Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Sky Is Falling

christian, christianity, baptist, religion, same sex, marriage, gay, tradition, vermont, iowa, mathew staver, kris mineau, homophobia, homosexual,
Or not.

The Baptist Press (news with a christian perspective) is just full of warnings as to how same sex marriage will change everything. They're not exactly full of specifics, but the warnings they've got down.

Some say the sky hasn't fallen in the nearly five years since "gay marriage" was legalized in Massachusetts, but Kris Mineau, a citizen and conservative activist in that state, begs to differ. In the interests of fairness, I haven't been to Massachusetts lately, so I checked, and yes, the sky still stands above Massachusetts.

Sure, he says, things may look the same on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll see dramatic cultural changes. Teachers are teaching children about homosexual families over the objections of parents. A major adoption agency has chosen to shut down rather than be forced to place children with homosexual couples. "The sky is falling in Massachusetts in two key areas: parental rights and religious liberty," Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told Baptist Press.

An awful lot of things taught in public schools are potentially offensive to people. Teachers are also teaching evolution, aka science, to students over parents' protests. Teaching that women have the right to education and careers could be offensive to fundamentalists of any stripe.

Also, familiarizing students with same sex marriage in a place where same sex marriage occurs is like familiarizing students with diversity in race and religion. They're going to be exposed to it, it wouldn't hurt them to know about it.

. . .

Mineau's Exhibit A is Robb and Robin Wirthlin, a husband and wife at the center of a Massachusetts public school dispute that has gained nationwide attention. Their son came home in 2006 and told his parents his teacher had read the class a children's story about a prince "marrying" another prince. The book ends with a picture of the two men kissing. and they managed to turn their shock and bewilderment into a national tour. Joe the Plumber before Joe the Plumber, if you will.

The Wirthins were shocked shocked!, yes, but bewildered when the school told them they would not be given advance notice in the future about any such books. do parents typically receive notice of every book their child will be reading? no. they do not. They filed a lawsuit in federal court against the school, but a lower court ruled against them, asserting that "diversity is a hallmark of our nation" and that such diversity "includes differences in sexual orientation." The parents, the judge ruled, could always homeschool their son or send him to private school if they didn't like the public school options. A federal appeals court upheld the decision.

Exactly. They did have a choice. They didn't have to turn one book into a media circus, they could have simply home schooled their child or sent him to a private school that agreed with their religious position. Or, even simpler, they could have explained what their values were and why they thought the book was wrong. But why take the reasonable route when you can parlay shock and bewilderment into a national tour?

. . .

In recent weeks supporters of a "gay marriage" bill in Vermont have said religious freedoms would be protected because ministers would not be forced to perform such ceremonies. The Iowa Supreme Court, in its "gay marriage" opinion, even said churches would still be allowed to define marriage as they wish. But Douglas Napier, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, said such protections are far too narrow and that "gay marriage" by its very nature negatively impacts freedoms."

Religious liberties and the homosexual agenda are on a collision course," said Napier, who grew up in Iowa and practiced law there for 16 years. " ... I don't think anybody should think this doesn't affect them. It will affect them, and it will affect them in a very deep way."

Those two paragraphs are full of warnings, but no specifics at all. We never hear how, exactly, same sex marriage would affect freedom or religion, just that it will.

Let's review the Vermont same sex marriage bill:

This section does not require a member of the clergy authorized to
solemnize a marriage as set forth in subsection (a) of this section, nor societies
of Friends or Quakers, the Christadelphian Ecclesia, or the Baha’i Faith to
solemnize any marriage, and any refusal to do so shall not create any civil
claim or cause of action.

What part of that negatively impacts religious freedoms? Well, okay, the freedom to deny equality to some people, but religious freedoms? Churches are specifically allowed to opt out of performing same sex marriages without repurcussions.

I suspect actual consequences are not mentioned in the Baptist News article, because nobody could think of any.

What follows is a list of debunked anecdotes, but this one is really popular, so I thought I'd address it:

-- In New Jersey, a lesbian couple filed a complaint with the state's civil rights office after officials with an oceanfront religious retreat center owned by members of the United Methodist Church refused to allow the two women to use a pavilion for a same-sex civil union ceremony. (Civil unions are legal in the state.) The state in 2007 agreed with the couple and removed the tax-exempt status of the pavilion, located in Ocean Grove.

Thing is, the "oceanfront religious retreat center" was allowed to remain tax free as long as the church allowed public access to it. By denying the gay couple equal access, the church was risking their tax exempt status, and they knew that. I am really sick of churches attempting to have their cake and eat it, too, as if the rules that apply to the rest of us don't apply to them. You want to keep your tax free status? Fine, follow the rules. You don't want to follow those rules? Fine, give up your tax free status. That's not persecution, asshats.

. . .

This bit of irony was too rich to pass up:

"The list goes on and on," Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty legal organization, told BP. "Whenever you have same-sex marriage or same-sex civil unions, you end up having a clash between the same-sex agenda and freedom of religion. The two are not compatible, because the same-sex agenda seeks to force by law acceptance of its view, and that will inevitably collide with Christian values.... People really need to wake up, because this, I think, is the greatest threat to our liberty that we face today -- bar none."

To paraphrase: "Oh noes! Teh Gayz are using the exact same tactics we use! And they work!"

Oh, and for the love of whatever, could the christians who do not think hate is christian value please speak up?

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