Thursday, February 20, 2014

Todd Starnes and Christian persecution - "gay rights trump religious rights"

Todd Starnes - Fox News
Todd Starnes is Fox News' unhinged culture warrior. He is known primarily for his consistent misrepresentations of facts to further his Christianist agenda. Starnes is also a reliable anti-gay bigot.

Today, Starnes wrote a lengthy piece about all those victimized Christians. According to Starnes, white-heterosexual-Christian-men are in constant peril of discrimination. It amounts to a "poor us" diattribe. Starnes goes on and on claiming that he has documented "hundreds of instances of religious persecution." Just to give the piece a drivelectomy, I'll focus on a single passage:
The list of attacks on Christians goes on and on – from students ordered to stop praying in front of the Supreme Court to chaplains being told the could no longer pray in the name of Jesus.

In recent days, the battleground has pitted gay rights groups against Christian-owned businesses who cater to the wedding industry. Christian bakers, florists and photographers have been hauled into court and brought up on state discrimination charges for declining to participate in same-sex weddings.

And in every single instance – lower courts have ruled that gay rights trump religious rights.
None of the first paragraph is factually correct; Debunked gibberish. But once again, let's talk about those "persecuted"  bakers, florists and photographers.

I will quote a few paragraphs from a terrific piece by Kirsten Powers in USA Today. I would urge you to read it in its entirety:
Evangelical pastor Andy Stanley leads North Point Ministries, the second largest church in the U.S. He told me he finds it "offensive that Christians would leverage faith to support the Kansas law." He said, "Serving people we don't see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. Jesus died for a world with which he didn't see eye to eye. If a bakery doesn't want to sell its products to a gay couple, it's their business. Literally. But leave Jesus out of it."

Christians serve unrepentant murderers through prison ministry. So why can't they provide a service for a same sex marriage?
The point here is that Starnes is wrong in pitting gay right against religious rights. He incorrectly asserts that denying service to some people, in defiance of unambiguous local non-discrimination ordinances, is a religious right in the first place. It is not. Serving people that one doesn't like is not an affirmation of anything. It's just running a business.

Them there is the underlying hypocrisy. If, in fact, providing service condones the behavior of those being served then the vendor would have to get a great deal more information from prospective customers. I the bride pregnant? Have either participant been divorced. Are they Christians? And so on. They don't do any of that.

My theory is that groups like ADF troll for potential victims. From pulpits across America, congregants are told that they have an opportunity to be martyrs for the faith — and get free legal representation while they are at it.

In summary, gay rights are not trumping religious rights (that do not exist). Courts are properly ruling that there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws. Moreover, there is no such thing as a "Christian business." That suggests that the business entity has a religion. It does not.

Starnes piece, by the way, is titled "Have Christians Lost the Culture War?" War on whom and for what purpose? Is this a Crusade? A war suggests that a group of people are actively waging a battle against other people. In this case the aggressors would be Christians. Perhaps Jesus would be ministering to Starnes' enemies instead of waging war. Most of the time there is nothing to win and no reason to engage in a battle in the first place. If every gay couple in America were to get married tomorrow, not a single traditional marriage would be affected. No Christians would be harmed.
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