Bacon and the freedom of religion
by: John Tyrrell
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In an astonishing display of bigotry, ignorance, and extremely bad logic, Bryan Fischer, official spokesman of the American Family Association claimed bacon proves that the United States is a Christian country.
"You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation? One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country."
What a complete and utter idiot Fischer is! And how thoroughly stupid must an organization be to employ such a thorough idiot as an official spokesman?
(It shouldn't be necessary to refute Fischer's argument as it is self-evidently wrong, but see Addendum 2 below for some random thoughts on why I consider Fischer is so abysmally wrong.)
Now the American Family Association identifies itself as a Christian organization promoting the Biblical ethic of decency as it relates to the family.
In practice this means the organization actively opposes same sex relationships, pornography, and abortion - not just for those in its membership - not just for those who choose to follow precisely the same Christian doctrine as the AFA - but for everyone. The AFA wants its version of the Biblical ethic of decency imposed by law on everyone - whether they accept that version of decency or not.
I suppose that Fisher's intended point is that since bacon proves America is a Christian country, then the AFA's blinkered view of Christianity should be imposed on the entire country (and perhaps everywhere else that bacon is enjoyed.)
And this is adds to why Fischer's comments on bacon are so incredibly stupid. Not only are they factually wrong, but his argument undermines the very thing AFA is trying to do which is impose a religious doctrine on everyone. Fischer's example using bacon is one of rejecting the imposition of a religious doctrine on everyone.
He is clearly against Jews and Muslims imposing their religious prohibition of meat from swine on everyone. He would also, I expect, be against Hindus imposing their religious prohibition of beef on everyone. He would also be opposed to those good Christians, the Seventh Day Adventists imposing their vegetarianism on everyone. And I would expect he would be against any one of the several tiny Christian sects which choose to follow Old Testament dietary laws imposing them on everyone.
Quite simply, by pointing out bacon's availability for those who want it in spite the religious opposition of some others, he is supporting the case for the legalizing and availability same-sex relationships, pornography, and abortion for those who approve in spite of religious opposition, he's certainly not providing support for opposing those viewpoints.
Fischer seems to think (and rightly so in this particular case) that those who want bacon should be able to have bacon even though others oppose bacon on religious grounds; but also he does not advocate forcing bacon on those religiously opposed to it.
It's called freedom of religion.
In the end Fischer's bacon argument says the American Family Association should fold up and go home. It should not be forcing its religious views on others.
Bacon and same-sex/opposite-sex marriage - an analogy
With or without bacon, a breakfast is still breakfast.
You can have bacon and eggs and call it breakfast.
You can have a double order of bacon without any eggs and call it breakfast.
You can have a double order of eggs without any bacon and still call it breakfast.
You can have eggs and corned beef hash and still call it breakfast.
You can have bacon outside of breakfast if you want.
Some, just some, of the reasons (in no particular order) Fisher has a truly terrible argument when he says bacon means America is a Christian nation.
The authorized consumption of bacon has no inherent relationship with Christianity. The Last Supper involved no bacon. Bread and wine, not bacon and wine. Even though bacon might make transubstantiation a little easier to believe.
The word "bacon" dates from the 17th century. Christianity survived for about 1,600 years without a requirement for the word.
Cured pork (the basis of bacon) was apparently first invented in China approximately 1500 BCE. That's a millennium and a half before Christianity came along. And the world's largest pork supplier is currently Chinese owned. And China is not America.
Bacon is available in China. China is not a Christian country. (Predominantly atheist)
Bacon is available in India. India is not a Christian country. (Predominantly Hindu)
Bacon is available in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not a Christian country. (Predominantly Buddhist)
All three of the above examples destroy Fischer's claim that "That can only happen in a Christian country."
I, personally, have eaten bacon in Israel. Israel is not a Christian country.
I, personally, have eaten bacon in Egypt. Egypt is not a Christian country.
Without the same level of assurance, as I was only there for a weekend, I think I may have eaten bacon in Syria (After all, I had two breakfasts there). Syria is not a Christian country. I can make the same claim for Lebanon.
While Israel - as a Jewish nation - and most, if not all, officially Islamic nations do have restrictions on the production and sale of pork, those that rely on a tourist industry do frequently make exceptions. Fisher is wrong to suggest that in Jewish and Islamic nations (both of whose scriptures ban pork products for themselves, not others) bacon is not available.
Some Christians for religious reasons oppose eating bacon. Failure to eat bacon does not imply not Christian.
Some Jews and Muslims ignore the religious prohibition on eating bacon. Thus bacon consumption does not imply Christian.
The ban on meat from pigs is an old Testament prohibition. The organization which Fisher works for uses the Old Testament, in part, to argue for its interpretation of a Biblical ethic of decency to be imposed on everyone. Where's the consistency?
There is no evidence that Jesus ever ate pork. As an observant Jew he would probably would not had a taste in his life - he may even have been repulsed by the idea. His view of swine was that they were no more than an appropriate repository for demons.
There's nothing particularly Christian about bacon and the availability of bacon says nothing about whether a country is Christian or not. Fischer is completely wrong.
I opened this article with abusive and derogatory remarks about Bryan Fischer and the organization for which he works. I see no reason to withdraw or amend those words.
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