America’s Horribly, Shockingly Oppressed (Not so much) Christians

Among religious conservatives, it has become fashionable to declare they are being oppressed and discriminated against.  Two recent articles in the Deseret News echo those fashionable claims.

The first from August 9 proclaimed:

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued new federal regulations that run roughshod over the moral conscience of many Americans.

Promulgated under the health care reform act commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” the new regulations would require an employer to have a health plan that covers sterilization and contraception — which could include drugs that cause abortion — as part of a larger set of “preventative services” for women. These practices are morally repugnant to many Americans — for some, because it directly contradicts their faith. For example, the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which includes roughly a quarter of Americans, explicitly prohibits such practices.

The second, from August 12, declared:

It is important to note that much of the anti-religious hostility worldwide is directed against Muslims of various kinds. It also is noteworthy that not all anti-religious hostility is overt. While the report didn’t measure this, popular entertainment now seems to have an anti-religious bent, while recent new U.S. regulations requiring insurance companies to provide contraception without a co-pay also is a form of discrimination against companies and individuals that wish to adhere to religious principles.

These articles share a common set of assumptions, articulated by Mormon leader Dallin Oaks in February of this year.  Oaks speech at Chapman University (transcript here) almost perfectly articulated the conservative position on religious freedom.  He argued that respect for religion is decreasing which leads to a loss of religious freedom.  As fewer people belong and believe, their views will hold less sway in an increasingly pluralistic, secular society; the religious will face persecution as laws are passed which are contrary to their beliefs (Oaks was talking about gay marriage and these editorialists are talking about birth control but the principle is the same).

Responding to Dallin Oaks’ speech, I argued:

Relativism, which Oaks uses here rather than modernity, invites us to question revealed authority, it invites us to place personal experience and perspective into important roles to interpret and understand the world.  Modernity by its very nature dilutes and reduces the influence and power of religious authority and revealed truth.  It’s not, as Oaks claims, a question of rights that claim ascendancy over religious freedom, but rather than religion must share a prominent place in understanding and constructing an understanding of the moral authority of the universe.

In another piece , I wrote:

 . . . what he’s bemoaning is the lack of automatic repsect given to religious beliefs.  As more people become skeptical of religious claims, those claims no longer automatically carry the day.  Claiming that one’s actions are motivated by religious belief is insufficient to justify discrimination against other persons.  Yet, that is exactly the claim he implicitly makes in his speech – that religious objections to homosexuality should be sufficient to justify not obeying anti-discrimination laws.

The authors of the D-News pieces are worried that claims of religious belief and faith are insufficient.  The argument fails to prove that loss of influence is the same as being discriminated against.  Is loss of influence the same as being oppressed? 

The August 12 piece, in observing that religious oppression and discrimination exist, claims that popular entertainment has an “anti-religious bent” but fails to mention that the church has done a poor job making its case.  A rising number of Americans are comfortable identifying as non-religious; publicly, outspoken and often eloquent atheists have called the doctrines of faith into question and have argued that faith itself is insufficient to justify public policy.

The faithful have only themselves to blame.  The church has for far too long been a bastion of discrimination.  From Alternet:

But while American society is moving forward on all these fronts, many churches not only refuse to go along, they’re actively moving backward. Most large Christian sects, both Catholic and Protestant, have made fighting against gay rights and women’s rights their all-consuming crusade. And young people have gotten this message loud and clear: polls find that the most common impressions of Christianity are that it’s hostile, judgmental and hypocritical. In particular, an incredible 91% of young non-Christians say that Christianity is “anti-homosexual“, and significant majorities say that Christianity treats being gay as a bigger sin than anything else. (When right-wing politicians thunder that same-sex marriage is worse than terrorism, it’s not hard to see where people have gotten this impression.)

On other social issues as well, the gap between Gen Nexters and the church looms increasingly wide. Younger folks favor full access to the morning-after pill by a larger margin than older generations (59% vs. 46%). They reject the notion that women should return to “traditional roles” — already a minority position, but they disagree with it even more strongly than others. And they’re by far the least likely of all age groups to say that they have “old-fashioned” values about family and marriage (67% say this, as compared to 85% of other age groups).

