Many media outlets reported the recent remarks made by pop star Elton John. He argued that religions were by nature intolerant and bigoted, and they should be banned. Of course his main gripe was so-called homophobia. He claimed that religions were hate-filled and prejudiced. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays,” he said. Moreover, “it turns people into hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”
Thus the superstar urged that religions be given the flick: “From my point of view I would ban religion completely”. Fortunately for around 95 per cent of the world’s population, he is not in a position to enforce his, well, intolerant position.
Indeed, all the shrill cries from the secular left about intolerance often have an empty ring about them, as they are the ones who usually are the most intolerant and hate-filled. Columnist Michael Medved, writing in Townhall.com (November 15, 2006), noted just such an irony.
Says Medved, “Despite that “hatred and spite,” religious leaders actually express more tolerance to homosexuality (and non-believers) than Sir Elton expresses toward organized faith. Imagine the indignation if a religious leader suggested that we need to ‘ban homosexuality completely’ – or urged an outright prohibition on atheism? It’s true that many believing Christians want to persuade gays to overcome their same-sex urges, or try to get non-believers to replace their doubt with faith, but no factions in the varied array of conservative religious groups has called for ‘banning’ ideas with which they disagree.”
Real believers know that they can stand on argument, personal testimony, and acts of kindness to vindicate and demonstrate their faith. They do not need to coerce or compel non-believers.
“Believers remain supremely (some would say naively) confident in their ability to win every argument with doubters: that’s why there’s no attempt to shut down atheist organizations (like the summer camps for non-believers we’ve featured on my radio show) or to censor public criticisms of religious institutions. Yes, Christian conservatives object to the use of public funds (from the National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations) for anti-religious messages, but that’s an issue of sponsorship, not censorship. When it came to the notorious ‘work of art’ by Andres Serrano showing a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine, the debate centered on its funding by the federal government, not the right of the artist to display his own warped creation in public – a right which no one questioned.”
Despite claims of censorship and narrow-mindedness, the religious conservatives are not in fact the ones seeking to shout down others, to block points of view, or to stifle public debate. Says Medved,
“The controversies about public display of religious symbols nearly all center on secular demonstrations of militancy and narrow-mindedness, involving attempts to remove or suppress expressions of faith (like crosses in parks, or Ten Commandments displays in public buildings, or the words ‘under God’ in the pledge) that have existed innocuously for decades. Very few of these disputes involve efforts by the faithful to impose new symbols in prominent places, or to ‘ram their faith down the throats’ of the unwilling public at large. It’s the secular left that’s consistently intolerant of American society as it’s existed for years, not religious conservatives who express unwillingness to allow public disagreement with their convictions. In the bitter debate about teaching our children about the origins of life on earth, religious activists make no attempt to block the teaching of Darwinism or random natural selection, but it’s pro-evolution fanatics who fanatically resist any messages or questions that even hint at Intelligent Design.”
One wonders if the secularists may in fact be a bit insecure in their own dogmas and beliefs. By constantly trying to keep religious folk from sharing their points of view in the public arena, one suspects they are just not up to a fair debate: “Secularists are less willing to accept the ideas of believers (ideas they regularly deride as dangerous, deluded, dumb) because they worry (appropriately) that they are losing the international debate. A point of view confident of its own arguments wouldn’t make the case for ‘bans’ or ‘suppression’ – as Sir Elton John did so fatuously in his recent interview.”
Indeed, John even seems to admit that he himself has not really experienced all this nasty homophobia and intolerance: “At the conclusion of the conversation, he all but concedes that the ‘hatred and spite’ he imputes to organized religion never really applied to him or interfered with his personal pursuit of happiness. ‘I don’t know what it is with me,’ he sighed. ‘People treat me very reverently. It was the same when Dave and I had our civil union – I was expecting the odd flour bomb and there wasn’t. Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that’s great’.”
Concludes Medved, “It might also be ‘great’ if Sir Elton and other committed secular leftists adopted the same respectful attitude of live-and-let live toward religious believers (those ‘hateful lemmings’) that most of the faithful so readily accord to them.”
Exactly so. It’s time the secularist jihad against religion rely more on force of argument and less on vitriol, hatred and name-calling.