Last week’s Supreme Court decision establishing marriage equality as a constitutionally protected right elicited a meltdown on the right, with lawmakers like Ted Cruz calling it “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”
But the reaction from right-wing Christians has been even more absurd, complete with invocations of everyone from Satan to Hitler, with some civil disobedience courtesy a strained reading of Martin Luther King, Jr. thrown in for good measure.
The tantrums stem less from any actual disagreement over the ruling than a feeling of powerlessness as the religious right loses the political traction that only a dozen years ago made them central players in American politics. In fact, it was the social conservative vote in 2004, energized by a slew of anti-gay marriage state amendments on the ballot that year, that gave George W Bush his reelection.
That turned out to be the last hurrah for the religious right, which has stayed home the past two elections as their issues have receded from the national debate. Ultimately, what the religious right got in exchange for their 2004 votes was a decade of gay rights progress, culminating in the legalization of same-sex marriage. That’s what they’re mad about, even if they express it in the apocalyptic terms of America’s moral meltdown.
Martial Law to Satanism
“Christians are being taken off the face of the earth,” End Times radio host Rick Wiles warned last week, citing a prophecy that President Barack Obama would begin a “martial law” campaign against religious freedom. (In a moment of epic talking-point singularity, one blog even wondered if Jade Helm, the military training exercise the right believes is a prelude to martial law, will be used to implement the Court’s decision.)
“We are in the Soviet Union now,” conservative radio host Michael Savage intoned on his show this week, referencing an Idaho chapel that incorrectly believed it would be forced to perform same-sex marriages. (A new law exempted it.)
But no sooner were we in Communist Russia than we were in Rome. “Gays will cheer,” he continued. “As they start throwing pastors in prison, you’ll see who’ll cheer them. Next we’ll get the arena and the lions, get the arena and the lions and bring them in from Tunisia.”
Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver said the ruling had less to do with equality under the law than with perverting actually reality—so much so that it counted as demonic.
"It is not about the institution of marriage; it is about having the protection, the legal status, it's about using that as a hammer to crush anyone who believes in objective reality,” he said this week to Matt Barber. “This is literally a satanic attack.”
Staver wasn’t the only one linking the decision to the big man downstairs. “We can talk about a flag all we want, but the Devil is taking control of this land,” said State Senator Lee Bright of South Carolina, diverting a debate Monday about the Confederate flag to bemoan the Satan-induced fall of American morality on the Senate floor.
Some believe the decision wasn’t a prelude to anything, but that the U.S. had already become hell on earth. “Underneath the left’s golden cobblestones of good will, not far down the road they are taking America, is the left’s utopia — you will come to know it as hell,” WorldNetDaily’s Craige McMillan asserted, amidst Stalin and Hitler references.
“Underneath the left’s pretty face, it has only ever been about raw, naked power. They view humanity as endlessly malleable and themselves as the sculptor. Having ascended to the levers of statist power from the institutions they first corrupted, they now intend to use that power to reshape men, women and children into their own creation.”
“Only two paths now lie ahead,” he concluded. “Repentance or destruction.”
Or resistance. “There’s a coming a day, I believe, that many Christians personally and churches corporately will need to practice civil disobedience on this issue.”
Such was the warning of Jack Graham, Prestonwood Baptist Church preacher, just one week before the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage. Graham said that 16 million Baptists were “prepared to go to jail” if the ruling went against them.
If that sounded hyperbolic, those who repeated his stance in the present tense sounded even more unhinged once gay marriage was the law of the land. Calling the majority’s ruling “a bohemian word salad,” Matt Barber quoted Scripture (“we must obey God rather than men”) in soliciting resistance against the decision.
“In the Spirit of Daniel the prophet and MLK the reverend, we Christians must now engage, as relates our peaceful response to the imposition of counterfeit same-sex ‘marriage,’ in widespread civil disobedience,” Barber wrote, one of many attempts to hitch Martin Luther King, Jr. to the cause. “It’s the right thing to do. In fact, it’s a sin if we don’t.”
