Okay, so we were at Disney, and Disney isn’t really known for hair-raising rides. So the competition wasn’t too stiff.
As Mrs. Ombud’s enthusiasm for the Disney experience is greater than mine, I often went back to the room after dinner, and checked out Disney’s cable channels. (Which were heavy on Disney, obviously, plus sports, without as many of the usual networks.)
They did have some foreign language channels, which was kind of cool – I watched the world Baseball Classic on a Spanish channel, which was fun. And they also had some religious channels, including something on “Silencing Christians.”
According to the program, “homosexuals” (they do not use the word gays) are using three propaganda techniques to gain acceptance and also persecute Christians for their belief that homosexuality is an aberration. These are “de-sensitizing,” “jamming,” and “conversion.” They claim that gays are to blame for replacing “Biblically correct” with “politically correct”, and making them feel ashamed of their religion. They even claimed that Christianity is under threat, and that if Christians don’t speak up and fight for their beliefs, their religion is in danger.
It made me realize how isolated we can be here in California. It would never occur to me that giving someone equal rights would endanger anyone else’s Jewish or Muslim or Hindu faith. Let alone the most widespread religion in the world – from Canada to Argentina to Russia to The Philippines.
Mrs. O came home at some point to find me with my mouth open in surprise. She refused to watch the program, and went to take a bath. I stuck with it long enough to hear an anecdote from West Virginia, about a school district that had an anti-bullying and anti-harassment program, which all the kids were required to attend. Only when they arrived, it turned out to be all about homosexuals instead. And if any of the kids tried to protest that homosexuality violated their religious beliefs, they were told they couldn’t discuss their religion. Thus, the program claimed, their freedom of speech was being violated. Hence the name of their web site: www.silencingchristians.com. And their claim that they are being persecuted.
Obviously, the right to freedom of speech references someone being able to voice their beliefs in the appropriate forum. You cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theatre. And you cannot stand up in a classroom and disrupt the teacher, either. Otherwise, when I was struggling with algebra, I could have stood up and claimed my rights to a liberal arts–only education were being discriminated against, and the teacher had to stop lobbing math equations at me.
Clearly, that very program was evidence their freedom of speech was intact — but I doubt their constituency thinks it through that far.
The upshot is, before we went to Florida I felt it was only a matter of time for the gay rights issue, comparable to other civil rights issues. For younger, more urbane people are generally more tolerant of their gay friends, and it’s simply a waiting game for the older, more intolerant generations to pass on to their reward, wherever it awaits them and whomever they find there.
I still think gay rights will be realized, similar to the civil rights movement and the feminist movement – not that everything is completely equal, but that progress is made. But after seeing as much of that program as I could stomach, I’m less sure of the pace of progress. It was like seeing George Wallace or Lester “Axe-Handle” Maddox speaking up for segregation again. Or hearing accusations that bra-burning “women’s libbers” wanted unisex bathrooms. (Which was a recurring line in the early 70’s; I remember the mocking photo of an assertive, mini-skirted woman standing at a urinal and looking at one of the two startled men standing on either side of her. Rationality is so easily lost to fear or fervency.)
Check out the program, however much of it you can handle. They really believe Christians are being persecuted. They believe they have to act, or their faith is threatened. It doesn’t matter how often anyone says they can believe whatever they want – they have a cause, by God, and reason be damned.