Monday, April 06, 2009

This just in - Dungy is out and other thoughts about the religious right

The news has come down that former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy will not be a member of President Obama's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative.

Well that's an averted controversy of the Rick Warren variety. Dungy has in the past aligned himself with anti-gay marriage initiatives. In 2007, he spoke out for an Indiana ballot initiative during a banquet for the Focus on the Family aligned Indiana Family Institute:

"We're not trying to downgrade anyone else," Dungy added. "But we're trying to promote the family—family values the Lord's way."

Same tired b.s. lines. Oh well, good riddance to possible bad rubbish.

In a move that may piss off the religious right (and I really hope so), Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign will be a part of the advisory group.

And speaking of interesting items guaranteed to piss off the religious right comes this bit from U.S. News and World Report:

Legalizing gay marriage in a culturally conservative heartland state, as the Iowa Supreme Court did today, would ordinarily provoke an immediate backlash, launching a movement to amend the state constitution to override the court's decision. It might even renew the national effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. But in the case of today's Iowa decision, no constitutions will be amended anytime soon.

That's because the earliest a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage could appear on the Iowa ballot is 2011. The state legislature must pass an amendment in two conservative sessions for it to land on the ballot. And with the Democrats who control both houses of the Iowa Legislature applauding today's ruling, even that timetable would seem overly expeditious.

With Democrats also in firm control of Congress, the Bush-era campaign religious conservatives waged to amend the U.S. Constitution has little chance of being revived. (Not to mention that the Republican Party has little stomach for beating the drum on social issues these days.).

In our anger about how the religious right organized and moved against gay marriage, are we missing the big picture - the idea that opposing gay marriage was a possible Pyrrhic victory for them.

The gay marriage argument was one they were definitely ready for and it gave them a lot of success - so much success that I sense a degree of burnt out and a general sense of "what do we do now" emanating from various religious right groups.

What can the religious right do next to galvanize the troops? They were successful in opposing gay adoption in Arkansas but nationwide, I don't see the issue giving them the same amount of success.

It's easy to galvanize people with the phrase that "marriage should be between one man and one woman" because that is how society has been trained to view marriage without deviations.

However, the phrase "the best place for a child is a home with a mother and a father" isn't so easy because we all know that the care of children is an intricate situation. The best place for a child may not necessarily be in a home with the mother and a father if say the father is abusive and the mother overmedicates herself.

In the care of children, people tend to give more leeway because not every successful family is the same. Not every successful family encompasses that of the Ward and June Cleaver variety.

So I don't think that the religious right will be very successful with that issue.

Now there are various issues coming up (i.e. hate crimes legislation, ENDA) that do run the risk of galvanizing the religious right.

But these things can also backfire.

The lgbt community have become aware of the piss poor talking points against hate crimes legislation and ENDA. This means the talking points lose their power because we have developed refutations.

But just in case you are not familiar with how to refute religious right talking points regarding hate crimes legislation and ENDA:

Hate crimes legislation for sexual orientation will not lead to pastors being arrested anymore than hate crimes legislation for religion (already present) has.

Tran-inclusive ENDA legislation will not lead to women being attacked in public restrooms and changing rooms by predators. Cities have already passed tran-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances and have yet to have that problem.

The fact that the religious right will still continue to push those arguments demonstrates just how much this so-called culture war is wearing them out.

And tired people tend to make lots of mistakes.

I just hope that we can capitalize on them.
Monday mid-day news briefs

It's a real slow lgbt news day today. Apparently gay marriage coming to the supposed heartland of America really screwed up the religious right. It's all they are talking about.

Uganda Press Crank Up “Predator” Rhetoric - If the situation wasn't so dangerous for lgbts in Uganda, this item would be comical.

VT legislature may hold veto override vote on Tuesday - Will the Vermont legislature have enough votes to override the Governor's threatened veto on a gay marriage bill? They just might.

Milk stamp backers eye SF artist’s painting - I'm all for it.

Conservative Iowans fight to preserve traditional marriage - As you can tell by the headline, this item is from One News Now. The comments section is a hoot.
Christianity in America suffers a huge blow

I predicted it last year and it's coming to pass, according to Newsweek and Kathleen Parker that is:

Newsweek - While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago. I think this is a good thing—good for our political culture, which, as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance.

It is good for Christianity, too, in that many Christians are rediscovering the virtues of a separation of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called "the garden of the church" from "the wilderness of the world." As crucial as religion has been and is to the life of the nation, America's unifying force has never been a specific faith, but a commitment to freedom—not least freedom of conscience.

At our best, we single religion out for neither particular help nor particular harm; we have historically treated faith-based arguments as one element among many in the republican sphere of debate and decision. The decline and fall of the modern religious right's notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment and, for many believers, may help open the way for a more theologically serious religious life

Parker - Is the Christian right finished as a political entity? Or, more to the point, are principled Christians finished with politics?

These questions have been getting fresh air lately as frustrated conservative Christians question the pragmatism -- defined as the compromising of principles -- of the old guard.

One might gently call the current debate a generational rift.

The older generation represented by such icons as James Dobson, who recently retired as head of Focus on the Family, has compromised too much, according to a growing phalanx of disillusioned Christians.

Pragmatically speaking, the Christian coalition of cultural crusaders didn't work.

For proof, one need look no further than Dobson himself, who was captured on tape recently saying that the big cultural battles have all been lost.

In the past two decades or so, Christianity in America seems have been taken over by a group of folks who talk about power and used phrases like "taking America back for God."

That last phrase always makes me laugh. If God truly wanted America per se, He would take it. He doesn't need any help to further His will.

But basically Christianity in America has lost its grace. There is no more humbleness, or the idea that you are serving a Higher Power and your trust is in His will and not your own.

Too many people have replaced the image of God with one of their own and have made Christianity into a religion of exclusion rather than inclusion. Jesus did not say "pick up your Cross and follow me and you will get a nice car, a nice house, 2.5 children and a Republican in the White House every four years."

When have organizations such as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America or the Family Research Council actually dealt with relevant problems such as homelessness, lack of educational opportunities, or other issues that aren't geared to the so-called cultural war?

Hopefully those who want to truly follow God will take the hint and divest themselves from these phony Christian groups.