“As many in the early church refused to bow a knee to Caesar in worship, so, too, will many modern Christians refuse, under any circumstances, to obey any court opinion or man-made law that presumes to make sin obligatory.”
Mike Huckabee, perhaps the most prominent of several Christian conservatives running for the GOP nomination, mainstreamed the clarion call for civil disobedience on the Sunday shows.
"I don't think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice,” he told host George Stephanopoulos. "They either are going to follow God, their conscience and what they truly believe is what the scripture teaches them, or they will follow civil law."
"They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all," he added. (Of course, the contemporary versions of Mike Huckabee were not so keen on King’s letter or subsequent actions.) "And I do think that we're going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision."
And that’s the mild version. In the wake of the SCOTUS decision, those invoking King rather than the Nazis were practically calm. See right-wing blogger Sylvia Thompson, who warned that civil disobedience was the only thing stopping the fascistic rise of gay Nazism.
“It is a given that the pernicious court system aided by a lawless Obama administration will act viciously toward opposing Christians, with a force matching that of Hitler’s Nazi regime,” she wrote last week.
“More and more Americans will be persecuted, prosecuted, and imprisoned as this Court ruling goes into effect…[and] eventually the persecuted will stop accepting lawless court rulings that result in their bankruptcy and Naziesque brainwashing sessions (‘sensitivity training’) that are punishment for noncompliance with evil…All of America will then grasp what homofascism truly means, as the Germans eventually grasped what Nazism meant.” (The Germans were the Nazis, but whatevs.)
As the warnings evoked fascism, the calls for disobedience repeatedly evoked the Civil Rights Movement, a religious-based movement that used Scripture to compel the expansion of rights, not their constrictions.
“I see the way forward, it’s the civil rights movement all over again,” one pastor told Breitbart. “Before this is over, it will take civil disobedience. We will not set aside our religious beliefs over this. We will urge Christians to massively disobey any law that invades our religious freedom.”
But what does disobedience mean? Conservatives have their first example in the Oregon baker fined for refusing service to a same-sex couple, and who is vowing to fight the state’s ruling. "For years, we’ve heard same-sex marriage will not affect anybody," the owner said. "I’m here firsthand to tell everyone in America that it has already impacted people. Christians, get ready to take a stand. Get ready for civil disobedience."
So, no cakes then. Meanwhile, Eagle Forum president Ed Martin wondered if the entire judiciary should be overthrown in the wake of the ruling. Saying Goliath “taunted Israel like the Supreme Court taunted us with this ruling,” Martin called for the impeachment of Judge Anthony Kennedy, the deciding vote and author of the majority opinion.
Kennedy “has really put himself up as the king of America in a way that the founders would have recognized as a discussion point for an impeachable offense,” Martin said. If your response is he should learn more about the courts, remember that a former Solicitor General believes much the same thing.
Then there are the people who just flat out don’t understand the Supreme Court’s ruling. Think of the guy who responded to Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation with “Well I’m going to self-identify as the President” and switch it to marriage.
Who’s gonna run with this lump of genius? Whitewater Crossing Christian Church senior paster David Vaughn, that’s who. After all, if men can marry men now, why can’t he marry bacon?!?
“My wife has suspected it for quite some time,” he wrote. “My family has accepted it. I hope you do too. In fact, I demand it, so don’t criticize me or be intolerant. That would be ‘ham’aphobic. This doesn’t hurt ‘non-bacon’ marriages in any way, and I’ve been reading all kinds of scientific journals that tell me it won’t hurt my children (bacon bits) either since they will be in a home of love.”
“The definition of Marriage has evolved like society, and I am so glad that now my sizzling union is protected by the Constitution, and promoted by my president. I may even flirt some with my new bride’s sister — turkey-bacon. I’m going to go hog wild.”
He even fit in a self-identification joke. Whatever makes him feel better.