Last updated 24 Aug 2023

I was a member of 2 conservative Presbyterian Churches for 60 years. I increasingly disagreed with many of their opinions, but in a large part they were good people and some of my best friends.
I attended a conservative men's bible study for 15 years after my wife passed away to try and understand how these intelligent, educated people could support ideas that seemed out of step with the bible and my own beliefs.
Here are some of the answers I used to push back at some of their thinking. These are not going to change anyone's mind, but they could end a depressing conversation.

Opinion: The bible is against same sex marriage

Retort: That's in Leviticus where it also says not to shave your sideburns, wear clothes of 2 different cloths, dietary rules and many other things. How do we know which ones of these are right?
They on occasion reminded me that I was a sinner because I married someone of a different tribe (Deut. 7:3-4); My wife was Taiwanese.
We were married just 10 years after Loving vs Virginia, the Supreme Court decision which declared laws outlawing interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.
BTW Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, is also Taiwanese. Would Mike Pence have the nerve to call Mitch a sinner?

Opinion: Muslims are bad because Islam espouses Jihad [the struggle], which since the 20th century has been used by resistance, liberation, and terrorist movements.
Note: The Quran does not justify killing infidels, except in self-defense.

Retort: After the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632, Islam expanded beyond Arabia to Persia, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and North Africa.
From then thru the middle ages the Islamic world became a center for Science (Algebra, Arabic numerals, trigonometry ...), Medecine (discovery of pulmonary circulation, new medicines, surgical techniques), Astronomy (invention of the astrolabe [astronomical instrument serving as a star chart and physical model of visible heavenly bodies]), Art, Literature ...

At the same time (1096-1300 CE) Christians were conducting the Crusades fighting to gain control of holy sights from Muslims. The Pope actually said one way to get to heaven was to kill a Muslim.

I asked my fundamentalist friends what caused the turn around. They had no answer.
Thats a topic for a thesis or book.

Opinion: Global Warming is a Hoax (I don't know what that has to do with Christianity, but a lot of fundamentalists believe that). Thee are posts on social media saying that "Some Christians believe that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists who are trying to undermine the authority of the Bible."
There we go again, first Evolution now Climate Change. Nasty Scientists.

Retort: That sends the message that you have to believe things that are not true to be a Christian. I thought we were supposed to be disciples; This is pushing rational people away.
Maybe they don't want rational people.

Opinion: Environmentalists are tree worshipers, who hurt others by restricting developement.

Retort: Many fundamentalists say the Genesis passage "God tells Adam and Eve to "have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth." " to mean that God gave them to us to use as we see fit.
Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein." says the earth is the Lord's not not ours.

Clearcutting in the northwest causes erosion which pollutes rivers in the northwest hurting the livelihood of Indigenous Americans who rely on fishing.
But who cares the developers just need more cheap wood to build houses to sell at inflated prices and while they're at it lets clearcut the greenspace just outside the city to build more houses. They can all vacation in national parks; The inner city kids have their basketball courts because they all want to be Michael Jordan.

Opinion: ProLife (abortion is killing a person)

Retort: What the Bible says:
The clearest passage on life is Genesis 2:7, "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." It was the Pope that said life begins at conception.

The anti abortion argument uses Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart".
George Carlins 1996 Rif on abortion

See: Unwanted Children Suffer Long-Term Difficulties
Anyway we need more poor people to work in unskilled jobs so we don't have to let more immigrants in.
See Regan on immigrants.

See Fetal development and abortion in the politics section here.

Opinion: Religion, represented by churches and religious communities are a significant factor in the protection and promotion of human rights.

Retort: Slavery was justified by Southern Churches using "Proof Texting" (Text taken out of context to support an opinion).
Many handed out KKK sheets after services. The KKK was active from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's.
Both fundamentalist Presbyterian churches, in Roseville CA then in Liberty Corner NJ, I belonged to for over 50 years had hosted KKK meetings in the early 1900's.
The First Presbyterian Church of Roseville, now the Centerpoint Community Church, where my Great Grandfather was one of the founders and 4 generations of my family were active members, almost burned down in 1922 when the Pastor burned a cross on the roof.
I was active in the Liberty Corner Presbyterian church for 30 years, serving as a trustee, deacon, group leader and numerous service projects. If I were to categorize the members. 1/3 were political conservatives and christian fundamentalists * , 1/3 were progressives and 1/3 just wanted a nice church for their children and didn't care about the politics. The pastors were good at taking the middle ground.
They have both left the Presbyterian Church USA (The dominant denomination which was more liberal) to join new conservative denominations after PCUSA started leaning toward supporting same sex marriage.
* I have never understood the synergy between conservative politics and religious fundamentalism; They seem at odds to me.
And there was a hypocrisy in trying to link the two. See Michael Gerson's, an evangelical and conservative speech writer for George W. Bush, who published the following:
Opinion | White evangelical Protestants are fully disrobed. And it is an embarrassing sight 2019