Reply to Col. Maxey

Via Ed Brayton’s blog comes this letter from Lt. Col. Stacy Maxey, as reported by guest blogger Chris Rodda.

Letters to the Editor, December 15, 2010So let me see if I understand this: The Defense Department is proposing to let people who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle serve “openly” in the armed forces (per the Dec. 2 article “DADT study group: Full integration is best”), but won’t allow Christians such as myself the freedom to “openly” share the good news of Christ with our co-workers — as the faith we’ve chosen requires?

DOD officials plan to tell servicemembers who have a problem with those living a homosexual lifestyle to “learn to deal with it,” but they are prepared to counsel and/or slap Christians with paperwork if someone feels “offended” by our witness? Wearing sexual lifestyle choices on your sleeve is OK, but not your faith?

Military chaplains who teach that homosexuality is antithetical to and incompatible with Christianity (which it is) can either muzzle their objections or “leave,” but gays will be permitted to parade their lifestyle choices in front of all?

Bottom line: So I’m free to express myself if I’m a homosexual, but not if I’m a Christian? What disgraceful hypocrisy.

Here’s the truth: I will continue to witness to who I want, when I want and where I want. My commitment to my God supersedes my commitment to the DOD and, if officials are upset about that, then I guess they can “learn to deal with it.”

Department of Defense? More like the Department of Double Standards.

Lt. Col. Stacy L. Maxey

I feel like writing back to the good colonel and clarifying one or two matters about which there seems to be some confusion.

Dear Col. Maxey;

Regarding your letter of Dec. 15 to the Stars and Stripes, it seems you are offended by the double standard involved in repealing DADT. I’m sure you will be delighted to find out that a fair compromise is easily available that removes all of the issues of double standards between Christians and gays in the military. All we need to do is apply the same standard to both. With the repeal of DADT, the following will be possible:

  • If someone asks whether you are a Christian, you will not have to lie and say that you are not, just as gays will no longer have to lie when asked if they are gay.
  • If the military discovers that you are Christian, you will not automatically be discharged, just as gays will no longer face immediate discharge upon discovery that they are gay.
  • If you are seen openly participating in casual Christian activities, such as going to church or carrying a bible, you will not need to fear immediate exposure and discharge, just as gays who are seen associating with others of the same sex will not need to fear immediate exposure and discharge.
  • Any prayers, Bible studies, or other Christian activities which you engage in on your own time, in private, will not be any of the military’s business, just as it is none of the military’s business what homosexual soldiers do in private, on their own time.
  • If you have a fellow soldier or superior officer who is pressuring you to engage in homosexual activities against your will, you will have the same freedom to file a complaint as a gay soldier has to complain about a fellow soldier who is pressuring them to engage in Christian activities against their will.
  • If a superior officer unfairly penalizes you for failure to engage in homosexual activities, by giving you unfavorable performance reviews, withholding promotion, or giving you punitive work assignments, you will have the opportunity to apply for a redress of your grievances, just as gays will in the case of superior officers who penalize them similarly for failure to engage in Christian activities.
  • Military chaplains who advocate Christian conduct, as well as those who advocate homosexual conduct, will be free to speak as their conscience demands when conducting designated services where attendance is voluntary, but may face pressure, reprimands, or even discharge if they abuse their position to advocate Christianity or homosexuality among those who do not wish to participate in such exchanges.

Granted, you may be required by regulations (if not by ordinary courtesy and professionalism) to make certain concessions. For example, to promote team cohesion and unit effectiveness, you may not be allowed to single out certain members of your team for public humiliation and harassment just because they are gay. But even here, the same standard works the other way: your team members will be required not to single you out for public humiliation and harassment just because you are a bigot and/or have chosen a bigoted religion.

You are right: there have been some serious and injurious double standards in the military. I’m sure that with your interest in justice, fairness, and service, you will be delighted now that these double standards are being ended, and the samel rules applied equally to all service members.


Deacon Duncan.