In a society that’s increasingly tolerant and enlightened, the big churches remain stubbornly entrenched in the past, clinging to medieval dogmas about gay people and women, presuming to lecture their members about how they should vote, whom they should love, how they should live.

Rhetoric about religious discrimination in the US is almost always grounded in religion’s loss of unquestioned and unquestionable authority.  Religious persons are longer able to simply “My religion says . . .” and end the discussion.  That loss of automatic respect deeply distresses many faithful persons, especially religious conservatives for whom the church embodies a coherent moral system and reliable source of authority.  From February:

Dallin Oaks felt it necessary to defend religious authority but he named it religious freedom.  The fear he raised throughout his speech – that religious preaching would be silenced – is unlikely to come to pass through legal means.  Rather, like the segregationist preachers of the 1950s and 60s, through simple social opprobrium.  A pastor today who preached a fiery pro-segregation sermon would (in most churches) be run out of the pulpit.  Things that were socially acceptable not so long ago are no longer socially acceptable.

Conservative Christians successfully created the public image that they and they alone spoke for Christianity (watch almost any news show – when they want a Christian voice it’s going to come from some arch conservative preacher).  The conservative Christian voice has for a long time been the only public voice of Christianity.  This version of Christianity seems increasingly irrelevant to many Americans.  If the church is anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-woman, then why should Americans who have no problem with gay people, contraception or women in leadership adhere to its beliefs or even accord its beliefs and doctrines automatic respect?

Faced with that dynamic, religious conservatives are forced to make the tenuous claim that their inability to tell other people what to believe and how to act amounts to discrimination and oppression.   They are literally saying “If we can’t keep women from using contraception, our freedom of conscience is being violated.”  Not so many years ago, a preacher could stand in the pulpit and deliver a firebreathing sermon against racial integration and few people would bat an eye; today, such preachers exist only in fringe churches.  Today lots of preachers deliver anti-gay messages from their pulpits.  Those preachers and their flocks are concerned that in not so many years, such preaching will be the redoubt of the fringe, the retrograde and socially unacceptable – they are afraid of going the way of the segregationist preachers of yesteryear.  The right declared a culture war and they’re realizing the once unthinkable – they’re losing; claims that they are discriminated against and oppressed, that our culture has an anti-religious bent should be understood in that context.

The fight over contraception is grounded in the legal concept of the right to privacy.  IIRC, 95% of American women will use some form of medical contraception during their lives.  That horse, it seems, has long since left the barn.  The only front on which religious conservatives perceive themselves as achieving any success is on the question of abortion (although its fair to note that public opinion on abortion hasn’t changed in forty years, legislatively conservatives have succeeded in making it damned difficult for women to get abortions).  By making the false argument that some contraceptives might cause abortions, conservatives are desperately trying to gain leverage.  If they can stop people using contraception, then they might have some leverage on the whole premarital sex front and might be able to alter the moral landscape.  To my mind, its a frantic, last ditch effort.  We need to resist it and call it what it is, but it is a desperate gambit.

When the court held in Griswold that the Constitution respects and protects the right to privacy, specifically in this case concerning access to contraception, it laid the legal groundwork for Roe (legalizing abortion), for Lawrence (striking down sodomy laws), and potentially legalizing same sex marriage.  Religious conservatives are arguing the state has a right to police sexual behavior.  When, for instance, people on the right argue that pharmacists have a right to refuse to dispense the morning after pill, they are defending the right of one person to force his or her morals on another person.  If the right can roll back access to contraception, they believe they can roll back the sexual revolution.  The logic works like this:  Readily available contraception made it possible for people to engage in “consequence free” sex; which created an environment in which marriage was no longer the only avenue for sex; once that happened, abortion became necessary because people believed in and experiences consequence free sex.  Connected to this change in attitudes was the freedom to choose to be gay becoming socially acceptable; because the right to privacy now struck down sodomy laws, more people will choose to be gay and engage in “consequence free” unmarried sex and more people will choose to be gay.  If readily available birth control can be successfully attacked, then the whole right to privacy will begin to crumble and the state can reintroduce controls on sexuality.

