One of the hallmarks of right wing political strategy is to borrow the language of their opponents and flip reality on its head. Want to protect gay kids from bullying? You’re bullying Christians! Want to keep businesses from discriminating? You’re discriminating against Christians! Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage told activists on a conference call recently to keep doing that:
Whether it’s being forced to photograph a ceremony that you don’t agree with, forced to create a same-sex marriage wedding cake that you don’t agree with, whatever it is, that’s a very different thing than saying this is somehow Jim Crow all over again. In fact, it’s the reverse. What proponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to do is to coerce Americans to leave their faith at the door when they enter the public square, leave their faith at the door if they own a business.
So, when they bring up discrimination, we need to turn it on its head and say, this is about anti-religious, specifically in some cases, anti-Christian religious bigotry, and there’s no place for this in this country. The discrimination is there, but right now what’s happening is the discrimination is coming from those that want to punish, repress and marginalize individuals and organizations that stand up for their religious beliefs.
And what they’re trying to do is to constrain religious liberty to a new term: freedom of worship. Well, our founders didn’t die and come here for freedom of worship, they came here for religious liberty, to practice in the public square, not only within their houses of worship what they believed, but to go out into the community and act on it. And this is one of the important points when we debate this, is to not accept this new language of quote-unquote ‘freedom of worship.’ We believe in religious liberty, we believe in freedom of conscience. We don’t accept the idea that people should be punished in the public square for trying to live out the Gospel call.
That entire last paragraph is a lie, of course. The rest is just nonsense. The Jim Crow laws were a set of laws that, in part, allowed businesses to discriminate against black people. The owners of those businesses quite often used religious justifications for that discrimination. Ending those laws and preventing discrimination on the basis of race is very much like preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As so often is the case, the Christian right flips reality over on its head and pretends that up is down and war is peace.