I’ve had people tell me I should condemn them as heretics because they teach or believe things contrary to orthodox catholic Christian teaching.
To be a heretic, you must:
1) Be a baptized practicing member of the Church.
2) Still in the Church and not having left it.
3) Claiming to speak for the Church.
4) Claiming an opinion you know is contrary to Church teaching as if it’s revealed irrefutable divine truth and not just your opinion or idea.
5) Refuse to back down when challenged and shown evidence that what you’re saying is not Church teaching but keep lying about it anyway.
As you can see, in reality it’s a lot of work to be a heretic.
By the way, this was also true during the notorious “Spanish Inquisition.” The Spanish King–i.e. the secular authority, not the Vatican–had wanted all heretics burnt at the stake. That was mostly a corrupt deal between secular and religious authorities within Spain–and anyone who knows the history knows that multiple Popes tried repeatedly to get the Spanish government and Spanish clerics to stop with the brutal extremism, only to be ignored or lashed out at.
Meaning: you can even stop blaming the evil Catholic Church for “The Inquisition.” Catholic authorities were desperately trying to shut down or tame those Inqusitorial extremes for centuries before they stopped. Furthermore, Church authorities eventually succeeded over the objections of the secular state.
So you can stop fearing Catholics are coming for you and your different ideas, OK?
Christianity has long had dissenters within the Church. For all its 2000 years. Dissent and contrary but nonhostile ideas are common and the Church has always recognized that people can and do have such opinions.
Shorter version: Just disagreeing with the Church doesn’t make you a heretic. So don’t worry about it.
*Update*: This Conclavist “Pope” and other phonies like him are the only examples of modern heretics I can think of. And we don’t persecute them, we ignore them or laugh at them and hope they come to their senses. Killing heretics is what happens mostly when you have the state and the Church too closely tied together.
“Homophobia” is not an invention of Christians or any of the Abrahamic faiths. Gay rights activists and smug self-righteous atheists can stop with the smear campaign now.
As someone who has supported gay rights going back to the 1980s, back when there was some real social scorn associated with having gay friends, I have noticed in recent years that a lot of gays and other “gay rights” activists have become terrific bullies of religious people. They particularly like to scapegoat Christians, and portray the Gay Rights Struggle as a long struggle against repressive religious forces. A particular focus of their ire is often Catholics, followed closely by organized, mainline Protestantism (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc.).
This is ironic considering what you see when you look at the attitudes of religious Americans:
You can view the full survey at the Pew Research Group. Yes, anti-gay attitudes existed in these religious groups in greater numbers before, and anti-gay sentiment still exists. However, Catholics and Mainline Protestants are only slightly distinguishable from the nonreligious, and Catholics and Mainline Protestants are still, overwhelmingly, a group few politicians can ignore. By comparison, self-righteous secular atheists look miniscule and ridiculous in the general voting populace.
This is mathematically inescapable: No support for gay rights among Christians=no gay rights. It wouldn’t have happened because it couldn’t have. Even the US Supreme Court, which has delivered many pro-Gay decisions, is overwhelmingly made up of religious people–even while certain secularist bigots complain that there are too many Jews and Catholics on the Supreme Court. (“Progressives” used to recognize religious bigotry. Apparently not so much for modern “secularist” atheists huh?)
Christians, as it happens. have a set of values you can usually hold them to. While Biblical “evangelicals” and “fundamentalists” generally can come to any conclusion they want to by Prooftexting, the teachings of most mainline, organized Christian denominations has always been the same: These people are human, they deserve dignity and respect as human beings, and they shouldn’t be denied their rights or treated like animals.
Indeed, given the full context of the Bible, even sections that seem to condemn gays as evil must be read in light of Romans 2, which makes it clear Christians would be utter hypocrites to want to stone or otherwise harm people for sexual sins. Paul was living in a time when most people, not just most Christians, found homosexuality deeply disturbing; Pagan Romans were no different in this regard. It turns out that from Roman times until now, many Pagans have been anti-gay.
This “live and let live” attitude is the default attitude of almost all Christians I know, including those who were on the “anti” side of the gay marriage debate. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem good enough for some secular activists, who demand 100% agreement and 0% reservation on LGBTQ+ issues–which is where we get abusive secularist atheists ramming their morals down other people’s throats, such as in the “Bake the Cake” incident, where a small store run by Evangelical Christians was brutally told they had to bake a gay wedding cake whether they wanted to or not. They left the cake-making industry at a major loss to their finances but–in a defiant and righteous show of resistence–also refusing to pay state-mandated “damages” to the “victim” bullying gay couple.
The fact is that the gay rights movement is increasingly seen as a pack of moralizing, preaching, judgmental, controlling, demanding, and even potentially violent jerks who will smash anyone who expresses any reservation about things like gay marriage or massive gay pride parades.
Which is not a situation I created, it’s merely a situation I observe as reality.
We were told all gays wanted was to be treated as humans no worse than we are, deserving of all the rights we have. Now we’re increasingly told Christians are sub-human primitives if we have any reservations, at all, about anything LGBTQ+.
Did Christians make a mistake to back gay rights? When Christians are abused by atheist secularists and self-righteous LGBTQ+ activists, we have reason to wonder. How far does the bullying of dissenting Christians go, for sometimes saying “hmm we’re not sure?” or even “that’s gross?” Should we more tolerant Christians change our minds and decide we were betrayed, and that the most conservative among us were right to scorn us for being tolerant?
These are real questions, not rhetorical. If Christians are going to be scapegoated and spat upon for being Insufficiently Gay Friendly, fast enough, why shouldn’t Christians re-evaluate the relationship? If you hate us, you “enlightened pro-gay antireligious secularist progressives,” how enlightened and tolerant are you really?
Indeed, might not the constant Christian-bashing on gay issues not now be seen as blatant proof that our “homophobic” minority was right along and we were stupid not to listen to them?
To the Scientific Pragmatist who thinks that normal intelligent religious people get their values “from a book” and that we are therefore “primitive” or “superstitious” or “sentimental” in our faith.
I’m from the religion that gave you the Big Bang Theory, modern genetics, the entire University system, and the scientific peer review system. The one that promulgated the Scientific Method in the first place.
I’m also from the religious tradition that gave you Shakespeare, Cervates, Dante, Chaucer, Tolkein, GK Chesterton, William F. Buckley Jr., Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Santayana, and more. And some of the greatest musical composers and visual artists and architects and engineers and philosophers who ever lived.
I’m from the faith that brought widespread literacy to the entire world.
I’m from the faith that preserved all the great ancient philosophers (including the scientific, mathematic, and atheist philosophers) while Empire was crumbling.
I’m from the faith that leaders all over Europe begged to come and bless What, you thought the Church demanded to be put in charge? Sorry. Other way around. The ancients always believed they needed a religion, and they usually chose Christianity in Europe. They didn’t have to, and some did not. Christianity was most popular, with rulers as well as the common people. That’s why we were always being asked. What would you have done were you asked, by the way?
I’m from the faith that led to and birthed those “Human Rights” and “Civilized Values” you think are so obvious to everybody. And I notice that respect for those values, and even of science itself, are fading fast. Funny thing, respect for rooted, organized Christianity has been tumbling right around the same rate. I suggest a connection.
Orthodox religious, and institutional Protestants, do not get their values “from a book.” The book for us is part of a broad theological and philosophical tradition, with authoritative voices, not your weird buddy who’s always spouting random Bible verses at everybody. If you want to know what serious religious people think, consult serious religious sources, and stop believing what you hear in popular media from antireligious ideologues with an axe to grind.