Huckabee Calls For Civil Disobedience, Utterly Misreads MLK, Jr.

Image of a portion of MLK, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963. Courtesy The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University

Mike Huckabee has joined the ranks of those invoking Martin Luther King Jr. to legitimate civil disobedience in response to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage.

As the former Arkansas governor declared Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week,”

“I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law. They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the ‘Letters from a Birmingham Jail’ reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all. And I do think that we’re going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision.”

I am glad Huckabee has read Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” He has, however, not read it very carefully. Dr. King does begin by quoting St. Augustine, but he goes on to draw upon St. Thomas Aquinas to elaborate on what is a just or an unjust law.

Aquinas, Dr. King urges, has several criteria:

First, “a just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” Of course what is specifically disputed within Christian circles is whether or not same sex marriage is moral, whether or not it “squares with the moral law of God.” Huckabee certainly doesn’t speak for all Christians. A number of churches both ordain lesbians and gay men and are ready to recognize same sex marriages, including Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Congregationalists.

As for the second of Dr. King’s criteria: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

It’s difficult to imagine just what distortion of personality a straight person may suffer from acknowledging that homosexuals are equally persons and therefore should have the same rights, including to marry, that heterosexuals enjoy.

But I am sure of the suffering inflicted upon homosexual persons through discrimination in the broader society and through their rejection and condemnation by certain churches and some people of faith. There is a long history of physical and emotional abuse of LGBT people in this country. The Supreme Court decision was greeted with great joy by those most directly affected by it, namely those same-sex couples who have sought to marry. They certainly have experienced the Supreme Court decision as an uplifting of their personalities, not degradation.

As part of this second criterion, Dr. King notes that the unjust law of segregation “distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” In the present case, the denial of same sex marriage based upon the moral judgment that same sex couples are morally inferior, as their form of sexuality is condemned and rejected, seems akin to the segregators. Denying same sex couples legal access to marriage which heterosexuals have implies inferiority to the same sex couples.

The third criterion Dr. King identifies is that

“an unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.”

For same sex couples to have legal access just like heterosexual couples is clearly sameness made legal. To deny such equal legal access “is difference made legal.”

The final criterion has to do with access to voting. Dr. King writes, “A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.” This one doesn’t appear to apply, but it is interesting to note that Huckabee and his political party have been leading the way in coming up with new regulations that directly deny people the right to vote.

Dr. King was about expanding equality—Huckabee’s stance on same sex marriage is about restricting equality. It’s pretty straightforward. Huckabee will have to find some other moral support for his call to civil disobedience.


  •' Eric says:

    Yes! This is exactly the post I was hoping someone at RD would write about the appropriation of MLK’s Letter!

  •' lsomers says:

    It is my conviction that “conservative Christian” is an oxymoron. There was nothing conservative about Jesus. He lived a life and brought a message that defied the conservative religious leaders of his day and metaphorically “spit in the face” of the government. He was a revolutionary when it came to religious laws and religious intolerance – this is an over and over again reality of his life. Self styled conservative Christians have absolutely nothing in common with the real Jesus, the peasant, prophet, healer, story teller and subversive person who was hated by conservative religious types and government toadies alike. I haven’t called myself a Christian for years because I’m convinced that Christians today are really today’s pagans wrapped in the pages of the Bible and spewing hatred as if it were love.

  •' conjurehealing says:

    “Any law that uplifts human personality is just.” This sounds pretty simple to me as a rule of thumb, not sure in practice.

  •' PyotrZ says:

    There is an emerging understanding about the role of big business in forming that thing which calls itself conservative Christianity. It is marketing, money, and more than a whiff of sulfur. It’s my hope that the real Christians will continue to become less shy about rebuking the prowling lion in lamb’s clothing that is right-wing religion. It is as if the political preachers are holding the Christian “brand” hostage. Real Christians are reluctant to face the fact that something that looks like their church and superficially sounds like their church is actually corrupt, destructive, anti-spiritual, spiteful, and terrifyingly powerful.

  •' jay kay says:

    And if homosexual marriage isn’t the moral remedy for rejection, condemnation and abuse?

  • The bottom line is that Huckabee and the other false Christians who complain about this ruling by the highest court of the land have the same mind set as those who defended slavery and the Confederate flag based on their Christian traditions. To say “homosexuality is a sin” is just the same error as saying that “the equality of races is a sin” which the Confederates claimed when they tried to secede from the USA. Huckabee’s reading of the Bible is no more informed than ISIS”s reading of the Quran.

  •' Eric says:

    Why wouldn’t it be? Why wouldn’t recognizing the full equality of gays and lesbians be precisely the remedy?

  •' Duck says:

    For me the difficulty is not that Huckabee believes that Christianity (his kind) is the moral gauge for society; the real problem that I see is the influence this thinking has had on much of society. Are the non-religious incapable of making right moral decisions? In my mind it’s not a question (or should not be) of how ‘Jesus’ would have acted towards gays, or what stance the ‘church’ should take, the real issue is that it’s an issue. The way it’s ‘supposed’ to work in a truly democratic society is that we have an informed ‘public’ vote and the majority wins, which in this case should have happened some time ago. I will say it again, separate Church and State and these problems will not exist. If we continue in the way we have we will implode but if we protect democracy, will avoid these unnecessary (and very costly) non-issues.

  •' George M Melby says:

    THANK YOU! Spot on the mark!

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I think we are in the process of learning we can’t just wait for Jesus to come and fix all problems and punish bad guys. It is up to us to find a way to fix things. As society matures and becomes more complex, it becomes less practical to follow a waiting on Jesus strategy.

