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Is there a Conservative “Echo Chamber”?

NB – this post does NOT mean to imply that conservatism and Christianity are the same thing – they’re not. Nor is it meant to imply that conservatives are more Christian than liberals. Despite overlap here and there, politics and Christianity are two separate things and we need to remember that. The following post is about politics rather than about religion.

Ive repeatedly heard those on the left claim that conservatives live in a conservative “echo chamber”. This statement is meant to portray conservatives as only listening to other conservatives, and of feeding back into a loop of self-reinforcing sub-cultural affirmation of conservative opinion, while being isolated from other points of view. EG Republican voters calling in to conservative talkback radio and affirmingly quoting Fox News, who in turn report affirmingly of Republican politicians, who in turn make statements that are intended to mirror the values of, and gain support from,  Republican voters.

The accusation of a conservative “echo chamber” is rarely accompanied by consideration of whether liberals behave likewise. EG whether those who write for Huffington only consume liberal media like MSNBC and the New York Times, and whether Democrat politicians only make statements that such consumers voters want to hear and which liberal leaning media will affirm. I know that on occasion when Ive read leftist academic writings, Ive felt like the writers seemed to only cite those who had a similar political outlook to themselves.

This finger pointing came to mind today, when I read the NOM website and noticed they referenced the New York Times. I decided to run a “New York Times test – IE which other conservative websites reference liberal sources. I found examples for each conservative website I tested:

Do liberals reference pro-conservative sources as frequently? Yes conservatives listen a lot to other conservatives. They speak the same ‘language’. Likewise, Im sure liberals listen a lot to other liberals. But are conservatives more insulated than liberals or are liberals more isolated than conservatives? Your thoughts?

 


Being a “progressive” isnt necessarily about progress

The political term “progressive” implies progress. It implies that those who adhere to the label, prefer change and improvement. But do they really prefer change and improvement as a goal in its own right? Will they to some extent never be satisfied with a status quo? Or is the label just marketing to obscure that are they really just people who like leftist views, and who prefer the label ‘progressive’ because it sounds positive and productive rather than being simply partisan?

This article; http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Christians-and-Progress-Following-Jesus-Paul-Fromberg-06-16-2011.html intentionally or otherwise, raises these questions by implication, when it asks the audacious question of whether Christian Progressives are simply aiming for orthodoxy!

We see the same thing in this article, which refers to “A progressive theological current that emphasizes the Catholic Church’s closeness to the poor and the marginalized …” Surely that’s a traditional theological current!

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For those who want to know more about being ‘progressive’, this video is insightful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwK7VRkbGiU&feature=player_embedded


Gay Activists Mislead Again

Gay activist organisation Truth Wins Out hit a low point in June, when they blogged about a radio interview with Australian Salvation Army media officer Major Andrew Craibe. Truth Wins Out (TWO) irresponsibly misconstrued the words of Major Craibe, titling their blog article “LGBT People Should Be Put to Death, Says Aussie Salvation Army Major“.

Either TWO deliberately misrepresented what was said in the June 21st Joy FM interview, or they have lost their way from the initial mission of the organisation, which was largely to counter religious opposition to homosexuality. Certainly Major Craibe ideally should have been clearer about what he meant. But by specialising in religious dialogue, TWO should be familiar with Christian terminology, eg how the Bible states that the result of sin is ‘death’ (IE spiritual death, for any sin). The Major was clearly not calling for capital punishment. The Handbook he defers to, prescribes nothing of the sort and capital punishment is a world away from other relevant local statements from his denomination. The Salvation Army has subsequently released a clarification.

Feedback on the TWO webpage displaying the article, includes criticism of TWO for ‘twisting’ and ‘distorting’ along with feedback defending the Major, claiming that he was simply repeating what the Bible states.

Through sensationalism, TWO achieved much interest in their blog article, to the point that their website became unavailable, as presumably their webserver became overloaded. But was it worth it? How do gay activists expect to be taken seriously, if they cant be accurate and reasonable?

