Church Signs #12: I Call Bullshit on This One.

18 November, 2008

My (((Wife))), while working her street corner in the south end of town, noticed a sign out in front of a Baptist church.  Today, as we drove by, she pointed it out to me.  The sign?

“To Embrace Diversity is to Embrace God”


I did a double take.  Then, for good measure, a triple take.  Since when has Christianity ever been about diversity? 

The earliest Christians were, to be fair, a very diverse bunch.  Some believed in one God, some in two, some in three, some in hundreds of Gods.  Some saw earth as an accident, some saw it as a plan.  Some saw Christ as a human adopted by God, some as pure spirit, some as part man and part God, and others as totally human and totally God at the same time.  Some early Christians believed that, to be a Christian you had to become a Jew first (with all the dietary restrictions and the minor surgery required).  Some thought that Jesus had come to fulfill a promise made in what we today call the Old Testament, others that he invalidated the Jews covenant. 

Even the Bible, the unerring word of God, has been through hundreds of major and minor versions and revisions.  Some of the Pauline letters show signs of latter insertion of new material.  Many of the Gospels didn’t, shall we say, make the cut.  Christians did not even decide which books were holy (and which were not) until about A.D 393.  The pre-printing press reproduction of the canons introduced an unknown, but large, number of changes.  Part of the problemwasthatthelatinusedintheearlybiblesdidnotrecognizepuncutationcapitalizationorevenspacesbetweenthewords.  Then, of course, came the translations into the vernacular.

So Christianity does have a long history of diversity.  Of course, the central authority of the church, from the First Council of Nicaea (and the various rewrites) up to the present day, has sought to eliminate diversity.  Diversity creates heresy — wrong belief.  Heresy means heretics, and heretics create multiple churches — Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Calvinist, Anabaptist, Baptist, et cetera ad nauseum

So the history of Christianity (even the history of God — Though Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me!) would tend to argue against the toleration, much less the embrace, of diversity.  Even more to the point, a large majority of the Christian sects (mostly the more conservative groups) have actively opposed any toleration of diversity.  Atheists, homosexuals, blacks, miscegenists — name the group and chances are pretty good that a Christian group has actively opposed their integration into society.

When the idea of gays serving openly (or clandestinely) in the military, it is the religious right leading the hate in the name of God.  Any campaign — through the courts or through the ballot — to legalize gay marriage (or even allowing it under a different name (separate but equal?)), the religious right opposes the civil rights of their fellow Americans in the name of God.  Any diversity is anathema to organized religion and thus to the God created by the adherents.  Diversity is perceived as a threat:  it allows freedom of thought and freedom of action. 

So, based upon both the recent history and ancient history of believers in God, I call bullshit on the church sign.



  1. I agree, Billy. Church is about the least diverse place I can think of and what Christain is really for religous diversity? And, I can think of Prop 8 here in California and how many “christians for diversity” voted to deny rights to a few of us.

  2. There’s a bit of equivocation involved here. Diversity on the sign most likely means skin color and speech accent. As long as the brain within the skin believes the same way as the other religionists they’ll be accepted.

    On the other hand, there are those all-white and all-black churches that don’t practice either kind of diversity.

    But as you note, broad intellectual diversity within a sect is seldom acceptable.

  3. Well there are numerous religions in the world, so maybe they were talking about that,
    They were talking about the numerous sects of Christianity, which I believe is greater than any other religion’s,
    They were talking about how anyone is welcomed to abandon their beliefs and jump on the Jesus train, what Coulter was referring to when she said Jews need “perfecting”,
    They’re having a laugh

  4. The sign is meangingless unless one knows what that particular church means by diversity. Do they mean, as Ric suggested, ethnic, racial, linguistic and cultural diversity? Do they mean diversity in worship styles? Whatever the term means to them, your point is correct: the church’s tolerance for diversity has limits. Are those limits set at the issue of homosexuality? Abortion? Baptism by immersion vs. baptism by sprinkling vs. no water baptism at all? Who knows? It’s another one of those numerous Christian bromides that sounds pretty but means little.

  5. Joe: I suspect (but short of showing up there on Sunday) that Proposition H8 out in California may have had something to do with the sign. Maybe a touch of pre-emption?

    Ric: The history of the pro- and anti-Slavery and civil rights both put the lie to “As long as the brain within the skin believes the same way as the other religionists they’ll be accepted.”

    Philly: I call for none of the above. Many of the more conservative church type people don’t have much of a sense of humour. Unless they are mocking and laughing at a person or an idea.

    Chappie: Bingo. Bromide.

  6. () –

    Well, jeez, if you you’re going to start bringing in historical facts to question my muddy thinking…

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