Faith and Acceptance: Why can’t some Christians have both?
To my friends, family, and fellow citizens, North Carolina is perhaps the greatest paradox we will ever know. On the one hand we have beautiful scenery, glorious mountains and warm sandy beaches. Two delicious traditions of barbecue with unique culinary traditions surrounding each, and metropolitan centers that offer some greatest modern cuisine imaginable. 161 breweries, more than any other State in the South. It’s easy to tell why we were once called a Shining Beacon of the South. Yet under the Republican State Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory, that light is being snuffed out.
The latest assault on our somewhat progressive society came in the form of House Bill 2. Ironically, this bill was pushed in response to Charlotte’ LBGT Protection Ordinance, which would have given protections against discrimination to homosexual, transgender, and others, although some critics chided it for allegedly allowing sex criminals access to the opposite gender’s bathrooms. We will never now know if that was a legal possibility, because House Bill 2 was rushed into law overruling the Charlotte City Ordinance. So now, instead of LBGT protections, Charlotte is legally required to enforce unbending gender bathroom laws. And in another unfortunate twist, Charlotte (and the rest of the state) has begun to lose business and events due to House Bill 2. PayPal specifically cancelled plans to open a 400 employee office in Charlotte, a move that has drawn calls of hypocrisy from House Bill 2 proponents. I recently had an interesting exchange on Facebook with several of House Bill 2’s supporters, including a man by the name of Kevin W. The following are excerpts from a thread in response to the group “Don’t Do It Charlotte’s” instructions on how to boycott PayPal.
Below is a real exchange from Facebook, and I invite you to check it out. You can also check out the full post on Facebook in the link below.
Don’t Do It Charlotte: KeepNCSafe encourages North Carolina’s and others around the US who use this payment processor to close their PayPal accounts today since they do not value conservative or faith-driven consumers. [Full Post Here]
Scott Neidich (me): Thank you, PayPal, for standing up to North Carolina’s terrible policies and proving this groups statement “Businesses are not leaving North Carolina” from just 18 hours ago wrong.
Author’s Note: The post “18 hours prior” I mentioned can be found here.
Vera W: Best of luck to them in Cuba. Proud that we are standing even stronger against all the lies and perversion of the truth from the LGBT community. Cuba’s total lack of tolerance towards the LGBT movement should be an eye opener for them. Keeping our children and women safe is more important to us than Paypal setting up shop here in North Carolina. God bless Pat McCrory and all our elected officials standing with him!
Scott Neidich (me):Transexuals are not sexual predators. But hey, I totally understand if you want all these men to follow you into the Women’s room: http://www.oddee.com/item_98038.aspx
Tracy S D: Scott, you are correct that transexuals aren’t sexual predators. That being said, the Charlotte ordinance wasn’t specific in saying only those living trans could use the facilities of the gender they identify with. It said that ANY one [Sic]at ANY time could use ANY facility, with NO need to have “felt” trans at any other time in their life. So that ordinance did indeed make it possible for those people who are sexual predators to enter the facilities of those they wish to prey on. I don’t know how else to explain it any plainer. The opposition to the Charlotte ordinance that I saw was in no way about discriminating against any lgbt person. The opposition I saw was to the obvious lack of concern the Charlotte city council showed not only to the VAST majority of the community that voiced their opinion. But also the lack of concern for EVERY person who would have visited Charlotte and been unaware of the ordinance.
Scott Neidich (me):Tracy Stumpf Drye That’d be fine, if the response wasn’t “Ban all trans protections statewide.” That’s what House Bill 2 did.
The fact of the matter is HB2 doesn’t just make it illegal for a man to enter a women’s room (which was illegal under Charlotte City Ordinance already), it also makes it illegal for a gender non-coforming[Sic] child to use a bathroom other than their birth gender. It requires a teenager who identifies as trans to use their birth gender. The standard for getting a birth certificate changed is so heavy that this bill effectively prevents a person from identifying as their identified gender.
Show me proof that any number of people would have used the ordinance to facilitate a crime, and I’ll show you a way to legislate that would have stopped them without slapping every trans person nationwide in the face.
