29 June 2010

The other Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court issued two important decisions recently. One, the one everybody's talking about, affirmed a broad right to own guns for self-defense; and I may have something to say about that later. The other, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, addressed the thorny issue of what should happen when a school with an anti-discrimination policy is faced with a religious student group whose beliefs require discrimination. In this case the school was my alma mater, the University of California, and the student group was the Christian Legal Society at UC's Hastings School of Law. From the by-laws of the CLS:

In view of the clear dictates of Scripture, unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle is inconsistent with an affirmation of the Statement of Faith, and consequently may be regarded by CLS as disqualifying such an individual from CLS membership…. [including] all acts of sexual conduct outside of God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman, which acts include fornication, adultery, and homosexual conduct.

The question at issue was whether UC could be forced to extend recognition and financial support to a student group with such a clearly-discriminatory policy. The Supreme Court ruled that it could not. Note that the decision does not interfere with the CLS's right to exist as a group or to discriminate. It simply means that the University cannot be required to support such bigotry in violation of its own stated anti-discrimination policy.

I hardly imagine, of course, that gays or the other sexual free spirits excluded by the CLS's affirmation of ancient desert taboos would have much interest in joining the group. The point is that the school they attend is free to refuse its approval and money to an organization which insults them.

(Frank Schaeffer has an interesting essay here on fundamentalists' psychological need to exclude "sinners".)

11 Comments:

Blogger tnlib said...

Remarkable coming from this Supreme Court but glad to hear it none-the-less.

29 June, 2010 05:58  
Anonymous Tim said...

Yeah I'm shocked...I read it twice just to be sure it was what I thought I was reading.

30 June, 2010 04:12  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The court's pretty finely balanced at the moment, but I think this one was a no-brainer.

30 June, 2010 04:25  
Anonymous rita said...

We have to give the Supreme Court some credit for being the highest court in the land. I know the decisions are perpetrated by legal questions, but I feel the issues at stake generally have to do with our autonomy as human beings.
I believe the Supreme Court is a valid reflection of our progress as human beings.

30 June, 2010 22:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It does often seem that more progress has come from Supreme Court rulings than from legislation.

01 July, 2010 05:01  
Blogger Sunny Insomniac said...

Infidel,

Sadly, I believe many religious beliefs are met with the assumption of bigotry. Bigotry, in it's basic form, is aggressive hatred. I don't know anything about this Christian group, but, according to the Bible, there should never be any hatred towards any person PERIOD. Christ's message was to love God and love others.

On another side to this issue, bigots can take many forms outside the traditional. To stand up for one's own beliefs of what's right and wrong is a difficult stance to take without letting passion be misunderstood as malice. After all, a Christian could call you a bigot for being "intolerant" of what they believe. It's a tough question.
As a Christian myself, I think it's ludicrous to have an institution (the university), which is designed for education, to be forced to provide financial support or recognition to a clearly religious organization. Furthermore, I think it's absurd to ask a judicial decision to be made that would force the university's hand. This group should be allowed to exclude whomever they want, as long as they don't expect financial support. (Besides, as you said, who would want to be a part of a group that so openly opposes their lifestyle?) In America, the Law is the Law. Period. It is not based on the Bible, and shouldn't be. The only time I would ever find myself in disagreement with our laws, would be if I was required to no longer be a Christian. Then we might have words. But I can't really see that happening any time soon. Especially since the freedom to be homosexual must, according to the freedoms and rights of being an American citizen, go right alongside the freedom to live according to the Bible.

I apologize for the prodigious nature of this comment...

And thank you for your comment on my post. :) I posted a reply in the comment box.

~Sunny Insomniac

01 July, 2010 14:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SI: Thanks for visiting. I think we agree on the basic point of the post -- the key issue was whether the group could claim official recognition and funding while still discriminating, and everyone seems to agree that it shouldn't be able to.

I apologize for the prodigious nature of this comment...

No need -- comments can be however long they need to be for what they get across.

After all, a Christian could call you a bigot for being "intolerant" of what they believe.

I really think this is an equivalence that doesn't hold up. One might as well say that a black person is just as "bigoted" as the Ku Klux Klan, because he's "intolerant" of their racism.

according to the Bible, there should never be any hatred towards any person PERIOD.

That's not consistent with what the Bible actually says -- see here (you won't like it, though).

01 July, 2010 16:05  
Blogger Sunny Insomniac said...

Infidel,

First off, I am attempting to use HTML in a comment for the first time, so I apologize if I do it wrong!

Your post on the book of evil was a great read. I find it funny that you thought I wouldn't like it. Just because I don't agree doesn't mean I won't like it. It made me think (my favorite thing about your posts), but it also made me sad, but not to sound high and mighty, I just see "the book of evil" very differently. I have copied that particular post, and will post a response, but it will take me some time because I will need to look up some scripture. But I don't want you to think that I'm trying to convince you. That's not my intent. I believe that we should always be testing what we believe, otherwise we are mindless followers. There's a difference between faith and blind devotion. Anyway, if you'd rather discuss this particular subject by email, so I don't clog up your comment section with my ridiculously long comments, that would be fine...or I can just keep posting comments. :)

In response to

I really think this is an equivalence that doesn't hold up. One might as well say that a black person is just as 'bigoted' as the Ku Klux Klan, because he's 'intolerant' of their racism.

