Traditional marriage supporters sue California over harassment and intimidation

Supporters of traditional marriage are being harassed and intimidated by opponents of the pro-marriage Proposition 8 initiative that passed recently in California. Anti-traditional-marriage activists used public lists of donors to put up web sites with maps showing the names and addresses of people who donated to support traditional marriage.

Here is an excerpt of the Washington Times article: (H/T John Lott)

After giving $10,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign last year, Charles LiMandri began receiving some unexpected correspondence.

“I got about two dozen e-mails and hate phone calls,” said Mr. LiMandri, who lives in San Diego….Those e-mails are now among hundreds of exhibits in a landmark case challenging California’s campaign-finance reporting rules, which require the release of the names, addresses and employers of those who contribute $100 or more to ballot-measure committees.

The lawsuit argues that those who contribute to traditional-marriage initiatives should be exempt from having their names disclosed, citing the widespread harassment and intimidation of donors to the Proposition 8 campaign.

…Intimidation tactics range from letters and e-mails to death threats, proponents say. A Sacramento theater director was fired after opponents of the initiative publicized his Proposition 8 campaign contributions.

“Anybody who’s in California knows that it’s very widespread,” said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, one of the biggest contributors to Proposition 8 and a joint plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Every donor has a story. I talked to a $100 donor the other day who had a note in his mailbox that said, ‘I know where you live and you’re going to pay.’

I don’t think it’s right for anyone to force their views on others by using threats and intimidation. Maybe we need a Human Rights Commission to protect the rights of supporters of traditional marriage.

Greg Koukl explains how to be a consistent moral relativist

The absolute easiest way to get into a good conversation with someone is to ask them what makes something right or wrong on their view. You have to be careful not to get into a fight about a particular moral issue, though, so you have to choose a clear-case example, not something controversial.

Just ask the person you want to engage two questions:

  1. Is it it wrong to treat people badly just because of their skin color?
  2. What makes it wrong?

Now, as I see it, there are only 3 possible answers to this question.

  1. I personally prefer not to do that – it is wrong for me.
  2. Our culture has evolved a set of customs that apply for us in this time and place, and that set of customs says that members of the society ought not to do that. It is wrong for us, here and now.
  3. Humans are designed to act in a certain way, and part of that design is that we ought not to do that. Acting in line with our design allows us to flourish, (Aristotle’s eudaimonia).

Response #1, is called “moral relativism”. Response #2 is called “cultural relativism”, and I will say a few words about that later. Response #3 is my view. I believe in a hierarchy of moral absolutes.

In this post, I wanted to go over a paper by Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason, in which he critiques moral relativism. His paper is called “Seven Things You Can’t Do as a Moral Relativist”. First, let’s see the list of sevent things.

  1. You can’t make moral judgments about other people’s moral choices
  2. You can’t complain about God allowing evil and suffering
  3. You can’t blame people or praise people for their moral choices
  4. You can’t claim that any situation is unfair or unjust
  5. You can’t improve your morality
  6. You can’t have meaningful discussions about morality
  7. You can’t promote the obligation to be tolerant

You’ll have to read the paper to see how he argues for these, but I wanted to say a brief word about number 1. I already blogged about 2 here.

1. Relativists can’t accuse others of wrong-doing

In moral relativism, what you ought to do is totally up to you. Morality is just like a lunch buffet – you pick what you like based on your personal preferences.

I remember one particular discussion I had with a non-Christian co-worker. Both she and her live-in boyfriend were moral relativists. They were fighting because she was angry about his not having (or wanting) a job, and he was angry because when he asked her for space, she immediately ran out and cheated on him.

What’s interesting is that both of these people chose the other in order to escape being judged themselves. I think this happens a lot in relationships today. Instead of choosing someone who has character and who takes the role of spouse and parent seriously, people choose someone ammoral, who doesn’t threaten their autonomy.

Only later do they realize that marriage and parenting requires moral knowledge! I think that they each hope that they will later be able to change the other person into someone they are not. Which is probably why a lot of marriages break up. I just don’t see how it’s possible to get married without the ability to appeal to objective moral standards when disputes arise.

One of my best friends is married to a woman who I think is a really great wife and mother. A number of times I have disagreed with her about various topics, like firearms or masculinity. She goes away and reads a bunch of things and then comes back with a more thoughtful view. I think this is very important in a marriage. She’s changed my mind a few times as well.

(She spends her free night answering apologetics questions for seekers at her church)

A quick point about cultural relativism

Regarding cultural relativism, there a number of problems with it, some of which are described here. What constitutes a society? Who defines the moral consensus? What about the reformer’s dilemma? Why should I care what the herd thinks? Why should I sacrifice my own autonomy when the herd won’t catch me? Etc.

Also, I want to point out the 7-part series on morality and atheism that Tough Questions Answered put together a while back. I blogged about it here. Here’s another post with some debate about the rationality of moral rules and moral behavior on atheism. And then there was that debate with the postmodern moral relativist against Peter Williams.

Heartland Institute’s podcasts on school choice and education

I waited anxiously for this Heartland Institute series of 10 5-minute podcasts on education to finish, and now it’s finally done!

Here are the links:

  • In episode 0, the introduction, we respond to the question, Why Do We Need School Reform?
  • In episode 1, surveys reveal that parents who choose independent schools do so on the basis of academics, not athletics or convenience.
  • In episode 2, we discuss how allowing tax dollars to follow the child will give parents more control over their child’s education.
  • In episode 3, competition encourages creativity and lessens mediocrity.
  • In episode 4, choice makes parents accountable and frees leaders from excessive regulation.
  • In episode 5, school choice enables teachers to recover lost freedoms.
  • In episode 6, funding should be adequate to enable parents to chose high-quality schools, but parents should be allowed to add their own dollars.
  • In episode 7, voucher programs help teachers by paving the way for better teachers to receive higher pay.
  • In episode 8, private schools should be allowed to retain their self-government. This autonomy is in the best interest of the public.
  • In episode 9, school choice promotes and protects the institutions and organizations that create and protect democracy.
  • In episode 10, school choice creates a genuine free market for education, free from rules.

