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Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'
Conservative Christians say their churches have been unprepared for cultural shifts on same-sex marriage.
June 28th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.

Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.

But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.

An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.

“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed, and filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers. The ACLU also sued on behalf of the customer, Robert Ingersoll, who has said Stutzman’s refusal “really hurt, because it was someone I knew.”

Among conservative Christians, Stutzman has become a byword - part cautionary tale and part cause celebre.

Websites call her a freedom fighter. Tributes fill Arlene’s Facebook page. Donations to her legal defense fund pour in from as far away as Texas and Arkansas.

“For some reason, her case has made a lot of people of faith worry,” said Stutzman’s lawyer, Dale Schowengerdt of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.

Those anxieties have only increased, conservative Christians say, since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door to gay marriage in California.

Taking a line from Justice Antonin Scalia's sharp dissent, Southern Baptist scholar Albert Mohler said it’s only a matter of time "before the other shoe drops" – and the high court legalizes same-sex marriage from coast to coast.

“Christians will have to think hard — and fast — about these issues and our proper response,” Mohler wrote on Wednesday.

“We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.”

His fellow Southern Baptist Russell Moore put the matter more succinctly.

“Same-sex marriage is coming to your community.”

`The debate is over'

Well before the Supreme Court’s rulings, many conservative Christians said they saw the writing - or the poll numbers - on the wall.

Survey after survey shows increasing support for same-sex marriage, especially among young Americans. That includes many religious believers.

Most Catholics and mainline Protestants, not to mention many Jews, support same-sex relationships, according to surveys. The bells of Washington National Cathedral pealed in celebration on Thursday.

Even among those who oppose gay marriage, many think it’s a losing battle.

Seventy percent of white evangelicals believe that legal recognition for gay nuptials is inevitable, according to a June poll by the Pew Research Center, though just 22 percent favor it.

“The gay marriage debate is over,” said Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical writer on faith and culture. “Statistically, all the numbers move in one direction.”

Young Christians have grown up in a far more diverse culture than their forebears, Merritt noted, and many have befriended gays and lesbians.

Pew found that more than 90 percent of Americans overall personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, a 30 percent increase since 1993.

“It’s far easier to wage war against an agenda than it is to battle a friend,” Merritt said.

At the same time, many conservative young Christians say they’re weary of the culture wars, and of seeing their communities labeled “judgmental.”

When Christian researchers at the Barna Group asked Americans aged 16-29 what words best describe Christianity, the top response was “anti-homosexual.” That was true of more than 90 percent of non-Christians and 80 percent of churchgoers, according to Barna.

Tired of being told the country is slouching toward Gomorrah, many young Christians have simply tuned out the angry prophets of earlier generations, evangelical leaders say.

“The shrill angry voices of retrenchment are no longer getting a broad hearing either in the culture at large or in the evangelical community,” Merritt said.

But the battle over same-sex marriage is far from over, said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“I don’t believe most Christians are going to give up the fight,” said Brown, who is Catholic. He said his movement includes many young evangelical and Orthodox Christians.

“And they are more energized than ever.”

Love thy gay neighbors

Energized or not, conservative Christians must prepare for the moral dilemmas posed by the country’s growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, said Moore, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Is Your Church Ready for the Marriage Revolution?” Moore asked, while promoting a special session on homosexuality at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Houston in June.

Many evangelical pastors have seen homosexuality as a distant culture-war battle that’s fought far from the doors of the churches, Moore said.

Now, it’s as close as their front pews.

“I think it’s not so much that churches haven’t wanted to talk about it,” he said, “but they haven’t recognized how much the culture has changed around them.”

The first step, said Moore, is learning to defend traditional marriage without demonizing gays and lesbians.

Walking through Washington’s Union Station last Thursday, Moore said he saw several lesbian couples kissing in celebration of the Supreme Court rulings.

“If we can’t empathize with what’s going on in their hearts and minds, we’re not going to be able to love and respect them.”

Then come a host of secondary questions: How should conservative pastors minister to same-sex couples? Should Christians attend same-sex weddings? Should florists like Barronelle Stutzman's agree to work with gay couples?

`Don't give in' 

Florist Barronelle Stutzman.

In the 17 years she’s owned Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman said, she’s worked with a number of gay colleagues.

“It really didn’t matter if they were gay, or blue or green, if they were creative and could do the job,” she said.

Stutzman suspects that some of her eight children privately don’t agree with her on homosexuality, even as they publicly support her decision.

Online, Stutzman has been called a bigot, and worse.

She said she’s lost at least two weddings because of her refusal to provide services for the same-sex marriage.

Conservative activists say her case is the first of what will surely be many more, as gay marriage spreads across the country.

As she gets ready to face a judge, the silver-haired florist offered some advice for fellow evangelicals.

“Don’t give in. If you have to go down for Christ, what better person to go down for?”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Discrimination • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (5,210 Responses)
  1. sevensins

    Which will be immediately followed by a divorce revolution.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • icarus

      How about a dance dance revolution? That sounds way more fun.

