God Hates Shrimp
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"God Hates Shrimp" is a website run by a group of people satirizing anti-gay preacher and fundy loon Fred Phelps. The website takes its name from Phelps' own site and his best-known slogan, "God Hates Fags."
The reference to shrimp is meant to draw attention to a verse from Leviticus, the same book of the Bible that fundamentalists use to justify their hatred of homosexuals. In Leviticus, marine animals that do not have scales nor fins (e.g. dolphins, clams, squids, seals, etc.) are regarded as "abominations", which is the same word used to describe homosexuality. That is, according to Leviticus, eating those marine animals, including shrimp, is as much a sin as homosexuality. Strangely, fundamentalists have a tendency to ignore Old Testament laws that might affect themselves, while being insistent on laws concerning other people's sexuality. The site thus points out a double standard among Christian fundamentalists and other Christian homophobes.
The usual Christian counterargument against the allegations of God Hates Shrimp is to claim that there are parts of the Old Testament that Christians do not need to follow any more, and parts that do require keeping. Supposedly, Jesus did away with the 'ceremonial' abominations of the Old Testament, but its 'moral' abominations are still in effect. There are a number of problems with this.
While Jesus put much emphasis in not condemning people too harshly for their sins, he himself said in Matthew 5:18 that not one iota of the law shall be changed. Therefore, this argument goes directly against the word of the supposed Son of God. Consequently, Jesus never mentions which laws are out of effect and which still hold, making this distinction a bit of guesswork: So which rules still apply and which do not, and who gets to decide that? It is also unclear what makes homosexuality a "moral" and not a "ceremonial" abomination. And even if we do concede that somehow, even though Jesus never said so, some rules, even though it is unclear which, have been changed, that raises the question of why a supposedly infallible and omniscient God would have to change his laws at all.
In fact, some minor Christian groups, along with Messianic Judaism, do hold that the dietary laws of the Old Testament also still apply to Christians. Contrariwise, some Christians of a more liberal disposition consider the laws of the Old Testament to be irrelevant, and are thus okay with both gays and shrimp. In both of these cases, the God Hates Shrimp argument actually does fail, but the purpose of the argument is to point out double standards held by many Christians, not so much to validate homosexuality or to invalidate the consumption of shellfish.
A Catholic blogger offers the following argument as to how to make the distinction between which laws to keep and which do not require keeping:
"[W]ell, if the Leviticus prohibition on eating shrimp has been superseded, why not 'lying with a man as one does with a woman'?" Offered in the right spirit, it's a legitimate question, to which the answer is "some parts of the Mosaic law are still parts of the New Convenant, others are not." [...]
It is plain and manifest that Christians have always followed some parts of the Mosaic code but not others, the serious question always being "which parts and how do we know." And this is where the New Testament comes in, and Tradition and a binding Magisterium do too. Unlike shrimp, the binding quality of the parts of the Mosaic code related to homosexual acts has been held by Christians and the Church since the 1st century, including in the New Testament itself.
Some cite Mathew 15:11 as why food laws get a special exception, since Jesus actually brings them up as explicitly not important. How this justifies people wearing mixed fabrics or tattooing themselves is uncertain.
In essence, a distinction can be made based on what the church says. In the Catholic and Eastern traditions, this is internally justifiable, as these sects hold that church tradition preserves the law outside of what is in scripture (in much the same way that Judaism holds that the Talmud preserves the "Oral Law" not recorded in the Torah). However, if you reject the role of church tradition and rely solely on scripture, this argument surrenders the inconsistency pointed out by God Hates Shrimp to moral relativism. Naturally, this creates a new inconsistency if you want to claim that homosexuality is a morally absolute sin.
The "God Hates Shrimp" folks may be seen protesting outside Long John Silver's or Red Lobster, or any of a number of seafood restaurants; they also send supporters to anti-gay rallies and protests, where they stand around and counter-protest that we need to kill those people who eat shrimp as well.
In the computer game Wasteland 2, which takes place 100 years after an apocalyptic nuclear war, a faction of overly religious nutcases emerge who serve as a sort of religious police. In one scene they execute a man because he ate a shellfish, quoting from Leviticus 11:10 (the game also subtly pokes fun at various other forms of woo and features screaming goats. What more does one want in a game?)
Related double standards
In a related example of a double standard, many fundamentalists tend to go nuclear when someone points out that in many parts of the U.S., church-goers often celebrate listening to the word of God on Sunday by going to Red Lobster afterwards, in their suits of blended fiber, thus making the restaurant staff break the Fourth Commandment by working on the Lord's Day. (Although, actually, among Christians only Seventh Day Adventists get it right, because Sunday isn't the Sabbath, not according to the Bible. So, all those Christians working on Saturday are in hot
water fire. Christians, after all, generally believe that the Ten Commandments still apply, and thus advocate that they should "[r]emember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). Churches of Christ argue from Colossians 2:16 that someone or something has abrogated the Sabbath, so perhaps they're off the hook...or yeeted out to sea)
- www.godhatesfags.com - Phelps' site. NSFW; read at your own risk.
- Leviticus 11:10 through 11:12
- Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13.
- One example
- Does the New Testament Abolish Meat Distinctions?
- "The "God hates shrimp" fallacy". March 11, 2009.
- Matthew 15:11 It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.