Besen18-12-12Staff behind Truth Wins Out promoted more sensationalism in December, when they accused NARTH of ‘hating’ their gay clients.


Gay propaganda by an Australian university

Everybody deserves an education, no matter what their sexual preferences. Accordingly many universities have anti-discrimination policies in place that protect those who adhere to minority sexual orientations. Few (or none?) would disagree with this position.

But should universities be in the business of advancing political causes or values that are not broadly reflective of the wider community? Certainly a reasonable case could be made for this within reason. EG if the science faculty concludes that fluoridation of water causes more harm than good, I suggest its reasonable for them to state that finding on their website, in newsletters etc. But would it be reasonable for the university to condemn politicians who dont agree, beyond stating the facts? No, I suggest that would be inappropriate. That would be politicking – going beyond the facts and beyond their expertise. It would be unprofessional meddling.

Macquarie University in Australia, goes beyond politicking and into propaganda. Take a look at this webpage; Myths of the LGBTI community.

  • Homosexuality is considered normal in most of the world’s cultures.” Really? is it considered normal in your culture? In my culture, many would say its considered ‘kinda’ normal. Those who are more generous would say it’s ‘largely’ considered normal. But in many of the cultures of the world it’s clearly and legally rejected. Think Russia, think Eastern Europe, think of the Middle East and predominantly Islamic countries. Whether most cultures accept openly or not, legally or not, is not the same as whether they consider it ‘normal’. This oversimplified statement is misleading and substandard for a university.
  • It is accepted that around 10% of people are GLBTI which would suggest that 10% of the people in most professions would be GLBTI.” Sure GLBTI people will be represented in most professions, but fairly equally spread out across them? Id want proof of that. But is any proof cited? No. How many gay electricians or plumbers do you know? How many professional gay footballers? Even uneducated people know that gay men are more likely to be hairdressers or work in the entertainment industry. Who is this university trying to fool? Oh, yes that’s right – teenagers fresh out of highschool who dont know any better.
  • Homosexuals are neither more nor less sexually promiscuous than heterosexuals.” Not according to other stats from the same university.

I think this university should be ashamed. But they are not the only university to display low standards. At the University of Toronto, a campus minister even affirms the classic 2012 Matthew Vines video as “compelling”!


What were the real motives of “undercover gay man” Timothy Kurek?

American Christian Timothy Kurek says he wanted to know whether his fear of homosexuals was valid, so he went undercover as a homosexual for one year in 2009, and write a book about it, released in October 2012. In June, his story about this “experiment” hit the media (EG), who reported that his experience led him to affirm homosexuality. In October, articles gave the impression that he remained a Christian of ultra-conservative proportions.

Initially when I came across this story, I thought it was odd. Why did he go to all that trouble, when he could simply have just befriended gay people to get very similar insights. He lied to his family for a year about his sexuality for goodness sake. A whole year, and he recognises that his mother found it deeply stressful. It wasnt as though he had no access to homosexual people. As the media is reporting, even before going undercover, he already had a lesbian friend.

I thought to myself that his earrings look gay, and pondered whether his motivation for the experiment might be based him him actually being gay. He has large ear rings in both ears. They are not just gay props from when he was undercover. They are depicted in the photos of him in recent articles, and also in photos on his blog from 2010 and 2009. But if he is gay, why did he revert back to a largely straight persona at the end of the experiment? That wouldnt make sense if he is same-sex attracted, and now a same-sex advocate. I Googled his name, and read through his blogs etc to investigate further.

Records indicate a shifting of Timothy’s position along the conservative-liberal continuum, before his experiment took place. His facebook page indicates he initially attended Liberty University, a place he refers to as particularly conservative, before later attending Middle Tennessee State University. Also, he says he was brought up in a fundamentalist congregation, but since then has attended a variety of styles of churches. The shift from conservative to liberal is also paralleled in a shift of hometowns. He grew up in conservative Nashville, then moved to Portland.

