I was wondering how long it would take for the oppressors behind Prop. 8 to play the victim, although it is a difficult feat to pull off for any group that can afford a full-page ad in The New York Times.
Mormons have collectively been taking a lot of heat for their singularly active role in working to pass Prop. 8 in order to strip gays of their preeexisting Constitutional right to marry in California. Their participation went way beyond that of any other organization, religious or otherwise, by more than a factor of 10 (more than 100 per capita). To their small credit, they have not greatly disputed their role or sought political cover for it.
Yet political cover is on the way nonetheless. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit advocacy group that promotes Religion (not religious liberty as they claim, as they do not advocate for atheist rights). They interpret the First Amendment as favoring religion, not being neutral to it. Here is how they expect a free advantage in public debate (from their ad No Mob Veto):
“We're a disagreeable lot. We differ about a great many important things...Nevertheless, we're united in this: The violence [?] and intimidation being directed against the LDS ...—and even against individual believers—simply because they supported Proposition 8 is an outrage that must stop.”
Who's we? Presumably the 13 signatories (almost all with a vested interest in preserving religious privilege). What violence? There was no statistically significant violence, much less ongoing. This is a shameless strawman slander to incite the reader. Indeed there is intimidation: lawful, legal, moral intimidation. Public shame and boycotts.
“Of course, when a religious organization enters the public policy arena, it must be prepared for disputes.”
That's an understatement: anyone wading into a public policy dispute with profound negative effect on a historically oppressed minority should prepare for war, limited only by the legality of its methods.
“Let's be clear: even the crudest anti-religious propaganda isn't illegal, and may not constitutionally be outlawed. But it's nevertheless wrong. It has no place in civilized society.”
Fascist and fatuous. The Constitution protects Free Speech, lawful assembly, and the right to petition because they are such precious rights. Far from wrong, they are our duty in a free society. Politics is bruising business. You don't get a free ride to rescind the rights of another less popular than you and then feign indignant surprise when they defend themselves.
And now brace yourselves for one more bit of strawman outrage over a nonexistent problem, their "righteous indignation":
“We announce today that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to defend any house of worship...from violence....”
As I hope we all would, naturally. But just who is burning this mythical cross or swastika, throwing bricks through Church windows, in some systematic wave of violence? The only major increase in hate crimes this year has been against gays and lesbians. As for last year, where full statistics are available from the FBI, less than 2% of hate crimes were against Christians, whereas 16% were against non-heterosexuals (and for perspective, 36% against African-Americans and 12% against Jews). I think that any feigned wave of anti-Christian hysteria should be kept in statistical perspective.
At last we come to the "threat":
“Furthermore, beginning today, we commit ourselves to exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry—against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason.”
Bravo, now you have lowered yourself below even my standards. I do not try to impose atheism on others, just work to leave Religion out of the public debate. Now we hear that these Religious will come to the aid of other Religious to protect the supremacy of the role of Religion itself. Religiousity is now a favored quality of being American. Religion is too precious to be attacked. All hail Religion.
What can you say against this religiofascist impulse? As one of its more famous adherents put it: Bring it on! Isn't Free Speech messy? You can start with me (okay, that's a bit presumptuous, maybe you should start with Richard Dawkins, as he was here long before me).
I categorically and publicly reject subordinating my conscience, scientific reasoning, politics, rights, and civic duties in mindless subservience to a superstition merely because it is popular.
Much less do I defend the practice of superstition itself, as though ecumenism in fantasy makes it less sectarian: your Flying Teapot for my Easter Bunny.
Religion is Latin for "that which binds one back from". I do not need my free will restrained from free thought and shackled to some popular prejudice handed down from even less enlightened forbears, and I would gladly shame such people as have advocated the apotheosis of superstition in our society.
But those having signed this half-strawman half-arrogant petition of privilege have already shown themselves to be unshameable. And that's a God-awful shame.