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For my first diary here, I would just like to briefly make a comment or two about the "No True Scotsman Fallacy".  Whenever a diary gets published talking about the latest lunacy of the Christian Right, some progressive Christians inevitably says "they're not truly Christians".  For example, you'll find such remarks in the comments to this front page post from yesterday.  At the risk of committing this fallacy myself, I would like to suggest that no true Christian should respond to these diaries in this way.  Follow me below the fold to see why.  

I am not here to debate with you about the particulars of your faith.  Despite being an atheist, I have no desire to take your faith away.  Paraphrasing Gandhi, I find much to admire in your Christ.  I am above all not interested in getting involved in a debate that's been going on for 2000 years as to which version of Christianity is the true and right version of Christianity.

I understand that you feel compelled to defend your faith and what you believe is the true version of Christianity.  While I strongly disagree with anything that involves the supernatural, if we have to have religion and Christianity I would certainly like to see your form of Christianity be the one that becomes dominant in our country; and this because I believe your ethical values are largely in line with my own.  

I do, however, think that committing the No True Scotsman Fallacy is a very Un-Christian thing to do in these discussions.  Why?  Well, because it makes the discussion about you rather than those that are marginalized, oppressed, and being attacked by these groups.  It muddies the issue and makes it more difficult to respond to these exceptionally oppressive movements.  Here's the bottom line:

Whatever the true version of Christianity might be, the fact remains that there is a worldly institution composed of people that call themselves Christians, that are attacking women, GLBT folk, that are advancing economic policy that creates further inequality, that are assaulting science, and that through their End Time's theology are making it exceedingly difficult to respond to climate change as we need to.
The issue is not whether or not this is a true or legitimate form of Christianity, but of responding to these groups.  When you commit the No True Scotsman Fallacy you make it harder to respond to these groups, by making the discussion about whether or not these people are true Christians rather than about how to respond to the impact they've had on our politics and the oppression of various people's they've advanced.

If I understand Jesus's ethical philosophy correctly, it is an ethics of love, compassion, and above all allegiance to the marginalized, excluded, oppressed, and underprivileged.  Everywhere Jesus rails against power, privilege, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy.  One of the most fascinating things about Jesus's ethical teaching is that he seems to be striving for a form of community without tribalism.  For example, in Luke 14:26 Jesus says,

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.
Many give this a vanilla interpretation and say Jesus is saying "you must love me above all other things".  I think he's saying something different.  If we place his words in their historical context, Jesus's words are nothing short of astonishing (and in that context, extremely offensive), because Judaic citizenship is based on kinship relations (tribal relations).  Jesus is saying that we must abandon our tribalistic impulses or our desire to base social relations on labels (Christian, Jewish, Roman, Pharisee, etc) or kinship lineage.  Jesus seems to be calling for both a society composed of heterogeneous peoples without common label, beliefs, or biological lineage, based on love rather than membership.  

This reading is further confirmed by his constant polemics against the Pharisees (the most respected and religiously righteous of the Jewish sects of his day and the equivalent of the Religious Right), but above all by the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  In my view, the most crucial element of the parable of the good Samaritan is not that a stranger helped someone else, but that the Samaritan's were the mortal enemies of the Jews and considered the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth.  Think about this for a moment.  Jesus saying that it's the Samaritan that's the good one would be like Pat Robertson saying that it is the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Atheist that is the good one.  It was an amazing thing for him to say and couldn't have failed to be utterly astonishing to his listeners in that historical context.

So what's my point?  My point is that if you're genuinely Christian, if you truly follow this ethical philosophy, then you side with the oppressed without question or qualification, up to and including those scenarios where the oppressed is the atheist.  This doesn't mean you give up your beliefs or embrace the atheist's beliefs.  It means that you fight on their behalf because you love your neighbor, and support compassion and attending to the marginalized.  You don't make the discussion about you, which is a betrayal of this ethical teaching.  When you commit the No True Scotsman Fallacy this is exactly what you're doing.  Keep the struggle where it belongs:  against those that would oppress and marginalize and that live without compassion and love.

UPDATE:  In comments I received the following remark:

I'm not even religious, but I would suggest that when you have a group that encompasses roughly 2 billion people, it's probably going to be legit if a member of that group says they shouldn't have to answer for the most extreme members of that group.

Seems to me in a group that large, you are going to have a few folks who say/do/believe some crazy things.

I'd also say there is not a "worldly institution" doing the things you are saying. Christianity has more cracks in it then a dried up lake. I can't count how many sects it has.

Even Catholicism has a wide range of beliefs and positions (e.g. American Catholics are much more liberal than Catholics in many other countries both theologically and politically).

This is a variation of the No True Scotsman Fallacy that functions to derail the issue.  To this I respond:
As I've argued elsewhere on DK, that's a variant of the "white reaction" syndrome.  It works like this.  Black person X talks about problems of racism in the white community.  White male responds "we're not all like that!" and tries to make the discussion about him rather than racism.  This is a way of derailing addressing the problem and exactly the same thing happens among Christians.  If you're not a part of the problem then you shouldn't see yourself as being painted by this brush.  Rather, you should be like the white person that sides against racism without qualification, the male that sides against sexism without qualification, the heterosexual that sides against homophobia without qualification.  You are not the target until you make this sort of argument and thereby make it more difficult to fight these things.  It's not about you.  Quit making it about you.
We all understand that in critiques of racism, sexism, and homophobia it isn't all whites, men, or heterosexuals that are being addressed.  Why should this be different in critiques of Christian privilege and oppression?  In most cases what those fighting this oppression are targeting is quite clear from either the context, the issues they discuss, or because they use qualifications like "Christian right".  Language is imprecise.  Don't make it harder for those trying to be treated equitably and as full citizens to fight assaults on their very life.

Originally posted to JosephK74 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Systems Thinking and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  nice diary (7+ / 0-)

    thanks

    Citing the Bible as proof of God is like citing comic books to prove the existence of Superman. (h/t to Stevie Ray Fromstein @ TheHolyAtheist.com)

    by rdbaker43 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:40:10 AM PDT

  •  And by way of further (8+ / 0-)

    comments, I suspect many would have far more sympathy for progressive Christians and that there would be far fewer pie fights here if they simply sided with the marginalized and oppressed on these issues without qualification or caveat, rather than perpetually advancing the thesis that you're the victims or making the discussion about you.  I know that's hard to do, but put your own ethical principles where your action is.  It's not about you.

