Saturday, December 06, 2008

More christianist hypocrisy

Not content with stripping 18,000 married California couples of their human rights and preventing the recognition of those same rights in most other states, right wing religionists now claim to be victims of “violence” and “intimidation” so they can shut down all criticism directed at them.

Ever since gay people and their supporters began protesting the passage of Proposition 8 in California, rightwing religionists have been claiming they’re being threatened with violence because of their anti-gay stance. Specifically, they cite protests outside Mormon temples and the public naming and blacklisting of individual and business contributors to the passage of California’s Proposition 8 as proof they’re “victims”.

Now one right wing religionist group has taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times demanding no “mob veto”. The group, which claims to be “protecting the free expression of all religious traditions”, self-righteously defended the right of Mormons specifically to promote Proposition 8, ignoring that they did that by exploiting their tax-exempt status to mount a nationwide campaign in all their churches. This meant they ended up contributing over half of all the money raised to pass Prop 8, despite only about two percent of Californians following that religion. Having done that, they have to expect a backlash, and boycotting the businesses of contributors is a legitimate response.

Make no mistake: No one condones actual violence; it must be condemned at all times. But many of these complainers don’t condemn violence—actual, daily, physical violence—directed against GLBT people, even if the ad has an anti-violence sentence. Indeed, many of the rightwing backers of the ad don’t condemn anti-gay violence because they’re too busy effectively encouraging it with their rhetoric.

The group behind the ad plans to respond by publicly “naming and shaming” anyone they say “resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry”. So, they plan to use the same tactic that anti-Prop 8 people use. Apparently, when our side does it, it’s “intimidation” and actions of a “mob”, but when they do it, it’s perfectly acceptable. The only word for that is hypocrisy.

The group behind the ad promotes special rights for religions and their followers. In an earlier media release, the group complained that “only 37 states have explicit religious exemptions” to laws banning gender discrimination. “Only 37”—that’s 75% of the states.

They want religions to be able to discriminate not just against women, but also—especially, perhaps—gay people. They say 33 states ban discrimination based on marital status, but “only 13 of these states provide religious exemptions”. They note that among the 20 states (only 40% of US states) that ban discrimination against gay people, 18 have a religious exemption. Put another way, 90% of the states that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation exempt religions from obeying the law. The group demands that any state that permits same-sex couples to marry also exempt religion from obeying the law.

They want religions to have special rights to discriminate, though private, secular institutions are forbidden to discriminate, even when doing exactly the same work—like education, social welfare, healthcare, etc. This has nothing to do with what churches do in their religious ceremonies, but about how they treat their employees and the general public they serve in their non-religious activities.

Why is it “anti-religious bigotry” to oppose churches’ special rights to discriminate, but a legitimate expression of religious faith when they oppose outlawing discrimination against us—even if they get special rights to be exempted from obeying the law? Why is it “anti-religious bigotry” to stand up to churches’ anti-gay crusades, but legitimate expression of religious faith when they oppose us?

Plainly put, right wing christianists and Mormons are hypocrites, not victims. It’s plainly impossible to be a victim when you have power and money and can wield both to force your religious agenda on those who believe differently, let alone those who reject religion. Criticism and opposition is legitimate. If they don’t want either, then they shouldn’t take part in political debates. And they definitely shouldn’t make phoney claims of being “victims”.

Update December 11: Truth Wins Out has taken out a full page ad in the Salt Lake Tribune pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of the signators to the New York Times ad: Three in particular have made remarks promoting the very religious bigotry the group behind the NYT ad falsely claims to be fighting. Two of them specifically attacked Mormons, who the ad falls all over itself defending.

The group behind the NYT ad is just another far right anti-gay group of religionists—and hypocrites. Truth Wins Out has helped to expose that.

No comments: