Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Is the sky falling in?

After the SCOTUS decision on queer marriage came down, some Christians said the culture wars were over. Interestingly, here's an atheist who, in some measure, understands the religious right better than chicken little Christians:

I think that any news of the demise of the religious right is grossly exaggerated. They have gotten a lot smarter since the 1920s. If beaten in open battle, they resort to guerilla attacks. Take abortion, which is as big or bigger issue for the religious right than gay rights. When Roe v. Wade recognized abortion as a constitutional right, it could no longer be attacked head-on. When you enter public office in Texas you have to swear to uphold the law and the Constitution. What they have done, then, is to try to make abortion die the death of a thousand small cuts. Bit, by bit, they chip away at it, with rules that make it more onerous, humiliating, or intimidating for women seeking abortions and harder for abortion clinics to stay open. For instance, anyone seeking abortion is required to get an ultrasound in hopes that image of the “baby” will shame her into backing off. Abortion clinics are required to meet unnecessarily strict standards, and abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The net result is that clinics get closed, leaving only a few in the state. Since these measures cannot be defended as attempts to deny to women a constitutional right, they are risibly justified as “empowering” women or promoting their safety. 
So, I think that the religious right will not surrender or even retreat. They will just start launching sneaky attacks on gay marriage, just like they do on abortion. One trick that the religious right has learned is to defend their agenda with the rhetoric of progressives. Thus, as noted above, laws designed to prevent women’s choices are defended as “empowering.” Likewise, instead of attacking gays directly, the new rhetoric will support “religious liberty.” State legislatures, as I am sure we will see in Texas, will offer a plethora of bills ostensibly to defend the freedom of religion but really intended to defend the freedom to discriminate. The argument will be that some people (conservative Christians) regard gay marriage as sinful on the basis of sincere and deeply held religious convictions, and therefore it would be an infringement of their religious freedom to require that they so act as to promote or sanction actions they regard as sinful. Really, it is amazing how creative fundamentalist legislators can be at coming up with underhanded ways to undermine federal rulings. 
So, while we might pop a cork to celebrate the ruling, now is not the time for complacency about the religious right. On the contrary, we have to become a lot more vigilant in sniffing out their schemes and machinations. When they go behind the scenes, we have to drag them out into the daylight and expose the sleazy rhetoric they use to cloak bigotry in the language of progress. We have to be emphatic that freedom of religion does not include the freedom to make people into second class citizens because they are LGBT (actually, transgender will be the next big battleground). 
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i) Parsons' screed is full of alarmist rhetoric and conspiracy-mongering. The intention is to paint the religious right as a dangerous, subversive social movement. Some of this is unintentionally comical, as if it's a bad thing to make public officeholders swear to uphold the law and the Constitution!

ii) It's not so much that the religious right engages in guerilla tactics, but counter-guerilla tactics. It's the Left that initiated guerilla tactics by going to the courts to circumvent popular sovereignty. 

iii) There is no Constitutional right to abortion. That's just a legal fiction. Roe v. Wade is about might rather than right. 

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