Tag Archives: nalt

Not All Like That, part 3, or, If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, I Ain’t Talking About You

“A man is known by the company he keeps.” —English ProverbSometimes insight into important parts of human behavior and social interaction comes from unexpected places. For instance, because of my father’s work, my childhood was spread over 10 elementary schools in four states: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska. It was mostly very small towns where everyone attended church and it often seemed as if football (whether the local school teams, regional college teams, or pro teams) was at least as important as religion. Because the professional football team that was geographically closest to most of the small towns was the Denver Broncos, a lot of the people were Broncos fans.

But not all.

In almost every one of those towns we lived in, we attended a Southern Baptist Church. Because of the origins of the denomination, at least half of every congregation seemed to be people who either had spent their childhood in the South or Former Confederate States, or their parents had been from there. Consequently, there were always some Dallas Cowboys fans.

Now, clearly, no one is obligated to be from the region a team is headquartered to be a fan, but there is at least a correlation.

I can’t recall a time in my childhood where I didn’t consider the Dallas Cowboys a horrible team. I know part of that is because they were one of the least favorite teams of both my dad and my grandpa. But as time went by, my dislike for the team grew stronger, such that I now feel an intense, visceral revulsion when the team is mentioned.

A few years back, a good friend who isn’t much into football (or sports in general), asked me why it was that I hated the Cowboys so much. Beyond saying that the management of the team (at least back when I was kid) was notorious for not taking care of the players, I didn’t have much. I mean, the guy who was general manager of the team for a long time once famously said to the leadership of the player’s union, “You have to understand: we’re ranchers, and you’re cattle. And we can always find more cattle.”

I’m sure he was hardly the only general manager or team owner across the league to feel that way, but he was willing to say it in a public forum, so take from that what you will.

As I was trying to think of some actual logical reasons, the truth finally hit me: over the years I had met (and often been classmates with or students of) a rather large number of Dallas Cowboys fans. And almost every single one of them that I could remember were the most arrogant unfeeling pricks that I had ever known.

Seriously. In a few posts on other subjects I mentioned a pastor (not of the church I was a member of) who was essentially a camp counsellor at Bible camp. He was fond of, if a boy did or said something he didn’t agree with, grabbing their hand and bending it back into a stress position—you know, a move the cops use to put a person much bigger than themselves down on their knees in agony? But he was a big (and I mean big) man, doing this to 11, 12, and 13-year-old boys in his care. And when one us (like me) actually had tears in our eyes because of the pain, he would snap, “Don’t be such a faggot!” Any time he stepped outside at the camp, he was wearing a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap.

That’s when I realized that my hatred for the Cowboys team was fueled entirely by the many, many, many unpleasant experiences I have had interacting with Cowboys fans. And just as a couple years ago Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said in answer to a question about his opponent, “I didn’t say he is racist, I said that racists believe he is a racist,” sometimes you can judge a person based on the character of people who are his/her biggest fans.

So when, in two different election cycles four years apart, I see among the fans of one specific candidate people who pile on with misogynist and homophobic attacks directed at anyone who expresses skepticism about their candidate, or has the temerity to favor a different candidate, I have to ask myself, “Why do all these hateful people like him so much?”

Not all like that, part 2

I wrote a while back about being scolded by defensive Christians whenever I post or re-blog something about someone claiming to be Christian spreading hatred and bigotry. In that post, I mentioned that sex advice columnist and gay rights advocate, Dan Savage, refers to those people as NALTs or NALT Christians because of the phrase “Not all like that.” And then he advises that rather than tell us gay people that not all Christians are like that, you ought to tell the other Christians.

Several of those people have taken Dan’s words to heart, and have launched The NALT Christians Project (notalllikethat.org). Which I think is a good idea.

One of the things I really like about this and the It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetter.org) is that both of them set out to fight bigotry and hatred not by attacking people for being bigots, but by simply voicing non-bigotry, acceptance, and love.

Besides looking at the web sites, you can read a bit more about them here: New project to highlight pro-LGBT Christians.

And if you need a reminder about why people of faith who believe in equality and acceptance need to speak up, you might want to check this out: Christian Radio Host: Tell Gay Couples To Die On Their Wedding Day.

Not all like that

It happens any time I write (or link to someone else’s post or article) about certain groups of people opposing gay rights, or those people doing really awful things in the name of opposing gay rights, et cetera: a direct message, private email, or (rarely) a public comment from someone explaining that “not all of us are like that.”

Sometimes it’s nothing more than that simple statement: we’re not all like that. More often it is a bit defensive. “You really shouldn’t generalize, because you make those of us who aren’t like that look bad.” The phenomenon happens so often, that advice columnist & gay rights advocate Dan Savage has started referring to those people as NALTs, for “Not All Like That.”

The thing is, that “you make those of us who aren’t like that look bad” is utterly false.

I’m not the one making them look bad. If I post a link to a story about a study that shows that nearly 75% of those who describe themselves as Evangelical Christians oppose gay rights, it isn’t me who is making those Christians who don’t oppose gay rights look bad, it’s the other Christians who are making Christians look bad.

If someone posts a piece showing how an organization is cherry-picking facts from a study which actually proves that the denial of equal rights harms the health of gays and lesbians to support their lies that being gay is unhealthy, it isn’t us who is making Christians look like liars. It’s the liar who claims to be speaking for Christ who is making Christians look like liars. It’s also the Christians who disagree with him but who are too timid to confront him about his lies who are making Christians look like liars and bigots. And it is especially those Christians who are too timid to confront their co-religionists but never hesitate to scold someone like me because they’re “not all like that” who are making Christians look like liars and bigots.

And that means, instead of scolding me for posting it, or “correcting” anyone who posts these news tidbits, you need to go scold or correct your co-religionists. Tell them you disagree. Tell them that they are lying. Speak out in public forums when they lie, and tell them they don’t speak for you.

I mean, really, my major in college was Mathematics and I posted the article which said nearly 75% of Evangelical Christians oppose gay rights. I don’t need you to tell me that nearly 75% is less than 100%. I already know that not all are like that.

I understand why people may be reluctant to confront the liars and bigots in their group. Those bigots and liars are mean, and they don’t fight fair. I get it. Really, I do. But if you’re too timid to go take them on, then keep your mouth shut. Whispering to people like me that “we aren’t all like that” doesn’t help me, it doesn’t prevent any of the meanness, nor does it further the causes of truth or justice. The only thing it does is make you feel better about being too cowardly to actually do anything about the lies and the bigotry.

And I have exactly zero desire to enable that!

If you happen to be one of those who are not like that, and are looking for something more concrete to do than whisper to people like me that you exist, may I suggest you get involved in one of these fine organizations:

The Reconciling Ministries Network

Evangelicals Concerned

Integrity USA

Dignity USA

The Welcoming Congregation Program

The United Church of Christ LGBT Ministries

Queer Dharma