LGBTQ Magazine

Reader Writes: "How Do We Know That the Bigotry and Bullying 'in God's Name' Isn't What 'God' Is All About and What 'God' Wants?"

Posted on the 16 April 2015 by William Lindsey @wdlindsy
Reader Writes:
In a comment this morning responding to my posting yesterday featuring Tom Ehrich's observation that we in the American public square need to have done with the bigotry and bullying done in God's name and giving a very bad name to Christians, ClevelandGirl writes,  
How do we know that the bigotry and bullying "in god's name" *isn't* what "god" is all about and what "god" wants? 

That's a very good question. In fact, it happens to be featured just this morning by Fred Clark as he reports at his Slacktivist site about a fireside chat Abraham Lincoln held with a delegation of abolitionist ministers on New Year's eve 1862. Fred cites the journal of Nathaniel Brown, a Baptist missionary who was part of the delegation.
Brown reports that he and the other ministers urged Lincoln to abolish slavery because abolition was God's will and in accord with biblical teaching. Lincoln replied that, though he agreed with the abolitionist cause, he wasn't nearly so clear on what God wanted and to whom God chooses to speak. As he pointed out, other ministers just as hotly argued that slavery was ordained by God and supported by the bible. 
According to Brown, Lincoln concluded,
I am not so certain that God’s views and feelings in respect to it are the same as mine. If his feelings were like mine, how could he have permitted it to remain so long? I am obliged to believe that God may not, after all, look upon it in the same light as I do.

I hear a lot of wisdom in Lincoln's words here. They're a warning about the pretensions of people who claim to speak on God's behalf and to know God's mind with precision. They're a reminder that the history of religions — of all religions — is a muddled, mixed bag full of goodies and horrors. 
And so the founders of the American experiment were wise to draw a bright and shining line between church and state, which did not permit any one religious body or the leaders of any one religious body to set themselves up in the place of God and dictate to everyone else. The hubris that results from the pretension that one knows the mind of God and speaks on God's behalf militates against democratic values and the common good.  
It allows people who have no reason in the world — no sound reason, that is to say — to claim a moral superiority they have not earned, as they lord it over others and refuse to sell cakes to them or to fill their doctor-ordered prescriptions. I hear Lincoln saying that a sane society does not set up individuals to be little gods in the way that the current crop of "religious freedom" acts wants to do.
More's the pity, for all of us in American society today, that the leaders of Mr. Lincoln's party have long since thrown that plainspun, historically informed, rich wisdom to the winds.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • #HampsteadGardenSuburb – More Than A Village by @kpgtourguide

    #HampsteadGardenSuburb More Than Village @kpgtourguide

    DC Editor Adam writes… Karen's tour of little known Hampstead Garden Suburb goes this Sunday 29th April at 2.30pm from Golders Green tube. It, in a word, is... Read more

    10 hours, 27 minutes ago by   Lwblog
  • It's Official - Polish Ice Warriors Will Return to K2 in 2019/2020

    It's Official Polish Warriors Will Return 2019/2020

    This past winter one of the expeditions that we followed closely was the attempt by the Polish Ice Warriors team to make the first winter ascent of K2. Read more

    11 hours, 26 minutes ago by   Kungfujedi
  • Boho Chic Wedding in Santorini

    Boho Chic Wedding Santorini

    The boho chic wedding we are sharing today has mesmerized us! Taylor and Justin love exotic sunny destinations and during one of their trips they discovered... Read more

    12 hours, 42 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
  • The Xroadie Files

    Xroadie Files

    Lord of Pagathorn – Diamono Philia Sedit – Bass, Hellwind – Vocals/Drums, Corpselord – Guitar/Bass/Vocals Intro Nietzscherion strange guitar sounds... Read more

    12 hours, 57 minutes ago by   Ripplemusic
  • Marvelous Mother's Day Gifts!

    Marvelous Mother's Gifts!

    Mother's Day is in a few weeks and I'm sometimes still in awe that I've been a Mom for the last four years now. As a parent, the kids and Zach always try to... Read more

    13 hours, 27 minutes ago by   Cait
  • Black and Gold Hues Wedding Inspiration with a Modern Flair

    Black Gold Hues Wedding Inspiration with Modern Flair

    Today, we’re sharing with you a wedding inspirational shoot that took place in Santorini, an ideal summer destination. An impressive table with black and gold... Read more

    14 hours, 23 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
  • A Fun Class


    Last night was the tenth and last meeting of my Wordplay class -- and what fun it's been! The students have written to prompts of taste, touch, smell, sound, an... Read more

    14 hours, 27 minutes ago by   Vickilane