A reader e-mails to say that at his company today, one of the executives sent out an e-mail to all employees, saying that in the wake of the Orlando attack, employees should register with the HR department as LGBT “allies,” and start attending the company’s LGBT events. The reader worries that if he doesn’t sign up as an ally, he will be marked out within the company as an enemy, especially in light of Orlando.
Another reader forwards an e-mail message his Congressman, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), sent to constituents. In it, he makes religious and social conservatives complicit in the Orlando massacre:
Number three, we must recognize that homophobia cannot be contained. Hatred breeds hatred. We are horrified that one man targeted LGBT victims at two a.m. on an Orlando Sunday morning. But we are not blameless, when we tell government contractors it is okay to discriminate against someone because they are gay or lesbian – or tell transgender school children that we will not respect their gender identity.
Our sincere, sustained message of inclusion will create a powerful wall against LGBT hate.
Another reader sends this outrageous column by CBC senior correspondent Neil Macdonald, in which he implicates all conservative religious believers in the Orlando mass murder.
You expect to see writers for Salon, Slate, Vox and other left-wing sites making that argument. But a US Congressman saying that if you oppose transgenders in girls’ locker rooms, you’re complicit with mass murder? It’s beyond disgusting.
And it’s just starting.
Pastor Richie Clendenen stepped away from the pulpit, microphone in hand. He walked the aisles of Christian Fellowship Church, his voice rising to describe the perils believers face in 21st-century America.
“The Bible says in this life you will have troubles, you will have persecutions. And Jesus takes it a step further: You’ll be hated by all nations for my name’s sake,” he said.
“Let me tell you,” the minister said, “that time is here.”
Clendenen said he saw “a lot of fear, a lot of anger” in his church after the Supreme Court [Obergefell] ruling. He said it made him feel that Christians like him had been pushed to the edge of a cliff.
“It has become the keystone issue,” he said, sitting in his office, where photos of his father and grandfather, both preachers, are on display. “I never thought we’d be in the place we are today. I never thought that the values I’ve held my whole life would bring us to a point where we were alienated or suppressed.”
Some good may come of these hard times, he believes. Conservative Christians who have been complacent will have to decide just how much their religion matters “when there’s a price to pay for it,” he said. Christianity has often thrived in countries where it faces intense opposition, he noted.
Preaching now, Clendenen urged congregants to hold fast to their positions in a country that has grown hostile to them. And as the worship service wound down, he issued a final exhortation.
“Don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t let your light go out.”
I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the scapegoating of orthodox Christians of all kinds around LGBT issues will get much worse. The line will be that of the CBC’s Macdonald, who said:
Islam may be more overt about its homophobia than the other major religions — anyone who’s worked in the Middle East has heard some fool in high office declaring that there are no gays in Islam, and therefore no AIDS — but the fact is, conservative iterations of all the monotheistic faiths are deeply and actively and systemically anti-gay.
The sacred monotheistic texts contain prohibitions that would by just about any legal definition be considered hate speech in the modern secular world. …
Fundamentalists and traditionalists of all three faiths not only regard such passages as divine instruction, they actually portray their homophobia as a matter of religious freedom; something noble, protected by constitutions and essential to democracy, when in fact they are working to oppress and deny fundamental rights to people based solely upon the sexuality with which they were born.
The assault on orthodox Christians in particular and religious liberty in general will become much more intense. There can be no doubt at all that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, it will be turned into federal policy. Mark my words: under a Clinton administration, the IRS will be used to deny the tax-exempt status of Christian colleges that don’t capitulate.
Most conservative Christians I know find Donald Trump to be an excrescence. But as the attacks on Christians mount, and the campaign to demonize religious liberty as cover for hatred goes into overdrive, they will have to consider more carefully whether or not to vote for Trump as a matter of self-protection. As the AP story said:
Trump uses rhetoric that has resonance for Christian conservatives who fear their teachings on marriage will soon be outlawed as hate speech.
“We’re going to protect Christianity and I can say that,” Trump has said. “I don’t have to be politically correct.”
Every conservative Christian I know who has told me he or she is voting for Trump, despite everything, has said fear of what Clinton will do to religious liberty is at the heart of their decision. I get that. Boy, do I get that. And this week, it’s becoming ever clearer.