Supposedly Jesus came up with the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but it can be found in Islam, Hinduism, Ancient Greece, Taoism, and Judaism. And if you give her the chance, my mother will say she came up with it. But The Golden Rule is one that good Christians are supposed to follow. So how come they so readily ignore it when you throw it back in their faces to counter their anti-gay beliefs?
In a new study York University psychologist Oth Vilaythong Tran finds “such reminders of the golden rule are utterly ineffective at changing minds or hearts,” summarizes Miller-McCune. “And if you emphasize the universality of this message of tolerance by quoting the leader of a different religion, anti-gay attitudes actually harden.”
To begin the experiment, the participants filled in missing words from a series of quotations. For one-third of of the participants, two of the five quotes were variations on the golden rule, which were attributed to Jesus. Another third were presented with the same golden rule-related quotations, only in their case, the sayings were attributed to the Buddah. The final third filled in words from unrelated quotes.
Their explicit and implicit attitudes toward gay people were then measured in a series of tests. In addition, they reported their political ideology and level of religiosity. “We predicted that priming the golden rule would decrease negativity toward gay people, especially when it was attributed to the leader of one’s own religion,” the researchers write. “Instead, the golden rule priming had no effect when communicated by one’s own religions reader.
“However, when the golden rule messages were attributed to the Buddha, Christians self-reported being more explicitly negative toward gay people and more likely to believe that homosexuality is a choice,” they add. “The results suggest that when a tolerant message comes from a religious out-group figure, it does not increase, but may decrease tolerance toward another out-group.”
Conclusion? Human beings are narrow-minded hypocrites no matter whom they pray to.
Or, according to the researchers, “An out-group member’s message of tolerance may be perceived as a negative judgment of the perceiver’s present moral status, rather than as a universal message of compassion. Perceivers might be especially sensitive to an implied moral criticism when an out-group member delivers a moral message.”
So, then, what happens when you tell a bigoted atheist that Jesus wishes gays well? My head hurts.