Gay Justice, Cultural Conflicts, and Secular Dhimmitude

I’m sure many of you have heard how Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign after it was discovered that he made a donation in support of a gay marriage ban in California. See the report at The Guardian.

Whether one agrees with Brendan Eich is beside the point. Is opposing SSM really grounds for the termination of employment? This sets a very dangerous precedent does it not? If one opposes SSM, even if in private, or belongs to a religious group that does not recognize SSM, is that grounds for dismissal? Are we going to get to the stage where it will be impossible for a Christian with traditionalist views on marriage to hold a position in business, the public service, medical industry, or in education if they are know to oppose SSM?

Another question I have to ask is what is the error here? Was it because Eich opposed SSM or because he failed to support it? Now, if one is a Christian traditionalist, you could just try to keep your mouth shut, go underground, keep your views to yourself, hope nobody finds out and turns you over to the thought police. But the thought police will probably figure this out and will come up with a way of weeding out closet Christians. What if one’s employment contract includes a clause where one has to state unconditional support for SSM? What do you do then? It is not as far fetched as you might imagine.

We have to remember that this is part of a cultural conflict in the secular west as governments try to strike a balance between civil rights for gay and lesbian people with other rights like freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. At the moment the pendulum is certainly on the gay rights side, but it might not stay there, and the Mozilla incident might well be the catalyst to come to a more sensible mediating position. Let me add that Christians should be conflicted over civil issues like this, they should feel sympathy for both sides, and should feel conflicted. First, as Christians who remain faithful to the authority of scripture and to their tradition, they are committed to marriage as one man and one woman. Its a matter of faith and principle, why should we have to change, we’ve been around for 2000 years, Stephen Fry can whinge all he likes, but we ain’t going any where, so deal with it. Second, as Christians who believe in Jesus and in biblical ethics, we are committed to loving our neighbours, including our gay neighbours, and promoting justice and fairness for all, even for those who do not agree with us on our way of life. What I’m saying is that the tension in western culture should be reflected in a tension among Christians themselves about how to be faithful to our beliefs and yet want to treat all people fairly. The big question is how do you do both, be faithful to a Christian view of marriage and create an environment that is genuinely just for all people regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation? Christendom is over, but I don’t think everybody is banking on an atheist version of Big Brother as the alternative!

While I like to think that we can find a compromise between the God-fearing and Gay-rights, I’m also a little concerned. Even though SSM is not law in most American states, and not in Australia either, it is being treated as if it is fait accompli. Are we going to end up in a position where Christians – as well as orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Mormons – will end up as second class citizens because of a failure to support SSM? Will we end up with a kind of secular dhimmitude? The word, “dhimmitude” refers the imposition of second class status  on non-Muslim citizens in Islamic law.  Will we end up with religious folks experiencing some kind of dhimmitude imposed by secular/liberal elites who punish them for failing to embrace the reigning zeitgeist. The origin of the word dhimmitude is quite interesting. I looked it up on wikipedia (students, do not imitate me on this), and I found its first reference:

The term was coined in 1982 by the Lebanese President and Maronite militia leader Bachir Gemayel, in reference to perceived attempts by the country’s Muslim leadership to subordinate the largeLebanese Christian minority. In a speech of September 14, 1982 given at Dayr al-Salib in Lebanon, he said: “Lebanon is our homeland and will remain a homeland for Christians… We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish… Henceforth, we refuse to live in any dhimmitude!”

I think the civil rights balance on SSM and religious freedom is still working itself out and I think we can reach a compromise in western societies and live  at peace with one another. However, as part of that conversation about the legislation that follows, we have to be clear that we will continue to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish, and we will not accept dhimmitude!

  • John Vespasian

    That is exactly my experience, too. I am a history teacher at a small secular school in Victoria, Australia, and when I tried to provide the students with my own views on the number of Jews killed in WW2 (my own area of specialty, due to hundreds of hours of research in fact!), I quickly found myself silenced by the school authorities. I was accused of all manner of things I’m not (how can I be a “denier” if I actually acknowledge the holocaust occurred, but that we only have evidence that it involved hundreds of thousands rather than millions of Jews?). All I was doing is having the courage to stand by my convictions, like those opposed to SSM. But I quickly found what it was like to have the status of “dhimmitude” and to be punished for not parroting the status quo.

    This is nothing short of persecution. Thank you for giving a voice to we who are persecuted by the apparently “tolerant” liberal secular school system.

