5 Most Absurd, Self-Pitying Gripes of the Christian Right
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
To hear activists on the Christian right tell the story, the conservative Christian American—especially the male conservative Christian American—is the most oppressed, victimized person in the country, and perhaps the history of the world. It’s all utterly disingenuous, of course: painting themselves as victims creates a cover to actually victimize other people, usually by imposing their fanatical religious views. Here’s a rundown of various ways Christian conservatives paint themselves as victims, and who the real victims actually are.
1) The issue: Whether or not states should ban “gay conversion therapy” for minors who cannot, by definition, give their consent.
Who the right claims is being hurt: Christian parents whose supposed “freedom of religion” requires that they be allowed to try to force their kids to be straight. Matt Stave of the Liberty Counsel denounced banning this practice, calling it a “slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs.”
Who is actually being hurt: LGBT youth, whose actual rights to be themselves are being threatened by parents whose poor parenting decisions are tantamount to child abuse. Gay conversion “therapy” isn’t therapy in any real sense; actual therapy is about helping people become whole and well, which can only be achieved by gay and queer people by learning to accept their sexuality for what it is. These programs don’t actually convert anyone, something that even prominent “ex-gay” organizations finally had to admit. At best, they shove young people into the closet. The American Psychologial Association came out against gay conversion in 2009, and cited its use as a contributing factor to depression and even suicide.
But even if therapists did “convert” young people from gay to straight, that would not justify these programs. Religious freedom is something an individual possesses; if a young person decides to reject her parents’ religious teachings on sexuality, that is her right. Gay conversion non-therapy is not just an assault on young people’s right to wholeness, it’s an assault on their right to determine for themselves what religious beliefs to hold.
2) The issue: The new HHS regulations requiring insurance plans to cover, without a copay, an assorted list of preventive care, including contraception.
Who the right claims is being hurt: Religious business owners, whose “religious freedom” the right claims includes being able to deny earned benefits to employees, if they disagree with those employees personal choices. When Hobby Lobby sued to be exempted from the mandate, the suit cited the family that owns the business’s religious beliefs: “The administrative rule at issue in this case runs roughshod over the Green family’s religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing them to provide health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as related education and counseling.” (“Abortion-inducing” is a bit of rightwing speak that should be translated to “pregnancy prevention”.)
Who is actually being hurt: Everyone who pays into health insurance systems. The reason the Obama administration decided to make copay-free preventive services a benefit is that it maximizes the return on people’s healthcare investment, both in terms of their own health and saving costs down the line by preventing unnecessary health problems in the first place. Childbirth is incredibly expensive, and preventing unwanted childbirth promises to save both the immediate expenses and allow families to better prepare financially for when they do want children.
Again, the “religious freedom” argument being advanced by the right falls apart upon close inspection. Religious freedom is a right held primarily by individuals; having your boss impose his religious beliefs on you by manipulating your compensation is an infringement on your right to work without religious discrimination.