  •' Duck says:

    It has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with returning to democratic principles.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Most of that terrifying power came from people being blind to it being there. Now that we can see it, we should be able to deal with it.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    That is political, and if you deal with political you need to deal with those who believe Jesus is the answer. The political battle is with believers.

  •' Duck says:

    People can still believe in Jesus (after-all it’s a free country), but that must not affect ‘public’ policy.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Like back in the 50s and 60s before Christianity sold their soul to the party of the rich.

  •' Duck says:

    Christianity itself has changed to more literalist views, whereas in times past there was a more non-literal approach to Bible interpretation. The resultant shift then began to affect (or infect) the political arena. I think God’s Grandchildren by Steve Dutch hits the nail on the head.

  •' Liya says:

    Not fully, of course, but a nice big step towards making abuse, rejection and condemnation legally and socially unacceptable.
    Its not a small deal.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Last time I looked the Supreme Court was part of that very government you say Jesus “spit in the face of.” Since marriage was always in the past a religious issue how does society suddenly acquire the power to redefine it to fit today’s latest revolution?
    Sure I think anyone is allowed to make a lifetime commitment and call it whatever they want — but having the government intercede and define marriage for everyone seems odd.

    Government Courts have taken on the enforcement of laws relating to marriage within society. “Marriages” are civil contracts that should be granted or not by civil authorities. Religious marriages can and should stay within the realm of whatever religious laws control that faith. Religious individuals should still have the right to say individuals are living in sin with only a civil contract they call marriage.

    Marriage was always a sacred vow and commitment before God between a MAN AND A WOMEN. Society can call it whatever they want but changing the secular definition of a word does not change the historic meaning. If a man “marries” two other men and a women is it still a marriage or do they get to redefine the entire institution to fit their idea of “love?” The government could recognize that group commitment but religious organizations should not be bound by the governments definition. Render unto — well you know the rest.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Believers in Jesus are allowed to vote last time I checked. Their voting may or may not be influenced by their belief so it might be best if you don’t just ignore them but attempt to deal with their ideas without the usual sarcasm, derision and stereotyping.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I’ll work on the derision and stereotyping parts.

  • “Oxymoron” does not mean contradiction. “Contradiction” is *precisely* what it does not mean.

    The word “oxymoron” exists exactly to identify the non-contradiction expressed by combining apparently contradictory elements to express something new. “Bittersweet” is the traditional grade school example. Not bitter, not sweet, and not a contradiction.

    Grown-ups of a Hegelian turn of mind may prefer to consider that oxymoron is to contradiction as synthesis is to antithesis.


  •' Candace says:

    Actually, marriage was not always a sacred vow. Since antiquity, marriage has always been seen as a way to forge social, political, and financial ties between families, so for example, marriages among ancient Romans only was recognized among certain classes and people of certain social status. In fact, as far as religious sacraments go, since it was so tied to social and political realities, it became a sacrament fairly late, at least in the Catholic context. If we are being really honest, the onus for maintaining the sanctity of marriage, particularly for those traditions that trace their way back to the Mediterranean was largely put upon women. Men not only were allowed to step outside of marriage without impunity, but could do so with either sex, especially if they were doing so with slaves or prostitutes. Women who committed such acts could be tried and executed or just executed by their husbands or the male relative who had authority over them. And yet again, this was not an issue of religion or piety, but a practical concern over legitimate offspring, inheritances, and maintenance of social and political power. That being said, as you pointed out the government is regulating the social contract, not the religious rite or sacrament, so churches are free to deny same-sex couples from marrying in their church. However, as you have implied, but not expressly stated there is a separation of church and state in this country and to deny a civil contract of marriage based upon religious opposition would not be keeping in line with that principal. Love is superfluous to this conversation because we are talking about the government’s right to regulate contracts and as long as it is a contract, not a religious ceremony, the government has a express obligation to regulate it, but not in accordance with religious sentiment. To deny adults access to a civil contract barring extenuating circumstances, like mental incapacity is discriminatory. Let’s put this in context. In 1950s America, interracial heterosexual couples were often not allowed to marry in various states. Their marriages often could not be recognized if they traveled from one state to another, if they happened to dwell in a state where such a marriage was recognized. Now many supporting such laws pointed to biblical passages as affirming, if not outright requiring such a ban, should such legislation have remained acceptable based on religious perspectives or did the government have the right, nay the obligation, to correct such gross injustice? To me, same-sex marriage walks the same lines, if you are to ban it, you need legitimate non-religious reasons, and I can think of none nor have I heard any, especially in a country were same sex couples can legally adopt children. To say that it has always been so, so we should not change it, is absurd. Marriage at least in the civil context is about defining relationships for a matter of government record. There is no place for the government to legislate based on religious sentiment based on our constitution’s own mandates. Moreover, such a sentiment is not shared by all religions, or more specifically, all Christians. In other words, are we now going to claim that just by living in this country we have signed up to live by someone else’s religious mores? I, myself, have signed up to follow United States laws, but not some unidentifiable, ambiguous form of Christianity that ascribes to morality only when its members feel threatened.

  • Duck,

    You write “In my mind it’s not a question (or should not be) of how ‘Jesus’ would have acted towards gays…”

    History has always hummed with speculation about Mary Magdalene’s role in things. May I suggest “beard”?


  • Nice explanation, but I think probably he heard “lalalala” and that’s about it. Home schooling comes home to roost (and Texas and other southern schools are pretty much just factory home schools, with no questioning of any facts that contradict bias.

