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The Bible And Homosexuality

Audio

Aired 1/7/10

We talk to San Diego author Linda Patterson about her self-published book, 'Hate Thy Neighbor: How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality.'

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Many Christians who say they believe in the literal truth of the Bible express deep compassion toward people who are homosexual. Others are more strident in their opposition. But just about all fundamentalist Christians say they cannot accept homosexuality because the Bible condemns it. But just what does the Bible say about homosexuality? One local attorney began researching that question and the result is a new book. I'd like to welcome San Diego author Linda Patterson, here to talk about that book titled “Hate Thy Neighbor: How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality.” And, Linda, welcome to These Days.

LINDA PATTERSON (Author): It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me on.

CAVANAUGH: I’d like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. Do you think the Bible’s conjunctions against homosexuality are used out of context? Give us a call with your questions and your comments. The number is 1-888-895-5727. Now, you give a story at the beginning of your book, “Hate Thy Neighbor,” about why you decided to write this book, and share that with us, Linda.

PATTERSON: Well, I decided to write – the book started out as a personal project just for myself. After many years of being Christian and growing up homophobic myself, and then coming out as a lesbian about the age of 28, the issue had been on my mind for a number of years. The impetus for writing the book came a couple of years ago at Gay Pride Parade where there was a preacher standing on the street corner with a bullhorn, ranting and raving about Sodom and Gomorrah and we’re all going to hell. And it seemed to me it was to the preacher’s great delight, and I was completely appalled by his demeanor, his attitude. It was a, you know – people were walking through the parade holding hands, laughing, and here was this purported preacher telling us we’re all going to hell.

CAVANAUGH: Right. And…

PATTERSON: So…

CAVANAUGH: Yes, go ahead.

PATTERSON: Oh, sorry. So I went to meet my friends for brunch and we were sitting around sort of talking about what does the Bible say, and none of us really knew. So I decided to look into it myself, and was so shocked by how badly misinformed people are on the subject that I decided to write a book about it.

CAVANAUGH: Now, how well did you know the Bible before you began researching for “Hate Thy Neighbor?”

PATTERSON: Well, I went to a Christian university. By way of background, I grew up Christian, like I said, and was so devoted to the faith that I attended a Christian university. That’s, in fact, where I lost my faith after reading the scriptures in great depth but I did not study this particular issue.

CAVANAUGH: I see. And so describe what happened after you read the scriptures in great depth. Why did that cause you to back away from the Christian religion?

PATTERSON: Well, I was quite surprised by much of what was in the Bible. And not only are people misinformed with respect to the issue of homosexuality in the Bible but people are very misinformed with respect to what the Bible is and is not, and what it says and doesn’t say in general. And growing up, I had sort of been told here’s what the Bible says. I’d been sort of spoon fed the good bits and the inspiring passages. When I went to college, I was quite horrified by some of the actions attributed to God.

CAVANAUGH: And so basically you were – you stepped away from Christianity before, indeed, you came out as a lesbian. And I wonder, though, do you think that being raised Christian contributed to the suppression of your sexuality?

PATTERSON: Oh, very much so, and that’s another reason I wrote this book, is I know there are people out there who are suffering. There are people who’ve been disowned by their own families—I’m fortunate that didn’t happen to me—people fired from jobs, denied the right to marry the person we love, in some cases beaten and even killed. And it’s just because of this widespread misconception about what the Bible says. And, yes, I did grow up homophobic, I’m embarrassed to say. And what a shock it was for me to discover at the age of 28 that I myself am a lesbian, after being homophobic myself for all those years and in large measure, like you say, because of my upbringing. Like most Christians, I was taught homosexuality’s a horrible sin, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality, and that it’s an abomination according to the Book of Leviticus.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Linda Patterson. She’s a San Diego attorney who has written a book, “Hate Thy Neighbor: How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality.” So let’s talk specifically about what you found in your research. What does the Bible say in reference to homosexuality?

PATTERSON: Well, there are six verses that many Christians use to condemn homosexuality. Of those six, one of them, which is the story about Sodom and Gomorrah, does not condemn homosexuality at all. Neither the story itself not the 20 passages that refer back to the story mention homosexuality. The other five verses, which do appear to condemn homosexuality, are far too contextually and culturally removed to warrant a modern day condemnation. That’s one of the main arguments in my book.

CAVANAUGH: And what about the popular understanding of the Sodom and Gomorrah story, that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were corrupt cities and sexual libertinism was part of the reason that those communities were destroyed by God. It’s not in the Bible?

PATTERSON: Well, certainly they seem to have been involved in some sexual indiscretions. That was one of the reasons listed among many others, oppression of the poor, adultery, men and sons having sex with the same women, these sorts of things. But nowhere is homosexuality mentioned. And people – In fact, Sodom and Gomorrah was not viewed as a story about homosexuality until the first century when a Jewish historian, Josephus, and a Jewish philosopher, Philo, first came up with that notion. Before then, it was not used to condemn homosexuality.

CAVANAUGH: Now there is that famous verse from Leviticus that is used by many people to say, look, it says it here in black and white. And perhaps you can share that quote with us and then we can talk about it.

PATTERSON: The quote from Leviticus?

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

PATTERSON: Yes. According to Leviticus 18:22, ‘it is an abomination for a male to lie with another male as with a woman.’ That language ‘as with a woman’ is significant. The reason it’s significant is because people in this culture, it was an extremely patriarchal culture. We live in patriarchy but we have nothing on these people. I mean, it was extremely oppressive of women. And they were very concerned about active and passive gender roles and sex roles, so the reason that language ‘as with a woman’ is so significant is because it was viewed as demeaning and degrading for a man to take on the – what was perceived to be the inferior role of a woman in – during sex.