      Like I've said, framing this as a "marriage revolution" makes it sound way more interesting than it is. Meaningful, important, yeah. But revolution? Most of our marriages and relationships just don't party that hard. Mine included (and for that I am thankful).

      June 30, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Linda

      Icarus I love your dance revolution idea. 😀

      June 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  2. bostontola

    Devin,
    Laying aside all cynicism and snide remarks, from both sides, does it not strike you as non-normal to have an emotional relationship with someone you've never seen, smelled, heard, or touched?

    June 30, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • bostontola

      Meant as a reply.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      It's pretty easy to believe in something if you want to believe. Most Christians can't comprehend a universe without a prime mover, they reason it had to be designed by someone or something. However, that is as far as their reasoning skills allow, for as soon as they posit that it's their God who designed it all they stop wondering "Well were did this amazingly complex God come from? Wouldn't logic dictate that if you used it to reach your first conclusion of the universe being "designed" then you must continue using it on your next hypothesis? Not so for Christians, they just stop there and say "God is a mystery" when there are any holes in their logic. They would never stop at "The universe is a mystery" that we must continue to explore for more answers, no they have to jump to the conclusion that they know what the universe is and why and who made it, and not only that but they know better than the other billions of people who worship other Gods and are convinced that they were so special and lucky as to have been born in the right place to parents that worshiped the right God.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Linda

      Yes, yes it does..draw your own conclusions about me I'm just answering your question.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  3. bostontola

    Religious conservatives are going to feel more and more isolated and marginalized in the next 25 years. The voting population is moving towards minority rights they consider sinful. The Supreme Court has just demonstrated that they won't block this political direction, in fact they will clear the way.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  4. devin

    A question to my gay friends out there: Laying aside all cynicism and snide remarks, from both sides, does it not strike you as non-normal to have a physical and emotional relationship with someone of the same gender? Does it ever cross your mind? I ask this in all sincerity.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • H ate is NOT C hristian

      A question to my straight friends out there: Laying aside all cynicism and snide remarks, from both sides, does it not strike you as non-normal to have a physical and emotional relationship with someone of the opposite gender? Does it ever cross your mind? I ask this in all sincerity.

      Well your answer was probably the same as mine.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • icarus

      For me, there were phases. First I assumed I was straight, because practically everyone I knew was. Gay was kind of this theoretical thing that happened out there to some people. Then I went through the phase where I was clearly attracted to men but kept telling myself, "I'm sure it's just a phase. I think about men because that's the part of the se xual experience I can relate to." Then, one summer in college, we had a temporary roommate who moved in, and suddenly everything this guy had to say was -so- fascinating! That's when it hit me that I didn't like the guy, I had a crush on the guy. Know what my first thought was? "Crap, I'm gay! Now I can never live anywhere but on one of the coasts!" Then there was the whole, sure I'm gay, but it doesn't define me. I'd totally be straight if I could, phase. Now, it's just there. I don't regret it or wish it away anymore. Truthfully, I think having to wrestle with it has made me a better person overall, and that gives me a sense of earned pride. Then there was meeting the guy I love, which I won't bore you with.

      So the short answer is, at some point you just have to accept who you are, because at the end of the day, if we don't live in a universe where God can accept honest mistakes, I was probably doomed anyway.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Doesn't it strike you as odd that you would care? Doesn't it strike you odd that what you can't comprehend has anything to do with you in the first place?
      There is a physiological difference in the male and female brains, much as there is with their bodies. Sometimes a female brain will be in a male body or vice-versa.
      I am straight so I do not understand the point of view of a h0m0$exual any more than I could understand the attraction that women feel towards men, or other women...I simply do not have that perspective. It doesn't change the fact that they are attracted to whomever they are attracted to. The only perspective I have is as a hetero$exual male, so that is the only perspective I understand. It does not change or invalidate others perspectives.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • logan5

      A valid yet ignorant question.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Saraswati

      More people have same-se.x relationships than IQs over 150, so which is more normal? Of which should you disapprove more?

      June 30, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Nicely stated, Richard, and that also helps us understand how bigotry can take hold in a person who does not or cannot "switch perspective" for the sake of the argument. It's easy to assume that you are correct because you have reasoned it to be, and it's an easy thing to condemn others for not reasoning as we do or seeing our perspective as "correct."

      June 30, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • PeaceMan

      Relax, CNN Message Board internet patrol team... it looks like just a honest question.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • devin

      Logan

      Valid and yet ignorant. Interesting, but is that not an oxymoron?

      June 30, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • devin

      Icarus

      Interesting. I appreciate the civil tone.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • icarus

      I think the reverse question is actually a fair one, Devin. Do you ever doubt that you may be wrong? That your God may not exist, or that He is utterly different than you conceive Him to be?

      The universe of doubt is the one I live in. Not a reflexive, whiny doubt, but one that celebrates that there are some puzzles we just don't get to solve in this life. And I personally believe that it is precisely the absence of certainty that doubt provides that allows for a genuine faith to grow. I suspect you see the universe in more stark, true vs. untrue terms.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Mixo Lydian

      Icarus, your thoughtful and candid replies have truly contributed to this discussion. This, a shout-out from a straight ally who totally gets what you're saying. (BTW that tea cozies comment was hilarious!)

