatever seems the most interesting and relevant part of a comment to me.  When people start a comment by calling me stupid, I ignore it and reply as though the entire thing was phrased respectfully if something interesting followed the insult.  

    I think you and I just have different purposes in comment threads.  I don’t and won’t take responsibility for calling out every instance of bad behavior because it would take over my life and distract from responding to the interesting ideas.  It’s fine if you think that’s shirking my responsibility as admin, but this is just a particular example of my general approach.

  • TCC

    I hope that you see the difference between someone calling you stupid and someone calling a group “the Puppy Kicking League.” And no one’s saying that you should call out every instance of bad behavior, but you should at least call out people when you’ve already decided to respond to them for other reasons.

  • LeahLibresco

    Nope, that’s not my policy.  I only respond to the good and ignore the bad across the board.  I’d rather the commenter engage with the meat of my response than get the opportunity to divert into a discussion of tone.

    I don’t feel an obligation to police and call out comments on other people’s blogs and I don’t feel more of an obligation to judge them just  because they appear on something I’ve written.

    Again, once you commit to calling out every inappropriate comment or term, you’re essentially saying that aggressive people go to the head of the line for responses, since they are the only people who must get responses.

  • Sure, I’m all for liberal comments policies, and I don’t think anyone would object to you ignoring the trolls – what they say reflects on them, not on you. But when you do choose to engage with someone, you engage with what they say, so when you have a conversation that goes like:

    Some guy: “I really don’t feel like giving the Puppy Kicking League my contact info”

    You: “No problem!”

    Then that response really does reflect on you.

  • “Again, once you commit to calling out every inappropriate comment or term, you’re essentially saying that aggressive people go to the head of the line for responses”

    That would be true, except for the part where the comment to which this is a response said this:

    “no one’s saying that you should call out every instance of bad behavior,
    but you should at least call out people when you’ve already decided to
    respond to them for other reasons.”

    You are misunderstanding or misrepresenting the point being made here.

  • LeahLibresco

    That’s one way to approach it, and, as I said above, it’s not the way I run things at my blog because most of the time the thread turns into a discussion about the appropriateness of the post and the content I was trying to respond to gets eclipsed.

  •  Well, OK, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to have much of a meaningful conversation with anyone if you just ignore chunks of what they say, especially the chunks you disagree with.

  • Parse

    This is actually a reply to your responses that you made to amycas and TCC below; I’m simply attaching it here because that’s starting to run out of horizontal space.  

    If every blog existed entirely on its own, then your comment policy would make sense.  However, your blog is but one of many, and when people read it, they expect it to follow the same conventions that most other blogs hold.  (Well, I can only speak for myself, but I imagine this is what Ewan, amycas, and TCC have an issue with as well.)
    Personally, these conventions include the following:
     – Nobody expects you to respond to every comment.
     – Nobody expects you to respond to every point in a comment you choose to reply to, especially longer comments.
     – If you respond to a comment and aren’t disagreeing with it, especially a short one, a safe assumption is that you agree with any unaddressed points – or at least, don’t have any issues with them.
    Honestly, your blog is your blog, and I’m not trying to say you should run it in a specific way.  What I’m trying to do is let you know why I (and other readers) can get the impression that you don’t have an issue with Gilbert’s ‘Puppy Kicking League’ comment. 
    By the way, who here do you think is claiming that you have a responsibility to respond to every post?  Or you have a responsibility to call out every instance of bad behavior?  What I see being argued here is that, when you respond to a post that does contain bad behavior, by not addressing it, it gives a strong impression that you support it.

  • kullervo

    An odd observation, perhaps, but 300+ people on that staircase and bridge was not a great idea. You probably got way too close to its weight rating, and did it all with a temporarily static load. Next time, how about a group shot of the assembly on the floor level, taken from the bridge above?

  • Donalbain

     But you DID respond. That is the issue. You responded and you responded in a way that validated his horrible actions.

  • So I’m the guy who wrote that comment. Chana has a point here, that comment wasn’t particularly well-considered. Now let me make it worse by elaborating on it.

    The point I’m most embarrassed about is probably not quite the one most of you want me to be most embarrassed about. Chana notes that the SSA is nicer than other atheist organizations and that probably is true without. And for all I know that is probably true, because I normally don’t take notice of which particular atheist organization is doing what. I tend to blur atheist activism into a uniform whole.

