December 12, 2008

Qualitative Dogma Differences

Hemant Mehta is surprised that an evangelical leader who displays almost-tolerant views on civil institutions for homosexuals (he's against same-sex marriage but lukewarm in favor of civil unions) and global warming (he thinks that good Christians should protect the world that God made for them) is being forced out of a leadership position at the National Association of Evangelicals.

What's interesting about this is that the issues that are the basis for his force-out have little, if anything, to do with religion. The Bible says nothing about the environment whatsoever. The Bible's only real instructions to the faithful concerning homosexuals are to kill them, and gratefully that is one of the things that modern Jehovah-worshippers have chosen to pick and choose out of their practice of their faith. So taking a position that there should be a civil institution that allows gays to easily own property together is not really all that contrary to Christian faith, so far as I can tell. It doesn't mean he's approving of those gay people having that gay homosexual sex they shouldn't be having.

It's not like he's suggesting that a married man and a married woman ought to be able to legally divorce one another, in direct contradiction to Jesus' explicit command.

No, this guy is being forced out of his leadership position in the Christian world not because he's deviating from religious dogma, but because he's deviating from political dogma. Civil unions are legal institutions but not religious institutions. Why, then, does a religious organization care about them at all? Even President Bush, the darling of the political religious right, has always been in favor of civil unions. And the NAE's ostrich-like disbelief in global warming is a political, not a religious, position. We can disagree about the causes and the proper response to the issue, but it has nothing to do with God or faith.

Mehta's mistake is assuming that the National Association of Evangelicals is really a religious group. It is obviously not. If it were, it would not concern itself with regulating dogma on completely non-religious issues. It does not care whether its leaders are professional football fans or if they are vegetarians. But it does seem to care if they are in favor of environmental protection laws. Therefore, I say it should be treated as the political advocacy group that it is, and denied tax-exempt status.

UPDATE: Even religious people think this stinks.

1 comment:

David Schraub said...

Actually, I think the lack of mention of the environment in the Bible is the heart of the Evangelical critique of religious-environmentalism -- it's folks crafting a religious mandate out of whole cloth. Since environmentalism isn't in the Bible, they take exception to it assuming any sort of primacy on the agenda of religious advocacy.