Under the Trump Administration, there will probably be a Congressional battle regarding the so-called concept of "religious liberty." When that time comes, I expect there to be a huge inundation of horror stories about "Christian"business owners being "forced" to act in opposition of their faith and serve members of the lgbt community. No doubt, the focus will be on bakeries, flower shops, and other wedding businesses. Of course the effects of "religious liberty" bills becoming law will be the allowance of discrimination against the lgbt community in a wide variety of places other than wedding businesses (because those individuals and groups supporting these bills have neglected to say where a line should be drawn) under the guise of religious expression.
We all know that when the religious right talks about "religious liberty," they are pushing anti-lgbt discrimination in terms which make it sound more palpable. My guess is that they don't really mean "religious liberty" for everyone.
Two recent incidents and a hate group's response to these incidents prove my point.
Popular singer Carrie Underwood has been criticized because she recently sang at Atlanta's Passion, an evangelical conference for youth. The reason? She supports marriage equality in accordance to her religious beliefs. Leading the charge against Underwood is the anti-lgbt hate group, the American Family Association.
Via its online phony news site, One News Now, AFA focused two articles on criticizing Underwood and the founder of the conference, Louis Giglio. Both articles highlighted a letter written to Giglio by Wesley Wildmon, AFA's director of Outreach. The letter itself appeared Engage Magazine, another online project of AFA.
Part of it reads as follows:
The life-changing impact of Passion is not an abstract idea for me. I was one of the 40,000+ to attend in 2012. I can speak firsthand when I say I experienced the Holy Spirit while I was there. The teaching was solid and the worship was deep. My friends and I took many notes. Passion 2012 was a spiritual milestone in my life to say the least.
The most popular headline and image circling social media thus far this week show the performance of Carrie Underwood. Louie, if I can be completely transparent, I was very frustrated that you would allow her to help lead thousands of people in worship. My frustration quickly turned to disappointment and then to sadness. Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage which the Word of God does not (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). In fact, it calls us to flee from it and all other sexual sin. Our message as Christians to those who practice homosexuality should reflect that of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.”
With the many Christian artists who believe and teach the full counsel of God’s Word available to lead worship at Passion, why would you choose one who publicly states homosexuality is not a sin? Would you invite a well-known artist who stated publicly that using porn is honoring to God to speak or sing at Passion?
On the other side of the coin is gospel singer Kim Burrell. Burrell came under fire for a recent sermon in which she called gays and lesbians "perverted." Since the sermon went public, her appearance on the talk show Ellen (where she was to appear with another recording artist, Pharrell Williams) was canceled and she lost her radio show.
But she didn't lose the support of the AFA or its phony news publication, One News Now. A piece Wednesday by conservative spokesperson Star Parker claimed that Burrell was a "victim" of anti-Christian persecution by the supposed gay mafia:
As far as I know, Burrell just intended to sing on the DeGeneres show. I don't think she planned to preach a sermon about homosexuality.
Ellen DeGeneres, and the many sympathetic to her point of view, believe it is just fine to crush Kim Burrell and destroy her career because of her Christian beliefs, but they are all for using the law to force a Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding or to force a Christian photographer to work at one.
It should be clear that what motivates the pro-homosexual movement is not advancing a free and tolerant society. It is promoting a society that legitimizes their point of view and punishes, as severely as possible, those who reject it. This is fascism, not freedom.
It behooves us to point out that rejection of homosexual behavior does not come from some crank that woke up in the night and decided it's not OK.
We are talking about biblical scripture that has been guiding Christians for a few thousand years.
I found it interesting that Parker defended Burrell but conveniently didn't tell her readers what Burrell actually said:
“That perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women. You as a man, you open your mouth and take a man’s penis in your face ― you are perverted . . .You are a woman and will shake your face in another woman’s breast, you are perverted.”
For the record, Ellen DeGeneres has a right to decide who she does or doesn't want on her show. As far as I know, that has been her only act regarding Burrell. She has not attempted to destroy Burrell's career in any way. Nor has anyone else.
But the most pertinent question is this - why does the American Family Association feel it is okay to speak out against Underwood's religious beliefs while simultaneously pulling the "the homosexuals want to silence Christians" card when lgbts and our allies are merely doing the same thing to Burrell. How is our criticism of Burrell proof of so-called anti-Christian persecution, but AFA's criticism of Underwood isn't seen as the same thing? After all, Christians have been known to discriminate against each other throughout history over things such as the proper way to baptize, women's roles in the church, or how to appropriately translate Biblical passages.
The situation is nothing more than rank hypocrisy. It's ironic that the American Family Association, through its subsidiaries, implies that lgbts are attempting to silence Christians when it is the organization itself attempting to force silence on someone for not adhering to its interpretation of Christianity.
It definitely puts some doubt on the idea that AFA and religious right groups in general are sincere in their claims about wanting to protect religious beliefs in the public square. The question of who's and which religious beliefs they are referring to needs to be asked.