My good friend, Aaron Baer, is the new executive director for CCV, Citizens For Community Values. This organization “seeks the good of our neighbors throughout Ohio by advocating for public policy that reflects the truth of the Gospel,” as stated on their website. Many would find it shocking that the Columbus Dispatch newspaper suggests Aaron is running a “hate group.”
They published a recent article entitled, “Is ‘hate group’ sponsoring tonight’s GOP gubernatorial forum?” Last Sunday night CCV sponsored an event in Columbus where all hopeful candidates for Ohio’s race for governor were interviewed. Both Democrat and Republican candidates were invited. CCV invited pastors and church members, along with anyone else in the community to come and get to know the candidates. It was a great idea and very well done. Aaron, you guys at CCV are doing a great job for the community!
There were no words of hate of any kind from anybody unless you count all the cheers and laughs when someone on stage made a comment about the Cincinnati Bengals being losers. So where would The Dispatch get the idea that these folks are a “hate group?” And indeed if they’re right, wouldn’t that make all Christians and churches hate groups? They base their idea on a declaration made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Who are they?
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a law practice that was started in 1971 with a very noble aim to defend the poor and powerless and insure that the promise of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. They opposed segregation and racial hatred that led to African Americans being excluded from higher paying jobs, housing, public office, and quality education. All Christians everywhere should applaud these righteous aims and work to do the same themselves because this is what the Bible teaches, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Anyone who does not do so is sinning against God.
The article goes on to quote the Law Center’s definition of a hate group. It is “an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” Every Christian I know would join with the Law Center in condemning groups that do such things. Nazi and white supremacist groups and others who call for the death of Jews, Blacks, and other ethnicities should be condemned by all. Furthermore, any group call for the death or hatred of anyone for any reason should be condemned by all.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Columbus Dispatch are terribly wrong for many reasons when they lump CCV and indeed all Christians and churches into the list with those wishing to commit genocide. They cite the belief of CCV and Christians that homosexuality is called a sin by the Bible as the reason for the label of “hate group.” Here are two reasons this is deeply flawed reasoning and plain wrong. First, neither the Bible, Christians, nor CCV, in a general sense, “attack or malign” people for their homosexual practices. Sure, there are hate-filled individuals in society who may call themselves Christians who really hate homosexuals but they themselves are wrong according to the Bible and do not represent the widely held views of Christians, churches, and CCV supporters.
Simply saying what the Bible says, calling action a sin that is described as such in God’s words is a long way away from attacking or maligning. Furthermore, this belief isn’t about a an entire class of people such as an ethnicity or the homosexual community. The Bible says these things about all humans, not just one class, because all equally are sinners guilty of numerous offenses labeled as unacceptable behavior to God. And it is the opposite of attacking when the Bible and Christians say, “we’re all guilty but the Savior came to give forgiveness and His love for anyone willing to receive it so please come and enjoy His kindness along with us.” That’s hardly maligning.
The second reason is by their definition a hate group does so on the basis of “immutable characteristics.” The word “immutable” means unchangeable. A person’s ethnicity is an immutable trait but one’s practice of homosexuality, or any other sexual sin, is not unchangeable. CCV goes on to explain often it “is not ‘against homosexuals.’ However, we do not consider homosexuality an alternative lifestyle or even a ‘sexual preference.’ We believe that homosexual behavior is unhealthy and destructive to the individual, to families, and thus to communities and to society as a whole.” This is simply the deeply held beliefs of Christians based on the teaching of the Bible.
The logic of The Dispatch and the Law Center makes every church a hate group; even those churches which condone homosexuality. Indeed it makes every person a hate monger because all humans have strong disagreements with others concerning deeply held beliefs whether they’re found in the Bible or not. Those more progressive (or liberal) disagree strongly with Christians who say unbiblical divorce or drunkenness is a sin. They likely disagree strongly that there is any such thing that the one true God of heaven calls a sin or that there even is “one true God.” Many of them verbalize their disdain for Christians’ belief that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die as a sacrifice for sinful people. They find this belief appalling, calling it divine child abuse. And certainly they would join with Christians in strong opposition to one ethnic group’s hatred and extermination of another ethnic group. Clearly this makes all people one gigantic hate group. CCV and Christians do nothing different from every other person on earth.
This logic does great damage to our society because it strips individuals of their freedom to be individuals and have their own deeply held beliefs whether religious or not. Strangely it turns their efforts to confront racism and bigotry against themselves and condemns them for hatred equivalent to the racist. This kind of talk diminishes the work of those who truly seek to oppose the wrong treatment of the oppressed. Right reasoning people, Christians and non-Christians, should call these ideas what they are. Wrong! And we should all join together to call out anyone anywhere who seeks in any way to do harm to any of our neighbors.
The words of Jesus are good for every society, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That does not make you a hate group.