Pod people: Has the gay movement peaked?

In a speech delivered at the Mansion House in London on 10 Nov 1942, Winston Churchill predicted the British victory at the battle of El Alamein would mark the turn of the tide of Germany’s fortunes. The hitherto unstoppable Wehrmacht had been defeated, and the historical inevitability of a German victory was gone. But, he added:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

I was reminded of Churchill’s words while reading an article by Paul Gottfried in the current issue of the Salisbury Review. In an article entitled “Cooling Off on Gay Marriage,” Gottfried argued the social left had reached its zenith with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The urgency of the campaign to legalize gay marriage was animated by a desire to seize the moment.

Rather there is awareness that the present campaign to mainstream and even glorify gay marriage cannot be sustained forever. It may be reaching its limits in being able to convert people to a bizarre idea, no matter how much money and expensive propaganda have been thrown at it.

He argues support for gay marriage is “far shakier than the media would allow us to believe”, citing tight poll numbers and the spate of electoral defeats for gay marriage in all but the most politically liberal states. The campaign for gay marriage was anti-populist, driven by elites seeking to shape the culture. Public acceptance remained mixed, even in the face of a concerted political/social campaign to bring about its acceptance.

This does not even factor in the new, edifying TV shows featuring loving gay couples and quarrelsome heterosexual ones, the movies showing similar epiphanies, glaringly biased news coverage, and the steady work of our public educational institutions in getting the kids to celebrate gayness and same sex marriage.

He concludes:

The power establishment has moved too far too fast on the issue of gay marriage; and it may not be able to keep up the pace of its efforts to erode traditional and until recently the only concept of marriage, as a heterosexual union.

This is an interesting argument, to say the least — and one I have not heard bandied about in the popular media. Time will tell if Gottfried is right, but I believe there are stirrings in the culture that may foreshadow a Thermidorian reaction against the excesses of the social left. In this week’s edition of Crossroads, Issues, Etc.. host Todd Wilkens and I discussed my recent story at GetReligion on the defenestration of James Tengatenga.

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Scapegoating Bishop James Tengatenga

Dartmouth College President Philip J. Hanlon’s decision to nix the appointment of Bishop James Tengatenga as dean for moral and spiritual life has sparked spirited commentary from left and right  — and some solid reporting. An article in the Boston Globe entitled “Words on gays cost bishop post at Dartmouth” is a well sourced, balanced story that succinctly summarizes the issues at play.

In other words, we are cheering for a solid story on a difficult subject that is often mangled.

The lede begins:

Dartmouth College has rescinded the appointment of a prominent African bishop as dean of a campus institution that focuses on furthering the moral and spiritual work of the school because of controversy over his views on homosexuality.

The extraordinary move by Dartmouth’s new president, Philip J. Hanlon, to retract the college’s offer won praise from those who raised concerns about how the appointment would affect gay students on a campus that has sometimes struggled with intolerance.

But it left Bishop James Tengatenga of the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi without a job and far out on a limb on gay issues in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality.

The article points out the irony of Dartmouth’s refusal to countenance any deviation from conventional wisdom in the name of “tolerance” — but it does this not by being preachy, but by allowing both sides to speak. Supporters and opponents of the appointment can recognize their views in this story, and it is left up to the reader to discern where the truth (and justice) lies.

I was particularly impressed by the Globe‘s sources from within the Anglican world. The commentators, while drawn exclusively from the liberal wing of the church, were first class. And the newspaper broke free from an America-only perspective, offering voices from America/Britain as well as Africa.

True, voices representing the views of the vast majority of African Anglicans were missing from this story, as was an explanation of these views — why does homosexuality evoke such strong moral and social disapprobation in Africa? Why do politicians use homosexuality as a club to beat their opponents? But does this represent a failure to “Get Religion?”

Were I the author of the piece I would have placed more emphasis on the religious/political culture from which Bishop Tengatenga arose, but the “I would have done it differently” argument is not about criticism but is a matter of taste. The rules of the craft — balance, context, detail, integrity — were all met by this well written piece.

A note of disclosure is in order though. I was peripherally involved in this mare’s nest.

This summer someone in the hierarchy of the Church of the Province of Central Africa — the Anglican body that includes Bishop Tengatenga’s Diocese of Southern Malawi — leaked news the bishop had resigned and was coming to America. A Malawian newspaper then printed the rumor (printing rumors as news is not uncommon, unfortunately, in the African press.)

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