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12/08/2011

NOM Cultural Director Thomas Peters shuns, embraces broad brushes

by Jeremy Hooper

Thomas Peters, the Catholic blogger who works for the National Organization For Marriage and who has announced plans to spearhead the organization's "Next Gen" project, has written a new blog post for CatholicVote.org, wherein he accuses oppositional voices of wanting to "smear Christians with a broad brush." But in trying to make his point, Peters actually does the exact opposite, showing how little regard far too many anti-equality voices of faith give to accepting or affirming Christians. Let's examine.

Thomas builds his post off of an example he pulled from the Huffington Post:

Example 1: John Shore, author of “UNFAIR: Why the ‘Christian’ View of Gays Doesn’t Work” embeds a video of an emotionally distressed young man who has cut himself, been bullied, and even considered suicide at times. Shore proceeds to write this, addressing Christians:

Tell me that your belief system didn’t help put the hot tears on this kid’s cheeks. Tell me that the bullies who torment this kid aren’t in any way encouraged or empowered by your tacit approval of their actions. Tell me that the shame this kid feels about himself has nothing to do with the shame that you believe all gay people should feel for themselves.

… Tell me, please, how none of this kid’s anguish has anything to do with you.

Thomas then asks of John Shore's words:

… need I even respond to this libel? And yet, there are so many more examples like this of gay activists deciding they understand what Christians think (when they don’t) and attacking Christians for something Christians don’t believe. Notice how all Christians are to blame (supposedly) for the actions of bullies and the sadness in this young man’s life. There is a growing effort by gay activists to claim that the blood of teen suicides is on the heads of Christians who oppose redefining marriage.
Thomas' Full post: Two Contradictory Examples of How Gay Marriage Is Being “Debated” Today [Catholic Vote]

Only problem? Shore did nothing of the sort! In his Huffington Post commentary, the writer led off by defining his audience, saying in the very first sentence: "Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians -- by which I mean, specifically, Christians who believe that being gay is a moral abomination, an appalling affront to God -- talk to me, please, about this kid." Shore made it clear that he was not addressing "all Christians," like Thomas claims, but rather the subset that so loudly pit God vs. gays.

Moreover, John Shore went on to write, "A Christian myself, I am pleading with you to be honest with me about this." So not only is he not criticizing or condemning all Christians, but he himself is one!! He's not "deciding he understands that Christians think" -- John Shore thinks like a Christian! His kind of Christian.

The issue is that Shore is just not the kind of Christian that anti-equality voices like Thomas tend to accept as real. In fact Thomas has made that quite clear, referring to dissenting voices within his own faith as "fake." So since that is the case, Thomas conveniently overlooks these major points regarding the writer's own Christianity and his clearly defined audience, resorting instead to the generalized "poor, bullied Christian" meme that the NOM crowd has turned into its bread and butter. Thomas puts a broad brush in his opposition's hands, while giving evidence to the exclusionary eraser that so many anti-equality people of faith put to religion, its rich and varied adherents, and the very notion of religious freedom that this crowd purports to defend.

The truth is that there are scores of Christians out there who are deeply invested in their faith and also deeply committed to equal treatment of LGBT humans. Those of us who realize this have no problem understanding that John Shore's audience is a specific subset, not a sweeping generalization of an entire religion. If Thomas cannot see that, hearing "Christians who believe that being gay is a moral abomination, an appalling affront to God" and processing that to mean "Christians, period," then that's his prerogative. But there are millions more who will not only realize the distinction -- they will gladly cast themselves against it rather than cast stones at a fellow Christian who was careful enough to make it!

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