I wrote a few days ago about the current Christian tactic of insisting that any pusback against their attempts to force everyone else to live by their religious rules is “persecution” of the Christians. This post does an excellent job of expounding upon that point:
Accept the inevitability of gay rights, advises Ross Douthat, but “build in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” Here’s the idea: If your disapproval of certain kinds of people can be rooted in church doctrine or a handful Biblical proof-texts, then forbidding you to mistreat those people violates the “free exercise” of religion you are promised by the First Amendment.
To make this work, conservative Christians need to divert attention from the people they are mistreating by portraying themselves as the victims. And that requires cultivating a hyper-sensitivity to any form of involvement in activities they disapprove of. So rather than sympathize with the lesbian couple who gets the bakery door slammed in their faces, the public should instead sympathize with the poor wedding-cake baker whose moral purity is besmirched when the labor of his hands is used in a celebration of immorality and perversion.
. . .
In fact the baker will be fine, as Willamette Week demonstrated by calling two such religious-liberty-defending bakeries and ordering cakes to celebrate a variety of other events conservative Christians disapprove of: a child born out of wedlock, a divorce party, a pagan solstice ritual. The bakers did not object, because their hyper-sensitive moral purity is an invention, a convenient excuse for treating same-sex couples badly.
. . .
We worked this stuff out during the civil rights movement, because all the same ideas show up with regard to race.
Plenty of people claim a sincere religious belief in white supremacy, and root it in Biblical texts like the Curse of Ham. (This goes way back: American slave-owners found Biblical license for keeping their “property”.) But the law does not honor these claims, and somehow religion in America survives.
Here’s the principle that has served us well: In private life, you can associate with anybody you like and avoid anybody you don’t like. But if you offer goods or services for sale to the public, you don’t get to define who “the public” is. So when you’re making lunch at your house, you can invite anybody you like and snub anybody you don’t like, but if you run a lunch counter you have to serve blacks.
We’ve been living with principle for decades, and (other than Rand Paul) no one worries much about the racists’ loss of freedom.
That should apply to same-sex couples now: If your chapel is reserved for members of your congregation, fine. But if you rent it to the public for wedding ceremonies, same-sex couples are part of the public just like interracial couples are. You don’t get to define them away.
I’ll add that when religion moves into the public sphere, such as when a church regularly rents out its hall to the public, the church benefits from all of the things that society does, such as printing money that the renters can use to pay for the hall and the church can then use to buy candles, providing courts where the church can sue if the renters don’t pay up, and maintaining a police department that will come and arrest people if the party gets too rowdy. So it’s reasonable to expect, in return, that the church follow the laws that society imposes.
The latest whiny patriarchialist is science fiction author Orson Scott Card, a board member of NOM, which boycotts every corporation that even considers any gender-neutral politics, who wrote an essay in which he said that gays “cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within . . . society,” and who has worked very hard to prevent same-sex marriage. Now, Card has a movie coming out and well, all of a sudden, boycotts are a form of intolerance and liberals are hypocrites if they won’t go see his movie:
Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.
Of course, when liberals ask Christians to be “tolerant” of other people, we mean that while they may believe what they like, they ought not to show up at funerals with signs that say “God Hates Fags” and that they ought not to try to criminalize other religions that marry same-sex couples. We’re not suggesting they have to buy tickets to attend movies by people with whose politics they disagree. NOM and Mr. Card are free to boycott Starbucks and other companies that support gay rights. And we’re free to boycott Card’s movie.
I’m a big science fiction geek, but I won’t be seeing Ender’s Game. I wouldn’t mind watching The Trouble with Tribbles again, though.