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My Problem with Christianism
Time.com ^ | Sunday, May 7, 2006 | Andrew Sullivan

Posted on 05/10/2006 6:28:01 AM PDT by bondjamesbond

A believer spells out the difference between faith and a political agenda

Are you a Christian who doesn't feel represented by the religious right? I know the feeling. When the discourse about faith is dominated by political fundamentalists and social conservatives, many others begin to feel as if their religion has been taken away from them.

The number of Christians misrepresented by the Christian right is many. There are evangelical Protestants who believe strongly that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power. There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society. There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is. They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on the meaning of life are utterly alien to them--and respecting their neighbors' choices. That doesn't threaten their faith. Sometimes the contrast helps them understand their own faith better.

And there are those who simply believe that, by definition, God is unknowable to our limited, fallible human minds and souls. If God is ultimately unknowable, then how can we be so certain of what God's real position is on, say, the fate of Terri Schiavo? Or the morality of contraception? Or the role of women? Or the love of a gay couple? Also, faith for many of us is interwoven with doubt, a doubt that can strengthen faith and give it perspective and shadow. That doubt means having great humility in the face of God and an enormous reluctance to impose one's beliefs, through civil law, on anyone else.

I would say a clear majority of Christians in the U.S. fall into one or many of those camps. Yet the term "people of faith" has been co-opted almost entirely in our discourse by those who see Christianity as compatible with only one political party, the Republicans, and believe that their religious doctrines should determine public policy for everyone. "Sides are being chosen," Tom DeLay recently told his supporters, "and the future of man hangs in the balance! The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will." So Christ is a conservative Republican?

Rush Limbaugh recently called the Democrats the "party of death" because of many Democrats' view that some moral decisions, like the choice to have a first-trimester abortion, should be left to the individual, not the cops. Ann Coulter, with her usual subtlety, simply calls her political opponents "godless," the title of her new book. And the largely nonreligious media have taken the bait. The "Christian" vote has become shorthand in journalism for the Republican base.

What to do about it? The worst response, I think, would be to construct something called the religious left. Many of us who are Christians and not supportive of the religious right are not on the left either. In fact, we are opposed to any politicization of the Gospels by any party, Democratic or Republican, by partisan black churches or partisan white ones. "My kingdom is not of this world," Jesus insisted. What part of that do we not understand?

So let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist. Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith. Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism. The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque. Not all Islamists are violent. Only a tiny few are terrorists. And I should underline that the term Christianist is in no way designed to label people on the religious right as favoring any violence at all. I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.

That's what I dissent from, and I dissent from it as a Christian. I dissent from the political pollution of sincere, personal faith. I dissent most strongly from the attempt to argue that one party represents God and that the other doesn't. I dissent from having my faith co-opted and wielded by people whose politics I do not share and whose intolerance I abhor. The word Christian belongs to no political party. It's time the quiet majority of believers took it back.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: abnormal; christians; cino; confused; deviant; gaymarriage; religiousleft
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This is Andrew Sullivan's problem, not mine.

Let's just get that put away from the very start.

1 posted on 05/10/2006 6:28:03 AM PDT by bondjamesbond
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To: bondjamesbond
So let me suggest that we take back the word Christian while giving the religious right a new adjective: Christianist.

Ah yes, the usual desire to label someone.

2 posted on 05/10/2006 6:31:53 AM PDT by rhombus
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To: bondjamesbond

must've skipped his medications...


3 posted on 05/10/2006 6:32:07 AM PDT by BikerGold (Reliously Uncoooorrrrect...Reliously UUUUUUncorrect)
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To: bondjamesbond
Personally I think it's dishonest of him to describe himself as a Christian. I believe he does it exclusively to be able to make political points and THAT is not what faith is about.
4 posted on 05/10/2006 6:32:25 AM PDT by tcostell
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To: bondjamesbond

All that being said, we are all free to vote for any candidate in any party, so what is the problem?


5 posted on 05/10/2006 6:32:35 AM PDT by mlc9852
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To: bondjamesbond

As long as you're breathing, Andrew, it's not too late to repent.


6 posted on 05/10/2006 6:32:48 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Dump the 1967 Outer Space Treaty! I'll weigh 50% less on Mars!)
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To: bondjamesbond

Andrew is a libidinist. He follows his little Andrew's directives.


7 posted on 05/10/2006 6:32:50 AM PDT by keithtoo ("Drilling in ANWaR is OK with us" - Alaskan Caribou Benevolent Association.)
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To: bondjamesbond
There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society

Yes, there are many and they are called heretics.

