David Booth responds to heated debate over his beliefs with Bible verses, of course

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.

 

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:

 

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.

26 comments

  1. Andrew
    December 19, 2012

    If nothing else, I’ve heard the term “conflation” more in the last 48 hours than I have in 27 years.

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  2. Kyle
    December 19, 2012

    I really think what we’re seeing, especially in Nolan Kelly’s piece, is Canadian’s projecting their frustrations with American-Conservatism onto David Booth. I think Booth’s thoughts on the matter are misguided, but people are reacting to an imaginary Republican boogeyman and not reading David’s benign comments at all.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 19, 2012

      I could get behind this.

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    • Canucksgold
      December 20, 2012

      I find this explanation interesting, given that a majority of Americans have voted for a liberal Democrat president. It is we Canadians who have a conservative and also Christian PM.

      Could it be that our projections of David Booth, and of American Conservatism, are really unconscious frustations with our own leadership?

      This is a real digression, and I agree that the lock out has gone on way too long. Let’s hope it’s over soon and we can go back to reading and posting about lighthearted stories of hockey and our Canucks.

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  3. Mt
    December 19, 2012

    Though I tend to disagree, I don’t have a big problem (or care much about) most of what Booth gets on about. But the bible verses…. uhg. “Smug,” as Harrison says but not in the “look at me, I’m biblical conversant” sort of way. What gets me is the Persecuted Christian bit and the inward turning logical vortex that says (a) I’m persecuted because I’m righteous and (b) I’m shown to be righteous because I’m persecuted. That’s nauseating even without consideration of the global power of Christianity and the historical realities of being persecuted vs. doing the persecuting with regards to the church(es). For a person to play that card in a county where public displays of Christian religiosity are generally a pre-condition for running for office (in both parties) is … well … silly, at least.

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  4. the olde coot
    December 19, 2012

    The Unreasonable Right

    It’s nice for those who feel they’re blessed
    But there’s a smugness I detest
    From anyone who knows he’s right
    That renders me a bit uptight

    It’s my existential bent
    That wonders where all reason went
    For I think those self satisfied
    Have in a sense already died

    Though it is a neat solution
    To revel in one’s persecution
    And quoting Christ is easy too
    For you’ve to think of nothing new

    But bottom line it seems to me
    That much in life’s a mystery
    (Including Christianity
    And other thoughts of what might be)

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  5. Qris
    December 19, 2012

    There’s not much that I have to say that Harrison hasn’t already said, but… I think Nolan Kelly needs to learn how to disagree vehemently but respectfully. I don’t have a reputation for being diplomatic when I disagree with someone, and I’ll say David Booth believes many things that are flat out wrong. Some of his beliefs are silly, others are silly and dangerous. Dangerous enough that these beliefs need to be properly refuted and ridiculed for the nonsense that they are before someone mistakenly puts them into practice.

    None of that is accomplished by calling David Booth names.

    If these beliefs are so silly (they are), then they’ll not stand up to reasoned argument (they don’t), so the best way to diminish them is to discuss them. Millions of people agree with David Booth, and those people are wrong, and many of those people simply haven’t scrutinized their beliefs enough to see that they don’t really add up. Every time someone starts that conversation, it gets the ball rolling some more. In that regard, David Booth actually helps a lot. Every time he tweets something problematic, people start talking about why it’s problematic.

    What Nolan Kelly did actually sets things back, though. Kelly called Booth cowardly (and uncourageous), a “Bible-thumping, right-wing Tea Partier,” and a crazy. Kelly made all sorts of assumptions about what Booth believes — beliefs that Booth himself never espoused. More, Kelly claimed to have insight into Booth’s “true character.” These are the kinds of things that set dialogue back.

    Kelly tried to use the kind of progress I’m talking about as a defense for attacking David Booth, when in actuality, that’s a defense for attacking David Booth’s positions — something that doesn’t even require mentioning his name. Progress won’t be made by calling a large demographic of people crazy or stupid. It won’t be made through ad hominem arguments or straw men. It’ll be made with actual, reasoned discussion about the real issue.

