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10/15/2014

'Christian' is not suitable stand-in for 'discriminatory business owner'

by Jeremy Hooper

This is the a headline running at the American Family Association's "news" site:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 At 6.41.02 Pm
[AFA's One News Now]

The subject is the supposed "right" of public accommodations to flout fairly enacted nondiscrimination laws when they don't feel like serving a same-sex couple. The opinion piece posing as a news article runs down those same handful of cases that the far-right keeps trying to turn into some sort of national scourge. Well covered territory on this site, and I won't be covering it again here.

But I do want to talk about the hubristic way that organizations like the American Family Association think they can use the word "Christian" when they really mean a very specific kind of person who did a very specific kind of thing. The truth is that we are a nation with hundreds of millions of Christians. Many of them are pro-gay. Others are kind of in the middle. Some are actively anti-gay but they still now that they have to abide by fair nondiscrimination laws. And many of them own or operate businesses.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of Christian business owners would be scandalized at the suggestion that they would ever turn away a customer because of their personal theological beliefs. The idea of turning away a customer because of certain characteristics invokes ugly imagery from a non-too-distant past, and most of us have filed it far away from our realm of consideration. It's only in recent years, with this losing anti-equality movement and their carefully worded attempt to polish the turd of discrimination so that it instead looks like a religious flower, that we've even had to reopen this "debate." Most of us thought it was settled, and many of us LGBT people are quite chilled/creeped out by the fact that it's actually happening here in 2014 America.

But I don't think we LGBT people and our allies are the only ones who are creeped out. Although the AFAs and FRCs and NOMs of the world are loud and manage to beat a drum over and over and over until their spin gets mainstream credence ("tell a lie long enough..."), they do not speak for even a tiny fraction of this nation's Christians, much less the larger religious community as a whole. And it's way past time for these people of faith to step up and speak out against this effort to make "Christian" synonymous with discrimination. We LGBT politicos have done our part, but they just write us off as godless sodomites with a militant agenda. The folks who should care are the people of deep Christian faith who are tired of a religious right that continues to turn religion into an alienating experience, turn churches into lobbying arms, and turn carefully coded messages into new ways to sell the same old discrimination that past generations already repudiated.

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