An ambivalence and shift in his ideology is observable in his blog posts. In a blogpost in late 2008, he challenges friends who have told him he is going to hell, and in another he describes himself as “emerging“; probably a reference to the modern Christian school of thought that is more generously orthodox (ie more liberal) than standard Evangelicals tend to be. In his blog around that time, he also expresses anger at Christians condemning Obama, and without appearing to explicitly take sides, he quotes someone else affirming Obama in regards to reproduction rather than affirming the Republican position. He jokes about Jesus preferring Tina Fey over Sarah Palin and the “honesty” of Marilyn Manson  over the “pitiful” Bill O’Reilly.

His views on giving to the poor and the suggestion that Jesus would condone smoking, also sound more in line with the left than the right. And in this post from the same period, Timothy writes of how he previously would write posts on atheist discussion threads, but how he now sees such posts as not being able to see beyond the Christian world-view. Its perhaps illuminating that in that post about Christians verses atheists, he only criticises the Christians. In fact one of his blogs is named The Evolution of God – a name that many would interpret as one suited to someone of a liberal persuasion. Then in facebook posts in mid 2012 (displayed here) someone who very much appears to be him, even embraces the word ‘bigot’ in this context – a term common amongst gay activists, but very rare amongst conservative Christians. Christians who carefully seek to follow the Bible, tend not to use the term ‘bigot’ in regards to attitudes to homosexuality, even if they are very gay-accepting themselves. This is because they recognise that those who do believe the Bible to teach that homosexual sex is sinful, are simply taking their Bible at face-value and are generally well respected within Christendom for their beliefs overall, meaning that the term ‘bigot’ seems unnecessarily disrespectful towards them.

Clues to his perspective on sexuality and gender arise from a post in his blog where he responded to a video that claims churches, their congregations and their decor are too feminine rather than masculine. His response is to quote Galatians 3:28, implying that gender is irrelevant for Christians. In doing so, he ignores other Bible passages, eg referring husbands and wives, that depict gender distinctions as important. This indicates that he’s ideologically androgynous too.  And if he’s straight, why have I not noticed any mention on his blogs of a girlfriend? He’s apparently 26 years old. If he’s not purely same-sex oriented, is he partially same-sex orientated? Or given his metrosexual approach, was the experiment primarily about him bringing his theology in line with a pre-existing affinity with aspects of gay culture?

At the end of the day, I havent read the book and all I know is what I see online. Yes, if as a child he was brought up in a fundamentalist church, it’s likely he wouldnt have been very gay-friendly. And yes today, he seems to be supportive of homosexuals. But I dont buy the implication that the experiment brought about a dramatic change for him from conservative to liberal. A general move towards liberal values is evident from his blog posts back in 2008.

His blog also reveals that he was aware of the model of immersing yourself into a subculture and then writing a book about it, when he glowingly refers to the book The Unlikely Disciple, which features his old conservative school. His blog makes it quite clear that he sees himself as an author, and in this video he says that writing a book had been his dream since he was 12, so perhaps writing the book was his real motivation for the experiment. IE rather than simply wanting to simply understand homosexuals, maybe he really wanted to write a book and he thought the experiment may be perfect material for it?


Same-sex Marriage Impacts Heterosexuals

graph

In debates about whether same-sex marriage is a good thing for society overall, there are often claims that it brings no negative impact to heterosexuals. Graphs such as the one displayed here circulate around the blogosphere, implying or even stating that same-sex marriage causes no harm and that therefore, there is no reason to object to it. But is that the case?

No. There is evidence, EG from Canada, the UK, and elsewhere, that it impacts others. Even some gay people have indicated that they know that one marriage impacts another.

An advertisement for a forum on sexual ethics in 2013, included a comment that “Growing sexual freedom of women, the influence of gay culture and the internet have changed our sexual mores.” For example, it has been suggested that the increasing visibility of homosexuality in our culture, has led to heterosexual same-sex friends modifying their behaviour, IE being less affectionate compared with previous generations, and to increased experimentation in alternatives such as polyamory.

