Saturday, June 09, 2012

Is the religious right hypocritical?

Jeff Lower recently did a post accusing the “religious right” of “hypocrisy”

I don’t deny that the religious right can be guilty of hypocrisy, although the “religious right” is an umbrella term. Presumably Jeff means certain members of the religious right, and not the religious right as a whole.

That said:

i) Why does Jeff attribute this to the “religious right”? He gives a quote, but none of the spokesmen in the quote are self-identified members of the religious right. Is Jeff just assuming that only a religious right-winger would be opposed to the ceremony?

If so, I don’t see how that follows. The spokemen might simply regard the ceremony as a violation of states’ rights or the rule of law. Indeed, isn’t that how they frame the issue?

In principle, someone who supports the notion of homosexual marriage might still object to an extralegal ceremony. (BTW, I’m not expressing a legal opinion on the circumstances of the ceremony. I’m merely drawing attention to how the quoted spokesmen cast the issue.)

ii) Perhaps more to the point, isn’t the stated objection that the homosexual marriage was performed by military personnel on a military base?

Therefore, it’s not an objection to a purely religious ceremony, but the way in which gov’t resources were entangled in that ceremony. If it were performed in a Disciples of Christ church, it wouldn’t necessarily provoke the same reaction.

Indeed, don’t organizations like the AU, ACLU, and People For routinely draw that distinction? Conversely, don’t many Baptists draw that same distinction?  

So I don’t see that Jeff has successfully pinpointed the objection. He might think it’s hypocritical on other grounds, but not on the grounds he gave.  

iii) Finally, the charge of “hypocrisy” seems overwrought in this context. No doubt politicians can be hypocritical, but Jeff is charging them with hypocrisy for an inconsistency that he perceives, not one that they perceive. Most politicians aren’t intellectuals, philosophers, or logicians. Even if (ex hypothesi) the spokesmen are inconsistent, that doesn’t mean they are consciously inconsistent.

How does Jeff define hypocrisy? If you hold an inconsistent position, even though you’re not cognizant of the inconsistency, does that make you a hypocrite?

1 comment:

  1. "If you hold an inconsistent position, even though you’re not cognizant of the inconsistency, does that make you a hypocrite?"

    Even if you ARE aware, you might not necessarily be a hypocrite: you're just not an ideological extremist.

    I support gay marriage based on my libertarian notions of freedom, but this position does make it difficult to simultaneously argue against marriage between siblings, for example (for those few areas of Kentucky where this is a desirable arrangement). It's not that there's an exact analogy between incest and gay marriage, but the legal reasons for allowing gay marriage are not absent for marriage between siblings.

    I like to think of myself as consistent, but let's not get crazy here.