Take 16 minutes to watch this. It’s not only informative, it’s entertaining. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmoAX9f6MOc
Author’s note: The above link is to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on Transgender Rights from June 28th, 2015
Joel Y: Scott Neidich you have your opinion just like we do, we have our right to voice and act on ours too just like PayPal did except we are not trying to force our policy down other people’s throat we are only choosing to not use businesses that support ideology that we don’t believe in.
Also check out this post to prove the hypocrisy of PayPal showing the list of countries that being gay is illegal but they still do business there because of cheap labor hypocrisy hypocrisy hypocrisy so don’t tell me my opinion is outlandish
Scott Neidich (Me): Joel, the whole point of this group was to prevent Charlottes [Sic] passing of the LGBT protection act. So acyuallu [Sic] you are trying to force your policy down other people’s throat.
The defense that PayPal does business parts of the world with human rights abuses is not surprising, Saidi [Sic] Arabia had midieval [Sic] practices that have been going on for years. But even they have made progress towards a free society in recent years, whereas this bill made NC regress worse than its[Sic] ever been before. Our statewide bill is the worst anti-trans legislation in the country.
I can’t even say “thank God for Mississippi” on this one: it has to be “thank God for Saudi Arabia?”
Kevin W: I believe you mean “Saudi Arabia” and “medieval.” And having lived in that country some years ago, I can tell you that the only thing it has in common with a “free society” is the modernist facades of its major cities. Does the phrase “chop chop square” mean anything to you? It’s where you go in Riyadh to donate body parts; often involuntarily. But hey, if you want to persist in comparing the Kingdom to NC, be my guest. However, you should try to get out more before doing so.
Scott Neidich(me): Kevin: yes, I’m typing on a phone. Please pardon the typos.
Let’s be clear: I am not making this comparison. supporters in this group are making the claim that “Saudi Arabia is worse than North Carolina” and therefore PayPal is hypocritical. It’s the “thank God for Mississippi” statement, except Mississippi hasnt[sic] done anything as bad as NC house bill 2 yet.
Kevin W: Very well (especially the bit about typing on a phone). But if you don’t mind, please tell me why you think the NC law is so bad. I mean, should we extrapolate that your true wish centers on eliminating distinctions between the sexes? That is the only clear implication of such vehement opposition. If I am wrong, please correct me.
Scott Neidich (me): My point is not about eliminating the sexes, Kevin — it’s a matter of accomodating[sic] gender identity. Did you know that Transsexuals’ brain patterns detected by MRI are more similar to their identified gender than their biological one? Trans-sexuality is a real condition, and forcing a trans person to live as their biological sex would be just as burdensome on them as forcing you to live as a woman would be.
The NC law requires everyone to use the gender stated on their birth certificate. This creates two problems: Firstly, certain states and countries are simply unwilling to change a birth certificate gender, except in cases of clerical error. The legal standard in North Carolina for changing a Birth Certificate requires gender reassignment surgery — which not all trans sexual individuals choose to undergo. For example, this woman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailey_Jay if you met her, it would be clear that she is a woman. But under the entirety of North Carolina law, she a)can not have her gender changed on her birth certificate because she has a penis, and b) is required to use the men’s restroom under house bill 2.
If we want to protect women and children, how is she or any other woman protected by being forced to use the Men’s room?
Joel Y: Kevin, I have stopped commenting due to the lunacy these people on this post contain. They keep trying to say this is a case of discrimination. Discrimination only occurs when people are mistreated due to circumstance beyond there [sic]control not due to choice of life style [sic].
Kevin W You are absolutely correct, Joel. If our friend responds to my most recent post, I really hope he refrains from going there. In this instance, and in others, too, accusations of discrimination are both inapplicable and trite.
Scott Neidich I have responded, Kevin — perhaps you missed it
Kevin W Really? I suppose you’re right. Wow. How disappointing.
Author’s note: If you are confused as to whom Kevin W is referring to as “right,” as well as use of sarcasm, so was I. I believe Kevin W was expressing that he was dissapointed in my argument, and that it was what he and Joel Y were expecting.
Scott Neidich (me):Here’s another: under NC law, this guy is now legally required to use the women’s room in our state. How would your mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend or wife feel about walking into the bathroom and finding Aydian Dowling walking out of a stall?
