02 June 2009

Homophobes: "History absolves us!"

Pastor Bud Davis of East Berne doesn't like being called a bigot. He wrote a letter saying so to the Albany Times Union after an earlier correspondent characterized opponents of gay marriage as bigots.

"My dictionary defines a bigot as someone who is intolerant of any creed, belief or race that is not his own," Davis writes, "I am a fundamentalist minister. My positions are the positions I take not because of politics or emotions, but of what I read in the Bible." Why that matters is unclear, since Davis's dictionary didn't say that bigots took their positions "because of politics or emotions."

"I cannot teach other than the things the Bible teaches," he elaborates, "I cannot wink at homosexuality and pass it off as an alternate lifestyle. I cannot go against God's word. That does not make me a bigot." But would he similarly absolve someone who denounces Jews because he read about them in a book like say, Mein Kampf or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Yes, I'm going to compare the Bible to those books, not on the basis of historical or literary value, but because, like these texts, the Bible encourages behaviors and policies that are essentially hateful, no matter how conscientious believers feel about it all. Since I am under no obligation to regard the Bible as a book of law, I don't accept that believers can't be bigots.

"[D]on't call me a bigot because I follow what the word of God and 2,000 years of Christianity teaches," Davis pleads. Here he implies that prejudices of a certain age don't qualify as bigotry, but tell that to women fighting against millennia of sexism all over the world. For that matter, for how long in history did people own other people as slaves? Were their rationalizations justified by time? Does history absolve bigotry? Or is 2,000 or 3,000 year old bigotry still bigotry? But please don't tell me that bigotry justified by superstition isn't bigotry, or can't be. The most I'd concede in compromise is that Pastor Bud's homophobia is simply superstition.

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