    I’m still astounded at the number of people who parrot that marriage was always between 1 man and 1 woman, where if they read their own Bible (or at least, mine — what they call “The Old Testament” — they would surely notice the many kinds of marriage and marriage laws in there. I mean, if you interpret literally to the present, if a man’s brother dies, he’s supposed to marry his sister in law (as I recall) and that did NOT mean getting a divorce from any other wife first. It would be interesting for some undergraduate sociology class somewhere to take a poll of churches in their area to find how many are following that Biblical commandment.

  •' not_guilty says:

    Marriage was always between a man and a woman?

    Isn’t it peculiar, then, that scripture instructs, “If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other disliked, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the disliked, and if the first-born son is hers that is disliked, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the first-born in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the first-born, but he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the disliked, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the first issue of his strength; the right of the first-born is his.”? Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (RSV).

  •' not_guilty says:

    This talk of civil disobedience in response to the Supreme Court decision puzzles me. What are the critics of the decision going to do in violation of the law?

  •' Camera Obscura says:

    Huckabee is a huckster who is running a for-profit “presidential campaign” his invocation of The Reverend King is a base ploy to come up with something when he’s got nothing.

  •' cmbennett01 says:

    The law is always more complicated than that. The law is in black and white. It is rigid and conservative in order to promote stability in society. It is the responsibility of rational men and women to recognize that man is fallible and his laws may be wrong or unjust. When that happens they are changed and justice is advanced. Dr. King demonstrated the injustice of the laws of this country and so was responsible for the advancement of justice.
    In practice the architects of the just society are not finished yet, and most likely never will be,

  •' Craptacular says:

    “…but having the government intercede and define marriage for everyone seems odd.” – Burnt Orange

    I see your problem…what you take as “government defining x” I see as the “government allowing x”. The government is not telling you what marriage is to you, it is telling you that they ALLOW same-sex marriages. Just like the government allows you to worship how you want (lawfully), but doesn’t define YOUR worship.

    What you want is for everyone else to conform to your personal belief and definition of marriage.

  •' Duck says:


  •' Craptacular says:

    Urban dictionary definition of “beard” which DLJ is referring to:

    “A women who goes on a date with a gay man to mask the fact that he is gay.”

  •' Craptacular says:

    Whew! And here I thought we wouldn’t get a concern troll in the thread.

  •' Duck says:

    “Sure I think anyone is allowed to make a lifetime commitment and call it whatever they want — but having the government intercede and define marriage for everyone seems odd.”

    Government laws don’t discriminate between religious or non-religious marriages as long as civil laws are upheld.
    I’m sure there are legal reasons for same-sex couples wanting their unions legitimized but also to cement their bond: they want the same recognition of their vows (which they take very seriously) that the rest of society gets. The problem is with us, not them; they really love each other. Whether we understand that love or not does not make it less so.
    Simply because a couple is heterosexual does not guarantee the marriage will work, as divorce rates (religious and not) attest. I think a hypocritical society is so much worse.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Muslims also vote in America. When they vote against same sex marriage and women running for office will we be hearing about the infection of our political discourse by rabid religious fanatics.
    Christians are very diverse in their political sensibilities and vote across the board. On the other hand maybe not so much with the Muslim community.

    Even expressing reservations about their voting patterns might get you branded “BIGOT” by your fellow liberals. So just keep criticizing and picking the low hanging fruit of supposed monolithic voting and the threat of theocracy presented by the “boogie man” of “the Christian right” while your precious Muslims actually preach and strive for a Muslim based political system here in America and worldwide.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Thanks — good historical explanation and reasoning. Marriage did in fact serve many purposes within societies. A secular government does in fact have the right to define what types of relationships it will recognize and enforce. Again thanks for the reasoned reply.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    I think the Constitution prohibits the government from ALLOWING you to worship as you want. That is an inalienable right. Your idea about who ALLOWS you your rights is well outside the American Constitution’s meaning as to border on a royalist POV. BTW – Government is NOT God or anything close it is just an organization given power over “the people” by those very people.
    In your understanding IF government were to prohibit same sex marriage would you be so sanguine? My guess is you would be screaming about your inalienable “rights.” Or is government so omnipotent that you think it is the giver who can take away what it gives? Like your right to free speech? Abortion on demand? Right to partition or redress? Same sex marriage?? Fifth amendment right against self incrimination? Maybe even a return to slavery?

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Under any understanding of Christianity there was a NEW COVENANT which bound those who follow Christ.
    The so called Old Testament while instructive is NOT something binding upon followers of Christ. Some books of the prophets and their teachings are observed and studied as precursors about the coming of Christ. I am sure someone trained in theology could do a much better job of discussing this issue then my limited understanding.

  •' Duck says:

    I don’t see how this has anything to do with Jesus. Though same-sex marriage was hotly opposed by Christians, it was a judicious vote that settled the matter. Democracy prevailed here and nothing more.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “[Worshiping]…is an inalienable right.” – BO

    Unless your worship includes hallucinogenic drugs, or some other controlled substance, human sacrifice, etc. So no, it is not an all-inclusive right. So the answer is, yes, the government ALLOWS you to worship in the manner you do…through the constitutional amendment you pointed out.

    “In your understanding IF government were to prohibit same sex marriage would you be so sanguine?” – BO

    As I am heterosexual and already married, it doesn’t matter to me, personally, one way or another (and I fail to see why it matters to you). However, I see no compelling reason for government to limit a marriage contract to two people of the opposite sex. Like racial segregation laws, those laws which prohibit individuals from being fully accepted as citizens with all the civil benefits the rest of us enjoy do nothing but harm everyone. Your very arguments show the results of such harm (you want everyone to accept only your definition of marriage).

