It must be the End Times for American Christians – at least that’s what a Religious Right “scholar” would have you believe.
In a column for the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Dr. Michael Brown listed seven examples from recent weeks that he thinks represent “increasing hostility to Christian values and religious freedoms in our country today.” Unsurprisingly, not one proves anything he argues.
Brown, a self-described “Jewish believer in Jesus” and biblical scholar who has written books like Can You Be Gay And Christian?, is apparently pretty upset that two prominent sports leagues have said they will not hold major events in states that pass laws permitting discrimination against LGBT persons and others.
He specifically cites the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which said it will not hold men’s or women’s Final Four basketball tournament events in states with such laws. The National Basketball Association (NBA) made a similar declaration that it would pull the 2017 All-Star Game from North Carolina after that state passed an anti-trans bathroom bill.
Brown and said these actions represent discrimination against “biblically based beliefs,” but he fails to explain why that is the case. First, sports leagues are not obligated to hold events in any specific place. Second, these moves are a form of economic protest that affect everyone equally. How are Christians being singled out? How are Christians being prevented from practicing their religion if they can’t watch some sports at their local arena? They’re not, on both counts.
Brown also cites the case of Dr. Eric Walsh, a man he claims was denied a job with the Georgia Department of Public Health merely because he delivered sermons during his free time. Brown doesn’t bother to point out that Walsh’s sermons were riddled with crude invective that attacked LGBT people, Catholics and Muslims. (He also criticized condom-distribution programs, a stand that could impact public health.)
Among the other weak examples Brown claims represent Christian “persecution” is a recent Colorado Supreme Court decision not to hear the case of a baker who violated state anti-discrimination laws when he refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Brown thinks “religious freedom” should give for-profit business owners like Jack Phillips the right to ignore laws they don’t like. But what would Brown say about a business owner who refused to serve Christians on religious grounds? He probably wouldn’t like that, but of course Brown only wants Christians to have special privileges.
Brown is even angered by the recent publication of a list of colleges and universities that have been granted a waiver by the U.S. Department of Education so that they may discriminate against LGBT students and employees. People have the right to this information. After all, a student should be able to make an informed decision when selecting a school. Publishing something that helps people make a good choice is hardly a form of anti-Christian persecution.
In Brown’s warped world, standing up to fight discrimination is, in itself, a form of discrimination. And thus we have a perfect example of the Religious Right’s worldview: “I have the right to treat you however I want to because that’s my religious belief. If you oppose that treatment, then you’re discriminating against me.”
There is real religious persecution in the United States, but it doesn’t involve Christians. It’s quite ugly and it looks like this and this. Brown doesn’t seem concerned with any of those examples, though.
In reality, Brown and his ilk are hurting their cause. These bogus persecution claims do little beyond show how desperate far-right Christians are to preserve their declining dominance.
Follow Sarah Jones online at @onesarahjones