Sexual Discrimination as an Indicator of Religious Nuttiness

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 18, 2009 in General Atheism

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has an anti-discrimination policy that specifically bans discrimination based on “sexual orientation,” and notes that “Advertisers in Jobs for Philosophers are expected to comply with this fundamental commitment of the APA.”

Philosopher Charles Hermes noticed that several Christian schools advertising in the APA’s Jobs for Philosophers section actually violate this policy because they require students to sign a “statement of faith” that specifically condemns “homosexual behavior.” So he started a petition asking the APA to uphold its policy and ban such schools from advertising in Jobs for Philosophers. So far there are over 1400 signatures.

Somebody then launched a counter-petition asking the APA to let the offending schools continue advertising in Jobs for Philosophers because they discriminate again the homosexual act, not the homosexual orientation. So far, that petition has just over 300 signatures.

Rather than argue about the policy or the philosophy behind it, I’d like to speculate about a potential use of these signature lists.

If somebody really wants to discriminate against gays, it probably means that (1) they get their religious views directly from the Bible, not from a rational investigation of the “world out there”, and (2) they’ve chosen to take the Bible’s few verses banning homosexuality literally, while necessarily1 dismissing thousands of others.

That sounds like religious nuttiness to me. So, we might tentatively use these two signature lists as weak measures of religious nuttiness.

Obviously, there are lots of atheists on the first petition. But which Christian philosophers do we find on the side of reason and acceptance?

William Roche (#106)
Jon Cogburn
(#634)
John R. Harris (#815)
Jonathan Kvanvig (#904)
Keith DeRose (#1045)

And which Christians do we find on the side of nuttiness and discrimination? (I italicized the two that were a particular disappointment to me.)

Tim & Lydia McGrew (#2 & #3)
Francis Beckwith (#5)
William Lane Craig (#10)
Paul Copan (#17)
Victor Reppert (#26)
William Dembski (#29)
Greg Koukl (#37)
Alvin Plantinga (#38)
Alasdair MacIntyre (#39)
Douglas Groothuis (#61)
Garrett DeWeese (#67)
Peter Kreeft (#83)
J. P. Moreland (#87)
Stewart Goetz (#94)
Peter van Inwagen (#132)
Shandon L. Guthrie (#219)
Alexander Pruss (#254)

So… anybody else notice a pattern? What is it about Christian apologists that makes them hate homosexuality? Is that part of their apologetics training? Or is it that more conservative Christians are attracted to the idea of defending the faith at all costs?

Anyway, you now have a handy list of philosophers who support discrimination, and those who oppose it.

Update: Victor Reppert, a Christian who voted no on Prop 102 (the Prop 8 of Arizona) but signed the APA counter-petition, explains on his blog why it’s possible for a philosopher to sign the counter-petition but not necessarily think gays are evil. My gut tells me that most of the people who signed the counter-petition did so because their Bible tells them that homosexuality is an abomination, but I can’t know that. Also, PEA Soup has a relevant argument about act vs. orientation.

  1. I say “necessarily” because so many of the Bible’s commands are contradictory or totally impractical. []

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

anselm March 19, 2009 at 6:33 am

I'm not clear how “they hate gays” follows from “they oppose the performance of homosexual acts.” If they also oppose the use of heroin, does that mean they hate heroin addicts? And couldn't the belief that sexual acts should be limited to heterosexual marriage be arrived at through philosophical (specifically, natural law) reasoning (separate from “special revelation” in the Bible)? For an example, see this article by J. Budziszewski, one of the signatories of the counter-petition: http://tinyurl.com/5uqc69

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lukeprog March 19, 2009 at 8:34 am

You're right. I have changed the wording above to “hate homosexuality”.

I'm sure it's possible to arrive in opposition to homosexuality from a purely philosophical standpoint. It's also possible to arrive at solipsism through philosophical argument. But I think we both know that if the Bible celebrated homosexuality instead of condemning it, all those Christians who signed the counter-petition would accept it, even if the philosophical arguments didn't change.

Thanks for your comment, though. Your comment brings up the two issues I expected to immediately be broached, and I certainly haven't answered them here.

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Teleprompter March 19, 2009 at 8:43 am

Anselm, a big problem with the natural law argument against homosexual acts is that homosexuality is found in a plethora of species in nature.

