“When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others.” So says Wendell Berry , speaking to Baptist ministers a few days ago. “As if,” he continues,
by law requiring the love of God to be balanced by hatred of some neighbor for the sin of being unlike some divinely preferred us. If we are a Christian nation as some say we are, using the adjective with conventional looseness then this Christian blood thirst continues wherever we find an officially identifiable evil, and to the immense enrichment of our Christian industries of war.
He was not done:
Condemnation by category is the lowest form of hatred, for it is cold-hearted and abstract, lacking even the courage of a personal hatred, Berry said. Categorical condemnation is the hatred of the mob. It makes cowards brave. And there is nothing more fearful than a religious mob, a mob overflowing with righteousness as at the crucifixion and before and since. This can happen only after we have made a categorical refusal to kindness: to heretics, foreigners, enemies or any other group different from ourselves.
I wrote about Berry’s confused views of abortion and homosexual marriage in the January “While We’re At It” section and annoyed Berry’s devotees (the first response I got was from a good but very indignant friend), who thought I was being unfair. “He’s a farmer, not a philosopher!” said one, as if farmers who pronounced on things in public were spared the need to be coherent. This latest statement doesn’t convince me I was wrong.