Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Frank Turek and Michael Shermer defend their debate to gay activists

Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality

Michael Shermer debates Frank Turek: atheism and morality

Remember how I blogged on the debate between Frank Turek and Michael Shermer a few days ago?

Well, apparently, a group of gay activists did not like the debate, and they complained – presumably in order to punish the debate organizers and shut down future debates.

Turek and Shermer have responded to their challenge, though, in this letter to the editor. And Shermer will even be on Turek’s radio show at 10 AM Eastern to discuss their joint response.

The show can be heard here on the Cross Examined web site.

CrossExamined Radio Program and Podcast

Listen to CrossExamined with Frank Turek on American Family Radio network

Saturday, 10-11 am Eastern on AFR network streaming audio and FM radio

Tune in to our weekly call-in radio program hosted by Frank Turek on American Family Radio network. Join Frank as he discusses challenging topics, takes calls from listeners, and interviews dynamic Christian apologists. Sponsored by CrossExamined.org, this apologetics program is both informative and entertaining!

If you miss the show, the podcast archive is here.

And here’s part of the joint letter:

It’s not often that an atheist and a Christian, who have just had a debate on campus, can be brought into agreement by a group in the audience. But the Graduate Queer Alliance (GQA) at Stony Brook University has managed to do that. Their letter to the editor on April 30 was so full of false assertions and totalitarian demands that we, Dr. Michael Shermer (an atheist) and Dr. Frank Turek (a Christian), felt compelled to write this letter together in response.

The central assertion of the GQA is that anyone who expresses a negative opinion of same sex marriage or homosexual behavior is guilty of “hate speech” and should be barred from speaking at Stony Brook University. The GQA says this while also claiming to believe “that a university should provide an open forum for controversial ideas to be discussed and debated.” We both wonder how the GQA can hold these two contradictory opinions at the same time. After all, they say they are for the debate of controversial issues, but apparently only if both debaters hold the same position and that position agrees with the GQA. Some debate!

How is disagreement over controversial moral and political issues “hate speech?” If it is then GQA’s position is “hate speech” because it disagrees with people who believe marriage should be defined in other ways. Calling people names or characterizing their arguments as “hate speech” is not good public discourse designed to discover the truth; it is bullying—the very thing GQA should be against.

If you remember my post, the clip I played had some back and forth on gay rights in it. I guess the GQA didn’t like hearing any ideas contrary to their own.

More:

The true motives of the GQA are revealed by what is not in the letter: the arguments made by Dr. Shermer in support of same sex marriage, arguments he made with great passion that elicited equal passion—on both sides of the issue—from the audience. If those in the GQA are so interested in advancing their position through sound reason and science—which was Dr. Shermer’s point—why would they not highlight the arguments offered in support of it? Instead, the GQA seems to think they have a right not to hear an opposing opinion lest they be challenged!

It’s a shame that those in GQA appear so uninterested in evidence.

Well, read the whole thing.

I think the letter from the gay activists and the response are particularly interesting, especially given what Dr. George Yancey said in his essay on educational dogma, which I talked about yesterday.

This:

For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

And:

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

Dr. Yancey was talking about a different group of college leftists, but I think that’s exactly what’s going on here, too. For now, it’s shouting down and writing letters and getting people fired (which actually happened to Turek, before). But will they stop there?

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Must you agree with a person who threatens to kill himself if you don’t?

The latest from Life Site News about Stanford’s University’s attempt to suppress a pro-natural-marriage group’s campus event.

Excerpt:

At a recent GSC meeting, SAS co-president Judy Romea reminded student leaders that not only is the SAS not “anti-gay,” it stood “in solidarity” with homosexual groups against the controversial Westboro Baptist Church when it held a protest on campus.

But that wasn’t enough for campus gay activist groups, who turned out en masse for the same GSC meeting to demand that funding for the event be pulled.

“Their viewpoint kills people,” Jeffrey Cohen, vice president of GradQ, a homosexual advocacy group for graduate students, told the GSC.  “There’s a lot of research published in top psychology journals that have looked at university environments, both positive and negative. An event such as this would be a negative event, [and] in schools that have negative events there is a statistically significant increase in suicide.”  He said the last time a pro-marriage speaker visited the campus, someone told him “they wanted to kill themselves.”