The conservative view of sexuality sees it as a powerful force, capable of wreaking massive destruction and requiring extensive controls through social opprobrium, legal restraints, and moral teaching.  As the first two have largely fallen, the right is finding its moral teachings increasingly ineffective.  Social and religious conservatives experience divorce, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex and so on as traumatic breaks in the continuity of family.  Keepign contraception out of people’s hands is a means to make sexuality costly enough that people won’t have it outside of marriage.  The conservative story of sexuality is strikingly pre-modern, with contraception, sexual minorities, pre and post marital sexuality exiled from discussion and the cherished belief that people sex inside of marriage is the bes and only worthy sex.  But social and legal norms no longer support that view.  Religious authority is the last line of defense in the ongoing struggle against modern sexuality.

Requiring insurance plans to cover contraception, then, is a moral assault aimed directly at religious conservatives cherished religious authority.  The territory in which religious faith holds sway in contemporary America will grow smaller.  The struggle between secular authority and religious authority will have gone badly and the faithful will have lost yet another weapon in their fight against modernity.  Religious conservatives experience this as a war against faith and against the faithful.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on August 22, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    When attacked, reality bites back.

    Who knew?

  2. #2 by Richard Warnick on August 22, 2011 - 6:00 pm

    Religious authorities are always loathe to admit that true freedom OF religion necessarily includes freedom FROM religion.

  3. #3 by brewski on August 22, 2011 - 8:40 pm

    You might want to check with the 1st amendment before you say such inane things.

  4. #4 by Richard Warnick on August 22, 2011 - 9:56 pm

    OK, let’s check.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

    For those who are interested, you can test your knowledge of religion in U.S. law and history with this simple quiz.

  5. #5 by brewski on August 22, 2011 - 10:26 pm

    Richard, you have officially declared yourself as being a 4th rate partisan hack, not to insult other partisan hacks. You know fucking full well it says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    But since you are a LYING LIAR who LIES you couldn’t help yourself but to deliberately mislead. Now I understand why you quote so often the LYING LIAR in Chief, Ms. Maddow. She wouldn’t know a verifiable fact if it bit her in the ass, and neither would you.

  6. #6 by cav on August 22, 2011 - 11:28 pm

    16

  7. #7 by cav on August 22, 2011 - 11:32 pm

    And speaking of being bitten on the ass, surely that gets tiresome…shall we ask a republican – supremely qualified authority on the subject – little wonder they’re so cranky.

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 9:07 am

    If you can take a minute to think about this issue, the Constitution does guarantee freedom from religion. The “free exercise” of religion has never meant freedom to oppress people of other religions, or no religion. Nor can religious leaders violate the constitutional rights of their own followers.

    Every American knows that, or ought to.

  9. #9 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 10:05 am

    I can’t think of anyone who has said that “free exercise” meant freedom to oppress. You are doing your favorite trick of pretending to win rhetorical points by refuting imaginary crazy positions no one has.

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 10:15 am

    brewski–

    Clearly you haven’t been following the news. Ever hear of Warren Jeffs?

    Just How Free Is the Free Exercise of Religion?

  11. #11 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 10:17 am

    Ever hear of Joseph Stalin?

    What’s your point?

  12. #12 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 10:30 am

    OK, apparently not. What about Christian dominionists?

    The point is that some people are trying to extend the meaning of “free exercise” beyond the freedom to believe whatever you want. They want to lay down religious rules for others to live by.

  13. #13 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 12:26 pm

    The point is that some people are trying to extend the meaning of “free exercise” beyond the freedom to believe whatever you want. They want to lay down religious rules for others to live by.

    Yes, there are some wackjobs out there. So what?

    There are also other wackjobs who file a suit every time someone mistakenly says Merry Christmas, or every time someone notices that there is a tiny picture of a mission on the seal of Los Angeles. Nevermind the fact that “el pueblo la nuestra señora reina de los angeles” [the village of our lady queen of the angels] was indeed founded as a mission in 1781. But these wackjobs want to erase history and pretend that the city wasn’t founded by missionaries and that the name does not refer to the Virgin Mary. I am sure the next step is for them to rename Los Angeles and every city in California with San or Santa so that San Francisco would just be plain ol’ Frankville and Santa Barbara would just be Barbaraburg.

    Yes, there are wackjobs. So what? If you are looking for someone to defend a bunch of sexual deviant lawbreakers, I doubt you will find any.