8 posted on 05/10/2006 6:33:17 AM PDT by frogjerk (LIBERALISM: The perpetual insulting of common sense.)
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To: bondjamesbond

In other words, the term "Christian" should be applied to anyone who thinks Jesus was a swell guy. Anyone more stringent than that is an extremist.


9 posted on 05/10/2006 6:33:43 AM PDT by william clark
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To: bondjamesbond

I find it amazing that some people seem to think a Christian's religion should not inform his political beliefs. It should not be a problem when some people take the meaning of "I knew you when you were in your mother's womb" and find that abortion is abhorrent. How can anybody expect them to do otherwise?


10 posted on 05/10/2006 6:33:54 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond

I don't see how someone can be a Christian and a liberal at the same time.


11 posted on 05/10/2006 6:34:03 AM PDT by Ikemeister
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To: bondjamesbond

... snif, snif...

And I don't feel represented by the gay Episcopal Bishop Robinson.


Why can't we all get along?


12 posted on 05/10/2006 6:34:36 AM PDT by Mr. Brightside (Watcher of the Skies)
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To: bondjamesbond
"We've become ... mumble mumble ... a theocracy ... mumble ... we're -- we're ... worse than ... mumble ... Iran. It's clear that ... Christinity is ... the most evil ... mumble ... thing ever ... mumble."

[/raving lunatic]

13 posted on 05/10/2006 6:35:29 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: Ikemeister

I agree with you!


14 posted on 05/10/2006 6:35:41 AM PDT by arizonarachel (Praying for a February miracle!)
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To: bondjamesbond

Andrew should try reading his Bible....I think belief in it is the foundation of being a Christian.


15 posted on 05/10/2006 6:35:44 AM PDT by A.Hun (Common sense is no longer common.)
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To: bondjamesbond

While I essentially agree with the premise that Christianity shouldn't be associated with a particular political party or philosophy, the sad fact is most of the people who insist on this premise really mean that Christians should be liberals.


16 posted on 05/10/2006 6:36:50 AM PDT by rightwingintelligentsia (DemonRATs- the CULTURE OF TREASON!)
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To: bondjamesbond
They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on the meaning of life are utterly alien to them--and respecting their neighbors' choices. That doesn't threaten their faith. Sometimes the contrast helps them understand their own faith better.

If my neighbor is hopping and skipping his/her way toward Hell, I am compelled by my faith to try and make them see the error of their ways in a compassionate way WITHOUT beating them over the head with my faith.

But sometimes you have to hit certain people between the eyes with a two-by-four to get their attention...

17 posted on 05/10/2006 6:38:23 AM PDT by frogjerk (LIBERALISM: The perpetual insulting of common sense.)
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To: rhombus
Ah yes, the usual desire to label someone.

Especially when a perfectly acceptable and agreed-upon label, "The Religious Right" is already available.

But Sullivan wants to use the "Christianist" label because that reflects the bugbear "Islamist" label that people use to describe Islamic imperialists.

In spite of his mealy-mouthed denials, Sullivan is obviously trying to equate Islamic imperialism and Christian political activism. He should be ashamed of himself. But I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

18 posted on 05/10/2006 6:38:45 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: Ikemeister

"I don't see how someone can be a Christian and a liberal at the same time."


Amen!


19 posted on 05/10/2006 6:39:08 AM PDT by CarolinaGOP ("A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." - Dwight D. Eisenhower)
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To: Ikemeister
I don't see how someone can be a Christian and a liberal at the same time.

If Jesus were alive today, 99.99% of FReepers would label him a "liberal". He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

20 posted on 05/10/2006 6:39:53 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (http://ntxsolutions.com)
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To: Ikemeister
I don't see how someone can be a Christian and a liberal at the same time.

The liberals I've met in the conservative Christian churches I've been a part of over the years are liberals because of their compassion for the poor. They believe that government programs for the poor are the means by which we fulfull Jesus command to take care of the needy. I disagree completely; Jesus command was for his followers to do it voluntarily. His command wasn't for people to steal everyone's money and give it to others. But, for the liberal Christian, the end (the poor get taken care of) justifies the means.

21 posted on 05/10/2006 6:40:15 AM PDT by cantfindagoodscreenname (Is it OK to steal tag lines from tee-shirts and bumper stickers?)
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To: frogjerk

What ever happened to that business where Christians were to be a light unto the World? Aren't Christians called to share their faith, convert the wayward, and bring the lost sheep to Christ?