Cohen said he was especially “bothered by the idea that their conference is trying to create better ways to deliver [the pro-marriage] message. … The idea that they are learning how to deliver their message scares [me].”  Cohen suggested SAS cancel its conference and instead hold a joint event with GradQ in which gay activists would have a chance to promote their message too.

Ben Holston, chair of the undergraduate senate, also threw his weight behind the gay groups. “This is an event that hurts the Stanford community,” Holston said. “To express a belief that, for some reason this event is not discriminatory, is completely off-base. This event as it stands, given the speakers, and given that they have said the event is supposed to ‘promote one-man one-woman [marriage],’ which promotes stripping away rights of people in this room, is unacceptable on Stanford’s campus.”  He urged the GSC to withdraw its funding for the conference.

Now I’m chaste, and a virgin, so I was just imagining what it would be like for me at Yale during Sex Week, when my student fees (hypothetically) would be used to bring in sex addicts to instruct college students that my view is sick and twisted and that binge drinking and premarital promiscuity is morally praiseworthy. Does anyone here seriously think that I would threaten to commit suicide unless people who disagreed with my chastity and virginity stopped disagreeing with me? No. A sex addict’s disapproval of my chastity and virginity doesn’t make me want to commit suicide, because I am not insane. I’m also not engaged in immoral behavior by being chaste and remaining a virgin. Criticism of me for being moral doesn’t bother me – that’s your problem if you disagree with morality.

If you tell me that what I’m doing is wrong, I’ve got piles of papers in peer-reviewed journals showing me that for my plans – life-long married love and influential Christian children raised by a stay-at-home mom – chastity is the best plan. But it doesn’t bother me if you disagree with me, and I’m not going to attack your place of work with guns, vandalize your church, or force you to lose your job – because I’m not a gay activist. I don’t care that you disagree with me, because I believe that there is a right to free speech and no right to force you to celebrate and fund my sexual orientation.

That gay activist sounded insane, but I don’t think that most gay people agree with him.

Look:

Ben, a graduate student in neuroscience, told the GSC that even though he is homosexual, he believes the SAS should be able to access the same student funding as any other group.

“What bothers [me] the most is that in the name of tolerance, we are silencing and taking away support from a view that we don’t agree with,” Ben said. “These views are out there, we should listen to them. I totally disagree with these people, but we need to hear what they have to say.  We need to hear SAS.”

Now there is a gay person I can tolerate – because he tolerates me.

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Schools ask 12-year-old children whether they have had gay, oral and anal sex

This is from Breitbart News. (H/T Ari)

Full text:

A public hearing is taking place Wednesday morning in the Massachusetts State House to look into a controversial sex survey given to middle school and high school students.
Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and called the “Youth Risk Behavior Survey,” the survey asks students as young as 12 a series of very personal and highly ideological questions.

The survey asks students if they are homosexual and if they are transgender. It also asks if they have had oral or anal sex and if they have performed such acts with up to six people.

Whether or not they have carried a gun, smoked cigarettes, consumed alcohol and how much also appear on the questionnaire, as well as whether they have taken drugs, such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. It asks how often their guardian uses a seat belt, if the youngster has a sexually transmitted disease, and where they sleep.

The group MassResistance says the survey is “psychologically distorting” and will lead the child to think he is “abnormal if he is not doing it all.” The group stated that “having children reveal personal issues about themselves and their family can have emotional consequences.” They also complain that “the survey results are used by radical groups from Planned Parenthood to LGBT groups to persuade politicians to give more taxpayer money [to] these groups.”

Though students fill out the survey anonymously, MassResistance warns that “they are administered by the teacher in the classroom and there is often pressure for all kids to participate.”

The test is given nationally and not without controversy. The Chicago Tribune reported two years ago that a Chicago teacher was reprimanded for telling students they had a “constitutional right” not to fill out the survey.

This post is a lead-in for my 2 PM post, which tries to explain what people on the secular left are hoping to achieve by trying to break down the natural resistance that children have to sexual exploitation.

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Will gay activists threaten this little girl for covering her eyes at a gay pride parade?

It seems to me that we need to have another massive protest like we saw in Indiana! Some impertinent little girl at a gay rights parade in Toronto has dared to refuse to celebrate at a gay pride parade.

Look at her committing a hate crime against this innocent gay man. (I am not posting this picture on my blog, and viewer discretion is advised)

The story says:

Earlier this week, our managing editor Steve Jalsevac published a slideshow with his photos from the 2011 Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Many of the photos were shocking. But one commenter pointed out a detail in one photo that many people probably missed.

