"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

"Evil" Christians boycott Tesco

Nick Lansley, Tesco’s head of research and development, posted a message on his personal Flickr.com profile which said:
“I’m…campaigning against evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners.”
This has predictably raised the ire of several religious groups who are planning to boycott the supermarket chain for which he works.
Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, said: “I won’t be shopping at Tesco this Christmas, and I am repeatedly hearing from other Christians who have already come to the same conclusion. “Mr Lansley is entitled to his opinions, and Christians are entitled to choose not to shop at Tesco.”
Leaving aside the fact that Tesco has distanced itself from the comments which were made in a personal capacity and in any event have since been removed, it is typical that Christians should consider it OK to impose a collective punishment on the store, it’s shareholders and employees in response to an individual excercising his rights to free speech. Mr Lansley is perfectly entitled to consider the attitudes of people, Christian or otherwise who oppose gay rights as evil and he should be able to say so. I understand why Tesco has asked him to remove the post, although the reasoning is flakey
"Our values as a company are such that we abhor criticism of any religion, and we knew nothing about Mr Lansley’s comments until they were brought to our attention. "We are very sorry that anyone might have thought that there was any blurring of the boundary between his personal comments and his work for Tesco. We have therefore asked him to remove the comments, and he has done so. "
They “abhor” criticism of religion? Really? I suspect that Tesco had no attitude either way until now. Anyway it’s a nonsensical opinion. They have no idea what socially repellent act some religious sect might come up with that is fully deserving of criticism. It just feeds into the notion that religion is especially privilaged and above reproach regardless of what it does or teaches.
Another interesting feature of this story is it highlights the real problem with David Cameron’s call for the country to return to Christian values. The Christians that Nick Lansley calls “evil” are by their own lights taking the moral position. Now I’m with Mr Lansley and diametrically opposed to the biblical homophobia that informs Christian attitudes on these matters. I too find it highly immoral that people are discriminated against based on their gender or sexual preferences, and just because a 1st century evangelical once wrote a bigoted postcard to the Corinthians about it doesn’t make it OK. Finally and in an effort to be fair, I would not have called the Christians “evil” in this way. They’re not evil although their predjudices, admittedly sincerely held, may well be. But you know what they say “hate the sin, love the sinner”. With pursuasion and yes, robust criticism of their religious presumptions, such “evil” attitudes can be changed.

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