Sullivan seems to think Christianity is all about personal growth and navel gazing. Is it really possible to save just oneself? Can faith have any meaning if it is so timid that it can't be shared?


22 posted on 05/10/2006 6:42:28 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

And we Conservatives will have none of that crap!!

Is that what you're saying?

23 posted on 05/10/2006 6:42:35 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: frogjerk

> sometimes you have to hit certain people between the eyes with a two-by-four to get their attention...

And sometimes they hit back.


24 posted on 05/10/2006 6:45:16 AM PDT by orionblamblam (I'm interested in science and preventing its corruption, so here I am.)
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To: tcostell

Oh, I don't doubt he's a Chrisitian.

I just doubt he reads or understands much beyond the barest essentials of the Bible (e.g., Christ was God, died for our sins & defeated death).

A huge start. The Holy Spirit does the rest (did that part, too, really).


25 posted on 05/10/2006 6:45:39 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Many at FR would respond to Christ "Darn right, I'll cast the first stone!")
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To: Lunatic Fringe
He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

I missed the parts where he talked about equality and tolerance. Where are those parts?

Not that equality and tolerance are not fine ideals. I just find it odd that some people seem to think that every fine ideal can be ascribed to a statement of Christ.

26 posted on 05/10/2006 6:46:50 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond
Sullivan essentially makes two points:

First, "nice" Christians won't be offended by Andrew Sullivan's homosexuality.

Second, "nice" Christians have no idea what God really wants, and thus are never to be caught saying "no" to Andrew Sullivan's homosexuality.

It's a sad fact that Andrew Sullivan's rectum is the be-all and end-all of everything he writes.

27 posted on 05/10/2006 6:47:44 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: bondjamesbond

Sorry, capitalize that "H". Typo.


28 posted on 05/10/2006 6:48:11 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: william clark
"In other words, the term "Christian" should be applied to anyone who thinks Jesus was a swell guy. Anyone more stringent than that is an extremist."

BINGO

29 posted on 05/10/2006 6:48:39 AM PDT by JWinNC (www.anailinhisplace.net)
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To: Lunatic Fringe

"He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace."

Last time I checked, Conservatives were for all of that as well.

But equality does not mean special rights. it means equality.

And sometimes the most love you can show someone is discipline.

And Compassion and Tolerance do not mean acceptance and celebration of sin. (He said "Go and sin no more." People always forget that.)

Jesus of the Bible (as opposed to say, Godspell) was not a hippy. He was (is!) pretty much a hardass.


30 posted on 05/10/2006 6:49:43 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Many at FR would respond to Christ "Darn right, I'll cast the first stone!")
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To: Lunatic Fringe
He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

I'm not liberal, and I believe in those things: equality of opportunity & equality under the law, voluntary compassion toward my neighbors in need, tolerance of diverse opinions, and peace through reasonable deterrence.

Liberals have perverted those things to mean: collectivism (the erosion of private property rights), enforced "compassion" to subsidize laziness, acceptance of sinful actions (all while practicing intolerance of divergent opinions), and weakness.

31 posted on 05/10/2006 6:50:43 AM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: MeanWestTexan

Re: Your tagline... Reminds me of the old joke that ends, "Now cut that out, Mom!"


32 posted on 05/10/2006 6:52:08 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond
Christianity, in this view, is simply a faith

Andy, the truth exists and the truth is exclusive: ...Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

33 posted on 05/10/2006 6:52:28 AM PDT by Theophilus (Abortion = Child Sacrifice = Future Sacrifice)
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To: bondjamesbond
This needs a Drivel Alert or something.

If Christians don't feel represented by the religious right, they wouldn't have all come out and voted for the religious right.
34 posted on 05/10/2006 6:55:22 AM PDT by JamesP81
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To: MeanWestTexan
(He said "Go and sin no more." People always forget that.)

I once had quite an argument with a person who was adamant that "Go and sin no more" was just a throwaway line. The mindset appears to be that Christ offers infinite forgiveness (which is true, I suppose, on the condition that one is repentant), and that all that talk about judgement is just talk.

35 posted on 05/10/2006 6:55:40 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: bondjamesbond

Right you are, JB. To paraphrase Vito Corleone: "Sullivan's a pimp."


36 posted on 05/10/2006 6:56:49 AM PDT by RexBeach ("There is no substitute for victory." -Douglas MacArthur)
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To: JamesP81
This needs a Drivel Alert or something.

That's kind of implied when Andrew Sullivan does a think piece on religion, don'tcha think?

