Lesbians: ‘Teach Our Kid — Or Else’
I’m on the board of my kids’ Christian school, and we clearly and unequivocally both teach and practice that the school can’t do its work without the full support and cooperation of the parents. One of the great advantages of private education is the partnership between parents and schools, and the notion that we would be forced into partnership with people who fundamentally reject our values is antithetical to any meaningful conception of religious freedom. If this controversy goes to court it will present an interesting lesson for those who believe that Christians can leave the culture wars behind and safely retreat to their own enclaves. The radical left will find you. When the goal is destroying a belief system, there is no safe way to freely exercise your faith.
French, who is a lawyer, acknowledges that this will likely be an open-and-shut case for the school, which will surely prevail. I regret that he took the opportunity to take another groundless shot at the Benedict Option. The Ben Op does not require Christians to run from the public square, or stop trying to defend themselves. What the Benedict Option is for is preparing for what happens when your school wins in court, but faces hateful protests from the community, and your children are stigmatized for attending it.
Traditional Christians need to fight for our liberties as long as we have the chance to do so, but even if we manage to preserve them — a doubtful proposition in the long term, if we can’t get any kind of federal protection for our institutions passed — we have to have enough resilience within ourselves, our families, and our communities to withstand the spite of the world, and the costs that will entail, for the sake of our faith.
I’m less worried about what the government might eventually do to our schools as I am about my children and the members of my faith community turning away from the truth because the cost imposed by the culture is too high. I’m more worried that the government and its courts won’t need to try to penalize and shut down religious schools because so few of them will have refused to capitulate.
The Benedict Option is not an either/or, but a both/and. When you’re out of bullets with which to fight the culture war in the courts and in the court of public opinion, what do you do then? I expect to live to see that day. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not going simply to hope for the best.
French asks a good question:
Here’s a question for the secular left — when religious liberty collides with the desires of LGBT citizens, is there any case where religious freedom should prevail?
Well, according to prominent law professor and gay-rights advocate Chai Feldblum, in that well-known 2006 piece by Maggie Gallagher, no, there isn’t:
To Feldblum the emerging conflicts between free exercise of religion and sexual liberty are real: “When we pass a law that says you may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we are burdening those who have an alternative moral assessment of gay men and lesbians.” Most of the time, the need to protect the dignity of gay people will justify burdening religious belief, she argues. But that does not make it right to pretend these burdens do not exist in the first place, or that the religious people the law is burdening don’t matter.
“You have to stop, think, and justify the burden each time,” says Feldblum. She pauses. “Respect doesn’t mean that the religious person should prevail in the right to discriminate–it just means demonstrating a respectful awareness of the religious position.”
Feldblum believes this sincerely and with passion, and clearly (as she reminds me) against the vast majority of opinion of her own community. And yet when push comes to shove, when religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict, she admits, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
Look, if you’re going to comment on this post, keep in mind that I’m not likely to post any comments saying, “Shame on this Christian bigot school.” Stick to the Ben Op point, or to the legal issues. I don’t care which side you come down on, but I’m not going to host another boring, interminable argument over whether or not the Christians are being horrible, no-good haters. The question is, to what extent are liberals willing to tolerate religious dissenters in our midst. Tolerance only means something when you are in the presence of something you find personally offensive.