Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Dennis Prager’s “Secular” Argument

restroomsWe’ve often said on the show that we’ve never heard a good non-secular argument against marriage equality, and we’ve often challenged our listeners to let us know when they find one.

Bill from Philadelphia found a doozy.   I admit, it’s a doozy that we’ve seen before and is hardly new, but thanks to unrelated current events I’ve been on sort of a wild tear, so I decided to read through it again and specifically refute the argument.

In specific, the anti-equality argument comes from conservative radio show host Dennis Prager. Politics aside, he’s a staunch defender of Christian religious privilege.   And before we get on Bill’s case, he’s made it clear to me that he doesn’t agree with Prager, but found Prager’s pride at a good secular case against marriage equality puzzling and wanted to share it with us.

Here is Bill’s email:


Love the show.
You guys have asked in the past for a non religious anti gay marriage
argument.  I have one from Dennis Prager, conservative right wing radio
Bill from Philadelphia

And here’s my response:

Hi Bill!

Thanks for your feedback.

We’ve seen Prager’s argument, and arguments like it before.   The idea that there is no religious argument in it is preposterous.   He asks if marriage equality is good for the nation, which is a prima facie secular question, but then he ties it directly into a question of morality, and historically significant “moral thinkers.”

In his scenario, “moral thinker” is clearly a stand in for “religious leader.”   Specifically, he writes:

Second, if opposition to same-sex marriage is as immoral as racism, why did no great moral thinker, in all of history, ever advocate male-male or female-female marriage? Opposition to racism was advocated by every great moral thinker. Moses, for example, married a black woman, the very definition of Catholic is “universal” and therefore diverse and has always included every race, and the equality of human beings of every race was a central tenet of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other world religions. But no one – not Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Aquinas, Gandhi, not the Bible or the Koran or any other sacred text, nor even a single anti-religious secular thinker of the Enlightenment — ever advocated redefining marriage to include members of the same sex.

He adds some hand waving to include “social movements,” but he doesn’t actually get into any detail there.  Instead he talks about the “Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.,” with accent on the Reverend.    Rather than “God hates gay marriage,” he’s saying “People who speak for God hate gay marriage.”    He may see a difference, but I do not.

Meanwhile, he also says this:

That is why sports events, clothing, public restrooms, and (often) schools are routinely divided by sex. But black sporting events and white sporting events, black restrooms and white restrooms, black schools and white schools, or black clothing stores and white clothing stores would be considered immoral.

Anyone who would say this in the context of a historical look at civil rights while also moralizing about the value of Martin Luther King is, at the very best, historically blind and his thoughts deserve the same attention one would give a rubella epidemic.


About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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Ken Scaletta

Many great thinkers were gay. Socrates and Plato, for instance. “Gay marriage” wasn’t advocated because it wasn’t necessary. Marriage was not, in antiquity, supposed to be primarily a love-based or romantic commitment, but a purely practical and functional one where women were basically transferred and owned as property. Romantic and sexual relationships often still happened between males, but “marriage” is not a convention that would have had any application at the time. Marriage was not intended to solemnize anybody’s love and commitment but simply to produce offspring. It is specious, in the extreme, to suggest “moral thinkers” of antiquity should… Read more »


“the equality of human beings of every race was a central tenet of Judaism, Christianity, Islam”

One of the biggest LOL statements in the article…

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