Damaged American Goods

It may not seem like it but I’ve actually made a conscious effort to avoid making fun of social conservatives here at Magnus Greel. It’s a lazy way to get a laugh because there’s really no challenge to it. And, like ancient Celtic fairies or South American goblins, they really only exist if you pay attention to them. Sure, they come out in force from time to time and get one of their own into a position of power like a school board or the White House. Inevitably, however, that person is a complete and utter disaster because these people don’t live in the same world as the rest of us.

The religious right has had a good ride. Since the late 1970’s they’ve probably been one of the most powerful and influential segments of American politics. But, that power and influence is on the wane because the rest of the country has just kind of moved on without them. And I can’t help but comment on the flailing attempts of the movement to catch up.

“One Wednesday afternoon last month, Jim Daly drove a couple of miles from his office at Focus on the Family to a classroom building on the University of Colorado’s local campus. Short as the trip was, it carried Mr. Daly beyond his theological and political comfort zone. Such disorientation was the whole point.

As the president and chief executive of Focus on the Family, Mr. Daly oversees a Christian ministry with an annual budget of $98 million, a paid staff of 655 and a fervently conservative view of the Bible and American social issues. Seated beside a philosophy professor at the university, Mr. Daly faced an audience of about 125 students and faculty members, some carrying protest signs: “Focus Isn’t My Family,” “No H8,” “Lez Be Honest Who Am I Hurting by Loving a Girl.”

For the next hour, through alternating moments of contrition and contention, Mr. Daly continued what has been the signal initiative of his term at the evangelical group: transforming an organization associated with the divisive strife of the culture wars into one that invites civil dialogue with its religious and ideological foes.

Mr. Daly did not come to the campus here to retreat from Focus’s opposition to same-sex marriage, which was largely the topic of the event, but to turn down the rhetorical temperature on the debate. “We’ve created an animosity,” he said in one emblematic moment of self-criticism. “We’ve said we hate the sin and love the sinner. But when you peel it back, sometimes we hated the sinner, too. And that’s not the Gospel.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

Yeah, whatever guys. I tried this myself once when a judge told me it was illegal to be driving as fast as I was and that I was “a danger” to everyone else on the road. I rebranded myself as a fearless tester of gravity and physics and reached out to the police to find common ground. And that shit didn’t work either.

As I think Hitler and Pol Pot both proved, you can’t just dress up a hateful point of view in friendly and loving wrapping paper and expect people to buy it. And perhaps that’s the ultimate problem for people like this: your mistake is in what you believe, not in how you express it. And it’s with that in mind that the religious right’s new mindbending, reality altering argument has emerged: that they are the ones really being persecuted.

“He spoke less of trying to defeat gay marriage initiatives at the ballot box than of preserving the religious freedom of individuals — whether a portrait photographer or a municipal clerk — to refuse to participate in the marital process.

“How do you,” he asked the audience, “in the name of tolerance and diversity accept that we, as Christians, have principles we’ve got to live by?”

That’s good. That’s very good. Ted Bundy and Lee Harvey Oswald also had principles they lived by. And I often complain of being persecuted when the people I’m picking on disagree with me. Also, when the DMV or the phone company wants its money. Or my dog shits on the carpet. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m possibly the most persecuted man in the world. Which sounds a lot nicer than being a raving asshole. Yeah, I think I’m just going to run with that from now on. It may have no basis in reality but it really makes me feel so much better about myself.



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