Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hypocrisy Behind Religious Justifications of Prejudice and Discrimination

Following up on my post about The Rising Tide of Intolerance In America I'm going to pick on one of the most popular targets of bigotry and discrimination in our society today. When people from the Christian right and also some in the Orthodox Jewish community argue against equal protection under the law for the gay community they often seek to justify their prejudices with the Bible. In order to do so they have to pick and choose selected texts to believe in and follow and others, the ones which are inconvenient, are often ignored.

This was amply demonstrated some years ago in an open letter to radio personality Dr. Laura Schlesinger, an observant Jew, who railed against homosexuality and used "G-d's word" as her justification. Fortunately some people have actually read the Bible, and the link I provided above annotates the letter with the actual scripture. Here is the well-known letter once again:
Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.
So... when I see the religious right protesting outside of Red Lobster against the abomination of eating shellfish I'll start believing they are truly sincere about "G-d's word" and not just hypocritically justifying their own bigotry. After all, they once used the Bible to justify institutionalized racism in America as well.

1 comment:

Colonel de Guerlas said...

"a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?"

Well, the obvious solution has been known from Mrs Boutin ( ) and her friends since 1999 :
one should burn gays, which creates a pleasant odor to Lord and one's neighbors....
-there was a huge increase of mureders of gays by cremation in France after 1999.
BTW, ultraconservative rabbis seem less unpleasant than catholical French ministers