Monday, February 11, 2019

Another Crass Witherspoon Institute Blog Post

Rachel Lu
 Via Twitter
Rachel Lu has a post on Witherspoon Institute's pseudo-intellectual blog that caught my eye. It is titled: Pagans vs. Christians in the Modern World which is essentially a book review. As Ms. Lu explains:
Why are progressives so intent on winning control of the public square? In his new book, Steven Smith argues that they are motivated by the same battle that was waged in ancient Rome: Paganism vs. Christianity, immanence vs. transcendence.
Ms. Lu is a religious fanatic and I doubt that progressives are determined to win control of the public square. It seems to me that conservative Christians are always whining about their need to express (or impose) their religious beliefs in the public square. So the basic premise is faulty. It is a lengthy bit of prose but one section was particularly obtuse:
Why are progressives so intent on winning control of the public square?

This question has become ever more pressing in recent years, as America’s culture wars have intensified. At first glance, it’s hard to understand why progressives should be so threatened by a Jack Phillips or a Barronelle Stutzman (who declined to supply services for same-sex weddings) … No sober-minded person could seriously be concerned that these few, scattered traditionalists are preventing liberals from living as they choose. The real issue, therefore, must be ideological and symbolic. But under what flag are progressives fighting? If secularism is as bloodless and unsatisfying as Smith himself has typically argued, it’s hard to explain why the foot soldiers of the activist left would display such zeal.
Where to begin? I suppose that a good place to start is the fact that both Phillips and Stutzman clearly violated applicable anti-discrimination laws. In defending their breaking the law they assert that they should get a religious pass which would mean that there is one set of laws for conservative Christians and another set of laws for everyone else. If successful at the Supreme Court, those two people could undermine every LGBT nondiscrimination law in the country. I believe that is Alliance Defending Freedom's motivation.

This has nothing to do with “liberals … living as they choose” and when it comes to sober analysis, no LGBT person could possibly not be concerned. Even in the most liberal of states, a conservative Christian business owner could claim that he was free to fire someone for being gay were Phillips or Stutzman able to establish a precedent.

Furthermore, this has nothing to do with “foot soldiers of the activist left.” This is about the LGBT community as a whole. We do not want the entire United States to look like Alabama — or Riyadh for that matter. Rachel Lu is saying that protection from discrimination is an argument in the abstract. She claims that it “must be ideological and symbolic.” I will test her beliefs when someone refuses service to Catholics because of their religion.

Finally, to claim that serving LGBT people violates their religious beliefs is a spectacularly stupid argument which, unfortunately, many people take at face value. I do not, for a second, believe that is a valid argument. Barronelle Stutzman wanted some attention and to be a religious heroine. Jack Phillips is a different story. He has apparently made the assumption that gay people want his approval for their weddings and that serving them constitutes that approval.

The reason that I said that the argument is stupid is because the assumption that we either seek or require his approval is nonsensical. It is also more than a little arrogant. But there is more. Not only does Jack Phillips not want to demonstrate his approval but he is determined to demonstrate his disapproval of same-sex marriage. Shaming is what religious conservatives do to get people to conform to the world as they see it.

Using Rachel Lu's logic, why is the religious right fighting so hard for the manufactured license of two wedding vendors to discriminate? In rephrase, it’s hard to explain why the foot soldiers of the activist right would display such zeal. Does she not perceive that Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT hate group, is an activist conservative Christian organization? Or is it just liberal influencers who are activist bogeymen?

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