  14. #14 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 12:33 pm

    brewski–

    You said, and I quote (emphasis added):

    I can’t think of anyone who has said that “free exercise” meant freedom to oppress. You are doing your favorite trick of pretending to win rhetorical points by refuting imaginary crazy positions no one has.

    Need I remind you that Texas Governor Rick Perry is the front-runner in the GOP presidential race? Yet you are dismissing him as a “whackjob.”

  15. #15 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    If you want to play games then you are going to lose this one. As much as Warren Jeffs is a wackjob, I have not heard him say that “free exercise” meant freedom to oppress. So if this is the level of discussion you want to have, then I will beat you at it too.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    brewski–

    Warren Jeff’s lawyers made the constitutional argument. I think Jeffs himself believes he’s not subject to the laws of the United States, but that “holy law involving social conduct” allows him to do what he did. But it’s clear he cleverly hid behind freedom of religion to get away with his crimes for many years.

    Then there’s my second example. Dominionism is a strain of evangelical Christianity that mandates believers to take over the institutions of society in order to implement God’s law on earth. This is where GOP presidential candidates (and theocrats) Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann are coming from.

  17. #17 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    I take it you agree that the wackjobs who sued to get the tiny picture of the mission off the LA seal are nutcases too who hid behind the establishment clause to pretend that history and facts don’t exist.

  18. #18 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    The courts upheld the decision of Los Angeles County in 2004 to remove the cross symbol from its seal. This issue was finally resolved 4 years ago. There were three lawsuits that attempted to restore the cross, all of which failed.

    Care to comment on the allegation that the leading Republican presidential candidates right now are dominionists?

  19. #19 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    Doesn’t make it any less wackjobby.

    There are many left wingers who have have the deep personal faith that they need to get into the government and educational establishment so that they can change the curricula to mandate books about lesbians to 6 year olds, and to indoctrinate 4th graders to tell their parents that driving an SUV is immoral, and that colleges need to have huge bureaucracies of program coordinators and directors of inclusion and diversity and to change the spelling of women to womyn and to teach that all intercourse is rape, blah blah blah.

    So if you are asking me are some of the candidates acting just like leftists? Yes.

  20. #20 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 4:10 pm

    brewski–

    I don’t agree with some court decisions, but I’ve never gone so far as to call a judge a “whackjob.”

    The stuff you seem to be angry about just isn’t on my radar of that of anybody I know. Where do you get it?

  21. #21 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 4:37 pm

    I guess you don’t know most people in Los Angeles outside of the radical left.

  22. #22 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 4:39 pm

    Either I don’t know anybody in the “radical left,” or the “radical left” isn’t obsessed with the same issues you are. Or both. One of my friends lives in L.A. but his politics are pretty conservative.

  23. #23 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    Ever been at college where your tuition was paying for the Womyn’s “study” center where they took random names of innocent guys out of the student directory and posted their names on large posters around campus which said “Bob Smith: Potential Rapist”?

  24. #24 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 4:42 pm

    Um, no. First I’ve heard of it. Via Google, found this story from 18 years ago.

  25. #25 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    There ya go.

  26. #26 by Richard Warnick on August 23, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    I think the intended message was that the most common form of rape is date rape. The stereotypical rapist is a stranger, but women are far more likely to get raped by someone they know.

    The idea of listing every man on campus as a “potential rapist” was obviously a boneheaded way to deliver the message.

    At the University of Utah, they set aside an area with red flags on the lawn to represent incidents of rape. I think was justified because according to the American Medical Association, sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime. They wanted to raise awareness.

  27. #27 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 5:48 pm

    Since the majority of shoplifters are women, and most shoplifting is done by employees, I think we should randomly plaster names of female employees of Sears up all over town with “Susie Smith: Potential Shoplifter”

  28. #28 by Rico on August 23, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    I guess it all depends on your definition of “oppress.” A lot of non-Mormons have felt “oppressed” by the predominant faith in Utah for decades. Of course, the Mormons never actually said that their free exercise of religious beliefs meant they were free to “oppress” the Gentiles; they just acted that way. Utah’s liquor laws are Exhibit A.

  29. #29 by cav on August 23, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    Might Dallin have been wondering aloud why it is every presidential press conference ends in that prayerful “God Bless Uhmerica”, or why there’s such reliance on bom,bing the hell out of today’s targets, and letting God sort it out – our military just a tool of same.

