Tag Archives: Hannity

As Long As We’re Talking About Religious Liberty…

Can we at least examine whose religion deserves to be “protected” by giving businesses an exemption from otherwise applicable civil rights laws?

Despite the ignominious fate of RFRA (the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”) in Indiana, other states–most notably Louisiana–are moving to enact similar measures. Louisiana’s increasingly bizarre Governor, Bobby Jindal, insists that he won’t be dissuaded by crass business interests from “protecting religious liberty.”

The rhetoric around this issue would have us believe that measures like RFRA are needed to protect a monolithic and undifferentiated Christianity from the vast secular army bent on its destruction. So we see Mike Huckabee warning that the “criminalization of Christianity” is imminent, while Shawn Hannity recently proclaimed that the “three most persecuted groups in America today are Christians, the wealthy, and white males.”

I don’t know what planet Huckabee and Hannity live on, and there is no point in debating people who’ve clearly been drinking the kool-aid. But as a non-Christian, I do want to stick up for the numerous thoughtful and actually “Christian” Christians who are getting a bad name from these culture warriors who claim to speak for them.

As Political Animal recently reported,

Next time you hear somebody talk about “Christians” being opposed to same-sex marriage, or being “persecuted” for their refusal to acknowledge same-sex marriages, you might want to direct them to fresh data from the Public Religion Research Institute about the different attitudes of different denominational categories of religious folk on this subject (h/t Sarah Posner).

PRRI shows that while white evangelical Protestants do indeed oppose same-sex marriage by a 28/66 margin, white mainline Protestants support it by a significantly larger margin (62/30) than the general public (54/38). And if you want to believe us mainliners are a dying breed, there’s U.S. Catholics, who despite their church’s teaching support marriage equality by 60/30.

There are also plenty of Christian churches that support reproductive choice.

I personally know a lot of Christians who read their bibles for clues on how to be better, kinder people, rather than for evidence of their moral superiority and their right to tell everyone else how to live.

In fact, the only “embattled” Christians I’m aware of are the theocrats who find it intolerable to live under a system that accords heretics and nonbelievers an equal place at the civic table.

People like Jindal, Huckabee and Hannity look a lot more like the Taliban than like the good Christians I know.

REALLY??

Okay–further proof that Americans inhabit dramatically different realities.

Last week, a video surfaced showing the Rutger’s basketball coach shoving, hitting and otherwise abusing his players. The physical abuse was accompanied by verbal attacks, and it was all caught on tape. Predictably, there was an uproar. The coach was fired and the athletic director resigned under pressure. Commentary in the wake of the episode raised questions about college athletics, the pressure to win, the focus on the bottom line, and the effect of these on the purported character-and-sportsmanship-building purpose of athletic participation. Shades of Bobby Knight.

Predictable.

What was not predictable–at least, not in the reality I inhabit–was the conservative commentariat’s rush to defend the coach’s behavior.

Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and others described the coach’s firing as another example of political correctness, presumably because the epithets caught on tape were anti-gay slurs. In their view, the whole incident was evidence of America’s loss of backbone, expressed in the “coddling” of young people. We’ve gone soft. Whatever happened to “spare the rod and spoil the child”? Hannity offered the information that he’d been disciplined with a belt as a child and that he’d grown up all right. (As Jon Stewart pointed out, Hannity’s “all-rightness” is a debatable proposition….)

In what reality is the abhorrent behavior displayed on that video an acceptable expression of discipline? Perhaps a more pertinent question is, in what twisted reality is the coach’s dismissal a political statement?

What we saw on that video was an undisciplined bully, someone whose lack of self-control and contempt for the young people for whom he was responsible marked him as anything but a role model. Civilized people do not reward or defend such behavior.

If condemning boorishness and brutality has become a partisan political statement, things are even worse than I thought.