      June 30, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • devin

      Icarus

      My internet friend, if you only knew. I have been a Christian for 35 years and there have been more than a few times in the past when I have heard the sirens call of agnosticism. Truth be known, if it were not for the Christian narrative, I would be there. I am by nature a very cynical, skeptical individual when it comes to issues of metaphysics, epistemology, theology, philosophy etc.. I too find this tension between faith and doubt to be fascinating and in some strange way, life giving.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • icarus

      Thanks Mixo, that was nice of you.

      Devin, I find myself curious what about the Christian narrative you find so compelling. I won't ask because that would be a total derail, but at some point, perhaps on another thread, I would love to have that conversation because I think it is that deeper exploration of faith and our values that will get us beyond freaking out about gay marriage (which I think is mostly drummed up for political purposes anyway) and into a culture that is genuinely in touch with what it believes.

      I grew up Christian, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. There was a lot of back-patting about the moral superiority of Christians without any real consideration of why. There's still a lot I draw on from that tradition though. It's a part of me too.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • devin

      Icarus

      Well I will just tell you knowing that that likely hood of us hooking up ( thought I'd inject a little s e x ua l humor there) on another thread is remote.

      If I had to narrow it down to one reason that I find the Christian faith compelling, it would be this notion of sin. As I view the world, there are very few instances in which sin and its consequences are not present. The fact that it has infected everybody and everything is a reality I just can't escape, and believe me when I say I've tried. I was driving home this morning and saw a dead deer on the road and thought to myself, " something is not right here, this should not be". I work in the medical field and my daily environment revolves around pain and death and again I think " this should not be". These are just two of infinite examples of this dynamic of sin operating in the world. But what I find most intriguing, is the presence of sin in my own mind. Most people who know me would say I'm a pretty good egg, I love my wife, been faithful to her for 20 + years, I have good kids, one of whom is a special needs orphan, I love animals, yadayadayada. Problem is, this is not who I really am. Basically, I'm a liar, adu lterer, hater, conniver, or pretty much any other kind of d ev ia nt you can think of. I know who I am in my mind. This is what I fi nd so intriguing about christianity, it paints a realistic picture of the human condition, both outwardly and inwardly, and at the same time provides the most feasible and pragmatic solutions.

      I fully understand how you can become disillusioned growing up in church, I had a very similar experience. Ultimately though, the failure of human beings to apply their faith consistently does not determine the truthfulness of the message of Jesus Christ.

      June 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  5. icarus

    Not that I agree with anything she is doing, but I feel like ending on that quote was a little unfair to this lady. Er, no offense, Daniel Burke who is clearly reading this comment thread.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • caralee2010

      I thought the same thing. Daniel Burke – really, you need to change the end of the article. Don't let a naive senior citizen say something that has a double meaning like that, and then make it the last thing people read.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • G to the T

      Awww... that's my FAVORITE part. It just highlights how naive she must be about the world outside her little flower shop... honestly, if not for that statement, I'd probably just think she was a bigot. Now I'm pretty sure she's just ignorant. And ignorance should be pitied, not vililfied.

      July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  6. H ate is NOT C hristian

    Defy the SCOTUS and you defy G od.

    Romans 13:1-7

    June 30, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • lol??

      Peter is still on the Most Wanted list for jail breakin'.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  7. lol??

    For those who think God made the gays, don't worry about it. It's the gays the gubmint is making with their biological and chemical warfare weapons that should concern you.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • icarus

      Are you satire?

      (It's impossible to type that without sounding snarky, but no snark is intended.)

      June 30, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Candiano

      Lol?? is dead serious. This is truly what s/he believes.

      Gays are no threat to you, lol??. Your hatred of this country and its inhabitants is consuming you. Iran beckons.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  8. CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

    This is Daniel Burke, the Belief Blog co-editor.

    Thanks to all of the commenters engaging in lively but respectful debate. Many of you have raised important points that will figure into our future coverage of gay rights and conservative Christianity.

    Some of you are posting crude and vile personal attacks, however.

    As I said yesterday, comments of those types are not welcome on this blog and will be deleted. Same goes for off-topic comments and trolling. They're a snap to delete, so I'd suggest you find better ways to spend your time.

    We aim to make the Belief Blog a place for important debates about religion, but we can't do that without you. Please do your part by remaining respectful of your fellow humans.

    Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
    Daniel Burke

    June 30, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Mike

      You respect us and we will respect you

      June 30, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Candiano

      Can you stop the poster from stealing user names in the first place? Deleting them isn't the answer. Preventing them in the first place is.
      Good luck, Mr. Burke. It hasn't happened yet.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Really-O?

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

      Good morning Daniel:

      I'm a bit concerned by the degree of restriction on post form and content you seem to be implementing. As I'm sure you know, meaningful debate is often not "pretty" and sometimes not respectful. Certainly "crude and vile personal attacks" can and should be avoided, but it is sometimes necessary to "call a spade a spade". Identifying bigotry, for example, may not be warm and fuzzy, or respectful, but it is certainly necessary. I hope your attempt to foster civility does not result in this forum becoming tepid and inane.

