If these are your notions of faith and freedom, you’re doing them both wrong

I’d like to pick up from yesterday’s post about equal rights, at home and around the world, by looking at two competing ideas of freedom. And it shouldn’t take long, because one of them isn’t about real freedom at all.

Last week, GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told the Christian Broadcast Network that acceptance of equal rights for LGBT people will result in Christianity being defined as hate speech. ”If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced,” Cruz said.

“It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government.”

Now, obviously, that’s bullshit. Take a look at countries like Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal for over a decade, and you’ll see that none of this has taken place. Cruz doesn’t cite any countries in which his nightmare scenario has actually come true, and that’s probably because it’s never happened anywhere.

Still, did you spot what he did there? He tried to rewrite a struggle for equality with a specific, compelling, and utterly false idea. If you missed it, don’t worry, because you’ll get to see it again.

You’ll get to see it whenever some white guy says that anyone who dares to acknowledge that race is an issue is really just fanning the flames of racism against white people.

You’ll get to see it whenever a bunch of scared, sexist men try to tell you that feminism and equality for women are a threat to men everywhere.

You’ll get to see it whenever some traditionalist argues that same-sex marriage is somehow a threat to the sanctity of “real” marriage.

It’s the idea that freedom and equality are zero-sum games. It’s the idea that any victory for a minority group is somehow a loss for the regular, hard-working majority. It’s the idea that these minorities are the real oppressors, and that everyday people are the real victims.

People like Cruz will try to tell you that we need to fight back. People like Cruz will try to tell you that anyone fighting for equal rights is a threat to decent society. People like Cruz will try to tell you that it’s us or them.

People like Cruz are wrong. But if they insist on viewing the struggle for equal rights as a struggle of us versus them, then so be it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “live and let live” kind of guy, because you only get one life, and too many people like Cruz want to tell you how to live it. We all know that we can work together, as Bill and Melinda Gates once said, to “increase equity and opportunity” throughout the world, making it a better place.

This, I believe, is what anyone working for freedom and justice is trying to do. If people like Ted Cruz really believe in freedom – and not just their own freedom to be as ignorant and intolerant as they like – then they’re welcome to get on board and do their part, wherever it needs to be done.

But if people like Cruz would rather draw a line in the sand, and insist on doing battle with us, then I guess that’s the way it’s got to be. This week, let’s take a look at some of the things we need to know in order to win that battle. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as we go.

Posted in Social Action

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