Religious Liberty: A Cover for Discrimination?

“’It seemed to me the height of disingenuousness, absurdity, and indeed disrespect to tell someone it is okay to ‘be’ gay, but not necessarily okay to engage in gay sex. What do they think being gay means?’ she writes in her Becket paper. ‘I have the same reaction to courts and legislatures that blithely assume a religious person can easily disengage her religious belief and self-identity from her religious practice and religious behavior. What do they think being religious means?’”

These are the words of the Barack Obama appointee, Georgetown trained lawyer, and current commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), Chai Feldblum. Feldblum has been a champion for the LGBT rights movement, and identifies herself as a lesbian (as quoted by Rod Dreher in the American Conservative). She also honestly acknowledges that there is a real conflict between the right to the free exercise of religion and LGBT rights laws.

Yet leftists, including many of my progressive, leftist clergy colleagues, continue to act like any of the concerns over religious liberty among conservatives like me, are just cloak and cover for irrational animus and discrimination. Yes, it is really about discrimination, one way or another, as Feldblum herself acknowledges when she says that not all discrimination is necessarily bad, because some form of discrimination in the law is just necessarily necessary. Some people who engage in certain behavior are going to be discriminated against in society; it’s simply a matter of who and why. Feldblum, herself, uses the example of employment discrimination against people who abuse children.

According to Feldblum the tipping point for whether discrimination is allowed or not depends on whether the majority of society deems a particular characteristic morally problematic and the level of outrage against a particular characteristic or behavior. She admits, against some of her fellow activists, that there is inherently a significant moral dimension to these issues. Thus, contrary to those who have argued you can’t legislate morality, the truth is morality, or immorality depending on your perspective, will be legislated. It’s simply a question of whose and what form it will take.

Unlike, the majority of the leftists we are hearing and reading today, who mockingly put ‘religious liberty’ in scare quotes and blithely dismiss the claims that there is a real threat to it, at least Feldblum was honest enough to admit that there are real conflicts and real burdens placed on traditional religious people in our country. In any case, she still thinks sexual identity, and I presume gender identity, concerns should trump concerns for religious liberty because she believes sexual and gender identity are more basic to human nature. But is has been a huge undertaking to bring society to the place where the majority, especially among government, academic, business, entertainment, and sporting elites, believe this to be true as well. So how did we reach this tipping point where the majority of society is ready to subordinate religious liberty to sexual freedom and gender identity expression? How did we get to the point where American society is willing to flush the First Amendment as it pertains to traditional Christian beliefs about sex, marriage, and gender distinctions down the toilet of a gender neutral bathroom?

Well, the short answer is through lies, deceit, making pariahs out of those with traditional views, and through less and less subtle forms of threat and intimidation. This isn’t just my assessment of what is happening; it’s actual strategies endorsed and promoted among leftist radicals themselves. Reading Sal Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, which is definitely one of the leftists’ playbooks, will help you understand how we have reached the tipping point.

Before you dismiss this a a wildly baseless conspiracy theory, take note that I was in a “Christian Missions” class at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC where the professor specifically talked about using Sal Alinsky’s tactics directly from “Rules for Radicals” to further the cause of “social justice”. He first tried to allay potential uneasiness among some of the students about the unscrupulous nature of Alinsky’s tactics. Theologians and clergy in mainline denominations and seminaries have been using the church to promote a leftist political vision of social justice for quite some time. One of the most prominent Methodist theologians, Thomas Oden, who was converted to an orthodox faith by study of the church fathers, admits this is what he was doing.  Alinsky was apparently one of his mentors (see review of Oden’s memoir HERE in an article entitled, “From Radical Leftist to Orthodox Theologian”)

Nonetheless, Alinsky didn’t invent all of these tactics, but he compiled them in a systematic and concise way, to be used as a playbook for the political left, which receives much comfort, aid, and support from the religious left. Here’s a sample of Alinsky’s philosophy and strategy.