    That is particularly bad because it drives me up the wall when your side does it. While Christianity is portrayed as Catholic in entertainment most zealous  atheists seem to have stereotyped it as Evangelical. For example, many Internet atheists seem to have missed the memo that we Catholics don’t have a problem with evolution, don’t take everything in the bible literally, etc. For a while I used to follow the various religion debating reddits and found it somewhat amusing how the atheists would always pose challenges that presume a type of Christian simply not hanging out there, then tell the answering Christians (mostly liberal, which is a different both from what they wanted and what I am) that they weren’t really Christian and then complain that the Christians weren’t engaging their arguments. It’s basically an exercise in rehearsing the strong points.  By the way, Leah not doing this is what got me hooked on her blog back when she was an atheist.  She was basically the only atheist on the Internet who wanted to fight Christians with arguments actually interesting and relevant to what I believe. 

    So I suck for amalgamating movement atheists into an undifferentiated stereotype and for having a double standard when they do it. 

    On the other hand, and as I said, this is probably not the point most of you want me to be embarrassed about. Some might even suspect I’m trying to drive in a wedge. Thing is the SSA doesn’t relate to other atheist organizations like religious denominations relate to each other.  It’s more like different organs of one movement and I think most of you wouldn’t really want to be seen as different from those  more nasty atheists over there. I would suspect there is quite some membership overlap with the meaner organizations.  So I don’t quite get what Chana means when she suggests I “make alliances where [I] can”. I would be rather surprised if the SSA wanted to ally with Catholics against meaner atheists.  So there’s not that much sense in sorting the organizations into totally different categories when they are actually different vehicles for one movement.

    Next point: Chana explains that atheists face discrimination in the United States, which makes them look less like the kicker and more like the kickee. But that’s not a question of who is better behaved but quite simply a question of who is in power.

    For example, here in Germany a wacko court recently ruled that religious (male) circumcision is a crime. No need to panic, that will soon be fixed by statute. But I find it interesting that people opposed to that fix can be basically divided into xenophobes and – secularists. That’s right, secularists both individually and through their organizations are speaking out for a state of law that basically sums up to banning Judaism in Germany. Let me repeat that: banning Judaism in Germany.

    Or look at Britain, where people who disapprove of homosexual behavior (which in practice mostly means people taking their religion seriously) can’t adopt anymore, because in theory the kid might turn out gay.

    And of course even in the United States nondiscrimination is increasingly a stick to beat Christians with, like forcing wedding cake bakers to bake for “weddings” they disapprove of or forcing pharmacists to stock drugs they disapprove of, or with that student who didn’t get her counseling degree because she didn’t approve of homosexual acts.

    Of course all these examples are debatable, but then so are Chana’s examples of discrimination against atheists. 

    Basically I’m pretty sure you are not the good guys, because to the extent you get to be in charge religious freedom is destroyed. Of course y’all have good intentions, but then so have the folks at Exodus International and I don’t see many atheists calling them the good guys.

    So on the demonizing charge, I’ll confess a partial fault: You are not trying to be evil and implying you are is uncalled for. But materially you do stand for evil and it’s not only OK but actually necessary to recognize that.

    That, finally, brings me to the wording of my comment. Yes, it was more angry than was called for. But honestly, of all things that happen in a day, is that the thing to get upset about? At the end of the day a guy intensely conflicted about giving money he thinks will be used for evil (which, b.t.w. I did end up doing) expressed his disapproval of that evil a bit more stongly than would have been polite. I can already find worse overreactions in the comments to this post. To be blunt, if this is important enough to get worked up over, it’s at least in part because you want to take offense.

  • Incidentally, I didn’t get the impression you were condoning that phrase. Actually, as I read that response, I pictured you slightly angry and biting back hard at the response I imagine you would have felt like giving.

    And now you’re getting chewed out for being the grown-up. I guess no good deed stays unpunished after all.

    So how mean am I for finding that slightly funny?

  • Edmond

    It’s hard to lean into criticizing this, because it’s clear that you put a lot of thoughtful effort into it, and I respect that.  But there are definitely points that need addressing.

    First, I don’t see what’s wrong with atheists “blurring” Christian denominations together.  The whole idea that a religion which has a lock on “truth” can be split into denominations which DISAGREE about that truth, simply undermines its credibility.  If you’re all working from the same book, and that book is inerrantly true, then it seems that the ONLY people who can be considered credible are the ones who all AGREE on what the book says.  Yet so few of you do, and those that do are at odds with others.  If you can expect us to extend equal respect to every variant demonination, I don’t see why we can’t expect your religion to be consistent and INvariant.  If your religion is so pliant and vague that EVERY adherent can bend it to their own interpretation, doesn’t that make it inherently unreliable?

