You may recall a conversation I had recently with The Rooster, in which we argued about religion. He called religion, "one of the most oppressive, evil forces in human history." I leapt to the defense of religion, arguing that it had the potential for good in its capacity to provide order and meaning. I only posted a tenth of our conversation, but I assure you that the argument was rousing and intensely debated for weeks. I thought I had made headway. Certainly, The Rooster continues to believe that religion is the root of all evil and I've continued to argue to the contrary; but we have a real dialogue going on, not a shouting match, but a conversation. It's one thing to argue relatively fruitlessly with a brilliant Rooster; it's another thing entirely when religious thinkers conspire to prove me wrong. In the National Review, David Klinghoffer writes, "[the] basic religious view, whether in its Christian or Jewish version, stands at loggerheads with secularism. The latter denies personal moral responsibility, which may in turn be the bottom-line point of disagreement between conservatives and liberals." Secularism does not deny personal moral responsibility, it just removes the motivation for moral behavior from God's hands. Homosexuality is not immoral, but co-opting religion to support intolerant viewpoints is.
Earlier today, Annie posted that "rabbis found ways to enshrine in law those values that they held dear." When slavery was legal and broadly accepted, religious leaders used religious texts to support slavery (not only is slavery found in the Bible, but there are biblical laws governing slave-holding). As the evils of slavery became apparent, religious leaders stopped using the Bible to defend an indefensible viewpoint; yet those texts did not change, the vocalized interpretation did because religious leaders find ways to enshrine in law those values they hold dear. Anyone who holds a bigoted viewpoint to be immutable because God says so without considering our history of adaptation and interpretation (particularly a man who claims to have revived the tradition of disputation), does a disservice not only to the potential of religions to unite and to heal, but to religious people with progressive perspectives.