      Cheers

      June 30, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Am I the only one who wants independent verification that the poster is who he says he is? Perhaps a new post on the Belief Blog addressing this issue?

      I am who I say I am. As proof, only blog admins can jump into individual comments like this.

      Thanks,
      Daniel Burke

      June 30, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • PeaceMan

      A lot of people are just posting personal bigotry. And not just the religious side. We've got some of examples of atheists showing they too can be just as bigotted as this woman they profess to be better than.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Alias

      nice speach, but you are ding a really lousy job if editing out the hate and trolls.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Mixo Lydian

      Secular Humanist from Ohio, the gray [CNN] icon next to the poster's name is proof enough for me that he's official. I don't see that on anyone else's post. Even if it weren't the actual author of the story, that wouldn't take away from the point of the post: that trolling and personal attacks should be avoided by those seeking a meaningful discussion.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Secular Humanist from Ohio –

      On page 4 (June 29, 2013 at 11:30 am), Daniel Burke demonstrated that he is one of this blogs moderators.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Ok Fine

      If you haven't noticed lol?? is a troll.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      As they say, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." Thank you Daniel.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      The debate doesn't have to be "pretty" but I will insist on respecting other commenters. Personal attacks and profane language will not be tolerated – end of story.

      Offline, we all find civil ways to debate and disagree with other. I see no reason why we should not be held to the same standards online, and I doubt very much it would dim the liveliness of our forum.

      As for trolls, as I said yesterday, point them out to us and we'll take care of it.

      I won't be here 24/7, but I'll be here regularly – mostly because I really care about what you have to say. I'd much rather spend my time responding to thoughtful criticism than policing comments.

      Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

      Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
      Daniel Burke

      June 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • STFU

      "....comments of those types are not welcome on this blog and will be deleted. Same goes for off-topic comments and trolling. They're a snap to delete, so I'd suggest you find better ways to spend your time...."

      stop lying Daniel, I just checked the pages 5 and 6, hateful comments by "ISLAM FOUNDATION......." are still there, unless you accept those trash posts as contribution of Islam to make the CNN Belief Blog a place for important debates about religion.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • lol??

      You expect him to go back?? There's not enuff time for 10 people to clean up all the anti-belief garbage the A&A's have posted.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • PeaceMan

      STFU

      Why call him out for "lying"??? He said he was trying and asked that others point out abuses.

      He can't catch them all. Geez Louise, did you skip breakfast?

      June 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Ok Fine

      So I tried to find out something about you and came up with that you wrote for the Religion News Service for seven years before joining CNN this year, not much really. So the question would be what is your faith if any and how will it influence who and what you edit ? If you are predisposed to the religious side, I can see that being a major problem to your outlook on those that post as anti-theist or atheist or agnostic or deist. You also seem quite sensitive to criticism, hardly appropriate for a moderator.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

        I can say with absolute sincerity that I'm predisposed to neither the religious nor the atheist side.

        And I actually have very thick skin. Witness my reaction to your dismissal of my career as "not much really." 🙂

        You'll find out more about me and my spiritual interests in future posts.

        Meantime, please help me make this forum a place where people can discuss – and argue about – religion, without descending to troglodytism.

        Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
        Daniel Burke

        June 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor – "The debate doesn't have to be "pretty" but I will insist on respecting other commenters"

      Well, Daniel, I then anticipate some of my posts may be deleted as I will not be disingenuous and feign respect in order to please censors. Bigotry is common in this forum and is unworthy of respect. Ethics and standards, as well as common decency, make it imperative not to treat prejudice and bigotry with respect.

      Establishing standards prohibiting profanity (provincial, from my perspective) is one thing; dictating content, by insisting on de rigueur "respect", is insidious censorship. I would expect more from a profession journalist.

      With respect,

      Really-O?

      June 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

        Censorship is something only a government can do to its citizens. We're not preventing you from posting whatever you want wherever else on the Internet you'd like to go. But this forum will not tolerate profanity or personal attacks.

        We're not asking you to feign respect or shower love on your fellow comments. But the offline standards of common decency will apply here. I don't think that's too much to ask.

        Yr hmbl srvnt,
        Daniel Burke

        June 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "I would expect more from a professional journalist."

      Please forgive my carelessness.

      June 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      And yet the " Jake has a good point , llamas need sweaters. My wife's best fiend's mom made $7856. in one month......"

      I report those yet they remain....I can take abuse, I can handle language, I handle somebody destroying my argument...just cant handle scams and thieves.

      June 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Ok Fine

      Really-O?
      Too early to tell whether this Daniel fellow is an objective journalist or not but his training and career to date has been as a religious writer. Daniel just joined as a co-editor on May 9, 2013 and seems to want to be the new sheriff on the blog and clean up the discussion, noble goal but can he do so without prejudice; wait and see I guess. One of the first accomplishments would be getting the troll Atheism is...... off of the blog.

