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01/13/2011

Oh Mr. Colson, it's not like we put you on a presidential Enemies List or anything. Because we'd never do something like that. And you?

by Jeremy Hooper

Coslon"Culture warrior" Chuck Colson thinks he's directing a one-two punch at this here website for pointing out the truth about both the Manhattan Declaration and Chick-Fil-A. But in fact, he's obliterating a basic understanding of the First Amendment. Listen in:

( click to play audio clip)
[SOURCE: Chuck Colson's Breakpoint]

Okay, so first and foremost: Corporate decision-making is not the same thing as government censorship. Not even a little bit. It's common for folks to confuse the two, but it's never right to do so (even if it's far-right to do so).

But even if it were the same thing, what about our speech? All this site and its writer initially did in terms of the Manhattan Declaration app was simply note that the app was in the iTunes store and show some anti-intellectual screen caps from the app's included quiz. From there, the situation played out as these situations do, with others reacting, and some calling for the app's removal. Apple could've ignored the situation, had there been no merit to it. But based on the speech and expression that folks who care about LGBT inclusions presented to the public, Apple determined that this app failed to meet its bar of approval. Americans don't have an inherent right to be downloaded!

Which then brings to Chick-Fil-A, another conversation that began right here on this site. Mr. Colson says of the situation:

But don’t think those activists will stop at the Manhattan Declaration. They are on the lookout for any organization that dares to oppose so-called “same-sex marriage.” Just last week, homosexual bloggers squawked that the Pennsylvania Family Institute was sponsoring what they called an “anti-gay,” “anti-equality” conference; and worse yet, that a prominent food chain, Chick-fil-A, was a co-sponsor. Of course, the conference was no such thing. The conference’s title is “The Art of Marriage, Getting to God’s Design.”

I happen to know the founder of Chick-fil-A—Truett Cathy—a wonderful, outstanding Christian businessman. Why should they be bashed for supporting a good thing—promoting healthy marriages?

More and more, the forces of political correctness and intolerance are seeking to ban Christian beliefs and Christian speech from the public square. And they are targeting corporations and the media to enforce stringent sanctions against what they deem to be politically incorrect speech.

Well again, while it's convenient to his agenda to suggest that we "squawked," all we did in the beginning of the Chick/PFI situation was simply SHOW THE FLYER ISSUED BY PFI ITSELF! That's it. Period. From there, PFI had every right to proudly stand by their flyer -- but they didn't so that. Instead, they abruptly changed it without making any note as to why (which of course raised everyone's suspicions).

And as for Chick-Fil-A corporate: They, just like all proudly pro-equality companies, had every single right to say exactly what Mr. Colson suggests: "So what -- why should we be bashed for supporting a good thing—promoting healthy marriages?" But that is not what they chose to do! Instead, the company worked to distance itself from PFI's claimed sponsorship through a series of delayed, uncomprehensive responses. Perhaps their distance is because we showed that the national organization behind the PFI event, Family Life, has all kinds of anti-LGBT/pro-"ex-gay" material on its website, or perhaps it's for some other reason. Whatever the case, it was their own corporate choice.

And then of course from that initial PFI thing, we found all kinds of data that further demonstrated the company's connection to the larger anti-equality movement. Connection to NOM affiliate The Ruth Institute. A yearly marriage seminar featuring folks like Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Prop 8 proponent witness David Blankenhorn, NOM chairperson Maggie Gallagher, and Jennifer Roback Morse from the aforementioned Ruth Institute. So far Chick-Fil-A has not publicly acknowledged these other things that we turned up. That being the case, let us get ahead of this one and say: If Chick-Fil-A stands by their marriage seminar that comes with an undeniable agenda against gays' own unions, then that is 100% their right as Americans. ALL WE HAVE DONE IS MESSAGE ON THE SUBJECT! If they think the message makes them look bad, for whatever reason, then that is NOT on us!

The main problem, as we see it, is that folks like Mr. Colson just cannot (or at least will not) see their movement for what it is. Below this post, you will find all sorts of data about the Manhattan Declaration and its signers. But people like Colson will never acknowledge any of it, instead working the "it's simply a good, decent, Christian document" lines. The same goes for things like the Southern Poverty Law Center's "hate groups" list, with the usual suspects attacking SPLC rather than acknowledging the eye-openers turned up in SPLC's work. And the same concept holds for situations like the Chick-Fil-A one, with Mr. Colson not realizing that it's in no way reassuring for equality activists to hear the pickled bun company and its top dogs have support from him, someone who has quite literally compared hurt, soul-numbed Prop protestors to "Bull Conner" and Nazi thugs", and who refers to marriage equality as "Cultural Armageddon" (see below for both quotes).

If Mr. Colson and his fellows would take a little bit more responsibility for what they dish, then they might not be so astounded when the marketplace of ideas determines it's their turn to take it. And that is exactly what this is: The marketplace determining what ideas are good for business, good for maintaining peace, and good for America. "Strengthening marriage" of course sounds good. "Pro-family values" of course sound good. It's when the far-right's refused honesty comes into play that the house of cards collapses and millions of LGBT people see their equal rights as tax-paying American citizens buried under the rubble. We will never apologize for pulling back that curtain.

