According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin are no different from those who have, or still do, support segregation.
In a Feb. 5 piece column, the well-known liberal writer equates the biblical moral beliefs that Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence hold regarding homosexuality to discrimination based on skin color.
“I have a question for those Republicans who, along with Democrats, demand the resignation of Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam for the abhorrent photo that appeared on his page in his medical school yearbook: If bigotry is repugnant, why not demand the resignation of Vice President Mike Pence for his ugly views on homosexuality?” Cohen asks his readers. “And while they’re at it, why not insist that Pence’s wife resign her position at a school that discriminates against gays and lesbians?”
He was referencing Karen Pence’s decision to return to teaching art part-time at Immanuel Christian School, in Springfield Virginia, a private school that holds traditional Christian beliefs.
Cohen goes on to claim that Mike and Karen Pence’s views are inexcusable, arguing that the Bible has been used to justify racism and slavery in the past:
“The Pences are deeply religious, and their views on homosexuality are based on their religious convictions. To this I say, so what? The Bible was used to justify slavery. And in my own time, racists cited this or that biblical passage to assert that racial segregation was precisely what God intended. Now the mark or the curse is on the Pences, who share views that in our nation’s history have caused much suffering, including violence.”
And while Cohen admits that America cherishes freedom of religion, he notes that there are still laws and boundaries that come with it.
“Lines have been drawn,” Cohen asserts. “Utah was not admitted as a state until the Church of Latter-Day Saints renounced polygamy. No one is advocating a law requiring Immanuel Christian to practice tolerance, both in its pedagogy and its hiring practices. But the First Amendment that guarantees the school’s rights also gives us the right to criticize. It is simply wrong to foster a belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are immoral.
“I have been torn about Northam — about whether a single yearbook photo negates a lifetime of tolerance,” he writes. “But I am not torn about Mike and Karen Pence. They are figures of consequence and their bigotry – regardless of their religious justification – has to be confronted.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, penned a response to Cohen’s column on his blog, arguing that Christians should be wary of Cohen’s claims. Mohler argued that Cohen’s real point is that Christians should not be able to cite the Bible as their reasoning for anything in life.
“The real antipathy Cohen directs at the Pences and to conservative Christians centers on our audacity to draw anything from the pages of Holy Scripture,” Mohler wrote. “We dare to say, ‘God said.’ We dare to believe that God has spoken, that the Bible is his Word, that it bears divine authority and is without error.”
“The secular mind cannot accept the audacious claim to believe that true morality flows from God’s revelation, that God has spoken and established an order to his creation. The secular elites believe that anyone who holds to a biblical morality is a bigot and anyone who believes in divine revelation must be an idiot,” he wrote.
Mohler noted that Cohen believes in right and wrong, just like Christians do, “but measured by his own internal compass and prevailing elite opinion.”
He agreed with Cohen that in the past, the Bible has been used to justify things like slavery, but the “misuse of the Bible on the matters of race in no way nullifies its clarity or its authority for Christians on sexual ethics.”