I have to admit that one of the more pleasurable secondary effects of DOMA and Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional would be the collective meltdown of fundamentalist Christians from coast to coast. Yes, of course, we’re talking about striking down a law that has prevented same sex couples from being recognized from state to state or accessing the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples, and those are by far the most important … but I have to admit I’ll get a kick out of the frantic calls for prayer, the clutching of pearls, and the declaration that now … now … must be the beginning of the biblical End Times that they’ve been breathlessly anticipating for the last 2,000 years.
I say this because even now, some of the more vocal Christian soldiers out there have offered their predictions on the kind of world we’re going to be living in if same sex marriage is recognized on a federal level.
Two Fox News contributors, independently and in other outlets, made dire predictions along these lines. Todd Starnes, speaking on American Family Radio, argued that “persecution [of Christians] like we have never seen it” had “already started” as a consequence of the marriage equality movement:
STARNES: You know, it’s as if we’re second-class citizens now because we support the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage, or perhaps we are pro-life, and that means we’re somehow second-class citizens who don’t deserve to be in the public marketplace of ideas.
One of my favorite things about people like Starnes is that they use terms like “second-class citizen” and “persecution” an awful lot in order to rile up their base, but they don’t appear to have much of a grasp of what either one really means.
For example, ethnic / sexual minorities and women have often been considered second class citizens for various reasons, especially in terms of income equality, suffrage, or work opportunities. Christians – who make up roughly 85% of the total population of the US – are not going to be lumped into the same category because they’re no longer allowed to force other people to live by their own puritanical code of ethics.
Also, I’m pretty sure the government isn’t going to keep them from expressing their ideas in the “public marketplace”, but if those ideas involve denying rights to homosexuals based on their personal religion, then they should expect to have them dismissed outright.
RIOS (HOST): Absolutely. In fact, it’ll be worse than that. You know there’s going to be punishment. There will be tremendous punishment. If gay marriage is embraced by the country, if the Supreme Court goes south this week in its hearings, we are in for – of course, we’re not going to hear about it until June – but we are in for persecution like we have never seen it.
STARNES: Well, it’s already started.
By “already started”, I think he means the reduction of business revenue some places have seen in response to their refusing service to members of the public on the basis of their sexual orientation – like bakers, florists, or that tool who runs Chik-fil-a. Again, that’s not persecution; that’s free enterprise and capitalism. If you say and do things that a significant percentage of your customer base thinks is pretty boneheaded, your bottom line will suffer.
But last I checked, there are still no lions on the horizon. I know you guys were hopeful.
Another Fox News contributor, Erick Erickson, went further. Writing on RedState, a conservative blog that’s commonly read by Republican legislators, Erickson fantasized about a world where the United States government — with a Congress that is roughly 80 percent Christian — began terrorizing Christian institutions, shuttering Christian businesses for opposing marriage equality, and labeling Christians themselves criminals:
Any Christian who refuses to recognize that man wants to upend God’s order will have to be driven from the national conversation. They will be labeled bigots and ultimately criminals…Once the world decides that real marriage is something other than natural or Godly, those who would point it out must be silenced and, if not, punished. The state must be used to do this. Consequently, the libertarian pipe dream of getting government out of marriage can never ever be possible.
I’m glad there are people like Erik Erikson around to speak with the nation about the nature and content of “God’s Order”. I personally think he’s read a little too many “end times” tracts from your friend and mine, Jack Chick. (I have that dissection somewhere … I need to update it and post it here.)
Within a year or two we will see Christian schools attacked for refusing to admit students whose parents are gay. We will see churches suffer the loss of their tax exempt status for refusing to hold gay weddings. We will see private businesses shut down because they refuse to treat as legitimate that which perverts God’s own established plan. In some places this is already happening.
As I said before, there’s been some impact to private businesses that have refused to service some members of the public, but that’s a result of existing and potential consumers doing their business elsewhere. And, as Think Progress points out, every piece of legislation that allows for secular recognition of same-sex marriage has explicit wording to exempt religious institutions from having to comply. In other words, the law protects churches and their right to marry whomever they want according to their beliefs.
But hey, these guys are desperate for some persecution, and they’re not going to stop sliding down the slippery slope just because reality occasionally gets in the way. For the record, though, they might want to get a little perspective on what some of the early Christians had to deal with before the conversion of Constantine.
First, there’s Antipas of Pergamum
Many Christian traditions believe Saint Antipas to be the Antipas referred to in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:13) as the “faithful martyr” of Pergamon, “where Satan dwells”. According to Christian tradition, John the Apostle ordained Antipas as bishop of Pergamon during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred in ca. 92 AD by burning in a brazen bull-shaped altar used for casting out demons worshiped by the local population.
Some Christians pray to this saint for ailments of the teeth. [wtf?]
I can’t think of many great ways to end my time on this planet, but being roasted alive in a giant brass bull is probably of the exit routes I’d rather avoid. Then there was the apostle Bartholomew:
Christian tradition has three stories about Bartholomew’s death: “One speaks of his being kidnapped, beaten unconscious, and cast into the sea to drown. Another account states that he was crucified upside down, and another says that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albac or Albanopolis“, near Başkale, Turkey.
The account of Bartholomew being skinned alive is the most represented in works of art, and consequently Bartholomew is often shown with a large knife, holding his own skin (as in Michelangelo‘s Last Judgment), or both.
However Bartholomew really went, the consensus is that it wasn’t pretty. But hey, that was 2,000 years ago. In recent years, depending on where you live, there’s still plenty of mistreatment and abuse of people of all faiths – Christians included. Check out places like the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India … not very welcoming to people who believe in “God’s Order”.
So guys … in short, for perspective, that is persecution. You, on the other hand, are being told that you’re not allowed to hide behind your bible to tell other people how to live their lives. That’s called growing up. Now please … step into the 21st century, focus on your own sins instead of anyone else’s, and stop embarrassing yourselves.