Kevin W The new law makes it simple: people in this position go to court and petition same to amend their birth certificates. Oh so simple. However, you and I both know that people like this are not the main issue here. NC lawmakers acted in response to Charlotte’s provocative, dangerous, and unnecessary new law. Charlotte overstepped, and the state called them on it. Ask yourself this: would any of this be an issue now sans the misplaced zeal of Charlotte politicians? If you’re honest, you know the answer is an emphatic “no”.
Scott Neidich (me): “However, you and I both know that people like this are not the main issue here.“ [Requoting Kevin W]
What you are really saying here is that this law doesn’t take into account the reality of transgendered people. We can agree on that — the law is blind to their reality.
Your also mistaken on changing birh certificates. Depending on which state you were born in, adults are not always allowed to have a birth certificate amended. As I mentioned earlier, NC requires sex reassignment surgery to change a birth certificate — and that burdensome requirement is actually better than States like Ohio, which will not change a birth certificate after it has been issued for any reason whatsoever.
You are correct on one thing: this would not be am issue for you if Charlotte had not passed the LBGT protection ordinance, because if I am not mistaken you are cisgendered, like me and like most people. The law looks fine to you as is because it is conchordant [sic]with your reality, just like a law saying “men may only marry women” would look fine to a heterosexual. But not everyone is cisgendered, not everyone is heterosexual — changing the law to accommodate everyone is a worthwhile venture, and as we will learn in the near future, fighting it is unconstitutional.
Also, The stated motivation for House Bill 2 is to protect women and children. From what, exactly? It’s already illegal to commit rape, sexual assault, molestation, photography in a bathroom etc.
Anything nefarious a person can do by going into the bathroom of the opposite gender, they can either do already without the bathroom, or is already illegal under some other law. Prove me wrong.
Kevin W: Scott, you are obviously confused about a great many things; not the least of which being the standards necessary for a viable civilization. You have clearly bought in to [sic] a plurality of fads that are undermining our society and guaranteeing for us a fate similar to that of ancient Rome or worse. However, you are correct in your assessment of the futility of fighting these battles via our legal system. With legislatures entirely subservient to corrupt, politicized courts, people on your side of the fence are living in a Burger King world. You’re having it all your own way. Congratulations to you; condolences to everyone else.
Scott Neidich (me):Let me ask a question: What would it take for you to change your mind? For me, all of the following would work:
1. a convincing argument that the LBGT Protection Bill would have caused actual harm if enacted: ie, criminals would have been able to perpetrate crimes without getting punished.
2. Proof that trangender people are just “making it up”
3. Proof that accomodating sexuality and gender identity will somehow cause our civilization to unravel
I ask you: what evidence or arguments would sway your opinion?
Kevin W: With a wife, daughter and granddaughter, I can never foresee a time when I will accept policies that might compromise their safety. Moreover, and as a historian, I know very well what happens when societies jettison their collective rulebook: collapse. That the West in general — and America in particular — has been doing this very thing is beyond dispute. Thinking we are so much smarter than the amalgam of failed societies that litter the pages of history, we will stay on our current path until we hit the wall. I only hope I do not live to see it.
Kevin W: As an aside, my main worry is not transgender people in this instance, but opportunistic males who will use ordinances like Charlotte’s to prey on females. This is a factor I fear people on your side cannot see or comprehend.
Scott Neidich(me): You have not answered my question, Kevin: What would it take to sway your view? I’ve laid out what would sway mine, and invite you to challenge it through those or other routes. If you want to say “You should find the following compelling because X,” I will even tell you if your argument would effectively change my view. But only if you are willing to have an even playing field and tell me what would convince you that you’re wrong.
But if you claim infallibility or insist nothing short of God coming to earth and telling you are mistaken would sway your mind, I see no reason to continue discussing this with someone who is intellectually unable to accept a challenge.
“As an aside, my main worry is not transgender people in this instance, but opportunistic males who will use ordinances like Charlotte’s to prey on females. This is a factor I fear people on your side cannot see or comprehend.” [Requote from Kevin W]
I understand that fear. But there is nothing an opportunistic man could do under the LBGT Ordinance that would have victimized anyone and wasn’t illegal. The number of sex criminals, or any criminal for that matter, who have gotten away with a crime because of a law allowing people to use the bathroom of their identity is zero: And Charlotte is not the first to pass such an ordinance.
The LBGT ordinance might have been implemented better, but HB2 could not have been implemented worse.
“I identify as a female” is not a legal defense against allegations of rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, photography without consent in a private setting, [n]or any other crime.