  30. #30 by cav on August 23, 2011 - 6:16 pm

    God may be the bandwagon masking the predation of the wealthy.

  31. #31 by Rico on August 23, 2011 - 6:17 pm

    Freedom of religion/from religion as a concept exists outside of the Bill of Rights.

    Just sayin.

  32. #32 by cav on August 23, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    God is telling you to throw Rick Perry into a volcano.

  33. #33 by Larry Bergan on August 23, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    I think it’s astounding that the Dominionist leanings of Republican candidates is actually being talked about. I’m sure that’s the last thing they want.

    It might have something to do with a book coming out in September called “God, Guns and Greed

    The author of the book, along with former ambassador Joe Wilson, was able to do get a very strange, decades old, military program halted.

    From Military.com:

    The Air Force has suspended decades-old Bible-centric ethics training intended to make Christian officers comfortable with the possible use of nuclear weapons. The training program was given to all new missile officers by Air Force chaplains.

    YIKES!

  34. #34 by brewski on August 23, 2011 - 10:48 pm

    You mean just like the Dominionist-style atttidue making it the law to require the teaching of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history (whatever that means) to kindergarteners?

    Also, my lawyer friends could easily describe many judges and being clinically wackjobs.

  35. #35 by cav on August 24, 2011 - 7:56 am

    I think as long as there are trillions of dollars of overvalued assets and phony paper still in the books of many major world banks, whatever else lies in the conniving dominionist’s mind is going to have to remain as ghostly as a consensual picture of God.

    IOW judges may as well be ‘wackjobs’ as their discernment skill group will likely never be put to the test.

  36. #36 by Richard Warnick on August 24, 2011 - 8:46 am

    Larry–

    I’ve always been of the opinion that nobody who believes in God or an afterlife ought to be allowed anywhere near nuclear weapons or launch control centers. From their actions, we can be pretty sure our recent presidents don’t believe in God. Don’t know about the rest of the chain of command.

  37. #37 by shane on August 24, 2011 - 9:50 am

    Conservative Christians successfully created the public image that they and they alone spoke for Christianity (watch almost any news show – when they want a Christian voice it’s going to come from some arch conservative preacher). The conservative Christian voice has for a long time been the only public voice of Christianity. This version of Christianity seems increasingly irrelevant to many Americans. If the church is anti-gay, anti-contraception, anti-woman, then why should Americans who have no problem with gay people, contraception or women in leadership adhere to its beliefs or even accord its beliefs and doctrines automatic respect?

    As Alan Watts pointed out, there has always been a part of religion in general and christianity specifically that simply grates against America as designed. How long can you support a kingdom in heaven and a democracy on earth? How can you support a notion that the best form of government is not the one god uses? How long can you support equality as an ideal when all those lowly sinners surround you?

    The conservative view of sexuality sees it as a powerful force, capable of wreaking massive destruction and requiring extensive controls through social opprobrium, legal restraints, and moral teaching.

    Though implicit, perhaps it should be explicit that the underlying emotion here is fear. The primary motivation of conservative issues with sex is is pure abject unadulterated fear. Fear that someone might do something they “shouldn’t” do. Fear that their spouse will cheat, fear that they will, fear that they are not “man” enough, fear that they are out of control. Sexuality is a monster that hides under the conservative bed and makes them afraid of doing… well, many things. Conservative christianity isn’t about anything christian, it is about Paul and self loathing and hatred and fear of actually getting something positive out of the physical world.

    …and look around. The world is largely ignoring that crap. It is no longer in style. Conservative christianity isn’t oppressed. Like conservative religion in general, it is simply dieting out.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  38. #38 by shane on August 24, 2011 - 9:53 am

    brewski :
    You mean just like the Dominionist-style atttidue making it the law to require the teaching of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history (whatever that means) to kindergarteners?

    In a long line of hilarious comments that don’t even vaguely reflect reality, this has to be the most laughable. Thanks brewski for injecting a bit of humor into the discussion.

  39. #39 by brewski on August 24, 2011 - 10:00 am

    how does it not vaguely represent reality?

