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When Christians become a 'hated minority'
Evangelical Christians say they are the new victims of intolerance - they're persecuted for condemning homosexuality.
May 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When Christians become a 'hated minority'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.

During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.

“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’" says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.

We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot.

As proof, Sprigg points to the backlash that ESPN commentator Chris Broussard sparked recently. Broussard was called a bigot and a purveyor of hate speech when he said an NBA player who had come out as gay was living in “open rebellion to God.” Broussard said the player, Jason Collins, was “living in unrepentant sin” because the Bible condemns homosexuality.

“In the current culture, it takes more courage for someone like Chris Broussard to speak out than for someone like Jason Collins to come out,” says Sprigg, a former pastor. “The media will hail someone who comes out of the closet as gay, but someone who simply expresses their personal religious views about homosexual conduct is attacked.”

When is disagreement hate?

Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Illinois, says Christians should be able to publicly say that God designed sex to take place within a marriage between a man and a woman.

“That isn’t so outrageous,” Litfin says. “Nobody is expressing hate toward homosexuals by saying that. Since when is disagreement the same as hate?”

But quoting the Bible doesn't inoculate anyone from becoming a bigot or hater, some scholars say. There's a point at which a Christian's opposition to homosexuality can become bigotry, and even hate speech, they say.

Crossing such a line has happened many times in history.

A literal reading of the Bible was used to justify all sorts of hatred: slavery, the subjugation of women and anti-Semitism, scholars and pastors say.

“Truly damaging speech cannot be excused just because it expresses genuine religious belief,” says Mark D. Jordan, author of “Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality.”

“Some religious beliefs, sincerely held, are detestable. They cannot be spoken without disrupting social peace,” says Jordan, a professor at the John Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it designated the Family Research Council, the group that Sprigg represents, as a hate group - a characterization the group stridently rejects.

Mark Potok,  a center spokesman, says there’s no shared definition of what constitutes hate speech.

“There is no legal meaning. It’s just a phrase,” Potok says. “Hate speech is in the ear of the beholder.”

'One of the most hated minorities?'

Intolerance may be difficult to define, but some evangelicals say they have become victims of intolerance because of their reverence for the Bible.

The conservative media culture is filled with stories about evangelicals being labeled as “extremists” for their belief that homosexuality is a sin.

Their sense of persecution goes beyond their stance on homosexuality. There are stories circulating of evangelical students being suspended for opposing homosexuality, a teacher fired for giving a Bible to a curious student, and the rise of anti-Christian bigotry.

A blogger at The American Dream asked in one essay:

“Are evangelical Christians rapidly becoming one of the most hated minorities in America?”

The reluctance of evangelicals to speak out against homosexuality is often cited as proof they are being forced into the closet.

Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, an online evangelical magazine, wrote a blog post entitled “Debatable: Is the Christian Church a ‘Hate Group’?" He warned that young people will abandon “orthodox” Christian churches that teach that homosexuality is a sin for fear of being called haters.

“Faux civility, embarrassment, prudishness and a fear of expressing an unpopular opinion has caused many Christians to refrain from explaining how homosexual conduct destroys lives,” Carter wrote.

Some Christians fear that opposing homosexuality could cause them to lose their jobs and “haunt them forever,” Carter says.

“It’s easier to just go along,” says Carter, who is also author of “How to Argue Like Jesus.” “You don’t want to be lumped in with the bigots. That’s a powerful word."

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a "postmodern" era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It's an environment in which anyone who says "this is right" and "that is wrong" is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

Sprigg, from the Family Research Council, says his condemnation of homosexual conduct does not spring from intolerance but a desire to protect gays from harmful conduct, he says.

Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, wrote in a council pamphlet that homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are straight men. He also wrote that gay men are also afflicted with a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness as well.

Sprigg says he does not believe homosexuality is a choice and that “personal testimonies" and "clinical experience” show that some people “can and do change from gay to straight.”

“Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love,” Sprigg says. “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.”

'That's a lie'

Potok, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, has little use for the love Sprigg talks about.

