Bigotry versus genuine religious belief

Not a single person alive today had a hand in writing the Bible. That book was written by people thousands of years ago.

Generally, society is tolerant of people’s religious beliefs (for instance, Muslims or Orthodox Jews shunning pork) as long as those beliefs don’t affect other people. We are also typically understanding of them in that “They didn’t choose those rules, those rules are imposed on them by their religion.”

However - there gets to be a certain overlap whereby genuine, sincere religious beliefs clash with other people. For instance, if someone were to get up on stage today and quote the verse from I Corinthians where it states that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God - such a person would probably be labeled a bigot or homophobic, even though such a person had no hand in writing that Scripture verse (the Bible, again, was written thousands of years ago.)

Or - although the Bible obviously makes no mention of bakeries or wedding cakes - if a Christian baker were to refuse to make a customized wedding cake for a gay wedding, citing his religious beliefs (sincere, genuine beliefs - not fake ones) - he would probably be called a bigot, even though those are genuine religious beliefs based off of reading a holy book he had no hand in writing or creating.

For the sake of keeping the thread simple, let’s assume that all these beliefs are genuinely held, not fake. My question is - is it still bigotry if a person isn’t discriminating against others because of his inward desire to discriminate, but rather, because he is adhering to a religion which, he feels, requires such discrimination? It isn’t his choice, it’s something he feels compelled to do.

Of course it’s still bigotry. That it’s sincere is irrelevant. That they feel it’s required by their religion is irrelevant. Why would this matter?

Yes, bigotry is bigotry, whether it’s because of your religious belief or because you’re a Nazi or for any other reason.

For a more full answer, the reason I think religious bigots don’t get a pass is because the bible has all kinds of bigotry, forgiveness, rules, and regulations, but the ones that the bigots key in on are, of course, the ones that align with their bigotry. I find it unlikely the baker would give a crap about making a cake for people who had sex outside of marriage, or people who were divorced and are getting remarried, or people who wore clothing with mixed fabrics, etc.

So, first they’re bigoted against homosexuals (or against mixed marriage, or black people, or whatever) and then they find the bible verses that align with that and ignore the ones that go against that or that don’t align with their particular bigotries.

It’s still a choice.

This is an excellent point. It isn’t coincidence that only gay people, or black people, etc., are the targets of these many mundane forms of discrimination. Everyday adulterers are generally left alone – especially if they’re men. They may claim it’s because of their religion, but that’s usually just an excuse. In actuality, they’re just regular bigots, reaching for any justification they can find. But it wouldn’t matter even if it was sincere, and they were discriminating against everyone the Bible called a sinner.

Nailed it. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the Bible is full of all sorts of rules, some contradictory. How does a person choose which rules to emphasize, and which ones to ignore? Those choices reveal a person’s character, which is frankly outside of any religion they profess to follow.

Here’s another part of the problem: if you (the hypothetical “you,” not necessarily the OP) believe that homosexuality is a choice, and a sin, because your religion tells you this, you’re a bigot, but as long as you only keep that as your personal belief and “code of conduct,” it’s one thing.

But, when you use that belief to justify working to make the lives of homosexuals more difficult (by fighting against same-sex marriage, by fighing against equal protection under the law for homosexuals, by picketing at funerals with “God Hates Fags” signs, etc.), then you are not only a bigot, but you are being hateful and injurious.

Some religions strongly believe that eating pork is forbidden. You don’t generally see them trying to prevent people who aren’t members of their religions from eating bacon.

Yes, it’s still bigotry.

Good point. Some religious people are way more clear than others on the fact that it’s not their job to enforce the rules of their religion, particularly on people who don’t profess that religion.

As a cafeteria Christian, you are still responsible for what you put on your tray.

Ha! This is excellent and I plan on stealing it if the occasion arises.

The bible doesn’t treat rich people kindly at all. But only godless commies are prejudiced against them.

If a guy makes wedding cakes for friends and won’t make one for gay friends (if any) that’s his affair. But if he goes into a cake making business with all the protections and licenses that the neutral government provides then it becomes all our affair and he should not be allowed to express his bigotry.

me first!

To torture the excellent analogy even further I’d suggest that some of the more virulent religious bigots place a slice of religiously-based homophobic pie on their tray whilst secretly knowing they’d prefer a lovely, long, fat hot dog instead.

A great scene from “West Wing:”

[A talk show host defends calling homosexuality an “abomination” by saying that that is what the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 (That verse, by the way, reads: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such thing is an abomination.”) This annoys President Bartlet who proceeds to ask a few pointed questions about just what one should accept from the Bible.]

“I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7 . She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?”

“My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?”

“Here’s one that’s really important cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7 If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?”

“Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side?”

“Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

“Think about those questions, would you?”

This has stuck in my craw for decades. Religions may think homosexuality (or being Muslim, or being an adulterer, or being a coveter) is a sin. But there is no religious requirement to be an asshole to some sinners, but not others. I despise people who refuse to make cakes, or wont recognize marriage or any other bigoted actions, and then try to hide behind “my religion requires it”. Its complete bullshit.

I’ve never doubted the sincerity of bigots.

If the belief is bigoted itself, the believer is a bigot.

This is a contradiction, except in cases where the person is coerced to adhere to that bigoted religion. In most situations, a person who adheres to a religious belief has a desire to adhere to that religious belief. If the religious belief is bigoted, the person may have to choose between acting on the desire to be a bigot and the desire not to be a bigot.


I agree with just about all the responses. As for this case, did the guy have to quote that verse? There are plenty of verses in the Bible for him to quote that wouldn’t reveal him as a bigot.
How about if he quoted the laws of slavery already mentioned. How about the verses on how the victors could take the virgin girls for themselves?
Bigot. Almost certainly a sincere bigot, but still a bigot.

How would you feel about a cake maker who refuses to make a cake for a homosexual wedding, but ALSO refuses to make a cake for any wedding where either party is divorced, with their previous spouse still living? After all, the Bible calls that a sin, too.

Ever notice those who demand Christian Law are terrified of Sharia Law?