    •  You fail to grasp that it is genuinely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simian, Loge

      offensive when people make overly broad condemnations of Christians, especially Catholics, as happens here hundreds of times a day.  

      Objections to that are most certainly not always illogical, and it is false to say that they always harm the marginalized and oppressed.  

      It is also false to claim that the objectors always claim to be victims.  Sometimes they're just pissed to see yet more bigotry.  

      And in these instances the bigots always paint themselves as heroes.  In short, I think this diary is founded on false assumptions and actually enables bigots, which ends up being harmful to the marginalized and oppressed.

      •  Oh, I understand it, (5+ / 0-)

        I just think there's something deeply unChristian about Christians, who are the majority and who enjoy overwhelming privilege in this country, making discussions about oppression discussions about how they are being oppressed.  It hurts white people's feelings when African Americans talk about racism.  Those of us who are mature recognize the racism, don't make the discussion about us, and help to fight it.

  •  Very interesting and thought-provoking concept. (8+ / 0-)

    And a terrific first diary to boot.

    I think we would all do well to spend more time loving, supporting and defending each other, and I mean that in the broadest sense possible, rather than look for the myriad ways to keep us separated from one another.  Pretty idealistic I know, but any effort put forth towards a goal like that could be of benefit to all.  The trick, I suppose, is how to do that while protecting ourselves from reckless and needless risk.  Finding that very delicate balance would seem beyond elusive for many, I would think.

    Still, a good thought.

  •  regarding True Christians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, gnbhull

    or true Scotsmen in general-

    It is universally the case that the people who are excluded as "not" true Christians or Muslims or (insert batshit crazy cult here) consider themselves to be "True" members of whatever faith they embrace.

    The 9/11 hijackers undoubtably considered themselves "True" Muslims.  The murderers of Abortion providers consider themselves "True" Christians, and so on and so on.

    It is only other members of their religions who wish to marginalize them and consider them "NOt True".

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:46:24 AM PDT

    •  I really don't wish to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mayfly, blueoasis

      get into that debate.  I think the only thing that's important is that these are real institutions that exist in the world and that have real effects.  Whatever debates there might be between different institutions with different labels just isn't, I think, my affair (though certainly I want to see progressive Christians win the day).

      •  I thought we were in agreement (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis
        I understand that you feel compelled to defend your faith and what you believe is the true version of Christianity.  
        My point was that the "NO True Christian" argument applies to all religions, and that those who argue that some members of their sect or cult are not true members of the sect or cult need to be reminded that those people who they would exclude have the same view- they themselves believe that those attempting to exclude them are not "True" members.

        As you discuss eloquently in your addition to the diary, the "No True ( insert group here)" argument allows people to exclude any individual or group committing bad or immoral behavior in the name of their sect from membership in the sect.

        It is this self-blindfolding, for example, which allows people to continue to worship in a Catholic Church which institutionalizes the rape of children.  It allows people to continue to worship in the Muslim faith where clerics preach, and institigate suicide bombings.  And so on and so on.

        As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

        by BPARTR on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, my point is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stormicats, blueoasis

          that the only thing that really matters here is that there are really existing institutions that call themselves this that are exercising power to marginalize others.  The theological debate is of no concern to me.

        •  OK, but what if people did (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe, Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

          recognize that bad things were done in the name of the sect by people in the sect.  What then?  

          Roundabout question:  why is it that religion is covered by the equal protection clause?  After all, religion is a mutable characteristic, so I could validly say I'll rent to Muslims or Jews if they just quit being Muslim or Jewish.  But the answer is that it's too high a price to ask.  Acting as though it's easy for devout Catholics to leave the Catholic Church if they buy recognized the NTS fallacy is a failure to engage people on their terms.  They have a higher price to pay in their own view to take a stand by leaving.  (Consider, for example, circumstances in which you'd renounce citizenship.)  Assuming they're people of good will, it seems they're getting it coming and going -- from the church which is doing terrible things in their name, and from ostensible allies who are adding insult to injury by actions as though religion is something other than religion.  

          Consider as well the possibility that Catholics know exactly what's being done in their name, and what they tacitly enable, they'd simply rather work with an institution than outside it.  Some might well be driven to leave, but I don't see how it's anyone else's call.  

          The fallacy is thus neither necessary nor sufficient for abuses in the name of religion, and it doesn't much matter.  If someone goes to mass and gives on sunday but runs a business that pays domestic partner benefits monday thru friday even if he doesn't have to, and votes for same sex marriage, are you willing to say this person is not doing his part?  What if mass isn't simply something he does but truly believes he would go to hell if he didn't go.  What would it then matter what you say?

          The point of the NTS fallacy is that it doesn't work as a shield, but it doesn't work as a sword either.

          The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

          by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:58:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The problem is that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gnbhull, nominalize

            you're asking for the wrong group of people to be met on their terms.  The Christians are the one's with the privilege in our society.  It's the victims, marginalized, and oppressed that should be engaged on their terms.  Often people who have been abused by something lash out against it in unfair, generalizing ways.  The way to deal with that is not to lecture them on how their insane to believe that that particular group was their oppressor or that not all of them are like that, but to show them through actions and compassion and standing against such oppression from these groups.  You put an end to people making such generalizations by siding with the victims, not by having an argument with them.

            •  you put an end to generalizations (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

              by not making generalizations.  I'm telling the majority of Americans who identify as Christians that it's ok to believe as they do on matters of faith, and on politics, that they don't have to let Rick Warren speak for them.  This doesn't involve, by the way, saying Warren isn't a Christian or a True Christian.  I don't much care whether he is or isn't.  If it works to say that his views are inconsistent with not a few teachings of Jesus, and in my view they are inconsistent, that's fine.  But you're suggesting that even discussing the possibility of such a move is itself oppressive, because the world would be better as long as a few like-minded people repeat that oppression is bad as loudly and as often as possible.  The believers have a phrase for this, preaching to the choir.  Is it enough to say end homophobia, etc.?  Would be nice if it were, but as it's not, some constructive engagement of religion is going to be necessary, including pitches on their terms, and recognizing this augments, not derails, discussions of discrimination.  Either acceptance is a pluralistic vision, in which case it is a value that can be accepted by religious and non-religious alike, and all points in between, or it's not, either because the Constitution is flawed or because you posit a much broader conflict with religion than you seem to want to admit.  

