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A Lutheran response to birthers

I received a comment at Birther Report from a “Guest” who said:

Guest: as a Lutheran, you are bearing false witness. You are complicit in Obama’s forgery as you are guilty of original sin. Since you claim you’re religion, then the same condemns you, as your ELCA also allows homosexuality. What does GOD say about homosexuality? What does GOD say about bearing false witness. Laugh now Dr Con, you’ll be with the goats soon, and whenever you look into the mirror you’ll know that your words have convicted you for eternity.

I replied at length, and not wanting to waste the effort just on a comment at Birther Report that will be lost among other old comments soon enough, I’ll repeat it here. The material is not very different from my Open Letter to Nathan Bickel, linked later on.


Dr. Conspiracy: On the contrary. It is partly because of my religion that I spend so much time telling the truth here and on my blog. My personal take on birtherism is informed in particular by my Lutheran background. This is from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism’s teaching on the Ten Commandments:

The Eighth Commandment

You must not tell lies about your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 )
What does this mean? We must fear and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor’s reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does.

I think any objective observer would say that [Birther Report] exists, both in content and comments, to say bad things about and to present in the worst possible light everything that Barack Obama does and by extension to me, the “Obots” and progressives in general. There is a difference between fair criticism and slander. I strive for the former and this site [Birther Report] presents the latter.

As scripture says:

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.
(RSV) 1 Peter 2:1

I do not hold myself up as without sin. I lose my temper and I say harsh things. But I also take considerable care not to stretch the truth when I criticize, and I try not to make sweeping generalizations in my articles. I try not to call people a liar when there is some other possible explanation. Obviously when you visit my site you cannot read all of the things I chose not to say, but there is a lot of it. I have refrained from calling all birthers racists. I have tried to couch birther actions in terms of the normal error of thinking common to everybody, except perhaps more exaggerated in their case. I don’t call birthers barking mad as often as I think it.

I care about moderation and fairness, and I work at it. I don’t always succeed, but I am trying. When I fail, I feel bad about it. I have a conscience.

God, according to Moses in the Bible, says the same thing about homosexuality as about eating shrimp. “Abomination” is the word. St. Paul says the same thing about homosexuality as about a man with long hair. “Degrading” is the word. That is a longer topic than I can cover here. The Lutheran Church, not without considerable controversy, no longer requires our clergy who are gay to be celibate. Our understanding of homosexuality has advanced, as has our understanding of shellfish. hair styles, slavery, the value of Pi and other things in the Bible. And despite the irresponsible remarks made [at Birther Report], I am neither a Communist, nor gay.

But don’t try to tag me with “false witness.” It doesn’t fit.

For more on this, see my Open Letter to Nathan Bickel, a Lutheran Pastor (not ELCA).

Somebody could go over my 3,600 articles and pick out the worst and most extreme examples out of everything I’ve said, pile it up ignoring every moderate thing I’ve ever said, and call me a hypocrite. This is exactly what the 8th Commandment prohibits, putting someone in the worst possible light.

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18 Responses to A Lutheran response to birthers

  1. avatar
    Crustacean January 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Outstanding reply, Doc.

    But the comment of yours that absolutely slayed me was your reply to the despicable charlesmountain: “just to satisfy my curiosity, how does someone like you reach maturity without being killed in a bar fight?”

    You owe me
    (1) mouthful of coffee
    (1) dry keyboard

    My people will be in touch with your people…

  2. avatar
    Kate January 25, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    I’ve always enjoyed Doc’s responses. His humor is often dry but very witty. I also get a lot of pleasure in hitting the “thumbs up” button for his replies because every time I do, it’s a little F.U. to the low life birthers.

    Kudos, Doc, for a great reply to the “Guest” at Birther Report. Any reply you receive will no doubt be inadequate.

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    When I make what I think is a really good comment at BR, I usually find one of 3 responses:

    1) silence
    2) A large distracting image
    3) “commie faggot.”

    Kate: Kudos, Doc, for a great reply to the “Guest” at Birther Report. Any reply you receive will no doubt be inadequate.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 25, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    I have updated my article and the comment at BR to remove the masculine pronoun in reference to the Diety. Lutherans try to avoid such references.

  5. avatar
    Punchmaster via Mobile January 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    When I make what I think is a really good comment at BR, I usually find one of 3 responses:

    1) silence
    2) A large distracting image
    3) “commie faggot.”

    Going by birther logic, catching such flak just means you’re right over the target.

  6. avatar
    J.D. Sue January 25, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    There are 613 laws of Moses, so it has always mystified me that some Christians recognize only 2 or 3 or whatever select-favorite “laws” and then misinterpret them. Especially baffling is the obsession/focus on homosexuality and abortion. In my religion, abortion is not prohibited, and homosexuality just isn’t such a big deal.

    In contrast, not bearing false witness against one’s neighbor is key to maintaining a civil and just society. Maybe that’s why it’s among the top 10 laws. Seems to me, birthers refuse to recognize that Obama, Doc, and the rest of us are actually their neighbors–and IMO that is the origin of their wrongful conduct….

  7. avatar
    Lupin January 26, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    “commie” and “faggot” (=gay) are two of the right-wing’s favorite insults; when they’ve hurled that at you, they think they really scored a point, when in fact I see nothing wrong with either.