He calls it hatred, and his voice rose in anger when he talked about the claims by Sprigg and other Christian groups that gay men are more predisposed to molest children and that homosexual behavior is inherently harmful.

He says the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t designate the Family Research Group a hate group because they view homosexuality as a sin or oppose same-sex marriage, Potok says. There are plenty of Christian groups who hold those beliefs but are not hate groups, he says.

A group becomes a hate group when it attacks and maligns an entire class of people for their “immutable characteristics,” Potok says. The Family Research Council spreads known falsehoods about gays and lesbians, he says, such as the contention that gay men are predisposed to abuse children.

“That’s a lie,” Potok says. “These guys are engaging in straight-up defamation of a very large group of people. There are not many things much worse than you can say in America about somebody than they are a child molester.”

Potok scoffed at Spriggs’ claim that the council and other evangelical anti-gay groups are victims of intolerance.

“That’s whining on the part of people who spend their days and nights attacking gay people and then some people criticize them and they don’t like it,” he says. “That’s pathetic. It reminds me of slave owners complaining that people are saying ugly things about them.”

What the Bible says

What about the popular evangelical claim, “We don’t hate the sinner, just the sin” – is that seen as intolerance or hate speech when it comes to homosexuality?

There are those who say you can’t hate the sin and love the sinner because being gay or lesbian is defined by one’s sexual behavior; it’s who someone is.

“Most people who identify as gay and lesbian would say that this is not an action I’m choosing to do; this is who I am,” says Timothy Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book.”

Beal, a religion professor at Case Western University in Ohio, says it should be difficult for any Christian to unequivocally declare that the Bible opposes homosexuality because the Bible doesn’t take a single position on the topic. It's an assertion that many scholars and mainline Protestant pastors would agree with.

Some people cite Old Testament scriptures as condemning homosexuality, such as  Leviticus 18:22 - “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” But other Christians counter by saying they are not bound by the Old Testament.

There are those who also cite New Testament scriptures like Romans 1:26-27 - “… Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men. …”

Beal, however, says Jesus said little about sex. And the Apostle Paul, who wrote Romans, was probably referring to male prostitution and men having sexual relations with boys, a practice in the Greco-Roman world.

“Paul does not understand genetics and sexual orientation the way we understand it now as something much more than a choice,” says Beal.

Some evangelicals say Christians can’t change their view of biblical truth just because times change. But some scholars reply:

Sure you can. Christians do it all the time.

Denying a woman’s ability to preach in church was justified by scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:11-12 - “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” But many churches have abandoned that teaching - and some scholars say a woman preached the first Christian sermon, when Mary Magdalene proclaimed that Jesus had risen.

Slaveholders in 19th century America justified slavery through a literal reading of the Bible, quoting Titus 2:9-10 – “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. …” And anti-Semitism was justified by the claims that Jews killed Jesus, such as Matthew 27: 25-26 - “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”

Litfin, from Moody Bible Institute, acknowledged that the Bible once sanctioned slavery, but he said that practice was a “cultural expression” that changed over time. Evangelicals who oppose same-sex marriage by citing the Bible are on more solid ground, he says.

“Marriage is a universal and timeless institution that God set up for maximum human flourishing. He set it up in the first book of the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. It is consistent throughout the whole Bible. … Marriage is in a different category than those cultural things.”

Public jousts over the Bible's stance on homosexuality rarely change people’s minds. What changes is when people get to know gay and lesbian people as friends and hear their story, says Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible.”

“If you open up to that other person genuinely, you basically come to a point where you have to sacrifice them to your ideology or crack open your ideology to make a hospitable place for them,” Beal says.

One Christian pastor who is gay says the uproar over the ESPN commentator’s comments can actually be good,  because debates help settle moral disputes.

“What appears to us as antiquated and prejudicial now was once a disputed issue that required debate,” says the Rev. Richard McCarty, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a religious studies professor at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.

Until the debate over homosexuality is settled - if it ever is - there may be plenty of evangelical Christians who feel as if they are now being forced to stay in the closet.

Carter, the evangelical blogger, says he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.