    You can keep coming back here and arguing whatever you want, but your words continually paint you into the corner with all the other bigots.

    And, for the record, the government is no more a god than the bigot you worship is a god.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “A secular government doest have the right to define what types of relationships it will recognize and enforce.” – BO

    Is that “does” or “doesn’t”? Just curious because I typed up a reply to “doesn’t” but realized that this could be a finger garble and not really a talking point.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    You sidestep the issue of the constraints on government. Just what or who gives them the power to allow or stop you from worshiping as you see fit or prohibits them from the reinstitution slavery? Is there ANY power greater then government?

    Calling people bigots might make you feel superior and oh so pure but it just serves to end ANY discussion that you feel is settled. We were talking about the limits of government and where their power is derived from. Same sex marriage was an example. Maybe using prohibition or women’s suffrage would have been less painful and avoided the bigot label. Probably not.

    The entire country was populated by bigots during the prohibition of same sex marriage during 99 % of its existence according to your POV. Were your parents bigots?

    Funny how NEWLY acquired rights suddenly cast everyone NOT on the cutting edge of societies continuing evolution into the pit of labels and invective. Except of course liars like Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton who needed to get elected before they could “evolve.”

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    The government DOES have the right to —–
    Sorry I’ll edit

  •' Jim Reed says:

    A huffingtonpost article discusses evangelicals evaluating their loss on the gay marriage issue. They didn’t anticipate their majority on the issue could ever become a minority. I think there might be a more basic reason. I think the people in general just became so tired of evangelicals, they were more than happy to hand them a defeat.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Calling people bigots might make you feel superior…” – BO

    It doesn’t. And don’t project your own issues on me. It actually saddens me that so many people attempt to defend their bigotry using their religion…like the source of the bigotry makes a difference. No, I just call people bigots when they say bigoted things.

    The government gets its “power” from us, the governed citizens (not a god, by the way). This includes the religious and non-religious alike.

    The rest of your rant is basically a juvenile response to change.

    My parents are still religious bigots.

    Each of those examples you cite, by the way, had their own religious bigots standing against the upcoming changes. Slavery, Women’s Suffrage, equal rights and desegregation, each had a group of religious bigots that stood against these civil rights, claiming that the end of the our state/nation/world was coming to an end with this change.

    But keep trying to force everyone to accept BO’s definition of marriage as the only true definition…I am sure you are scoring big marks on some god’s scorecard.

  •' not_guilty says:

    My comment was in response to the assertion that marriage has always been between one man and one woman. That clearly is false.

    And should I surmise that you are not one who cites the book of Leviticus regarding homosexuality?

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    FYI social change does not come overnight nor does it arrive in a pretty wrapped package with a bow. When was your epiphany or were you born believing ahead of the current wave of social change? You left out prohibition — was that change bigoted?

    You seem perfectly happy with allowing Obama and Hillary to “evolve” at their own pace without the invective and labeling. The concept of same sex marriage was NOT even on the radar for most of many people’s lives. Now you expect them to discard 30 or 40 years of believing one way and climb upon the current bandwagon or be ostracized and labeled by you.

    Doctors only removed homosexuality from the realm of being a mental disorder during the 1970s. Now it is an accepted lifestyle with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that.

    Religion by its very nature changes slowly but is not intrinsically bigoted. Many fads and social experiments have arrived and left the scene over the last 2000 years. Religions like any other institution move too slow for many peoples tastes.
    My guess is in a few years most people will wonder what all the hoopla was about. Until then do you want everyone shipped off to re-education camps and forced to view the world through your moral perspective? Some issues do not lend themselves to overnight change. For many decent people this marriage issue was a change that happened too rapidly and without a foundation or explanation.

    One day being gay was a problem. Then within a 20 year period the tide changed while most individuals were just living their lives beliefs they understood as being correct were considered bigoted and wrongheaded and they found themselves being vilified.
    Debate about this change in laws and definitions does not constitute advocating for or against peoples individual civil rights. It is often a social autopsy examining just how we got where we are currently and how to avoid repeating a painful journey in the future.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    I usually avoid the entire Bible when responding or posting. I know what I don’t know and in-depth Bible interpretation is a bit beyond my pay grade.
    Being on tis site is often instructive and enlightening.

  •' not_guilty says:

    I agree that it is instructive and enlightening.

    And an awareness of what one doesn’t know speaks well of you, IMO.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Most morality and ethics are learned by being educated and by example. Churches and religion are surly sources of imparting morality, ethics and educating. They have had thousands of years of written and oral traditions and experience on how individuals interact and live within an organized society. Much of it has been incorporated into secular laws and practices. Getting rid of religion would be like denying some element of many peoples humanity. It seems to be a universal part of the human race. Not for everyone but quite a large majority.
    Currently Universities and secular institutions have taken the place of religion in shaping society and its’ practices. That does not negate some of the wisdom passed down to us by religious practices and texts.

    Everyone has the right to reject or embrace any religion they choose. To totally discard religion might be like studying the Italian language not knowing that its’ roots were in Latin. Organized religions have been the source of many problems and human misery as well as the repositories of knowledge and good codes of behavior. Given that humans are human I doubt religion is going anywhere soon. It will probably morph into some other kind of institution as time goes along.

  •' NWaff says:

    “sameness” is associated with a “majority” – the Supreme Court was 4-5 on this decision – barely a majority.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    So Hitler was right. Nothing he did will ever be “answered for.” Pretty depressing. Is that also true for every purveyor of human misery right down to the wife beating neighbor up the block?
    Waiting for society seems a bit impractical when it comes to balancing the scales of the worlds butchers and genocidal manics. Might be an illusion but seems a necessary human trait to remain sane.