**

*SEE ALSO: About that Enemies List, which quite literally sought to use government intimidation to silence speech.

*SEE ALSO: The nine pages of Christian apps that the supposedly "anti-religion" Apple does include in its store.


*SEE ALSO:
The actual reasons why a company like Apple might want to stay away from the Manhattan Declaration:

(A) The Manhattan Declaration publicly and proudly touts signatures from Scott "the gay movement is a nuclear bomb" Lively, someone who this year earned considerable attention for his belief that the Uganda "kill gays" bill is a "step in the right direction."

(B) Two other people listed on the Manhattan Declaration's "Religious leader's [sic] signatories" list are Peter Akinola, a man who says "homosexuality does violence to nature", and Rev. Emmanuel Musaba Kolini, who has referred to homosexuality as "moral genocide."

(C) Major Declaration backer Tony Perkins has come right out and said the document represents "a struggle between good and evil." Hint: We're not the ones he puts in the "good"category:


Perkins.mpg [YT user: ptrvns47]

(D) Five SPLC-designated hate groups (Traditional Values Coalition, Abiding Truth Ministries, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Watchmen on the Walls) have at least one associate on one of the two signatories lists. Now, of course the "pro-family" folks are all attacking the SPLC as being agenda-driven and therefore without credence. But not a one of them has even attempted to (much less succeeded at) refuting the documented claims that got these groups on the highly selective list. Which is particularly odd, considering it'd be in the outraged non-listees' interests to note that SPLC does make careful distinctions. But I digress.

(E) The most major voice behind the Declaration, Chuck Colson, has all kinds of nasty, hurtful comments on the record that more than belie NOM's "reasonable and civil debate" claims. Like the time Chuck warned about gays' marriages leading to "Cultural Armageddon," for instance:

Or when he compared Manhattan Declaration supporters' mission as constituting "non-cooperation with evil," for another:

"This kind of principled non-cooperation with evil won’t be easy—there are signs of a reduced tolerance for that most basic of American values, religious freedom. As we’ve discussed many times on BreakPoint, Christian organizations are losing tax-exempt status for refusing to buy in to homosexual “marriage.” Some are going out of business rather than cave into immoral demands—such as placing children for adoption with homosexual couples. Conscientious medical personnel are being sued or being fired for obeying their consciences.

I say, enough is enough. The Church must take a stand. And with the release of the Manhattan Declaration, that’s exactly what we are doing."
The Manhattan Declaration

Or perhaps our favorite: The time when Chuckles admitted just how he sees the tens of thousands of soul-crushed people who took to the streets in the national, almost entirely peaceful protests against Proposition 8

"When I watched the violence on television, memories came back of earlier generations of thugs: Bull Conner, who, with the help of brutal cops, used violence and intimidation to chase African Americans out of the public square. Or roving gangs of Nazi brownshirts who ruled the streets of Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Do opponents of Proposition 8 who attacked Mormons and their churches think they’re any better than Bull Conner, or nicer than Nazi thugs? I don’t." [SOURCE]

Civil, huh?

(F) The app in question was also offensive to "reasonable and civil debate" on a purely intellectual level, with the in-app survey pretending to query users on their support for marriage equality and reproductive choice, but then proceeding to tell them they were just plain incorrect if they fell out of evangelical lock-step. If we want to talk about 1984, let's start with this "agree with us or else" survey.

(G) The Declaration repeats (as did the app) the oft-bastardized claim:

"In New Jersey, after the establishment of a quasi-marital “civil unions” scheme, a Methodist institution was stripped of its tax exempt status when it declined, as a matter of religious conscience, to permit a facility it owned and operated to be used for ceremonies blessing homosexual unions."

The reality is that the church pavilion was receiving a SPECIAL tax benefit under the Green Acres tax-exemption. This tax break was always a bonus -- a privilege bestowed upon eligible non-profits that open their private lands and/or accommodations up for public usage. Public, as in ALL of the public, not some. And since LGBT people are part of New Jersey's public and civil unions are the law, A PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION MUST EITHER ACCOMMODATE THE PUBLIC OR STOP RECEIVING THESE KINDS OF PUBLIC HANDOUTS! A church can ABSOLUTELY keep gay couples from marrying in their own pavilion. However, they cannot receive special state, federal, and local tax breaks if they are going to pick and choose which kinds of couples are allowed to use the pavilion! In this NJ case, they still received the tax-exemption for the rest of their properties, which weren't found to be in violation. But the pavilion in question was acting outside the rules for this particular state program.

(H) The Declaration refers to gays who are seeking civil fairness as really seeking "a right to engage in immoral sexual practices."

(I) need not say more. Apple is not the American government with the power to stifle free speech -- it is a company with its own right to make its own decisions. The technology behemoth pulled the app not because they or gays are out to shut down speech, but rather because gay activists gave attention and light to the offenses contained within the app and larger Declaration, and Apple saw fit to make a corporate decision that led to the app's removal. The merits (or lack thereof) are what did the Declaration supporters in.

But of course, yet again, these same supporters take no responsibility for what they have said and done, since the victim strategy makes them seem so much more sympathetic. Or so they think.

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