Cultural Christians and Bigotry in Tennessee

Cultural Christians Lie in TennesseeLast Wednesday, the Tennessee House voted 68-22 for a bill that would allow mental health professionals to refuse to treat patients on the grounds of the counselors’ religious beliefs. It’s just another “hate the fags” law and a big sign that on this issue at least, the cultural Christians are not only losing, they are terrified. This vote reminds me of the comment from yesterday’s anniversary post where an explicitly racist judge ranted from the bench.

Let’s think about this for a moment. This law is designed to make it harder for LGBT people to get counseling services. In what way is this Christian? In the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t have a problem going around and ministering to anyone at all. But apparently, these Christian counselors have to be protected from the rules of their profession, the American Counseling Association, that they can’t tell LGBT people that they are wrong or sinful. You have to ask: why didn’t such counselors go into the church instead?

Two days before the House voted on its ridiculous bill, the Tennessee Senate voted on an even more ridiculous bill, SB1108, which “designates the Holy Bible as the official state book.”

Think of a lawyer who is defending a murderer. I would assume that the lawyer would be against murder; pretty much everyone is; the truth is that the vast majority of murderers are against murder. But the purpose of the lawyer is not to judge the murderer but to provide them legal services as dictated by the ABA. Yet where are the laws being passed to protect Christian defense attorneys from having to defend people who have sinned in God’s eyes? I’ve never heard of any such thing, and I have no doubt that such a law would go down in flames in the Tennessee House.

Cultural Christians and Bigotry

So this really isn’t about Christianity. This is just about attacking one minority group that a certain section of cultural Christians have decided is more important than everything else. And shame on them for using the cover of their religious freedom to justify it. These are not just bad Christians and bad Americans, these are anti-Christians and anti-Americans. These are people for whom their bigotry is more important than both their religion and their country.

Meanwhile, we had the Catholic Church release, The Joy of Love. And yes, it isn’t radical. I actually get rather cross at people who think that the Catholic Church is suddenly going to accept same sex marriage or allow priests to marry. But the document is about acceptance. And based upon where the document started two years ago, we know that Francis himself would like to go a good deal further on these matters. But my point is that even the sclerotic Catholic Church is trying to reach out, but these American cultural Christians just want to segregate.

Two days before the House voted on its ridiculous bill, the Tennessee Senate voted on an even more ridiculous bill, SB1108, which “designates the Holy Bible as the official state book.” The House approved the same thing last year by a vote of 55-38. The Senate passed SB1108 by a vote of 16-8.

I’d like to say that it is obviously unconstitutional, but it is hard to say anything is obvious in the federal courts anymore. But most opponents are making that argument. Happily, some Christians are making the argument that making the Bible the state book “trivializes something they hold sacred.” Yes! If you actually care about your religion, you treat your holy texts as something more than a cultural symbol of how “everyone ’round here believes it!”

The world of religion is wild and wacky. And I’m always interested to hear what serious people think about religion. But what I come upon in this country is mostly a bunch of people who believe it because it is in that book that their parents told them was the truth. Cultural Christians have absolutely nothing to add to any theological discussion. They use their religion as a cultural signifier to tell the world that they are the right kind of people and the rest of us aren’t.

15 thoughts on “Cultural Christians and Bigotry in Tennessee

  1. Well, while I’d say any doctor who refuses to treat people based on their sexuality is scum, I’m not sure I’d want someone like that as my therapist anyway. A therapist who is always mentally judging their patient can’t help but let that bias affect their advice.

    Also, which Bible is being established as the official book of the state? There are a number of different versions. For instance, what if a Catholic judge insists witnesses swear on a Catholic Bible, which includes several books not in the Protestant version? These Christian supremacists never think about what happens after they win- the factions that were previously allies would immediately turn on each other and try to get their own versions made official.

    • I agree regarding the counselor. But that’s the patient’s choice, not the therapist’s. This is settled law. Of course, I could go on and on about therapists. I think it is mostly a scam. Generally, I think behaviorists are good because they deal with concrete things. Others just tend to waste people’s money for years on end. But that’s a very big issue.

