I ventured over to Lawton last week to watch Comanche County Democrats organize a Social Justice Caucus in order to provide a forum and a voice for those people who never seem to enjoy the same basic rights as the majority of us.
Good meeting. Former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Connie Johnson provided organizational and inspirational tips for the caucus as well as getting in some campaigning for herself. Assured that social justice might be an even less popular topic than the Trump/Russian connections, I had prepared a more mundane topic for this week when Charlottesville, VA, was invaded by an orchestrated and organized assault by Nazis, Klansmen and other anti-American haters and traitors to protest that city’s choice to remove some of its own symbols of past injustices.
The invasion ended when an Ohio hater drove into a crowd of marchers and killed a young Charlottesville woman who was standing up for the dignity of her city.
Who would have thought it would take a Republican president of the United States of America three full days of mealy-mouthing and silence before he would condemn nazis? That speaks volumes about the state of that party right now – when the president continuously kowtows to its racists instead of adhering to its conservative principles. And, as if the country had a shortage of hatred and bigotry, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has come to the defense of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group that targets the rights and persons of LGBTQ people throughout the world. Last week, our state’s largest newspaper lauded the former church youth camp director for complaining to ABC News for naming ADF as the hate group it is. The paper and Lankford both cited strong Christian values and rights to expressing one’s viewpoints as if this were a First Amendment case. What the good senator and the editorialists chose to ignore is the history of the ADF and its supporters under various guises, manifestations and alliances.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has charged itself with the unenviable task of trying to monitor the explosion of hate groups in the U.S., is the group that holds the ADF accountable, and the one cited by ABC and denounced by Sen. Lankford. According to the SPLC, the ADF “is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad, has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society. “ADF also works to develop ‘religious liberty’ legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion.”
That’s not just advocating free speech or religion; that’s punishing – even violently – people who disagree with you or whom your medieval view of the world simply does not understand. The medieval reference is deliberate. The website for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, an ADF ally, noted in 2014: “Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries. This is catholic (with a small “C”) universal orthodoxy and it is desperately crucial for cultural renewal.”
Yeah, let’s return to those stirring days of yesteryear when we could just burn, or murder by other means, heretics, witches, pagans, passing strangers, those passing strangely or those we might have a grudge against or whose property we covet.
The ADF is one of the main purveyors of the myths of oppressed Christians and a “homosexual agenda.” It’s not enough for ADF that Christianity is the dominant religion in the country, with unrivaled – and probably unprecedented – political clout right now, even with our currently unprincipled president. It wants total supremacy.
Using the common scare tactics of its right-wing pals, the ADF demonizes the efforts of a small, historically-persecuted LGBTQ minority to enjoy the same rights as the rest of us as an insidious plot against God and country. Truly, if ADF’ers were so sure of their religion, they wouldn’t feel the need to try to legislate it. And, it’s this ADF that the OKC paper praises Sen. Lankford for defending. Of course, this is the same newspaper that tried to spin wholly holy Hobby Lobby’s trafficking in stolen archaeological artifacts as more of a salvage operation than the funding of savage terrorists.
When that paper says, “Until (SPLC) changes its ways, its evaluations should be taken with a healthy grain of salt if not ignored altogether,” it could be self-referencing its own blind-spot bias in favor of public Christians regardless of their actions.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)