Charles Barkley blasts the Christian Right, calling them “fake Christians”

NBA great Charles Barkley said what surely millions of people have been thinking for a long time: the Christian Right is rife with fake Christianity. This group is known for being one that claims righteousness in the word Christ, but they have shown themselves to be unChristian time and time again, primarily by passing judgment on anyone who doesn’t live the way that they want them to. While I can be a more forgiving on the topic of abortion as they see it as murder (though I am nevertheless unimpressed by arguments that I have heard on their side), their castigation of gays, feminists, Muslims, secularists, and so on is anything but Christian. Barkley had the following to say on the matter:

After speaking respectfully of Senator John McCain, Barkley said that he doesn’t like “the way that the Republicans are taking this country. Every time I hear the word conservative it makes me sick to my stomach, cause they’re really just fake Christians, as I call them. That’s all they are. I’m going to vote Democratic no matter what.”

Barkley then went on to say that he plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014, which is the earliest that he can run given that he just moved there in 2007 and must be a resident of the state for 7 years prior to seeking election.

Before wrapping up the interview, host Wolf Blitzer asked Barkley to clarify what he meant by “fake Christians”.

Barkley responded as follows:

BARKLEY: Well, I think they — they want to be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if gay people want to get married. I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like their Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all.

WOLF BLITZER: But you can’t lump all these conservatives as being fake. A lot of them obviously — most of them are very, very sincere in their religious beliefs.

BARKLEY: Well, they should read the part about they’re not supposed to judge other people. They forget that one when it doesn’t fit what they want it to say. ”

I was very happy to hear these words come from Mr. Barkley. Though I can’t help but speculate that they will come back to haunt him during his planned campaign for Governor of Alabama in 2014. Nevertheless, I respectfully tip my hat to Barkley.

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission was quick to respond:

[Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO:] “We respect Barkley as an expert on basketball, but he is obviously not an expert on Christian moral theology. The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission calls on Barkley to apologize for his hateful remarks. We are hopeful that he will do the right thing.”

Hat Tip: The Friendly Atheist  (follow this link for video)

22 Responses to “Charles Barkley blasts the Christian Right, calling them “fake Christians””
  1. ronbrown says:

    What’s wrong with this “interpretation”? It was exactly inline with what he said.

  2. Derek says:

    Charles Barkley is great! He can be crass for sure, but he has an ability to say things that many people are thinking. In my own experiences, there are definitely many “fake Christians” who are quick to pull out the religion card in situations that suit them, or especially to castigate others. Suggesting that his comments were “hateful” is definitely a polarizing remark, to say the least, and quite a stretch. You can believe in Christianity, or Scientology, or that the Earth’s core is composed entirely of chocolate. Just don’t try and force those beliefs onto others!

  3. I would rather watch the video in question then read an interpretation of the video then watch it. If I read about it first the video viewing experience will be framed no matter how accurate the interpretation is.

    A perfect example can be found in my experience with 2 girls 1 cup, everyone I talked to said it was the nastiest video ever, then watching some reactions on YouTube I expected a lot, after I watched it I was disappointed the build up destroyed the experience.

    In all honesty there isn’t much ‘surprise’ to this video give the title, so it probably doesn’t matter what is read before watching it, but I still think it would be better to watch the video then read your interpretation.

  4. Colin says:

    So Barkley is judging Christians for being judgmental…curious.

  5. ronbrown says:

    Colin: At it’s core, yeah, it’s technically hypocritical. But it’s a pretty valid message. It’s the whole being intolerance of intolerance; except, in this case it’s magnified in that the fundamentalists are supposed to be of a religion that discourages judgment and encourages acceptance, love and so forth. While Barkley was intolerant, unloving and unaccepting of the right wingers, he was standing up for core values of their religion and of a general society that is able to co-exist peacefully.

    But yeah, the fact that a tolerant society cannot tolerate intollerance is a funny paradox.

  6. jo says:

    i think charles barkley should stick to talking about basketball…

  7. ronbrown says:

    I think we should all stand up against the christian right bigots.

  8. Colin says:

    It goes beyond paradox and into self-refutation.

  9. So, you are saying a true Christian (whether that is CB or not) can never come out and criticize the hypocrisies they see being passed of as religious behaviour?

    Where does Martin Luther fit in this whole scheme of things. Isn’t what he did (calling Bullsh*t on the church because of indulgences, etc.) along the same lines.

    Barkley is not judging Christians for being judgmental, he is saying that the crap being sold as “Christian” these days doesn’t measure up.

  10. ronbrown says:

    Colin: So I guess you’re arguing for a society of complete and utter chaos. One in which no judgment is allowed, even judgment of judgment. If people judge, no one should be able to judge them for it. So the prosocial people will let the bigots and haters continue on their hateful ways so as not to be judgers.