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Framing Atheism

I don’t know if you’ve been following the discussion on Scienceblogs right now, but there’s a very interesting exchange going on between Josh Rosenau and Jason Rosenhouse on the subject of New Atheists versus accommodationists. Josh writes:

Jason’s account makes it sound as if King was an uncompromising and iconoclastic leader. But that misreads King and the history of civil rights. Remember that it was Malcolm X, not Dr. King, who insisted on change “by any means necessary.” Indeed, Malcolm X criticized King using logic analogous to that Jason deploys against accommodationism.

Sounds like strong talk, though Josh immediately tempers it with one of the many disclaimers and caveats in his post:

(I repeat that this is an analogy. New Atheists aren’t Malcolm X, there aren’t atheist nationalists that would parallel Malcolm X’s black nationalism, neither I nor any other accommodationist would claim to be Martin Luther King reborn, etc. It’s an analogy, please don’t overinterpret it.)

He’s got a point to make and he’s going to make it, but he bends over backwards to be, well, accommodating to those who might disagree with him. He wants us to hear what he has to say, and I think we need to hear it. I wouldn’t call myself an accommodationist (and I don’t think many regular readers would accuse me of being overly accommodating to religion, at least in this blog), but right now, at this time and place in the history of church and state, I think we need to listen to both sides, and do some serious, open-minded thinking. And I think the MLK vs Malcolm X analogy gives us something really meaty to think about.

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The Pew Poll

There’s been some discussion lately about the recent Pew poll that shows atheists outscoring believers on the subject of the believers’ own religious beliefs. PZ Myers and Ed Brayton are among those who see this as scoring a not-insignificant point for the atheists’ side, while Chad Orzel and Josh Rosenau are among those cautioning us against reading too much into this interesting statistic. Orzel cites Razib and Nisbet as pointing out that atheists, being in the minority, are more motivated to explore and understand the religious beliefs of others, since they’re more likely to find themselves “in the crosshairs” of a dorm-room discussion or a knock at the door. Brayton, meanwhile, points out that many unbelievers (of which I happen to be one) started out as believers, and became unbelievers precisely because they learned what they were believing in, and thought about it.

Neither side should be lightly dismissed; each has something important to say, and a valid point to make. And of course, I have my own two cents to toss in.

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Posted in Current Events, Society, Unapologetics. 5 Comments »

The New Terrorists

Terrorism: promoting a sustained condition of fear in an entire population in order to get what you want. There are two types of terrorist. The violent type spreads fear by saying “I am going to hurt you.”

Osama bin Ladin

The milder type spreads fear by saying “Someone else is going to hurt you.”

Glenn Beck

You know, like “liberals.” Or better yet, “socialists.” Or gays. Or whoever it’s convenient to demonize at the moment.

Our biggest problem isn’t that we’re being terrorized by the violent guys. It’s all the “milder” types jumping on the terrorist bandwagon, working to maintain a continuous state of fear and paranoia in the general public. If we really want to help America by fighting terrorism, we ought to start by recognizing where it’s really coming from. It’s not being smuggled in from some Middle Eastern territory. It’s 100% home grown.

Just two cents worth, in observance of 9/11.

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Starring Sarah Palin as Alice…

While I’m ranting about political topics, let me blow off a little steam about the Tea Partiers. I’m not sure how Louis Carroll would feel about seeing a significant element in American politics modeled after Messrs Hatter and Hare, but I rather doubt it would be pride.

The Tea Partiers are the intellectual bastard children of Karl Rove and Rupert Murdock (and similar manipulators of public opinion). Bred from the innuendo and suspicion fostered by conservative political strategy, they have grown up unable to trust any authority, even the ones that created them.

The plan was that by using slander and demagoguery, conservatives could control what people believed and how they would vote. It even worked, for a while. But much to their current surprise and dismay, it’s turning out that the victories they’ve bought with their dishonest tactics are victories they’ve charged to a very expensive credit card. And it’s time to pay the bills.