      June 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

        My training has not been as a religious writer. My training has been in writing about religion.

        Huge difference.

        I will be as impartial as possible to comments. My only criteria is that they are made respectfully and without profanity. I'm happy that you see this goal as noble and I welcome your help in attaining it.

        Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
        Daniel Burke

        June 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Ok Fine –

      I think you're spot on with "wait and see". My early impression is that Daniel is sincere and truly wants to make this blog vibrant; however, I don't yet understand how he thinks clamping down on free expression will aid in that goal. This is, after all, a blog – we all know to ignore the likes of "Atheism is..." and the "Hinduism filthy" poster, and we all know what we're getting into by engaging "Chad", but isn't that all part of the process? I'm a bit puzzled that a professional journalist would see expression that some might construe as offensive as a problem in an online forum.

      Oh, well, wait and see.

      Cheers

      June 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Ok Fine

      Thanks for the reply. Just thought you M. A. in religion from Columbia might be a clue, for me anyway, and your seven years of religious writing may influence the objective 5 W's in you stories, if wrong , mea culpa. Will give you the benefit of the doubt, for what it's worth, sincerely hope you do well but will be one of your critics or fans. As I said time will tell.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor – "Censorship is something only a government can do to its citizens."

      Daniel, I believe your understanding of censorship is inaccurate.
      -OED definition of censorship: the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts
      -Wikipedia: Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outletK/b>, or other controlling body. (note: Yes, I understand Wikipedia does not have authority.)

      You have the right to set whatever standards you see fit for this blog, but please don't assert that it is not censorship to remove posts that do not meet those arbitrary standards. It is.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

        No surprise, I disagree with Wikipedia's definition of censorship. And I noticed the only non-governmental, concrete examples they gave of censorship are self-censorship.

        But that's besides the point. Setting standards for this forum is not censorship, since you are free to make the same comments in many other places. The standards here are determined by principle and reason, not arbitrarily. You may not agree with our standards, and that's your perfect right, but on this forum you will be asked to respect them.

        With that, goodbye for now.

        Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
        Daniel Burke

        June 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Sorry for the wonky formatting. Only "media outlet" should have been bold.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Just for clarity –

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor – "Censorship is something only a government can do to its citizens."

      Daniel, I believe your understanding of censorship is inaccurate.
      -OED definition of censorship: the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts
      -Wikipedia: Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body. (note: Yes, I understand Wikipedia does not have authority.)

      You have the right to set whatever standards you see fit for this blog, but please don't assert that it is not censorship to remove posts that do not meet those arbitrary standards. It is.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...ok, I still screwed it up...media outlet.

      By the way, this is actually one of the most interesting threads in which I've engaged on this blog. Thanks, Daniel.

      June 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O,

      I agree the use of "censorship" could be argued to apply, but I think we also in fairness need to consider the definition of arbitrary:

      arbitrary:
      based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system:
      his mealtimes were entirely arbitrary

      (of power or a ruling body) unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority:
      arbitrary rule by King and bishops has been made impossible
      Mathematics (of a constant or other quanti.ty) of unspecified value.

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/arbitrary

      Assuming you want to use OED as your definition source, do you think that random or personal whim would be a fair assessment for such a policy? Unrestrained or autocratic?

      June 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor – "No surprise, I disagree with Wikipedia's definition of censorship."

      Wikipedia is a wonderful starting point; however, we both agreed that, by it's very nature, it has no authority. The OED has authority. So does Encyclopaedia Britannica.

      Encyclopaedia Britannica: Censorship, the changing or the suppression or prohibition of speech or writing that is deemed subversive of the common good. It occurs in all manifestations of authority to some degree, but in modern times it has been of special importance in its relation to government and the rule of law.

      It's OK to be mistaken, Daniel.

      I'm mainly concerned that arbitrary standards will "suck the life" out of this blog. Really, Daniel, if one doesn't like thuggery, don't watch "The Sopranos"...turn the channel. If one is offended by rough speech on the "Belief Blog", either don't participate or move on to other posts or another thread. Seriously, you're a journalist, what is your objective?

      June 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

        "All manifestations of authority to some degree" - that's quite a fuzzy cloud on which to hang your hat, or on which to call someone else "mistaken."

        Again, the standards are not arbitrary, nor will they suck the life out of this forum. I believe they will allow it to thrive, much like weeding a garden.

        I've told you my objective many times: to provide a forum for serious but respectful debates and discussions about religion. As editors of this blog that's our prerogative – and this will apply to all threads on the Belief Blog going forward. You are certainly free to disagree and to "turn the channel" if you like.

        Yr Hmbl Srvnt,
        Daniel Burke

        June 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati –

      "unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority" was my intent when I used the term "arbitrary". "Unrestrained" is a value judgement, autocratic is not, as Mr. Burke has already demonstrated by editing and removing posts in this very thread.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O,

      I still have to disagree with you here. Assuming, for the sake of argument, Daniel is who he says he is (sorry Daniel...I just don't like to assume) what would be arbitrary about having rules of etiquette as we have in many forums of real life? These rules vary greatly from one workplace to the next and one classroom to the next – there are few, if any, universal standards. However, I have not ever worked in a place where it was acceptable to call a coworker an idiot or use gender or race-specific slurs, and I certainly think the workplace better for such policies.

