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Analysis: What went wrong in the “Religious Freedom” fight in Indiana and Arkansas?
Failure by pro-family leaders to see roots of problem
by Brian Camenker and Amy Contrada
POSTED: April 10, 2015
The mainstream pro-family movement continues to be its own worst enemy. Back in October we wrote an article, “How the pro-family movement helped spread “gay marriage” across America.” It turns out there were more failures to come.
The recent surrender on the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) bills by the Governors of Indiana and Arkansas can be directly tied to the myriad bad decisions and compromises by well-meaning pro-family groups and individuals, who are sorely overmatched by the homosexual lobby in strategy, tactics, and funding.
RFRA Recap: Arizona, Indiana, Arkansas
Last month the Indiana legislature passed a rather bland RFRA bill, similar to many around the country, which was then signed by Republican Governor Mike Pence. The original bill would have allowed businesses to defend themselves in court if forced by a law to violate their religious beliefs -- and the government would have to show a compelling state interest before a religious-belief defense could be rejected. (Read that original bill HERE.)
In Feb. 2014, in a preview of what was to occur in Indiana, the Arizona legislature passed a similar RFRA bill to protect Christian owners of small businesses. Republican Governor Jan Brewer was about to sign it when the homosexual lobby got its big corporate friends to pressure her. The NFL even threatened to take the Super Bowl out of Arizona. Gov. Brewer caved and vetoed the bill.
So it wasn’t too surprising when the homosexual movement decided to make another example of Indiana, unleashing its full fury against the state last month. A blizzard of major corporations and activist groups (along with the national liberal media) descended on Gov. Pence and the legislature, claiming that simply to allow a wedding photographer or caterer to defend himself in court (for refusing service) would be “discrimination” and reason for corporate America to boycott the state.
The pro-family movement’s response was a flood of articles analyzing and complaining about the situation. RFRA bills had been around for decades, they pointed out. The homosexual activists and their allies were decried as hypocrites and bullies. A parade of conservatives swore they were not “anti-gay,” would never discriminate against homosexuals, but did want their religious freedom. Most of the focus was on defending the freedom of religion, assuming that was the key to controlling the monstrous expansion of LGBT censorship and control.
After several days of pressure, Gov. Pence finally gave up and directed the legislature to draft a bill that would make sure business owners could not legally fight charges of “discrimination” based on sexual orientation or gender identity – even on religious grounds. In fact, the new bill , which Pence quickly signed, is basically a “gay rights” bill.
Days later, the same scenario played out in Arkansas. That state legislature passed a similar RFRA bill on April 1. The homosexual lobby and corporate allies (including gigantic Wal-Mart) pounced. Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson rolled over without a fight and had the bill modified to sufficiently appease the homosexual activists.
The immediate pro-family problem: politicians left dangling in storm
These were shameful surrenders. On the other hand, given the state of the national GOP, expecting any Republican politician to stand up for a pro-family principle under pressure is unrealistic.
To be fair to the politicians, the pro-family movement hasn’t offered them much support. The Governors needed a public outcry from thousands of angry conservatives pointing out that “religious freedom” means having the right to decide what is immoral, unnatural, perverse, and destructive – and can be openly opposed. And the Governors needed to be forced to think hard about giving special protections to people on the basis of undefined “sexual orientations” while demonizing citizens holding traditional moral values.
Instead, in each of these three states, when the homosexual media blitzkrieg marched in, the Governors were basically left on their own, untutored, swearing they opposed “discrimination” – while the pro-family movement mostly sat back and wrote commentaries. So of course our side got creamed. And now the surrender message is out there, so the same collapse will likely happen again.
The longer-term problems
As we noted in our previous article, the real problems go back a couple of decades. The seeds of disaster were planted long ago by leftists, but allowed to go unchallenged and even accepted by conservatives (including most pro-family leaders). Here are the major issues they have failed to address:
1. Conceding to the LGBT movement’s ideological concepts, language, and demands.
The concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (and the umbrella acronym “LGBT” – lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) are completely phony ideas invented by the sexual radicals to conjure an identity out of sexual and psychological dysfunction. Further, the phrase “sexual orientation” has never (to our knowledge) been defined in federal or state law, so it’s poised to be put to unimaginably horrible new uses in the future. Similarly, homophobia, civil unions, tolerance, and (supposed threats to) safety are all part of the propaganda. Sadly, most in the pro-family movement have shied away from challenging these concepts, so we continue to lose court cases and legislative battles that deal with them.
2. Refusal to fight passage of LGBT anti-discrimination laws and local ordinances, or demand their repeal.
Starting in the 1990s, the homosexual movement worked tirelessly, spending enormous funds, to get state and local governments to amend their anti-discrimination laws covering public accommodations, employment, housing, public education, etc., to include “sexual orientation.” In recent years there’s been a push to include “gender identity” (cross-dressing, transgenderism, transsexuality) also.
