For the past two days, Pastor Luke Beets has shown up to campus bearing a condescending message to LGBT+ people, drug addicts, and non-Christians. As a non-Christian member of the LGBT+ community who has lost family to substance use disorder, I do not rebuke those swearing, shouting, and insulting him. But to my surprise, he is easier to reason with than some may think.
I was expecting an abusive and irrational bigot likened to a Nazi. Instead, I was met with a somewhat open-minded, but confused gentleman living in fear of hell.
I was surprised to see him apologize to a transgender woman yesterday for misgendering her. The woman approached him first to apologize for her reaction. They then took a picture together. The interaction between them was refreshing to see. Perhaps it did not end transphobia, but it showed everyone watching that humanity can be found where you least expect it.
But I should not write about the humanity in him without emphasizing why we are protesting: his message.
His argument is hurtful to several people on campus, of course. But his argument is also fallacious in nature. Some of the fallacies I noted were the tone fallacy and the blind authority fallacy.
A student told him they were hurt by some of the words on the sign. In response, Beets told the student to consider the loving tone at which he delivered the message. I immediately corrected him, reminding him that tone had no bearing on his message’s content.
The blind authority fallacy dominated his entire argument. I directed my first question at his only source holding his argument together. I asked, “Why, in your opinion, do you think the Bible is a factual literary work?” He responded that there is one objective truth that no person completely knows (I agreed), and God is the only being who knows all truth. I then asked him, “Why do you believe God is real?” His response started with, “The Bible says…”
There you have it, folks. He still hasn’t supported why the Bible is completely factual or how this God, who allegedly condemns gay people to hell, exists. Even if some Scripture is supported with facts or objective morality, does that mean all Scripture is reliable? With this uncertainty, can we really say, objectively, that his message is valid in an academic setting?
But being wrong is part of learning. He clearly shows thoughtful answers and genuine attempts to separate the truth from what’s false, even if he’s rambling or putting the pieces together out loud. He even agrees to view sources that other students use to support their arguments.
Your best weapon in an argument is asking questions. This stimulates critical thinking.
Disclaimer: this is not a judgement on Christian people or other Bible users. Part of this letter is simply speculation on whether the Bible should control the inconsequential aspects of lives outside of religious communities and stigmatize people with drug addiction.
Editor’s note: This letter was submitted on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Information on the event referenced can be found here.