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anselm March 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

Thanks, I appreciate your willingness to accept opposing comments and engage them in a civil and substantive way. I benefit from this blog by gaining a greater understanding of opposing views.

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lukeprog March 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I am always curious to hear smart replies to everything I assert. It's actually a rather convenient way to learn – a nice complement to extensive reading (which of course I wish I had more time for).

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marcion March 25, 2009 at 8:24 pm

“What is it about Christian apologists that makes them hate homosexuality?”

What is it about atheists that makes them want to stick their dick up another man's ass? or defend such a thing as publicly acceptable for conversation and for being put on TV as role models? I mean, they know what AIDS is right? and presumably that it has a higher transmission rate among homosexuals? So what's their deal? Must be that they're closet homosexuals. There's no other explanation possible.

I guess I'll just have to stick with natural theism or deism or whatever the proper name is. Because I'm not a moron who sees sticking your dick up another man's ass as acceptable at all. If you want to do it in the privacy of your own home, then go ahead…BUT DON'T ASK DON'T TELL. Have enough discretion to keep it to your putrid self.

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lukeprog March 25, 2009 at 8:42 pm

marcion,

I have a hard time telling if you're joking or not. Do you really think there is something morally wrong with consensual sex between two men? Why do you think so?

And, why should heterosexuals have the right to flaunt their heterosexuality, but gays not have the right to flaunt their homosexuality?

Or maybe you were joking…

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marcion March 25, 2009 at 8:59 pm

If you're seriously asking why should heterosexuals have the right to flaunt their heterosexuality, but gays not have the right to flaunt their homosexuality then you need to check yourself into a mental institution as quickly as possible. It simply is not normal and contuses to all sorts of social ills. The fact is, by the way, that the pink hand (homosexual mafia) is controlled by the eugenics element of the new world order. In other words, the government is pushing pro-homosexuality as a mean of population control to thin out the population to make it more manageable for martial law and the establishment of tyranny. Its sole purpose in modern society (as far as public acceptance goes) is population control, both by the fact that it lacks procreation (which is not evil in itself) and by the fact that it tends to provide a better way for the governmental powers that be to spread disease than heterosexual activity is. Why do you think the U.S. Government invented AIDS and then disseminated that virus first in homosexual bath houses in San Francisco in the 80s? Homosexuality is part of the agenda of nationalization we see unfolding right now. It is being used to weaken the nation socially (while we are being bankrupted) so that it will be easier (smaller population, also too busy poking each other in the ass) to establish a one world currency instead of the dollar (Geitner already said he agrees with the Chinese that this should be done) and to establish their FEMA death camps equipped with gas chambers to kill dissidents under our noses.

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lukeprog March 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Oh my God, marcion, you are too much!

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anselm March 26, 2009 at 9:24 am

I'm beginning to think marcion must be intentionally trying to help you out by making you look extra reasonable :)

Needless to say, I disassociate myself (and all orthodox Christianity, if I may presume to speak on its behalf in this limited matter) from his remarks. I'm kind of glad he is using the name of a heretic :)

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lukeprog March 26, 2009 at 7:46 pm

ha! Indeed.

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Victor Reppert March 29, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Why assume that signers of the counterpetition hate gays? I signed the counterpetition, and voted no on Prop 102 in Arizona (same as prop 8 in California).

I was more concerned about the literal meaning of the APA policy, which explicitly mentions orientation and not behavior, and with the intergrity of religious communities. I have detailed my reasons for my signature on my blog.

Of course religious groups have to come to terms with their religion when dealing with homosexuality. Why expect them to do otherwise? There is an open debate on these matters both communities and faith and in the wider community. Why treat the discussion as a closed one, when it most clearly is not.

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lukeprog March 29, 2009 at 11:19 pm

That's good to know, Victor. Thanks. I'll have to check your blog to see your reasons for signing even though you (perhaps?) do not hate homosexuality.

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Reginald Selkirk April 11, 2009 at 6:11 am

Victor Reppert: …Of course religious groups have to come to terms with their religion when dealing with homosexuality. Why expect them to do otherwise? …

Its remarkable how many of them have come to terms with eating shellfish, performing work on the Sabbath, not stoning disrespectful children, etc.

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