    • Nathaniel

      And here comes a post to illustrate my point. No one would defending the Mozilla CEO if he got pressured to resign because people found out he donated money to a Holocaust denier and white supremacist organization. Everyone would be clamoring for his head, and once he resigned everyone would be happy.

      • Patrick

        That’s not why he got fired though. Those things are antithetical to the basic morality of the west, marriage isn’t and it’s been a 2000 year understanding since paganism became a minority view that it’s for 1 man and 1 woman.

        Not just that, but, as Mike points out, the Stalinist mentality of the movement is worrisome even to openly gay writers like Andrew Sullivan.

        It’s an egregiously evil part of the current zeitgeist.

        I’d like to point out as well that disagreeing with what constitutes marriage is hardly persecuting gay people anymore than it is persecuting 8 year old girls and 45 year old men.

        • Sven2547

          Those things are antithetical to the basic morality of the west, marriage isn’t and it’s been a 2000 year understanding since paganism became a minority view that it’s for 1 man and 1 woman.

          Not just that, but, as Mike points out, the Stalinist mentality of the movement is worrisome even to openly gay writers like Andrew Sullivan.

          The real “Stalinists” here are the ones out to mandate that ONLY their personal marriage preference is allowed, and everyone else’s is banned. Nobody is out to ban straight marriage. Full stop.

          I’d like to point out as well that disagreeing with what constitutes marriage is hardly persecuting gay people anymore than it is persecuting 8 year old girls and 45 year old men.

          Mere “disagreement” is not what caused the popular backlash against Eich, it was his contributions of oodles of money directly to organizations which, in turn, directly promote the persecution of gay folks.

        • Nathaniel

          Stalinist? So you mean individuals are being taken from their beds at night to be beaten, tortured, and then forced to confess imaginary crimes that implicate other innocent people? Who are then summarily executed after a lengthy show trial?

          That kind of Stalinist?

          And good of you to concede my argument and admit that ostracizing viewpoints considered socially unacceptable is a perfectly valid choice.

        • ahermit

          He wasn’t fired. It’s important to get the story straight I think…

          He wasn’t fired, he wasn’t asked to resign, and when he did resign as CEO the board at Mozilla tried to get him to stay on in another position.

          He chose to resign rather than reconcile with those he had offended by donating to a smear campaign dedicated to depriving them of their rights.

          • Patrick

            Sven,

            No one is positing “only straight marriage” is allowed, it’s the opinion of those of us who hold the bible in higher esteem than our culture.

            You have the same right w/o retaliation(unlike a Christian who adheres to the bible text) to speak your mind, that’s what Mike’s article is about and everyone is ignoring this obvious problem.

            Nathaniel,

            Stalinist technique included a lot more than ham handed violence, it conducted business in this manner by making prior claims about the lack of validity of any opposing view.

            The man in Mike’s example was bounced because he adhered to a 2000 year old belief about marriage, that’s Stalinism, check out the show trial prosecution techniques.

            Guilty, there is no alternative option.

          • ahermit

            I don’t see my name there but your reply is attached to to my comment, so I’ll weigh in;

            Eich was not “bounced” from his position; he chose to quite rather than face legitimate criticism of his past actions, or to apologize and reconcile with those he had offended.

            It was not just that he had an opinion on the matter that was the cause of the criticism, it was the fact that he had actively worked to deprive his neighbours of their rights and was unrepentant about that fact.

            Comparing this all to Stalinism is simply ludicrous; Eich was not obliged to resign (in fact the Mozilla board tried to get him to stay on some other C-level capacity after he quit as CEO and he declined.) Disagreement with someone’s beliefs and criticism of their actions is not Stalinism. Holding a strong opinion about the validity of those beliefs is not Stalinism either, especially in the case of someone who is reduced to second class status by those beliefs.

  • Down under

    I think it is hysterical when we talk of dhimmitude when we are not committing suicide, being denied work and kept out of many workplaces because of our faith. We are not denied marriage when we say it is purely for man an woman only and by majority one to one not polyamourous. Let’s not loose perspective here The vast majority of the world is is becoming right wing as proof of neo nazi governments spring up everywhere from europe to russia to africa and asia (Australia’s Liberals are far more right wing today than ever before). Neo nazi’s persecute homosexuals openly. As a Christian I believe in protecting those vulnerable in our society. There are so many laws I disagree with like the freedom to self harm and harm others in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, prostitution etc. but as a Christian I choose what to do. God has given all of us agency, the freedom. DO NOT REACH TO THOSE WHO AREN’T CHRISTIANS. If you’re an gay christian, you can chose not to marry. Or any of the other things the law allows you to do. If you forbid people SSM you DO create dhimmitude for Christians. Who are we going to turn to when they do force us to compromise our faith? Those we forced to compromise their’s? I can say let me live as I let you live. Otherwise, watch out, they’ll will have every opportunity to point out how we can be oppressed as we oppressed.

