ONTD Political

On Christian Privilege

10:04 am - 06/29/2011
Christian Privilege: Not Being Allowed to Dominate Others Doesn’t Mean You’re Being Oppressed.

We get a number of comments on the blog entries, including this one in response to Beth’s piece on why we’re thrilled that New York has legalized same-sex marriage:

Here’s the thing. Even Obama says that a “Marriage” should be between a man and a woman. Why do gays have to have “Marriage”. Why can’t it be a civil union? why isn’t that good enough? I understand you are an Atheist and any religious argument is looked upon with disdain, but you are doing the exact thing that you accuse others of doing to you. You are treading roughshod over their beliefs. There was and is a solution. Don’t call it gay marriage. However, as per usual, it seems the gay community must thumb it’s collective nose at everyone else.

This comment so typifies what I feel is the Christian privilege behind a lot of the opposition to same-sex marriage equality, that I felt it deserved to be addressed as a blog post of its own. I don’t know if the author of the comment is a Christian or not, but I think it’s a safe assumption, given the way that majoritarian arrogance just drips from every sentence.

First, I’d tell the commenter that the gay community isn’t “thumbing it’s collective nose at everyone else.” For one, it’s not really “everyone else” anymore since a majority polled now support same-sex marriage rights, but also because human rights are not a popularity contest. The people with the greatest numbers can change the tax system, or affect policy changes on things like roads or healthcare, but they cannot enforce their religious beliefs on any minority.

And this is what many Christians seem to have a real problem with.

No one’s rights are being trampled if same-sex marriage is legalized. NO ONE’S.

If your religious beliefs condemn marriage between two people of the same gender, then you shouldn’t marry people of the same gender. While you have the freedom to limit your own behavior in matters of sexuality, diet or religious observance, you don’t have any power to limit the rights of other people, particularly those in other religions or with no religion.

If someone else is allowed to marry their same-sex partner, the anti-gay marriage advocate is affected in no way, oppressed in no way, their right to hold those beliefs is violated in no way.

Just as orthodox Jews aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally watch television and use electric appliances on Saturday. Just as Muslims aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally purchase alcohol. Just as Hindus aren’t victims of oppression when other people are legally allowed to eat beef.

You are expecting a level of cultural dominance that is completely unreasonable. You are expecting the right to to demand that your religious practices be taken as civil law and that the prohibitions of (I assume) Christianity be enforced on everybody — including non-Christians and Christians of denominations that accept equality in gay rights.

Our refusal to be dominated is not persecution of Christians. Our demand that the government be neutral and secular on matters of religious belief is not the persecution of Christians. If a man is beating us with a club, slapping that club out of his hand is not “running roughshod over his beliefs.”

As for why they should be allowed to have “marriage,” why do you care what they call their legally recognized relationships? Why do you need to put a velvet rope up around heterosexual relationships to put them in a restricted area so that you don’t have to share a word with anyone else? Why don’t you change the name of your marriage to a “civil union?” Why isn’t that good enough?

Other than the genders involved, there is no difference between a heterosexual marriage and a homosexual one. Both are generally based in love, respect and a desire to spend your lives together.

Your life, again, is affected not one wit if gay folks are allowed to marry their partners. Why do you even care? How are you being harmed or oppressed if gay people are given equal rights?

And you’re right about Obama saying that. And guess what? Obama was wrong. It happens sometimes with the president.


Mods: This is a pure opinion piece, but I thought it is politically relevant given recent events in New York.
fauxparadiso 30th-Jun-2011 02:40 am (UTC)
I think one of their "points" is the fear that they'll have to do gay marriages in their church, even though anyone with common sense knows that couples would just go to a church that's a-ok with gay marriages and stay away from your homophobic congregation.

Though I do have a question about that - churches get tax exemption right? Does that mean that they have to follow federal laws against discrimination? Or are they private and exempt?
thecityofdis 30th-Jun-2011 02:44 am (UTC)
They're exempt - if they had to adhere to federal non-discrimination laws, Catholics would ordain women.
fauxparadiso 30th-Jun-2011 02:49 am (UTC)
I'm wondering how the WBC gets away with tax exemption because that's only supposed to go with churches = charitable organization. I've never heard jack shit about WBC donating towards charity or helping others.
thecityofdis 30th-Jun-2011 02:53 am (UTC)
That's not really how it works. A non-profit/"charitable" organization does not necessarily have to have any kind of philanthropic involvement, it's a much broader range of characterization than that. I work for a non-profit but our tax-deductible side is a research-driven organization. We don't give grants, we get them. We certainly don't go into soup kitchens or put up the homeless or give loans to Kiva - we make calculations and publish papers.

tl;dr: Recognized religious institutions are tax-deductible by their nature, and the generally excepted shorthand is "as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization". But charity does not legally mean the same thing it does colloquially.
squeeful 30th-Jun-2011 03:15 am (UTC)
Religious organizations are tax-exempt for separation of church and state reasons. If they paid taxes, then like private citizens they'd have a legal say in the government.
supermishelle 30th-Jun-2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Yeah because if I were a gay person I'd be dying to have my marriage performed by someone who hates me. I think they're exempt because they can basically be as bigoted as they want and claim freedom of religion.
sixdemonhag 30th-Jun-2011 04:13 am (UTC)
They don't have to marry anybody they don't want to. A co-worker had a hell of a time trying to find someone to marry her and her husband since none of the clergy would marry them unless they were members of that church. They finally got the local funeral director to do it.
spiegel11th 30th-Jun-2011 05:11 am (UTC)
...that actually sounds really cool.
serendipity_15 30th-Jun-2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
Wait, funeral directors can officiate over weddings? Is that everywhere or just in certain states?
wrestlingdog 30th-Jun-2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Churches can choose whether or not to marry any couples as they see fit- at least individual churches can. I know when my parents got married, my dad's family's parish wouldn't marry them because my mother wasn't Catholic.
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