The photo says it all: Naked men marching in Toronto’s Pride parade, showcasing what supporters cheer on as the advancement of “gay rights” and “sexual liberation.” The naked men march past men, women, and yes even children. Everyone is encouraged to celebrate “diversity.”

Oh, but what’s this? A young girl with blond hair in a turquoise teeshirt knows that something is wrong.

The girl, maybe 8 or 9, doesn’t want to see naked men displaying their genitals. She feels assaulted by what she sees. She implicitly understands that her innocence is threatened by what she sees. She knows something wrong is happening.

Death threats and getting people fired is getting to be a common response of gay activists to anything less than enthusiastic celebration of the gay agenda. That’s what happened to the religious liberty law in Indiana, to the pizza store that refused to cater a gay wedding. Maybe this little girl needs to be taught a lesson, too, right gay activists?

Where does it end?

Interesting to note that Ontario, the province where this occurred, has elected a gay premier (governor), and that their sex education curriculum was written in consultation with a convicted sex offender.

Read it:

A man who was once Ontario’s deputy minister of education has pleaded guilty to three child pornography-related charges in a Toronto court.

Benjamin Levin, who was also a university professor, entered a guilty plea for making written child pornography, counselling a person to commit a sexual assault, and possession of child pornography.

He was originally charged with seven child-pornography-related offences.

The investigation that led to Levin’s July 2013 arrest began in mid-2012 after officials in Toronto were contacted by authorities in New Zealand and later police in London, Ont.

From late 2004 to early 2007, Levin held the post of deputy education minister in Ontario, and was on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s transition team as she took office.

He also served as Manitoba’s deputy minister of advanced education and deputy minister of education, training and youth between 1999 and 2002.

Levin has been back in the spotlight in recent days as Ontario released an updated sex-education curriculum.

Kathleen Wynne is the lesbian premier. She divorced her husband and left her three kids when she “came out”. Something to celebrate! You’d better celebrate it, or else. And the sex education curriculum will make sure that going forward, fewer and fewer people will see anything wrong with what she did.

You can read about the sex education curriculum here.

Look:

CLC has studied the 2015 proposed curriculum and we have found that the controversial elements of the program that angered parents in 2010 have remained unchanged, word for word, at the same age-inappropriate grade levels as before, when it was written under the direction of confessed child pornographer Benjamin Levin, then Deputy Education Minister.  The only difference now is that Kathleen Wynne has made the curriculum even more explicit and more age-inappropriate than before, dramatically increasing the mentions of “Gender Identity” theory, sexual “identities” and “orientations”.

Anal intercourse is still being presented in a way that students will interpret as carrying no higher risk for STIs than vaginal intercourse, an irresponsible and misleading presentation of the former which carries a 3000% higher risk for contracting HIV. The curriculum also downplays the seriousness of contracting HIV, potentially leaving the impression with students that it’s not really that big a deal. A section on HIV and AIDS seems to have an undertone of making it acceptable and normal for individuals who are HIV positive to continue having sex with others. Of course this is not science-based teaching. It’s political and social engineering. It is irresponsible and may also put lives at risk.

The 2015 version has added a new, controversial and very flawed theory that will be taught to elementary school children, called “gender expression”.   The new curriculum document also has a much stronger undertone of sex as a purely recreational activity whose purpose is pleasure, apart from love or marriage.  In fact, the words “love” and “marriage” never appear once in the sex-education strand of the curriculum. Not a single mention. Does that reveal the mindset of its writers, if not the philosophical underpinnings of the curriculum itself?

That’s what politicians on the left stand for. That’s what they want for your children. Canada is about 10-20 years ahead of us, but we are catching up to them with each new Democrat we elect.

Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign

Hillary Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign

Make no mistake that Hillary Clinton is on board with this agenda, and she gives speeches extolling the virtues of the gay agenda to the Human Rights Campaign, just as Obama did.

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What happens when erotic liberty conflicts with religious liberty?

A recent episode of Al Mohler’s the Briefing podcast explains the real issue behind the firing of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

The MP3 file is here.

Here is the relevant part of the transcript:

“Mr. Cochran held his own news conference Tuesday. He said that the city’s investigation found that he had not acted in a discriminatory way toward gay people, and said that he had asked for, and received, permission from the proper bureaucratic channels to write the book — an assertion [the Mayor’s] office disputes.”