  •' NWaff says:

    I love how Peter Gathje disagrees with Huckabees view of Biblical teaching, as if there can be only one correct interpretation – and Gathje has it right and a whole population of Christians throughout history have it wrong.
    I guess the practice of “equality” ends when the other person doesn’t agree with your position. It’s amazing how the architects of tolerance build a one-way street.
    Thanks for that biblical lesson – got it.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Since they vote it is impossible for most to separate their religious ideas and morality from their voting. Public policy is going to be effected unless you can bar individuals with a religious background from partaking in civil government or voting.

    Even religions like Buddhism impart ways of evaluating others, their motives and “goodness.” Many will vote based on their understanding of the teachings of their religion. Just reality.

  •' mikestage says:

    Candace’s response below is eloquent and adequately tears apart your inane points. However, there is one point that was not addressed. You say, “Marriage was always a sacred vow and commitment before God between a MAN AND A WOMEN.” And that is patently false. Many non-Christians and athiests have married and they have not married before God, but their marriages were as legal and respected as any other marriage. So your point is simply wrong, as are most of your illogical and biased points.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It is a slow process, but society does evolve down through the ages. Christianity has kind of got itself stuck on waiting forever for Jesus, so society is all we have to count on.

    For the record, the only thing more dumb than waiting for Jesus to come is waiting for God to punish Hitler. Not going to happen.

  •' mikestage says:

    Thankfully opinions change. yes, by definition, 99% of the population, as you point out, were bigots. Bigotry is defined as intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. So yes, they were bigots. But many of those “bigots” regarding homosexuality have come to understand that gay people are not worthy of their scorn but instead, worthy of their love and consideration, as they are equal partners in our human race who are harming no one. Obama and Clinton aren’t liars, they are evolvers. As are the many others who’s opinions have changed. That’s what is meant by progress and enlightenment. Instead of cursing those that have evolved, we should embrace them and be thankful that gay people everywhere are sharing their hearts and stories in a way that is causing quick and massive shifts in public thought and policy.

  •' mikestage says:

    Being gay was never a problem, it was the public opinion that was the issue. And thankfully that has changed. As a gay man who endured years of abuse, job loss and scorn for no reason other than I loved men instead of women, I am thankful for the fast sea change that has made my lives and the lives of fellow gay people infinitely better and has done absolutely nothing to the lives of heterosexuals in any negative way. It’s hard to believe that people hold the argument that, well, it was ok to be a hateful bigot for all those years and to torture and harm homosexuals, so why do we have to change so fast? Why can’t we slowly let go of our abusive behavior instead of having to change instantly?

    The truth about gay people, that they are ordinary, good citizens worthy of equal rights makes the bigotry towards them unacceptable. Fast or slow, its reality. So shut up and keep your bigoted views to yourself and stop trying to stupidly defend years of bigotry and hate as OK. It’s a losing argument.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Bigot is a very loaded word that indicates a conscious effort to hurt and diminish others for various reasons. Lack of information and/or being misinformed as well as in some cases just accepting the “common wisdom” of the time might account for peoples opinions about same sex marriage and homosexuality in general.

    Medical professionals and most of the worlds societies did not accept homosexuality as “normal.” just 50 years ago. Additionally actual bigots continue their positions long after the rest of the world has changed and moved on.
    Pres. Obama indicated he was FOR same sex marriage on a form in 2004 but reversed his position when he announced for Presidency. He was emphatic about it over and over. He again reversed himself after the marriage rights movement became ascendant.

    Were individuals bigoted 500 years ago when they believed mental illness was some type of demonic possession? I think you are being overly judgmental and harsh in your assessments about others who may not be as “evolved” as you at this point. Time and familiarity will change people’s opinions, and hearts at a rate faster then most social change of this magnitude takes place. To expect the Titanic to turn on a dime indicates a lack of understanding of how humans function personally and as an organized society.

    Attitudes and ideas carried through hundreds if not thousands of years by almost every society on earth, no matter how wrong, don’t just dessolve with the snap of the fingers. Fingerprinting, name calling and personal attacks just slow the process or in some cases engender backlash.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Hubris is pretty silly. You calling billions of people dumb while you and less then one tenth of one percent of the world believe in your position. Seems a bit arrogant and self aggrandizing to hold your opinion while calling everyone else DUMB.

    Kind of like the guy in the mental institution who tells the doctors that everyone else is crazy except him. The world, in your point of view, should be ignored in favor of your understanding of how the universe operates. Okay!!

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Religion by its very nature changes slowly but is not intrinsically bigoted.” – BO

    bigotry – intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself

    I would posit that most religions contain the seeds of bigotry in their teachings. Most religions claim they have god’s truth while the other religions do not. Most religions will try to convince you not to listen to the proselytizing from other religions or logical arguments from the non-religious…these are the seeds of bigotry.

    From these seeds stem the intolerance of those the religious perceive to be not in line with their beliefs. (Or they continue to push their own definition of marriage as the only true definition of marriage.)

    As others have pointed out in this thread, part of jesus’ message in the new testament was pointing out the religious bigotry during his times…and I find it curious that current religions seem to share more in common with the teachings and actions of the pharisees and sadducees than they do with the teachings of jesus, whom they purport to follow.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    I am NOT arguing for continued bigoted behavior against anybody. I thought I was just pointing out that change is not an instant event and anyone who thinks it will come overnight might be disappointed. Actual people just don’t change instantly.
    Most people do not torture or harm homosexuals. They are too busy just living their lives.

    Until recently the gay culture was depicted by the media and popular culture in a way that did not attract the approval or support of the general public. So called bigoted views were often just a reflection of what was perceived as a very dangerous and promiscuous lifestyle.