CAVANAUGH: So in your book, not only do you look at this particular quote in context but you look at the prohibitions, the many, many, many prohibitions in Leviticus in its entirety in its context. And what do you find when you read the Bible that way?

PATTERSON: You mean with respect to, for example – Well, one of the main problems, I think, is a lot of Christians haven’t read the holiness code. The folks who say that my sexuality’s an abomination, I don’t think they know in that same – or many of them don’t know that in that same holiness code…

CAVANAUGH: What is the holiness code?

PATTERSON: Oh, it was – For the ancient Israelites, it was viewed to be law from God delivered to Moses, directly – You know, all Israelites had to abide by this code essentially.

CAVANAUGH: I see. And so we – we’re not familiar with it now, is what you say, most Christians.

PATTERSON: Right. They selectively say homosexuality’s an abomination and yet in that same book, eating shellfish is also an abomination but we don’t see people going to, you know, from the Gay Pride Parades with their signs ‘it’s an abomination,’ they don’t go across the street to the Red Lobster, you know, Surf ‘n Turf, it’s an abomination. I mean, to me, that points out the lunacy of it.

CAVANAUGH: I am speaking with author Linda Patterson. Her book is “Hate Thy Neighbor: How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality.” We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And let’s hear from Yahia in Spring Valley. Yahia, welcome to These Days.

YAHIA (Caller, Spring Valley): Good morning. How you doing? Thanks for having me.

CAVANAUGH: You’re welcome.

YAHIA: I think that the young lady may be right in a lot of the attitudes with religious fanaticism in terms of people – of God condemning human beings and – But where I do differ with her and that is this, while God does not condemn people, He does condemn the actions of people. And homosexuality is clearly against the laws of God and society, you know, and that’s condemned in all scriptures. Now just to give you an example—and I’ll try to make this as brief as I can—and that is that – now, I’m a Muslim. It says in the Holy Quran that God created human beings or human society in pairs. And the word ‘pairs’ come from – means the definition of the word ‘pairs’ in the Quran and the same applies in the Bible, as male and female are partners. Now you can have two men together, that does not constitute a pair.

CAVANAUGH: I understand, Yahia.

YAHIA: Like you can – like you…

CAVANAUGH: Thank you.

YAHIA: …can have two left shoes. That does not constitute…

CAVANAUGH: Two left shoes.

YAHIA: …a pair of shoes.

CAVANAUGH: Got it. Thank you. Thank you so much for your call, Yahia. And I know that you did not study the Quran but…

PATTERSON: Correct.

CAVANAUGH: …in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Yahia is talking about, I suppose the implied idea that, you know, man – Adam and Eve were created in order to multiply and to inhabit the earth and to have the animals and the earth and their dominion and all of that. I know I’m not getting these quotes correctly. But that overview of what is the correct way that the world should operate is really suffused in the Bible, isn’t it?

PATTERSON: Well, I think we have the being fruitful and multiplying down. In fact, I think we have it down…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

PATTERSON: …a little bit too pat. It took thousands of years for us to reach the first billion people. It’s only taken us 200 years to get to six billion. That’s clearly not sustainable. And I think it’s – to me, it makes intuitive sense that God or nature would have created people that do not procreate. But aside from that just practical aspect of it, the creation myth that Yahia refers to, Adam and Eve, as I discuss in my book, is one of two inconsistent myths. And the people back then wrote these stories as a poetic expression of how creation – what happened during creation. They had no way of knowing. Their cosmology was extremely primitive. They thought the world was flat and held up by pillars. Also, they were part of a very patriarchal society which, again, viewed men having sex together as an abomination, and they’re also part of a society that was focused on procreation because they had very low birth rates and high mortality rates so, certainly, that would have been their focus.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Pauline is calling from Murrieta. Good morning, Pauline, and welcome to These Days.

PAULINE (Caller, Murrieta): Yes, she’s not too familiar with Rome. Now, she’s referring to the Hebrew scriptures. She needs to refer to the Greek scriptures as well because in First Corinthians, Chapter I, verses 26 all the way down, and also Romans 26. First Corinthians 6:9, I’m referring to, and then Romans 1:26 where it does say that that is why God gave them a ungrateful sexual appetite for both their female changes, the nature use of – into their – contrary to nature. Like, likewise, even males left natural uses of the female and became violently inflame (sic) in their lust towards one another, male with male, and so on and so forth. And First Corinthians says the same thing, that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. It says men who kept unnatural purpose nor men who lie with men; that refers to women, too.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you.

PAULINE: But that’s also included with idolatry, homosex – I mean, fornication, so that’s all included. So God does not approve of two males together or two females because He created male and female to procreate.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Pauline. Thank you very much. You do talk in depth about the New Testament as well, Linda.

PATTERSON: I do. Yes, I do, indeed. And I’m – Yeah, I’m quite familiar with Romans. Paul, the apostle Paul, refers to sex between men as a degrading passion but before he refers to it as a degrading passion, the entire passage before that is referring to idolatry. So basically what Paul is saying is that people who worship other gods don’t understand sexuality and they’re given up to these degrading passions. The obvious flaw with that argument is that there are millions of Christians who are homosexual so Paul’s logic simply does not make sense if one takes that into account. God would not give up His own followers to degrading passion, so that’s the first argument I make in the chapter, and there are many more if Pauline would like to take a look at my book.

CAVANAUGH: And that book is “Hate Thy Neighbor.” Linda Patterson is my guest. She’s the author of that book. One of the things that you do in the book is you equate the Bible’s use to condemn homosexuality with the way the Bible was used to support the institution of slavery.

