Friday, September 13, 2013

NALT Project: Contribution of Joe Murray, Former Staff Attorney for American Family Association

One of the interesting contributions to the new NALT (Not All Like That) Christians project is Joe Murray's video statement in support of NALT, which I've uploaded at the head of the posting. Murray was once staff attorney for the American Family Association, worked with the Alliance Defense Fund, and was on Pat Robertson's 2000 presidential campaign team.

He is a conservative Catholic. And he has changed his mind about marriage equality. In a statement at Truth Wins Out's website, he explains why he had moved from the hard anti-gay rights stance of the Christian right to a support for the human rights of LGBTI human beings:

As a staff attorney, I was able to see firsthand how the Religious Right operated. I first worked with AFA after I was selected to be in the inaugural class of the then Alliance Defense Fund’s Blackstone Fellowship. The Fellowship was designed to select the best and brightest budding Christian lawyers to train them to fight the culture war in courtrooms across America. 
Such training did not prepare me for the reality of how the Evangelical “Christian” political machine operated, especially when the battle over marriage erupted.

In a word, this is how Murray sums up "how the Evangelical 'Christian' political machine operated" in its battle to make gay marriage the number-one culture-war issue of our period of history: "It was morality driven by money." As he notes, the Christian right has "doubled down on gay discrimination," deliberately trading in hateful stereotypes about gay human beings designed to elicit anti-gay prejudice, and it has put money into its own coffers as it has engaged in this morally reprehensible behavior.

And it has lost:

When students of political science study the demise of the Christian Right years from now, the focus will most assuredly be on gay rights. 
After the Christian Right tapped out the pro-life issue, the captains of Christian industry needed a new sales pitch to keep the coffers filled. These folks thought they saw the light in 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Somehow, the attack on the human rights--on the humanity--of a targeted, scapegoated minority has failed to impress many Americans, including many American Christians, as particularly Christian. As Fred Clark notes, efforts like NALT are, Murray concludes "a devastating blow to the Christian Right”" because they demonstrate that the Christian right's "claim of a monopoly on morality is nothing more than smoke and mirrors."

And isn't in any way rooted in the teaching and example of Jesus--and so isn't in any way reflective of the core values of Christianity in its authentic expressions rooted in the gospels . . . . 

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