“’Power comes out of the barrel of a gun!’ is an absurd rallying cry when the other side has all the guns. Lenin was a pragmatist; when he returned to what was then Petrograd from exile, he said that the Bolsheviks stood for getting power through the ballot but would reconsider after they got the guns!” Alinsky, Saul (2010-06-22). Rules for Radicals (Location 117) Kindle Edition. (Here he is talking about those who quote Mao Zedong, and cautioning them through the wisdom of Vladimir Lenin to be patient until they actually have the guns, i.e. power).

“The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process from the time a child learns to play his mother off against his father in the politics of when to go to bed; he who fears corruption fears life.” (pp. 24-25)

“He who sacrifices the mass good for his personal conscience has a peculiar conception of “personal salvation”; he doesn’t care enough for people to be ‘corrupted’ for them.” (p. 25)

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” (p. 128)

“Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.” (pp. 128-129)

So following the principles of people like Alinksy leftists radicals operate with a no-holds-barred approach against those with opposing views, who Alinksy insists are enemies who deserve no quarter. The ends justifies the means, period; and, according to Alinsky it doesn’t matter if the ends are corrupt because according to his view corruption is all there really is because all is relative. One should not be concerned with being corrupted or about being contradictory because life itself is simply a corrupt struggle for power riddled with contradiction.

Conservatives are often baffled by the inherent absurdities in some of the views on the left, but for many, if not most, of them it is ultimately not about logic, coherence, or harmony with God’s design in nature and the revelation of His will in Scripture. What it’s really about is desire and the will to power to achieve one’s desires, and whoever “controls the narrative” rules the world. This is what they themselves have told us that all claims to truth really are, just that, claims without regard for real knowledge designed to procure power for some over others. At it’s heart the leftist vision is about the imposition of their will over those with opposing views and even over nature and nature’s God. The can talk about gray areas and demand tolerance when it suits them, and they can also be the most wooden literalists when it works to their advantage against their opponents, especially once they “have the guns,” i.e. the power. It’s a game of slippery selectivity.

In regards to the sexuality debates, Alfred Kinsey in the 1940’s and 1950’s employed similar tactics to promote the idea that virtually all forms of consensual self expression are perfectly natural and normal and should be practiced early and often. In Freudian fashion he promoted the idea that many societal ills stem from sexual repression rather than unbridled expression in direct and intentional contradiction to the traditional Judeo-Christian view. I remember discussing his suspect methodology, and horrifically unethical data collection practices when I was an undergraduate psychology major. He and his cohorts collected data on criminal samples and from child molesters, at least one, who actually molested children and supposedly journaled about their orgasmic experiences, some as young as five months. Kinsey and his cohorts in academia and media also promoted the lie that his studies were representative of average Americans, whom he smeared as sexual hypocrites. Kinsey, who was in an open marriage, which included for him relations with both men and women, and an advocate of zoophilia, was actually just projecting his own unbridled twisted sexuality onto the general population. (see the book “Sexual Sabotage” by Dr. Judith Reisman for more on one of the founding fathers of the sexual revolution)

Many others who followed in Kinsey’s footsteps to promote “free love”, to encourage free sexual expression and discourage sexual restraint as “unnatural” (a reversal of the teaching of the Bible, i.e. Romans 1) have been no less unscrupulous.

In the late 1980’s Marshal Kirk, a researcher in neuropsychiatry, and Hunter Madsen, a PHD in political science and an expert in public persuasion and social marketing, wrote a book called “After the Ball: How America will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s” It has functioned as somewhat of a playbook for the LGBT agenda since it’s publication. Their philosophy and strategy echoes Kinsey and Alinksy.

Their goal was to offer strategies and tactics to be used to normalize and mainstream homosexuality in society, which necessarily includes the marginalization, even the intentional vilification of people who view homosexuality to be abnormal and immoral. Mass Resistance provides an long excerpt from their book that explains the basic strategy (see HERE).