  40. #40 by cav on August 24, 2011 - 11:17 am

    Dominionazi

  41. #41 by Larry Bergan on August 24, 2011 - 2:35 pm

    Oops!

    Let me start over again on my last comment, I forgot to include an important link to Military.com.

    ————-

    I think it’s astounding that the Dominionist leanings of Republican candidates is actually being talked about. I’m sure that’s the last thing they want.

    It might have something to do with a book coming out in September called “God, Guns and Greed

    The author of the book, along with former ambassador Joe Wilson, was able to do get a very strange, decades old, military program halted.

    From Military.com:

    The Air Force has suspended decades-old Bible-centric ethics training intended to make Christian officers comfortable with the possible use of nuclear weapons. The training program was given to all new missile officers by Air Force chaplains.

    YIKES!

  42. #42 by Larry Bergan on August 24, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    brewski:

    It’s not that I even believe that kindergarteners are being taught anything about sex, but I definitely fear Dominionists more then something made up by you called “Dominionist-style atttitudists”

    Honestly, what do you fear more: teaching kids about diverse lifestyles or killing your children if they disobey?

    Do you really prefer living under Old Testament law?

  43. #43 by brewski on August 24, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    I fear that there are some people who get in positions of power who have a personal agenda which may be outside of the mainstream, or be objectionable to me as a parent. Some of these people are so adamant that they will indeed force curricula with their agenda on the public schools, for example.

    That can go both ways. It is not dissimilar to teach creationism in public schools as it is to force the teaching that people who have their penis cut off are just normal people like you and me. Take a poll, and you will find that the percent of people who think that having your penis cut off is normal is in the single digits.

    And California has indeed passed a law requiring the teaching of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history to students starting in kindergarten. I am not making this up.

    Look, I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I saw more diverse lifestyles than most people on this blog, and that includes Glenden. But tolerance and forcing a point of view are two different things. And I would rather have my kid be learning about math, literature, history, biology, chemistry, art, etc. than be spending time reading advocacy puff pieces on Harvey Milk.

  44. #44 by Richard Warnick on August 24, 2011 - 3:25 pm

    I hadn’t heard of the new California law, since I don’t watch Faux News. But it seems ironic because Proposition 8 supporters ran a television ad claiming gay marriage would have to be taught in California public schools if they didn’t take away people’s equal rights under the state constitution.

    Looks like it happened anyway, so what was the point?

  45. #45 by brewski on August 24, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    I heard all about it on NPR.

  46. #46 by Rico on August 24, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    Couple of points.

    First, the California legislation does not apply to kindergarten. It applies to courses of study for grades 1 through 12. It’s not a big point, but since nits seem to get picked here routinely, this nit is not exempt. (See California Education Code section 51200).

    Second, the pertinent part of the legilsation reads:

    “Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development
    of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.”

    For full text, go here.

    Lastly, do you suppose brew that because the contributions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people to the social, economic and political devlopment of Californa and the United States is included in the social studies curriculum that math, literature, history, science, etc. are not also being taught? Are you similarly troubled by the fact that Utah history as taught to Utah public school children is essentially Mormon history (i.e., no effort is made to divorce the actors’ “Mormon-ness” from their historical and social actions and contributions)? If “no,” then why should a person’s “gay-ness” or “disability” or “race” or “ethnicity” or “gender” or other immutable characteristic be so separated?

  47. #47 by brewski on August 24, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    According to NPR and their expert guest, it included kindergarten.

    Also, the contributions of all sorts of people are taught all the time. I don’t remember the works of Oscar Wilde, Ralph Ellison, or anyone else being excluded.

    I don’t support at all the teaching of any santized history. As a California student I learned about California’s history which included the role of the Catholic Church, the missions, etc., both the good and the bad. I don’t support the teaching of a sanitized Mormon history. But I would think that Utah students should learn about Utah history which would include dinosaurs, Lake Bonneville, the archaeic peoples, the Anasazi, beaver trappers (Weber, Ogden, Ashley, etc.), Mormons, miners, US army, etc.

    I get that it is a bit tricky trying to teach anything critical about Mormons to a class which is 70% Mormon, just as it is probably difficult teaching anything critical about illegal aliens to a class which is 70% illegal alien.

  48. #48 by brewski on August 24, 2011 - 4:06 pm

    Here is my biggest objection to the text you supplied:

    with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.”