And which is worse: Having to explain to your daughter why Aydian Dowling was in the Women’s room, or letting him use the men’s?
Kevin W: If I recall correctly, you neglected to answer certain of the questions I put to you earlier. I therefore find it rich that you would question my willingness to take up an intellectual challenge. I’m on the road now, but when I get home I will address your concerns in detail. Count on it.
Author’s note: I do believe I neglected to answer any questions asked by Kevin
Scott Neidich(me): Looking forward to it, and I appreciate your willingness to converse! I’ll see which questions of yours I missed and look at getting you an answer as well.
“Does the phrase “chop chop square” mean anything to you?”[Requote from Kevin W] You answered this one for me, but no I had not heard about it before you enlightened me. Can’t say I find the fact that Saudi Arabia would have such a thing surprising, I’ll give you that.
“Very well (especially the bit about typing on a phone). But if you don’t mind, please tell me why you think the NC law is so bad. I mean, should we extrapolate that your true wish centers on eliminating distinctions between the sexes?” [Requote Kevin W]
Addressed in my post beginning “ My point is not about eliminating the sexes, Kevin — it’s a matter of accomodating[Sic] gender identity.” But to answer your question more directly: The NC law creates a standard of ‘in order to really be trans you must undergo a significant medical procedure’ for some, and excludes those born in states that bar even this option like Ohio. The standard of ‘Birth Certificate’ is a legally high one, one I would say is much too high and invasive. I think I’ve addressed this thoroughly in my other posts, but if you want to probe me on it please do.
“Ask yourself this: would any of this be an issue now sans the misplaced zeal of Charlotte politicians?” [Requote from Kevin W]
Answered: ‘You are correct on one thing: this would not be a[n] issue for you if Charlotte had not passed the LBGT protection ordinance, because if I am not mistaken you are cisgendered, like me and like most people. The law looks fine to you as is because it is conchordant with your reality, just like a law saying “men may only marry women” would look fine to a heterosexual. But not everyone is cisgendered, not everyone is heterosexual — changing the law to accommodate everyone is a worthwhile venture, and as we will learn in the near future, fighting it is unconstitutional.’
I believe those are all the questions you raised, but I am happy to answer these more thoroughly or any others I have missed.
Kevin W: Outstanding. Now we are getting somewhere. The question I posed regarding “eliminating the sexes” was the one I had in mind. You have now answered it; although I am not sure you realize how problematic your answer was for a person in my position. “Gender identity,” although a hip subject in feminist and gender studies circles, has never really interested me; largely because of the underlying political motives that attach to persons who buy into it (generally speaking, good scholarship is disinterested scholarship, and to be taken seriously, academic endeavors should necessarily be apolitical). Going back to my time in graduate school, I came to regard persons whose majors included the word “studies” as unserious poseurs who lacked the discipline necessary to thrive in other, more conventional fields (history, philosophy, economics, etc.). You will forgive me, then, if I regard the concept of “gender identity” as something of a trigger, to borrow from the tedious academic parlance of today.
Turning to your questions, while I can provide little contemporary proof that accommodating sexuality and gender identity will devastate our society, I can point you to certain writers whose works speak to this issue in great detail. One of my favorites is Arnold Toynbee, whose 12-volume work (‘A Study of History’ — 1934–1961) attributes the decline of civilizations to moral decay. To encapsulate Toynbee, one merely needs to contend that when civilizations die, the do so via suicide or murder as opposed to natural causes. Sort of like what we are doing to ourselves right now.
As to whether the Charlotte bill would have caused actual harm, this question requires too much conjecture to answer in a logical, forthright way. We can speculate all day, but given that our prisons are bursting with sexual predators (as are many of our neighborhoods and workplaces), I believe we should err on the side of caution and not create laws that make easier targets of our women and children. I think this is referred to as “common sense.”
I am inclined to take transgendered people at their word, but to what end? I fail to see how this issue possesses any relevance here, and I am not sure why you brought it up.
Finally, to answer your question regarding evidence or arguments that would sway my opinion, my answer is very simple: none. You see, I hold a particular worldview that argues strongly in favor of traditional values: values that built and maintained Western civilization for the better part of the last two millennia. I am a Christian, and as such, I view members of the LGBT community as deluded souls desperately in need of prayer and compassion — but not approval or acquiescence. With civilization itself at stake (again, my opinion), approval and acquiescence are leading us to a terrible place, so I will offer them neither.
