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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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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Psychological Society of Ireland: disagreement with same-sex marriage is harmful

This is from Spiked Online.

It says:

To see how straitjacketed the debate about gay marriage has become, look no further than Ireland.

There, on 22 May, there will be a referendum, with voters asked to say Yes or No to amending the Irish Constitution so that marriage will be redefined as a union between ‘two persons without distinction as to their sex’. Sounds good, right? An opportunity for an actual electorate to have a debate and have its say on the future of marriage? Not so fast.

The run-up to the referendum has been about as far from a fair or open debate as it’s possible to get. One side in the debate – the side that is critical of gay marriage – is demonised daily, treated virtually as heretics, almost as criminals. It’s accused of causing psychological harm, branded as ‘hate speakers’, and frequently forced to make public apologies simply for expressing its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And as a writer for the Irish Independent says, ‘It’s not a debate if one side can’t speak’. The public discussion before the Irish referendum has not been a debate, she says – it’s been ‘a Two Minutes Hate’ against anyone who doesn’t think gay marriage is the greatest idea ever.

Pretty much the entire establishment in Ireland, aside from the increasingly uninfluential bishops and priests, backs gay marriage (giving the lie to the gay-marriage movement’s depiction of itself as a beleaguered minority bravely battling The Man for its civil rights). From the prime minister, Enda Kenny, to the vast majority of Dail Eireann, to pretty much the whole media – most notably the Irish Times, voice of the minuscule cultural elite in Dublin that sets the moral and political agenda in Ireland – every person with power is rallying for gay marriage. And barely a week passes when they don’t demonise the other side, the smaller, less powerful side, the side which, in opposing gay marriage, is apparently harming citizens, causing violence and, worst of all, jeopardising Ireland’s political future.

As with all heretics in history, Ireland’s opponents of gay marriage stand accused of directly harming the public. So last month, the Psychological Society of Ireland issued a dire warning that the propaganda of the anti-gay marriage camp could ‘impact detrimentally on people’. PSI said it is ‘seriously concerned’ that this lobby’s claim that traditional marriage is better than gay marriage, on the grounds that a mother and father make better parents than two people of the same sex, could have ‘far-reaching implications’. It chastised opponents of gay marriage for promoting ideas that ‘run contrary to the positions of professional bodies’ – that is, for daring to defy the new priests: the expert class – and said their words could wreak mental and moral havoc.

As one news report summed it up, PSI thinks that ‘the debate itself [my italics] carrie[s] the potential to have detrimental effects, both psychological and emotional, on adults and children’. So discussion is dangerous; positing a view that runs counter to the elite’s outlook could cause emotional damage. It’s remarkable how much the authoritarian boot has shifted: once it was those who denied Biblical truths who were accused of doing moral harm to citizens; now it is those who cleave to Christian views and doubt gay marriage whose words, whose desire to have a debate, are depicted as dangerous, warping things.

Rod Dreher is following the religious liberty issue pretty closely, and he wrote this recently:

I had a 30-minute phone conversation today with a prominent Christian physician who works at one of the great medical institutions in the world, here in the US. He reached out to me through a mutual friend to say to me how important it is to raise the alarm about what’s happening on this front, and to start networking and building institutions to help us get through what is to come.

“This is what I think you mean with the Benedict Option,” he said, correctly. “You need to write that book so somebody can give the public a clear understanding of where we are, how we got here, and what we’re going to have to do to get through what’s coming.”

We were talking on background, so I don’t feel comfortable relating specific details of our discussion here. He gave me a lot of deeply concerning information about what’s happening in the medical world around this and related culture-war issues. He said he’s been watching it unfold for some time now, and he’s been trying to make people understand that Christians in this country are facing something unprecedented in US history.

One of the things he sees coming, and coming fast: the inability of many professionals, and not only in the medical field, to work unless they sign off on things they cannot in good conscience accept. “We’re going to see jobs lost and retirements lost,” he said.

In his institution, said the doctor, every single one of his colleagues believes that on LGBT issues, Christians who hold to the orthodox view are no better than segregationists. This cultural attitude is sooner or later going to be absorbed into the law.

To just to let you know how this has affected me personally – on Thursday afternoon, my entire Facebook account with 1103 friends and 933 people who liked this blog’s page were shut down for “abusive” speech. We will never know who exactly was responsible for the charges, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more of what’s going on in Ireland right now. What does the secular left know about free speech? Nothing. I would sooner hope for mercy from a lion than hope for tolerance from the secular left. They are fascists.

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Should Christian apologists avoid political, moral and cultural issues?

 

The Sexual Revolution and the decline in religious affiliation

The Sexual Revolution and the decline in religious affiliation

Here’s an article from The American Conservative, by moderate conservative Rod Dreher, dated April 2013.

He writes:

Twenty years ago, new president Bill Clinton stepped on a political landmine when he tried to fulfill a campaign promise to permit gay soldiers to serve openly. Same-sex marriage barely registered as a political cause; the country was then three years away from the Defense of Marriage Act and four years from comedian Ellen DeGeneres’s prime-time coming out.