      I have been in classrooms where any and all academic opinions were acceptable. But even in the most agressive of these environments, where pointing out logic flaws was the norm, there were still standards that had to be met. A line was always drawn, albeit in a very different place each time.

      The same goes for social situations in homes or restaurants. Different standards, but still there, and there for a reason.

      Should there be rules in an internet forum? I think there have to be some. For intance, the riduculously long posts that are designed just to make scrolling difficult (rows and rows of ..............., for instance) should not be permitted. The rest seems to me to be up for debate, so long as the actual ideas are not restricted.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Censorship that is sensible, agreed upon, and warranted is still censorship.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, do you have a copy or description of what was deleted?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      With regard to "autocratic", I hardly think we're going to sit back and have a vote on each comment. I certainly didn't when I had my own blog and I feel no guilt about removing irrelevant, offensive and distracting posts. My blog had a higher expectation for discourse, and that certainly would not have been met by leaving irrelevant off topic rants in the middle of a discussion. This is different, but need it then be a free-for-all? What would be your alternative, between not removing anything and "autocratic"?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati –

      I have no doubt Daniel Burke is who he claims. What is arbitrary is not necessarily the standards, but the fact that Mr. Burke can enforce and apply them at his own discretion.

      With regard to your statement, "I have not ever worked in a place where it was acceptable to call a coworker an idiot or use gender or race-specific slurs", of course I agree with you; however my concern is that Mr. Burke's proposed standard would prevent challenging this kind of grossly objectionable behavior simply because the challenge (calling the position bigotry, perhaps), was not "respectful". See where I'm coming form?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...sorry, I forgot to mention the video was posted by @Science.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, I don't know what the plan is for how to implement this and would have to see it in action. On my own blog I removed the post leaving in it's place a brief comment on the reason for removal so that wording could be modified in the future or the poster would know what was or wasn't considered on topic. But I don't know if that's realistic here as this site gets more traffic than I did. Certainly there is a risk, but I don't see it as necessarily greater than the risk of weakened discussion caused by a bunch of distractions and pointless insults. Again, I do see the risk and I wouldn't want to have any post that called someone ignorant or a bigot removed. If I found that happening I would leave and go elsewhere as there are certainly many places to debate.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O,

      Was this posted in such a way that it would reduce traffic to the actual page where the story was located, and did it include text?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'd really have to see the video to have an opinion, though.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – " Again, I do see the risk and...I would leave and go elsewhere as there are certainly many places to debate."

      Clearly you understand my concern.

      Cheers

      June 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – "I'd really have to see the video to have an opinion, though."

      Perhaps @Science will post it again...but you may have to be quick!

      But seriously, the video was not pertinent to this thread's discussion at the time it was posted by @Science, but it certainly was pertinent to this article and discussion...and, if you didn't want to watch it, you weren't compelled to.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      That's a tough one. I would prefer that only relevant posts are in a thread (if that was the issue). Otherwise a thread can become unreadable if filled with mostly long irrelevent material, and it does degrade the reading experience. An irrelevent post is no different to me than an ad or a 10 page on the latest football scandal in the middle of a discussion on the merrits of mediation in Christian practice. Should people be allowed to post *anything* even if the thread is made unreadable? If not, how do you draw the line. Personally I did so by removing all irrelevent posts, and explaining my reasoning. If people want to post off topic, they should find an appropriate place to do so.

      June 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – "I would prefer that only relevant posts are in a thread"

      And who decides what is "relevant"? An "unrestrained authority"?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Science –

      Why don't you post the video in question again so @Saraswati can derive it's relevance?

      June 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "its", not "it's"...I hate that.

      June 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor – "much like weeding a garden"

      Weeds are just plant an for which an individual finds not current use. Do you apply that same standard to ideas?

      June 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...more carelessness...

      Weeds are just plants for which an individual finds not current use. Do you apply that same standard to ideas?

      June 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Science –

      Thanks. We'll see how long it lasts.

      Interesting that the video removed by the moderators was a CNN video on the SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage, posted on a blog article titled, "Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'". I find that interesting...perhaps ominous.

      June 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – "Should people be allowed to post *anything* even if the thread is made unreadable? If not, how do you draw the line."

      Ah, and there's the rub. As I see it, there is no "line", there is a fluid, perpetually, ocean-wide boundary in need of continual attention and defense (I appologize for waxing poetic). Restraint should prevail. I'm becomming concerned that Mr. Burke is one of those who would remove the word "nigger" from "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".

      June 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      And, yet, another error. I hang my head in shame.

      As I see it, there is no "line", there is a fluid, perpetually moving, ocean-wide boundary in need of continual attention and defense

      June 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I don't see the video. If it was embedded could you just post the URL?

      June 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Sorry about that...