    I know this characterization was not correct. I guess any discussion of this change in mores and attitudes and its roots is verboten and will be met with accusations of — who knows what.

    Telling someone to shut up might make you feel better but really does not change reality. I am sure names and admonitions have been hurled in your direction over the years and have not been pleasant. Your use of the tactic does not make it any more acceptable.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    “And that is patently false. Many non-Christians and athiests have married and they have not married before God, but their marriages were as legal and respected as any other marriage”

    As you say marriages between non-Christians and atheists are respected and honored. Seems that all marriages consist of a vow of commitment before “others” if not a God figure. Some authority figure presides over the commitment.
    In the past religions gave special significance by invoking the sacred. Secular and non-religious marriages probably used a similar structure to give the event the power and weight. Within American and European cultures the religious paradigm dominated by far and was the most widely used. Other methods are, as you say respected and legal, but until recently not widely practiced.
    I was speaking in general terms and was NOT excluding other forms of marriage. My point was that changing the understood definition of marriage within an entire society is difficult and will be naturally resisted until it is freely accepted by hat society.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Bigot is a very loaded word that indicates a conscious effort to hurt and diminish others for various reasons.” – BO

    You mean like the terms faggot, gay, fruit, etc.? Or perhaps those were terms of endearment from the hetero-religious community? You’ll forgive me if I don’t seem to be sympathetic to your pain of being called a bigot when you say bigoted things…sometimes people need to feel hurt to gain the necessary empathy.

    The rest of your words are just excuses to continue marginalizing a group based on their private personal behaviors.

    I do find it encouraging that you seem to have shifted your arguments from the right and proper definition of marriage to an attempt to show that cultural change is happening too fast. That seems to indicate the ability to compromise…something that is important for the diverse culture we live in, something which the religious seem to view as a loss of their liberties.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Think about what the issue is here. Will Jesus come and rapture those who believe, and burn Hitler in Hell? I just don’t see that happening. The only reason people have for believing it is other people believe it. Can you see how that is circular reasoning?

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Do all arguments where both parties think they are right or correct fall under the rubric of bigotry? By your definition even non-religious people scorning religious believers as superstitious are bigoted.

    The word seems to have taken on a life of its’ own but is a one way street.

    Would individuals who avoid and don’t like fouled mouth opinionated individuals from a particular culture or race be considered bigoted? As the umbrella gets bigger more individuals become consigned to the scrapheap of being considered bigoted by those disagreeing with them.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    They don’t believe this because others believe it but have testimony, written text, witnesses and all sorts of historic reasons to think the way they do. It does NOT prove anything but is not a product of just circular thinking.

    On the other hand you believe the way you do because of some internal personal feeling or idea that religion is ALL make up fantasy. It is not worth serious investigation or understanding of the metaphysical or mystical underpinnings of its continued existence and acceptance around the world.

    Does debunking Christianity negate ALL religious belief in your view. Is the very widespread practice of various religions not peak your interest as to what the wellspring of this human trait happens to be? Is it just enough for you to personally dismiss this most human endeavor and wrap yourself in the smug blanket of your own limited understanding of the universe? That is okay but indicates an assurance that most individuals just don’t seem to have.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It may not be possible to question all religious belief, and it certainly would not be easy. Jesus is another matter. There is the historical record, so you can determine the gospel Jesus story is a myth. The key piece of evidence is the fact that there was a different Christianity in the middle of the first century when Paul was writing, one based on old testament scriptures and visions people were having. Then in the last part of that century, the gospels were written, one copying from another, and each adding to the story that they were developing. The fact that Christianity in the time of Paul didn’t know about any of these gospel stories is the key to understanding they were later inventions. Paul is the oldest written record of Christianity, at least in the Bible.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Do all arguments where both parties think they are right or correct fall under the rubric of bigotry?” – BO

    Well, using your religion as the reason to marginalize or disenfranchise people is bigoted, is it not? Is your god open to listening to the arguments for allowing same-sex marriages? If you believe your god is against something, is there any argument or data point that can change your mind?

    If you can honestly answer yes to the last one, then you are open and tolerant. If you answer no, you are a bigot. It’s really not that difficult to comprehend. I get that you don’t like the label bigot any more than you like the government allowing same-sex couples to marry, but bigotry is as bigotry does.

  • Wey-yull, seems to me Huck will just have to go and unmarry any gays he’s ever married.

    What has this man been hiding from us?


  • Burnt Newblack,

    Fine as far as you go. Seems to me it would be more accurate to say that the prime importance of a supposed New Covenant is an eschatology peculiar to those Christians who live by the Gospel of John and the Epistle to Romans alone.

    Christians who take a balanced view of Scripture as a whole would have less narrow certainty of this covenant, which is, after all, the invention of the “old testament” prophet Jeremiah.

    In particular Christians who took that covenant’s prediction of Jesus’s coming again seriously are stuck with the fact that the prediction has been proven wrong: it was supposed to happen somewhere around 1900 years ago.



  • PyotrZ,

    I don’t think is this is quite right. The current manifestation of the “religious” right is pretty much the creation of a group of mail-order gurus supporting the Republican Party, but mainly supporting themselves. Like the National Rifle Association, these people milk their gulls, and have little if any interest in the causes they so expensively, and profitably, promote.

    One is reminded of the Doctrine of the Chiropractors: “The spine supports the head, the ribs, and the chiropractor.” Richard Viguerie and Liberty University support Richard Viguerie and Liberty University.

    I think you are right that genuine Christians are more and more coming to realise this, however reluctantly.