Then came what historians will one day recall as a cultural revolution. Now we’re entering the endgame of the struggle over gay rights and the meaning of homosexuality. Conservatives have been routed, both in court and increasingly in the court of public opinion. It is commonly believed that the only reason to oppose same-sex marriage is rank bigotry or for religious reasons, neither of which—the argument goes—has any place in determining laws or public standards.

The magnitude of the defeat suffered by moral traditionalists will become ever clearer as older Americans pass from the scene. Poll after poll shows that for the young, homosexuality is normal and gay marriage is no big deal—except, of course, if one opposes it, in which case one has the approximate moral status of a segregationist in the late 1960s.

[…]When they were writing the widely acclaimed 2010 book American Grace, a comprehensive study of contemporary religious belief and practice, political scientists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell noticed two inverse trend lines in social-science measures, both starting around 1990.

They found that young Americans coming into adulthood at that time began to accept homosexuality as morally licit in larger numbers. They also observed that younger Americans began more and more to fall away from organized religion. The evangelical boom of the 1970s and 1980s stopped, and if not for a tsunami of Hispanic immigration the U.S. Catholic church would be losing adherents at the same rate as the long-dwindling Protestant mainline.

Over time, the data showed, attitudes on moral issues proved to be strong predictors of religious engagement. In particular, the more liberal one was on homosexuality, the less likely one was to claim religious affiliation. It’s not that younger Americans were becoming atheists. Rather, most of them identify as “spiritual, but not religious.” Combined with atheists and agnostics, these “Nones”—the term is Putnam’s and Campbell’s—comprise the nation’s fastest-growing faith demographic.

Indeed, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, the Nones comprise one out of three Americans under 30. This is not simply a matter of young people doing what young people tend to do: keep church at arm’s length until they settle down. Pew’s Greg Smith told NPR that this generation is more religiously unaffiliated than any on record. Putnam—the Harvard scholar best known for his best-selling civic culture study Bowling Alone—has said that there’s no reason to think they will return to church in significant numbers as they age.

Putnam and Campbell were careful to say in American Grace that correlation is not causation, but they did point out that as gay activism moved toward center stage in American political life… the vivid public role many Christian leaders took in opposing gay rights alienated young Americans from organized religion.

In a dinner conversation not long after the publication of American Grace, Putnam told me that Christian churches would have to liberalize on sexual teaching if they hoped to retain the loyalty of younger generations. This seems at first like a reasonable conclusion, but the experience of America’s liberal denominations belies that prescription. Mainline Protestant churches, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, have continued their stark membership decline.

It seems that when people decide that historically normative Christianity is wrong about sex, they typically don’t find a church that endorses their liberal views. They quit going to church altogether.

That’s why I am somewhat underwhelmed with the pure apologetics approach of most apologists.The real reason that drives atheist “apologetics” is, to be frank, the desire to dispense with rules around sexuality. The sexual freedom comes first, and then the speculative smokescreens follow. Close behind the sexual freedom is leftist economic policies (which are seen as more “fair”) and anti-business environmentalist policies. So there’s more turf to defend here than just the existence of God, the resurrection and the reliability of the Bible. That’s not what’s behind the drift of young people away from Christianity.

That’s why on this blog, you get a ton of politics and tons of studies and arguments against premarital sex, no-fault divorce, single motherhood by choice, same-sex marriage, and everything else that comes before traditional apologetics. (And you also get lots of apologetics, too!) We need to get better at defending Christian sexual ethics using purely secular arguments and evidence, e.g. – showing people how premarital sex undermines marital stability or how gay parenting harms the well-being of children. There are reasons for these rules we have, and we have to go beyond “The Bible Says…” if we expect to be convincing to young people.

And when we go against the Sexual Revolution, we have to bring secular arguments and secular evidence and bring it to bear squarely against radical feminism, and the Sexual Revolution. In particular, we have to put the burden of responsibility for poor sexual decisions back on the shoulders of young people. Young men must reject a cultural standard of what a “good” woman is. Young women must reject a cultural standard of what a “good” man is.  Men and women who reject traditional Christianity, traditional morality, and traditional notions of male leadership and male roles are bad people to have relationships with. We have to persuade both men and women about the harm that poor choices cause – abortion,  divorce, fatherlessness, expensive welfare programs. There is no point in blaming bad men and women – they are already bad. We have to teach young people to choose good men and good women. We have to teach them that choosing mates poorly, and making poor sexual choices, is their responsibility. They are not victims! And we shouldn’t be blaming one sex for the others poor choices, i.e. – we should not be blaming bad men when women chose them and make bad choices with the bad men. Those men were bad before the women chose them, and those women are only victims of their own poor choices.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, we have to defend traditional marriage using secular arguments and secular evidence. We have to show how same-sex marriage undermines religious liberty. We have to show how same-sex marriage undermines marital norms like exclusivity and permanence. We have to show how same-sex marriage harms children by depriving them of a mother or a father or both. And so on. We have to defend the goodness of traditional marriage.

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