PATTERSON: Correct. And many people have a problem, and I understand the problem that they have, with LGBT community, you know, using slavery as an example of the oppression that we are experiencing now. But I do believe there are some important parallels and one of the most important parallels is the fact that the Bible was used to condone slavery in our country’s relatively recent history. And the Bible can be used to support slavery. There’s no condemnation in it. The – Well, I set forth in my chapter that there’s specific – let’s see, just looking at my book here. If you look at the Ten Commandments, it provides that no man shall covet his neighbor’s male or female slave or anything else that, quote, belongs to your neighbor. I list a number of other laws and regulations with that same perspective.

CAVANAUGH: So the overall idea, it seems to me, Linda, is that – what you’re saying is that the Bible is a very contextual book and that when you pick and choose words out of it, or lines out of it, that you’re really not getting perhaps to the heart of what was actually meant in the ages past when this book was written.

PATTERSON: Right. Or in some cases, you are getting to what’s actually meant but by an author in a particular time. For example, the apostle Paul, who I was talking about earlier and who Pauline was mentioning, said it was a degrading passion for males to have sex with one another and that it’s unnatural. Well, Paul viewed a number of things as unnatural that we perceive to be perfectly natural. He perceived it to be unnatural for women to be in church without their head covered. He viewed it as unnatural for a man to have long hair. Christians don’t seem to enforce those views but they’re very adamant that the few verses that refer to homosexuality are timeless and should be read literally.

CAVANAUGH: I think one of the most instructive parts of your book is the descriptions in the Old Testament that you point out of two very close and loving relationships, one between David and Jonathan and the other between Naomi and Ruth and you don’t necessarily say these relationships were homosexual. But I wonder why you have included them in your book.

PATTERSON: To be honest, I wasn’t originally going to include them in my book and a friend – well, a couple of friends of mine insisted that I do because there is a widespread view that they did have intimate relationships. I didn’t want to include it because it’s pretty much speculative but then the more I thought about it, the more I thought they can be interpreted that way, so I thought they should be included even though you can’t definitively say one way or the other. Regardless whether they were romantically involved, I think they’re great stories of same sex love, platonic or otherwise.

CAVANAUGH: And one of the ironies, it seems, is that the – this effusive description of love and loyalty that is used in the relationship between Naomi and Ruth actually has become something that’s pretty standard in a lot of heterosexual wedding ceremonies. Read us a little bit from that, from the Old Testament.

PATTERSON: Sure. Ruth said to Naomi, ‘do not press me to leave you or turn back from following you. Where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die. There will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me and more as well if even death parts me from you.’

CAVANAUGH: And that, of course, from the relationship between Naomi and Ruth in the Old Testament. Let me ask you, Linda, you basically are what Christians would say have fallen away from the faith and I wonder if that – In any way, do you think that undermines the power of your argument here? Because obviously a lot of Christians are able to take the inconsistencies, understand that this is a very context – you know, this book was written a long, long time ago. They honor it as the word of God, and they’re interpreting it literally. So where do you meet? Where is your area of real argument with people who are just taking everything in the Bible as absolutely literal.

PATTERSON: Well, and as you point out, there are millions of Christians who love all their neighbors, heterosexual, homosexual alike. I know many of them. Some of them are the biggest supporters of my book. But I felt that it was very important to have an agnostic perspective on this issue, which had been missing. There are many Christian books on the subject and I feel that they tend to skirt around or avoid some of the troubling texts, for example, the text that I discuss in the last chapter of my book that supports slavery. I don’t find a real detailed discussion on that topic in these other books, as a for example.

CAVANAUGH: What was the most surprising thing you found out doing this research?

PATTERSON: Well, there were many surprises; that’s why I wrote the book. I was just – I describe it to people as jaw-droppingly shocked at how badly misinformed I was and many people seem to be on this subject.

CAVANAUGH: Is it – Would it be your advice, besides reading your book, that more people actually do read what’s in the Bible?

PATTERSON: I think that’s critically important and I think very few people have, and I say that based on my own experience. As we were discussing earlier, you know, I go to church and hear, well, here’s this inspiring passage—and there are many inspiring passages in the Bible—but I was never really directed to really troubling passages, like Numbers 31 comes to mind, where God, you know, basically supports genocide and having 32 virgins offered to Him. It appears as a burnt offering. Things like that. Pretty horrifying.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to thank you. We are out of time but I want to thank you so much for coming in and telling us about your book today, Linda. Thank you.

PATTERSON: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: I’ve been speaking with Linda Patterson, and the name of her book is “Hate Thy Neighbor: How the Bible is Misused to Condemn Homosexuality.” We didn’t get time to take all the phone calls of all the people who wanted to join our discussion. I encourage you to go online with your comments, KPBS.org/TheseDays. Stay with us. Hour two of These Days is coming up right here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'IT'

IT | January 7, 2010 at 10:11 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Great show. I couldn't get through on the phone but I have a couple of comments.

1) The Author should be careful not to use "Christian" as such a general term. There are LOTS of Christians who do not mis-use the Bible against the GLBT community--not just individuals, but denominations. The United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church are two notable examples, but there are others.

In fact, the Episcopal Church Cathedral of St Paul's in San Diego fields one of the largest, if not THE largest, contingent at the annual Pride parade. Those lining the parade route are so grateful for their witness.

On the other hand, one of the fundamentalist protesters at this year's Pride Parade yelled angrily at the Dean of the Cathedral, "If your God doesn't know hate, then you don't know God!"

That may sum up the difference between denominations and the author should be sensitive to it, and not use the word "Christian" so generally. The fundamentalist view point does NOT define "Christian".

2) It seems to me that it is perfectly consistent to read Paul as writing against promiscuity. It's likely that his only experience of overt homosexuality was promiscuous temple prostitutes. He says nothing about faithfully partnered gay people.

