Sunday, October 03, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Christian Hate?

I was appalled this week at the story about Andrew Shirvell, the Assistant Attorney General in Michigan who has been waging a one-man hate war against a 21-year-old student at the University of Michigan. Referring to his Christian faith several times, Shirvell defended the things he had done to the student (who Shirvell apparently hates because he is both gay and president of the student body at Michigan): Starting a blog to vilify the student, drawing a swastika with an arrow pointing to the student's face, protesting in front of the student's home, and publicly describing the student as an "Satan's representative." Whew.

I think there are principled arguments on both sides of, say, the issue of gay marriage. That is a legitimate debate in the public sphere.

However, I really deplore hatred in the name of Christianity. It simply isn't in keeping with what Christ taught. It saddens me that my own faith is used this way by people like Andrew Shirvell, and saddens me more that he is a lawyer. I'm currently the head of the association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, and we often discuss and debate the meaning of what should happen at the intersection of faith and law. What should not happen at that crossroads, we probably would all agree, is the type of actions taken by Andrew Shirvell.

What's obvious is that Shirvell's training has been in a particularly nasty kind of Christianized politics, which is far more political than it is Christian. What that kind of blowhard, polarizing politics lacks is the exact characteristic that Christ most strongly urged on us: humility.

Is there, could there be, such a thing as "Christian hate?"

You know, I used to think that there was a reasonable debate on both sides of the gay marriage issue, but I don't anymore. I simply don't see a coherent argument against gay marriage that's not based on an underlying disapproval of homosexuality. Maybe I'm wrong.
Also, 2 things: 1, how is this not against the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct? 2, this guy better hope he doesn't become the target of an attack by people like the guys over at 4chan. He will quickly find out that he is way out of his league when the game is trying to ruin someone's life via the internet.
"satan's representative" that same thing as "devil's advocate"?

And playing the part (hopefully of the latter rather than the former), are his actions that much different from those employed against the likes of Pat Robertson or say...the Pope by those in support of homosexuality?

Obviously this guy is an idiot but I wonder if we are expecting more from him because of his religious beliefs but allow the oppostion a pass?
I'm with Justin. When ATL covered this, that was my thought. How is this guy not suspended?

But lawyers voluntarily accept a higher standard of
conduct than non-lawyers. And any time someone uses their faith to justify treating someone like a beast (it is unfortunately a problem that all beliefs have, even atheism) we hear that they are either not a "true" member of the religion because he fails to comply with moral stricture x.

But we wouldn't say that a lawyer who is disciplined for an ethical violation isn't a lawyer. This man is a Christian. He follows a valid religious precept of the religion that God so detests homosexuality that he is willing to destroy whole cities and pardon good men that offer to let homosexuals rape his daughters, because rape is better than homosexuality.

There are interpretations that reject the above view, but it is a legitimate reading of scripture. He may be a bad man and immoral, but unfortunately, he is a Christian so long as the above reading is justified.

The answer of course is to have Christians attempt to convince him that his ways and actions are not orthodox, since Christianity does not have a separate moral court where you could censure him for acting contrary to some professed principles. And I wonder, in light of all the recent suicides of young gays and lesbians facing extreme bullying, whether we ought not do something like that, since the right-wing, largely Christian thought appears to be legitimizing at least some of the bullying.

If there were some method, like a disciplinary hearing of the Board of Professional Ethics, where Christians could police their own, like shari'ah courts for Muslims.
Christian hate is the hatred of sin but never the hatred of the sinner. We are all sinners and have the need for Jesus Christ and His Grace in our lives.

The hatred of sin never justifies ostercizing, bullying, or persecuting those engaging in sinful behavior. And if we hope to win the sinner, we must do so in love and patience, at times looking beyond the sin and inviting him or her to "sin no more."
Actually Lane, as a Catholic i do have something akin to a moral court within the Church. We've used it a number of times imprudently in the last few centuries.
The idea being that if the court decided you have violated cannon law or moral precepts, you can be punished, or most drastically cast out from the Church and not allowed to be part of the communion by being excommunicated and forbidden from Communion itself.

but I'm guessing that doesn't apply to him.
you can be punished, or most drastically cast out from the Church and not allowed to be part of the communion by being excommunicated and forbidden from Communion itself.

Or moved to a parish in another town and told to keep quiet.
D_ADA (Dada?) -- that's something of what I had in mind. I know that there are some sects of Judaism that have their own versions of religious law as well.

I think that if one voluntarily assumes greater moral obligations by participation in some social or professional organization (like we do as lawyers) we ought to subject our moral choices to public scrutiny as well. It might lead to people thinking more about how their actions reflect on their public associations when they do things like attack a college student on the Internet, even if they do go to U. of M.

I'm glad this guy has been disciplined by his boss (Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox), and hopefully he'll face further discipline by the Michigan State Bar. So while we can establish he doesn't represent the Bar of the State of Michigan, I'd like it said that he (and those like him) do not represent the Christians around the world and nation that abhor the treatment that some people have at the hands of these people.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?