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Religious Right appeals to hatred, prejudice

“Religious freedom” has become the favored rhetorical device of the Religious Right over the past year. While the most notable example is the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, North Carolina has made its own efforts to put this dubious principle into practice.

When same-sex marriage was legalized last October, there was the push to exempt magistrates from issuing licenses for same-sex couples. On March 26, a version of a bill similar to the one passed in Indiana has been proposed in the North Carolina House.

Gov. Pat McCrory, in a rare moment of sanity, has opposed the bill, according to WRAL.

Emily Howard | The Appalachian
Emily Howard | The Appalachian

As frustrating as moves like these are, they are ultimately signs of recognition that the Religious Right understands it is losing. More than half the country recognizes same-sex marriage, and a Supreme Court decision later this year will likely take care of the remaining states.

Still, the current situation with these religious freedom laws perfectly exemplifies the problems with the Religious Right and conservative Christianity.

A main goal of the Religious Right for decades has been the imposition of its own brand of religiosity on society. Yet, the emphasis they have chosen in pursuing that goal is strange to me.

In the process of campaigning for a Christian nation, there are a number of things they could emphasize, like caring for the poor, for instance.

The Religious Right in this country has clearly not chosen that direction. Instead, they decided to appeal to that which is worst in people, the fear, hatred and prejudice.

The current situation with gay rights is a perfect example. Though they do not state so explicitly, a major motive behind these religious freedom bills is to allow religious people to discriminate against gay people.

Why is this issue so important? Why is this “sin” so special? Would the business owners who would refuse services to gay couples also inquire as to whether or not their patrons had stolen or lied?

An example of this came up in a CNN interview with a Georgia florist who said she would not serve gay couples. The woman did not, however, have a problem serving adulterers.

The reason that the issue of gay rights is so emphasized is that its good for awakening the prejudice that many people have toward gays.

Like demented Jiminy Crickets, the Religious Right has used the moral deference many people give to religion to encourage the worst, most base instincts in believers.

Many Americans are aware of how warped this view of the world and are turning against it. While the movement is failing on its major goals, the emergence of this brand of religious freedom laws reveals how absurd this entire movement is.

Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.

COLUMN: Kevin Griffin, Opinion Writer
CARTOON: Emily Howard, Cartoonist

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  • I

    Infidel753Apr 16, 2015 at 6:06 am

    As you say, how different it would have been if the Christian Right had, for example, taken up the case of Arnold Abbott, the man arrested in Florida last year for feeding the homeless. If they had crusaded against laws that discourage helping the poor, and demanded exemptions from them, what a different image that would have projected! But the issue doesn’t even seem to be on their radar. They’ve apparently decided that exclusion and shunning of gay people is the one right they absolutely must retain, the hill they choose to die on.

    With that being the face Christianity presents to the world in the US, no wonder so many people are turning away from it.

    Reply
  • N

    nclaw441Apr 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

    No one should ever be forced to follow any religion, and no one should ever be prohibited from practicing his/her faith. That idea is embedded in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. As for caring for the poor, I am not aware of any atheist organizations that do good works that even begin to approach with Christian believers do in their community, the state and the world. Drop by any church and take a look at their Sunday bulletin to get an idea of how they act as the “hands and feet of Jesus” by providing for those in need.

    On the issue of gay rights, no one is stopping gay folks from living as they please. They are entitled to tolerance, but not acceptance or approval of others.

    Reply
    • K

      KelseyApr 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Many of the food drives in this area are organized and in large part supported by Christian ministry. Anyone can go to First Baptist Church and fill out an application for monetary aid for troubles in their life. I knew a lady who had acquired several months of rent payment this way. When Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans and the surrounding area, most the churches here went on trips at least once a year to help rebuild not just churches but mostly schools and houses.

      Why not read about, or better yet, grow up in this area before talking about what the focus is in a newspaper here named The Appalachian Online.

      Reply
    • U

      Umbra75Apr 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      No one wants a Christian to not be able to practice his or her religion. But a business is a business, not a church. The bible tells Christians to be separate from the world, but no where does it say to stop living in it, or stop interacting with people who don’t believe the same way. The gospel will never be spread to people who need it, if Christians lock themselves and their businesses off from the people who need it, and need to be able to see it in Christian lives. And, how will those you think are living in sin ever be convinced to stop if Christians offend them by treating them like their patronage of Christian-owned businesses isn’t worth it? Their humans, not animals to be refused entry.

      Maybe you don’t see atheist groups helping people because they’re doing things individually, or in small groups, and not needing to take credit. Though, in all honesty, there ARE MANY non-Christian groups not only here, but around the world, trying to help, that you seem to have not thought about including in your comment. Doctors Without Borders and Unicef are two well known examples of secular, or, non-Christian, organizations that you didn’t include. Though, I don’t know if they are Atheist organizations or not. So, I’m afraid that either you didn’t really take the time to think about what you were typing, or you’ve been extremely misinformed about what groups exist and don’t exist.
      And, yes, please do drop by almost any mainline church, and take a real look at their organizations. They seem to always be making an effort to let you know it’s them doing good works, while the majority of individuals within those organizations leave their charitable works at the door of their churches as they leave to go home. Seems that the atheists and other non-Christians are a lot more like Jesus, than the people claiming to be his followers.

      On the issue of gay rights, if you don’t see businesses refusing service to “gay folks”, churches not condemning politicians that call for the deaths of those who are gay; gays and lesbians being ridiculed, sometimes spit on, and other times beat or hurt much worse just for walking down the street holding hands; men and women who claim to be Christian becoming violent and kicking their gay children out of their homes to live on the streets; and MANY other atrocities done in the name of Christ, as stopping them from living as they please, then you are a damned fool.
      Atheists are allowed to hold hands without being harmed. Jews aren’t refused service at businesses. African-Americans are allowed to marry each other. But somehow, being gay disqualifies a person from being allowed the exact same freedoms that EVERY Christian in this country enjoys. They aren’t GAY rights. They have NEVER been GAY rights. They are EQUAL rights, and equal rights alone.

      Reply