      I wrote about the issue of translations before. As I recall, when Louisiana was doing this, they wanted the King James Version. That spoke volumes to me about how it was all about culture. The New American Standard Version is generally seen as one of the closest to the original Greek and Hebrew. The Catholics don’t have their own Bible. Traditionally, however, most used the Douay–Rheims Bible — which is a translation from Latin. Of course, since there isn’t a complete original Bible, it’s all a mess. And some Christian faiths include some books that others don’t. So you are quite right: which Bible?! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend, Misquoting Jesus. It isn’t just informative; it’s a really fun read.

      But this gets to the bottom of all this. They don’t care about the translation, because they don’t care about the book. It’s a symbol. I love Don Quixote but I would never say that California should make it the state book because it was written in and old Spanish that even modern speakers have a hard time with. With the Bible, we are talking about a book originally written in at least three languages that almost no one reads.

      That’s a great clip. Although I think Welles did Clarence Darrow better:

      • I’d rather not refer to the character as “Clarence Darrow.” It’s a fictionalized version of the story that’s questionable on historicity.

        • Now see: I thought I should maybe mention that. But I thought, “No. Don’t be pedantic!” But you are right: Spencer Tracy doesn’t try to be Darrow (although Fredric March does try to do Bryan). But it was mostly just an excuse to embed the video, which is 10 riveting minutes of acting.

          • It is Welles being great. I kinda want to watch the movie, now. And E.G. Marshall looks to be the prosecutor, he was so terrific in “12 Angry Men.”

          • Oh, it was a great watch. I’ve never seen Compulsion, but now I kind of want to.

            As for ITW, there were a lot of simplifications made. Bryan had read Darwin, for instance. Also, to some extent the Scopes trial was a publicity stunt.

            • Compulsion is about the whole thing so Welles doesn’t show up until halfway through the film. And the whole thing is a bit much. But still a good film.

  2. The effects of the law are likely to be more symbolic than practical. The sorts of people who go in for counselling, even the more conservative ones, are typically not the sorts of people who would refuse to help a gay person in trouble. They tend to be nice, decent people.

    You know what will happen when there is a constitutional challenge, right? The law will not past muster in the very first court; it won’t have to go federal. And then the homo-haters will treat us to another round of nonsense about how they’re oppressed.

    Some homo-haters, probably the majority, are mainly passive in their beliefs, and ignorant. I dislike their attitudes but not them necessarily. The active homo-haters, who vote for laws like this one: well, I think I actually hate them. It’s upsetting.

    • I imagine it was basically one or two counselors at most — if that many — who were screaming bloody murder about how their licensing requirements oppressed their beliefs.

      Interestingly, as far as I can tell, it’s only psychologists who are licensed by the state they practice in. Psychiatrists are apparently licensed by a national board. And (again I could be wrong, I only looked for a little bit) while psychologists can practice therapy they cannot prescribe medication. In fact, one does not need to see a mental health professional of any kind to be prescribed anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs. You can get that prescription from your regular doctor. So happily I doubt this law will have any negative effect on the good citizens of Tennessee (alas, it will make the bad ones feel all puffed-up and mighty.)

      I think you’re basically right about most consciously prejudiced people (naturally almost all of us have unconscious prejudices!) — they are ignorant about the “other” they dislike but do not wish to see them treated unfairly under the law.

    • I have come to believe that pure racism is a lesser crime than the political use of that racism. Most racism is based on ignorance, anger, and fear. It’s real for the people. We should do what we can to fight it. But the demagogues are unforgivable.

  3. This kind of thing is super depressing.
    There is no reason to be this way outside someone thinks what they feel is bad and wants to punish others for not feeling the same way based on a misunderstanding of a poorly translated book.

    That is why time and again we see these pastors getting caught doing things they know are wrong (cheating on their spouse) or assume are wrong (having a gay relationship.)

    • Consider that the Christian church existed for a couple hundred years before they even settled on what the Bible was. A church really is the people. Once people are fighting over the texts, the vitality of the religion is gone. At least it is in my opinion. This is why I generally like New Age sorts of people because they are open to new ideas. Usually, they are too open to new ideas. But it’s much better than the opposite.

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