Persecuted persecutors?

Progressive Christian writer and missiologists Benjamin L. Corey wrote a very interesting post on the recent reactions of some Conservative Christians in America, to which I responded.


So Listen– It’s Not Religious Discrimination Just Because You Can’t Discriminate.

Earlier this week, the President signed an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. In a supposed civilized society with a separation of church and state, such a measure should be welcomed by all because anti-discrimination policies protect the rights of everyone.

For me, anti-discrimination laws transcend theology and personal opinion. I acknowledge that while I am a Christian, I am also a Christian who lives and who does commerce in a culture that is diverse– making certain rules for playing necessary. For starters, I don’t want a potential employer to be able to fire me simply because I am a Christian. Being a Christian is completely irrelevant to my ability to do a specific job and to be disqualified from employment on that basis, would be completely unfair. Anti-discrimination laws protect my right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” by ensuring my religious orientation cannot be used as a way to shut me out from competing in the public sector.

Regardless of my theology on human sexuality, I see anti-discrimination policies for the LGBT community the same way I see them for myself– they too have a right to compete in the public sector and have the right to hold jobs they are qualified for without an aspect of their identity disqualify them from working. It’s a little something we call…. fair.

You can’t fire me because I’m an Anabaptist, and I can’t fire you because of the gender you’re attracted to.

Really simple stuff that we should all say “this is fair and good for society” regardless of our particular theology on any given subject.

However, the new anti-discrimination policy for government contractors isn’t exactly being celebrated in our Christian community. Instead, many are crying that the sky is falling, that our religious liberties are under attack– you know, more “help, help, I’m being oppressed!” Monty Python type stuff.

 Here’s what Michael Brown called the move by the White House:

“This was an outrageous act of discrimination against religion in the name of anti-discrimination—an act of bullying people of faith in the name of the prevention of bullying.”

So yeah, apparently we’re being “bullied” because in exchange for accepting government funds we have to agree not to fire people for being gay.

Poor us.

So listen– I think we as Christians need to set something straight before we go any further:

It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others.

It’s not any of those things.

In fact, we should actually be embarrassed that we even have to be told that it’s wrong to fire someone for these reasons. Your place of business is NOT the same thing as your church– if you want to accept government funds, you’ll have to play by a set of rules that keeps it fair for everyone. Both for you, and everyone else.

I’ve discussed the issue of the persecution complex here in the West, and nearly every time, some folks write to me and tell me how wrong I am– that yes, Christians are under attack and being persecuted. Whenever that happens and I ask for specific examples, I am almost always listed out examples of how we’re not allowed to persecute others.

But this isn’t persecution– it’s not even close.

I can’t help but think how self centered we’re going to look when we get to heaven and go through the awkward introductions in the persecuted section:

“Hi, my name is Peter. They crucified me on a cross upside down.”

“Hi, my name is Stephen. They smashed my head in with rocks.”

“Hi, my name is Polycarp. They tried to burn me at the stake but I didn’t catch on fire so they stabbed me to death”.

“Hi, my name is William Tyndale. They chocked me to death at the stake and then burned by body.”

“Hi, my name is Michael Brown. They told me that if I wanted my business to be able to accept government funds that I couldn’t fire people simply because of their sexual orientation.”

You see? It doesn’t actually line up with the experiences of the Christians who have come before us– Christians who actually were bullied and persecuted.

Let’s be honest: I think we’re going to look a little silly in eternity if we keep up this persecution and “I’m being bullied” stuff. For those of us poised to lead the next generation of Jesus followers into a better cultural expression of Christianity, one of the first things we need to do is to stop pretending we’re victims. It’s not attractive. It’s not helping. It’s not even true.

One doesn’t become the victim of bullying when they’re told that they can’t make others the victim of bullying. That doesn’t even make sense.

Instead, let us embrace the fact that we actually do live in a country where we are both free to practice our religion but also where there are certain rules in the public sector that keep things fair for everyone, and that these foundational rules are actually good and right.

Here was my answer.


This was really a great post Ben!

On my blog I’ve dealt a lot with the topic of homosexuality, arguing it is not sinful, illustrating that its rejection is utterly groundless and calling up Conservative Christians to apply the Golden Rule towards Gay people. .

You’re entirely right it’s utterly wrong and disgusting to feel discriminated because you no longer have the right to socially or economically discriminate people on grounds of their sexual orientation. Actually I think that all Continental European Conservatives who oppose Gay marriage wholeheartedly agree with that very principle (and most of them are not particularly religious).

BUT I think that the liberal (or political correct) lobby runs off the rails when it starts using propaganda and political pressure for changing the mind of people concerning homosexuality.

This is what the French government attempted to do and instead of increasing the acceptance of Gays and Lesbians, it raised resentment against them.

Some of my Conservative readers called my attention to the fact that people are being fired JUST because they are morally opposed to homosexuality, and I find that extremely misguided, wrong and egregious for many reasons I have outlined here.

People who fell victims of such punishment are likely to develop a real HATRED towards homosexuals which wasn’t there as they still had their livelihood.

When looking at the American culture war, I realize I am very often much closer to Liberal than to Conservative positions, but I can’t completely side with the formers because they often act in an unjust and unproductive manner.
I think the situation would be much better if BOTH liberals and conservatives were to let go of their deep-seated moral indignation and realize their opponents might be neither crazy, ignorant nor evil.


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Crude’s concern: progressive Christians and firing political opponents


As a progressive Christian, I have repeatedly argued that homosexuality is NOT a sinful lifestyle and that committed gay couples should be welcomed into the Church. This has clearly infuriated many of my Conservative readers who feel that they are being bullied into accepting gay marriage.