    Second, you need to take a step BACK from what you call “evil”.  Much of what you say above, I call SLANDER.  You say that atheists–or “secularists” if you prefer–are attacking religious freedom.  But I think there MUST be some limits on that freedom.  Look at what kinds of “freedom” you’re championing!  The “freedom” to be able to tell gay youths that their parents or guardians “disapprove” of them?  How is THAT a “freedom” which someone needs?  Have you ever tried growing up gay in a household where homosexuality is “disapproved”?  It isn’t fun.  Are you really more interested in protecting someone’s need to look down their noses at vulnerable youths, than you are in protecting the mental well-being OF those youths?  If we want to say that we actually CARE about the health and happiness of gay youths, then NO, we don’t want to be putting them into the hands of people who will raise them to loathe themselves.

    And, oh no, a baker or pharmacist, who runs a PUBLIC business, might have to serve a member of the public!  If you want that baker to be free to discriminate against weddings he disapproves of, is it ok if that includes interracial weddings?  Does his religious freedom extend to refusing baking for Jewish weddings, if he doesn’t approve of them?  Can the pharmacist refuse to dispense AIDS medicines, because his religious doesn’t “approve” of stopping god’s punishment against gays?  Where does this end?  Is there anything that CAN’T be justified by “religious freedom”?

    Religious freedom should mean worshipping how you please.  It SHOULDN’T mean that you are absolved of the duties of your employment, it shouldn’t mean that you can disparage good citizens who haven’t committed any crimes, and it shouldn’t mean that children are at the mercy of their parent’s superstitions.  I won’t wade too deeply in the circumcision debate, as such a long-standing tradition, it’s hard to support the argument that any real harm is involved, but again I wonder about the limits of religious freedom, when someone insists that they can’t practice their religion unless they can cut their child’s penis.

    In short, I think the concept of “religious freedom” is often maliciously abused, and frequently just taken too far.  You don’t need to be able to vocally denigrate gay people in order to practice your religion.  You don’t need to withhold legally prescribed medicines in order to worship your god effectively.  What we are “destroying” is not your religious FREEDOM, but your religious PRIVILEGE, and religious OVER-REACHING.  When EVERY Christian can come together and deliver the SAME message, then we might be able to consider that this message has some relevance.  But as long as each of you preaches your own personally customized version of that message, the rest of us are justified in being suspicious of it, and suspicious of the motiviations which drive you.

  • Hi Gilbert! I’m the writer of this piece. 

    I think it’s worth pointing out that not everyone knows Leah as well as you do, and since she makes a point of noting in her comment policy that not everyone understands you the way you understand yourself, you should acknowledge that others will not see her response that way. She’s free to “ignore the bad across the board” but that doesn’t mean people are wrong or bad for misunderstanding.

  • I haven’t read the other responses to this post yet, but I just want to give a broader sense of why I wrote this piece. You’re right that language is not the most important aspect of this debate. In fact, I mostly don’t like to talk about uses of language, since I agree with Leah that there are more interesting things to talk about, but in this case, in the context of attacks (the DoS) on the SSA and the extraordinary response of donations for the church clean-up, I thought your comment was offensive and, honestly, cruel enough to warrant a defense of the SSA.

    I really appreciate you writing this comment. I don’t agree with your characterization of us as evil, unsurprisingly, and I have more to say on the alliance point, but I just want to thank you for explaining where you’re coming from. I definitely didn’t give you the benefit of the doubt of being so conflicted, I thought you were taking cheap shots based on a common and harmful stereotype. I hope in the future we can have interesting and productive discourse about our relative beliefs’ strong points. 

  • Vieta Jumping

     Why are you all assuming that when one answers to a comment the unadressed points are agreed with ?
    It’s a strange claim.

    By the way, the big deal here is a blog’s comment calling the SSA a Puppy Kicking League ??
    You’re funny :p

  • Vieta Jumping

     haters gonna hate, but you sound like one too.

  • You’re basically illustrating my points.

