The Christianist Closet?

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 10 2014 @ 4:49pm

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In an angry rant, Dreher accuses me of being “smug and naive” when talking about the crosses that marriage equality opponents have to bear under the “new McCarthyism”:

It’s very, very easy for the self-employed Andrew, who is on the power-holding side of this cultural equation, to demean as “delicate and insensitive” people who face real and significant professional consequences for their religious dissent.

What I find so fascinating about Rod’s deployment of the “you’re too privileged to have a say” argument is that it’s exactly the same debating point once leveled at me by gay leftists. When I basically told gay people to stop thinking of themselves as victims and start thinking of themselves as equal citizens – one part of the case for putting military service and the right to marry at the forefront of the movement – there were howls of derision. But I remain convinced that the only way to escape the victim-trap was to transcend it. And that’s really my advice to Christianists: Get over yourselves and get on with your lives. Rod claims I am blind to terrible discrimination:

Sullivan’s complaint is disingenuous. I hear all the time from religious conservatives in various fields — in particular media and academia — who are afraid to disclose their own beliefs about same-sex marriage because most people within those fields consider opposition to SSM to be driven solely by hatred.

Earlier this year, I had a conversation with a man who is probably the most accomplished and credentialed legal scholar I’ve ever met, someone who is part of this country’s law elite. The fact that I can’t identify him here, or get into specifics of what he told me, indicates something important about the climate within law circles around this issue. On this issue, he lives in the closet, so to speak, within his professional circles, and explained to me why it has become too dangerous to take a traditionalist stand in law circles, unless one is prepared to sabotage one’s career.

Hand me the world’s tiniest violin. If someone is fired for his religious beliefs, he can sue (which is more than can be said for gay people fired for their orientation in many states). The rest is truly spectacular whining. There are always going to be social pressures that favor or disfavor certain views. What about a gun control enthusiast in rural Texas? Or a pro-choicer in Mississippi?

In a polarized polity, this may get worse for both sides. My view – and I don’t see how Rod can have ignored it – is maximal respect for sincerely held opinions. Just as many conservatives over the years have politely acknowledged without endorsing my marriage, so I politely acknowledge the convictions of Christianists, and seek dialogue with them. That’s how I’d like this to shake out. Only recently, for example, I defended Erick Erickson’s point in this debate. And insofar as there is gay intolerance or fanaticism, I oppose it as strongly now as I always have (including opposing outing).

But the hysteria and self-pity among those who, for centuries, enjoyed widespread endorsement for the horrible mistreatment of gay people really is too much. The victimology that was born on the left is now alive and whining on the right. It’s a self-defeating position and a thoroughly unattractive one. In the end, one begins to wonder about the strength of these people’s religious convictions if they are so afraid to voice them, and need the state to reinforce them. Which is one more reason why the decline of Christianism makes the rebirth of Christianity a more exciting prospect. Liberated from the state and social support, Christians may have to become what they once were: outsiders, prophets, the salt of the earth.

(Illustration: Memegenerator)