In this metaphor, the bears represent religious intolerance.
When it comes down to it, I think we’d all prefer to be debating David Booth the player than David Booth the prayer right about now, but as long as the day’s progress in CBA negotiations is little more than Bill Daly saying “yes” to a yes or no question about whether or not there will be a season and Donald Fehr saying “I hope he’s right”, hockey is still a ways off.
Thus, we have all the time in the world to have arguments about who David Booth is off the ice.
I said my piece yesterday and I stand by it. I disagree with the vast majority of what David Booth says, but I don’t think he merits the overreactions and attacks his words often draw. The guy’s usage of Twitter may be a public relations fiasco; he may be leaving himself completely wide open for attacks; and, he may align himself with some public figures — Mike Huckabee, Ravi Zacharias — that have espoused a handful of opinions I find loathsome (although I would remind that Booth has not pushed any these opinions himself), but the utter contempt some people spew at him is tactless and unnecessary nonetheless.
But here’s the thing: speaking of respectful disagreement, that piece saw plenty. And the discussion eventually made it around to Booth himself.
Over at the Province, for instance, Nolan Kelly took wrote in defence of the aforementioned utter contempt:
I don’t respectfully disagree; I disagree with utter contempt. Because he is wrong. He is wrong in his belief that no Christ in schools is the cause of mass murder. He is wrong to want to teach religion in schools. He is wrong in his desire to return to the fundamental values of 1776. He is wrong to want to ban abortion. And what’s worse than being wrong, why I have so much contempt for his opinions, is that underlying them is the belief that others should be forced to go along with them.
When someone argues a position that infringes upon my basic rights as a citizen, it is not silly to call a spade a spade; it is the exact opposite of silly. We deserve the right to make our own choices, and if your opinion expresses a belief that my choices should be limited because you disagree, then I will continue to argue and call you out, even if some people might think it’s silly.
I would categorize much of Nolan’s piece as an example of the sort of overreaction with which I was taking issue.
Booth, on the other hand, would categorize it — and this really shouldn’t surprise you — as rote persecution. The Canucks winger tweeted the piece out Wednesday evening, coupled with a succinct, but loaded response: five Bible verses.
In defense of criticizing David Booth | The Province blogs.theprovince.com/2012/12/19/in-…Mathew 5:11, 5:441 Peter 4:14Romans 12:12, 12:20
— David Booth (@D_Booth7) December 19, 2012
Oh how I wish he hadn’t done that. There’s a smugness in quoting verses at someone for which I’ve never particularly cared. This is a pertinent tweet:
Those are basically all the “come at me, bro” bible verses, if you were going to look them up.
— Schneider’s Teeth (@SchneidersTeeth) December 19, 2012
So that you don’t have to look them up, here’s the full text of all five verses, from the New American Standard edition. The first two are the words of Jesus:
Matthew 5:11 – Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Matthew 5:44 – But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
1 Peter 4:14 – If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Romans 12:12 – Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer…
Romans 12:20 – But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.
The Bible teaches, and these five verses are evidence, that persecution at the hands of those that disagree is something all Christians will have to suffer through. Furthermore, suffering through it while continuing to love and pray for your enemies is paramount.
Now, is Booth really being “reviled for the name of Christ”? Yes and no. No, in the sense that a lot of people are just upset over what he said about putting prayer back into schools, which isn’t — I repeat, it is not – a Biblical principle. It’s a political principle. I’d argue that this is a common conflation among Christians.
But yes, in the sense that I believe Booth is right to sense some unfair persecution among the perfectly fair political disagreement.
As Thomas Drance points out in a follow-up piece at Canucks Army, some of the vitriol directed at Booth may have a dash of religious intolerance:
Here’s the thing, while the emergence of Canada’s secular values are a mostly positive development in my view, there’s an ugly side to this evolution. In particular, I don’t know that Canadians as a group, are all that tolerant of religious beliefs or religious persons. Check out the findings of this Angus-Reid poll for MacLeans from 2009:
[...] Now, I’m not saying that having a negative reaction to David Booth’s tweet about Sandy Hook makes you intolerant of his religion. Personally, I gave the tweet a quick eye-roll and moved on (so, it’s fair to say that I also had a negative reaction to it myself). But those who attacked Booth personally and at length for his viewpoint demonstrated, in my view, a failure of empathy that in some cases may have been tinged with intolerance. Point is, you know what you’re getting when you follow David Booth. If you don’t want to hear about how God is great, you can easily unfollow him.
It’s true. If Booth tweets something essential as a Canucks, I’m sure you’ll hear about it even if you aren’t following him.
What a hornet’s nest this whole thing is. Please do read both of those follow-up pieces, since you’re bound to agree with one of them. (If not, by all means, write another.)
Listen, we don’t want to turn this into a religion and politics blog, which is the main reason we’ve avoided much comment on Booth’s tweets up until recently (when we gave in to a number of people asking us to chime in). That in mind, we won’t continue to press the issue. But let’s close with a unifying statement:
I think we can all agree that a) David Booth is crazy divisive and b) this lockout needs to end so we can stop talking about this, since he tends to stand out a lot less on the ice.