Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Welton Gaddy and Barry Lynn on Religious Right and Religious Freedom: "Right to Do What They Want, Whenever They Want, Wherever They Want"

And talk about obscene inversion of moral narratives (I'm referring here to what I've just posted about the Trayvon Martin story): at Talk to Action, Fred Clarkson offers an excerpt from commentary about the religious freedom debate in the U.S. recently published by C. Welton Gaddy and Barry Lynn at Religion News Service. Gaddy and Lynn point out that, though there is absolutely no evidence at all that anyone is seeking to snatch religious freedom away from members of the Christian right, their rallying cry has now become that they are an embattled minority threatened by a bullying secular mainstream.

But as Gaddy and Lynn also point out, what this rallying cry is really all about is a kind of inversion of the narrative of bullying--it's a demand on the part of Christian conservatives that they have the unrestricted right to impose their beliefs on the rest of society. Just because. Because Jesus

And so Gaddy and Lynn conclude:

The far right is making a concerted effort to redefine religious freedom as a catch-all concept that gives "authentic" Christians the right to do what they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. They seek to use positions of authority -- including in the military -- as platforms to proselytize their faith while seeking to limit the ability of people of other faiths to take a different perspective. When challenged, they present themselves as victims or martyrs and claim the mantle of religious freedom as the ultimate defense.

It's important to note, I think, that at the very forefront of this new strategy which seeks to invert the religious freedom narrative, so that the demand to impose sectarian religious ideas on a majority who do not adhere to those ideas in a pluralistic secular democracy becomes a narrative about threats to religious freedom--at the very forefront of this new strategy are the U.S. Catholic bishops and their intellectual gurus, including people like Robert P. George. This is to say that the U.S. bishops and folks like Robert P. George have now assumed a leadership role in the American religious right, and are guiding its strategy and arguments at a very fundamental level.

And Americans concerned about the future of the pluralistic secular democracy, and about maintaining the line separating church from state, need to monitor these developments very closely.

The graphic is from a Washington Post article by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo discussing the 2012 Fortnight for Freedom and the tour of the Nuns on the Bus.

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