    This encorages and forces the whole idea of group identity, group rights, group grievances, group politics over that of being American and of individuals. Oscar Wilde should not be taught as being a member of the “gay community” whose “community” made great contributions. Wilde should be taught as one of the great playwrites of his era, and oh by the way he was gay with a particular fondness for young boys.

    But lefties live and breath group identity and group rights and group grievances since this is how they make their bread and butter. They do all their organzing and their fundraising by convincing groups that they are victims and then promising everyone in that group special benefits even to individuals in that group are doing very well.

  49. #49 by Rico on August 24, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    My point isn’t that Utah schools need to balance out their curriculum by being critical of Mormons. My point is that the pioneers’ Mormon faith was an integral and inseperable part of who they were, what they did, and why they did it. Thus, you can’t give Utah students a good understanding and perspective of Utah’s history without including the cultural and religious setting in whch these people were operating. The same holds true for historical and social events involving gays, lesbians, blacks, women, etc. But we apparently can’t go there because of fear (characterized as a forced point of view or pandering to minorities) that little Johnny or Suzy (or is it Jacob and Lauren) might actually learn something that does not conform to the white, Christian, male, heterosexual perspective.

  50. #50 by cav on August 24, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    All brewskis are the same!

  51. #51 by Larry Bergan on August 24, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    brewski:

    What makes you think that Mormons were excluded from learning about dinosaurs in grade school. Dinosaurs were one of my passions in grade school and I’ve lived here all my life.

    It wasn’t until the evangelical crazies took over the Republican party, that I heard anything about the history of dinosaurs being rewritten.

  52. #52 by Larry Bergan on August 24, 2011 - 4:37 pm

    Somehow, I don’t think learning that Danny Kaye was gay would have destroyed my childhood, family or love of Danny Kaye.

  53. #53 by Rico on August 24, 2011 - 4:38 pm

    Here’s my biggest objection to the legislation:

    “The state board and any governing board shall not adopt any textbooks or other instructional materials for use in the public schools that contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.”

    This is where a white wash could come into play.

  54. #54 by shane on August 24, 2011 - 9:37 pm

    You mean just like the Dominionist-style atttidue making it the law to require the teaching of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history (whatever that means) to kindergarteners?

    I fear that there are some people who get in positions of power who have a personal agenda which may be outside of the mainstream, or be objectionable to me as a parent.

    There are gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people on the planet. They have a history. Education includes learning about all that kinda stuff we classify as “reality.” If you find reality objectionable, then I would say “tough shit, it is still reality.”

    But lefties live and breath group identity and group rights and group grievances since this is how they make their bread and butter.

    Says a member of the “help we are being repressed” white male christians. That is some weapons grade projection you got goin’ on there.

  55. #55 by Larry Bergan on August 24, 2011 - 10:24 pm

    Thanks Shane!

    As soon as “lefties” own the media and start making accusations about the right-wing-media owing it, you can talk sense, instead of projecting your sins upon us.

    And when Americans stop using drugs, they can stop projecting their sins upon Columbia. Same principal.

  56. #56 by brewski on August 25, 2011 - 8:44 am

    And this is coming from a man who admits that he “systematically removes” girls from the educational process.

    Pretty rich stuff there shane.

  57. #57 by brewski on August 25, 2011 - 9:01 am

    The new liberated history as according to shane:

    Though Wilde’s sexual orientation has variously been considered bisexual, homosexual, and paederastic, Wilde himself felt he belonged to a culture of male love inspired by the Greek paederastic tradition. In describing his own sexual identity, Wilde used the term Socratic. He may have had significant sexual relationships with (in chronological order) Frank Miles, Constance Lloyd (Wilde’s wife), Robert Baldwin Ross, and Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”). Wilde also had numerous sexual encounters with working-class male youths, who were often rent boys.

  58. #58 by shane on August 25, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    brewski :
    And this is coming from a man who admits that he “systematically removes” girls from the educational process.
    Pretty rich stuff there shane.

    Your inability to read is not my problem.

  59. #59 by brewski on August 25, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    As is yours not mine.