The booklet that the series is based on is here as a PDF.

Jim Demint stands up to fascism on the Senate floor

Senator Jim Demint
Senator Jim Demint

Here is a video from Hot Air of our hero Jim Demint, the best senator in the Senate.

Here’s the best part:

These are not Government decisions. We need to focus on what we were set up to do and do it much better than we are doing, instead of every week coming in here, bringing our good intentions and our compassion and every problem we see across the country we say something needs to be done. Then we say: The Government needs to do it.

That is the fatal flaw of the Congress today, is we forget that sacred oath of office that says: We will protect and defend the Constitution which says this Federal Government has a very limited function. And those functions that are not prescribed in the Constitution are left to individuals and to the States. At least we have someone fighting back against the democrats.

The whole transcript is here.

I also noticed this other video related to one of my old posts in which Demint opposed discrimination against religious schools in one of Obama’s massive spending bills.

And remember Obama’s defunding of charities, including churches and other religious organizations. As I argued before, when government increases, secularism increases right along with it. Big government is anti-Christianity and anti-religious-liberty.

Are there objective truths about God?

In a lecture entitled “Are there Objective Truths About God?”, philosopher William Lane Craig address the postmodern skepticism of logic that seems to be so fashionable these days, especially on campus and in the “emergent church” movement.

Here’s the link to the lecture audio and the lecture outline.

What is a self-refuting statement?

The main concept in the lecture is the logical concept of self-refutation. A self-refuting sentence is a sentence that, if true, makes itself false or meaningless. For example, if someone said to you: “there are no meaningful sentences longer than 5 words”. Or if they said, “it’s wrong to make moral judgments”. Those statements are self-refuting.

What is truth?

Craig assumes the common-sense correspondence theory of truth. This theory holds that “truth” is a property of a proposition such that if the proposition is true, then it corresponds to the external world. For example, if I claim that there is a crocodile in your closet and we find a crocodile in your closet, then my statement was true. No crocodile in your closet means my statement was false.

Are there objective truths about God?

There are 3 objections discussed in the William Lane Craig lecture. Each objection seeks to make religion subjective, (true for each person, like food preferences), in order to minimize the incumbency and prescriptive force of Christian theology and Christian moral teachings.

Objection #1:The Challenge of Verificationism

The first challenge is that religious claims cannot be verified using the 5 senses, and therefore religious statements are objectively meaningless.

Consider the statement “Only propositions that can be verified with the 5 senses are meaningful”. That statement cannot be verified with the 5 senses. If the statement is true, it makes itself meaningless. It’s self-refuting.

Objection #2: The Challenge of Mystical Anti-Realism

The second challenge is that religious claims, and claims about God, are neither true nor false.

Consider the statement “No statements about God can be true or false”. That statement itself is a statement about God. If the statement is true, then it is neither true nor false. It’s self-refuting.

Objection #3: The Challenge of Radical Pluralism

The third challenge is that each person invents an entire reality of their own, and that there is no mind-independent objective world shared by individuals.

Consider the statement “There is no objective reality shared by all individuals”. That statement is a statement that applies to all individuals. If the statement is true, then it only applies to the speaker’s subjective reality, not to everyone else. It’s self-refuting.

Conclusion

Craig ends the lecture by arguing that it is OK to think that other people’s views are false. It does not follow that just because Christians think other people’s views are wrong that they am going to mistreat other people. In fact, in Christianity it is objectively true that it is good to love your enemies. It is objectively true that all human beings have value, because human beings are made by God.

In Christianity, I am absolutely obligated to treat people with whom I disagree with respect and gentleness (1 Pet 3:15-16). The more convinced I am about that belief, the better my opponents will be treated. A stronger belief in Christianity means more tolerance for those who disagree.

My personal experiences with “Christian” postmodernism

Growing up, I was often confronted with the idea that God was beyond logic and beyond reason. Imagine my surprise as a conservative young Christian to find out that church and campus club leadership had embraced postmodernism, and were very skeptical of controversial doctrines like Hell, exclusive salvation, inerrancy and authorial intent.

As I grew older, I began to uncover why the postmoderns in leadership believed that God is not bound by the laws of logic. It was because of their desire for popularity. They did not want to have to confront people with exclusive and judgmental Christian claims. They did not want to have defend these ideas as true, using evidence – because that would involve work.

Postmodern Christians would say to atheists, “Christianity is true for me, and atheism is true for you“, in order to be accepted. And they would feel, emotionally and intuitionally, that non-judmentalism and non-exclusivism was right. Postmodernism was their way to avoid wasting time on theology and apologetics, (although technically, it did involve lying to people about God’s character).

Postmodern Christians were also very hostile towards apologetics, because “knowing for certain” took away their ability to doubt. They could keep God at arms-length when he was morally demanding, while keeping him within arm’s reach for emotional support. God existed for postmoderns when they needed comfort, and he didn’t exist when they wanted autonomy.

For further study

A debate between a Christian and a postmodern. You can see for yourself how gentle Peter Williams is during this dialog with someone with whom he disagrees. His objective is to persuade – to win her over. Also, what about those who have never heard of Jesus? What about the problems of evil and suffering?

Also, for extra credit, Super-commenter ECM sent me this post from David Thompson a few days back, in which Thompson interviewed Dr. Stephen Hicks on postmodernism in academia. The post also describes the link between postmodernism and socialism. This is a great post!

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

%d bloggers like this: