Pro-Family Christian Organizations Designated “Hate Groups”
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a prestigious “nonprofit civil rights organization,” revealed the names of the thirteen anti-gay groups it will be officially listing next year as hate groups, along with five other anti-gay groups that didn’t make the “hate” list. These groups are:
1. Abiding Truth Ministries
2. The American Family Association
3. Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
4. American Vision
5. Chalcedon Foundation
6. Dove World Outreach Center
7. Faithful World Baptist Church
8. Family Research Council
9. Family Research Institute
10. Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment
11. Illinois Family Institute
13. Traditional Values Coalition
It’s rather interesting, isn’t it, as you scroll down the list to see the names of so many religiously-oriented groups. The links I provided above lead to where each organization is tied to religion, though some are much more obvious than others.
There are clearly a lot of problems with these groups. I want to talk about the most obvious one: most of them use Christianity to justify their sexual prejudice. Yes, some of them also use “science” and non-religious arguments to back up their antigay rhetoric, but this is a thin disguise. They know it as well as we do, but fabricate their secular evidence to achieve some sort of legitimacy outside religion for their religiously-based beliefs and to tell themselves that homosexuality is objectively bad.
That homosexuality is only negative when viewed in light of certain religious beliefs is problematic because that erases accountability for prejudice. One doesn’t need more rationale besides “The Bible says so” to be antigay. Once people give up their reasoning and agency to religion, they are free of the discomfort that comes when having to defend irrational arguments, and there is no need to look into your own beliefs or prejudices any further than that.
No, religion is absolutely not the only vehicle for prejudice. Atheists can and do have prejudiced beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, because we are human, like everybody else.
But I contend that people without faith are more likely to be accepting of non-heterosexual individuals because we do not have a holy book to fall back on and to interpret and reinterpret to justify our prejudiced attitudes. Religion can be a very easy excuse for some to hold hateful attitudes—we automatically do not have this excuse. We have no innate reason to exclude anybody from living a decent life, or for harassing them or condemning them to a fire pit.
If an atheist were questioned on his or her homophobia/sexual prejudice, he or she would not be able to simply quote a verse or sermon in response but have to form a legitimate answer. And since atheists are more used to critical thinking about difficult topics, I think we would be more ready to revise our opinions once we see them as wrong. That’s the ideal, anyway I know things like racial and sexual prejudice are often deeply ingrained and may have nothing to do with religion, and all people have blind spots when it comes to their own characters, but I still hold that on the whole we are more likely to change.
I recommend reading The Friendly Atheist’s take on the SPLC list and his discussion on the Illinois Family Institute. And, while you’re at it, add his whole blog to your feed reader if you haven’t already. It’s one of the best blogs I follow, atheist or otherwise.
Also, some further reading on reactions to the SPLC’s additions to the list
-A World Net Daily piece on the list including reactions from groups labeled antigay but not hate
-response from Tony Perkins, the downright wicked president of the FRC
-NOM’s response at being labeled antigay
Do you need some cheering up after wading through all this conservative, antigay, “pro-family”, Christian nonsense? I know I did, so check out this video of the moment when Argentina legalizes gay marriage. It’s not necessarily atheism-related, but it sure is sweet.