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07/23/2009

The 'culture war': For our opposition, independent thought is the major target

by Jeremy Hooper

We get annoyed with the way the organized "pro-family" groups work to misinform their peeps on issues like hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. But when we find these same groups attempting to re-educate those Christians who've managed to triumph over the disinformation and form their own opinions about these key issues, we go from annoyed to beyond astounded at the socially conservative arrogance.

Here's the backstory: A socially conservative firm called Wilson Research Strategies recently gave a presentation to the National Religious Broadcasters Research Symposium, wherein company CEO Chris Wilson presented findings indicating that a handy majority of Christians actually support things like hate crimes legislation, ENDA, and the Fairness Doctrine. These are findings that shouldn't shock anyone whose definition of "people of faith" goes beyond the far-right, anti-progressive crew that has dominated religious media for the past many decades. For the far-right Wilson firm, however these findings are a major wake up call.

So what did WRS conclude? Well on hate crimes, the firm quite brazenly determined that the Christian community's majority support "reflects a lack of understanding of what a hate crimes bill would potentially mean for Christian institutions including radio ministries," with their conclusion being that the data "reinforces the idea that there will have to be a significant educational effort if Christians are going to oppose a hate crimes bill or support an exception that will protect radio ministries." And on ENDA, Wilson says that the evangelical set's majority support for faith-based organizations that receive federal funds being forbidden from discriminating in hiring practices based on religious beliefs means that these discrimination-opposing Christians "may not understand the importance of allowing religious organizations to ensure that their employees share their faith and values and could suggest that white evangelical voters would be similarly confused about the implications of a general ban on religious discrimination by religious organizations." Their conclusion here? That "Christian voters do not fully understand the implications of the policy changes being considered," which means that their side will have to increase "educational efforts by radio ministries and others" so as to ensure that "critical opposition to change in this policy is there when it needs to be." (*see the full WRS report at end of this post)

So much for free will.

Now, what are the anti-LGBT equality groups doing with this "data"? Well of course they are of course following suit, acting as if their side's constant train of untruth on these issues is what Christians really need if they are going to have their own independent thoughts roped into line. This from Focus on the Family:


**Audio Source: Poll: Christians don't understand hate crimes bill, ENDA [FOF]

Sheer arrogance. The only possible conclusion they allow is that Christians who support non-discrimination and protection from bias-motivated crimes are uninformed and/or unmotivated to learn the "truth." The only possible outcome that they will seemingly accept: For the world's Christians to hold a version of "love thy neighbor" that contains a postscript reading: (*but if that neighbor is LGBT, don't love them enough to support their fair and decent treatment)

Simply unreal.

**Wilson Research's full findings:

NRB Issues Paper

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Your thoughts

Maybe I'm missing something in the (many) news sources I read on a daily basis, but I wasn't aware that anyone was actively pursuing reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. All I can find is that a bunch of Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't get reinstated in the future, not that anyone actually wants it. But hey, if you can't get your folks to rally around real issues, why not make one up? That seems to be the M.O. here.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 23, 2009 10:50:17 AM

Yea, I didn't focus on the Fairness Doctrine because I try to stay specifically LGBT on here. But there does seem to be particular weirdness around that one.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 23, 2009 10:56:54 AM

Hopefully, they have lost on Hate Crimes. And if the new legislation does get signed into law, then they probably will never be able to overturn it. They are going to fight every step of the way on ENDA, but I think that the future there is bright as well.

That the FOF party lost control of the Senate and Whitehouse last year was a big blow to policy makers who preyed on ignorance, prejudice and hatred. And their deceptive fearmongery isn't playing as well as it once did - even among their own.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jul 23, 2009 4:26:48 PM

The sad thing is that the people they feel they need to reach are not going to be the people who listen to FOF or most of those radio ministries. They are going to have to go outside their comfort zone and I don't think they are willing to do that. Their assumption that all "people of faith" are like them, is one of the major things that keep them going. It allows them to perpetuate the idea that all "people of faith" are anti-LGBT. Without that assumption, their words carry a lot less weight. There is nothing like a little reality to get them frantic.

Though Wilson Research Strategies is far-right leaning, they obviously did something correct to produce their result. There may be hope for them yet, but I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: DanM | Jul 23, 2009 4:46:52 PM

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