  • Hunh?

    Hitler died in obloquy, pain and failure.

    You remind me of Terry Southern’s satirical Tranquilizer Club. “I mixed up the best milk shake in my class. Slept through maths, English, and World War Two.”

    Were you a member?


  •' Sam says:

    I always think of this quote when Conservatives seek to appropriate MLK:

    “During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.”
    ― Vladimir Ilich Lenin, The State and Revolution

  •' PyotrZ says:

    Just as the Romans did with Jesus. It’s never been done better.

  •' PyotrZ says:

    It wasn’t considered a marriage; the brother was to impregnate the widow in the name of her husband, and the child was considered the husband’s. This was a means of social support for the widow. She needed a child to take care of her. Se the story of the Harlot by the Side of the Road. The Sin of Onan was not auto-erotic; it was that he practiced contraception while carrying out his Levirate duty.

  • Again with logic and translation? And cultural context?

    Interesting info on Onan — thanks.

  • You’re doing pretty well, I think. However, the problem lies in defending people who argue based on picking and choosing. Where I get annoyed at the “literal” interpretations is that, after the dietary laws and a couple of other things where Jesus was clear and the context was obvious (dietary laws, minyans) the way it looks to me in the public sphere of argument is that Christians just lift whatever they want from Torah (Jewish “testament”) and ignore the rest, without apparent Biblical authority. I have studied religious rhetoric and argument (for a PhD) and this is historically true, though which texts vary. so while there are many points of religious interest and argument I’d be glad to engage, the problem is that certain Christians (definitely not all!) use those texts from their religion to discriminate in the public sphere. We don’t live in a theocracy. People are trying to make their interpretation of religious values the law of the land. How do you think others would react? Christians themselves passionately debate the meaning and context of these subjects; why should one small portion of Christians get to dictate law for everyone, in places which have been defined as none of the community’s business? The combination of hypocrisy and power grab is not going to endear these Christians to any other group. If they had stayed out of the public realm and continued to affirm what they believed in the religious sphere, there wouldn’t be such a deterioration in faith in this country, from people who confuse conservative Christianity with all Christians. (Speaking of course as one purely outside the religion.)

  •' mikestage says:

    Thanks for your reply but I don’t think I’m being judgmental at all. Quite the contrary. I am simply responding to your post, which was way more judgmental (re: Clinton, Obama) than mine. People change, and that’s my point. Intolerance is the base definition of bigotry. It’s a word that is thrown around a lot, but I was simply point out its actual definition.

  • I was so focused on the historical (sorry, I’m an historian!) I missed your point about government courts and government, which I think well-taken. Government is where the civil belongs, private choice is where religion belongs — the writers of the Constitution (and its own forerunners, the Articles of Confederation and various rhetorical documents) made that emphatically clear. They had suffered too much under a state religion, and watched too much infighting between colonies of different religions, to want to set up such a thing themselves.

    Given that, perhaps religious/civil marriage is one of those leftovers from a darker era. Some of it’s of course convenient — a minister (? right term?) says “now by the laws of God and the United States, I pronounce you…” and it is so. Getting married in a church is a one-stop shop. But other parts have gotten confused — and I do favor a civil contract which can be designated whatever — marriage, domestic, sex license, I don’t care. But I favor one which is equally accessible to all who wish to make such a contract and are viewed by the Law as capable of doing so. (eliminating kids, animals, and other sillier arguments!) Unfortunately, that’s not how it was looking to happen, so the SCOTUS decision on marriage is itself, I think, temporary while the meaning of that is redefined. (I do agree this is the beginning of quite a ruckus for awhile. The Iowa Supreme Court which decided the iowa Constitution allowed same sex marriages were judges who could be fired — and the voters of the state did that. Still, its neighbor Minnesota voted for making same sex marriage legal, just a year or so later.)

  •' Fired, Aren't I says:

    60% of Americans in FAVOR of equality ARE a majority though. Quite a clear one, at that.

  •' Fired, Aren't I says:

    All of the Muslims I’ve spoken to actually support civil same sex marriage, even the ones that disagree with it personally.

  • Since marriage was always in the past a religious issue how does society suddenly acquire the power to redefine it to fit today’s latest revolution?


    Um, we have had civil marriages for some time now. A couple can go down to a courthouse and get married, with no religious ritual whatsoever.

    Fortunately, your views here — confused as they are — have become irrelevant. You can stamp your foot all day long, and gays and lesbians will still be legally married in the US.

  •' Burnt Orange says:

    Just one point. Clinton and Obama are politicians and are requesting we give them power. If you can’t make judgements about them you probably should not vote. Your responsibility is to assess and make reasoned judgements about what they say and do in the their public lives.

  •' Mitya1102 says:

    Yes, liberals have done a pretty good job of capturing MLK Jr. as their own. But he wasn’t referring to some expressionist sense of “personality” when he used that term. If you read MLK Jr. carefully, you will see that, for him, personality has more to do with the human person than it does some idiosyncratic willing of an individual. As I see it, it is only conservatives like Huckabee who give twopence for the nature of the human person as something preceding civic law–and, as such, capable of calling unjust laws to account.

  •' Mitya1102 says:

    How were those defending slavery corrected if no by an appeal to something outside of political will, something that could be a standard for justice beyond what the law says? In other words, MLK is saying that making something the law doesn’t make it just. Instead, a law can be judged by something beyond itself. Jim Crow was bad (i.e. “unjust”) law because it denied the humanity of blacks, their human rights. What should guide our civic laws? Human ones–that is, natural ones. Human rights are “unalienable” and cannot be granted or taken away, only protected or violated. It is the legislator’s job to make sure the regime’s laws are in accord, in as much as they can be, with nature. Leave nature out of the argument than all is “fair game,” and we wouldn’t have any reason to condemn racists, Stalinists, ISIS,…etc., etc.

