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Ask the White Guy: Homophobes Shouldn’t Hide Behind Religion

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Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiThe White Guy responds to a reader’s comment and clarifies some points made in his previous post, “Are Traditional Christian Values Part of Diversity?”

Question:
I am a Christian in the workplace and I have some concern in reading through your article. Your assumption is that in a “Christian” view, my moral belief that homosexuality is wrong implies that I would “oppress” gays in the workplace. In my Christian view, homosexuality is a sin, yet we hate the sin, not the sinner. I would no more oppress a homosexual than I would a person who takes God’s name in vain, drinks in excess, is hateful toward others, or a list of many other things that we all can be guilty of at times. You are right that if someone denies job opportunity based on this reason, it is wrong. My problem with the article is the assumption is gay is wrong in the Christian eye, so Christians do not like the person, therefore Christians will oppress the person and therefore the Christian is not entitled to be considered a diverse group in terms of diversity. I take my walk with God serious [sic] and no part of it involves judging others. That is God’s role. I think you need to offer your readers a more “diverse” viewpoint with less assumptions when writing a “diversity” article about not making assumptions.

Answer:
I do not assume that Christianity is connected to homophobia, nor is that sentiment in my column. Further, you are incorrect to say that my column infers that “gay is wrong in the Christian eye.” I don’t make that inference and that assumption is not expressed in my column. In fact, the only place “Christian” is in that column is in the first sentence, where I wrote, “It depends on your definition of ‘traditional, conservative’ and ‘Christian’ views.”

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The point is that any individual may describe things or hold opinions in the way they wish. There is, however, no magic modifier (“Christian” or “American” or “traditional”) that eliminates the repercussion of expressing values that are contrary to your employer or customer. For example, you can define yourself as a “traditional” accountant who believes it’s acceptable to embezzle during the weekends. Most employers would fire you on the spot.

As far as Christianity and homophobia, the facts are clear: There is no connection between the majority of American Christians and homophobia. According to Pew Research, roughly 77 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian, and more than half of all Americans support civil unions for same-sex couples. Although the data is from two Pew studies, I think it’s safe to conclude that most heterosexual Christians are either tolerant or completely accepting of gays and lesbians.

However, it is also a fact that most prominent gay-bashers are self-described Christians. Mass media and web celebrities such as James Dobson, Rod Parsley and Peter LaBarbera make a living off of whipping up hate and oppression. I will point out that other religions also use gay hate as a way to motivate their followers; however, most of the bile-filled invective against LGBT people that comes to this publication is from people who describe themselves as “Christian.”

Hate drives absolutes. The person who sent me the original comment wrote, “I disagree with your viewpoint on almost every topic covered in your publication.” In my opinion, inclusion and tolerance–as well as opposition to racism, classism, sexism, ageism, etc.–are consistent with “traditional” Christian views. They are also consistent with the majority of our coverage. Therefore, it’s not a huge leap for me to believe the reader is almost certainly a homophobe and hiding behind Christianity to express his hate as if that were appropriate or effective.

I don’t have to offer my readers a counterpoint to total acceptance of LGBT people exactly the way they are. There is no “except for” when it comes to diversity in the opinion of this publication.

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