              The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

              by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:26:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not a Christian (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Wee Mama

    I'm not even religious, but I would suggest that when you have a group that encompasses roughly 2 billion people, it's probably going to be legit if a member of that group says they shouldn't have to answer for the most extreme members of that group.

    Seems to me in a group that large, you are going to have a few folks who say/do/believe some crazy things.

    I'd also say there is not a "worldly institution" doing the things you are saying. Christianity has more cracks in it then a dried up lake. I can't count how many sects it has.

    Even Catholicism has a wide range of beliefs and positions (e.g. American Catholics are much more liberal than Catholics in many other countries both theologically and politically).

    •  As I've argued elsewhere on DK, that's (6+ / 0-)

      a variant of the "white reaction" syndrome.  It works like this.  Black person X talks about problems of racism in the white community.  White male responds "we're not all like that!" and tries to make the discussion about him rather than racism.  This is a way of derailing addressing the problem and exactly the same thing happens among Christians.  If you're not a part of the problem then you shouldn't see yourself as being painted by this brush.  Rather, you should be like the white person that sides against racism without qualification, the male that sides against sexism without qualification, the heterosexual that sides against homophobia without qualification.  You are not the target until you make this sort of argument and thereby make it more difficult to fight these things.  It's not about you.

      •  that's having your cake and eating it to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

        it's fine to say one isn't the target until one makes it about oneself, but that absolves you from the responsibility of being precise with your language.  If you don't want to talk about all but a subset of Christians, then identify the ones you have a problem with, or the particular belief structures you object to, by name.  Don't say "Christians," or even "white people" and act surprised if people don't take it the way you want.  Your position is that if you take a stand against racism or homophobia, you should have a free pass to say it however recklessly you want to.  This particular comment seems to suggest that insisting on greater clarity is somehow minimizing the problems, when it's instead proposing a more constructive way to engage with members of those particular groups.  I find it interesting that you can say it's not about "you," when your argument is structured so that any tactical disagreement is somehow indicative of lesser morality and delegitimized.

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Loge, what you're advocating (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BPARTR, stormicats, blueoasis, pot, KathleenM1

          is no different than the white male responding to the feminist and getting all worked up and saying "but not all men are like that!"  The feminist knows this, but is trying to respond to the problem that is there.  That man just derails the discussion making it harder to fight sexism.  You're doing the same here with religion.  You'll show the true nature of your religion not by making the discussion about you, but by actually fighting beside the marginalized and oppressed to overturn these injustices.

          •  thank you for the words in my mouth, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nowhere Man, HeyMikey

            it's interesting that you would do so exactly after I explained that's what you're doing.  

            Your example conspicuously leaves out what it is the feminist says, just what she knows.  In these discussions, the person playing the role of the feminist says things like "Catholics are sexist," blah blah blah.  Who's derailed the discussion then?  If the "all men aren't like that" is called for by the comment, the discussion is already on the wrong foot.  If not, then you're making a strawman.  

            I don't have a religion, fwiw.  But I think telling people that they can't defend frontal attacks on theirs has already derailed the discussion from social justice to the religion itself.  If you want to make the case that it's a necessary step, then you wouldn't be alone.  However, you don't then get to say that it's tangential.

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:23:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There isn't real sexism in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pot

              the Catholic church?  I'm not putting words in your mouth but discussing how such rejoinders functionally derail fights against oppression.  All of this has been explained repeatedly in diaries discussing sexism and racism here at dailykos.  The same points apply in the religious discussions.

              •  there is, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HeyMikey

                what's your point.  I don't think bolding words makes the case better.  Do you have any new allies in the Catholic church for your troubles?  Or have you actually reinforced their false oppression narrative.  Speaking of "functional" effects.  

                The NTS argument is not the only way, or even the most common way, to point out that you simply have no idea how one can or should engage with religious people on matters of common concern.  

                The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:16:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have admiration for (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  blueoasis

                  many Catholics and admire the work their doing.  Anyone with half a brain knows that when a feminist denounces sexism in the catholic church she's targeting the institution, not all Catholics.  Many Catholics will agree with her.  For example, my grandmother.  Getting bent out of shape about the statement "Catholicism is sexist" is an infantile response to a criticism whose target should be obvious.

                  •  As Emperor Claudius once said, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    HeyMikey

                    it's the quality not the quantity of brains that count.  And a few people with half-wits still intact can discern that a lot of people on the left do not discuss religion in a particularly constructive or engaging or inviting way.  So, it's ambiguous whether one is only referring to sexist aspects or the whole shebang by a statement that is, itself infantile like Catholicism is sexist.  (Who knows, is the following statement going to be, "and you're sexist unless you quit?")  What's more, while there are many Catholics who believe this, you still need to get to 50% plus 1 to win an election.  

                    If you are as concerned about derailing discussion as you claim to be, why not limit the discussion to "sexism is sexist," and recognize that when people point out that forces within the Catholic or any other church that are against sexism are as legitimate if not more so than contrary forces -- even if in response to you -- they're doing a favor to the issues and people you purport to care about.

                    The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                    by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:37:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  put another way, (0+ / 0-)

            please explain why "without qualification" excludes defending the particulars of one's own faith.  "Not all Christians are X" is not a statement that qualifies opposition to sexism unless you want it to be, which is a particularly mendacious strawman.  It can either be relevant or irrelevant to the discussion, and if it's irrelevant to the discussion, it would be fine to question motive.  That is, religion doesn't much belong in a discussion of contraception access, no matter what Timothy Cardinal Dolan says.  But it's very likely going to be relevant to a discussion of Rick Warren, himself, and insisting otherwise essentially says there's not only one permissible view of the man but only one permissible way to discuss him.  That's putting words in other people's mouths.  What's more, that being right on issues of gay rights and so forth somehow immunizes statements that are on their face attacks on other people's religious faith, even where there's not a personal conflict between faith and liberal moral conviction.  

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:43:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because it changes the subject (0+ / 0-)

              from fighting that sexism therefore reinforcing that sexism and giving it cover.

              •  i understand what point you want to make, (0+ / 0-)

                but there's a leap there that doesn't work.  changing the subject from fighting sexism is not actually giving cover to sexism in all cases -- it matters why, and in the example given, it's not really changing the subject if you're the one introducing religion in the first place.  You could make the case that considering the launching point was a discussion of Rick Warren's politics, you're doing the derailing.

