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Ridicule Replaces Reason in Religious Liberty Debates

By Laurie Higgins

"Swallowing half an hour before closing time that second dose of soma had raised
a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds"
(Aldous Huxley, Brave New World).

I'll give it a go once more for the intellectually lazy and socially insulated "progressives" out there who, when discussing issues related to homosexuality, refuse to address questions regarding basic presuppositions and logical consequences. For example, Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke just wrote a silly and condescending column in the Chicago Tribune about the serious issue of religious liberty in which he revealed his own ignorance of the topic.

"Progressives" like Huppke replace serious intellectual thought and rigor with ridicule and condescension in their quest to impose their homosexuality-affirming dogma on the entire country. Unfortunately in a country hypnotized by the digital soma that spews from Hollywood, this retreat from intellect works.

Huppke's "argument" includes the following:

1.) First, he trivializes the real concerns of conservative people of faith that they will be required to contribute to a same-sex "wedding" celebration. He trivializes this concern through exaggeration, saying that conservatives fear that homosexuals will "flock to bakeries run by people whose faith denounces gay marriage."

Well, he's surely correct in saying that homosexuals won't "always" seek the services of orthodox Christian, Jewish or Muslim business owners, but that's hardly reassuring to those who have been, are currently, and will in the future be sued by those homosexuals who do intentionally seek those businesses out.

2.) He trivializes the religious liberty component central to the debate by saying that though "Americans have many serious issues to worry about?unemployment, education?one issue rises above all others?gay wedding cake." He further describes efforts to protect religious liberty as efforts to oppose the "menace of gay wedding cakes."

Perhaps Huppke and his ideological compeers aren't aware that cultural change?including radical cultural change?rarely happens through a single cataclysmic event, but rather through the slow accretion of small events or seemingly trivial ideas that society ignores, accommodates, or embraces. Using the force of government to compel property owners to violate their faith in even seemingly small matters constitutes a significant erosion of religious liberty.

3.) Huppke mocks Christian beliefs about the nature of homosexuality through his neologism "gaynosity." He explains that a number of states are considering "religious liberty laws that would allow bakers?or photographers, or florists, or, I suppose, plumbers?to deny service to gay couples if the business owner's faith is compromised by the gay couple's gaynosity."He might be surprised to learn that many Christians do not believe that homosexuals choose their feelings. What they actually believe is that those who affirm a "gay identity" choose to place their unchosen feelings at the center of their identity and choose to act on them. So, while their feelings are not chosen, their (to use Huppke's insulting term) "gaynosity" is. Where orthodox Christians most disagree with "progressives" is on the Left's assumption that homosexual acts are morally neutral or morally good?which, of course, is not a fact.

4.) Huppke and virtually every other "progressive" trot out that bedraggled, old false analogy which holds that homosexuality is analogous to African American descent, comparing the efforts of Blacks to gain access to government schools and restaurants to homosexuals forcing businesses to provide their goods and services for an event that violates their religious convictions.

Homosexuality per se has no points of correspondence to skin color, but Huppke never addresses that pesky little fact. And Christian business owners are not refusing to serve homosexuals. They're refusing to use their labors in the service of a ceremony that the God they serve abhors. But Huppke doesn't address that pesky fact either.

5.) Then Huppke goes off the humor rails in a juvenile faux-interview with well-known Illinois homosexual activist Rick Garcia, asking him inane questions that mock what the socially insulated, intellectually lazy "progressives" assume orthodox Christians believe:

"Rick?are you still gay?
"Did you find that [eating a gay wedding] cake made you more gay?"
"Do you believe gay wedding cakes can turn people gay?"
"What is it about wedding cakes baked by gay marriage opponents that makes (sic) them so irresistible to gay people? Does the sinfulness of the occasion enhance the taste of the cake?"
6.) Huppke thinks he has discovered a heretofore hidden conservative inconsistency. He argues that the claim of Christian bakers that using their labors in the service of a homosexual "wedding" means they're "complicit in a gay marriage" is at odds with the claim of gun manufacturers who argue that their sale of a gun to someone who later commits a crime does not make them complicit in the crime. But selling a legal product to someone who without the gun manufacturer's (or seller's) knowledge intends to use it for an immoral act is patently not analogous to creating and selling a product with the certain knowledge that it will be used exclusively for an immoral act. There is no other purpose for the wedding cake other than the non-marital, faux-wedding, which is the immoral act.

