It may have escaped your notice, but the recent Supreme Court ruling granting federal marriage rights to LGBT citizens didn’t delight everyone.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, for example, was compelled to take to the airwaves shortly after the ruling to declare that the court had done nothing less than “destroy[ing] the institution of God.”
Then Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz bemoaned that, “The last 24 hours at the United States Supreme Court were among the darkest hours of our nation.”
Darkest hours of our nation? Like Pearl Harbor or 9/11? Really? Who knows what news outlets these two were looking at, because the rest of the nation was looking at a simple outpouring of joy.
“I never thought it could happen in our lifetime,” John Stevens, 63, a retired computer programmer, told The New York Times, before marrying his longtime partner on June 29.
None of Cruz’s terrifying darkness was in evidence. But to hear religious conservatives tell it, the historic ruling will soon bring about the destruction of the country, the west and the world. Reliably out-there kooks like Glenn Beck couldn’t wait to prophecy the coming ruination.
Before the Supreme Court ruled Beck was predicting that 50 percent of all U.S. churches would quickly disappear. “This could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine,” he announced on his news channel.
“I am on now public airwaves, regulated by the federal government. If I say or anybody on this show says they’re for traditional marriage -- which I am in my personal life -- I don’t believe the government has any place in it. That now puts this radio broadcast in jeopardy.”
To date no one has burst into his studio to handcuff him, however. Not for the first time, no one cared enough to make another one of his paranoid predictions come true.
“I want you to know, nothing is going to change overnight,” Beck continued in a terrified whisper. “Things are going to happen, like somebody is going to sue a church. ‘You have to now marry me.’ Then that’s going to have to go all the way to the Supreme Court. So we have years of these things happening, but it’s going to open up the floodgates. It’s going to open up the floodgates.”
Do you imagine there will be a flood of gay people bursting into Catholic churches and demanding they be wed by a priest? That didn’t happen in Ireland, where it’s never been hard to find priests, so I very much doubt it will happen here.
Beck isn’t telling the truth and he knows it. The Supreme Court ruling explicitly forbids the coercion of a religious leader to perform a same sex marriage.
But Beck’s low information listeners don’t know that fact and are easily manipulated by his cynical claims. If he tells them their world is ending, even with abundant proof to the contrary, they will believe him.
It’s all part of a plan. Religious conservatives have been busy building up what they call a religious freedom argument for months now. Anticipating a sweeping victory for their LGBT opponents at the Supreme Court, they had to cast about for a new way to oppress the people they absolutely insist on feeling superior to.
So these so-called religious freedom bills are just a new way to store old whines in new bottles. They are blunt attempts to turn gay equality back into inequality.
When asked if it should be legal to discriminate against gays a majority of Americans, including Republicans, say it should not be. The only way to get them on board now is to lie to them and frighten them like Beck does.
When the framers of the Constitution wrote religious freedom into the founding documents, they also wrote freedom from religion into them too. That distinction is precious and eternal and religious conservatives want you to forget it.
But the truth is that people who believe in God are no more qualified to receive legal privileges than those who may not. In a democracy, every citizen is entitled to equal rights.