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    • Anonymous
      December 19, 2012

      Well said!

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  6. Qris
    December 19, 2012

    Also, what’s going on with his teeth?

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    • BC
      December 22, 2012

      I believe that’s his mouth guard.

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  7. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012

    Ugh. There’s a true sliminess to his Bible verse tweet. It might make sense if people were like “Ew, Booth believes in Jesus? Time to persecute him because he loves Jesus!” But the article that he’s defending himself against isn’t doing that. Instead of responding to the points made in the article about the fact that he does indeed support the American right wing agenda in many facets, he chose to dismiss it as Jesus-hate.

    It may be surprising but you can believe in Christ AND be left-leaning. Jesus was liberal in his day and a lot of the values he taught are in line with the left. I don’t see people being mad because of his belief that there’s a God and his son was Jesus. People aren’t hating on Jesus. The American-style oppressive right wing Tea Party politics are what people have issues with.

    Sorry Booth, but the article didn’t “falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Jesus]“ nor is that article making you “reviled for the name of Christ“. It’s calling you out for the things you’ve tweeted. Acting like he’s tweeting on the agenda of Jesus and is therefore being martyred for his opinions doesn’t really work. Like Mt mentioned, you are not being persecuted for being righteous or righteous because you’re being persecuted.

    I would love for Booth to actually address the facts that yes, he did tweet great support of an anti-abortion film (with great misuse of the Holocaust). This is a fact. He supports Pastor Ravi Zacharias. One of his tweets essentially says ”use common sense, vote Republican.’ This is all true, and Jesus is not part of the equation of people calling him out for that.

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    • Kyle
      December 19, 2012

      “Instead of responding to the points made in the article about the fact that he does indeed support the American right wing agenda in many facets, he chose to dismiss it as Jesus-hate.”

      Remember that next time someone writes you a message that calls you crazy and makes gross personal attacks at you. By your own standards, I now expect you to actually entertain this person’s inflammatory arguments and engage them in discourse as they continually insult you.

      Booth responded with the religious equivalent of “I know you are but what am I!” He was probably entitled to respond much worse.

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      • Anonymous
        December 21, 2012

        Sure he could have, but when someone tweeted him to get out of town and take his guns with him he was willing to address it and defend himself by saying “I’m not in town and I don’t have guns.” How easy would it have been for him to just say “I’m not this this or this” in response to the article?

        I’m not saying he HAD to address it in the way that I want but it would have been a much better defense than using Bible verses as a shield and coming across the way he did.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          December 24, 2012

          Why in the world would he respond seriously to an article that made that many false equivalencies and assumptions, and was filled with that many insults. It would have done no good whatsoever for him to engage in that argument. Instead, he made it very clear why he wasn’t going to respond.

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  8. Timmy Wong
    December 19, 2012

    “this lockout needs to end so we can stop talking about this, since he tends to stand out a lot less on the ice”

    He’s divisive on that as well. One – he’s a former 30-goal scorer; two – he’s been an inconsistent floater in his time with Vancouver; three – the times he has stood out has just been as memorable as when he skated around the boards instead of going to the net; four – he’s paid 4.25, which in a capgeek world means there better be results. As you can tell, he’s divisive on the ice, as well as off. He’s more divisive than Team Edward vs Team Jacob, One Direction vs Justin Bieber, ManCity vs United.

    Harrison, am I doing it right?

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    • Abby
      December 20, 2012

      Wat to be a team player, sir.

      :P

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  9. Sanstanya
    December 19, 2012

    “If these beliefs are so silly (they are), then they’ll not stand up to reasoned argument (they don’t), so the best way to diminish them is to discuss them.”

    While I do generally agree with this, what made me mad about it all, though not mad at Booth necessarily, is that talking about the rationale of religious beliefs was not the point. It is the red herring. It is a worthhjile pursut/debate on its on merit and within its own context but functions only as a red herring here. I see no value added to the “how do we stop people from shooting children en masse” debate, which is what people should be talking anout. Every voice that espouses how these tragedies are somehow connected to the separation of church and state own a share of blame for the subsequent tragedy that was not prevented because we got bogged down and paralyzed to inaction debating the rights of the religious vs the rights of the secular/athiest. Who gives a ship. Take the guns away, invest in mental health, save lives. That’s what people need to be talking about following this event. The rest is a sad distraction that leads only to the next murderous event.