I join my more conservative brethren in criticizing promiscuity and casual sex. That's why marriage is so important for gay folks as well as straight, to support and promote stable faithful relationships. Speaking as one of the 18,000 couples married during the California Interregnum, i can attest to the value of marriage to me personally, to my wife and family, and to my GLBT brothers and sisters.

3) Those interested in the theology might be interested in a scholarly treatise, "Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-sexuality" by Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG. The author is an Episcopal Priest.

Again thanks for handling this with some sensitivity to both sides.

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Avatar for user 'Adah'

Adah | January 7, 2010 at 10:17 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm sorry I couldn't get in for the on-air discussion. I am a hetero female and am dismayed that my fellow humans are so easily led by interpretations of fables. Who wrote the bibles? And why did those people rewrite it? And rewrite it again? And what was the original purpose of those bibles? Why are some portions of Leviticus open to interpretation (tattoos, haircuts) and some are not? And what god would "hate the sin not the sinner"? The implications and judgements feel narrow-minded and self-righteous. When Jesus said to love thy neighbor, did he really mean it? Does love mean intolerance?

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Avatar for user 'billgoff'

billgoff | January 7, 2010 at 10:20 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for the program. I believe more attention needs to be given to this issue. There is a widespread perception among most Christians that homosexuality is a sin. But I believe that this perception is changing as Christians study the Bible.
I am a retired Presbyterian minister. I would describe myself as an evangelical Christian, not a fundamentalist. I have studied the Bible in depth in Hebrew and Greek on this issue and have concluded that the Bible does not teach that homosexuality is a sin. A very helpful book for me is Jesus, The Bible , and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers. He is a Christian leader who explores the Bible in some depth. My impression from Ms. Patterson was that one cannot be a thoughtful Christian and believe that homosexuality is not a sin. I argue that one may be a thoughtful Christian who affirms the authority of the Bible and not condemn homosexuals. I urge you to interview Jack Rogers on your program.

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | January 7, 2010 at 10:27 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

The Bible and the Koran are a mixed bag of ideas and stories that are sometimes poetic and hopeful, and other times completely contradictory, ridiculous, and obscene. At best, they represent some of the history and the mind set of a particular group of people at a particular place and time. At worst, they represent the fairy tales of the delusional. For those who take these books literally I'm really sorry for you. How you stop believing in Santa and his flying reindeer but go on beleiving in a talking snake in a garden, a virgin that can give birth, a man that can walk on water, even rise from the dead after three days or fly into the heavens on a horse is beyond me. For those of us that have strong doubts about such things, we also have doubts about your reasoning on homosexuality.

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Avatar for user 'lhindle'

lhindle | January 7, 2010 at 10:55 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

I would just like to thank Linda for publishing her book which provides a much needed perspective on such an unnecessarily controversial topic. Gay people are here and have been here since we all crawled out of the same primordial ooze, so get over it.
I would also like to state that I am more than disappointed in PBS for airing such a one sided show. I feel that Linda was subjected to a repeated feeding frenzy of ignorant and homophobic callers trying to grandstand their beliefs. What was the point of the show? To place a gay person in the spotlight so that delusional religiously supercilious callers could have a target to vent their nonsense against? This has been done far too many times of late to be anything worthy of this station. I am disenchanted with PBS, as only a comatose person would not realize just what a difficult and politically sensitive time the gay community is going through. We are fighting for our basic civil rights in California, and thus need community support. By only airing homophobic caller points of view, this show helped to spread the idea that gays are completely reviled by the community at large, which is not true.

I also found it amusing just how many callers purported to speak for God, as if a walking oracle. To which I can only retort, I think if there was a god she would probably pick her representatives from Harvard/ MIT rather than San Diego’s greatest hits.

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Avatar for user 'jv333'

jv333 | January 7, 2010 at 10:56 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

I honestly think a large part of the problem re: religion and bigoty goes back to the 4th century...was it under the Holy Roman Emperor Constantine?

sex became dirty ... women were subjugated ... the Roman Catholic Church put in the celibacy rules for priests so they could leave their money to the Church upon dying and not their sons or families...

so all that pent-up sexual tension had to go somewhere...which led to the centuries of closeted perversion, lying and hypocrisy....

women should be allowed to be priests....priests should be allowed to marry...

the church and state should keep their noses out of people's bedrooms ...

he and she who are without sin should cast the first stone ... love thy neighbot as thyself...let's clean up our own backyards...

pretty simple stuff ... amen.

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Avatar for user 'jv333'

jv333 | January 7, 2010 at 11:08 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

for an even more daunting look at how religion and suppression can lead to weird cultural anomalies and sexual exploitation ... check out the PBS FRONTLINE report that will air this month... "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan"

Many hundreds of boys, often as young as ten, are being lured off the streets on the promise of a new life, many unaware that their real fate is to be used for entertainment and sex. They’re the “Bacha Bereesh,” literally “beardless boys,” chosen for their height, size and beauty, trained to sing and dance for male audiences, and then traded for sexual favors among former warlords and powerful businessmen.

There have been allegations of similar exploitations among the wealthy and powerful here ... cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin...

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Avatar for user 'schatzi'

schatzi | January 7, 2010 at 11:09 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Fairytales or not, the Bible was written by men~not God. God is about sove, peace & harmony. "Sin" acually means~Missing the Mark. It doesn't mean one is damned to hell, a place whitch does not exist, for if God made everything & is omnipresent, God couldn't possibly have made a "hell." So the dudes who wrote the Bible were simplly emoting on beliefs back in that day & age, much of which doesn't make sense. I couldn't "get it" as a child growing up, & I still don't get it! All the present-day, misinformed Bible- thumpers need to be enlightened & let the gays, blacks, hispanics, Jews etc., etc. alone! There will only be peace in the world when we let go of hate & intolerance & embrace, if not love at least, tolerance!
B;ess KPBS for great programs!