  60. #60 by Karen on August 29, 2011 - 11:48 am

    I agree that religious conservatives are confusing religious authority with religious freedom. I’m a politically moderate-to-liberal Mormon. I think this is a confusing topic for many Utah Mormons, especially in older generations. That is, Mormons who grew up in a Utah that was even more Mormon than it is now. They feel that more religious diversity is forcing them to tolerate things they believed they had a right to stand apart from. Maybe their pioneer heritage has lent them the attitude that people have a right to an isolated community of people who are like them. They have also inherited from the pioneers the fear that other groups who disrespect their Mormon beliefs will oppress them. Of course, in the mid-1800s, this was literally the case, the Mormons were violently driven out of their Eastern and Mid-Western cities.

    I think these Mormons are wrong to think that their majority power is a right. I write about a specific example of this (Mormons and the fear that minorities are taking away their tradition of prayer in school) in my Utah culture blog.

    I agree that most of this “fear of oppression” Mormons currently feel is not real oppression, but simply a loss of majority power that they didn’t have a natural right to anyway. However, I think there is one type of legitimate oppression Mormons like Dallin H. Oaks are concerned with. They’re afraid some law will be passed that will force them to change aspects of doctrine, (e.g. force them to perform marital ceremonies for homosexual couples.)

    • #61 by Glenden Brown on August 29, 2011 - 12:48 pm

      Karen – two things jumped out at me in your post.

      First, the line “feel that more religious diversity is forcing them to tolerate things they believed they had a right to stand apart from” – that’s a powerful insight (I think it applies to more than Mormons). There’s an often unstated value in Mormonism of apartness or separateness. Not only do Mormons stand apart from the culture in which they live, but Utah is their refuge from a larger culture. As more non-Mormons move into Utah and become more prominent, as Mormonism’s influence begins to decline, they feel that their ability to be apart is being lost. If you talk to evangelical Christians, a favorite theme is the notion of being in the world but not of the world. They seem to feel it becomes more and more difficult to hold that position as the culture changes and becomes more seductive in a variety of ways.

      Second, “They’re afraid some law will be passed that will force them to change aspects of doctrine” – I agree this is a commonly stated fear but it strikes me as entirely unrealistic. No one is asking nor does US legal tradition permit changes in the law that would force changes in doctrine. To be blunt, the US legal system takes a strict hands off position on questions of doctrine. It’s simply an unrealistic fear.

      I think I touched on this before, but I think the deeper fear is that culturally opposition to gay marriage will become untenable. The parallel I’ve drawn before is opposition to interracial marriage or racial integration. Not so many years, a preacher could safely expound on his/her opposition to those things from the pulpit and it would be unremarkable. Such a sermon today is unthinkable – many of the people who used to deliver and listen to those sermon are still alive and whether or not they’ve changed their minds on the topics, they no longer speak about it publicly. People look at a society which is increasingly accepting of gay marriage and wondering if they will find themselves in that position. The fear is that a cultural change may not result in a literal doctrinal change, but rather a gradual evolution away from current thinking. Like the Catholic church’s opposition to divorce, it could become a doctrinal position regarded as a quaint holdover from the past which can be readily got around by clever people.

  61. #62 by cav on August 29, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    When I reveal my dalliance with the dolphin of my dreams, Rick Santorum’s closet doggy-lust as well as any other mix n match congresses will be acceptable.

  62. #63 by Richard Warnick on August 29, 2011 - 1:45 pm

    Simply put, religious freedom in the USA includes the right to believe whatever you want, and preach whatever you want. It does not always mean you can DO whatever you want, or impose your rules on others. This is where the Mormons crossed the line, historically. Even today, some question whether members of the LDS Church really believe in separation of church and state.

  63. #64 by brewski on August 29, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    They don’t.

  64. #65 by Karen on August 29, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    Well said, Glendon. I should have qualified my statement by saying that although I think being forced to change doctrine would be legitimately oppressive, I don’t think that it’s a legitimate fear. And yet, my own very educated, usually open-minded father is convinced that we should be worried.

    I also have to agree with your observation that for many of these very conservative Christians, their greatest fear relates more to the cultural change–the fear of losing popularity for staying the same, while the rest of society is changing. They are choosing to believe that this peer pressure is “oppression,” when really, that’s an exaggeration.

  65. #66 by cav on August 30, 2011 - 1:03 pm

(will not be published)


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