Thursday, August 16, 2012

The FRC and religious freedom

A security guard was shot Wednesday morning at the Washington DC office of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization designated as a hate group in 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The FRC believes "criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior" should be enforced, supports “conscience clauses” that would allow pharmacists and doctors to withhold legally prescribed medication from women for nebulous religious reasons, and thinks intelligent design and abstinence-only education should be taught in all schools, among other extremist, anti-progressive beliefs.

Every report, every piece of media coverage has framed this as domestic terrorism and an attack on religious freedom.

A man opens fire at a political rally, killing 6 and wounding 13, and he’s a lone wingnut. If more good Americans with big guns had been there, it would have never happened. A man plants a bomb at a Family Planning clinic in Florida in January 2012, another man bombs a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin in April 2012, two separate abortion clinics are set on fire in May 2012, and these are all unrelated attacks by lone actors.

Another man opens fire at a Sikh temple and the Republican Presidential candidate doesn’t even both to learn the difference between “Sihks” and “Sheiks.”

Yet suddenly, an attack on a designated hate group blatantly attempting to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is an attack on religious freedom. The religious freedom to be bigoted white Christian supremacists, apparently.

Now don’t get me wrong, the attack on the FRC was horrible, and it’s very fortunate that only one person (a security guard, not even an employee of the organization) was injured. Violence is absolutely not the answer, and it pains me to see rational, pro-freedom/pro-choice individuals being driven from the high road. But this highlights an important issue, one I’ve talked about before.

We have to stop letting the Republicans have all the good rhetoric.

One man, reacting inappropriately to the systemic segregation and persecution of LGBT people in the country is not an attack on religious freedom; it’s a misguided revolt against injustice and those who would actively support it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” We need to fight the ignorance and injustice of the current right with our voices and our hearts, by speaking out, not by lashing out.

Silence is our kryptonite; every time we quietly watch our friends spew hate through their Facebook walls, or listen with pursed lips as someone thumps their chest and touts the superiority of Christian beliefs, we are enabling a dangerous slide toward the very theocracy this country was formed to combat.

Don’t let people tell you or fool themselves into believing that this attack on the FRC was an attack on religious freedom. The only religious freedom under attack in this country is the freedom to be anything other than a white Christian male.

My religion understands persecution; we’ve seen it for thousands of years. And now religious persecution is back in full force, brandishing a cross and waving a tattered American flag. 

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