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    • Sanstanya
      December 20, 2012

      Editor’s note: yes, I now realize typing this on my phone after a few pints was a grammatically murderous event itself, and for that I shall be ruthlessly shamed here. Bugger.

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  10. John in Marpole
    December 20, 2012

    How is the belief of many Christians that their religion is the answer to the evils of life any less an example of religious intolerance than is people wanting *public, secular* schools to not be based upon any type of religion?

    Christians are not being victimized and their rights aren’t being trampled when they are not allowed to use public schools to advance their beliefs. They are attempting to subvert the US Cobstitution bringing their religion into the public school system.

    The United States is *not* a Christian country. it is intended to welcome all faths and favoring any one is not the intention of the Constitution. There is no state-sanctioned religion such as the Anglican Church in England. Claims to the contrary by those with an agenda aside, that is a fact supported by the US Constitution. State sanctioned religion is contrary to the intentions of the Founding Fathers, and expecting that those intentions be respected is not persecution of any religion.

    Freedom of religion does not include the right to impose any kind of religion on others, and being non-religious is not a religion, no matter how many times people mistakenly – or disingenously – claim.

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  11. akidd
    December 20, 2012

    “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.”

    now that’s compassion. the dalai lama better be looking over his shoulder. as should anyone invited to a backyard bbq at booth’s.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 20, 2012

      Well, that’s a complete misinterpretation of that verse…

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  12. Fred
    December 20, 2012

    Frankly I’ve had too much of Booths opinions and not siffient of his hockey skill, I’ll be glad when we rid ourselves of the man, his mouth, beliefs and his doubtful skills

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  13. Unknown Comic
    December 20, 2012

    The actual ideals espoused by a Christian God (love, understanding, forgiveness) have been badly skewed by the human application for thousands of years.

    Imperfect humans imperfectly represent God and other imperfect humans then take issue at the hyposcrisy they believe they see. They then lash out at the imperfectly presented faith, and miss the original, basic message. (love, understanding, forgiveness)

    I’ll also add Barak Obama is openly Christian and farther to the right of the spectrum than Stephen Harper. There is no left wing in American politics, only a right wing and a right of centre.

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    • Mt
      December 20, 2012

      HUh? Not to turn this towards politics but have you met your Prime Minister? (I don’t mean that literally, of course). The fact that people think that he’s right of Obama is a p.r. coup the his part as he is way to the right of the general voting public. If we’re making comparisons with American presidents, he lines up quite neatly on most issues (social, economic, and environmental) with the GW Bush administration. His party is smart enough not to scream about unpopular beliefs and have amazingly convinced people that the guy is a reasoned moderate whilst cramming their agenda through omnibus bills so we don’t know what’s in them. The fact is we’re a centre-left population with a far-right, though politically astute, government.

      Anyways, this is a hockey blog, but a can of worms has been opened here so we’re all going fishing (get it? worms … fishing. The point is, “look what you’ve done to us, Mooney!). AAAhrg.

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  14. Tom Hawthorn
    December 20, 2012

    The first child buried was Noah Pozner. He was Jewish. I think David Booth should tell Noah Pozner’s parents the problem is there is not enough Christ in the schools.

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  15. betty
    December 22, 2012

    David has a right to his opinions, his beliefs, and Traditions, . Guns and God are very much in the forefront of the “right Wing” Philosophy in the US. It’s the way Mr. Booth was brought up, obviously. He’s on my Team, and I support him as a Hockey Player. I really don’t care what he believes in, as long as he is respectful about my beliefs. If David wants to stimulate debate, he is a big boy, and must realize what he is doing. I don’t think Hockey , Politics and Religion are good mix for Public consumption. I want the Stanley Cup. that’s all. Let’s play Hockey.

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