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Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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13 Responses

  1. norbizness
    norbizness May 19, 2005 at 12:02 pm |

    Never one to let Kristof get the last word (he’s obviously right on most of the merits, but grossly naive as to solutions), here were my two rebuttals to those last two paragraphs:

    (1) I’m going to quote another perspective on this: “this same discomfort with sex has led some conservative Christians to a hatred of gays and a hostility toward condoms, even to fight AIDS.” Oh wait, that was Kristof three paragraphs ago. It would have been like Jesus curing lepers that he originally afflicted with leprosy.

    (2) Because if we’ve learned anything about fundamentalist prachers: they (a) are inherently open to reasonable arguments concerning scriptural interpretation; (b) generally keep an autocratic hold on their flocks because they always relent when “confronted on their own terms”; (c) always love being told that they are grotesque hypocrites for acting politically in a way that shits on their New Testament principles.

  2. B
    B May 19, 2005 at 1:10 pm |

    Any extreme ideology stems from a sense of persecution and victimization. By mocking and attacking religion, you only reinforce that sense of persecution and lend justification for increasingly extreme actions. A less derisive, more civil engagement with conservative Christians, while not likely to change any minds among the hardcore fundamentalists, will at least help create a productive dialogue with more moderate or open-minded Christians, and help defuse one of the most powerful tools of the extreme right in maintaining control over their flock. Right now the hardcore haters on both sides are dominating the “discussion.” When will the sensible majority in the middle finally have enough of being jerked around?

  3. Nora
    Nora May 19, 2005 at 1:32 pm |

    You know, the best answer to the religious right’s more extreme and oddball characters actually comes from St. Francis of Assisi, and I’ll paraphrase because I’m doing it from memory:

    Preach the Gospel often. When necessary, use words.

    Substitute what you will for “Gospel” (good news), although I think “good news” says it all.

    You can’t dialogue with these people. You honestly can’t. It gets so circular and so pointless so fast, it’s not worth the headache. All you can do is live what you believe, no matter what those beliefs are based on. Feed the hungry. Fight to end the devastation AIDS is wreking across Africa. Give shelter to those without. Come to the aid of those hit by instant and life-altering tragedies. Smile. Love one another. It’s really awfully simple, but we tend to complicate things with words and with needing to be acknowledged as right. It is right to do those things, and that ought to be reward enough in itself.

    Of course we should fight for causes beyond the basics of human existance, too. It’s right to fight for equality and social justice issues that effect wealthy nations as well. But stay single-minded and remember things take time. Don’t waste your efforts arguing with brick walls who are convinced they are absolutely right no matter what you or the facts say.

  4. Jon
    Jon May 19, 2005 at 2:38 pm |

    What Kristof’s saying is hardly innovative; he’s simply jumping on the condescending old left-wing bandwagon which holds that liberals are better stewards of the Christian tradition than conservatives. When liberals like Kristof lecture about how such and such Biblical verse should lead us to believe that Jesus would necessarily sanction single-payer socialist health care or tax hikes, they’re politicizing scripture and, ironically, behaving pretty similarly to the self-important fundamentalist moralizers that they think they are taking down a peg.

  5. Matt
    Matt May 19, 2005 at 3:26 pm |

    Jon, I think you miss the point, which is not to quote scripture and self-righteously declare that we, too, can claim our beliefs are divinely sanctioned. The point is to recognize that the Bible says a lot of different things, many of which conflict each other. Fundamentalists who quote the Bible almost always do so selectively, disregarding the context of the verses they quote and any contradictory passages elsewhere in the Bible. I don’t see anything particularly condescending about point out that fact.

  6. Joel
    Joel May 19, 2005 at 6:26 pm |

    I guess I didn’t quite make the grade when it comes to being nice about Fundamentalists, but I recently wrote two articles along a similar line:

    Frankly, I don’t see the charade in Washington as a religious war but, rather, a secularization/co-optation of religion.

  7. Heliologue
    Heliologue May 19, 2005 at 10:54 pm |

    Christianizing politics is a war that can’t be run. God’s a Republican, Jesus is a democrat. Though Christians will protest that the two are one and the same, certainly those with a little more sense see the two as completely irreconcilable.

  8. Heliologue
    Heliologue May 19, 2005 at 10:58 pm |

    Hmm, I’m sorry, not even coffee can make me coherent anymore. What I meant to say was “Christianizing politics is a war that can’t be won.”

  9. Pepper
    Pepper May 20, 2005 at 12:18 am |

    Not to be all self-promoting, but we at the Pepper had an involved discussion regarding this subject, and we weren’t even talking about the Kristof article:
    The gist of it was that the Left cannot lump all Christians together and assume they see the world in the same way. A fellow blogger who is a practicing Christian happens to be disgusted at what’s going on with the religious right today. And we’re betting she’s not the only one.
    Matt’s absolutely right: “Fundamentalists who quote the Bible almost always do so selectively.” And, in many cases, in a self-serving fashion.
    We at the Pepper aren’t religious, but we’re confident that there are some Christians out there who are on the verge of speaking out against the right-wingers in their religion. And the Left has to encourage that by not conflating “Christian” with “Crazy.”

  10. jam
    jam May 20, 2005 at 6:29 am |

    Fundamentalists who quote the Bible almost always do so selectively…

    far as i know, all Christians do this – it ain’t particular to fundies

    & y’know, contradictory passages have, in fact, been pointed out to fundies in the past (this is hardly a new idea – we know this, right?) – strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to have phased them even a wee bit.

  11. Marian Shah
    Marian Shah May 20, 2005 at 7:09 pm |

    I think the conservative movement is doing itself a GREAT DISSERVICE with the anti-birth-control, anti-fertility-treatment routine.

  12. Quisp
    Quisp May 20, 2005 at 11:02 pm |

    You can’t “convince” jeebofascists of anything, any more than you can talk the KKK out of its racism. They’re all bullies, and worse, and I think the best strategy to fight a bully is multi-pronged, (1) seek and utililize the protection of the law, where such exists, (2) when confronted, don’t back down, (3) where possible, pick an alternate route around the bully, (4) ignore the bully, don’t let him push your buttons, etc.. People or movements that make their beds on the wrong side of history, have to lie in their wrong-side-of-history-beds oh no another crapped-out metaphor.

  13. Sally
    Sally May 21, 2005 at 11:56 am |

    I think that’s true, Marian. But it’s really just another way of saying that conservatives shoot themselves in the foot when they impose their morality on powerful people, rather than limiting themselves to controlling and humiliating vulnerable popualtions.

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