Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Battling to be Freed from Religion?


Beyond any shadow of doubt.

For years, many American evangelicals have become increasingly suspicious that the push by left-wing liberals for gay marriage has a broader agenda than simply gender-neutral matrimony.

And sure enough; now that the Supreme Court, on Monday, appears to have propped open the floodgates for gay marriage across the country, all pretense on the part of some social liberals is finally being abandoned.

Consider this teaser for an article on today's New York Times website:

"Attention is turning toward regions [of the United States] where legal protections for gays are practically nonexistent and where religious and cultural barriers are strong."

Do you hear what the Times is saying?  The real battle here isn't marriage for people of the same gender.  It's the elimination of religious liberty.

Of course, this isn't the first time the mainstream media has painted religion as bad, and social universalism as good.  But as our society continues warming to idea that gay marriage is right and religious beliefs against it are wrong, there are fewer and fewer reasons for religion's foes to be coy about their aspirations.

It starts with perpetuating stereotypes of religious tyranny.  Even if today's America has already progressed far beyond its historical oppressions.  After all, in what part of our modern country are, as the Times claims, "legal protections for gays... practically nonexistent"?  Does every sub-category of human need to have specific legislation to protect themselves?  For example, was it illegal to assault senior citizens or children before we had age-specific laws against doing so?

For their part, gays have always had the right to vote, something that used to be denied women, blacks, and people who didn't own private property.

If we're simply talking about the ability of gays to enter into same-sex marriages, of course, those "protections" that the Times alleges don't exist for gays actually do exist... as protections for traditional marriage.  Which, yes, is a key sticking point.  These politically incorrect safeguards for the institution of marriage as an exclusively heterosexual one ostensibly have been what social liberals have been targeting for overthrow.

Or, at least, pro-gay-marriage activists claimed that they simply wanted to be treated the same as heterosexuals when it came to benefiting from the legal aspects of wedlock.

This week, however, among left-wingers, any vestiges of pretense to the contrary are gone.

The objective of the gay marriage lobby is the neutralization not just of matrimony, and political incorrectness, but religion.  Any religion that teaches heterosexual marriage, that is.  Religions that don't care who gets married are okay - albeit, still trite for today's progressives.

To prove the need to break religion's grip, the Times breathlessly chronicles key civil rights abuses that anti-gay bigots supposedly can inflict on homosexuals in America's backwaters - especially the South - where religion apparently trumps the rule of law:

"Gay people can still be fired or denied housing, and there are no marriage or adoption rights for same-sex couples or laws against bullying in schools."

Really?

For one thing, there are federal laws against discrimination of any kind, and anybody anywhere in the United States can file charges against employers, agencies, Realtors, or home builders who fire people or prevent them from living someplace because of their sexual orientation.  Bullying?  I was bullied as a kid, and even then, back in the Dark Ages, my parents could have taken things all the way to the police, and higher, if they'd wanted to.

Some people who continue to vilify gays, or mock them, or otherwise demean homosexuality as particularly heinous and deviant, do so because homosexuality is technically a "sin" in their religion.  In addition, I've come to suspect that gays are considered particularly sinful by people who harbor unresolved sexual issues of their own.  Regrettably, it's been these people who have given gay marriage advocacy much of its social traction.

Okay:  So, no, in many parts of what the Times derides as "low-equality" states, gays still cannot marry each other, but that's not the same as being fired for being gay, is it?  If it is, who is the one diminishing the purpose of the supposedly bedrock institution of marriage by equalizing the two?

Can't we at least agree that to have a rational debate on these subjects, fomenting hysteria over what constitutes legitimate discrimination is counterproductive?

Sometimes, gay people get fired simply because they don't do their job well.  That happens to straight people, too.  Sometimes gay people simply can't afford the housing they want.  Plenty of straight people can't afford the type of house they'd prefer, either.

Bullying?  An Indiana State Trooper has just been sued for proselytizing by a woman to whom he supposedly gave a spiritual tract during a traffic stop.  If somebody doesn't like what somebody else says or does, there is plenty of legal recourse already here in the Good ol' U-S-of-A.

However, it's also true, as the Times article points out, that blatant bigotry tends to prevail in certain parts of our country where cultural sophistication rarely is a badge of honor.  And to the extent that anti-gay bigots rely on religion to couch their disrespect of those who tend to be more easily disenfranchised, then religion becomes an easier punching bag for victims than the abusers using it as their shield.

In other words, why should religious people be surprised - even those of us who try to honor God by respecting our neighbors - that religion is the larger target of pro-gay advocates?

Throughout our history, Americans have generally perpetrated twisted forms of the Christian religion against women, blacks, Native Americans, Jews, and Roman Catholics, just to name a few.  Today, most evangelicals wouldn't think of discriminating against these people groups, although members of each group could probably provide anecdotal evidence that at least some of us do - and that we use our religion to do it.  Homosexuality, to social liberals, simply exists as yet another cohort towards which Bible-followers behave boorishly.  So, since religion is the common thread through all of this, religion is what needs to be eliminated.

Or, at least, people's ability to strongly adhere to their religion of preference is what needs to be eliminated.  Religion is fine if you need an emotional crutch and don't want to spend your life in a psychotherapist's chair.  But don't use it to judge anybody else, or restrict their freedoms.

And sexual freedom is the grand cause célèbre these days.

Unfortunately, the thing about political freedom is that everyone cannot have freedom in everything.  Somebody has to relinquish their freedoms so another person can have theirs.

Since the moral argument about the "sanctity of marriage" doesn't hold water anymore among the broader population, guess who's going to begin losing their freedom?  Especially when gay marriage is believed to have the power to liberate the ancient institution of marriage.

Considering how Christians could be said to have lorded it over people for centuries, perhaps the broader population feels justified in making us the ones against whom times are now changing.

Not that we should welcome it, or be resigned to it.  But put in its sociopolitical context, might it fit the pattern of unmitigated political freedom many right wing evangelicals have been touting lately?

It's enough to make me wonder... what would things be like if we evangelicals used our faith in Jesus Christ - and His Lordship of our lives - to impact the world around us... as much as we use religion to try and do the same thing?


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