“It’s getting to the point,” he says, “where churches are not going to say that any sexual activity is wrong.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Protest • Sex • Sexuality • Sports

soundoff (10,982 Responses)
  1. Hfxwst

    There are many things Christians used to believe and are contained in the Bible's test – approval of slavery for instance. Would I be called a bigot if I continued to support it?

    There are many sects of Christianity who do not persecute gays – why do the ones who continue to persecute them continue to receive so much attention and support. Frankly, they should be ashamed.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • alf

      Christians don't persecute gays, adulters, fornicators,.........

      Where are you getting that from?

      May 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Socrates

      What part of Christianity supported slavery? All those Christian Union soldiers did not.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • MikeH

      Socrates doesn't know his history. THere were many Christian slave owners, and even those who did not own slave who stated the Bible provided support for the practice.

      Also, Northern soldiers were not fighting for the purpose of freeing slaves. Lincoln didn't really care about slavery and was not going to address it until his hand was forced by run away slaves showing up at Fort Monroe as contraband of war.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Socrates

      Mike H doesn't know his history –

      When Christ was born slavery existed everwhere in the wolrd that a ratio of resources to population allowed.
      It has since been abolished world wide, and everywhere the charge was led in the name of CHRISTIANITY. The rest of world stood by.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Socrates

      The "turn the other cheek" instructions to slaves in Timothy do NOT support slavery.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Blaine Gabbert

      The Bible does not condone slavery. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html#ixzz2SRdzCx23

      May 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Paul

      The Christians in the Confederacy thought the bible supported slavery, or are you claiming there were no Christians in the South?

      May 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "The Bible does not condone slavery."

      Ummm, yes it does. Unequivocally. Yes it was pervasive in antiquity. In antiquity slaves were chattels – the property of their owner.

      The whole point of the reference to slavery in the article is that the Christian opinion on the morality of slavery has changed. ... So much for the immutable word of God and absolute morality.

      May 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Steve

    Give me a break! Suddenly the Christians are trying to label themselves victims?! Your dominance of our nations social order is OVER. You guys had a lot of chances to keep your moral high ground. Instead you chose to hate all those who oppose "gods will".

    May 5, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • Science

      Hello Steve..................Morals are cool !

      Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments
      Gravity is not up for debate !

      BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..............................E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas.

      Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 5, 2013 at 7:04 am |
      • Thresh

        You remind me of a guy that posts on "The God Delusion" Amazon.com reviews, among other New Atheist book reviews. His name is Bruce Bain and I think you guys should debate. It would be so entertaining.

        August 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • FloydZepp

      Exactly. The rest of us American will simply not allow the evangelical to turn our nation into the United States of Jesusland. Request. Denied.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Bill

      Blow me! WAIT, NO, I WAS JUST KIDDING! STOP THAT YOU PERV!!!!

      May 5, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • md22mdrx

      LOL ... and many still believe the American/European version of Jesus ...

      And many still think he was actually white .....

      May 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Socrates

      @ science –

      0 + 0 = 0. The universe can not create itself.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Science

      Socrates..............pound sand !!!

      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      May 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Socrates

      @ Science –

      Ok I will stop calling it that, but only if you can tell me what "Higgs Bossons" are made of.

      May 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • JWoody907

      @ Socrates

      Particles are made of quarks.
      Quarks compose particles, including protons and neutrons

      They were discovered in 1968, but theorized 4 years earlier.

      May 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • madrogio

      Bill,
      Bless your diseased little heart. You protesteth too much. It's okay to be gay, and denial and loathing are a normal part of the discovery process. And don't be ashamed of your small penis–it matches the size of your heart and brain. Jesus still loves you I'm sure, although only he knows why....

      May 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Science

      Update:

      The god damn sign in picture above is wrong !

      That red devil with the funky horns...........and his partner the fairy in the sky.........did NOT create US !

      The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

      Human Evolution

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2cHumanevo.shtml

      AND

      Easy to do !

      For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

      New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes

      May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506132100.htm

      Foot note............ethics + morals = really tough on religion !

      Facts work best for teaching children !

      Evolution wins hands down ..........time for god(s) to get the HELL out of the way................so humanity can evolve !

      Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418104324.htm

      Peace

      Oops do not forget about the chondrites !

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

      May 13, 2013 at 8:52 am | Report abuse | Reply

      Science

      And

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

      May 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |

      May 13, 2013 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |

      Science

      Foot note............ethics + morals = really tough on religion !

      May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |

      Science

      Where are the ethics and morals....................with a talking snake in the grass is the question ?

      May 13, 2013 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |

      lol??

      What country do YOU live in??

      May 13, 2013 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |

      Science

      The sea..................better to see by !!!

      May 13, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  3. Not Hater

    The problem isn't what christians believe... its how they act. This is the USA, not Iran, just because your god doesn't like something doesn't mean the law should prohibit it. Don't like (insert moral abomination here)? So don't have any.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • ME

      Good sense comment!!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • boyblue122

      @ Bill

      In America giving a BJ in public is called indecent exposure, same as peeing or streaking in public. Not sure if youd heard about. If what you described is something that you like, its best for you to do that in the private of your own home.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Way to miss the point, Bill, you dimwit. Nobody is advocating anyone having s3x in public. Knock off the stupidity, or are you unable to engage the minuscule brain of yours?

      May 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You're pretty slow on the uptake, Silly Billy. I'm not gay.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Tom
      I think that bill protests too much...another shamed closet case?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • sokesky

      Way more likely that smoking will be totally prohibited in public than BJs will be legalized in public - women have trouble if they attempt just to breastfeed babies in public; and you never, ever see a penis in public except for the occasional flasher, who's then hauled off to jail. The world is become more prudish, not less.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Looks like it, Richard. He's not terribly bright, either. Can't seem to get it through his thick skull that not everyone who advocates marriage equality is gay.

      I guess he thinks only African Americans are interested in civil rights, too.

      Probably a pimply-faced teenager with no friends.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jen

      Tom Tom, is that you? Did you change your screen name? I haven't been here in forever.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Tom
      That'd be my guess as well....for someone who claims to not be gay, he uses a lot of imagery that would indicate he is...at least one can see he pictures it frequently.

      I never understood why $exual preference is anyone business unless you are interested in the individual.
      I have never cared if any men are gay, because I'm not, so I am not interested, none of my concern...I am only interested if a woman is gay, if I am interested and barking up the wrong tree...outside of that, what difference does it make?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bill

      Nope. Just calling you and tommy out craniumless. You two queens are SO obvious.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • madrogio

      Bill !
      I just had another vision. You died and turned into an even bigger pile of excrement!!

      May 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • huhb

      Bingo! The issue isn't what they believe – it's their attempt to force everyone else to live as if their beliefs are truth.

      Tell you what, Evangelicals: you make decisions for you lives, I'll make decisions for mine. Why is that such a problem for you?

      May 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
  4. Cacherdo

    “Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love,” Sprigg says. “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.” –

    The problem with Sprigg and people like him is that they are arrogant enough to believe that their perspective is the only valid perspective. In my view, the love for others that we are called upon to demonstrate as Christians does not involve our dictating the choices and beliefs of others. It means respecting their autonomy and personhood as separate from our own. It means believing in God's power to transform the hearts of humans, not our own power. A person's religious beliefs should dictate his or her own behavior and his or her own personal choices, but religious beliefs are not mandates to oppress or coerce others. Any Christian who believes he or she is being persecuted simply because his or her attempts to stigmatize or oppress other people are being rejected is demonstrating a distinct lack of understanding of the concept of persecution. Sprigg and his ilk are the persecutors.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • akmac65

      Cacherdo.... Very well said.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  5. Ron Lambert

    If only all religious people kept their mouths shut for fear of public ridicule for believing in invisible creatures of their own delusion.- sadly, this plague upon our society is touted with pride rather than kept to ones self. God does not exist, religion is poison.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • Bill

      Oh man are you in for a rude awakening in a few short years. Ouch!!!!

