April 30th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Columnist Dan Savage stands by comments on 'bulls**t in the Bible'

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Columnist and gay-rights advocate Dan Savage is standing by his comment that “we can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about gay people” at a recent conference for high school students, a line that prompted some to walk out and spurred intense online debate.

In a blog post on Sunday, Savage wrote that his remark at a conference for the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association was "being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue.”

“I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised," Savage wrote. "I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against — and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying 'motivated by faith') — because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong.”

Some Christian students walked out of the Seattle speech, prompting another controversial line from Savage: “It’s funny to someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansya**ed people react when you push back.”

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Savage apologized for that specific remark in Sunday’s blog post, writing that his word choice “was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong.”

One of the teachers attending the speech with his students told CNN’s Carol Costello on Monday that he was taken aback by the speech and that he supported the decision of some of his students to walk out of it.

“It took a real dark, hostile turn, certainly, as I saw it,” said Rick Tuttle, a teacher at Sutter Union High School in Southern California. “It became very hostile toward Christianity, to the point that many students did walk out, including some of my students.”

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“They felt that they were attacked … a very pointed, direct attack on one particular group of students. It’s amazing that we go to an anti-bullying speech and one group of students is picked on in particular, with harsh, profane language.”

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Charity • Christianity • Homosexuality • Israel • Schools • TV-CNN Newsroom

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  7. Michael

    It's so funny to me that the people who complain so much about how they are victims of intolerance are the MOST INTOLERANT ones themselves!!!!

    May 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  8. conrad

    Looked to me like the anti bullying "guru" was viciously bullying christians and non-gays

    May 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  9. n8263

    Mark, I understand where you are coming from however your comparison of Savage to hate groups is not fair. They do not hold rational views. It is irrational for feminists to hate all men, for Black Panthers to hate all whites, for the KKK to hate all blacks and so on. This can be demonstrated with reason, and if you can not accept that then this conversion ends here because it is not worth it to me to take the time to go to that level of analysis.

    There are objective truths in this world. Things that can be backed up by science and reason. Objectively speaking the Earth is not flat, it is round. Likewise it is accepted scientific fact that Evolution is true. It is not just an opinion, it is scientific fact. Because of science we know that literal Creationism is false, and for that matter many stories presented in a literal manner in the Bible such as Noah's Ark, when taken literally are also known to be false.

    This is not opinion, it is fact.

    It is fact in the exact same way that it is a fact that the Earth is round, not flat.

    The objective truth is that there is a lot of bullshit in the Bible. I know Christians like to rationalize it away with various explanations, but it is still bullshit, objectively speaking. Somebody telling the truth, for example that the Earth is not flat, is not "bullying" for doing so even if they are talking to members of the Flat Earth Society who do not want to hear it.

    The key here is that Christians have no more a moral right to be offended by the truth, that the Bible contains a lot of bullshit, than the Flat Earth Society does, because the bullshit is indefensible with rational, objective arguments.

    What is even worse is when that bullshit is used to bully people, which is what Savage was addressing. The audience can rudely walk out, but they do not have a moral right to do so, and really owe him an apology.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • n8263

      In the first paragraph that was supposed to be conversation not conversion. By the way Mark, you seem to be under the impression Savage insulted them as they were walking out and that is not true. The pansy comment was made on his blog the next day and he did apologize for that.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi n8263. Then we respectfully have arrived at a agree to disagree point... and there is nothing wrong with that. For me it is irrational for Dan's attack on the kids in his audience. I have shown my points that just as some Atheist feel that since there are parts of the scripture they do not connect with and then choose to dismiss the entire Bible, the same method can be applied to the others that your, mine and others personal views define as irrational.

      Try this, if you ask a klan man why do you hate blacks, few will be as simple to just say that they just hate us because of our pigmentation. They will hit you with facts that they will grasp onto to rationalize their hatred. They will give prison numbers, single parent homes, black on black murder rates and finish it off with a question of European advancements vs advancements from the continental of Africa. While you and me might attempt to argue these points, the klan guy will hold that data and feel him or herself justified. Same as the feminist.

      Evolution, form my view can be ran paralleled enough with the creation text, that I personally do not see why evolutionist and creationist are “that” much at odds. Both started with a bang and continued,in many ways hand in hand.

