Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Religious Freedom, Stupid! The Christian Right Relies On Congress To Push It's Latest Strategy.

”This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy,” former Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., a supporter of marriage equality, told The New York Times in 2005.

The Frontiersmedia.com article nails it on the head: in Religious Right Poised For Greater Power in 2015, it quotes People For The American Way's President Michael Keenan as saying ...
"... the GOP is still relying on the Religious Right and the ties between GOP elected officials and radical Religious Right figures are closer than they have ever been. An example of clout—if you’re a Republican who wants to be president, you’re all but obligated to show up at the Values Voter Summit, an annual convention of anti-gay extremists hosted by the FRC and AFA. And they do it in spite of the inherent risks."

In the wake of LGBT marriage victories, progressives are preening while the Christian Right is plotting, strategizing: while they've moved their anti-LGBT machinations to foreign soil, their defense has shifted into an offense in America. It's not "we're not discriminating" or "we really LOVE gays, but ...", it's now "religious freedom MUST be protected" and "we're the ones being discriminated against." Some even portray the LGBT community as the "REAL Terrorists"!!
Pat Robertson: “They are trying to force people who are Christians to marry them or else face jail, to make cakes honoring them or else go to jail, and give their sermons over and divulge their innermost thoughts or go to jail. Now that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with. These people are terrorists, they’re radicals, and they’re extremists.
Erick Erickson: "And so they did the only thing they could do, the only thing they knew to do," he continued. "They went to the mayor of Atlanta and demanded he fire the chief of the fire department for daring to mock them." (Comparing the LGBT community to terrorists responsible for Charlie Hebdo attack.)
In Virginia, things are brewing that may give the CR more power than ever - it's called a "conscience clause".

The Slate:
[State rep.] Marshall’s measure would attach a “conscience clause” to any “license, registration, or certificate” obtained from the commonwealth, whether by a private business or a government agency. This clause would allow all workers to refuse to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” that would “violate the religious or moral conviction of such person with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior."
What To Expect in 2015

I've always maintained that the Christian Right can - and will - act like a wounded tiger when it comes to gay rights. The marriage equality victories have enraged it so much that it is calling on Congress (certainly not the courts) to avenge the insult to its vanity. "Protecting religious freedom" is an offensive measure, not a defensive one.

A Few Good Reads

In Why We Can't Get Religious Freedom Right, Rob Donaldson (a former Mormon Church Leader) states says that the Christian Right has a definition of religious freedom that goes beyond the freedom to believe what you want to believe:
Conservative Christians aren’t persuaded. They believe (with no Biblical foundation I can find) that to provide the cake, or take the pictures, or do anything else in support of that gay wedding, taints the baker or photographer with the sin of approving a “sinful” act and relationship.
In writing about the involvement of the new Congress, Donaldson sites Frank Bruni (Your God, My Dignity, oped NYT)

“This is the new wave, the new frame,” James Esseks, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U., told me. He said that last year, more than 10 states considered legislation that, to varying degree, blessed discrimination based on sexual orientation by people claiming that it was a right, a matter of religious liberty. Only one of those states, Mississippi, passed such a law, but efforts elsewhere persist. A Virginia lawmaker introduced this sort of legislation just a few weeks ago.

Another good source of thought on the subject is Rob Boston's Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do.
The term religious freedom means the right to make decisions about theology about yourself. It's the right to worship God - or not to worship at all - as you see fit. It's the right to share your faith and join in worship with a community of like-minded believers. It's the right to pass that faith onto your children.
And what it is not: "... the right to use the power of government to impose your theology on anyone else."

With the election of "Religious Freedom Republicans" the Christian Right is doing just that.

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