                The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

                by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:13:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  so what you are advocating is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge, HeyMikey

            that folks, like feminists or those upset with religion, have no obligation to be precise with their language and thus should be able to paint with a broad brush, because those getting the paint on them unfairly, should just know that they don't really mean all Christians, or all men.

            •  I think, by and large, that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stormicats, gnbhull

              we are precise in our language and that a lot of emotion enters the picture from your side.  Additionally, we give leeway to oppressed minorities in these cases because we recognize that they have been truly wronged.  What I'm advocating is that you do the Christ-like thing and side with the oppressed group and make common struggle with them.  Rather than trying to correct their mistaken generalizations about Christians you instead simply say you're a Christian, making common cause with the oppressed in their struggle, and show them not all Christians are lime that?  Wouldn't that be closer to your own ethical philosophy and more constructive?

              •  from my side? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Loge, bevenro, Wee Mama, HeyMikey

                I'm agnostic. I don't have a "side." I find theists and atheists two sides of the same coin.

                I don't have to do the "Christ-like thing" because I'm not a follower of his, although all-in-all, he seemed to have a few good ideas for his time, just like Buddha, and Confuscious.

                So, you're entire post proved my point. You assumed I was a Christian, even though my first post said I wasn't religious at all, and you then proceded from that to lecture me about how I should act as the Christian that I am not.

                I think you made my point dead-on, without realizing it.

      •  Your comparison doesn't work... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loge, Nowhere Man, Wee Mama

        ...because we see posts from people who are critical of Christianity go well beyond what we see from people of color who are critical of the white community.

        If a person of color were to write "all white people do or believe XXXXX" or "by not renouncing their whiteness, all white people are complicit in the racism of any white person"—or a woman were to write "all men do or believe XXXXX" or "by continuing to identify as male, all men are complicit in all acts of sexism"— that post would run up against significant criticism from virtually all parts of the spectrum, and rightly so.

        And yet such things are often written about Christians here—where non-Christians try to tell us liberal Christians what we really believe (as if we're unqualified to know) or tell us that simply by continuing to identify as Christian (or even theist), we are enabling the abusiveness of the Christian Right.

        To wit, while I don't disagree that there are at times some overreactions from Christians on this site, there exist plenty of posts here that really do say that all Christians believe XXXXX or do XXXXX or are complicit in the abuse of the Christian Right.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:20:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you're projecting (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pot, gnbhull

          on what's actually said in those discussions.  And incidentally, in the racism, homophobia, and sexism diaries we do get the same phenomena of people interjecting "but not all x are like that."  this isn't Rome, you aren't being thrown to lions anymore, you dominate the Western world.  Just try to keep on the real issues.  You'll earn far more sympathy for progressive Christianity if you cease trying to make it about you.

          •  I don't think I'm projecting at all. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JosephK74, Loge, Wee Mama, HeyMikey

            Look even through this thread, and you see non-Christians trying to tell Christians what we all believe or we all think—not saying "some" Christians believe that, but defining us by it, regardless of whether or not we choose their definition for ourselves.

            Look through the Easter message thread, where we had one person going to the mat trying to suggest that President Obama, simply by virtue of his stating his belief a literal resurrection, is a Fundamentalist—despite their being told on numerous occasions, with numerous page references to scholarly sources on the historical movement of Fundamentalism, that such a belief is not at all unique to the Fundamentalist branch of evangelical Christianity. That was another instance in which a non-believer felt it necessary to be not just descriptive, but to actively tell people what they really thought or believed, no matter whether or not they themselves identified as such.

            And there has been no shortage of rhetoric on this site in my 8 years here repeating Dawkins's claim that all Christians (or all theists) are, simply by virtue of continuing to identify themselves as such, reinforcing the idea that religion is acceptable and thus enabling the abuses of right-wing religionists.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:06:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You make some good points (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HeyMikey

              here and I think that where the debate is explicitly metaphysical, it's absolutely appropriate to respond in the way you outline.  You will never get me to accept the supernatural of any form, but then so long as it isn't interfering with policy I could care less if someone else believes in the supernatural.  I think it's odd that someone like Obama believes in something like the resurrection and might get in a discussion about it should it come up, but it's not a discussion I go out of my way to have.  Apart from the supernatural, I do share the ethics outlined by thinkers like Jesus and Buddha.  This diary is referring to those cases where oppressive policy is being discussed and the NTSF appears derailing the discussion.

      •  er...you can't really do that. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loge, Nowhere Man

        You're trying to vaccinate yourself so that you're allowed to offer broad-brush criticism based on the actions of a minority--but then you turn around and say that the group you're attacking isn't allowed to defned itself?

        And in order to solidify your (erroneous) stance, you invoke something as charged as racism/white privelege, etc?

        Sorry--that really doesn't fly.  To be honest--it doesnt' fly in terms of racism, sexism, any ism at all.  If you're going to enter into the fray--well, you have to enter into the fray.  

        Otherwise, to be frankly honest...it's just cheating.

    •  I think there is a difference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JosephK74

      between "Don't Judge Me by Him" and "Judge Me by My Actions".

      That is, if a member of a group speaks up or acts up about another member's behavior, or even better, if many members do so, that is a reason to have no blame. If they stay silent, and just say they did not do it, and the other person claims the group mantle, that is a weaker refutation.  

      "All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality." -Al Gore

      by Geek of all trades on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:55:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  of course Rick Warren will not agree with this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JosephK74, Pinto Pony, BPARTR, HeyMikey

    His most recent revelation was that Jesus would work on Wall Street were he around today:
     http://crooksandliars.com/...
    Billy Graham's daughter offers her opinion on voting
    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/...
    and then the always reliable Pat Robertson
    http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com/...
    There are 3 people who should read your diary

  •  The fact is anyone claiming to be a Christian... (7+ / 0-)

    is a "true" Christian.

    That includes the Klan, members of the Nazi Party and the Right Wing evangelicals.

    A "True" Christian is someone who believes that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died and rose again on the third day, ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  They believe that by His death He redeemed the sinner and brought salvation to the world that all who believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.  They believe that Jesus is the Son of God in the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    If they believe these things, they are "true" Christians, no matter how they behave, who they hurt or what they support.

    “Tax and Spend” I can understand. I can even understand “Borrow and Spend”. But “Borrow and Give Tax Cuts to Billionaires”? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:59:12 AM PDT

    •  I would argue (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FutureNow, BPARTR, HeyMikey

      that belief isn't really required, certainly not historically.  Anyone who identifies him/herself as a Christian, or with a Christian denomination, is a Christian.  There are many agnostic Christians.