37 posted on 05/10/2006 6:58:19 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond

So-called "liberal Christians" have created a new god in their own image. He/She is a socially hip, feminist, gay-friendly, politically correct deity.

My God is a holy God, who doesn't change with the whims and fashions of men.


38 posted on 05/10/2006 6:59:07 AM PDT by Elpasser
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To: Lunatic Fringe
"He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace."

Jesus also spoke to his followers telling them if "equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace" is not returned back to you then dust your sandals off because hell will be waiting for them.

Also Jesus' said His second trip to earth will be a hell of a lot different than His first.

Moral of the story, believe in the Father, love others, and repent (From what, oh yes sin/evil). If not, Jesus will be one frightening Judge and Executioner.

Mathew 10: 5-16
39 posted on 05/10/2006 6:59:34 AM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
If Jesus were alive today, 99.99% of FReepers would label him a "liberal". He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

"Jesus came to Galilee saying...'Repent, and believe in the gospel.'" Mark 1:15

"...Jesus began...to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'" Matthew 4:17

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

Andrew's problem is not with Christianism, it is with Jesus Christ.

Jesus commanded repentance.

None of us, Andrew included, is capable of truly repenting through our own works, but perhaps one day through God's grace, Andrew will receive the strength to repent and the forgiveness of his sins.

40 posted on 05/10/2006 7:01:07 AM PDT by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: bondjamesbond
It's just funny to watch them twist, turn, babble, deny, decry, defy, denigrate, delineate, deprecate, dismiss, add to, take from, ignore, skip over, excuse, accuse, refuse, signify, justify, alibi, promote, provoke, misquote, blow smoke, defend, pretend, retract, subtract, attack, react, search, besmirch, and coerce. And still, the knowledge of the truth is never attained.
41 posted on 05/10/2006 7:02:31 AM PDT by small voice in the wilderness (Quick, act casual...if they sense scorn or ridicule, they'll flee)
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To: r9etb
The mindset appears to be that Christ offers infinite forgiveness (which is true, I suppose, on the condition that one is repentant), and that all that talk about judgement is just talk.

An interesting mindset, eh? Perhaps they should think about turning it around: Christ is judgmental, and all that talk about forgiveness is just talk.

Or perhaps Christ meant everything he said. The fools who cherry-pick which parts "seem true" are doing themselves no favor.

42 posted on 05/10/2006 7:03:31 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Never question Bruce Dickinson!)
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To: small voice in the wilderness

That list pretty much covers it!


43 posted on 05/10/2006 7:03:49 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond

Let's just say that Andrew's problem is that he likes the kneeling more than the actual Christian stuff.


44 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:26 AM PDT by denydenydeny ("Osama... made the mistake of confusing media conventional wisdom with reality" (Mark Steyn))
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To: Lunatic Fringe
If Jesus were alive today, 99.99% of FReepers would label him a "liberal". He spoke of equality, love, compassion, tolerance, and peace.

You are either:
1. Joking
2. A moron
45 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:34 AM PDT by newguy357
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To: bondjamesbond
Sullivan's real "Problem with Christianism" is the same as his problem with Christianity and the same as his problem with Christ. It's a problem he shares with millions, including many FReepers. Here it is:

It makes him feel bad about his pet sin.

Dan
Biblical Christianity BLOG
Pyromaniacs

46 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:35 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: bondjamesbond
There are lay Catholics who, while personally devout, are socially liberal on issues like contraception, gay rights, women's equality and a multi-faith society

ROFLOL!!

Now there's the oxymoronic statement of the day....

47 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:36 AM PDT by Osage Orange (Getting honest answers from Congress...is like putting socks on roosters.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
The fools who cherry-pick which parts "seem true" are doing themselves no favor.

My favorites are the ones who seriously intone "Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God", as if that statement makes any sense at all.

48 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:52 AM PDT by bondjamesbond (Rice 2008)
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To: bondjamesbond

LOL.

Not being Roman Catholic (a Catholic of the Anglican persuasion), it took me a while to get that joke.


49 posted on 05/10/2006 7:05:54 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Many at FR would respond to Christ "Darn right, I'll cast the first stone!")
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To: bondjamesbond

Isn't Andrew Sullivan gay?

And his being gay, doesn't make all that he says suspect? How can one be a practicing gay person and a practicing Christian? Cognitive dissonance doesn't cut it.


50 posted on 05/10/2006 7:06:23 AM PDT by sauropod ("Heaven on my left, Hell on my right and the Angel of Death behind me" - Dune)
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