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Avatar for user 'jv333'

jv333 | January 7, 2010 at 12:53 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

the fastest growing minority in the US is the "Nonaffiliated re: religious group" ... those who do not affiliate with any religion ... 16% and rising

still when things go awry (financial markets collapse...an attack on our soil...major tragedy), the religious crowd are the first to stir up the fear and hate ... the doom and gloomers ... and how they struggle to weave their beliefs into politics and social policy ...

we still have to have faith ... faith in the large group of Americans with common sense

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Avatar for user 'anobody'

anobody | January 7, 2010 at 4:44 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

The Bible is a subjective work and written by humans. Therefore it is nothing more than a storybook that is open to interpretation and nothing more. If you hear voices or see dead people you need to be medicated and placed under the care of a Psychiatrist. Normal healthy people do not have visions nor do they hear voices from beyond the grave.

Sure when there was a lack of organized government and the lands were filled with illiterate people the Bible could be used as a half-baked guidebook for life, law, and order.

The behavior that collective society has stereotyped as "gay or homosexual" (I hate labels BTW) is 100% natural as all other behaviors that humans express. Heck look at other species, so called "homosexual" behavior exists and is as normal and integral to survival as breathing air.

As far as I am concerned the issue here is with the interpretation of the Bible by the people who read it, therefore it is really an issue with the subjective thought process of the individual. Which boiled way down is nothing more than an opinion. An opinion AGAINST homosexual behavior in any form is antisocial because like it or not homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality.

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Avatar for user 'MarkW'

MarkW | January 7, 2010 at 5:52 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

I just have one comment:

I encourage everyone to watch the movie "Idiocracy" by Mike Judge. The premise of the movie is simple: affluent, well-educated, intelligent people need to start makin' more babies and fewer excuses -- or else society is going to be overrun by stupid people.

And historically, the LGBT community has had a higher representation in the "affluent, well-educated, intelligent" category than the population at large -- that's where my concern on this matter begins and ends.

The Bible is a collection of real (and sometimes bizarre) human experiences that has inspired devotion and criticism for millenia -- but its still around, isn't it?

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Avatar for user 'IT'

IT | January 8, 2010 at 9:29 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, it's not true that GLBT people are more affluent. The well-off childless professionals are a small part of the community.

A useful video on the topic of religious acceptance and marginalization is "For the Bible tells me so".

It is true that faith groups with higher levels of education tend towards more acceptance of GLBT, though it's not a perfect correlation.

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Avatar for user 'Eddieboy'

Eddieboy | January 9, 2010 at 11:42 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Many many woes arise out of a huge problem of biblical illiteracy in this nation. You can read the book for any of a number of reasons, and at many levels. There is no one right way to read the Bible, but the smallest minded way is to use it to limit the rights and freedoms of people. The strongest thread in the entire book is that God wants dignity for all people--and a premium is put on the wellbeing of the poor, orphaned, widowed, and marginalized of all sorts. The Bible starts with wholeness in Genesis where things are "good" just as they were created. It ends in Revelation with a new wholeness. In between is a lot of misunderstanding and fearful human drama that often obscures the divine efforts. But the point is made: where we came from is good, and where we are going to is good. If only our flawed dualistic thinking can get out of the way. One irony I can't get over is how the anti-homosexual voices will proclaim Christianity but will use Jewish sacred texts to do so, all the while ignoring the simple law that Jesus put down: love your neighbor as you'd want to be loved. The Levitical laws had their place and purpose for a while--hundreds of years before Jesus. By the time Jesus came to teach, he regarded them as limited and therefore not worthy of being followed if they don't make better, more compassionate humans of us.

If we don't humanize our sacred texts and use them to make all people welcomed to a dignified life _as they are, where they are on their journey_, then maybe these texts really have expired in their usefulness and should be forgotten and wiped out. But I don't think that is the case. Bravo to Ms. Patterson for keeping the faith, even as she claims she lost it.

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ischlink | January 15, 2010 at 3 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

The Bible is a strange book. It says having sex with your father (if you are a girl) is ok if you "think" you are the last people in the world, and suggests getting him drunk first.

It also says it is a sin to cut your hair or mark your body or eat shellfish, yet there are beauty salons and tattoo parlors and places to eat shellfish in almost every city and town across the US. Why? I don't know...it says it's a sin in Leviticus right next to "laying with mankind like woman kind is an abomination".

Religious people are crazy...even though they think they are so righteous, they are all sinners.

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PreachersKid | January 15, 2010 at 8:39 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Having grown up in a fundamentalist christian home and been surrounded with it the last 40 years, I know exactly what their mindset is when it comes to these things.

It is dangerous. The amount of hatred and contempt they have for gay people is scary. And it is all based on the types of things you see in Leviticus.

Yet when you point out other things in that book such as in Leviticus 20 where it says that a parent should stone his/her children to death if they become "recalcitrant" (aka smart-mouthed) they say "Oh thats the Old Testament, the lord came to give us a new covenant so it replaces the Old.' Yet there they are on the street corners yelling "God hates Fags!!"

As for the book of Paul in regards to this topic, the book of Paul was written 250 YEARS after Jesus' death. It is a book of stories that were passed down by oral tradition, and we have all played the game of "telephone" when we were kids.

Not to mention that most people were illiterate during those times and if you wanted a copy of the bible you had to copy it word for word. That work was often done by scribes who were slaves and who were completely illiterate. They were merely reproducing characters they saw on a page. Add to that the fact that some scribes had a political or religious ax to grind and literally took out complete passages or added them as they saw fit.

