Friday, March 20, 2015

End-of-Week Items: Utah, Arkansas, Religious Freedom and Anti-Gay Laws, and Fixations of Conservotrad Catholics

A miscellany of end-of-week news items or blog postings I've read, thought were good, and want to pass on to you as the week ends:

At LGBTQ Nation, Frederick Clarkson reports on an upcoming "religious freedom" and "family" conference in Salt Lake City:

An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in October 2015. The World Congress of Families’ (WCF) conferences tend to attract thousands of participants and prominent religious and political leaders from all over the world.   
If past conferences are any indication, many Americans may be shocked, but not entirely surprised, by the proceedings. . . .  
Unsurprisingly, the theme of the Salt Lake City conclave will be religious liberty, and the groups involved in the planning of the event are among the best known organizations of the American Christian Right. They include the Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, National Organization for Marriage, Eagle Forum, and the Manhattan Declaration.

For The New Civil Rights Movement, Eric Ethington provides behind-the-scenes analysis of Utah's new nondiscrimination law, which is being touted in the mainstream media as a breakthrough for the LGBT community. As Ethington notes, anti-gay University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson played a key role in drafting the Utah legislation, with the following agenda:

[T]e real agenda was to obtain the endorsement of LGBTQ groups. The Religious Freedom Restoration Acts currently being pushed through state legislatures, particularly in the South, are vulnerable to court challenges. But now that the Religious Right has high-profile endorsements of their false framework of religious freedom and LGBTQ rights being opposed to each other, unfortunately, the ability of LGBTQ activists and organizations to oppose RFRAs and other efforts to codify discrimination—all dressed up in the language of “religious freedom”—has been curtailed.

Alan McCornick at Hepzibah on the anti-gay laws now being passed by one state legislature after another, including the Arkansas legislature, as the Supremes take up the marriage case:

People are freaking out over the possibility that the Supreme Court may legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.  Once that happens, it will be hard to explain to your kids that you know gays are inferior because if they weren’t they would be allowed to get married and have their relationships recognized by the state.  No parent should have to explain that to their kids, right?  At least with this anti-pro-gay ordinance, you can assure your kids that you don’t have to worry about sitting next to one of them at a lunch counter.  Or be waited on by one of them.  Or if you do, and you don’t like the service, you can at least tell the restaurant owner and get his ass fired for being gay.

And from Leah Mickens at Extra Ecclesiam Est Libertas, a fascinating first-hand account of how an intelligent, sensitive young woman with an interest in liturgy and a tendency to scrupulosity can get roped into the "crazy town" culture of right-wing Catholic blog sites:

I thought that by going to these sites and being “encouraged” by conservotrad Catholics was going to make me a better Catholic, but in reality, I was simply feeding into my pre-existent mental problems. Even when I was “orthodox,” I realized that these sites were having a deleterious effect on my mental state, but I felt compelled to return to them for reasons that I can’t entirely explain to this day. Maybe I thought that if I didn’t check them I’d miss some important news story, but in retrospect, not being privy the latest object of the conservotrad two-minutes of hate hardly seems like something worth stressing out over. I think there was also the hope that being around “orthodox” Catholics who were concerned with personal holiness would lead to some increased holiness on my part, but now I’m of the opinion that anyone who claims to be “holy” is probably just using that as an excuse to justify their own ill treatment of other (see Padre Pio and Chogyam Trunpa for examples). 

I encourage you to read Leah's whole well-written, painfully honest essay. It's hard to choose a single piece of it to recommend, since everything the essay says is worth reading. She explains, for instance, in a way I have never seen so clearly stated, why traditionalist Catholics imagine that the reform of the liturgy led to, well, the homosexuals bursting out of their closets, since, "Changing the liturgy, conservotrads claim, sent the unintentional message that anything was up for grabs, from accepting homosexuality to female priests."

Who knew? And I am deeply sorry that the Catholic church has done such a number on good, bright human beings honestly seeking religious truth and spiritual grounding. Leah is far from alone here.

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