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Orlando: The Reichstag Fire

Terrorist atrocity will be used to demonize and marginalize conservative Christians

Hold your Godwins, please. The term “Reichstag fire” refers to the 1933 arson at the German parliament building, committed by at least one communist. Hitler, the new chancellor, did not let this crisis go to waste. He took advantage of the outrage over the attack to push for sweeping laws suppressing communists, the Nazis’ political rivals. In this sense, Orlando is a “Reichstag fire” event, I predict, because it is a genuine and appalling atrocity that will lead to the demonization, in law and in custom, of orthodox Christians and any who disagree with whatever LGBTs and their allies want.

It’s going to happen. Social and religious conservatives had better get ready for it.

We already saw this yesterday, with this statement by Democratic Congressman Don Beyer from Virginia:

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.

Got it? You oppose laws allowing transgendered males into the women’s bathroom and locker room, you are complicit in Omar Mateen’s slaughter. The only way to stop future massacres, presumably, is to suppress speech and thought we don’t like.

Catholic Bishop Robert Lynch, whose Florida diocese paid $100,000 to settle a claim made by a former employee who accused Lynch of sexually harrassing him, is on the train:

Second, sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that. Without yet knowing who perpetrated the PULSE mass murders, when I saw the Imam come forward at a press conference yesterday morning, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also.


It is certainly true that Christians who hate gays and abuse them are sinning and should repent. But what is “victimization”? Does that include opposing same-sex marriage, or transgender bathroom bills? Does it include affirming what the Roman Catholic church teaches about homosexuality? That’s how people are taking the bishop’s remarks. Here’s Zack Ford at Think Progress, spurning the prayers and good wishes of Baptist leader Russell Moore, because Moore upholds the biblical view of sexuality, but embracing Bishop Lynch:

One religious leader, however, actually demonstrated that there is another option. Bishop Robert Lynch, who serves the Catholic diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, didn’t try to reconcile the beliefs his Church espouses. He took responsibility. … The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has dedicated millions of dollars to opposing LGBT equality over the years. Bishop Lynch may be the first actively serving member of that organization to admit that these efforts may have had consequences for LGBT people.

Ford goes on to list what conservative Christians must do, including:

If people who share Moore’s beliefs reach out to their LGBT neighbors now or in the future, they should consider that what they want us to feel might not be the same as what we actually hear.

If you want us to feel love, then do not tell us our sexuality is wrong or that the only way to be right is to be celibate. What we hear is actually that we are unworthy of love.

If you want us to feel equal, then do not try to justify refusing us jobs, housing, or goods and services in the name of your religious beliefs. What we hear is that we deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.

If you want us to feel community, then do not tell us that you cannot condone our marriages. What we hear is that our families are not welcome to share a neighborhood with yours.

If you want us to feel dignity, then do not tell us that we cannot be transgender or try to tell us what bathrooms we can or cannot use. What we hear is that you aren’t actually interested or invested in understanding who we are or supporting our wellness.

And so on. Otherwise, “sympathy without affirmation rings hollow; it is unworthy of our gratitude.” Ford, good progressive that he is, says “do not encourage us to demonize Islam or pass the blame onto terrorism.” Of course not, even though the mass murderer was an Islamic terrorist. We must remember who the real enemy is here: Russell Moore and people like him. People like me.

I don’t know how widely shared Ford’s view is among the LGBT community and its allies, but I suspect it is general, and it is sincere. What Ford and those who agree with him are doing is demanding that we give up what we believe to be true, or nothing we say about love, respect, and the rest of it matters.

I believe this will be the line that emerges out of Orlando. And the campaign will happen because it’s in the playbook. GLSEN has over the years managed to get its teaching programs mainstreamed in schools under the guise of stopping bullying and making schools “safe.” The stated theory is that if you really want to stop bullying, you will teach children that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. That is to say, it’s not enough that kids be taught respect and tolerance; kids must be taught that what orthodox Christianity says is not only wrong, but by implication makes schools unsafe.

It has been an extraordinarily successful campaign. And we are about to see it scaled up to the national level. Any Republican politician, and any religious leader, who opposes what the LGBT activists and their allies in the Democratic Party want is going to be tarred as having the blood of Orlando victims on their hands.

I anticipate the comments to this post: “How dare you worry about how this is going to affect your community when we haven’t even buried the victims yet?!” And that reaction, however inadvertently, is part of the campaign. Zack Ford, Rep. Beyer, Bishop Lynch and others are using the Orlando atrocity to advance goals, political and religious. I don’t doubt their sincerity. Nor do I doubt, not for one second, how effective they are going to be.

Now we will see the price individual Christians are willing to pay to remain faithful. Now we will see how many Christians have the inner strength to obey Jesus’s command: “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.”

When I talk about the need for the Benedict Option, this is part of what I mean: the need for orthodox Christians to come together in thick communities to keep our faith, to help each other through things like what’s to come, and to remind one another that no matter what, we cannot return hatred for hatred. That is forbidden to us.