Enter the Catholic church which for 400 yrs had a complete control over what was considered the 'real' word of god and what was not. This is why books like Philip and Thomas are not in today's bible. Those books described Jesus as someone who was more human than a god. The catholic church couldnt have that. They wanted to push the myth that Jesus was god in the flesh.

The bible itself says that "everything man touches is corrupted," yet these zealots want me to believe that a book whose original manuscripts were lost somehow is still the perfect word of god after all these centuries.

It's time America grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales.

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Eddieboy | January 16, 2010 at 8:52 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"The Bible is a strange book. It says having sex with your father (if you are a girl) is ok if you "think" you are the last people in the world, and suggests getting him drunk first." --ischlink

It does not suggest any such thing. It is a narrative that gives a mythical backstory to the origins of tribes that the Hebrews were at odds with. It is more of a slight to feared or hated peoples. Bad neighborliness, if anything.

The thing is, the resulting tribe of that incestuous union, the Moabites, according to the storyline developed in both testaments, later had a daughter named Ruth, who in turn was included as a grandmother in the genealogy of Jesus--the point being that God can make something out of even enemies and "degenerate" stock, and can do so in such a fashion that some would even consider it the salvation of the world. The Christian confession that Jesus would be a son of such a tribe is one way to illustrate that God can work with anything, anytime, and anywhere. It is meant to humble the believer.

There are a lot of things that the Bible says that are not directives. It would be fair to recognize when things are presented that way or not.

While we're at it, Lot's wife was warned not to look back or she'd be turned to salt. It doesn't say in my NRSV that God did the salty work. Only that she had to pay the price for looking back, a predictable result in a dangerous situation that they were in. What if for example a Haitian was told last week to not look back while all was in a state of collapse? Was it God who crushed him in the falling rubble? Or does it make enough sense that some situations can't be met with indecision and when the word "go" is the order, then one must go?

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randolphslinky | January 19, 2010 at 10:42 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Very interesting comments, perhaps we should ask Pat Robertson for his two loving cents on the topic?

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SinnerSavedByGrace | January 19, 2010 at 1:49 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders" 1Cr 6:9 NKJV

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Rom. 1:26-27

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." Jhn 1:5 NKJV

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randolphslinky | January 20, 2010 at 8:26 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

The bible is full of gems like the above, and yet I could give you pages and pages of examples that contradict one another and some of which are so ridiculous as to leave one to wonder HOW any rationale person could base their life on it. Quoting from the bible is setting yourself up for an endless barrage of return fire because for nearly every quote there is a contradiction to it. The believers are the world's greatest cherry pickers.

"For I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever." (Jeremiah 3:12)
"Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever." (Jeremiah 17:4)
"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." (John 5:31)
"Jesus answered: Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid." (John 8:14)
"And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18)
"the whole world is under control of the evil one." (1 John 5:19)

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SinnerSavedByGrace | January 20, 2010 at 12:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Please be careful to not confuse a "true contradiction" with an "apparent contradiction".

God can not contradict himself so there are no "true contradictions" in His Word (Bible).

An "apparent contradiction" comes when scripture is taken out of context e.g. "cherry picking".

For those who are lost and hurting, please see: http://www.exodusinternational.org/

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randolphslinky | January 20, 2010 at 1:52 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

At the end of the day you can believe whatever you want (no matter how ridiculous and unfounded in reality), but religion should have NO say what so ever in how we form our laws. Endorse that kind of thinking and the next thing you know we'll have to make burnt offerings to god, require women to stay away from us while menstruating, no more eating shellfish, stoning people to death for using the "lord's" name in vain, not wearing clothing of two different types of cloth and so on... Cherry Picking, that's exactly what this agenda is all about.

And for anyone who might be religious and wanting to wake up out of that indoctrinated stupor into reality go to http://www.atheists.org/.

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maryjane | January 20, 2010 at 9:56 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

As Christians, we are called to love God and to love one another as Christ loved us i.e. by giving His life for us...quite a tall order! We are not called to hate the homosexual or lesbian any more than we are to hate ourselves - none of us is blameless.

But we also cannot pretend that sin is not sin or endorse a behavior we know is offensive to God, despite the constant pressure on churches to endorse the gay lifestyle, and despite the fact that some of them have given in. We understand the urge for inclusion, but the cost is a misrepresentation and dilution of spiritual truths.

People come to Jesus when they come face to face with their spiritual state, if we lie to them about what that state is...how is that love? Ultimately we defer to God’s authority in determining what sin is, even if we are mocked or, as in the case here, our intelligence is insulted...

As to the Law of Moses – it’s purpose “is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20)
Christians have never had to live under the Law - "But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law…we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” Romans 3:21-22

As for cherry picking...what better way to find out what the bible really says about any of this, than to sit down and read it for yourself...enjoy...it really is a wonderful joy...

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Eddieboy | January 21, 2010 at 5:46 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"The bible is full of gems like the above, and yet I could give you pages and pages of examples that contradict one another and some of which are so ridiculous as to leave one to wonder HOW any rationale person could base their life on it. "

The Bible, the Hebrew Bible specifically, is about the complicated faith path that defined Israel. If someone were to look at the journals that any of us write, or indeed the journal of this very nation, one would find many contradictions and shameful things that led to who we are now. That Israel decided it was the better and more prudent thing to leave intact the undignified parts of their past and let that be part of a more or less progressive trend across several thousand years, is a respectable thing. That is the sign of spiritual evolution. These days we'd call it making friends with your shadow, incorporating the ugly parts of your being.

Besides, any one of the books of the Bible were penned and redacted by different people of different abilities to understand what had come before. Some had agendas, others were illiterate. But it does a person good to maintain a full record of who they are lest they fall into self-aggrandizement.