    And when MLK Jr. writes of “personality,” he is using that term to refer to the human person, not to some sense of self-expression. Dr. Gathje has attempted to build an entire argument against Huckabee on this flimsy bit of equivocation. He should know better. He’s misleading the sheep terribly!

  •' Sam says:

    That is an interesting perspective. I think that you misunderstand the “liberal” position. 🙂

  •' Mitya1102 says:

    My point is that the principles MLK appealed to (human nature etc.) are being shamefully dodged by progressives in the (now defunct) debate about same-sex marriage. What was MLK able to appeal to that could call the unjust laws to account? He had “unalienable rights” that humans possess, given to them at birth by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” (whichever). Those were what stood outside our civic laws, always capable of serving as a corrective when our regimes go astray.

    I think Huckabee’s doing a fine job of reading MLK’s principle. If there is nothing like “the Laws of Nature” or “Nature’s God” that could be invoked as a standard of judgment on our civic realm, then let’s get on with the shouting match! And may the loudest team win!

    (This would be a retreat to a rhetorical version of might makes right, however. Political will unchecked! I think that’s where we are.)

  •' Sam says:

    The Laws of Nature were clearly the right of self-determination. Not some Social Darwinian concept of one set of morals and beliefs dominating another. He gave his life stopping one man from imposing his beliefs on another.

  • Pyotr,

    Agreed: your history is sound.

    When the Tafty Right tried to go after the religious, though, he had a real problem: American Evangelical religion was historically Progressive, though often sadly racist. It wasn’t until Viguerie, Robertson, Fallwell, and all those vicious and often fascist, creeps introduced abortion as a wedge issue that the current religious right, i.e. Evangelicalism as first a wing, now the supposed “base,” of the Republican Party came into existence.

    You are quite right that the real base is private greed. The Kocks are perfectly decent men, and libertarianism is a reasonable point of view as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. In the hands of extractive industries and their hand servants, e.g. the pipeline operators, the banks, the corrupt municipalities, the only freedom that counts is freedom to run for the bottom. Dump your waste on whoever’s downstream; exhale your waste gas into your neighbors’ air; all that kind of freedom.

    They, you are quite right, are the ones who benefit from the seduction of American “Christianity” by their money-changers and whited sepulchers.

    In solidarity,


  •' Mitya1102 says:

    Oh, dear! Saying that MLK was committed to “stopping one man from imposing his belief on another” is sheer nonsense. You cannot remake MLK, an ordained clergyman, into a secular libertarian, not even if we keep saying that he was. Have you ever read the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”? Do you know to whom it is addressed? (Hint: the greeting reads, “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”) Did you see that MLK grounds his argument in Augustine and Aquinas, arguably the two most influential theologians in the entire history of the Christian religion? Perhaps he was not willing to “impose” his beliefs on another by force, but he CERTAINLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY invoked his own Christian beliefs when calling others to justice.

  •' Sam says:

    I understand where he grounded his arguments and that grounding lead him to believe it was inappropriate for one group of men to impose their beliefs on another. Throughout the South, and the North, racial inequality under the specter of “Separate but Equal” was justified by Christians using their interpretation of the Bible just as slavery was justified the same way just over a century before. Dr. King knew well that the use of the Bible could be used to impose beliefs on others when they wanted no part of it because he lived it. His foundation was Christian but his message was universal.

    In Beyond Vietnam he speaks clearly about leaving a group of people who do not hold his beliefs to make a determination for themselves about their lives and their future. (Although using your logic since he addressed this speech to “Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen” I suppose that means it was only intended for that one audience. That you would put forth such an argument though is, to me, the height of disingenuity.)

    No one is remaking MLK from a pastor. But fear that he is a strong motivating tool. MLK stood for equality for all. He called for peace and civility not a dictatorship of Christian beliefs. And his message reflected the call of Jesus to justice and fellowship despite our differences. MLK did not call for people who disagreed to be harmed or prohibited by law from doing with their lives what they will only that people could not impose unjust laws restricting the freedom of others.

  •' Mitya1102 says:

    You are offering a rather common, though somewhat anachronistic, interpretation of Christianity. The faith that you are accusing of enabling racism was unworthy the name of “Christian.” This was MLK’s point, no? He did not push his fellow clergymen beyond the faith. Instead, he called them to live it more (not less) committedly.

    My point in citing the letter’s greeting is not that he was addressing only clergymen. (I assume that he had other audiences in mind.) My point was that he identified himself with them (“FELLOWthe faith that his fellow clergymen avowed is what he used to call them to account. It was not that the faith pointed to something beyond itself (unless one has a robust understanding of God, as Augustine and Aquinas certainly did), but that the faith–or, more accurately, the truth upheld by the faith–stood in judgment over untruth. was what stood

  •' Sam says:

    You mean the faith that was (is) used to enable racism?

    And I agree that Dr. King believed his faith was not being properly followed and that he was using his understanding of Christianity to push clergy and the faithful to reject the dehumanization of their fellow man. In this we agree.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Christianity is not under attack here, other than they are being called out for their desire to discriminate against a group of people.

  •' nightgaunt says:

    Call each other “false Christians” is a useless exercise in fallacy.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I think it is a key to how Christianity works so well. Obviously there are problems, but the different denominations are set up so that each group can see itself as the correct church, and all the problems are due to the others. Without the blame, nothing in the religion would make any sense.

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