      May 5, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Bill
      Is that a warning? Should Ron or myself feel threatened for our disbelief? You know it actually REQUIRES belief to fear reprisal from your fantasy deity. Is FEAR a primary motivation for accepting and obeying your delusion? To non-believers it certainly appears so. Fear of eternal damnation coupled with the promise of eternal salvation and life. Those are your only 2 options. You call that a choice? How is that a choice? If you actually believe in the existence of your God then the choice is made for you. It's such a powerful manipulation of your actual ability to choose that many of you deny facts and embrace lunacy in order to maintain your belief. You're trapped. There are no people or at least precious few who simultaneously believe in God and reject him, despite what you've been told.
      To me and others like me your God is imaginary...make believe. No soul, afterlife or heaven. One opportunity to embrace this life and make the best of it. None of the atheists I know live a hedonistic, exploitive or uncivilized lifestyle...that's just a fallacy. Because it ends makes life precious and makes it matter. Living for the next only seems to be wasting the present. Just the idea of eternal life cheapens and diminishes this life into insignificance. Precisely because we aren't faced with the choice of damnation or salvation our choices are more responsible. I take full responsibility for my successes as well as my failures. God doesn't help me succeed and Satan doesn't temp me into failure. And I can't ask for forgiveness from anyone other than those I've wronged and presume a fair and equitable society will judge me according to sound ethics and secular law. It's that simple. Your Chicken Little the "sky is falling" statement is noted and dismissed.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, great. Threats from a zealot.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I'm female, Billy, and straight. Married to the same guy for over 3 decades.

      I wonder, Bill, doesn't it ever occur to you that gays want to marry the person they love for the same reasons I wanted to marry the man I love?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • madrogio

      Bill !
      I just had a vision – – you died and turned into a pile of excrement!!

      May 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Is that your rebuttal Bill?
      An ad hominem attack followed by another baseless threat of eternal torture? Typical for someone who doesn't have a valid counter argument. Enjoy your poisonous death cult. I actually pity people like you who have been completely brainwashed by your pastor and crusty book of sheep herder myths.

      May 6, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Jen L

      Bill is the classic example of the problem. He uses "gay" as an insult as though people should be ashamed of it, and uses it not because it's applicable but to disparage someone for standing up to him. Standing up to him and calling him on his words or behavior is a sign of a problem with YOU, not with him. If you fail to agree with him, it's because you are gay, random person that he doesn't know anything about. If you correct him on that, he calls you a liar.

      It's just a series of judgments based on and perpetuating his bearing of false witness against his neighbors. He's not a Christian; he uses the word Christian to make himself feel better for espousing the hatred that he would feel regardless of religion.

      May 6, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  6. Charles in Des Moines

    Listen, no one is wanting to take away your rights sir, or limit your beliefs. I find many things wrong and offensive, but unlike you, I do not impose that on others or attempt to make everyone live by my dogma. It may be that perhaps you are misreading the situation here: it's not hatred or malice, but instead a push back against your strict following of your dogma and your idiotic demand that we all follow it by force of law if you had your way. You are free to believe as you see fit, no one says you have to be my friend or buddy, but treating me with respect is the American, Adult, and dare I say Christian thing to do. Also, the backhanded insults by comparing falsely rapists, murders, child molesters, and animal abusers in an attempt to justify your otherwise "because the Bible says so" argument is why I personally get upset. Please, grow up, and understand that not everyone interrupts the Bible the same way as you, or even more telling, believes as you (gasp!).

    May 5, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Keith

      Amen, Charles. The hypocrisy in this article is amazing. All one need do is swap "christian beliefs" with "atheist non-belief" (the latter of whom have laws written against them, who can't openly run for public office or even testify in court in some states) in this article to see how patently ridiculous this article is. Christians have been condemning atheist, discriminating against us, shunning us for millennia. Yet they get butt hurt over being asked to display consistency in their rhetoric? Poor fellas.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • Steve

      I wasn't aware of these prohibitions against atheists on some states. Can you give some examples?

      May 5, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • JR Ewing

      No atheist can hold public office int his country. And people are even denied jobs if they let slip that they are atheists.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Steve

      So are you saying there is a law prohibiting atheists from holding public office? If so, can you cite it?

