Who is Oppressing Who?

News comes this last week of vandalism against a church in Portland by a group identifying itself as “angryqueers@” because of the churches anti-gay stance:

Neighbors who live on Southeast 32nd Avenue and Taylor Street in the Hawthorne neighborhood reported seeing several young adults throwing rocks into the windows of the Mars Hill Church early Tuesday Morning.

When the church grounds keeper arrived, hours later, he discovered nine windows smashed — two of which are historic stained-glass windows. The damage is estimated at several thousand dollars.

It is of course not the only instance of vandalism by such groups. A church sign in Hickory, NC was defaced earlier in the week:

After the vandals were finished with it, the marquee sign in front of Hickory’s Tabernacle Baptist Church read: “Hate Speech Sunday April 22.” The black paint obliterated the sign’s original message: “Marriage Sunday April 22.”

The sign’s other side was scrawled with the message, “Love not Hate.”

The Rev. Scott Hooks said he thinks the vandals were reacting to his church’s stand supporting the proposed amendment to North Carolina’s constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

These events are not infrequent. I personally know pastors who have received death threats for their stances on various policies advanced by the gay agenda. As blogger Wintery Knight chronicles, such persecution is widespread and goes far beyond mere vandalism. Whether it is a public harangue against Christian students at a journalism conference or students keeping a speaker from talking at a public university, Christians have become a major target of homosexual activists.

All of this flies in the face of the story we are typically given concerning gay rights. The normal narrative one hears when gay rights are discussed in the media or academic discussions is as a group gays are a powerless minority being oppressed by an antagonistic majority. Lately one hears about bullying in schools, but the same narrative pop-ups during gay marriage debates and discussions of adoption.

And historically homosexuals as a group have certainly been subject to discrimination of various sorts in the Christian West. Such intolerance has ranged from legal sanctions against specific sexual acts to an unwillingness to officially acknowledge homosexual relationships to mere personal disdain for homosexuals in social circles. And it is no exaggeration to say that as a group homosexuals have been targeted for their proclivities, whether one consider police raids on bath houses or individuals being attacked for their orientation.

I think most people now agree (including Christians), that whatever their personal views of the gay lifestyle, targeting any group for persecution is wrong. And while most professing Christians such as myself find fault with the sexual choices of gay individuals I would think most generally accept the fact that a certain number of people have same sex attractions and that those people will operate throughout a wide strata of the society. In short, most gay folks have attained a level of acceptance in our society that many minorities in our culture could only dream about.

That being said, the advancement of the gay agenda continues to be predicated on the notion that homosexuals are an oppressed group in our society. This continues despite the fact that as a group they have higher levels of education than their heterosexual counterparts, they generally have higher incomes than heterosexuals and have no restrictions in terms of where they live or what they do for a living. As a group gays have a very sympathetic ear in the media as well as educational and governmental institutions. These are measures of equality, but the current concern isn’t so much about equality and freedom as it is about sanctioning and normalizing homosexual relationships. On this front the gay agenda has met much more resistance and as a result gay rights advocates have lashed out against the group they see as being the primary barrier to full acceptance – believing Christians.

So when it comes to freedoms are being reduced, it isn’t the freedoms of homosexuals that are endangered – as NPR reports, the freedoms being denied are those of Christians to speak, worship, associate and educate and work as they see fit.

Oppression is certainly occurring – but it’s coming from a politically organized and unconstrained gay activists and it’s against Christians.

3 Responses to Who is Oppressing Who?

  1. As a gay activist, I reject not only illegal vandalism but also any attempt to restrict the freedoms and rights of anyone. In terms of free speech, I am very much a purist. I have critiqued those who engage in these behaviors whenever the opportunity presents itself and whatever forum it happens to be.

    That being said, it is generally fundamentalist Christians who, for some time, have pushed this into a zero-sum game. Full acceptance? Not even close.

    – Christians have sought restrictions from bullying laws based on “religious beliefs”.
    – They have fought reasonable protections in employment and housing from being extended to gays and lesbians.
    – Pastors have encouraged parents to physically assault their own gay children.
    – They have sought to end every possible legal protection for gay couples in an amendment proposal that even a witness who supported Proposition 8 has admitted “goes too far”.
    – Right-wing propaganda mills like the AFA support men like Scott Lively who insists that the Holocaust was the responsibility of gays.
    – A man uses a rifle to shoot down a pro-gay marriage sign and allegedly gets much support from the readers of Glenn Beck as well as suggestions about saving some of the bullets for the supporters themselves.

    If people are engaging in behaviors that seem like they’re fighting for their very lives and freedoms, is it any wonder why?

    The rhetoric and demonization of gays from the religious right continues to escalate in a way I’ve not encountered towards any other group in my lifetime. I didn’t even seen this sort of hostility towards American Arabs after 9/11.

