Bill Maher had Ralph Reed, the founder of the Christian Coalition, on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher‘.
Maher carefully prepared for this discussion with Reed, using his understanding of Reed’s predictable inconsistencies. The discussion is actually a setup for (I fully expect) a commentary later by Maher.
I offer my version of that commentary after a summation of the discussion.
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Maher, regarding parenthood:
People don’t have to be married. They have to be there.
Reed’s response to Maher’s example of a successful, ‘less-Christian’ European culture was:
In America, the social science is …
Maher, regarding faith:
Faith: The purposeful suspension of critical thinking.
Reed, in response:
It’s a relationship, it’s not a set of rules. … When you feel that your eternal destiny is resolved, you have a peace …
Reed, acknowledging reality:
You don’t have to have faith to be a good person.
Maher, regarding charity:
Of course, but you can do those things without believing in magic.
Reed claimed, when asked specifically by Maher, to be a Biblical Literalist. When Maher presented inconvenient aspects of the Bible, Reed made the usual argument, that he could select (quote-mine) the scriptures to ignore these inconvenient things. Yet, he criticized Maher for that very fault:
You’re being very selective.
Reed doubled-down on his own contradiction, just in time for the end of (interview) time:
You could just as easily cite the dietary laws in the Old Testament … if you go to the New Testament, there’s a New Covenant that demonstrates that’s not the path to ultimate salvation. … You’re not going to get to heaven by observing do’s and don’ts and rules … you’re going to get to heaven by a personal relationship with God.
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My context for all elements of this discussion is the position taken by Reed, and millions of Christians, about LGBT rights. You know that position, that those people have chosen an immoral lifestyle, and that the health of society in general (not just of those who are Christians) requires that LGBT people be restricted from marriage, parenting, and buying cakes from a public bakery.
The authority for this position is the Old Testament, using a few indistinct passages which can be interpreted as condemnations of All Things Homosexual. You don’t need me to remind you further.
Where is Reed’s reliance upon the New Covenant? Jesus of Nazareth NEVER SAID a single word about gender choice or sexual lifestyle, except for what applies thoroughly to heterosexuals also.
I agree with something that Reed said,
You’re not going to get to heaven by observing do’s and don’ts and rules.
Yet “You’re being very selective” Reed is very selective in insisting upon adherence to certain Levitical rules.
Reed needs to actually believe in that “personal relationship with God” for everyone, not just the relationship that he has, and in the way he has it.
How personal is it for my relationship with God to be the same as Ralph Reed’s?
I differ from Reed primarily not by religion, or any emotional viewpoint. I differ from him by being able to apply some critical thinking, as contrasted to his purposeful (convenient) suspension of critical thinking.
That difference makes Reed unable to imagine an America in which un-married parents raise children who, demographically, are members of society who are as valuable as the children of married, or of divorced, parents.
Reed can, to support his preconceptions and biases, only depend upon – not the Bible – and – not his personal relationship with God – but the “… social science is very clear, that they’re more likely to …”.
Reed has no faith in America. He has only his refusal to critically think about the real possibility that America can improve in the same way that Europe has improved. It is sad and destructive for a person like Reed, who has a large influence, to be very selective in his citation of social science instead of using critical thinking and recognizing that social scientists find benefits to society in treating everyone, including those who are LGBT, according to equal and consistently-applied laws.
Maybe, the next time that Maher and Reed have a public discussion, Maher could attempt to learn what the hell Reed is thinking when he says “Yes” in answering a question about being a Biblical Literalist.