Author’s note: Emphasis added. I am reminded of the the sentiment sometimes attributed to Saint Augustine, that Christians should let the Jews “survive but not thrive.” But hey, progress is progress?
Kevin W: I will leave you with a few lines by the English poet, Alexander Pope. “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, as to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
Have a great evening.
Kevin W: Then again, perhaps you should read this article before you do anything else:
Scott Neidich Kevin, I really appreciate your honesty here — and it will affect our conversation moving forward. I am reminded of two quotes that I’ll mention in a minute, but first I would like to correct some assumptions you seem to be making.
Firstly, I am not some sophomore women’s studies major — Nor am I a student of “studies.” In my education, I can recall taking one “studies” class — Religious Studies focusing on religions of the United States. We spent most of the semester discussing the differences between the various forms of Protestant Christianity and how they came to the US. The next largest subject was Mormonism, and then a token amount of time was spent on Naturalistic religions of Native Americans, Judaism, and Islam. Perhaps it will surprise you that I hold a degree in Biology, Chemistry, and am nearing the end of a PhD in Nutrition with a focus in Metabolic Biochemistry and Immunology. I would ask about your educational background, but I am not very interested in what you have done. I am more interested in what you have said here.
I’d like to thank you for the recommendation of Arnold Toynbee’s 12 volume “A Study of History.” It should make for some interesting reading — But would you mind pointing me to whichever edition includes the fall of a civilization due to the acceptance of homosexuality and transgender individuals? The conversation will go much more quickly if I read that volume first.
“I believe we should err on the side of caution and not create laws that make easier targets of our women and children.”
Interesting, and a point I am willing to concede if you can offer evidence of one point: How many women and children have been raped or sexually assaulted by transgender person, or man claiming to be transgender? If this number is higher than the number of transgender people in the United States who have been the victim of sexual violence, I will gladly concede the entirety of this argument. (That’s about 350,000 in the US by the way.)
Speaking of conceding points, I want to thank you for your honesty. Not everyone is willing to hold their head up high — or more accurately, keep it in the sand — and shout “I will not be convinced by any argument whatsoever.” I mentioned two quotes earlier, and here is the first:
“Even the best Ping Pong player in the world cannot beat a brick wall.” -Anonymous Reddit User
That is to say, arguing with someone who is unwilling or unable to change their mind is a fruitless endeavor, and one I will not engage in any further. But the other quote is this:
“I don’t want to be wrong any longer than I have to be.” -Sam Harris
Which is to say, given your certitude in your beliefs, you must have tremendous insight that I am somehow missing [w]hat makes you infallible. So please, educate me: teach me why I am wrong.
Thanks, and I hope you have a great weekend.
Kevin W: I understand your sentiments, Scott. However, I could say a great many of the same things you just said about me…about you. You certainly appear to have extensive belief in your own notions of what is — and what is not — true. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, both of us are to a certain extent relying on our inner compass (as opposed to pure reason) to guide our steps. Call it faith or whatever you like, but we are probably more alike in certain ways than either of us would care to acknowledge. This includes an unwillingness to concede on our main points. We can argue back and forth until doomsday, but neither one of us will give an inch. That much is now abundantly clear.
So, having said all that, I will now say adieu. It has been a pleasure, and I wish you the best in your academic endeavors. I must admit that I never took you for a hard science kind of guy, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you are not an adjunct in a Women’s Studies department somewhere. Me, I’m a military historian; both by training and passion. Full disclosure: the first of my two MA’s was in Liberal Studies. Sometimes, my hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Defenders of House Bill 2 claim that the law is a “common sense legislation” meant solely to “protect women and children,” and that this law is non-discriminatory. Yet in discussing the law with its supporters, every person I have interacted with was only able to communicate their own misunderstanding, prejudice, and/or stubbornness on the subject. Perhaps Kevin W is a more honest person than I am: He acknowledges that his worldview will not be changed under any circumstance, whereas I openly state the criteria under which I would change my own. Kevin W makes no claim that his own views are based on reason, justice, or anything other than his version of Christianity, invoking it to call anything other than cisgendered heterosexual people “deluded” and unworthy of “approval or acquiescence.”