Note that Kirk and Madsen were not concerned with accuracy, logical coherence, or factual evidence , as they say “our effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof.” They insist “we mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via media.” And regarding the media campaign they say, “it makes no difference that the ads are lies; not to us, because we’re using them to ethically good effect, to counter negative stereotypes that are every bit as much lies, and far more wicked ones; not to bigots, because the ads will have their effect on them whether they believe them or not.”

You can definitely hear echoes of Alinsky in Kirk and Madsen’s strategy, deceit being central and viewed as justified because of what they believe to be the ethical end. As reported several years ago by Albert Mohler (see HERE) the ruse suggested by Kirk and Madsen also involved intentionally false claims about the nature of homosexual orientation. They argue that, “for all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been born gay–even though sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors during childhood and early adolescence.”

The truth revealed in the second clause of their statement, after their suggestion of the useful fiction that gays are simply born that way, in their 1989 book is echoed in the current American Psychological Association (APA) statement on the causes of sexual orientation.

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

While, I don’t think it is too mysterious as to why people develop attractions for the opposite sex given the self-evident biological complementarity of males and females, the causes for same-sex and bisexual attractions are not as cut and dry as leftists have made out. The constant comparisons to race, in spite of the provable absurdity, continue to be promulgated through the media, academia, and government. They compare homosexuality, and now even gender identity disorder, with race or other immutable physical characteristics such as eye color, left-handedness, disability, anything but other sexual predilections and desires such as polyamory and consensual adultery (i.e.  swingers), which Kinsey claimed were also natural sexual desires worthy of expression and fulfillment, early and often.

Right now The Ad Council has a propaganda commercial right out of the Kirk and Madsen playbook, where a same-sex couple is paired with an interracial couple and two sisters, one of whom is disabled. In a shorter version of a longer video that is being repeatedly aired on national television across a broad spectrum of channels. The implication is that anyone who disagrees with homosexual relationships is the equivalent of racists, and even people who would hate children with disabilities. The longer version also includes a elderly heterosexual couple implying that to believe same-sex relationships to be immoral would be just as silly as being against older people having sex. Billboards promoting this same “Love is Love” LGBT advocacy campaign have been strategically placed near high schools and middle schools in the area I live in.(see full video here replete with a catchy tune and song lyrics repeating “I can’t change even if I tried, even if I wanted to”)

The leftist agenda including the LGBT agenda (and they obviously do have an agenda in spite of their “agenda? what agenda?” denials) has been intentionally promoted through deception, and ever increasingly, through suppression of the truth and oppression, yes, even discrimination against those who speak it. Dr Eric Walsh, who worked for the state of Georgia, just recently joined the growing ranks of those fired over their religious views because of the content of sermons he preached within the walls of his church on his own time (see HERE). There is a purge of traditional orthodox Christians from mainstream society underway, and it’s gaining steam. Even one of my liberal clergy colleagues said that conservative Christians should be forced to live like they did in the pioneer days if they refuse to change their beliefs.

Indeed mainline and progressive evangelical clergy and theologians have played a major role in supporting the left-wing political agenda. Many now insist that you can’t really love people and be following Jesus if you don’t go along with gender neutral bathrooms and locker rooms which is not really just about bathrooms, as much as it’s about forging a gender neutral society in the name of their vision of equality. I saw where one progressive clergy person quoted Galatians 3:28, obviously without reference to the immediate or overall Biblical context, which says in part that in Christ there is neither male nor female, to demand gender neutral bathrooms in the name of Jesus and equality insisting it is “a cut and dry” issue. But the same person probably insists that the commands against and warnings in the Bible about blurring gender distinctions are unclear and/or outdated, even the warnings of the same author of Galatians 3:28, the apostle Paul.