      May 5, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Roddy Hovey

      http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2012-05-unelectable-atheists-us-states-that-prohibit-godless

      May 5, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Roddy Hovey

      Arkansas, Article 19, Section 1:
      No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  7. so

    What part of DO NOT JUDGE DO CHRISTIANS NOT UNDERSTAND. It is not the place of them to tell others how to live. If christians want to attack someone why o they not take on the ones sitting in the congregation, molesting the children, having affairs with other members, stealing money, back stabbing each other. Sounds to me like they need to worry about themselves more than anyone else.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:47 am |
  8. Me

    John 15:
    18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Keith

      Mark 12:31: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater...

      May 5, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • kevin

      George 7:14 – Thou shall keep thy religion to thyself.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Mock

      "Help us up", cried A-B-C
      Chick Chick Boom Boom

      May 5, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  9. Keith

    So, one is a victim if they discriminate in the name of God and get called out for it, even if they're in a majority religion, discriminating against a significant minority of people who have historically been abused, tortured, killed and shunned? One is a victim if they can't speak their bigoted minds in open forum without open support? When they come out in support of shellfish bans, stoning women who cheat, and separation from one's spouse when she's on her menses, then I'll acknowledge at least a consistency of dogma. 'Til then? Just bigotry. Plain and simple.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • ME

      No Supreme Being in their right mind cares who one wants to spend the rest of their lives with.

      Not the 1 religion 2 religion 3 religion 4 religion 5 religion 6 religion 7 relgiion...7 majors in the world.

      He/She/IT...does frown upon hurting some else intentionally

      HE/SHE/IT does frown upon the disrespect shown to fellow Humans

      I think this way..you think that way...you keep yours to yourself and I'll keep mine to myself..

      Personal....and should remain personal

      May 5, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • longwaytoboston

      Thanks for proving the point of the article

      May 5, 2013 at 6:55 am |
  10. Kevin

    Being afraid to express their bigotry makes Christians a 'hated minority'

    May 5, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Keith

      Outstanding! Yes! 🙂

      May 5, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • ME

      Bull

      May 5, 2013 at 6:43 am |
  11. _

    I really appreciate how Evangelists get away with their persecution card by claiming that infringing on their "right" to infringe on the lives and happiness of others is discrimination.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • Keith

      +1 🙂

      May 5, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • realist512

      This article is so silly. Evangelicals can believe what they want for themselves. But they should not criticize the life styles of others or attempt to legislate. Separate church and state!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  12. doc

    I know several gay people....I disagree with the fact that they are gay and exploit it....I think it is wrong but I will not judge those individuals, God will....

    May 5, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • ME

      Agree

      May 5, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Science

      Start slow.......me and doc !!!

      And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      May 5, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • I don't know

      Doc your answer is too simplistic. Telling someone that God will judge them implies first that they believe there is such a thing and second, that if there was such a thing he she or it wouldn't welcome them. It's good that you realize it's not your place to judge but it doesn't resolve the larger gaping holes that cause religion itself to crumble apart. I watched my own faith break all around me like a castle made of sawdust and it just takes one painful thing like falling in love.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Joe

      If "exploit" it you mean ask for equal civil rights, you are wrong, not to mention a bigot.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • soul

      Maybe if people like you weren't so busy trying to infringe their rights they wouldn't feel the need to exploit their gayness. And honestly I dont even know what that means. I know tons of gay people and I have yet to see a single one of them try to exploit that. They are too busy walking on eggshells for fear that someone will attack them for it.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • JR Ewing

      If it bothers you so much, don't associate with gay people. It'll be your loss, bigot.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Bill

      Who but a sukker and a ramm er would even want to associate with a gay. So sick.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • The real Tom

      Bill, I suspect you're about 16.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • rawr

      My bias: I'm a confirmed anti-theist. That aside, that's cool that people have some beliefs and choose to live by those beliefs. If it pushes them to be "better" people – I'm all for it. The moment they demand I live my life by their principles, they've lost me. Don't like gay marriage? Don't marry your same gender. To push that agenda and limit the freedoms of other humans because of it is pretty hypocritical considering they would vehemently oppose being forced into a gay marriage by law.
      It's great to speak your gospel to those who would listen. You can bellow and call what you will sinful and spout hellfire and brimstone, but keep your hands off the laws that govern those who do not worship as you do.

