An LGBTQ friend of mine living in Missouri recently used the form offered by the Human Rights Campaign to contact her congressperson about her support for ENDA—the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. In speaking of ENDA, she told me that while some cities and counties in Missouri have local non-discrimination acts, hers does not. She could be legally fired or evicted at any time, and she knows it.
Today her congressperson, Billy Long, sent a response.
In Billy Long’s world, worshipping God in peace means being able to fire gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. In Billy Long’s world, an act banning employment discrimination against LGBTQ individuals would in fact result in discrimination against religious Americans. In Billy Long’s world, believing in a tolerant society that is respectful to all goes hand in hand with ensuring that Christians can be intolerant of LGBTQ individuals.
Billy Long’s form email is an excellent illustration of some recent trends in evangelical Christianity. First, the belief that religious freedom means the freedom to fire LGBTQ employees and the freedom to refuse to serve LGBTQ individuals is quickly becoming part of the evangelical Christian canon. Second, I’m pretty sure that when Billy Long speaks of “a tolerant society that is respectful to all” he means one where evangelical Christians aren’t called out on their bigotry toward LGBTQ individuals. This application of “tolerance” and this demand that others respect their views, however distasteful, has become a something of a thing.
Sadly, Billy Long’s form email is likely very successful in messaging when it comes to his base. When it comes to individuals like my LGBTQ friend, however, it falls flat. “I so need to move,” she told me. And do you know what is perhaps the biggest irony of all? My LGBTQ friend from Missouri is herself a Christian.