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Eddieboy | January 21, 2010 at 5:51 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"At the end of the day you can believe whatever you want (no matter how ridiculous and unfounded in reality), but religion should have NO say what so ever in how we form our laws. Endorse that kind of thinking and the next thing you know we'll have to make burnt offerings to god, require women to stay away from us while menstruating, no more eating shellfish, stoning people to death for using the "lord's" name in vain, not wearing clothing of two different types of cloth and so on..."

Maybe if you are stuck in the most limited consciousness layers of the Hebrew Bible. Some might argue that if you endorsed religious thinking, your politics might be informed by humility, selfless service toward others, patience, cooperation, non-violence...

If you do profess to be an atheist, then maybe the layers of religious consciousness are things you have not looked into. The stuff people love to hate about the OT is the most basic level; the stuff that Jesus did and left for us to ponder, the most evolved level.

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haveaquestion | January 21, 2010 at 7:20 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Even if we put the Bible aside there still a fundamental question. The Courts in California are reviewing Prop 8 that past by the voters of the state, stating the marriage should be between a man and a woman. If the vote of the people is found to be unconstitutional then why is it constitutional to ban polygamy? Not that I feel that polygamy is right but the argumen.........t sounds the same to me, you know as long as they love each other and they are consenting adults. With out the Bible we could say that there are various forms of alternative marriages

I have read a lot of comments stating that to be against gay marriage stems from prejudice and bigotry. Are all of those who are in favor of gay marriage willing to support other type of untraditional marriages such as parent marrying his or her own adult child? - Or even a parent marrying a minor child, two siblings marrying each other, polygamy? Or is it only prejudice when it comes to gay marriage? Are you willing to support and fight just as hard for all those alternatives to traditional marriages? I wonder if the Mayor of San Diego would be more open If some one in his own family wanted to marry him or If they wanted more than one spouse. Would he willing with tears to publicly support and testify for change in the law?

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Linda_SD | January 22, 2010 at 4:03 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

First of all, thanks to Maureen Cavanaugh for having me on her show for my first radio interview. It was an honor.
I have read the posts on the site with great interest. I’m not sure about the protocol of an interviewee interjecting thoughts on the comment section. But given that the Prop 8 trial is pending, I felt compelled to respond to “haveaquestion.”
Heterosexual people are permitted to marry the consenting adult that they love. In doing so, they receive significant state and federal benefits. Gays and lesbians are not asking for “special rights”. Quite the contrary, we want to be able to marry the consenting adult that we love, and to receive the same benefits from our government that heterosexual couples enjoy. Contrary to the suggestion of “haveaquestion,” we are not asking to marry more than one person (although the Bible condones this). We are not asking to marry a child (although the Bible condones this). We are not asking to marry slaves (although the Bible condones this). Nor are we asking to marry goats (although some Christians oddly suggest that this would be the inevitable result of permitting loving gays and lesbians to commit themselves to one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part).
I have always found it to be quite mind-boggling that so many Christians complain that gays and lesbians are “promiscuous,” while at the same time denying us the right to marry the person we love.
Although many Christians purport to base their morality upon a “Bible tells me so” approach, this is thankfully not the case. (Otherwise, we would still be stoning to death children who curse their parents, people who work on the Sabbath, and non-virgin brides.)
For those who would like to see Mayor Sanders’ inspiring appeal for the right of gays and lesbians to marry, here is the youtube video:

(And, no, I don’t expect him to be advocating for polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality, or sex-slaves anytime soon.)

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SinnerSavedByGrace | January 23, 2010 at 7:47 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

Speaking in love and kindness and knowing these words will sting most of us: Jesus loves us sinners, but does not love sin – no specific sin is worse than another. Be freed from the bondage of sin and/or shame today. It is a free gift from our Lord and yours for the asking but the offer won’t last forever.

The facts:

“for all” {including me} “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom 3:23 NKJV

The motive:

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2Pe 3:9 NKJV (spaces added for emphasis)

The remedy:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jhn 3:16 NKJV

Confused about homosexuality and the bible? See http://www.exodusinternational.org/

Jesus Loves You

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Eddieboy | January 24, 2010 at 6:53 a.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

"With out the Bible we could say that there are various forms of alternative marriages"

To echo Linda's comment above, I offer that WITH the Bible we could say there are various forms of alternative marriages.

The Bible isn't made to sanctify our petty views. If you really believe in Jesus, then you have to go with his teaching that the Law is to be of service to humanity, not the other way around, for the Law is only from limited consciousness.

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Jason | February 4, 2010 at 11:25 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Regardless if it is a Bible, a Koran, a Torah, a Sutra, Dianetiks, or Little Red Riding Hood; any time that you use literature to mistreat other people, you are doing a disservice to our common humanity.

The Abrahamic religions inspire many, but at the same time, they have plenty of material inspiring heinous action. Recently in south east asia there was a case of a woman who was raped, and through the use of religious texts, she was sentenced to 100 lashes. This was not the Koran, this is Christianity.

The Bible is convenient excuse to mistreat homosexuals. We need to reexamine the origins of these homophobic traits, and the cultural artifacts which continue to drive them. For some reason homosexuality is still the flavor of choice, while other aspects of equal weight have fallen to the wayside.

Linda made a good point about how the gay-protestors don't immediately cross the street and hit up the Red Lobster.

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Eddieboy | February 15, 2010 at 8:56 a.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

...They also don't give equal weight to other Levitical laws concerning economic arrangements that would give poor and dispossessed people a mechanism for having viable lives in a hard world. Lev. 25 has some great stuff to inspire community-based economics of abundance instead of the economics of scarcity, hoarding, accumulation. Now THAT would be something that might do the world some good. Even laws such as those in Lev. 19:9-10 and 13 would be subversive to our present order. They are the ones that say one can't strip all the profitability from a field, instead that something must be left (by design) for those who can't play in the mainstream economic order (poor, foreigner, widow), or that, in v. 13, laborers must be paid daily. That alone might cause some needed upset.