    Catholics don’t think all of Christianity can be worked out from the bible or that it interprets itself. That’s (part of) why we have sacred tradition and a magisterium. Really, the thought that the bible can be interpreted to mean pretty much anything is not at all new or shocking to a Catholic. In fact it’s an argument we have been using against Protestants ever since they came up with the sola scriptura thing about 500 years ago. And this is basically religion 101.

    And if you want to reduce freedom of religion to freedom of worship that is just another formulation for destroying what I understand it to mean.

  •  Thanks.

  • Donalbain

     Yes. I hate the Catholic Portal on Patheos. I believe it is peopled by vile, disgusting people. Do you have a point?

  • Hermann o

    You love puppies??

    OK, no money from me, I fucking hate dogs!

     😉 !!!!!!


  • Ken

    I think this is the Sir Thomas More defense: 
     “qui tacet consentire videtur” (literally, who (is) silent is seen to consent).  Thanks Wikipedia.

  • Ken

    Except for the inherent assumption that you and your particular splintered faction of “Christianity” know right from wrong, and everyone else is wrong, I kinda understand your position.  “Us” are always more comfortable when unchallenged by “Them.”  

    The difference is, we (or “Them”) are willing to coexist on terms of human parity. We are not willing to be subjected to diminishment or be condemned as “evil” based on your (Christian) imaginary yardstick.  That’s all, really.

    I agree about the mailing list issue, but you seriously underestimate the implications of your puppy-kicking comment.  It simply invites responses referencing the Inquisition and the Holocaust — genuine events with far more serious consequences done in the name of your God.  Better not to bring such matters up in the first place if we are to survive as a species, and just stopping doing all of it.

    Evil, like most human behaviors, is a relative term, and needs to be recognized as such.  Eating pork is evil?  Circumcision is necessary?  I was raised to believe eating meat on Friday was a sin (evil).  Better to invest our time on addressing real issues like poverty, criminal economics that propagate violence and disease, and stopping the abuse of puppies.  

    Seriously, if there is a task worth doing, like disaster relief or combating racial prejudice, are you NOT going to participate  because the sponsor group disagrees on transubstantiation or the constitution of the Trinity?  That’s just insane.  Do similar thoughts occur to Athiests when dealing with Christian charities?  Of course — we are human, too. But we are also actively wrestling with these issues, not just doing what we are told as some symbolic act of submission.  

    If there is one thing I have found in history, it is that the reason there are so many branches of Christianity is that individuals (men) of conscience took individual responsibility for their beliefs.  I don’t agree where these beliefs took them, but I do respect their acceptance that they, not some committee or God, grappled with concepts they did not have the information to understand.  At one point, all were considered loonies, and many were/are.  Please allow us all the right to be wrong, or right, or simply confused.  

  • Edmond

    I don’t understand.  What freedoms are implied by “freedom of religion” that aren’t included in “freedom to worship”?  What other freedoms do you need, which relate to your religion?

    I don’t see the distinction between these two phrases, yet you speak as if one will not sufficiently provide the other.  Which freedoms are preserved under the phrase “freedom of religion”, that are being destroyed under the phrase “freedom to worship”?

    This sounds so much like the people who insist that their freedom of religion will be infringed if marriage equality is passed, because they won’t be able to follow their religion if they’re “forced” to acknowledge the existence of a marriage which runs counter to their beliefs.  This is no more valid an argument against same-sex marriage than it is against interracial marriage.  You can have complete freedom to practice your religion, without forcing non-adherents to live according to your religion’s rules.

    And I don’t see why it’s an asset for the Catholic church to add its OWN canon, and then decide to call it definitive.  My point never was that interpretation isn’t ENOUGH to understand the bible.  My point is that every person who calls themselves a Christian has their own differing interpretation, even Catholics.  Come up with all the traditions and hierarchies you like, but without a way to confirm if they’re TRUE, it still adds up to personal interpretation.

    You might as well pick up an almanac or a TV Guide, and read it like a horoscope, looking for secrets to the universe.  If we can’t confirm that the source is factual, then the risk exists that it’s false.  If it’s false, then NO ONE’S personal interpretation is going to be correct.

    And as BADLY WRONG as the bible teaches the concept of sexuality (not to mention dozens of other naturalistic and ethical matters), it looks like that’s the case.  What makes this huge range of personal opinions reliable?

  • So far as “what constitutes ‘freedom of religion that isn’t in ‘freedom of worship,’ the answer is found in the wording of the Constitution:

    “Freedom of expression.”

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