      The behavior of Christians can be studied using the methods of Sociology and Anthropology, same as any other group.  Using statistical analysis.  Statistically, Christians do not behave the way their book says they behave.  The book itself admits this.

      190 milliseconds....

      by Kingsmeg on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:10:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like the Baptist (0+ / 0-)

      "Once saved, always saved" but you can fall from grace  (whatever that means).  While not knocking Christians or any faith, I always come home to my circle of life beliefs.

    •  That's the case only if you think of religion... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JosephK74

      ...as something whose full extent is subscribing to a set of propositions, and that there is absolutely no moral, ethical, attitudinal, or behavioral component to being Christian.

      The view of Christianity you present there has no place for becoming Christlike, or seeking to see the world as God would have one see it, or loving one's neighbor as oneself, or growing closer to God through practices and disciplines.

      Most Christian traditions, conservative and liberal alike, would suggest that the view you present is at best incomplete.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:28:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another possibility, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nowhere Man, Simian, Catte Nappe

    saying these groups are not true Christians (or, to make it less of a strawman, are not following Christ's true teachings) is precisely a way to attack those groups.  Their legitimacy comes from asserting a combination of  (a) divine inheritance and (b) group identity.  If the root of that is undermined, our politics would improve.  The religious left is not going to -- nor should it be expected to -- engage the religious right on purely secular terms.  If at the end of the day, all sides are standing up for stewardship of the environment, gay rights, economic justice, and so on, what does it matter what reasons or arguments are given.  

    The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

    by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:01:29 AM PDT

    •  Unfortunately that's not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kingsmeg, pot

      how these arguments actually work in real life.  They derail discussion of very real oppression, make righting those wrongs more difficult, and give support (not purposefully, but functionally) to those oppressive groups by making it more difficult to discuss these issues.

      •  you're confusing ought and is. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man, Catte Nappe, HeyMikey

        Look, is Rick Warren a Christian?  I suppose.  But just as he doesn't get to define his view of Christianity as binding on his political adversaries, his political adversaries don't get to define his view of Christianity as binding on their allies.  

        As to the empirical point you raise, whether righting wrongs is more difficult, I would submit that churches that advertise being welcome to gays and lesbians have done more to cure oppression than people who wail about the evils of religion on the Internet.  Both in terms of changing the culture, broadly, but more importantly, to providing some small benefit on the individual level.  And if groups like the Church of Christ want to say don't paint religion with a lazy brush, having actually walked the walk, I'm more interested in their point of view than that of a Sam Harris.  

        As to whether that makes discussions more difficult, it takes two to tango.  People on the religious left can make their case well or badly, but shutting them down entirely is not a long-term possibility or sensible short-term tactic.  Declaring critics of the Iraq war Objectively pro-Saddam didn't make it so either.    I'd rather say to the majority of Americans who identify as Christian that they can keep that identity and support social justice, with examples, than tell them that because the loudest Christians are against social justice that they need to shut the fuck up.  In other words, why do you think it's better to engage people on your terms instead of theirs?  

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:18:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Inter-faith fights are of (0+ / 0-)

          no concern to me.  I'm only interested in fighting oppression.  You'll also note that I don't tar all Christians with the same brush but quite clear distinguish between conservative and progressive Christians in my diary.

          •  "I'm only interested in fighting oppression" (0+ / 0-)

            must be lonely on the cross . . .

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:04:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  How is this so? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge

            Interfiath fights are of enough concern to you to make it the topic of your introductory diary. And it seems, from your diary and follow up comments, that you are only interested in fighting oppression to the extent that those fighting along side of you must have the same source of motivation and inspiration as you do, and if they don't they must keep that information to themselves, and not discuss it where you might hear it.

            from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

            by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:43:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Problem is, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pot

      well, there are a lot of problems with that approach. First, it makes Christianity a matter of good behavior, when, in fact, the only thing that defines a Christian is belief in the Christian god.  Christianity is not about behavior, it is merely about what belief.  

      The corrolary is that it makes 'christian' synomymous with what is right ... and that is very far from the truth.  No sect, much less one with the history of Christianity should be allowed to claim such rightness for itself.  

      •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

        I read it as meaning that Christianity (within limits) is what you want it to be, belief or behavior.  I don't think my comment specifies which one, but since behavior follows belief, there's a "how" one conceives of, and acts upon, the notion of Jesus as the Son of God, etc. that is up for discussion.  

        As to point two, since Christians likely do see Christianity as synonymous with what is right (or else God is imperfect), if one has a view of certain social justice points, why wouldn't one conceive of God as being supportive of that?

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:42:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Christians cannot agree on what makes a Christian. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JosephK74

          Trust me. I'm an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), but when I worship with my wife's family at their Missouri Synod Lutheran church, I'm not allowed to take communion.

          The only honest answer to who is a "true" Christian is that reasonable people (and especially unreasonable people) disagree about that.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 07:32:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  James disagrees with you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama
        Christianity is not about behavior, it is merely about what belief.  
        In fact, a good many Christians would profoundly disagree with you, but here's the James take.
        Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"? The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
        James 2:22-24

        from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

        by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:39:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Easy to play that game.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JosephK74
          Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies."  John 11:26
          So there you have Jesus disagreeing with James.  Mere belief trumps everything.  

          Of course,  you can find a Bible verse to support and oppose virtually anything -- which is yet another reason why is it a poor choice for moral guidance.  

    •  Except it is being said to the wrong people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JosephK74, HeyMikey

      Saying it to the people who are being attacked by those groups is derailing their statements about being attacked.

      Saying it to the attacking groups, or the bystanders watching may be a way to combat those actions, and demonstrate that only they should be blamed, but this is not what I see going on very often. The Rick Warren and the Poor discussion is the first time in a very long time I've seen people of faith speaking loudly about people within their faith being 'wrong'.

      "All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality." -Al Gore

      by Geek of all trades on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:53:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on what precipitates the comment (0+ / 0-)

        saying to people who are being oppressed, don't lash out at all Christians, there's another way forward, isn't derailment. It's an argument in parallel, and if it's being said to people talking from ignorance about religion, tarring it with one brush, all the better.  The same thing needs to be said for different reasons to different people, and certainly doesn't legitimize that which is cast as a disfavored interpretation. a

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:37:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you only say don't lash out at all Christians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JosephK74

          that is.