      I'm pretty sick of "Christians" who cherry pick which part of the good book they would like to follow. Divorce is forbidden. A marriage where the girl is not a virgin is not sanctified and the woman should be stoned to death. Work on Sunday? Stoned to death. Got some tattoos? Leviticus believes you should be put to death. Women on their period shouldn't reside in the house, nor step over any pipes containing drinking water because it makes everyone in the village unclean and she should be put to death for it.

      The bottom line is: even by their own good book, they should all be put to death. None of them are righteous and they are commanded not to judge.

      But of all the laws broken by them in the good book, they can point to the one they haven't broken because they happened to not be born gay and decide that THIS is the line that shouldn't be crossed. THIS is where the final battle for the soul of humanity shall rest. THIS is unteneble. Not the myriad of their own crimes punishible by death, but the one that someone else committed. And they would force this into law and govern others who do not even follow their book.

      Yet they're the ones being persecuted? Yes, they're hated, as is anyone who would force others to bend to their will in spite of their hypocrisy.

      And this is why I'm an anti-theist; for all the horrors and injustices it foists upon the world so they themselves can sleep better at night knowing their righteousness has suppressed or oppressed others.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Bill

      So is 16 the maximum age of the boys that you hit on these days?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  13. I don't know

    It's a very personal issue for me that has been exteremely painful and personal on both sides of the equation. A person's faith that's personal..a person's romantic interests also deeply personal.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • ME

      Therefore
      Young children think it is ok to have relations with boy-boy...girl-girl..
      Confuses them...I say it is not right to have these people publicize their preferences..
      I am sorry but it makes me sick to my stomach when I saw the two women with wedding dresses getting married.
      Come on people....Married..Are you kidding??
      Get together but keep it to yourself..No one cares..
      I do not care if you get the tax breaks .
      If you are born one way...makes no difference but if you are just out there because you have heard is is the thing to do...makes me sick!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • Keith

      So, if you're black you should, you know, keep it to yourself. Don't be all out in public thinking you're equal or anything. And definitely don't be trying to get married to whites! God doesn't like that!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • soul

      @ME well as long as YOU'RE comfortable, thats all that matters. We certainly don't want you to be sick to your stomach. So hate away!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • I don't know

      Ever had your own head be so full of thoughts that you have to resolve your own thoughts before you could face anything else outside of yourself?

      May 5, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  14. Mike V

    It's not fair to always label it "hate" when it's often just extreme, harmful ignorance.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • ME

      Wise

      May 5, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • JR Ewing

      Weak...

      May 5, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  15. Science

    The sign SUCKS rubber nickles............................the fairy in the sky DID NOT CREATE US !!!!

    May 5, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • ME

      NICKELS...Mr Science

      May 5, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • Science

      Oops forgot the origin story is BULL SH-IT !!!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Science

      I now where lots of nickle resides in naitive iron stones !!!

      May 5, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • Bill

      Yes, we were created by gay aliens, and the gay aliens were created by other gay aliens, and the other gay aliens were created by other gay aliens, and that process has continued since the beginning of time. It all makes perfect sense.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Socrates

      0 + 0 = 0. The universe can not create itself.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      socrates.
      Why not?...We do not know if the universe created itself or not. You a$$ume that the universe was nothing before our current universe, and you do not know that. It is possible that matter has always existed, and this is just its latest form.
      We do not know...one thing for sure, there is no evidence that any of the thousands of gods men have created did it.
      And if god created the universe from nothing, where did god come from?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Bill

      He's not gay like craniumless. That much is for sure!

      May 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Socrates

      @ Richard –
      The oracle said that i am the wisest of all the greeks for I alone know that i know nothing.

      But in my short time on this planet i have been able to glean that the universe is a 3-D mandelbrot set of repaeating substance, vertices, and subsequent form. The formula for which is omnipotent.