Increasingly, same-sex relationships mean raising children. Some have chosen to equate legal same-sex marriage with a moral standing that it’s no different to heterosexual marriage, including the notion that homosexual parenting is equally legitimate to natural parenting. Whether children fare worse under same-sex parents, has been a matter of uncertainty and debate. The negatives of having same-sex parents may not be huge, but some paediatricians and scientists have expressed concern. It does tend to mean missing out on the parenting of one of the genders, which of course is not an optimal situation, as even some gay people have agreed (EG1, EG2, EG2b, EG3, EG4). Additionally, because homosexual relationships on average do not last as long as heterosexual relationships, the homosexual families are less stable, on average, for children. Experts advise that stability is of huge importance to optimal child development. And there can be even more problems for the children, especially for the poor, that are not at first apparent.

Experience has shown that anti-discrimination policy for homosexuality does marginalise and discriminate against conservative Christians, IE various cases of loss of employment (EG2, EG3, EG4, EG5), demotion, reduction in parenting rights, reduction in rights to become parents, loss of premises (eg 2 https://www.toddstarnes.com/show/militant-lgbt-group-wants-to-run-texas-mega-church-out-of-town/) loss of rights in business autonomy (see also here) in autonomy of the use of church facilities, of fines, suspensions, arrests, tax penalties, denial of service, attempts to censor the Christian voice from the mainstream news media, and law suits (EG2) sometimes forcing (ref. 2) Christians to support it (https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/dutch-reformed-churchs-decision-not-to-recognise-same-sex-unions-overturned-19728977). Christian families also loose out. The social changes can result in the bullying of Christian children. In Ontario, Bill 13 requires Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs and ironically prohibits public schools from being rented to groups that ‘discriminate’. Christian parents come to feel that they need to remove their children from public schools in order to safeguard them from the resulting mandated same-sex indoctrination that contradicts their religion. The graph shown here was obviously satirical to an extent, but satire has become reality in terms of the light green part of the graph index, as there are now pushes for schools to teach “safe sex” for those how engage in gay sex. In this new educational environment where gay is deemed to be perfectly okay, there are claims of chaplains being muzzled, and of attempts to ban or obstruct Christians from entering the teaching profession. And there have been claims that Christian adolescents will be deterred from entering a range of other professions too. There are also real fears of erosion of first amendment rights for US Christians and of Orwellian restrictions to the press in Italy. Other religions have been affected also, as have third parties and innocent bystanders (EG). And at the forefront of societal change, even a position of neutrality on the morality of homosexuality, is not accepted – rather, affirmation is a requirement (EG).

Some gay activists have worked very hard and raised a lot of money to get their way, and to block Christian viewpoints.

It’s also been suggested that same-sex ‘marriage’ will be a financial impact on heterosexuals. On the one hand it’s said that the purchasing of gifts and travel etc that comes with gay marriages will boost the economy for everyone (although others have cast doubt on this suggestion). But on the other hand, married couples receive tax benefits, so that additional money has to come from somewhere, and logically means increased taxes for everyone.