The trouble with rabble-rousing is that you end up with a lot of roused rabble. And in this case it’s a lot of roused rabble with an inherent mistrust of authority. Is it a coincidence that they’re developing a taste for candidates like Sarah Palin and George Bush, whose popularity is based on their lack of “elite” leadership skills? If you don’t trust your leaders, why not put the incompetents in that position, so they’ll be less of a threat, eh?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There’s no cure short of waiting for the Tea Partiers to realize that denying reality is mostly self-destructive. The question is, can the RNC survive the monster they worked so hard to create?

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Posted in Current Events, Politics, Science. 9 Comments »

A Texas “education”?

I haven’t been saying much about current events lately, but there’s a question I just have to ask. Experts have been commenting about how the new curriculum standards out of Texas are likely to influence other states as well, due to the very large number of textbooks purchased by Texas schools. The question I have to ask is what the heck are they doing with all those books?

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Posted in Current Events, Education, Society. 8 Comments »

Colson v. Human Rights

Well, you had to know this was coming. Catholic Charities has announced that, in order to avoid paying benefits to same-sex couples, they will deliberately deprive all employees of their standard benefits. So naturally Chuck Colson is declaring that religious freedom is under attack, though he’s predictably inaccurate about who is doing the attacking.

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Colson’s latest snow job

Boy, Chuck Colson has really been on a roll lately, hasn’t he? This time he’s denying global warming.

The people most inconvenienced by the blizzards weren’t the residents of this region, or the senators-it was the proponents of man-made global warming. Scientists and activists insisted that people on this side of the Atlantic ignore the evidence in their driveways and, instead, trust their computer models.

According to Colson, you can disprove global warming just by pointing out that it’s still snowing.

10 years ago, they told us that, on account of the same global warming, “snow is starting to disappear from our lives.” We were told that, because of all that nasty CO2, British children “just aren’t going to know what snow is.”

Ten years later, they most certainly do. Not only British children, but children in every state except Hawaii. All of Britain, much of the rest of Europe, and the United States have experienced snowfalls this winter. The data suggests, in fact, that “snow is coming earlier and heavier than it used to.”

Ah yes, “they” told us. Nice to have an unimpeachable source, isn’t it?

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Colson plays the numbers

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there’s been a new study done on different approaches to sex education.

The study followed 662 African American sixth and seventh graders for two years. Some were placed in the abstinence program, others in a comprehensive course that included discussion of abstinence and condom use. Another group participated in a program that dealt only with safer sex, and a final group of control subjects did a workshop on nutrition…

Of 95 students who said they were virgins at the start of the abstinence training, 33 percent reported that they had sex within the next two years.

By comparison, 41 percent of the virgins in the comprehensive course went on to have sex in the two-year window. For the control group, the figure was 47 percent.

In a sample this size, the difference between the comprehensive class and the abstinence class – 33 percent vs. 41 percent – was not statistically significant, said Jemmott, so it is accurate to say they performed comparably.

And here’s Chuck Colson reporting the same story:

A landmark study on sex education draws a surprising conclusion. Well, you and I aren’t surprised, but the media and the educational establishments are. The study found that abstinence-based sex education works better than any other form of sex ed.

He’s right. I’m not surprised at all.

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Posted in Current Events, Society. 2 Comments »

Luskin pwns Dembski

Via Good Math, Bad Math comes this delightful bit of news.

[O]ver at the Disco Institute, resident Legal Eagle Casey Luskin has started posting an eight-part series on how the Kitzmiller case (the legal case concerning the teaching of intelligent design in Dover PA) was decided wrong.

Dr. Chu-Carroll proceeds to disassemble Luskin’s rather pathetic argument (as does Dr. Wesley Elsberry), and I recommend following the links and reading their analyses. What caught my eye, however, was the way Luskin not only bungles his case, but inadvertently pulls the rug out from under one of William Dembski’s main arguments.

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Posted in Amusements, Current Events, Science. 3 Comments »