For years progressive theologians and clergy have followed the principle that Kirk and Madsen recommended for converting churches to their way of thinking: that is, muddying clear waters. Kirk and Madsen suggested that moral and theological arguments be employed to confuse the issue, to make it seem like the Bible may have never condemned homosexuality altogether in the first place. They weren’t suggesting something that hadn’t already been put into practice, they were just encouraging its more widespread use. (see HERE again Albert Mohler’s 2004 article about why the LGBT movement won)

Beginning in the 1960’s after the advent of the sexual revolution, biblical scholars, theologians, and progressive clergy began to put forth arguments to bring the traditional interpretation regarding the practice of homosexuality into question, suggesting with various and often contradictory arguments that not all forms of same-sex sex acts were condemned in Scripture. After decades of ultimately flawed and unsubstantiated arguments, many more liberal scholars and clergy are admitting that they really are simply rejecting the Bible’s teaching on sex as antiquated, even though some still try to muddy the waters first. As I have mentioned before in other articles,  New Testament scholar, Luke Timothy Johnson, who is liberal on the sexuality issue, puts it this way:

“The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says.” Later he goes on to say: “I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good.”

See full article where Johnson argues for the authority of experience in a way that he still somehow believes is being liberal in the name of the gospel, which is hard to see how that can be when the gospel is the fulfillment of the promise of the new covenant in which the laws of God are written on His people’s hearts by the Spirit.

I recommend the book “Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition” by Fortson and Grams which presents a mountain of evidence from primary sources that explains why liberal scholars like Luke Timothy Johnson admit that they are really rejecting Scripture not just reading it differently. The evidence they compile and the arguments they make from it puts the lie to the claims that the Bible and the Christian Tradition have been unclear regarding the immorality of homosexual practice, although some still try to maintain that line, but they do so contrary to the actual evidence. Of course some still sincerely believe that we have just misinterpreted the Bible or that it is unclear on the issue, but they are sincerely wrong.

I could go on, but I’m running out of time and the average blog readers attention span ran out a several paragraphs ago.

Nonetheless, by the admission of key leftists themselves their movement has gained ascendancy and cultural supremacy through deceit, vilification by ad hominem, and suppression of the opposing views through threat and intimidation. And yes Christians with conservative views on sex really are being discriminated against contrary to the original spirit of the First Amendment based on the false belief that so many have been indoctrinated into that same-sex sexual attraction and now transgender identity are akin to race or other immutable physical traits. So how should we respond?

We should not respond by cowering in fear; nor should we respond by shouting and screaming our views in rage, which, as Alinsky astutely noted, works to the advantage of those who seek to vilify us, and is just not right. Instead we should simply respond by courageously speaking the truth in love with compassion, especially for those who believe success in life depends on who can tell the best lies the loudest and relentlessly enough and that corruption and the will to power are the only options in life. The other option is surrender to the will of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit who delivers us from a world of domination and manipulation built on the sinking sand of deceit (see Galatians 6:7-10)

Truth can’t be propped up with lies; right can’t be aided by wrong; good needs not evil to further its ends. Truth requires truths courageously spoken in love. Followers of the Truth incarnate, who commanded, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37 KJV) to warn against taking the name of the Lord in vain and bearing false witness in any way, shape, or form, can only speak the truth in love. Anything else is inspired of the evil one, whom Jesus says is the father of lies and the spirit who inspires those who lie in accord with their own deceitful desires. We resort to lies when we want what we want more than what God wants. Sinful desires are born of rebellion and need lies to thrive. Jesus said the devil is the father of lies and the father of all liars (see John 8:31-47). The very word “devil” means one who slanders others. Amazingly he is one of those to whom Alinsky facetiously, but perhaps more seriously than he realized, dedicated his book, “Rules for Radicals” saying:

“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”   

Indeed, they are kindred spirits. But the good news is children of the devil can become children of God. People of the lie can become people of the Truth.

Ephesians 4:11-5 (ESV)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[d] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

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