Granted some of Leviticus seems hopelessly out of date and should rightly be left aside. But some of it has a level of consciousness about it that would be healthy to tap into. Subversive even, for our present day. If people like to think that there is NO place in political discourse for "religion" (always used as a disparaging blanket term, it seems), then one must be prepared to ignore the wellsprings that fueled MLK, Jr. and Gandhi and Walter Rauchenbusch and many others. The ethical root of our present non-violent resolution to conflict and disorder lie in the ancient religions, like it or not. All the consciousness we need to get out of our worldwide mess is in one or the other of the religions that emerged 2000 years ago and more. But one can't get there with shallow and surface-level readings of the texts, particularly the ones that themselves are not very evolved.

Scripture is like love. It has the power to hurt and the power to heal. Paradox.

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Jason | February 15, 2010 at 4:39 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Eddieboy, interesting take, but check out a Harvard Study that just came on on the issue of morality and religion. Atheists are just as moral as believers. I would say that the context is not as important as the self-evidence of its being. A moral-religious person has the equal likelihood of fighting for civil rights as a non-religious moral person. The contrary is also true.

Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced by a gay atheist. His mentor was Bayard Rustin.

I think sentiment for the texts is clouding your judgement.

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Eddieboy | February 15, 2010 at 8:11 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Athiests... two types, as I see it... Athiests are people who don't adopt the language that is used in the religious life. I find their vocabulary kind of stiff and dry and their reductionism to be rather boring and pointless, even if at one level or another they can marvel just the same at what a grand thing our world and life is. They might say there is no God, but that doesn't square with my awareness that there is, from my own life circumstances. But they don't think of there being a god in the sky. Neither do I. There are many other ways to indicate the presence and action of the ineffable in one's life, society, and so on. The god in the sky thing is yesterday...

I make a distinction between people who are open to wonder while addressing it as something different than I or any other religious person might, in whatever tradition. I differentiate that from people who live without a sense that there is any reason for cooperation, humility, compassion and all those other things that make life bearable. There are certainly those who profess no religion but live by convictions that religious practitioners might agree with, and those who profess religious belief outwardly but live as if they are the center and circumference of things. Such we would call hypocrites. Some of these people are dangerous. Dubya and his conservative Christian posse comes to mind.

King may have been influenced by a gay athiest, but as a Christian pastor first and foremost, he was centrally influenced by the narratives of liberation and prophetic demands of justice that come straight out of the Hebrew scriptures, and that are not just rehashed but lived in the life of Jesus centuries later. I know there are plenty of people who might like to separate King's life and work from its religious roots, but that is really not possible, and to do so would cast him as a man with his own agenda, which is not true. He was on the shoulders of those ancient giants.

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jon_826 | October 5, 2010 at 11:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

"Speaking in love and kindness and knowing these words will sting most of us: Jesus loves us sinners, but does not love sin – no specific sin is worse than another."

This does a huge disservice to any group of people (both the "sinners" and the ones preaching we are all sinners). I have to look at recent news showing the numerous suicides by predominantly homosexual, male teenagers. The above quote from one of the commenters here, essentially says that a homosexual is a sinner and so is a murderer, and you are both people who need to change.
When an impressionable, young person hears this and has been set upon by numerous groups, mostly religious, stating that you are no better than a murderer, these groups will have to eventually understand that their views are tacitly, if not overtly, devaluing gay people.
I know it is not something that many religious people will subscribe to unfortunately, but I sincerely believe that if we are to rise above societal divisiveness and anger that seems to be growing today, we need to value our common Humanity above our Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, etc.

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Missionaccomplished | October 6, 2010 at 12:28 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

The obvious first question here, is, pray tell what training does Ms Patterson have in Biblical Studies or Christian theology? Please answer that first.

Secondly, I want to point out that a "homophobe" is often a macho secularist male who is often IGNORED whenever homophobia is discussed.

Thirdly, KPBS's current radio spot promoting its "special relation" with GLBT groups is not only heavy-handed in the extreme, but one of the reasons why many have stopped donating. You have this lesbian woman on who says that only KPBS "tells the truth" AND is "unbiased." (!!!) Was she saying that with a (no pun intended) straight face???!!! I've been a KPBS listener since the 80s, but I am really sorry now, KPBS administration, the station is beginning to sounds like an "across the aisle" version of FAUX NEWS. Is that what you're striving for these days? Let's get back to some fairness, objectivity and not selling out just because a very strident Group X donated beaucoup bucks during the fund-raising drive.

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Pondering1 | October 18, 2010 at 12:23 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Typically, these types of debates become Christians VS LGBTs; however, KPBS and LGBT supporters fail to recognize that millions of non-Christians are also against the LGBT movement from an un-natural perspective. Myself and most of my childhood friends knew from a nature perspective that something was wrong about a boy thinking he was a girl. My parents didn't tell me and we didn't go to church. It made sense to me. I was born a boy, looked like a boy, spoke like a boy, etc... therefore; I am a boy. The LGBT community will continue to force this idealogy on us. The media is a powerful rich force that is part of this brain washing. The LBGT lifestyle is the epitome of the emotional "ME" society. In other words, I based my decisions on what I feel and give a rat's butt about anybody else but "me." We live in a selfish society which fits well with the LGBT agenda. Steve Stanton is a good example of this selfish egocentric mindset. He cared more about his emotions and his desires above his marriage and family. KPBS and the LGBT community have become an apparent partnership.

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