Hate as a Virtue, Part I

I started to write this post a few days ago, when I saw this at Washington Post. Basically, it says that people who say they hate everybody in Washington (as opposed to just the people they disagree with) overwhelmingly vote Republican.

Lots of people weighed in on why that might be true — people may not like Republicans but agree with Republican policies, for example. I propose another reason — that there is a subset of our population who believe it to be virtuous to hate everybody in Washington. To admit that maybe you don’t hate everybody in Washington is a sign of weakness, that someone is duping you. Many teabaggers, for example, will speak ill of the Republican Party even as they cheer Republican antics and vote for Republican politicians.

So as a sign of intellectual independence, they thump their chests and declare they hate everybody in Washington, because that’s what their peers expect them to say. It’s a variation of groupthink, in other words.

(To be fair, these folks have their counterparts on the Left; for example, those who continue to say that President Obama could have gotten us a single-payer healthcare system if he had just tried.)

Since then we’ve had a lot more hate fests on the Right. The Duck Dynasty nothingburger scandal reached a height of absurdity when an Illinois businessman running for Congress called the DD paterfamilias Phil Robertson the “Rosa Parks of Our Generation.”

And for a jaw-dropping argument that intolerance of his intolerance is oppression, because his intolerance is just the spice that makes life interesting, do see Mark Steyn. But keep the Pepto-Bismol handy.

The version of what Robertson said floating around on the Right is that he was just expressing what the Bible said about homosexuality and had added that it was not for him to judge. See? He’s not a bad guy. But if you look at Robertson’s actual comments, what he said was vile and, yes, judgmental. This is a cheap hatemonger’s trick; say hateful things and then add the qualifier “but it’s not up to me to judge” or “let God sort ’em out” or some such, and that’s supposed to cancel out what you just said. This is a variation of the “I was just joking” qualifier that’s supposed to make it OK to wish someone to eat poison and die.

This takes me to my subject, which is hate as a Christian virtue. For at least a subset of Americans who self-identify as Christians, it seems their “religion” is mostly about hating people. Of course, they qualify this by saying they “hate the sin but love the sinner,” but that’s just the qualifier they tack onto hate speech aimed directly at the “sinner,” not the sin.

And, of course, if you are even halfway acquainted with the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, you would know that Jesus frequently cautioned his followers to not hate anybody, even enemies (see Matthew 5:43-48). Well, OK, you’re supposed to hate your parents for some reason (Luke 14:26), but I suspect that wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

Most of the really alarming stuff haters use to justify hating, including homosexuality and racism, is in the Old Testament, although a bit of the anti-gay stuff comes from St. Paul. However, there is data that shows Jews are one of the most liberal and tolerant religious demographics in America. According to Pew Research, 79 percent of American Jews (and 82 percent of American Buddhists, btw) think homosexuality should be accepted. By contrast, only 26 percent of Evangelicals, 24 percent of Mormons, and a whopping 12 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses agree with that. And by more contrast, a small majority of Catholics and “mainline” Protestants put themselves in the “accept” category. So there’s no consensus among Christians on this point.

What’s really happening — and I see the same thing happening in Asian Buddhism, so I’m not just harping on Christians here — is that people drag their cultural biases and bigotries into church with them. And because they lack the moral courage to admit that, often, their biases are immoral according to what Jesus actually taught, they twist religion around to justify the biases. So you end up with Bizarro World Christianity in which not being allowed to discriminate against others is religious persecution.

Seriously, for a subset of American Christians, their religion is all about the hate, and Jesus is a big permission slip to hate, revile, and persecute whomever they wish. Put another way, hate speech isn’t hate speech if you mention the Bible or Jesus in the paragraph somewhere. You can say any vile, hateful, inflammatory thing you want, and the mere mention of Christianity along with it washes the statement of all impurity and is supposed to put you beyond criticism. And if it doesn’t, that’s religious persecution. It’s just like what happened to Rosa Parks.

10 thoughts on “Hate as a Virtue, Part I

  1. “Rosa Parks of Our Generation.” 🙂
    I thought I was good at making extremely abstract historical analogies, but this guy takes the cake. I couldn’t even begin to formulate an analogy between Rosa Parks and some bigoted redneck who looks like he could be a character in the movie: Deliverance.

  2. Conservative Christian OV:
    But… But… But…
    Hating people is easy. It doesn’t take any work to exclude people, and ostracize them.

    Love is hard. You have to include all sorts of icky people – like people of other races, mixed-race couples, gay people, people of other religions, and people who don’t follow any religion.

    And how can anyone be expected to love people like that? YUCK!!!

    Besides, the man at the front of our church tells us how Christ’s words and works really align with what we believe today. And that Christ would have hated the same icky people we all hate!

  3. The Steyn article is a real corker. As if there’s no middle ground between “celebrating” homosexuality and comparing it to bestiality. (Is it weird that I hope people know Steyn isn’t Jewish?) And the negative reaction to Robertson’s remarks is not only “totalitarian” in Steyn’s view, but it somehow ties in with Steyn’s fear of Muslims taking over the West. Bizarre.

  4. “You can say any vile, hateful, inflammatory thing you want, and the mere mention of Christianity along with it washes the statement of all impurity and is supposed to put you beyond criticism.”
    I wish to qualify this statement.
    You can say any vile, hateful, inflammatory thing you want, with the mere mention of Christianity washing the statement of all impurity and putting you beyond criticism, if, and only if, you are Republican enough.

    • Dan — I know some devout liberal Christians, and I’ve never heard any of them use the Jesus dodge to excuse expressions of hate or anger. They respect Jesus too much to do that, I suspect. So it’s not just righties who get away with it; they are mostly the only ones who do it.

  5. Wrapping hatred and bigotry in the velvet purple robes of religious sanctimony does not make it any less hatred and bigotry any more than putting lipstick on a pig makes it any less a pig. It changes nothing.

    That religion can be used in such a manner with impunity argues that religion is a net negative, rather than a net positive in society. In the case of right-wing Christianity, I have not doubt that it is.

  6. Pingback: Christian Teahadists – Jesus Gives Permission Slips to Hate the Sin and the Sinner | In Your Face Radio

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