Gessen

And there’s the question of whether redefining marriage to avoid discrimination means that naturally reproductive marriages will be deprioritized and eventually marriage will be defined to avoid discrimination against other types of sexual relationships, eg polygamy, pederasty gay incest between siblings and various other types of sexual partners that are currently considered taboo. Indeed, public approval of same-sex marriage, has increased alongside increased approval and practise (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160623-polyamorous-relationships-may-be-the-future-of-love) for some of these. Because according to contemporary secular morality, discrimination is a bad thing, right? 3-way relationships are uncommon but far from unheard of in the gay community (EG1, EG2, EG3, EG4, EG5), as is the case in the straight community (EG1, EG2). The left wing have often dismissed this prediction of a creeping scope of ‘equality’, as being unrealistic fear mongering. But some of the left have more recently admitted that the “slippery slope” prediction is not entirely unlikely, with even some of the more ridiculous (EG2, EG3, EG4, EG5, EG6, EG7, EG8, EG9, EG10, EG11, EG12, https://metro.co.uk/2013/11/13/richard-torres-man-marries-tree-in-argentina-4185028/) models of alternate marriage models actually coming to pass including multiple partner gay (EG2) marriages, and even a mother acting as a surrogate for her gay son. Some have even said it’s an avalanche rather than a slippery slope. Despite even liberals pointing out negative impacts of legal polygamy, it’s apparently increasingly accepted and there has been at least one legal step taken towards acceptance of it in the US in recent years. There are indications here and there around the world of pressures to legally accept polygamy, as accepted in dozens of countries already. Sometimes polyamory-advocates are piggybacking on the back of the movement for gay marriage (EG) even in quazi-Christian circles (EG). The degree to which same-sex marriage will lead to broader acceptance of polygamous marriage is unclear and may not be clear for generations to come. But if the happiness and freedom of the individual is society’s top goal, it makes sense that polygamy is permitted, along with other icky things (EG2, EG3, EG4, EG5) that are sometimes undertaken by largely nice people, but which are usually hidden away and frowned upon.

Yes, same-sex marriage has been legal in some countries for some years, but Im told that citizens of those countries still distinguish between heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage, often referring to the latter as “gay marriage”. However it has been suggested that for future generations, perhaps that distinction will fade away, and both types of marriage will be thought of the same way, just as “marriage”? Washington State has looked into de-emphasising the distinction, by removing the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ from marriage certificates to make them gender-neutral. In Canada, at least one school system has similarly changed the forms they use to replace the fields previously named ‘mother’ and ‘father’ with ‘parent’. What will this new world of marriage be like? I have a few thoughts on that…

Lets say that Gary & Gareth are a married gay couple. Next door live Simon and Simmone, a married straight couple. Gary and Simon are good friends – they grew up together, went to the same schools, and still catch up regularly at the local pub.

Simon is entirely straight, and Gary is entirely gay, but they share similar thoughts on politics and have similar interests, and their friendship is strong. Simmone is proud of her husband for his open-minded perspective towards gay people. Being a fairly typical male gay couple, Gary & Gareth have an “open” relationship, ie they have a policy of restricted non-monogamy. The policy in their case, is that either partner can have sex with others, so long as they use protection against STIs, so long as the sex does not take place in their own home, and so long as they dont stay the night with the third party. Simon generally isnt interested in his neighbour Gary’s sex life, but sometimes, when there is a lull in the conversation, Gary mentions to Simon of a recent sexual exploit, especially if it is with someone who Simon knows and may have assumed was entirely straight.

Simon listens to the stories of gay sexual escapades with a level of disinterest, and with one eye on a barmaid named Desire. Simon finds the barmaid very attractive, but he also truly loves his wife Simmone, and wouldnt want to jeopardise his marriage. He knows that Simmone has a jealous tendency and that cheating on her would be problematic. However, one night after a few beers, the barmaid corners Simon on his way to the bathroom. She tells him that she knows he steals glances at her, and that she also finds him attractive. Simon pauses like a stunned rabbit, and the barmaid pulls him into the small bathroom with her. Simon knows what is coming, and has to make a quick decision; fidelity or infidelity. He feels very tempted, and thinks to himself that if an open relationship works for Gary’s marriage, there is no reason it cant work for his too. Simon later proposes an open relationship to Simmone, saying that if it works for the neighbours, and married gay celebrities, it could work for them also. She secretly hates the idea, but she’s going through a stressful period at work and has also recently been arguing with her best friend. She feels like various relationships in her life are already stretched, and she would rather compromise than loose Simon, so she reluctantly agrees. Simmone grows increasingly resentful though and an emotional distance opens up between them as Simon in turn begins to feel rejected by Simmone. Ultimately they separate and divorce.

Facebook screenshot

The story above seeks to illustrate that bringing homosexual relationships into the definition of ‘marriage’ is not just about bringing different sexualities under the same title of official relationship. It’s also about bringing different models of relationship under that title. Whereas marriage tends to mean monogamy for heterosexual couples, it tends to not mean that for male homosexual couples. By both forms of relationship having the same title, the distinction between monogamy and non-monogamy is reduced. Others have commented similarly (EG2) with one academic writing that when gay couples marry they “adopt a range of nontraditional norms and practices that, in effect, destabilize the traditional marital form“. The Pope too has said that including same-sex couples in the definition of marriage, has a destabilising effect for heterosexual marriage. Even non-religious people have said that same-sex marriage impinges on the sanctity of marriage. In response to such comments, an advert for gay man and sex advice columnist Dan Savage (the advert was presumably written by him) has stated on the topic of monogamy “If we really want to protect the sanctity of marriage, we need to make it our playground, not our prison.” Where is the sanctity in that? If these non-monogamous couples raise heterosexual children, will the modelling of non-monogamy be adopted by those children, and lead to increases in family breakdown in future generations, with the economic and social problems that arise from single-parent families?

Additionally, churches can be impacted. For example, although the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that gay marriage is not a human right, it’s reported that in Denmark, all churches must conduct same-sex marriages, and there are indications of intrusions into freedoms for US church groups too.

sign

It’s now over ten years since same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. And contrary to what some say, it has had an impact (EG). A poll found that 60% of people said the Massachusetts change had no impact on their lives, 25% said it had a positive impact, and 15% said it had produced a negative impact on their lives. A 2015 report found that 31% of South Carolinians said that the legalization of gay marriage had a negative effect on their lives. Which raises the question – do the positive impacts outweigh the negatives, or vice versa? And if same-sex marriage has an effect of increasing the incidence of infidelity, would the cause be apparent to the average person? And what of the claims of negative impact when gay marriage has been legalised in other countries?

The ultimate form of impact is perhaps death, and now we do seem to have a example of this too. For at least one straight guy, the legalisation of gay marriage was thought to be a driving force to his own suicide in 2013.

It would be nice if the actions of one group of people had no impact on another. But the idea that gay marriage does not impact heterosexuals is a myth.


Anti-bullying Leader Engages in Bullying Again

One of the best known efforts to support young gay people who are feeling down, is the It’s Gets Better Project, run by Dan Savage. It seeks to encourage young GLBTQ* who are feeling oppressed, bullied or without much hope.

But the organiser himself engages in bullying. In April 2012 he offended high school students in Seattle with impolite public statements. He criticised their religion, but in a disrespectful way, and then he followed this up with a mean statement about the group personally. Details here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2136502/Dan-Savage-blasts-Christian-teens-walked-lecture-criticised-bullsh-t-Bible.html?ito=feeds-newsxml . Apparently he later apologised in writing.

But it’s not the first occasion or last of his bullying. The recent bullying follows an nasty campaign from many years earlier, towards a politician he didnt like; Rick Santorum, as detailed here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017153741_santorum04m.html and much worse, as detailed in the following video. And his unkind approach has continued subsequently, eg calling people pathetic and expressing hope that Sarah Palin develops cancer, and then more recently, this.

Interestingly, there are claims that GLBT people have suffered from his actions too.

And of course bad behaviour is not limited to one individual. Sadly, it comes from a variety of individuals and in a variety of forms, eg theft and defacement, vandalismviolence, physical intimidationbeatings, bashingsonline bullying, hacking, intimidation, persecutionharassment, spittingdeath threats and even killing. Politicians and even a media tycoon have lamented this. Perhaps even arising as bullying by way of legal actions. It’s also sad when it’s Christians calling for tolerance, who end up engaging in bad behaviour.

The political debate over homosexuality and same-sex marriage, also has elements of nastiness. Sometimes it’s major players in the debate who let fly. And the same happens outside the USA. In May, one of the Australia’s key proponents of same-sex marriage sought to promote the labelling of one of his political opponents, Lyle Shelton as “vilelyle“.