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05/27/2011

Jim Daly's 'probably lost' problem: He just can't pinpoint the pertinence

by Jeremy Hooper

We were the first to isolate and shoot out the comments to World magazine wherein Focus on the Family president Jim Daly got a little more honest than we're used to hearing from the "protect marriage" crowd, admitting that the young people polling shows his side has "probably lost" in their fight to limit marriage in our culture:

Screen Shot 2011-05-27 At 4.59.18 Pm"We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture."

-Jim Daly, speaking to World Magazine

Next, we got a followup comment from Focus on the Family Comm. guy Gary Schneeberger, where Gary built on/extended Daly's earlier thoughts with the claim that Daly has been saying this same thing for years. And we pontificated on that.

So now, to close out this saga for good, we will briefly address what we assume are Daly's final comments on the matter. They come from his semi-regular Washington Post column:

So, let me be clear: I am not waving a white flag. I’m not even contemplating picking one up. There is still much work to be done by those of us in the faith community to advocate for Screen Shot 2011-05-27 At 5.04.45 Pmmarriage as it has been defined, and practiced, by every civilized society for millennia.

My comments to World are no more or no less than a continuation of something I’ve been saying for years: That we cannot expect the culture to be the church. As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love, and advance it in public policy, regardless of opinion polls or shifting political winds. But our responsibility doesn’t end at the bully pulpit or the ballot box. We also must model the beauty and permanence of traditional marriage to society. And, to be frank, we have not done a very good job in that regard.
...
Maybe it’s because of those [31 marriage] election results that liberals and progressives – engaging in a little wishful thinking -- have been so quick to assume my interview comments represent an ideological or strategic shift, when, in fact, what I am saying is, let’s look past whatever writing may be on the cultural wall and joyfully embody kingdom principles to the world.
What’s the focus of Focus on the Family? [WaPo]

But here's what we mean when we say Daly doesn't get it. He makes it all about what he, personally, is and is not doing. He's not waving a white flag. He is still planning to use faith to fight against civil marriage. He is just continuing his longheld thoughts. He's not going to stop speaking what he considers to be Christian truth. And so on and so forth.

But the thing is: None of that matters in terms of the civil rights fight! Because what Daly's comments showed, without a shadow of a doubt, is a recognition of inevitable loss on this issue. That's not even a slight stretch: It is exactly what he was saying, that the culture is headed in one decided direction. And it's also exactly what we who fight for marriage equality care about: The culture that is headed towards supporting CIVIL marriage equality.

We, of course, don't "expect the culture to be the church" -- in fact we DEMAND that the culture start recognizing the difference between religious ceremony and civil marriage licensing/sanctioning. Doing so would've ended this conversation years ago!!!

We don't care if Focus staff and supporters opt to "model the beauty and permanence of traditional marriage to society," as they see it. Just as we will model the beauty and permanence of the wonderful LGBT people who enrich our society.

We certainly don't mind if Focusers "look past whatever writing may be on the cultural wall" in hopes that billowy, heterosexist rhetoric will up and change a pro-LGBT generation's mind. Because we will continue to challenge that soft tone by showing the world the crude, anti-scientific propaganda that this organization churns out in order to "change" gays, and see which tone the year 2025 finds more palatable.

We don't mind because we do know that the culture is changing towards the more principled. And we know that groups like Focus are a big reason why. We just didn't realize that Focus on the Family was ready to be more honest about that.

So again: This site was the first to put this out there, and therefore this writer can tell you better than anyone else that my reaction wasn't a bout of "wishful thinking." Never in a million years did I think any Focus on the Family staffers, those indefatigable trailblazers in the civil discrimination fight, were on the cusp of stopping their personally-held faith beliefs. Nor would I expect them to stop trying to foist these beliefs on others. Didn't think or expect those things, because neither were anywhere near my realm of consideration! What I care about is the efficacy of their faith-based efforts to stifle civil rights. Efforts that Daly himself admits are "probably lost" with America's cultural future (a.k.a. the base of support that will grant civil equality to LGBT Americans).

And FoTF donors will ultimately decide what this means for the organization's "protect marriage" wing, not me or Jim or anyone else.

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