What else should business owners be compelled by the government to do in violation of their consciences?and remember, Christian bakers, florists, and photographers are not refusing to sell their products to homosexuals. They're refusing to sell their products for a particular event:

Should a male Muslim photographer who would be willing to photograph the pre-wedding preparations of groomsmen be compelled also to photograph the pre-wedding preparations of the bridal party, which would entail violating his religious beliefs about interactions with women?
Should a Catholic photographer be compelled to photograph the annual Easter "Hunky Jesus" contest (WARNING: SOME EXPLICIT PHOTOS) in San Francisco, which is hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of "cross-dressing nuns," and starts with an Easter egg hunt for children?
Should an Evangelical Christian be compelled to photograph a commitment ceremony for five polyamorists, two males, two females and one genderless (aka "neutrois")?
If Kermit Gosnell had sought to hire a cleaning service owned by a pro-life Christian to clean aborted baby parts out of his refrigerator, should she be prohibited from refusing?
Some may raise objections to these questions, arguing that they don't illustrate discrimination based on "sexual orientation." First, I would once again remind them that Christian business owners are not refusing to serve homosexuals. Christian business owners are refusing to use their services for particular kinds of events. They're perfectly willing to sell cakes and flowers to homosexuals?whose orientation they have no way of knowing anyway. Second, just wait a few years; polyamorists are going to be clamoring for their right to have their sexual desires and volitional sexual acts identified as a "sexual orientation."

This type of objection should raise the more important question: Is "sexual orientation" a valid protected category? No, it's not. Historically protected categories were constituted by objective, morally neutral conditions like biological sex, race and ethnicity, and nationality. Homosexuality, in contrast, is constituted solely by subjective feelings and volitional acts on which there is no moral consensus. If "progressives" had any real interest in consistency, they would insist on protecting all members of groups that are constituted by subjective feelings and morally dubious volitional acts. This would mean adding all paraphilias to our anti-discrimination policies and laws. Logical consistency would demand that sadists, masochists, minor-attracted persons (MAPS), frotteurists, and zoophiliacs be protected for they are members of groups constituted by subjective feelings and often volitional sexual acts that are virtually always unchosen, powerful, and persistent.

But if we "protect" all groups constituted by subjective feelings and volitional acts, what happens not only to our religious liberty but also to our liberty to freely associate and assemble? What else do we base our diverse associations on other than feelings, beliefs, and volitional acts?

Though Huppke intended his Garcia interview to mock conservatives, what it really accomplishes is to reveal his own ignorance of what thoughtful Christians actually believe. It's curious that "progressive" media pundits like Huppke rarely seem to find time to interview serious conservative theologians and legal scholars from academia who are writing on this topic. Many "progressives" have no idea who the conservative scholars are who are writing on topics related to homosexuality. Nor do they engage the serious ideas that inhere this discussion. The reasons for those intellectual failures are either ignorance or fear that their "arguments" don't pass rational muster.

When "progressive" pundit Kirsten Powers recently outed herself as a born-again believer (whose theology needs some work), she made yet another astonishing revelation: Before her religious conversion at age 38, she did not know any Christians. As disciples of diversity and militants of multiculturalism, the social and intellectual insularity of so many "progressives" is both astonishing and ironic.

"Progressives" don't really want to engage in a reasoned argument on this or any other topic related to sexual deviance. They don't really want to debate in a serious way the ideas proposed by smart, well-educated dissenters. This in part explains why public high school teachers censor virtually all resources that espouse conservative views on the nature and morality of homosexuality (the other reason is arrogant self-righteousness). And so "progressives" leap nimbly over arguments with unctuous sophistic non-arguments and mockery. If they're not simply mocking, they're reaching into their cornucopia of fallacies. In Huppke's short piece, we can find these fallacies: false analogy, straw man, and ad hominem (the fav of "progressives").

The only funny part of Huppke's lamentable article was his very last sentence in which he described his interview with Garcia as a "reasoned argument."

This article has been reprinted here by permission of the author after original publication at Encourage and Teach, published by the Diocese of Arlington.

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