There's many things that irritate me about Salem, Oregon's newspaper, the Statesman Journal.
For some, see "Maybe it's time for the Statesman Journal to die." In that post, though, I didn't mention how annoying the frequent letters to the editor from local Christian fundamentalists are.
I have no idea why they're published. Opinions should be based on facts.
But by definition, Christianity is based on faith. There's zero factual evidence that the Christian god exists, or that Jesus was the son of this imaginary god.
I can understand how people can have opinions based on misunderstood facts, such as the reality of human-caused global warming. However, when you're just making crap up -- such as the illusion that the Bible is God's word -- there's nothing to say except You're being ridiculous.
Nonetheless, the Statesman Journal keeps on publishing absurdities like today's letter about the Keizer bowling alley that stimulated a firestorm of outrage when it put on its message board, "Judges making decisions about the word of God - Will they themselves be judged."
This was a reference to the recent Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the United States. The letter to the editor said this about the bowling alley sign issue:
Those who would deny Mr. Lebold’s right to free speech by making a public statement from the Bible on the Supreme Court’s decision about gay marriage show how intolerant they are of others’ beliefs.
They expect to be allowed their right to say and do what they want but constantly use intimidation and public media to deny that right to those who disagree with them based on what is declared in the Bible.
The Bible, which is God’s word, tells us how to live our lives in this world and that he created marriage to be between a man and a woman, which many consider judgmental. He has also told us that we will be persecuted by those in this world for our religious beliefs.
What are you afraid of? That God’s word is true? So, before you condemn, judge and try to deny us our rights under the Constitution, ask yourself, why do you think free speech pertains only to your point of view?
The Constitution also protects our rights to express our beliefs without being told we can’t by those who want to stifle our beliefs and freedom of speech.
First of all, Ms. Blum, you have no basis for claiming that the Bible is God's word. That's your totally unsupported, faith-based, subjective belief.
Second, Muslims believe that the Koran is God's word. Other religions believe that their own scriptures reflect a different supernatural divine reality. There's no evidence that any of these holy books are more true than any of the others.
So Ms. Blum, if you want Christian beliefs to tell us how to live our lives in this world (as you put it), which includes discriminating against same-sex couples who want to marry, how are you any different from Muslim fundamentalists who want Sharia law to hold sway in Islamic countries?
Fortunately, we live in a nation with a secular Constitution that includes a 14th Amendment with an equal protection clause. Even though Christians would like to deny equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court has determined that this is unconstitutional.
It's irrelevant what the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Diamond Sutra, or any other spiritual writing says.
This country is governed by secular laws that apply to everybody, with (sadly) a few religious exemptions -- such as some ill-considered state statutes allowing parents to not immunize their children based on a religious objection.
Thus letters to the editor citing holy scripture almost always are totally inappropriate on a newspaper's opinion pages.
Like I said, opinions should be based on facts. "God said so" is not a demonstrably true fact. It isn't even a possibly true fact. It is a totally subjective belief which should have zero relevance in discussions of social policy.
Some comments on Blum's letter made infinitely more sense than she did. Here's a sampling:
Ginger Blum simply doesn't get it. Nobody ever suggested taking away Mr. Lebold's right to post whatever he wished on his bowling alley sign. Similarly, nobody can take away the right of customers to respond to Lebold's message by no longer patronizing the place. The message wasn't taken down because somebody forced him to; he took it down because the message proved bad for business. Ms. Blum needs to understand that the right to free speech does not include protection from its conssequences.
...She makes the mistake most fundamentalists make: they confuse the exercise of their religion and their freedom of speech with the 14th Amendment.
If you look at commerce regulated by the requirements of the 14th Amendment through their eyes, they see a contradiction. The free exercise of their faith, which precludes having dealing with those who are damned before the Lord, must be compromised if they provide services in the public arena.
Ideally there is no public arena. That is why so many of these fundamentalists are also libertarians. Libertarians seek commerce without regulation, arguing that stupid decisions will drive someone out of business. If you openly discriminate, then you will pay an economic price and adjust your business plan accordingly.
Fundamentalists and libertarians are free riders, those parasites who give little or no effort to a society but will gain the same benefits as those who contributed.
Fundamentalists have no respect for those who are not of their same coterie and libertarianism is the convenient flag they fly.
...Easy there, Ginger, no laws were broken. You can express any opinion you like, however, others have the same right and may take umbrage, which is their right. Sorry, you've thrown up a strawman and it's easy to see it. We ALL have freedom of speech, we all have consequences for using false logic too.
...The first thing the Right conveniently forgets in these 1st Amendment arguments is that, while we all have the right to say or write virtually anything, we also must be mindful of the potential consequences of that speech. Certainly, a business owner may post his objection to the recent SCOTUS ruling, but others are free to decide for themselves not to patronize his business because they disagree, and not taking that stand is tantamount to condoning his message. This belief in the fallacy that speech should be accepted without consequence is why the Right will never understand how the 1st Amendment really works.