      And the words of Christ are somewhat profound and out of place in on the historicle timeline. Too bad mosf "Christians" don't understand them due to the 2000 years of illiteracy and no printing press.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Science

      http://www.yekra.com/sirius/#!/deployment_code=20296114mlzssg

      You know creationists...........ID believers...............The Bone !

      Messed-Up Bible Stories – 2 – Adam and Eve

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

      How did feathers evolve? – Carl Zimmer

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPLgfGX1I5Y&feature=player_embedded

      112 pages later !

      GET BENT ....................Socrates............with the red devil included !

      May 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • ABC123

      I don't know what "fairy" your talking about but if it's My Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ you can stop right there. He is the ONE and the ONLY one that made everything. And reading some of your comments you are the one the believe's we all can from monkeys. Alright! I disagree with gays but that don't make a "hater" and it don't mean I "judge". It clearly means I'm against it nothing more nothing less. I don't want to see something like this about my religion again. Thank you and God Bless you. Jesus loves you and so do I.

      May 25, 2013 at 3:40 am |
  16. McCheese

    Christians: The We Dish It Out But Can't Take It people

    May 5, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Bill

      You people can sure take it. Up the tailpipe that is.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • The real Tom

      Bill, you seem to spend a lot of time thinking about a nal s3x.

      Do you think all straight marriages are based on the s3x act? Is that why people love each other, solely?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bill

      No tommyboy. That's the big difference. Duh!!!

      May 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Apparently you think that gays who marry do so because they want to have s3x and for no other reason. I know you're stupid, but are you really THAT stupid?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bill

      No, but apparently you are. Of course let's not forget about the free health insurance that you want from your BJ partner. My bad for not mentioning that.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I'm straight, and I've been married for over 30 years.

      You really are stupid, Billy. You're so dumb you think only gays support the rights of gays to marry.

      What a doofus.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So you really ARE that stupid! I am so sorry for you and your parents.

      May 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Bill

      At least I have parents. I'm sure your parents abandoned you at the first sight of your dressed in pink BF, or did they abandon you at birth when they realized you were a naturally gay im becile?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, actually my parents were quite proud of me. As I said, I'm not gay. Both my parents were Christian, but they never spent much time fussing about what other people did in bed. Why do you?

      May 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  17. ME

    I do not give a hoot about the choice you make for your partner. I do care about you flaunting it in the news .
    I do believe that some people were born with too many or too less of one hormone or the other..those people-ok for choice
    But..the others have now been convinced into thinking it is ok for boy-boy...girl-girl..disagree totally!

    May 5, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Keith

      So, you're a bigot. We got it. Thank you.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • SoulLove

      I understand that you don't want to be made uncomfortable by reminders that there are people who chose to live differently than you. I myself almost feel sick to my stomach when I have to listen to a weakling whine about how hearing about the way others live their lives somehow feel threatened. So I can sort of empathize with you, you bigot.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  18. SSE

    Sorry, but if you use religion to infringe on the legal rights of others who do not adhere to your beliefs, then yes you are a bigot.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:33 am |
  19. Shannon

    Climb down off your cross we need the wood.

    May 5, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • ME

      No Class here

      May 5, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • Science

      start slow................

      And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      May 5, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • sam

      "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" – John 15:18. Your remark was very disrespectful. Do you not fear God?

      May 5, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Zoop

      @Sam
      You should not fear that which does not exist.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Bill

      You get wood everytime you see a female. Admit it girl!

      May 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  20. Honey Hush

    Throwing around the word hatred is quite out of place. I do not see a lot of attacks on churches or evangelists other than verbal jousts. Attacks on the LGBT people have thankfully been greatly reduced. The Christian lobby is always talking tolerance for their views and beliefs but not so much if you are from a different group/lifestyle, hypocrisy?

    May 5, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Peace

      Well said. Too bad it's easier to condem others, but ignore what is all throughout the Bible- That we shall not judge! That is a more important lesson that seems to be forgotten by some Christians.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • craig

      For God So Loved
      16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      May 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
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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.