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EvzzNcpisLU

      June 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It finallyshowed up. When I watchitonYoutube I see an ad, but not whenIview it here..

      June 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati –

      If you're seeing adverts, you need to start using Google Chrome with AdBlock.

      June 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O,

      My point is that if the embedding process strips the advertising then CNN is losing the money which funds the site.

      June 30, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati –

      Ah...good point. But you're in no way suggesting that @Sciences' video was deleted for that reason, are you?

      June 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati –

      Anyway, in the end, this is all just fun and games. Enjoy what's left of your weekend.

      June 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, Yes, I am suggesting that's a possibility as if I were running a site as a business I would consider anything that stripped ads to be theft. But I have no idea...it may have been flagged by some nut or deemed irrelevent. I'm just guessing here.

      June 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, with regard to who would decide relevance, it's hard but doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Otherwise anyone who wanted to spam the whole site with ads or their own personal unrelated agenda could make it unusable.

      Too hot to enjoy the weekend much...else I wouldn't be posting on the CNN blog. 😦

      June 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Really-O

      Agreed.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorCNN

      I'm the editor of this blog and I'm the only one who can see all the comments in one sweep. If not me, who should enforce the rules? You? The Masons?

      You seem to think I'm putting huge impositions on you by asking people to refrain from profanity and personal attacks. That says a lot more about you than it does about this blog and its editors.

      Why don't you just go back to playing the game and stop arguing with the referee?

      –Daniel Burke

      June 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O,

      Yes, I remember the post. It was the one where you compared him to Chad. It does appear to be gone.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Keep quickly refreshing your screen and you'll see my respectful post vanish into thin air.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I don't think your concerns unreasonable, but I also don't think concerns about lack of moderation are unreasonable. And I guess I'm not as surprised as you about that deletion. I suspect I'm a bit too cynical to find it particularly disturbing yet. For me there are no good solutions, and being able to freely criticize the host isn't my major concern in a belief blog. But I may change my mind. I gave Chad something like 4 months before judgement so I tend to wait longer than many people would feel necessary.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, I wouldn't say that I think Daniel was right, but only that a) I can see a context in which he might beconsidered to be so (CNN as an entertainment venue making money off its image) and b) He might be in the process of learning how to do this job and will learn from his mistakes, whichI think, depending on the intended role he is to play, really rooted further back in an overly familiar engagement with the posters.

      I think it likely that the approach has not yet been worked out and we will see a more consistent approach in the future. If he/CNN does decide that he will be generally getting into the fray and part of the show, then at that point I think he may becommitted to leaving up all posts addressing him. I will not be surprised or particularly upset if this comment disappears.

      June 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Secular,

      "I am also confused about why more posters are not protesting."

      I'd think there are a few reasons:

      1. I've seen a lot of calls for more moderation since I've been reading this site, so I suspect among the people not hit personally, some are glad to see it. A lot of people are used to posting on moderated sites, and while there are often issues, if done well there are also benefits.
      2. I suspect I'm not the only one who is still waiting to see how it turns out.
      3. Many people probably haven't even noticed.
      4. Some people may be afraid if they complain they will suffer moderator retaliation.

      June 30, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Jim

    It's a tough time to be a bigot in America.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  10. John Stefanyszyn

    Conservative Christians may not agree with "gay marriage"...but they do embrace the same way of life...the belief in freedom of self-rights...to serve and magnify one's own interest (XES).

    June 30, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  11. marge

    24. Wherefore God also—in righteous retribution.

    gave them up—This divine abandonment of men is here strikingly traced in three successive stages, at each of which the same word is used (Ro 1:24, 26; and Ro 1:28, where the word is rendered "gave over"). "As they deserted God, God in turn deserted them; not giving them divine (that is, supernatural) laws, and suffering them to corrupt those which were human; not sending them prophets, and allowing the philosophers to run into absurdities. He let them do what they pleased, even what was in the last degree vile, that those who had not honored God, might dishonor themselves" [Grotius].

    June 30, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • MagicPanties

      13: Unicorns

      Wheresover they be unicorns, so be there other nonsense and lo it must be believed as truth and posted as if it were meaningful.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Mixo Lydian

      "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you." -Master Yoda, in Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace

      June 30, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  12. Jim

    The 1st Amendment works both ways.
    Teavangelicals can argue (wrongly) that it protects them from having to serve people that their religions doesn't like, but it also protects those people from Teavangelicals from discriminating based on religion.

    June 30, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  13. treblemaker

    A message to all true believers of the Messiah and who follow his path: let the Messiah do the judging. We are stepping on His territory if we judge. Be glad this is all happening. Be glad that gay marriage is becoming accepted! Because that means the day is coming closer when anything will be acceptable in the eyes of human beings, and when that happens, rest assured that God will intervene according to his plan.

    June 30, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Chase

      A true believer wouldn't accept people to openly partake in sin without repentance. A true believer would find this troubling.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Doobs

      @ Chase

      Do you associate with anyone is divorced? remarried? had premarital nookie (and yes, oral, and even hand jobs count too), worked on the sabbath? Or do you pick and choose whom you associate with based on your fixation with what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom? Is it just gay men or do you get off on two women getting down? Hypocrite.

      June 30, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  14. marge

    Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness,.... Not by putting any into them, but by leaving them to the pollution of their nature; by withdrawing his providential restraints from them, and by giving them up to judicial hardness:

    through the lusts of their own hearts. The heart of man is the source of all wickedness; the lusts that dwell there are many, and these tend to uncleanness of one sort or another: by it here is meant particularly bodily uncleanness, since it is said they were given up

    to dishonour their own bodies between themselves; either alone, or with others; so that as they changed the glory of God, and dishonoured him, he left them to dishonour themselves by doing these things which were reproachful and scandalous to human nature.Gill

    June 30, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • icarus

      My life as a gay person just isn't as interesting as the kind of highbrow o rgy you just described. Getting married to the person I love has been all about...tea cozies and figuring out the right vacation and such.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  15. Sam

    I BELIEVE that children our are FUTURE

    June 30, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Candiano

      Yes, yes, teach them well and let them lead the way.
      Great song.

      Isn't it wonderful how gay couples adopt children that the Christians forget about once they're out of the birth canal?

      June 30, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  16. Mike in ATL

    Christians faced this same dilemma with mixed race marriages and they seemed to get over that fairly well even though their Bible says mixing races is a sin. This florist would not get much sympathy even from her Christian brethren if she tried to deny her service to a mixed race couple because of the Bible.

    June 30, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Mixo Lydian

      Yes, thank you for bringing this up, as a person in an interracial marriage living in a southern state I am fully aware of the fact that my marriage would have been illegal 50 years ago. Of course nowadays no one would condemn our marriage or our kids. Also, this question of whether businesses have the right to discriminate against the LGBT community hearkens back to a time when most businesses conducted discriminatory business practices against Blacks, Jews, and other groups. What this florist has done is wrong. She seems like a nice enough person, but she is misguided at best and bigoted at worst, either convinced of an ancient belief that is no longer relevant in the 21st century, or simply trying to take advantage of the cache earned through this publicity to get more business from her predominately Christian neighbors.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  17. Jim

    If god hates gays, why does he make them?

    June 30, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Why is god gay, since humans invented him/her/it?

      June 30, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  18. cristian

    Saraswati

    Apparently you have a PC.......if u have an ounce of brain in your head you could do some research. Have you heard of GOOGLE? Or do u only search stuff compatible with gay beliefs???

    Here I'll make it easy 4 u. I'll post ONE link if the censors aren't goin to strike it down. Go read and see how you can justify that? I'm sure U will find a way though. And that's only ONE story out of many.

    June 30, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Saraswati

      Nice cristian. I have no idea what you are talking about...would you like some help with the Reply function so we can put your insults to my intelligence in some sort of context?

      June 30, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    A man walking in darkness doesn't realize the slipperiness of the ways on which he goes. Gayness is a slippery way but the gays don't realize it because they have forsaken God who is the Light. and walk in darkness.

    The broad acceptance of gay lifestyle in the Western societies is a clear indicator for the fact that we have forsaken our dwelling in God. The worst thing is not gayness in itself but the fact that the most of us have forsaken the God who has made heaven and earth. This God is Life, Love and Community in Himself (without God there would be no Life, no Love, and no Community). The reason why depression, lonelyness, madness, diseases of the soul and body, etc. spread so much amongst us is the fact that we have forsaken the Life which is God and submitted to the powers of death.

    Dwelling in God is not just a theoretical term but means something. When we are in God we are channels of his infinite love that means we love our neighbour even on the cost of our own well-being.

    God will not judge us at Judgement Day because we have not been in an just "imaginary" state (dwelling in God) but because we have not loved our neighbour who was in need, and were not ready to share our goods with our neighbour.

    At Judgement Day only the really evil people will get condemned. Yet not only murder or hate is evil but also the neglect of the neighbour.

    If we would still be in God we would perceive gayness as a confusion of se-xuality. Yet, we have forsaken him, and we are controled by the rulers of darkness or powers of death which give us ill, perverse thoughts so that we regard evil things as right.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    June 30, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      I would rather choose a path rarely walked upon, then choose a path walked upon by many.

      June 30, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying that Rainer gets a clue.

      June 30, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Kehlog Albran

      A young merchant pushed through the throng asking,
      What is Money?

      The Master spoke:
      Do not ply your wares beneath an avocado tree.
      Do what you must with forked pleasure but never encrust a seed that is destined to rule the forest of men's minds.

      But what has that to do with Money, Master? the young merchant asked.

      The elixir of life is like an earthworm's touch to a rose's sweetness or a length of thread as spurned by the very magnetism of Eartzil, the Master replied.

      I understand, the young merchant exclaimed.

      You do? the Master replied.

      June 30, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • icarus

      Put the copy and paste feature down. Back away slowly.

      June 30, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • G to the T

      "...gay lifestyle..." and then I knew it wasn't worth reading any more...

      July 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  20. Jim

    "Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria!!"

    June 30, 2013 at 10:55 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.