By D’Anne Witkowski
This is a watershed moment for religious leaders in the United States. Over 75 Christian leaders have come together to do a remarkable thing: They’ve signed a statement titled Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion (PFRC), which, according to the statement host Colson Center for Christian Worldview, is “a statement that affirms every American’s freedom to peacefully live their lives according to their beliefs and opposes government coercion or censorship of fellow citizens who have different views.” The signatories “are united by the idea that all laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are.”
When you consider the level of anti-Muslim hatred that helped Donald Trump win enough votes in the Electoral College (but not the popular vote. If only he could have gotten 3 million more racists to the polls!), Christian leaders coming together and speaking out in favor of religious freedom for every American, surely this truly groundbreaking folks. Maybe we can all get along.
Ha ha, just kidding. The statement has nothing to do with protecting religious rights for Muslims and everything to do with Christians demanding the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
According to Christianity Today, “The declaration follows months of conversations among Christian college leaders around the Fairness for All strategy, which would bring religious leaders and LGBT advocates together to try to secure satisfactory legal protections for both.”
The signers of the so-called “Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion” statement have two words for LGBTQ community: “Bye, Felicia.”
You see, what the Fairness for All coalition calls “compromise,” the PFRC calls “coercion.” In other words, they’re not so much in favor of LGBTQ people having any rights. At all.
“In recent years, there have been efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classifications in the law – either legislatively or through executive action,” the statement reads. “These unnecessary proposals … threaten basic freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association; violate privacy rights; and expose citizens to significant legal and financial liability for practicing their beliefs in the public square.”
I suspect that LGBTQ people didn’t have any input into this statement. Because basic civil rights protections are hardly “unnecessary.” In fact, LGBTQ people are still fighting for basic rights across the country. Marriage equality may be the law of the land (for now anyway), but people can still be fired in more than half the states in America simply for being, or being perceived as LGBTQ. This is the kind of thing the PFRC signers are fighting to “protect.”
These Christian leaders have this paranoid belief that Christianity is under attack in America, which couldn’t be further from the truth. When they have to come up with a secret hand signal that means “Merry Christmas,” as opposed to demanding that everyone say Merry Christmas only so that their fragile sensibilities are not damaged by the words, “Happy Holidays,” then they can start claiming they’re persecuted. Oh, and about that: I don’t know, but you’d think Christians, of all people, would set the bar a little higher when claiming persecution.
The signers conclude that the only good LGBTQ non-discrimination policy is NO non-discrimination policy. Ever. At all.
“We therefore believe that proposed [laws], including those narrowly crafted, threaten fundamental freedoms, and any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable.”
“Inherently inadequate and unstable?” You must be talking about the Trump/Putin administration.
Seriously though, it’s galling how in order to make this argument the signers have to completely disregard LGBTQ people are human beings capable and worthy of love.
But, hey, Christian leaders: enjoy your rapey adulterer Putin finger puppet in the White House. Looks like Santa, er, I mean, Jesus, has been very good to you this year!
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.