Brian Brown Has No Idea What the Jim Crow Laws Were

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.

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  • alanb

    But being forced to bake a wedding cake is exactly like having to drive 100 miles out of your way to find a place to spend the night, or having to eat restaurant food out in the alley with the garbage and the rats, or being lynched for whistling at a white woman.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    “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.”

    Don’t forget the maxim that ignorance is strength: they are very… um… strong about that one.

  • Richard Smith

    our founders didn’t die and come here for freedom of worship

    So, were the founders zombies, or vampires?

  • Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    “religious liberty, to practice in the public square,”

    Is it even worth mentioning that Jesus himself, in Matthew 6:5-6. specifically forbade this?

    Nah. Even the words of their supposed founder (and, you know, creator of the universe) are meaningless in the face of their religious privilege.

  • John Pieret

    Poor Lester Maddox, victim of anti-religious, anti-Christian religious, bigotry because he stood up for his sincere religious belief in the God-mandated separation of the races.

  • Sastra

    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.

    The minute religion comes into the “public square” it’s up for debate. No more appeals to one’s own “faith” and personal “choice.” You take your chances on the common ground.

    And when you want to bring religion into government, now you’re really pushing it. Watch the arguments get very ugly.

  • Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Aw, Richard Smith beat me to it :(

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Last I heard, … Jim Crow laws …, in part, allowed compelled businesses to discriminate against black people.

  • M can help you with that.

    Stevarious @ 4 —

    Is it even worth mentioning that Jesus himself, in Matthew 6:5-6. specifically forbade this?

    Seriously. There are times when I’m tempted to change my last name to “6:5-6.” Or have cards made that just say “Matthew 6:5-6” so I can pass them out whenever appropriate. I’d have to order in bulk.

  • Phillip IV

    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.

    Completely aside from the fact that there’s no legitimate basis for that at all, what is heartening is that Brown seems completely oblivious to the fact that that’s a horribly bad strategy. You can say what you want against Brown’s predecessor, Maggie Gallagher (and I could say a lot of things against her), but at least she understood the need to cloak the religious bigotry into rational-seeming, pseudo-secular arguments (cf. Regnerus study). Brown’s strategy essentially puts the spotlight on the greatest weakness of the anti-marriage-equality movement, the lack of a convincing rational argument.

  • weatherwax

    #1 alanb: “But being forced to bake a wedding cake is exactly like having to drive 100 miles out of your way to find a place to spend the night, or having to eat restaurant food out in the alley with the garbage and the rats, or being lynched for whistling at a white woman.”

    My only disagreement is that it should be: Being lynched because someone thought maybe you looked at a white woman. Or because we feel like lynching somebody and you happen to be here.

  • busterggi

    Richard Smith @ 3 – America wasn’t founded by a zombie or vampire but I think something else was supposedly started by someone returning from the grave.

  • abb3w

    I’m wondering if this “Jim Crow 2.0” is a meme starting to spread; another sighting here.

  • gardengnome

    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.

    Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

  • mauriletremblay

    Pierce R. Butler made the point that I was going to make. Jim Crow laws mandated segregation — often to the displeasure of business owners who believed they could have earned more money otherwise.

  • dingojack

    mauriletremblay – well well, discrimination is bad for business, who’d athunk it? Good to see the bigots are in the ‘pro-business’ party, isn’t it? @@

    Dingo

  • skinnercitycyclist

    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.’

    I would simply refer this mook to FDR’s “Four Freedoms”:

    Freedom of speech

    Freedom of worship

    Freedom from want

    Freedom from fear

    “New language,” eh? This is on par with the right-wing claim that “separation of church and state” is found nowhere in the constitution.

  • dingojack

    Well, our founders didn’t die and come here for freedom of worship, they came here for religious liberty…”

    As pointed out above – the zombie fathers of the US? But most didn’t ‘come here’, they were born in the area that would become the US:

    “Most of the 1787 delegates were natives of the Thirteen Colonies. Only 9 were born elsewhere: four (Butler, Fitzsimons, McHenry, and Paterson) in Ireland, two (Davie and Robert Morris) in England, two (Wilson and Witherspoon) in Scotland, and one (Hamilton) in the West Indies.” – FoAW.

    Unless those that: “….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“, were only Butler, Fitzsimmons, McHenry, The brothers Morris, Wilson, Witherspoon and Hamilton.

    Still 16.07% (9/56) ain’t bad (for Mr Brown at least).

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    Oops, I meant of course, William R. Davie and (that fat bastard) Robert Morris*. Stupid read comprehension! 😉

    Dingo

    ——–

    * I shouldn’t say that, he came to rather a penurious end. (Although Gouverneur Morris did help to get a small pension for him).