          If your comment is focused on another way forward, if it is part of an argument that is going on in parallel, then it may be more part of a conversation.

          Are you listening to their problem and complaint or are you just defending yourself as a Christian?

          "All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality." -Al Gore

          by Geek of all trades on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:50:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'm not a Christian, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HeyMikey

            but the rest of your comment has too many pronouns to make sense of.  To the extent possible, I do take seriously complaints about homophobia, sexism, etc.  I don't take the diarist's complaint about how to discuss the intersection of these issues and religion seriously at all.  Unless someone is saying Warren and his ilk literally aren't Christians, the whole fallacy isn't implicated, and to the extent someone is saying that Warren and his ilk simply happen to be bad at reading the Bible, and that if they were better at reading the Bible they'd be in more agreement with progressive causes, that's not derailment/cover/whatever you want to call it.  It can be a helpful suggestion on how to engage potential allies.  Or it can simply be a perfectly valid statement of viewpoint or correction of the record.  

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 05:18:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Well OK, You Can Fight the Wingers By Yourself (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simian, Catte Nappe, Wee Mama

    and the progressive Christians can fight them by themselves.

    You can't collaborate with progressive Christians in this struggle if you won't allow them to distinguish themselves from your common enemy.

    Maybe that's what you want though.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:04:18 AM PDT

    •  Er, did you read the diary Gooserock? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BPARTR, pot

      It actually calls for collaboration, not exclusion.

      •  it's a very shallow view of collaboration, (0+ / 0-)

        one can only collaborate on your terms.  It confuses means and ends.

        The case for the religious left can be made without the NTS fallacy, and the NTS fallacy can be committed without ill-intent.  And sometimes it's not a fallacy.  What if someone says Scotsmen are English?  

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:03:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Siding with the oppressed (0+ / 0-)

          and marginalized is a central, if not the central, Christian ethical principle.  That's not "doing it on my terms" but recognizing that siding with the oppressed means recognizing the injustice done to them, learning how to hear it, and fighting to right it.

          •  you just argued yourself in a circle (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            is Rick Warren not a true Christian?  It's one thing to misunderstand the comment you respond to, as you again do here, it's quite another to misstate your own diary.

            Other than the view you and you alone seem to have that any discussion of religion as a possible good is objectively pro-saddam, what evidence do you have that anyone is for oppression?  To go back to a point I made earlier, what have you done that's made the case against oppression more effectively and with greater impact than the Episcopal Church.

            The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

            by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:31:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it actually is on your terms. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge, Catte Nappe, HeyMikey

            it's not your place to dictate to Christians  how they practice their Christianity.  Many Christians fight for the oppressed--many don't, and do their own thing.

            But 'progressive' Christians are allowed, just as any other Christians, to fight or not fight on their own terms.  That doesn't make them any less 'progressive', or any less 'Christian'.

  •  Accusing other Christians of being (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BPARTR, nominalize

    "Not True Christians!" is in fact the defining characteristic of Christians since biblical times.  There are numerous examples written right into 'The Book'.  

    Of course, throughout history, the accusation was usually accompanied by violence, when possible.

    Methinks the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy should really be renamed the 'Christian argument'.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:06:08 AM PDT

  •  It drives me nuts (6+ / 0-)

    that the parable of the Good Samaritan needs any explaining.
    All the guys that were supposed to be the good guys walked on by.  The guy who was thought to be the bad guy was the only one to help.  Oops, we were wrong about who the good and bad guys were!  Is the lesson really that hard to get?

    Now, in modern English, a "Samaritan" is someone who helps others in need.  We've assigned a new classification!  Rather than abandoning prejudice.

  •  Excellent article. (8+ / 0-)

    Basically, in summation -- you're right. Absolutely right. And it has clarified for me (a Christian) something I have tried to struggle with for a while.

    There is no point in trying to abandon my brothers and sisters in the faith who are absolutely and horrendously wrong, because being Christian does not equate to being right and the attempt to exclude those who are embarrassingly and alarmingly wrong is the equivalent of saying "Am I brother's keeper?"

    It is, in short, an attempt to avoid responsibility. And I have no business avoiding responsibility. What is done in God's name is something I, as a believer, have a responsibility to address. I'm not entirely sure how to do that without falling into the same trap the Christian right has -- the conceit of appointing oneself the moral authority of all people and nations -- but, to quote G.K. Chesterton, "If something is worth doing it's worth doing poorly."

    The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:36:26 AM PDT

  •  There's no such thing as a "Christian" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JosephK74, Catte Nappe, Wee Mama

    When I say that there's no such thing as a Christian, I don't mean that Christians don't exist, I just mean that there is no such thing as a generic Christian. I get annoyed annoyed when the media (or people on this site) refer to a person or position as Christian without identifying the corresponding denomination, branch, movement, or wing. I think the media in particular is struggling with how to identify people from so-called non-denominational or unaffiliated churches. These groups themselves often avoid labels, especially the term fundamentalist, because of negative associations and a deliberate post-denominational strategy. Basically, people are using a general term when they should be using a specific term. This creates ambiguity, because the general term implies that all members of the group share the same belief or position on an issue. When this happens, you often inadvertently trigger a "No True Scotsman" response.  Basically, we need to train ourselves and the media to stop saying Scotsman when talking about someone from Edinburgh. Precision in language is a good thing.

  •  I like your understanding of Christianity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Catte Nappe, Wee Mama

    but not your interpretations of semantics and semiotics.

    If a Christian says something like:

    No true Christian would oppose marriage equality!
    it could easily be read more as a statement about Christianity than about the speaker. And if the Christian says something like:
    No true Christian would oppose marriage equality! Jesus himself  [did something something something...]
    It could much more easily be read as a statement about Christianity than about the speaker. Only when the Christian says something like:
    No true Christian would oppose marriage equality! Why, just the other day I was saying to my dear gay friends...
    does it seem fair to interpret it as a statement about the speaker.

    If you don't give people that kind of leeway, then what is to stop you from saying that every statement is about the person making it? This diary is about you. This comment is about me. Etc.

    (Maybe those latter statements are true, but I prefer to think otherwise. (Oops.))

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:13:03 AM PDT

    •  As I said, I think those (0+ / 0-)

      remarks are ways of derailing the issue-- dealing with the wrong done to GLBT people in this case --by making it a discussion about what Christians really believe rather than fighting the institutions promoting this inequality.  It's like the guy who shouts at the feminists saying "not all men are like that!"  True, but the issue was fighting the oppression of women.

