Sunday, March 2, 2008

Part II: In Which I Fortell The Death Of The Christian Right

As I wrote in my last post, one of my daughters and I went to the 3rd Annual Governor's Conference on LGBT Youth at Drake University in Des Moines, IA a couple of weeks ago. Sponsored by The GLBT Youth in Iowa Schools Task Force, the conference concerned issues surrounding education of students who are GLBT in Iowa including bullying and harassment. In my first post about the conference I ended with my surprise at the visibility of faith, especially Christian faith, at the conference.

What struck me hardest was a comment made by a panel member in the last session I attended at the conference, a panel of students who lead high school GSAs (gay-straight alliances). Briana McGeough and the others spoke about what they had learned as student leaders and their aspirations for their school's GSAs. McGeough said that she hoped to include spirituality in more of her GSA's programming. No big surprise, condemnations from religious leaders and demands that people who are GLBT become "normal" had put her and a lot of other students off The Church. In spite of this McGough said she was no longer comfortable with the resulting "anti-Jesus" atmosphere. She wanted to bring some Christian leaders and religious scholars in to speak to the group and make things more positive.

Being a Christian I found this personally validating. More importantly I started doing the math.

Jerry Fallwell is dead. The big right-wing ministers have been slow and fragmented in finding Presidential hopefuls to endorse. The Republican party knows that a social reactionary is not viable in a general election. My first session at a GLBT education conference was presented by a Methodist minister. Two of my wife's friends are ordained Christian clergy in decade-long lesbian relationships. A lesbian teenager just told me her high school's GSA needs more Jesus.

Clearly, the Christian Right is in trouble.

Disillusionment with the Bush administration is making a lot of Christians question the evangelical church's dysfunctional politics. Simultaneously, staunch conservatives, informed by the likes of the late William F. Buckley and the just-as-smart but much funnier P.J. O'Rourke, are realizing that there are down sides to allying themselves with modern Puritans. On the surface Christian Right conservatives may seem to be pining for the same simpler golden age as neoconservatives and fiscal conservatives, but longing for a world where everyone still knew their place doesn't make you an asset to the larger conservative movement. What's more, a lot of fiscal conservatives have a libertarian bent and could care less who you sleep with.

Another venue where the Christian right may be showing their ass for the last time is same sex parenting. Because same sex couples have been able to adopt in Iowa for some time I didn't pay a lot of attention to this issue until I picked up a book about it from the ACLU table at the Governor's Conference. Too High A Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting is an unassuming paperback published by the ACLU that lays out the historical and legal landscape in the US for same sex parents as of 2006. There is progress for parents in same sex relationships having custody and visitation equity but many states, especially in the South, do have laws on the books allowing judges to discriminate on that basis.

That is shameful, but it gets worse. While Focus On The Family and the Family Research Council are doing their best to undermine the parenting of men and women who are GLBT the US has 500,000+ children in our foster care system. According to the Child Welfare League Of America (CWLA's President wrote a forward to Too High A Price) in 2005 51,278 children were adopted out of the foster care system. That sounds like a lot, but in the same year 122,195 of the 500,000 were available for adoption.

Any attempt to deny even one of these children a permanent home with one or more nurturing parents of any sexual orientation or gender identity is indefensible. If you don't believe me pick up a copy of the book. It is heavily footnoted and the policies it advocates are all based on evidence from peer reviewed research.

I am an antinomian Christian parent of (at least) one child who is GLBT and three who were adopted out of the foster care system. It's a pretty short trip from there to having strong feelings about these issues. That's all well and good, but I'd be up in arms about this if I wasn't a parent at all. Look at the numbers. Check a few of the links above and ask yourself if you can justify leaving one more child in foster care because the waiting parents don't meet Jim Dobson's moral standard.

You can't. Neither can anybody else who understands the US child welfare system, even if they disapprove of homosexuality. The Christian Right's ethical inconsistency and advocacy of blatant injustice on issues such as this are a large piece of the movement's undoing.

As they loose the culture war battle on this issue the next almost has to be over marriage equality. They will loose that one too because their paleoconservative argument, "one man and one woman was good enough for Grampa and Grandma so it's good enough for you," holds about as much water as a broken condom. Their other argument, that The Bible only recognizes one-man-one-woman marriage so our government should follow suit, has plenty of perforations too, but that's a discussion for another day.

Like I said, I did the math. The people the Christian Right drove away from The Church want to come back. Their political tryst partners are going back to their more pragmatic and internally consistent spouses. The President they elected fucked up the war in Iraq. Nobody likes the caretaker who hides the orphans from childless parents.

These facts will do what Ralph Reed's relationship with Jack Abramoff could not. Most people won't recognize it until after the 2008 election. You read it here first. 2008 is the year the Christian Right was marginalized.


Anonymous said...

"Nobody likes the caretaker who hides the orphans from childless parents." Well said. Very well said.

DJ Dual Core said...

Thank you. My mom wanted a poet.

...and a doctor.