  2. jackhudson says:

    Thanks for your comments James. A few responses.

    As a gay activist, I reject not only illegal vandalism but also any attempt to restrict the freedoms and rights of anyone. In terms of free speech, I am very much a purist. I have critiqued those who engage in these behaviors whenever the opportunity presents itself and whatever forum it happens to be.

    I am glad to hear we agree on not restricting basic freedoms of expression. I don’t think every person supporting gay rights wants to silence those with differing opinions, but unfortunately that seems to be happening.

    That being said, it is generally fundamentalist Christians who, for some time, have pushed this into a zero-sum game. Full acceptance? Not even close.

    Just to be clear, I didn’t say ‘Full acceptance’ (not sure what that means) I said a “level of acceptance” in terms of income, opportunity and public perception that is on parity with other minority groups. Obviously we differ as to whether gay marriage is something the government should sanction – but I think that should be decided at the ballot box, which is obviously not an oppressive stance.

    Christians have sought restrictions from bullying laws based on “religious beliefs”.

    Christians oppose using an anti-bullying agenda by the likes of Dan Savage as a platform to bully Christians. If the definition of bullying is ‘treat others as you would be treated’ (as it should be), we are all on board; if it is ‘normalize homosexual behavior in the minds of school children’, then not so much.

    - They have fought reasonable protections in employment and housing from being extended to gays and lesbians.

    Examples?

    - Pastors have encouraged parents to physically assault their own gay children.

    A pastor presented what I think is a horrendous means to encourage one’s children to adopt presumed gender characteristics. There are certainly extremists on both sides, but this is in no way any sort of sanctioned oppression.

    - They have sought to end every possible legal protection for gay couples in an amendment proposal that even a witness who supported Proposition 8 has admitted “goes too far”.

    I think gay rights advocates shot themselves in the foot over that one. Whereas many states were warming to the idea of extending civil unions and domestic partnerships, the anti-prop 8 ruling in California made it clear that civil unions could be seen by the courts as a gateway to gay marriage by judicial fiat. Those who might otherwise support civil unions now fear they would be used as a Trojan horse. Obviously this in no way ends ‘every possible legal protection for gay couples’.

    - Right-wing propaganda mills like the AFA support men like Scott Lively who insists that the Holocaust was the responsibility of gays.

    I don’t doubt that people with extreme views exit on both sides – but Dan Savage is lauded by the media, influences government policy and is one of the main spokespeople for the gay rights movement. Lively is a fringe player who appears to have given up his anti-gay rights work.

    - A man uses a rifle to shoot down a pro-gay marriage sign and allegedly gets much support from the readers of Glenn Beck as well as suggestions about saving some of the bullets for the supporters themselves.
    If people are engaging in behaviors that seem like they’re fighting for their very lives and freedoms, is it any wonder why?

    I am not sure anonymous commenters making nasty comments on a website should be used as an example of ‘oppression’. I get attacked all the time for my views on this site – are you suggesting I should take those hate-filled rants as examples of atheists and gay-rights advocates? As to the shooter himself, if he shot a sign belonging to someone else he should indeed be prosecuted for a property crime. If he shot such a sign he acquired legitimately on his own property, then he is just an idiot. But again, not oppressing anyone.

    The rhetoric and demonization of gays from the religious right continues to escalate in a way I’ve not encountered towards any other group in my lifetime. I didn’t even seen this sort of hostility towards American Arabs after 9/11.

    If the above are your examples, then I am not sure how you justify that statement. The fact is if you work at a school, a major corporation, in government or in the entertainment industry and you voice the slightest opposition to the gay agenda you are likely to find yourself unemployed.
    That is what oppression is.

  3. “The fact is if you work at a school, a major corporation, in government or in the entertainment industry and you voice the slightest opposition to the gay agenda you are likely to find yourself unemployed.
    That is what oppression is.”

    I’d agree. In fact, I’ve written on behalf of some who have faced impacts to their job after tactfully expressing their opposition to homosexuality within a religious context while remaining respectful of gays and lesbians as people.

    Personally, I’m willing to work at a job with people who I know don’t approve of the fact that my partner is not a “she” (although I never bring the topic up anyhow). People disagree. That’s life. Unless they’re making life miserable for another employee, there’s no reason to take their livelihoods from them.

    On the flip side, we do have many in the Christian community expressing opposition to ENDA laws that protect gays and lesbians from being unjustly fired from their jobs. I worked with an IT consultant here in Ohio who was let go because the general manager — a crude chauvinist of a man — simply didn’t want “dykes” working for him. It’s not that she was that out … but he saw the bumper sticker on her car, I guess.

    So what do we do here?

    Things will only worsen so long as each side has a “take no prisoners” approach. We will both have to make concessions and compromises and live with disagreement. I know it can be done. After all, evangelicals can work alongside Mormons without someone getting stabbed with a pencil.

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