    • Down under

      I meant PREACH not REACH. We are given the mandate to reach in Mt28!

  • Zeke

    Are we going to get to the stage where it will be impossible for a Christian with traditionalist views on marriage to hold a position in business, the public service, medical industry, or in education if they are known to oppose SSM?

    You mean like a teacher or prof that instructs students that homosexuality is a sin, and denies them the same rights to marry someone they love? Yeah, hopefully so.

    What if one’s employment contract includes a clause where one has to state unconditional support for SSM? What do you do then? It is not as far fetched as you might imagine.

    Ironically, the only place this happens is within Christian institutions, in which case they are fired immediately for showing tolerance for opposing views.Happening as we speak.

    The big question is how do you do both, be faithful to a Christian view of marriage and create an environment that is genuinely just for all people regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation?

    It’s remarkably easy: stay the hell out of the way, SSM has no effect on you.

  • ahermit

    You ask “Is opposing SSM really grounds for the termination of employment?”

    The answer is no, and it’s important to note at this point that Eich’s employment was not “terminated.” He chose to resign in the face of some harsh criticism from people upset by the fact hat he refused to apologize for helping fund a smear campaign dedicated to taking away their rights, but he was not “dismissed” he was not asked to resign and when he did choose to resign as CEO he was asked to stay on in some other capacity. He declined.

    You are rather badly misrepresenting the facts here.

    As to the idea that same sex marriage will have any effect at all on the freedom of Christians to practice their religion you can relax. We’ve had legal same sex marriage in Canada for a decade now and there’s no “dhimmitude.”

    On the other hand, you’re not entitled to be free from criticism of you views, but that’s not second class citizenship it’s just a loss of privilege at worst.

  • Paradoxical Dust

    Enjoy reading http://www.steynonline.com/6236/celebrate-conformity

    Mark Steyn in Lights Out, p. 181
    “Most Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage; they don’t oppose the right of gays to advocate it. But increasingly gays oppose the right of Christians even to argue their corner. Gay activists have figured that, instead of trying to persuade people to change their opinions, it’s easier just to get them banned.”

    • Dorfl

      I’m not sure if you’ll enjoy it, but you really should read this: http://www.popehat.com/2009/07/01/speech-is-tyranny/

      Let’s be clear — the right to free speech is the right to express oneself without state retaliation. It is not a right to speak without social retaliation. Speech has consequences. Among those consequences are condemnation, vituperation, scorn, ridicule, and pariah status. Those consequences represent other people exercising their free speech rights. That’s a feature of the marketplace of ideas, not a bug.

      Yet too many people seem to think that free speech includes not only a right to be free of consequences imposed by the state, but a right to be free of consequences imposed by other people. Therefore they attempt to portray criticism as a violation of their rights. This, of course, finds no support in the law, and is patently unsustainable as a philosophy besides — it nonsensically elevates the rights of the first person to talk over the rights of the second person to talk.

  • Satori

    Issues like this don’t tend to reach a middle ground in America. For many Americans opposition to gay rights is seen as equivalence to support for segregation, and regardless of whether those beliefs are right they have an impact on how they view the issue.

    Personally I’m an atheist and have absolutely no interest in pretending to think that anti-gay bigotry is respectable. Why would I? Because it hurts Christians feelings when I tell them the bible is evil? Boo hoo, get over it.

    • Patrick

      ahermit,

      It wasn’t directed at you, but, your reply is fine. I just disagree entirely with your position.
      If I am trying to “deny gay folks marriage rights” by sticking with the biblical doctrine, would you say the same thing for all the various sexual desires of mankind? Are we bigots to define marriage like the bible does only when we refuse to accept homosexual marriage as appropriate?

      BTW, Andrew Sullivan and Bill Maher both labeled the gay movement fanaticism as “fascist” and “mafia”. Apt as well. Stalinist is my term, all are reasonable views of the intellectual terror of this movement.


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