  11. Colin says:

    Barkley says “And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people…”

    Barkley is judging Christians for being judgmental. The assumption is that it is wrong to be judgmental, but Barkley’s statement refutes itself because it is in itself judgmental.

    There is nothing in either of my posts that indicates what I think about being judgmental.

    I happen to largely agree with Barkley (although he misunderstands what the bible says about judging others), Christians often behave like asses. I believe that Christians should call each other when they behave like asses, or when the church starts to sell tickets to heaven like the catholic church back in the day, Martin Luther’s 95 theses on the Wittenburg Door were exactly what was needed.

    Ron, I suppose a society of utter chaos is one way that we could go with this (that would be the logical conclusion in a relativistic world)…or we could recognize a transcendent moral standard…:) [No need to get into that here…]

  12. ronbrown says:

    I acknowledge the paradox, but I am reluctant to refer to it as self-refutation. If a moral philosophy encourages people not to judge others, how is it even possible to blow the whistle on those claiming to be of the philosophy who are being judgmental? Unless we allow people to call out those who are being judgmental, the philosophy is unsustainable. Now, you could reasonably reply that Barkley did more than call them out – he flat out berated them. I suppose that adds to your case of self-refutation. However, I’m still reluctant to really call Barkley a hippocrit. The heart of the philosophy of judge not less ye be judged is to encourage tolerance, which is key to coexistence. These right wingers are flagrantly betraying this principle while claiming righteousness in the name of the person who so strongly discouraged what they are doing. They are acting as if they speak with the authority of Christ when Christ specifically encouraged his followers to not do what they are doing.

    Regarding relativism and transcendent moral standards, the absence of an objective moral code does not necessitate moral relativism. No secular humanist would calmly accept murder as ethical in a foreign country just because it is practiced in that country. Moral relativism is straight up bankrupt. It is a ridiculous idea that if something is done in culture X, it is not criticizeable simply by virtue of the fact that it is being done. That would be comparable to a sort of intellectual relativism, which would state that a belief is respectable in so far as it is believed. As I’ve pointed out before, the lack of an objective transcendant moral standard does not result in there being no framework for morality. The golden rule is a good principle to apply, and this apply regardless of where it came from. Unfortunately, though, practically no one is willing to follow the golden rule in anywhere near a complete and comprehensive sense.

    Anyhow, we need not get into that issue again. But I just wanted to clarify those things.

  13. Colin says:

    We agree that moral and intellectual relativism is bankrupt.

  14. ronbrown says:

    Agreeing is so much easier…

  15. We agree that moral and intellectual relativism is bankrupt.

    Nice try, the opposite if relativism (i’m guessing) is some kind of objectivism. We’ve been down that road. No matter how you dress it up, it doesn’t work.

    Relativism is a completely misrepresented concept. Meaning is rooted in context, in time and place, so meaning is necessarily relative. Absolutism requires epistemological assumptions that are the equivalent of “I think so” or “gee, but I would really like it if it were that way, so it must be.” That’s what leads to bankrupcy.

  16. ronbrown says:

    The way understood relativism was in the absolute sense (HA!). What I mean is the relativism associated with the view that one cannot criticize other cultures—that all cultural values deserve respect simply because cultures have them.

    The alternative to this relativism need not be moral objectivism. I can feel free to criticize a culture that condones slavery even if I can’t say that slavery is wrong in some sort of transcendent objective universal way. I can criticize it on the basis that this treatment is one that shows no respect, value or compassion toward to the slaves, and wilfully exploits those with less power without regard for their well-being, suffering, autonomy and life. I do not need some transcendent moral standard to find this sort of treatment horribly inhumane.

  17. Colin says:

    But if we ALWAYS agree, then only one of us has to think.

  18. laura says:

    Charles Barkley is a Christian. He’s not putting down Christians, he’s holding them accountable to the morals that they both should hold up.

  19. L. Ron Brown says:

    Laura: You’re right. However, he is putting down these particular Christians. But surely not all Christians or Christianity as a whole.

  20. Heh. I saw some talk on relativism earlier on.

    There’s a few misunderstandings about moral relativism. The biggest one is that if someone holds a moral that I find repugnant, I have to respect it as equal to my own. This is simply not the case. If someone holds a moral that I find abhorrent, it does not mean that I have to give up my disgust or my outrage or my capacity to act. Far from it. Moral relativism empowers me to act out against these things. It merely insists that I act out against morals that are abhorrent to me because I personally think I should, and not because I think ‘these morals are evil’.

    It insists that I think and consider carefully the whole picture – but it doesn’t stop me from acting out. It just stops me from justifying my actions on the abstract terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It keeps me honest about my motivations.

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