Crude wrote:

“I have seen the “progressives” defend laws that force Christians to take part in gay weddings – knowing full well that these Christians will be targeted by activists and forced to compromise their principles. They do it with glee, smiling happily and feeling all warm at the thought that somewhere out there a person who disapproves of gay marriage is going to have their feet put to the fire, and that if they don’t do as they’re fucking told, the government will step in and punish them severely. I see these “progressives” cheering when someone is fired from their job when they’re outed as having supported Proposition 8 in California, or if they disapprove of gay marriage. I do not consider these minor issues. These are situations where government – the men with guns and the power to take your property, your children, your livelihood – are being used as the tool of choice to advance a political agenda that ultimately comes down to requiring people to give their active blessing to any and all sexual acts deemed ‘good’ by the morality police. The “progressive” Christians know this. They embrace it. They say “Civil Rights!” and that’s all that needs to be said, as far as they’re concerned, no matter how goddamn inane it is to try and extend civil rights to a sexual act….”


Common ground between Conservative and progressive Christians


He further wrote

“But I will say one thing. Lothar has written critically about France’s historical attempts to purge the German language from their country, in the interests of having a nice, unified french-speaking nation. He has called this cultural genocide. But the fact is, cultural genocide is exactly what he ultimately endorses with regards to conservative Christians, more or less across the board. I say it with a heavy heart – it is hard to criticize someone who has been consistently considerate with me like this. But the idea of having common ground with “progressives” now truly appears to me as little more than the grounds for a work of fiction, one that is particularly fantastical – and it was that hope for common ground that drove a lot of my silence and hesitancy previously. The hope is gone.”


But Conservative and progressive Christians do have a strong common ground. We all believe that every good law should serve the well being and flourishing of mankind, an aspect which stands at the very center of Jesus ethical teaching, as I once argued.


We might disagree about how this plays out (and whether some dogmas widely regarded as sacred are conductive to the blooming of our kind) but we certainly hold fast to the same principle.

Furthermore, we also believe that the main goal of our existence is to become increasingly better persons, to grow in our capacity to give and receive love and to fulfill the Golden Rule. Given this, it is extremely depressing to see people in BOTH camps resorting to a hateful rhetoric rather than trying to understand each others and having a constructive dialog.

It is never right to be  aggressive towards nice and respectful opponents.


With this all in mind, I’m going explain why progressive Christians ought to actively oppose firing people on the only ground of their being against Gay marriage.


The lovelessness of political liberalism

First of all, it is an extraordinarily unloving and disproportionate punishment for this alleged “offense”. Most people don’t do this because they are mean but because they are sincerely convinced it is wrong.

Even as I was a secular Frenchman, I was against a gay lifestyle because I had many prejudices, projected my own heterosexual disgust onto the objective reality and (more importantly) hadn’t read the story and suffering of committed and decent homosexuals. But I never had any evil intention.


Now let us suppose that John is a middle-class American worker who is sincerely convinced that practiced homosexuality is wrong yet also oppose violence and oppression against homosexuals. Let us now suppose it became known he refused to participating in a gay wedding in his enterprise and was consequently fired.
He did not manage to find a new job and livelihood and one year later he live in a poor apartment and his family has no longer access to any good healthcare.

Could you really look him and his children in the eyes and say: “You got what you deserve!” ?


Promotion of homophobia

In a previous post, I argued that by systematically refusing to recognize the reality of anti-white racism (and confusing criticism of multi-culturalism with incitement to racial hatred), the French political establishment fosters the racism of white people by making them resentful.

I think that bullying people (or even worse firing them) because they oppose homosexual marriage has pretty much the same effect: it increases homophobia instead of promoting tolerance towards gay people. This can also be observed in France where governmental pressure for defending gay marriage has led to an increased homophobia which is all too visible in many French forums, chats and social medias.

To reuse my example above, how would John now struggling with poverty react if he received a petition asking him to step in on behalf of persecuted Gay people in Uganda?

It is not implausible at all he would react by screaming “I don’t give a fuck about them!” whereas he would have been touched and supported them before getting fired.


Striving for a just and moral society

File:Brendan Eich Mozilla Foundation official photo.jpg

(Brendan Eich: former president of Mozilla fired for his past opposition to gay marriage)


Consequently, I exhort all my progressive Christian readers to speak out against the firing of opponents to Gay marriage and any other political persecution.

It is worth noting I am far from being the only progressive Christian with such an opinion.

Sheila, one of my regular commentators, wrote:

“I understand Crude’s frustration, however. I think it is wrong to go after someone’s livelihood because that person disagrees with your point of view. What’s not being reported enough about the Mozilla kerfuffle is the fact that the IRS leaked his tax return. That’s a clear violation of the law, but no one will be held accountable. (IMHO)

I am in favor of gay marriage. But I visited Chik-Fil-A on “CFA Day” because it is wrong to try to destroy a man’s business over his personal political views. If someone on the Right tried to destroy Starbucks, I’d waste my money on its overpriced coffee to show my support for its right to support gay marriage.

No one on either the Right or the Left ought to be targeted for total destruction because of a personal opinion.

This nation is about freedom. It gets messy when diametrically opposed civil liberties clash. But no one should seek the destruction of, or the power of the government against, another person based on political views. It’s abhorrent.

I am sure others will come out too.


Distinguishing between mere criticism and bullying


That said, I want all my conservative readers to know that I will keep arguing in favor of gay marriage in the months (and probably years, if not centuries) to follow. But I will try to do this in a respectful way, trying to guess how I would react if my ideas were criticized in a similar way.

Falling infinitely short of perfection, it is inevitable I will make mistakes and write things I will regret shortly thereafter (a problem which is gravely compounded by my own impulsive nature).


Therefore I’d be glad if one could then send me an email at: lotharson57@gmail.com_ (the final _ stands here for avoiding my email to get massively spammed as this recently occurred).