What’s to be Done? (Part 2)

Fighting Back

The Goal

all-things-possibleThe first crucial step when entering a struggle is to define your goal.  The CNN poll linked to in the previous post says that almost 59% of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.  This result may or may not be sustained over time.  However, at this critical point in time, it means that the citizenry isn’t interested in opposing this ruling.

Over the next decade tens of thousands of gay couples in all 50 states will marry under the protection of this ruling.  To one extent or another, changes to existing laws will be made in all 50 states to accommodate the existence of these same gender marriages.  The toothpaste thus will not be reinserted into the tube.  Gay marriage is here to stay in America.  I thus contend that attempting to reverse this situation would be a waste of our limited resources.

The next big battle will likely be over religious freedom.  That is, the Supreme Court has created a brand new constitutional “right” to gay marriage using the 14th Amendment

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

that is in conflict with our 226 year old right to religious freedom, specifically declared in the 1st Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thus there is now the real possibility of a direct and sustained assault against the religious freedom of those who object to gay marriage on religious grounds.  That is where we must make our stand.  Therefore, a proposed statement of our goal follows.

Ensure that the religious conscience is not denied space to operate in our society in general, but particularly on the issue of gay marriage.  In particular:

  1. Religious individuals and institutions must have the right to continue teaching and acting on the definition of marriage (among other doctrines, norms and institutions) that originates from their sacred texts.  For example:
    • A college or university run by a religious institution can limit married housing to couples that  meet their traditional definition of marriage
    • An adoption service run by a religious institution can limit the placement of children to couples that  meet their traditional definition of marriage
  2. Individuals and institutions must not be forced by the state to participate in events that conflict with their religious beliefs.  For example:
    • A shop owner or service provider cannot be compelled to participate in a gay wedding through their products or services if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
    • A church, person or organization cannot be compelled to allow use of their property for a gay wedding if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs
  3. Individuals and institutions must be protected from discrimination by the state due to the teaching and acting on of their religious beliefs.  For example:
    • The tax-exempt status of a church or organization cannot be denied by the state because they adhere to the traditional definition of marriage in their teaching and policies
    • The right to freedom of speech cannot be denied to individuals or institutions due to conflict with secular laws and policies, including those associated with gay marriage

Note that this goal is not intended to prevent same gender couples from marrying and living out their lives together.  All of the particulars and examples in the previous list have to do with the right of individuals and institutions to practice their religious beliefs free from state compulsion and discrimination.  The intended end-state is one in which gay couples have the right to marry, but that religious individuals and institutions have the right to decline participation in or endorsement of this secular institution.

If the right to marry is all that the gay rights movement is after, then there should be no problem.  They have won that right, and, it has a virtually zero chance of being overturned.  If, as many fear, the end goal is the destruction of traditional religion by forcing it into submission to whatever the state decrees, then there will be a major problem.

If we lose our religious freedom, we will have lost the core, founding purpose for the United States of America.  Religious individuals and institutions may soon have to decide if they are going to stand and fight or surrender.

What’s to be Done? (Part 1)

keep-calm-and-speak-truth-to-power-3If you are an orthodox Christian or simply a traditionalist who isn’t willing to affirm the sudden redefinition of marriage (along with many other social norms), you’re probably feeling a bit low.  After all, the radical, secular progressive mob (and their fellow travelers in the Mainline churches) appears to be on the march, winning every contest.  They have made it abundantly clear that, if you persist in opposition, or, can be tied to past opposition, you risk having your good name, livelihood, family and social life destroyed in a frenzy of denunciation.  The goals of this strategy are to:

  1. Intimidate you into submission, or at least silence
  2. By accomplishing 1. convincing everyone who has opposing views that they are isolated and vulnerable, thus further advancing said submission or silence.

I’m not making a theoretical argument here.  No, it’s entirely based on actual events.  Here’s a summary from The Federalist:

This is aside from the small, petty battles like refusing to do business with people who oppose same-sex marriage.

The above is a summary of what has happened prior to the Supreme Court decision.  While we can always hope for the best, we’re better off preparing for the worst, particularly given what some of the four Supreme Court dissenters had to say in their written opinions.  For example, Justice Alito said that this decision:

… will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

Justice Scalia was less direct, but effectively identified the grounds upon which the coming assault will be made (emphasis added):

The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. . . .   And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

The first step in developing an effective response is to face reality.  And, the first reality to face is that those of us in opposition are in the minority.  I’m not personally convinced that items 1. and 2. above haven’t added a significant number of “just for show” supporters.  However, regardless of the motivation, large majorities of Americans are stating support for the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

The second step is to acknowledge that our past strategies to defend our values have utterly failed.  They have failed in the PCUSA and they have failed in the United States.  If we want a different outcome then we will need to make some changes, which will be discussed next.