      •  In most cases, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loge, Catte Nappe, HeyMikey

        all you need to do is to acknowledge the point, and get on with the discussion. That's all the other person is asking. If you make the discussion about the other person making the discussion about herself, then that's your issue.

        It's one thing to interject a temporary digression ("not all Christians are like that"); it's another thing to take that digression and make it your focus.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:30:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You keep doing this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, Nowhere Man

        Proposing this as an either/or
        "a discussion about what Christians really believe rather than fighting the institutions promoting this inequality"
        When for just about everybody on this site it (including some who aren't Christian) it's a both/and
        "a discussion about what Christians really believe [as well as]fighting the institutions promoting this inequality"

        from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

        by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:30:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think you understand that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man

        repeating your thesis is not a valid response to specific criticism of your thesis.

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:45:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FWIW, I agree with the reader's comment (0+ / 0-)

    in your update, and I disagree with your response.

    It's perfectly natural to respond in that way, whereas I think your response thereto is overly arch.

    It would be better for you to simply continue the discussion in a civil way, trying to draw attention to what you consider the nub.  That's better than dismissing such comments out of hand as illogical.

  •  It is presumptuous for an atheist (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, bevenro, Catte Nappe, Wee Mama, HeyMikey

    to criticize progressive Christians for pushing back against right-wing Christians from within the context of their religion. I say this as a fellow atheist. They have a perfectly legitimate point of view, one that is more likely to persuade other Christians than is a polemic from an atheist.

    That you see their point of view as a way of making a political topic "about them" says more about your own distaste for religion than it does about progressive Christians.

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:40:46 AM PDT

    •  You have missed Joseph's point entirely (3+ / 0-)
      criticize progressive Christians for pushing back against right-wing Christians...
      Joseph isn't talking about pushing back against right-wing Christians, since using the No True Christian fallacy with progressives doesn't push back against right-wing Christians.  If you use it when you're debating other Christians, then it does.

      Look. People of all sorts are marginalized in this country by people who wrap themselves in the cloak of Christianity.  Joseph's point is clear: If we're trying to help the marginalized, quibbling about the cloak is an unhelpful change of topic.  There's no presumption, no bias, just an observation.

      I suggest you look inward; clear yourself of your own cognitive biases, and you can see that, plain as day.

      Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

      by nominalize on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:33:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Quite a choice of firestorm for your first diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Wee Mama, HeyMikey, JDsg

    You say your point is that the Christian thing to do would be to side with the oppressed. What gives you the idea that Christians, at least on this blog, don't side with the oppressed? It is entirely possible to be a Christian activist for LGBT rights and marriage equallity, and at the same time rightfully insist that the Westboro Baptist Cult Family are neither Baptist nor Christian in any understanding of the word held by Baptists or Christians.

    You are posting as a member of a liberal/progressive blog community. Let's assume you are a person of such persuasion yourself. Does this mean I can now assign you ownership of some behaviors of other liberal/progressive folk that I find to be obnoxious? Things like some Code Pink actions, or Cindy Sheehan in general? You reference gay rights as a category of interest, so if I may assume a pro-gay attitude from you? Are you ready to defend the gays who market reparative therapy? I mean, they are truly gay people who should be treated with respect, so by your thesis you can't properly "disown" them.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 12:22:30 PM PDT

    •  I say they don't side with (0+ / 0-)

      the oppressed for exactly the reasons I outline in this diary.  When women, GLBT folk, people of other faiths, and atheists are discussing how they are being attacked by rightwing Christians and suddenly the progressive Christian tries to make it a discussion about them and who the true Christians are they are derailing the discussion of the wrong in unhelpful ways and making it harder to address that oppression.  Don't do that.

      •  plenty of progressive christians (0+ / 0-)

        fall within the categories of "women" and "GLBT folk," as Catte Nappe indicates, and as progressives, they're not just forced to live in a society made worse by right-wing Christians but by your comments, marginalized even in their own faith, they have as much right to push back as anyone else.  If you make a statement that is broad enough to encompass both the faith of the rightwing and the leftwing christian, they can correct the record.  Moreover, in recognizing that there's a way that progressive Christians can speak to other Christians in a way that atheists and others perhaps cannot, they've done more to fight oppression than the person concerned with winning the Internet, so claiming they've given cover to anything because of blog comments makes you absurd.

        Question:  when the rightwing christians disown progressive ones, does that help or hurt your case?  If you say hurt, you acknowledge that progressive christians can insist on the right to their own views when the right to that view is denied them.  If you say it helps your case, as in good, religion's now out of the way, then you're forced to admit that you don't think someone else's religion can be important to that person.  There's nothing sudden, and the disowning of progressive christians by the right wing happens all the time and is reinforced in the media, and I'd be less quick to attack allies.

        How about, and it's evidence of remarkable dunderheadedness that this never occurs to you, "yes, Rick Warren doesn't speak for you, let's move on," or even, "yes, Rick Warren has no idea what the beatitudes say, let's move on."  Instead, you went apeshit.  The discussion is only derailed because shrugging your shoulders and moving on to what you rightly see as the larger point interferes with some unstated agenda, or you're just not that bright.  Did you just learn about the NTS fallacy and are now seeing it everywhere?  Anything short of an explicit claim that the right wing aren't Christians doesn't make it.  

        The study of law was certainly a strange discipline. -- Yukio Mishima

        by Loge on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 05:40:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's a key statement (0+ / 0-)
        discussing how they are being attacked by rightwing Christians and suddenly the progressive Christian tries to make it a discussion about them
         

        When the issue is attacks on women, GLBT folks, people of other faiths, etc. I think you will generally find that pretty much everybody on this site is on board - and you might well not have a clue who is/isn't a person of religious faith, because it doesn't come up. Who do we boycott? Which legislators do we need to call? What should we write in LTEs?

