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Friday, September 16, 2016

Looking For Freedom To Be Bull(y)

Joe Carter (click here for bio and proceed to the end of the page) has just written a short blogpost on the recent findings of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as it pertains to the religious liberties of those who object to the increasing list of recognized rights of the LGBT community. In short, the news from the Commission is not good according to Carter. The title of Carter's article is U.S. Civil Rights Commission: 'Religious Freedom' Is Code Word For Racism, Homophobia And 'Christian Supremacy'  (click here for Carter's article). 

Where did Carter get such a long title for a short article? It comes from a quote from one of the Commission's reports where its chairman, Martin R. Castro, is quoted as saying:
The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance

Here we should note the small but significant difference in Castro's wording from the title of Carter's article. Whereas the wording in Carter's title is a declarative statement, Castro's statement is conditional. So right here, we have a misrepresentation of part of the Commission's report. Whereas Carter states that the Commission is declaring that the term 'religious liberty' is code, Castro states that that term can be code when such liberty is used to excuse behaviors that deny the rights of others.

At this point, we see the problem with Carter's approach here especially with his warning at the end. For Carter denies how religious liberty can be misused to excuse how some can violate the rights of others. Indeed, such was the case when our nation allowed slavery and during Jim Crow. Some advocates of such practices used their religious beliefs, their Christian beliefs in particular, to rationalize those practices. And Carter's complaint here is that now the Commission is calling Christians to task for doing the same against the LGBT community. Here, Carter's only concern is not the discrimination experienced by others, but limits on the discriminatory practices being done in the name of religion by his fellow religiously conservative Christians.


Here, we make two observations about Carter's perspective as it pertains to religious liberty and the rights of those from the LGBT community. First, Carter is promoting a view that narcissistically myopic. For Carter can only see the effects that limiting behaviors based on religious beliefs has on his own group. And he directs his fellow Christians to be concerned about the potential loss of religious freedom they face if the line of thinking followed by this Commission continues. For toward the end of the article, Carter issues the following warning:
Unfortunately, if Christians don’t wake up to the reality of the threat we may soon find believers in France and China have more freedom to live as Christians than we do here in America.
 
Again, he seems only concerned with the ability of Christians to act on their faith regardless of what those actions are and how they might hurt others.

Thus, the second observation about Carter's views here is that discrimination as practiced by religiously conservative Christians against those from the LGBT community is a non issue for him. And thus, Carter is advocating that Christians act as the proverbial bull in a china shop. For Carter, it is more important that the bull move as it wishes than protecting the contents of the shop. And when we see this, we realize how accurate the quote taken from Castro about how religious liberty could be used is so very true. That some religiously conservative Christians want a superior position over others in society that would allow them to deny equality in society for those from the LGBT community. 


For Carter and others like him, our nation and The Constitution is not big enough to accommodate the rights of religiously conservative Christians and those of the LGBT community. Thus, someone's rights have to go. And that view is predicated on Carter's lack of respect for those from the LGBT community as equals. That when the term 'religious liberty' is used to justify discrimination and intolerance of others, the term simply becomes code just as it was during the days of slavery and Jim Crow. However, the difference between that past discrimination and intolerance with the discrimination and intolerance that Carter is advocating for now is that while such discrimination and intolerance based on race is wrong it it doesn't matter if they are exercised on the basis of sexual orientation and identity. Apparently, according to Carter, those from the LGBT community deserve our lack of respect. And like that proverbial bull in the china shop, Carter is clueless as to the potential harm his view poses and even causes not just to the LGBT community, but to the Gospel he claims to believe in and represent as well.



 
 

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