      >>>”The audience can rudely walk out, but they do not have a moral right to do so, and really owe him an apology.”

      Then would I, and I guess if you are a male as well, be morally bound to sit through the Feminist lecture? Also, should one have to apologize for removing themselves from what they feel is a hostile situation? We teach children that when bullied and insulted to not fight back but to walk away, why should they be morally bound in this situation to continue to remain in the auditorium? In many ways what I feel possible upset Dan enough to call a bunch of kids pansys, which he has apologized for, is that in that instant he saw the “just walk away” principle that anti-bullying groups promote. He just realized that it was being used against him and he had to come to grips that he was the bully in this instance.

      If this is a agree to disagree point, then I thank you n8263 and it was a honor and pleasure. 🙂


      May 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”By the way Mark, you seem to be under the impression Sav'age insulted them as they were walking out and that is not true. The pansy comment was made on his blog the next day and he did apologize for that.”

      n8263, with a great deal of respect, his “apology” was on the blog, the pansy comment occurred as the kids were walking out.

      “During this portion of his address, several Christian students stormed out, to which Sav'age responded by saying, "It's funny to someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansy-a people react when you push back."

      Can you give a URL to link to a more definitive time frame because the stories and details from the teaching staff was that the “pansy” comment was that day at the time or just after the students choose to remove themselves.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Then you must not know much about evolution to accept that it is true. If you want to put your faith in unfounded, unobservable, unempirical, fallacious pseudoscience then that's your prerogative.

      May 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”Then you must not know much about evolution to accept that it is true. If you want to put your faith in unfounded, unobservable, unempirical, fallacious pseudoscience then that's your prerogative.”

      When it comes to evolution what I want is see if enough commonality between the theories of Evolution and the Creationist to move to a co-existence or at least a tolerance. For example life.

      “Scientists are exploring several possible locations for the origin of life, including tide pools and hot springs. However, recently some scientists have narrowed in on the hypothesis that life originated near a deep sea hydrothermal vent. The chemicals found in these vents and the energy they provide could have fueled many of the chemical reactions necessary for the evolution of life.” Source: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/origsoflife_03

      Now take the Biblical scripture

      “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life,” Genesis 1:20

      See, to me that is one of those wild things about the Bible. We now know today with fossils and other research that life began in the sea. Now, in the Holy text it was written that life began in the sea. So some person, in the fifth century who did not have the technical knowledge we process today … essentially got it right. I could understand if the scripture said poof and all was created at once but the progression of creation mirrors evolution close enough that I can't see or understand what all the fighting is about.

      So, yes I feel it is prerogative and is worth if it can build more bridges.


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      Can a microbe empirically observe Man? Do you really think mankind so intelligent that we can observe empirically everything and anything we wish? What if there is an intelligence out there that does not wish to be observed? One so far great than we and so outside our ken as to be unobservable by us, now?

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  11. mallen

    Can't be repeated enough times: the ignorance of Christian faith by atheists is astounding. Reading the comments in this article is so sad. These people have absolutely no idea how the many themes of salvation, revelation, sin, judgment, mercy, grace, remnant, resurrection, etc. weave through the Bible into a cohesive narrative of God's love and grace displayed in all creation. If they spent as much time reading the Bible as they do criticizing it in ignorance, they might actually learn something. There is life in God's Word; there is no life in their hate.

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    • Primewonk

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      Luckily, many of us found cracks in the foundation. We learned that the faith was based on a house of cards. And once that first card fell, the whole house collapsed.


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    • MarkinFL

      I had read the bible/s in their entirety twise before I was 18. That alone would have been enough to turn me off from your god even if reason hadn't already sent me down that path. As noted, most atheists were raised going to church and to pray and believe.
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      twice. :/

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    • LinCA


      Can't be repeated enough times: the ignorance of christians is astounding. Reading the comments in this article is so sad. These people have absolutely no idea how insane the many themes of salvation, revelation, sin, judgment, mercy, grace, remnant, resurrection, etc. are that are weaved through the Bible, making it into a telling narrative of God's despicable hatred of his creation. If they spent half as much time reading the Bible and critically evaluating it, as they do spouting from it, they might actually learn something. There is life in reason; there is no life in their ignorance.

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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.