        I think you will find that progressive Christians don't "suddenly" initiate such discussion until the post (diary or comment) starts applying broad brush statement to all Christians, not just rightwing Christians; and perhaps taking it further to opine that all Christians (or all people of any faith) are delusional and ignorant mouthbreathers bent on creating a theocracy. In such cases it's the critics of religion who changed the subject.

        from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

        by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 05:49:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  it seems to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JosephK74
    My point is that if you're genuinely Christian, if you truly follow this ethical philosophy, then you side with the oppressed without question or qualification, up to and including those scenarios where the oppressed is the atheist.
    this statement confuses the thrust of your diary, which i agree with wholeheartedly.  in that it poses the question of "genuine Christianity" despite the NTS business that preceded it.

    the comment about the edinburgh/scotland distinction is insightful.  but if i were to rail against the Pugnacious Christian Hegemonists who are mucking about with our plurality and civil liberties, there would nevertheless be a barrage of insulted Christians who claim that they do not behave like a PCH and how dare i suggest it.  thereby derailing the argument into a definition of terms, which is prohibitively exhaustive when dealing with vast umbrella terms like Christian.  so i get what you say when the umbrage of one side, based on a misapprehension of where the brush stroke hits the canvas, changes the topic of discussion away from the ethical malfeasance of certain groups of people who identify as Christian and onto the inclusion or exclusion of which groups of people who identify as Christians fall within the PCH subset.  

    that said, the push back against atheists or nonbelievers supposedly dictating what Christianity is or isn't seems to indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of basic Christian theology.  these beliefs were codified in the various creeds which evolved with the early church specifically to denote the boundary between heresy and true Christian thought.  those creeds are not defunct today but continue to provide the contours of righteous belief for modern believers.  so yes, atheists, Muslims, Hindi, and Mormons alike can point to the creed of a particular sect (Apostle's, Nicean, etc) and use this as the infrastructure to debate what it is that a Christian supposedly believes.  not believing the creed is, by definition, heresy.

    thanks for the diary and the opportunity to ponder a few things.

  •  Thank You .... (0+ / 0-)

    Scheduled to be republished on Street Prophets & Systems Thinking.

    JON

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:09:30 PM PDT

  •  tipped, recced, followed nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:10:22 PM PDT

  •  The source of this problem (0+ / 0-)

    is the 'meaninglessness' of Christianity.  It takes on whatever form or beliefs its believers happen to hold. As we change and as our morals evolve, Christianity adapts to meet our beliefs.  It has since Paul first let the Greek Christians keep their foreskins, and it will continue to do so until the last Christian dies.

    Throughout Western History, the people on both sides of profound moral changes, from feudalism to slavery to civil rights, women's rights, and even gay rights, all have found ample justification in the righteousness of their side in the Bible.  

    We like to think of this source document as a coherent work, but it's really an inconsistent ancient anthology.  It's multilingual, multicultural, and its first and last written books were written over 800 years apart.  Consider how different things were 800 years ago, and how much of their worldview and moral values we still cling to (clue: not much).

    The fact is, the Bible is vast, often allegorical, and neither its content nor its message is internally consistent.  That makes it, in a sense, meaningless:  It only means what we want it to mean.  If we are greedy money-grubbers, we can find Biblical justification for that (ahem, Rick Warren).  If we are communists, we can find Biblical justification for that. And so on.

    This leaves a lot of room for people of all stripes to call themselves Christians.  So there's not really any sense where you can say "No True Christian believes X", since there's not really such a thing as a model Christian.  

    Thus, not only is it an unhelpful change of subject to use this fallacy in the contexts the diarist describes, it simply isn't realistic, either.

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 01:46:36 PM PDT

  •  The problem is that religions are irrational (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gnbhull, JosephK74

    And I don't think that any theist would disagree...

    So it becomes very much a matter of tribalism as you say.   Religion's defenders are forced to say that those members who do bad things are not part of their religion while happily embracing those who do good things.  

    Complaining about overgeneralization may be a fair point when the bad acts are not religiously motiviated, but the danger of following an irrational belief is that anything can be encompassed by it.    Christianity motivated and supported both the slaveholders and the people who fought  to end slavery.   Members of both groups thought of themselves as true Christians and would have fought any suggestion otherwise.    The Abrahamic religions are a product of their times, so if you condemn slavery, are pro-gender equality you are stepping outside of the box that one could rationally expect you to be in given the text of your holy books.

    I think that it is a human instinct; look at the pains that we draw to say that Zimmerman is not white, or that one of the Oklahoma shooters was Indian -- yet any crime done by people with more than a slight tan is done by "teh blacks."   We cannot fathom that members of our tribe do bad things.

    It is difficult for both sides.   It is a trap to condemn an entire group because they are the other tribe -- certainly all Jews are not responsible for the atrocities in Israel (and there are brave progressive Israelies) but likewise one should not paper over those atrocities because you are Jewish.    I do think that when there is a heirarchical structure (the Israeli government or the Catholic bishops) it is fair to criticize "Israel" or "The Catholic Church" for their position even though there are significant members of the group who oppose the position.    

  •  Liberal Christian here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JosephK74, JDsg

    [Note: theological liberal; political moderate; that means the GOP thinks I'm a flaming radical.]

    1. If people are wrong, they're wrong. If you want to persuade them they're wrong, you have to appeal to the values and principles they respect. Generally religious people of any stripe respect both some religious values and some secular values. If you want to persuade them, appeal to both. This requires you to understand both. Note: this requires you to understand the individual. It does no good to tell a Christian he or she is wrong because some other Christian is wrong. Because there are a zillion interpretations of Christianity, you just can't count on the Christian you're dealing with respecting anything that other (wrong) Christian thinks.

    E.g., many horribly violent, senseless brawls are perpetrated by English soccer fans. Thus anybody who likes soccer is a violent idiot. Right? Wrong.

    2. I do not believe I can legitimately be assigned any special responsibility to defend Christianity-at-large against the accusations of those who--rightly--criticize Christian fools, tyrants, bigots, and oppressors. It should be obvious to anyone that you find good, intelligent believers (Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, MLK) and nonbelievers (Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates). It should be equally obvious that you find plenty of profoundly evil believers (the Spanish Inquisition) and nonbelievers (Stalin). Thus it should be obvious that anyone who lumps all believers together, or lumps all nonbelievers together, is an idiot.

    3. Despite the logic of #2, I do in fact feel some special responsibility to speak up and say, "not all Christians are fools, tyrants, bigots, and oppressors." In discussing this with non-Christians, I certainly do not claim the "bad" Christians are any less "true" Christians than the "good" Christians. There has been plenty of evil perpetrated by people who have as valid a claim to be Christians as anyone else. But in discussing it with fellow Christians, I certainly do, and should, argue that my position on issue X is more consistent than theirs with Christ's teachings, or with the teachings of other Biblical figures.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 07:56:03 PM PDT

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