Greetings to all. This is the first post of D. Seiple Online, which serves as the discussion annex for Philosophy's Labyrinth (more on that later.) And, as luck would have it, this launching coincides with the new ruling by Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker, which (for the moment at least) overturns the referendum known as Proposition 8 (the one banning same-sex marriage in California). I expect this event to add some robust flavor to the discussions I've already been having with friends on both sides of this issue.
I'll start out by indicating how grateful I am that those I continue to be in discussion with cherish the value of civility in debates -- debates that try our patience, imagination, and judgment.
Having said that, I'll begin next with a comment about language. Some of my conservative friends, especially those who self-identify as (for example) "born-again evangelicals," often use "Christian" to designate their own understanding of doctrine, and exclude those of us with more liberal or progressive "Christian" views. I understand the temptation to do this. Discussions that occur "in-house," so to speak -- among those we already agree with -- may reflect a tone that might be puzzling (or worse) when raised among others outside one's own fold. Here I am especially grateful to Danny Mann (author of the blog Mann's Word, which I heartily recommend for anyone who wants a very different point of view from my own.) Danny has been gracious enough to include me in some of his in-house communications, so I can hear what goes on in those precincts. Though what I hear is sometimes irritating, it is always challenging.
I am looking forward to advancing these kinds of discussions as time goes on. And the California decision presents a perfect opportunity.
So let me start by asking -- for anyone within ear shot -- whether you all think that people's basic rights should be a matter of popular vote. To the conservative evangelical, I'd ask: If a bunch of atheists prevailed in a referendum against giving Christians equal protection under the law, I wonder what your reaction would be…