  8. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG January 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Lupin:
    “commie” and “faggot” (=gay) are two of the right-wing’s favorite insults; when they’ve hurled that at you, they think they really scored a point, when in fact I see nothing wrong with either.

    All the birthers have left are playground insults, but that’s all they really ever had. Everything else was just an illusion. One that has crumbled.

  9. avatar
    Reality Check January 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    It’s frustrating that Bob Nelson/Thomas Washington or whomever cannot seem to fix their blog so that the comments on Intense Debate link back to the correct article. They seem to work randomly.

    Whoever runs that blog has limited computer skills. Their skills seem to be limited to inserting that stupid wrapper around every single YouTube video posted there. It reminds me of that moron Mike Volin and his Selma clip.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 26, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    An example is the Intense Debate notification, such as:

    http://www.birtherreport.com/2015/01/report-another-case-at-supreme-court.html

    which is not the URL of the page. The correct URL is:

    http://www.birtherreport.com/2015/01/report-case-at-supreme-court-targets.html

    The correct URL follows the page title. It may be that IntenseDebate is picking up an earlier version of the article title. That’s what it looks like to me.

    But even when the page URL’s work, the comment links never work, and when comments increase, they are partially hidden and you can’t simply search for the comment–you have to painstakingly expand each group of replies until you find it.

    BR SUX.,

    Reality Check: It’s frustrating that Bob Nelson/Thomas Washington or whomever cannot seem to fix their blog so that the comments on Intense Debate link back to the correct article. They seem to work randomly.

  11. avatar
    Lupin January 27, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG: All the birthers have left are playground insults, but that’s all they really ever had. Everything else was just an illusion. One that has crumbled.

    But what’s interesting is their choice of insults. They could call one an idiot or ugly or anything that would cast a negative light on one’s intelligence or physique or morals — whether true or not, that would be insulting.

    But at the risk of sounding like Seinfeld, what’s wrong about “commie” or gay? (Especially since their definition of “commie” includes anything left of Genghis Khan).

    If i tried to insult, say, a Jew by calling him “Anabaptist”, I think he would more puzzled that insulted.

    They appear to lack even the tiny degree of self-awareness that would help them realize that their pet phobias are not necessarily shared by the rest of the world.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 27, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    What puzzled was an insult that I received at WND, then later at BR (and it could be the same person) calling me lonely and friendless. “Commie faggot” is equally inaccurate.

    The force of the insult is not in its substance, lacking in these examples, but in the hateful feeling behind them.

    Lupin: But what’s interesting is their choice of insults. They could call one an idiot or ugly or anything that would cast a negative light on one’s intelligence or physique or morals — whether true or not, that would be insulting.

  13. avatar
    bovril January 27, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    On another site some years ago when someone was going down the ‘boogie man’ route I was queried as to my political stance. The answer did seem to give some head scratching……. 😎


    Anarcho-capitalist with significant chunks of Ordoliberalism, free trade supporter with a good dose of Thatcherism.

    Any single political-economic viewpoint/label is by it’s nature, rigid, of limited flexibility and typically encased in a straitjacket of history and (frequently failed) precedent

  14. avatar
    Reality Check January 27, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    The links break so often that it makes me wonder if BR isn’t intentionally changing the url’s to make it hard to follow back from ID. When the links work I can occasionally follow the link back to a comment but it is very slow. You are correct. Once the comments are collapsed it is almost impossible to follow a discussion. That is why I do not like nested comments. They work up to a point but on long discussions they do not work well.

    Dr. Conspiracy: BR SUX.,

  15. avatar
    bovril January 27, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Actually, the whole RWMJ look back on a mystical untrammeled free market past of their youth and the inherent evils of “Communism” generally peeves me.

    In the 30’s in the US with the New Deal through to the end of WW 2, the US was arguably running a significantly command based economy with many of the characteristics of the 1920’s “5 year plan ” model of the USSR.

    It did however move rapidly back to the more untrammeled raw capitalist economic model from 1947 onwards, the infamous “Military-Industrial Complex”….. :

    Economics and politics run in staggered complementary cycles swinging across more rigid to more flexible over time.

    Of course that sort of introspection and long view would require them to read and watch something outside of their sordid little echo chambers…….

  16. avatar
    Lupin January 27, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    bovril: Of course that sort of introspection and long view would require them to read and watch something outside of their sordid little echo chambers…….

    The right wing cretins have this idea that “Yurp” is some kind of dystopia rivaling Darkseid’s Apokolips from DC Comics, where Muslims play the role of parademons.

    The fact that no one in the US media felt like taking Fox to the woodshed for its ridiculous “no-go zones” reporting — while they got lambasted throughout Europe — is an indication that like a fish in a water tank, too many Americans have been too exposed to rubbish propaganda for so long that that they see it as “normal” or don’t even notice it anymore.

    I even got questioning emails from people in the US who should know better.

  17. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 27, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    We had nested comments here, and paged comments as well. There are tradeoffs, but I like what we have now better than the alternatives at least for a commenting community the size of this one. I wouldn’t ever have a commenting system that couldn’t link via URL to a comment. That’s a total non-starter in my book.

    Reality Check: That is why I do not like nested comments. They work up to a point but on long discussions they do not work well.

  18. avatar
    Dave January 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    Never attribute to malice what can be explained by plain incompetence.

    Reality Check:
    The links break so often that it makes me wonder if BR isn’t intentionally changing the url’s to make it hard to follow back from ID.