So gay advocates are cheering the mayors decision, the mayor finds himself in something of a political controversy, but the fire chief is out. He’s out of a job for having written a book that was basically privately published and very narrowly distributed in which he stated something that is fundamental to evangelical moral conviction – something that basically amounts to nothing more, or least a little more, than actually quoting the Bible, quoting the Scriptures.

The mayor described the book, or at least this portion of the book, as having inflammatory content. But once again, looking at the material supplied by the media, the inflammatory content is what is drawn directly from Scripture – especially from very specific biblical verses dealing with homosexuality. So what we’re looking at here is an undeniable case in which religious conviction actually got the Fire Chief of Atlanta fired; fired simply because he dared to write a book in which he stated his Christian convictions.

This raises a host of very interesting and complex, not to say troubling, questions. Can anyone now be an evangelical Christian and serve as a Fire Chief or even in the fire department? This raises the question as to whether one can believe that homosexuality is a sin without discriminating against homosexuals. The clear implication of the Mayor’s decision is that the Fire Chief is out, not because he acted in any way, in any discriminatory fashion toward any gay member of the fire department staff or anyone else for that matter, but simply because he expressed his biblical conviction that homosexuality is a sin.

Now once again, this raises a host of very interesting questions the mayor and furthermore our culture is not going to be able to avoid. Is the Bible itself now going to be defined as hate speech because by any measure the language that the Fire Chief used is drawn, if not immediately from Scripture, then with language that is tantamount to it? Can anyone who holds to a biblical understanding of sexuality, anyone who is a member of an evangelical congregation serve in this kind of political and public role? Or does that moral conviction absolutely mean, in a categorical sense, that discrimination is the obvious outcome? Or is holding the belief itself, is holding that biblical conviction itself a form of discrimination; even if no discriminatory act ever follows?

[…]Let’s look at exactly how the mayor describe his decision as the New York Times reports and I quote,

“Despite my respect for Chief Cochran’s service, I believe his actions and decision-making undermine his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse work force. Every single employee under the fire chief’s command deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions.”

Well let’s just look at that statement and imagine what the Mayor has now not only implied but openly stated by firing the chief. One can’t hold that all persons are of value, one can’t operate in terms of neutrality, in terms of personnel decisions, if one holds to traditional biblical Christianity. Some may argue that it isn’t the problem that the chief held these positions and convictions but it’s a problem that he published them, that he put them in print.

But as the world is supposedly universally affirming the importance of freedom of expression, are we now to be told that evangelical Christians – or for that matter Orthodox Jews and traditional Catholics – simply must hold their tongue and hold their peace? Never putting their biblical convictions into print or into some form of public statement? The action in Atlanta is not only ominous, it’s absolutely frightening. The religious liberty implications of the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage are massive, they are unavoidable, and they are now inevitable. And they’re showing up in this case not in New York City or Seattle but in Atlanta, Georgia – right in the heart of the South, in a city that the New York Times acknowledges includes millions of evangelical Christians and others who would also hold to the Chief’s conviction.

No matter how lavishly people may claim to believe in freedom of expression and no matter how much they may argue this isn’t an issue of religious liberty, the bare facts are simply unavoidable. The Fire Chief of Atlanta has been fired. Not because he acted in any way that was discriminatory, not because any employee brought any grievance against him for acting in a discriminatory manner, but merely for having stated, for having articulated in print, his biblical convictions on issues of morality.

I urge people who want to take a position on homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage to write under an alias. The more serious a sin is, the more people who engage in it will go to any lengths necessary in order to stop criticism of it. The invocation of “tolerance” and “diversity” on the gay left is a smokescreen. Their goal is to make everyone who disagrees with them not only agree but actually celebrate their behavior. That’s one of the reasons why we need to careful about letting our natural compassion cause us to approve of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We have our protect the right to say “it’s wrong”. Al Mohler has a longer article on this conflict between religious liberty and erotic liberty up today, too.

UPDATE: Today’s episode of the The Briefing takes a look at the response from the mainstream media, including the response of a gay New York Times columnist. Mohler’s main point is that secularists want to reduce the religious liberty to worship inside a church and private feelings. But religious liberty is more than that – it is the right to honor and respect God in every aspect of our lives, including freedom to speak our disagreement with immorality, and the right to educate our children in schools that respect OUR values – not the values that the secular left seeks to impose on us. Mohler also links to a response by pro-marriage scholar Mark Regnerus.

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