Racism is a whole other response, which I'm sure we'll discuss later. But to be specific to Christians believing you are a bigot because you are "intolerant" of their beliefs, I still believe true bigotry is rooted in hatred. Bigotry does not equal intolerance, but hatred. So here is my question: do you hate Christians? I don't think you do. I think you hate religion and what it has done to mankind. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!) So I, personally, would not call you a bigot, but other Christians would skew your passionate dislike as hatred of them personally, therefore, making you a bigot.

I started to type more to this response, then realized I was responding to both the Ku Klux Klan comment and your evil book post. So...I'm going to roll it all into one for later.

In response to...

"according to the Bible, there should never be any hatred towards any person PERIOD."
That's not consistent with what the Bible actually says -- see here (you won't like it, though).


According to my personal studies, God never told anyone to hate another person anywhere in the Bible. He told us to hate sin, or rather, the disobedience of God. Here is the crux of Scripture. We disobeyed God and are living with the consequences. We damned ourselves. I believe you misunderstand the purpose of ordering the Hebrews to kill those "sinners." Again, it was about consequence for disobedience, not hatred for the person. And, as crazy as it sounds to you, I believe these rules were formed out of love for mankind. Because I believe with all my heart that God loves us. As a mother, I view my children's obedience as an act of love, even if they think my "laws" are unfair or even cruel at times. The Law is harsh to you because, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you do not believe that human nature is inherently evil. I do. Again, I could go on, but that would be answering your evil book post. I promise, as soon as I finish that, I'll post it so I can read your response.

Anyway, I am trying to be concise with my responses, but I'm not adept at such things.

Thanks for making me think.

~Sunny Insomniac

P.S.
Have you ever read anything by C. S. Lewis? He was an atheist for a time. You might find his view point intriguing.

01 July, 2010 23:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

So here is my question: do you hate Christians? I don't think you do. I think you hate religion and what it has done to mankind.

Yes, I hate religion, not religious people (although when religious people carry their bigotry over into actual evil actions, then yes, I do hate those individuals -- an example would be Osama bin Laden). I regard religion as a kind of parasitic meme complex which occupies and distorts large numbers of human minds.

My hatred of religion is based on the fact that it is false and does enormous harm, therefore that hatred is not bigotry, any more than a hatred of Nazism is bigotry. Religious hatred of homosexuals, unbelievers, etc. is bigotry.

Racism is a whole other response, which I'm sure we'll discuss later.

Obviously every form of bigotry is different, but I think that anti-black racism and bigotry against homosexuals are similar in many ways.

Bigotry against blacks has often been justified using the Bible, but bigotry against (and mass murder of) homosexuals is actually commanded by the Bible.

According to my personal studies, God never told anyone to hate another person anywhere in the Bible.

He incessantly orders murder of people for perfectly harmless things like homosexuality, picking up pieces of wood on a Sunday, or just being a member of the wrong tribe. That isn't distinguishable from hatred in any important way. If somebody says he wants to murder me -- and anyone who claims to truly believe in the laws of the Old Testament is saying that -- then it's irrelevant whether he can come up with some convoluted word-game whereby it isn't "hatred".

I believe you misunderstand the purpose of ordering the Hebrews to kill those "sinners."

I don't care what the "purpose" was. I care about the ideas and behavior that the book inspires, which are unspeakably vile and, yes, bigoted.

And, as crazy as it sounds to you, I believe these rules were formed out of love for mankind.

Since actually implementing the rules in the Bible would require that most of mankind be killed off, I can see no rational basis for such a belief.

Finally, I should point out that I am really not up for protracted debates about subjects like this -- I'm kind of burned out on debates, and I don't think they serve a useful purpose in most cases. I've been studying comparative religion on and off in various ways for around 30 years now, and I've had all those debates over and over and over, and I don't find re-hashing the same old arguments to be productive. I sometimes write about religion not because I expect to de-convert anyone who is firmly religious (that doesn't happen), but to get these ideas out there and bring them to people to whom they may be new, as my slight contribution to the ongoing struggle to free humanity from religion -- planting a few seeds -- but that's as far as it goes.

If you look at my posts that touch on religion, most of them (like this present one) are about progress or setbacks in the battle against it, or about what are the most effective tactics to use against it. Not about the merits of religion itself, because there's rarely anything new to say about that. Even in "The book of evil", I was more clarifying my own position to other atheists than trying to debate anything.

02 July, 2010 03:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

PS to SI: That doesn't mean I want you to stop commenting here -- I hope you'll continue to do so -- and I do want to keep up with how your novels are coming along. Please just understand that my debating days are behind me.

02 July, 2010 03:51  
Blogger Sunny Insomniac said...

Infidel!

Thank you for your timely responses, I always look forward to them. I am perfectly fine with no debating, because as we both know, we believe what we believe and that's it. But I will certainly continue to follow your blog--I find it highly interesting. It also forces me to think and that is such a rare thing to find nowadays. Sad, but true. And I love learning, especially from such a different perspective. :)

Thank you so much for your interest in my writing. It means a lot to me. I Am Altered is coming along nicely. It's a very heavy book, even though it's so short. The complexities of the emotions of the main protagonist are exhausting for me to write. And like all good subjects, it has consumed nearly every mental process. I haven't zoned out this much since I was a teenager. I keep thinking about the book and the characters. Plotting is fine and all, but when you've been sitting at a green light for a time, and it takes not one, but two honks to break you out of that world, you know you're deep in to it.

I have to say as well that I love that we can be blog friends and have such opposing views. Perhaps there is hope for humanity.

~Sunny Insomniac

02 July, 2010 11:45  

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