There’s a big strategic reason for that. As Dr. Scott Lively has pointed out for years, these updated laws are the starting point for the whole, brutal legal jihad against Christians and others holding traditional values. Every outrage we’re now seeing -- including the LGBT activism in the schools, targeting of businesses, men using women’s restrooms, sado-masochist/”swinger” conventions in hotels, etc. -- emanates from these laws.
But pro-family people have only recently started to wake up on this. They instinctively realize that citizens should be able to discriminate and refuse to promote or celebrate perversion and “gay” marriage. But these anti-discrimination laws now make it a crime to do so.
Moreover, because of the emotional force of such laws and the shrewd way they’re portrayed by the opposition as a continuation of the Civil Rights struggle, we now see Republican Governors and conservative commentators swearing they oppose discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or gender identity. Their acquiescence on these laws has set up the very conflict with religious freedom they’re now agonizing over.
Clearly, the targeting of conservative private businesses is part of a strategy to silence all opposition to the LGBT agenda, not because there is any shortage of businesses who will accommodate them. In fact, they publish glossy directories of such “welcoming” companies that are distributed all over the country.
3. Over-focusing on “religious freedom” protections as the solution to this culture clash.
The pro-family focus on “religious freedom” as a protection against the LGBT onslaught is basically a defensive strategy that will eventually be completely eroded.
Certainly, religious freedom is constitutionally guaranteed. But who is to define what is or is not a valid “religious objection”? Or whether a person’s religious objections are due to “sincerely held” beliefs? The RFRA’s leave that up to the court system, and government prosecutors can make strong cases for a “compelling interest” to overpower one’s religious argument.
Take the parents’ rights case of father David Parker and the Lexington, Mass. schools. The federal court dismissed Mr. Parker’s demand (on the basis of his deeply held religious beliefs) to opt his young son out of classroom activities dealing with homosexuality and transgenderism. Why? Because (the court said) since “gay marriage was legal” in Massachusetts, the state needed to instruct all young children to accept homosexuality and “gay marriage” as normal … a “compelling state interest.” This will continue to happen across the country.
More important, falling back on “religious freedom” becomes an excuse to avoid confronting the other side’s destructive concepts and propaganda.
4. “The Church of Nice” versus the Destruction of Society.
If we have to listen to “Love the sinner, hate the sin, ” etc., one more time while the LGBT movement marches through our elementary schools and private businesses, we’re going to jump out the window. If you truly “hate the sin,” you’ll fight against “gay” clubs in the schools, “sexual orientation” non-discrimination laws, and public accommodations protections for LGBT persons. We don’t see that happening.
The bloody Chinese dictator Mao Tse-tung once said that “A revolution is not a tea party.” Well, it’s not a Sunday School class, either.
5. Refusal to be aggressive.
Too many of our people are deathly afraid of being called names (e.g., “bigot”). So they won’t even talk about the well-documented medical, psychological, and emotional dangers of the LGBT lifestyles for fear of offending someone. They want to appear nice and polite, hoping this will win points. They fall back on intellectual arguments. (But few are listening to reason anymore.) They use a “feel-good” political strategy while the other side uses the real thing.
Liberals and LGBT activists are vicious, bullying, lying, hypocritical, angry, and fanatically dedicated. Such a large-scale denial of reality requires it. They have no interest in fairness – only force. Yes, one of their favorite tactics is to attack and brutally libel anyone who disagrees with them. Much of this also has to do with their own self-centeredness and need to feel superior.
We need to take the gloves off and stop being sissies.
6. Not confronting corporations or politicians supporting the LGBT agenda.
Anyone who has been around people in high levels of corporate America can appreciate how loathsome and amoral (and pro-Obama) most of them are these days. It wasn’t always that way. But it is now. So the next logical step for them is aggressively supporting the LGBT agenda against conservative Americans.
Unfortunately, our side has rarely reacted to that, except for an occasional boycott. So it’s an easy choice for corporate leaders. Politicians, even Republicans, have gotten the message that there’s no downside for siding with evil.
And wealthy conservative donors, seeing all this, are afraid to donate to groups fighting this battle. Our side has a lot of work to do.
And if all that is not bad enough …
7. Too much talk, not enough action.
We have often said that the Internet has been a crippling factor for the conservative movement. It allows thousands of individuals to sit back and write endless commentary, and regurgitate and re-send the latest bad news to other conservatives, under the delusion that they are doing something meaningful. Meanwhile, the Left is organized and actually going out and causing real change (for the worse, of course).
Amidst the bad news, a ray of hope
They haven’t silenced everyone yet!
There is a handful of conservative pro-family voices (besides MassResistance) who are fighting this destructive trend and are at least telling the truth. This includes Scott Lively, Bryan Fischer, Laurie Higgins, Peter LaBarbera, John Biver, Stella Morabito, Cliff Kincaid, Gina Miller, Robert Knight, Peter Sprigg, Linda Harvey, Robert R. Reilly, Michael Voris, and others. We hope it’s a growing trend.
Telling the truth loudly and clearly is an absolute necessity in a battle like this. But as we’ve pointed out, it’s just the beginning.