The Right Reverend Chuck Currie
Like a one-legged man eagerly hopping into an ass-kicking contest, the Right Reverend Chuck Currie, Portland’s celebrity spokes-model and Great White Hope for “progressive” Christianity, penned a finger-wagging open letter in response to anti-religious comments on the Portland Mercury’s blog post about an anti-gay church moving in to Southeast Portland.
For those who don’t read the Merc, you should know that it’s an “alt weekly,” with a young and edgy reader demographic. They drop the F-bomb all over the place, so any reader of their blog shouldn’t be shocked to see a few dropped in comments, or by the generally irreverent tone.
In his letter, Currie essentially equates ridicule of magical thinking with actual oppression experienced by gays and ethnic minorities: “…general intolerance and even hatred toward people of faith is just as evil as hatred directed at people because of their sexual orientation or color.”
But… but… but… Christians don’t get the shit kicked out of them by gays just for being Christian, or have laws passed infringing on their basic human rights! (Can I get an amen?) This is patently offensive, of course, and it was immediately called out with a chorus of hoots from Merc readers.
Commenter Graham, who probably writes more copy on the Merc blog than any single Merc staffer, nailed it right away: “This idiot is confusing acceptance with tolerance. I have to tolerate that religious people are idiots and live in my city, I don’t have to accept their stupid fucking drivel.”
I decided to jump in, using a bit of the Merc lingua franca (cussing), ending with and invitation for “all believers to shut the fuck up about their Gods, no matter how just and merciful they may imagine them to be. ” (I can’t help it; I’m a little sensitive to all the godliness being trotted out on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.)
I ultimately questioned Chuck’s beliefs, quoting from his denomination’s “statement of faith,” which talks about Christ as savior. This pissed him off, and he responded in delicious fashion.
First he basically renounced John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) with the Universalist statement “there are different paths to God….” Having brushed aside a perfectly legitimate logical query into his take on the fundamental tenet of Christianity, he turned on me, showing his true colors.
“Your problem, with respect,” he wrote, “is that you lack any real understanding of the great diversity within Christian tradition. And you are a jerk.” (Emphasis mine.)
I gave him some jazz for being a charlatan and cherry-picking from the bible, which he countered with more ad hominem: “You are letting the Religious Right define Christianity for you. You’re letting them set the terms of what is acceptable thought. That’s dumb.” (Emphasis mine, again.)
I closed with this:
No, Chuck, I’ve let the history of Christianity define Christianity for me. Despite you calling me “dumb” (another badge of honor!), I know a thing or two about that history. Modern fundamentalists do not aberrate from this historical arc. The real “fringe” elements in the continuum of this ancient faith are those few who reject the basic tenet of Christ as savior.
My final word here, just to wrap it back to your original sin in writing this ridiculous, sanctimonious, finger-wagging letter: You want us to tolerate bigots, and equate ridicule of their magical thinking to bigotry.
Modern human society has no responsibility to tolerate retrograde thinkers who advocate categorical infringement of basic human rights based on irrational beliefs. In the public policy sphere, whether domestic (basic rights) or foreign (religious wars), we have a responsibility to oppose them at every turn, for the good of human civilization.
If you can’t handle ridicule of your faith, don’t talk about it in public. Instead, “enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)
I have heard that Chuck is a
real nice guy total asshole (I’ve never met him). But for somebody who is very public about professing his magical thinking, he sure has a thin skin. And a lot of damn nerve equating intolerance of bigots to bigotry.