Christianity, like any religion, is far from a monolithic entity. With 217 known Christian denominations in the United States, there are bound to be some political and doctrinal differences. Still, few things have split American Christians like marriage equality.
These days, many progressive Christians supportive of marriage for same-sex couples find themselves coming under attack by their conservative counterparts through targeted local campaigns and national calls for condemnation. The Religious Right has abandoned thoughtful theological discussion in favor of intimidation tactics and name-calling, referring to left-leaning Christians as "apostates" and "heretics".
"...conservative Christian denunciation of people who hold different beliefs than they do isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Organizations such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which has spent years lobbying against LGBT equality from within several Christian denominations, have long sought the eradication of liberal theology. Right-leaning Catholics and evangelical Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham have repeatedly made sweeping claims as to what 'Christians' believe, implying that people of faith who don’t share their views are not, in fact, Christians. What’s more, faith communities — conservative or otherwise — have lashed out at each other almost since their inception, so it’s not necessarily surprising that conservative Christians, having lost legal battles over LGBT issues, are now sliding into a theological debate with fellow believers.
Yet the newest push against liberal Christianity appears hypocritical, as it coincides with a massive campaign waged by various right-wing Christians to insist that the political left respect their 'religious liberty' — namely, the right to deny jobs and services to LGBT people in the public sphere, private business, and in Christian schools by invoking faith. Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Andrew Walker, Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, began insisting that the decision will only lead to the erosion of religious liberty — for evangelical Christians.
'Slowly and surely, Americans are now witnessing a slow erosion of religious liberty happening in the public square,' he wrote. 'From backlash at expressing a belief about marriage that results in dismissal, to the real fear that institutions that desire to maintain accreditation may not be able to do so, the concerns registered in the past are being catapulted into the present.'"
On one hand, the Religious Right cries religious discrimination; on the other, it actively campaigns to be allowed to discriminate against LGBT couples and families. It's hard to wrap your head around. Yet, the existence of Christians who celebrate this new step forward for American civil rights demonstrates that being religious and respecting the rights of others are not mutually exclusive. We hope that one day the voice of religious acceptance will drown out those who would use their beliefs to harm others.