Partisan says get a grip, stop religious violence; Rod Dreher disagrees (?!)

Context means a lot.

At a religious service on a state college campus, a congregant violated etiquette at communion. Some reports noted that sect members bullied the congregant on the spot. The congregant fled the service, according to some reports. An advocacy group for the religious sect demanded apologies, legal action, and ostracism for the congregant. Threats of violence against the congregant started rolling in. The congregent was told he will be murdered.

A professor at a good, small midwestern state college used his pen to urge calm among the sect’s members. Threats of violence are foolish, he says. Calm down, he said.

The professor tried to put things in perspective: Threatening murder for a violation of communion etiquette is beyond the pale, one of the dangers of violent religious sects. Such actions are the opposite of American tradition.

But then the prof took a step farther: This religious sect is functioning on superstition, he said. He said the superstition can be exposed, and he would use his skeptical powers to expose the superstition, to show everyone that threats of death on such issues are unwise, unnecessary, and to be avoided.

Rod Dreher, who last week complained in his column about the lasting damage that bullies can do to kids in schools, weighed in on the communion/death threats matter with a column this week in the Dallas Morning News.

How did Dreher weigh in?

A. He calls for an end to bullying, and urges calm.
B. He says religious wars started this way, and he urges calm.
C. He calls for an end to bullying, but urges the professor to lay off debunking the religion.
D. He calls the professor hateful, and supports the side that issued the death threats.

See below the fold.

Incredible as it may be, Dreher chose “D,” supporting the side that made the death threats, and calling the professor who condemned the death threats “hateful.” Dreher lambasted the professor, but didn’t even mention the death threats that started the entire thing. Let me repeat: Dreher called the professor “hateful.” The headline (which Dreher probably didn’t have any control over) called the professor “hate-filled.” Dreher called the professor, P. Z. Myers, a “militant atheist,” but never mentioned the militant religious sect members who threatened violence and death to one of their own members — and to Myers. Nor did Dreher explain why calling for an end to religious violence makes one a “militant atheist,” or “hateful.”

Which just goes to show: Religious terrorism is all in the eye of the worshipper; to way too many worshippers, violence in defense of faith is fine, so long as the violence supports their own point of view.

Dreher’s column is grotesquely unbalanced, presenting a rosy view of just one side of a many-faceted discussion that has no rosy views. Does Dreher consider the entire case? He doesn’t present any balancing view, let alone a complete view. Today’s column makes no mention of the original incident at the University of Central Florida.

I may have to re-evaluate my previous views of Dreher’s bias. His failure to present even a semblance of a balanced case today is an astounding lapse for an opinion column.

P. Z. Myers is the biologist who blogs at Pharyngula, one of the more popular, rational and persuasive blogs on the internet.

Dreher is a member of the editorial board at the Dallas Morning News, a religious, conservative voice, usually for traditional values.

Did we learn the wrong lessons from Osama bin Laden? It sure looks that way on this issue.

Other resources:

13 Responses to Partisan says get a grip, stop religious violence; Rod Dreher disagrees (?!)

  1. Jack says:

    It was actually Ghandi who said of western civillisation “It’s a great idea, someone should try it.”


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    I tried to avoid that. There are two messages in Myers’ original post, I think, and the second, provocative message, shouldn’t get the only play.


  3. popehat says:

    I’m not arguing with that, Ed. But I think you’ve portrayed PZ as a peacemaker in the post. That’s just not accurate. PZ routinely ridicules religion and the religious with obvious relish. This incident was part and parcel of this.

    That’s all fine and good. I ridicule people as well. But no one should call me a conciliator.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    I would not have chosen P.Z.’s methods. One of the messages of Jesus was to look beyond methods, to what the message is. You’re probably right: P.Z. intended to show Donohue and others as extremist hypocrites.

    There is no law that says Christians must live down to the worst images others have of them.


  5. popehat says:

    Donahue is a theocratic twit and death threats are inexcusable. However:

    A professor at a good, small midwestern state college used his pen to urge calm among the sect’s members. Threats of violence are foolish, he says. Calm down, he said.

    I don’t think that’s a fair summary of PZ’s role. PZ is, on matters religious, a polemicist. I may agree with him on some abuses by organized religion and on the relation of church and state, but I don’t think his role in this can be seen as anything but gleefully and deliberately inflammatory. That’s his right, of course.


  6. RayvenAlandria says:

    Dreher is a repulsive individual. It’s quite interesting that we cannot comment on his *cough* editorial. (aka piece of literary garbage).

    I strongly suspect he was one (or more) of the trolls who bombed PZ’s blog. I am sure he is too much of a coward to admit he was there though. Perhaps an IP trace would be enlightening.


  7. Rodibidably says:

    Ed, No problem at all on the edit. As long as the tone and content are left undisturbed, I don’t see a problem with the “edit” you made, for family friendly reasons.

    I may not agree that words should be seen as offensive (I fall more in line with George Carlin’s line of thinking on this subject), but as this is your blog, I understand your desire to “keep it clean”.

    As for my post, it really just kind of ran away from me. Every time I looked at the word count it seemed it had gone up by another 500-1000 words, and eventually I just stopped looking and figured that it was long enough either nobody would read it even if i cut it in half, or a few people would read it even if I doubled the length from there.

    In this case, I felt laying the groundwork was important, top making the points at the end, about the utter hypocrisy of the situation.


  8. Tony Sidaway says:

    I said my stuff on this matter here so I won’t repeat all that.

    But thanks for (another) sane and sober description.


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Sometimes it takes a long explanation to point out the irony and the idiocy of some of this stuff — especially in this case, where Rod Dreher is normally a rather rational sort of guy. People give him credence, in this case much more than he deserves or earns.

    I apologize for the edit of your post, Rodibidably. I try to keep this blog available in schools — we’re already banned in China, Turkey, and Duncanville, Texas, schools — so I limit profanity, even the mild sort, and even at a price of accuracy. No offense intended.


  10. Rodibidably says:

    Thanks for the link back. I know my post is RIDICULOUSLY long, but I didn’t want to skip out on (or diminish) any of the insanity with this whole s–t storm.


  11. Evil Bender says:

    Excellent analysis. Someday I’d like someone to explain to me why the far right is so consistently oblivious to the irony of their actions.


  12. Mike says:

    I had thought this was all talked out, but it just keeps giving, doesn’t it? PZ stirred a hornet’s nest, didn’t he?


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