Keeping the Faith

Are All Christians Bigots?

Bigot.  Definition: “A person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race.” (Collins Dictionary)

Just thought some of you might need a reminder on the meaning of a word that’s been wielded like a dagger and plunged into the heart of many a well-meaning person of late.

Chaplain Troy Williams is one.

Senator Eric Abetz is another.

Mr Williams was sacked from his job as chaplain with Scripture Union and youth outreach worker with the Kingborough Council after he re-posted a quote by lesbian activist Camille Paglia claiming homosexuality is “a challenge to the norm”.

Whether you agree or disagree with the post is not the concern.

Mr Williams effectively lost his jobs for holding an opinion that differed from the perceived status quo – and this despite a prompt and humble apology: “I’ve made a mistake and learnt from it. I’m deeply sorry for any offence I’ve caused. I was very careless in posting that image for discussion. I will work with my employers to ensure there is no repeat.”

In Mr Williams’ case, I would ask, who is intolerant? Who is unrelenting in stabbing this man with hateful commentary? Who is the bigot?

When Senator Abetz spoke on a link between abortion and breast cancer on Channel Ten news programme The Project, there was a similar hullabaloo.  He was citing the findings of Dr Angela Lanfranchi who will speak at the World Congress of Families conference in Melbourne this month.  I’m no expert on the topic (nor is Mia Freedman, who aggressively interviewed Senator Abetz, cutting him off before he could clarify his position) but Dr Lanfranchi’s 10-year, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research was made mud in a matter of seconds – I would say due to a bunch of people “intolerant of any ideas other than (their) own”.

Who is the bigot?

Once more, whether you agree or disagree with the validity of the research is not the concern.  Last time I checked we were a democracy, a country where many cultures and belief systems rub shoulders. One, but many.

Yet increasingly I see a society of close-minded intellects who would rather vilify a differing opinion than open up discussion – to test and wrestle through the myriad questions of humanity.

Being a Christian does not make me a bigot.

I have a certain set of convictions and beliefs.  Some of them are set in stone, others are more fluid, up for discussion. The same could be said of anyone with a heartbeat – atheists, Buddhists, I-don’t-give-a-damnists.  We all have a right to defend something, even if it’s our vehement non-belief!

Further, I respect the right of others to hold contrary views, provided such views do not vilify or incite hatred or violence.

It all boils down to the difference between tolerance and acceptance.  I don’t have to accept your beliefs to tolerate them.  As someone once said to me, “I disagree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it.”

When the media is boiling with indignation at the next person’s counter-cultural statement, we should consider who is the real bigot.

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday August 18, 2014.

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9 Comments

  1. Carol says

    Particularly worrying when the Senator was merely mentioning that there is a difference of opinion, when he cited the research of Dr Lanfranchi. After all, there was much denial, for many decades, about the link between tobacco and lung cancer. Women deserve to have all the information and to decide for themselves about what seems a risk.

      • Hi Carol
        You are right there was a lot of poor research paid for by the tobacco industry to try and disprove a link between smoking and lung cancer. In this case we have some poor research funded by the Christian lobby that tries to prove a link between abortion and breast cancer. In both cases the research is poor and is trying to push an agenda rather than trying to further the knowledge on the topic.
        If I think the link between abortion and breast cancer is bogus does this make me a Bigot?, It makes me able to tell agenda based research from independent , peer reviewed papers that don’t have a religious bias, not a bigot.

  2. Scott King says

    You say that you are tolerant and accepting and are not a bigot and yet you actively lobby government to restrict abortion. Is that because you are tolerant and accepting or because you think your way is the right way and everyone should be bound by your way?? Who is the bigot??
    And on the non link between breast cancer and abortion. You are wrong. There is no proven link despite the Christian lobby’s attempts at making one. Please see this paper http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1251638/
    Keep your religion out of science please.

    • Hi Scott,
      As I mentioned in the article, there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. I TOLERATE a government that has introduced legislation allowing babies to be terminated to full term with the right sign-off from the right doctors – but I certainly don’t ACCEPT it as right. Are you saying that lobbying is bigoted?

      The research I refer to certainly is not funded by the Christian lobby – did you look at the link? Here’s an excerpt:

      “Historically Chinese women have enjoyed lower breast cancer rates than in North America, but are now experiencing an “alarming rate” of escalating incidence. The study’s researchers from the Tianjiin Medical University Cancer Hospital point to China’s one-child program, which has seen 336 million babies aborted since the 1980s, as the culprit. Their findings, described as a “dose-responsive relationship,” pegged one IA to a 44% rise in risk of breast cancer, two IAs to 76% and three to 89%.

      Research elsewhere supports the China study. A study in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine in May found a six-fold greater risk of breast cancer among Indian women with a history of IA as compared to non-aborting women. Commenting on these studies — which come from countries where the governments are abortion-friendly, and have no interest in promoting the linkage; on the contrary, it is an embarrassment to them — University of New York endocrinologist Dr. Joel Brind identified their findings as “of the sort of magnitude that has typified the link between cigarettes and lung cancer.””

      As you can see – this research has nothing to do with religion.

  3. Peter Harvey says

    Hi Claire.
    Thanks for your latest blog “Are All Christians Bigots?” I too was saddened to read of the vitriol hurled at both Troy Williams and Senator Eric Abetz over statements made by them on differing subjects, but on which Bible believing Christians hold soundly Biblical views which are increasingly at odds with secular society. In the case of Troy Williams, I was particularly disappointed that he was fired from his school chaplaincy position by Scripture Union,which, as a Christian ministry organisation claiming to promote the reading of the Word of God, the Bible, and seeking to disciple believers in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, seem to have turned their backs on him, instead of providing encouragement and support for being prepared to take a stand for Biblical truth concerning homosexuality. Christian social commentator, Bill Muehlenberg has also written several insightful articles relating to the Troy Williams and Senator Abetz stories. In relation to Scripture Union and the chaplaincy program, he makes the point that SU as well as other Christian organisations which rely on Government funding, at least to some extent have sometimes given up or watered down their Christian distinctives in order to retain said Government financial support. That is not to say the Chaplaincy programs are not making any impact for the Gospel in the schools, but to the extent that chaplains are not allowed to even repost comments from another person, as Troy Williams did without being fired means that something is sadly wrong.

  4. The question should be “Are Christians bigots?” because all Christians must be kind, loving, righteousness etc. This means that Christians should not be bigoted in the eyes of God, but bigoted in the eyes of the unsaved.

    The unsaved see things in the opposite way from Christians, literally with respect to love, morality, sex, grace, family. Our way of thinking of regenerated by God, who is hated by the natural person. This is why.

    Please check out our blog at fightingtheevilsofmammon.blogspot.com.au and our fb page at ‘Anti Mammon and Usury Conquerors’.

  5. Many thanks Claire.

    Our Pastor preached about this thinking on Sunday.
    Christians have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and this viewpoint is based on the Bible through faith in Jesus.  However, the new morality says: ‘My right to happiness is the most important thing, as long as it doesn’t hurt others, and our society must support this’. The new morality goes further and says: ‘It is immoral for anyone to say anything that will limit my right to happiness.’ Therefore, worldly people hate Christians because they say things that limit their temporary happiness, but fail to realise that Christians have a greater, eternal perspective, and that worldly people’s pursuit of temporary happiness is actually hurting themselves and others. Their strong intolerance of Christian values is just suppression of the truth.

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