Oppression in America

It’s hard to claim the place of the oppressed when you wield power like this.

So ends a Timothy Dalrymple reflection on the Louie Giglio incident, which he described thus:

An evangelical pastor with a sterling record, who had developed strong relationships with President Obama and particularly his office of faith-based initiatives headed by Joshua DuBois, who had turned his enormously successful Passion conferences against the problem of human trafficking, was just publicly humiliated and shouted out of the public square for professing fairly standard Christian views on human sexuality and the possible redemption of our desires through the transformative power of the gospel of Christ. On the advice of the faith-based office, Giglio was invited to deliver the benediction, the LGBT community raised a hue and cry, and the White House quite obviously (see here and here) pressured him to step aside.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of Louie Giglio until Friday. I’m an ex-evangelical, still a practicing Christian (in the most historic sense), and have ceased trying to keep up with the doings of the evangelical subculture. Still, as in the current kerfuffle, those doings come to my attention often anyway.

But it sounds as if Mr. Giglio is an exemplary and center- to center-left figure, except that he does, or once did, believe that what we do with our genitals matters.

I’m not going to oversell what happened to Giglio. He was going to get to give a very public prayer. Now he’s not going to get to give that very public prayer. That’s not exactly being sent to the Gulag.

But I do think it’s ominous that a guy with so stellar a record was keelhauled for a remark from 20 years ago, as Dalrymple’s links do pretty well confirm, and that mainstream media aren’t eager to let that cat out of the bag:

Here’s how the fourth paragraph of [Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s] report appeared on The New York Times website early yesterday afternoon.

An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn.

This paragraph was one of the most significant that I read yesterday because it confirmed that the White House had initiated pulling Giglio from the inaugural program. Yet by yesterday evening and in today’ print edition, this part had been removed from Stolberg’s report.

(Denny Burk, another evangelical of whom I’d not heard until this morning.)

What kind of pressure was brought to bear? Well-reasoned?:

ThinkProgress discovered that Giglio had said some nasty things about homosexuality, including that it’s a sin, that it can be cured, and that it’s a “malfunction.”
As you can imagine, Malfunction-Americans weren’t terribly thrilled about yet another anti-gay bigot appearing at yet another Obama inaugural.
In the ensuing uproar, Louie Giglio was suddenly no longer giving the benediction.

Louie Giglio is free think gays have a malfunction that he can cure.  And we’re free to tell him to take a hike.  Religious bigots have an awfully hard time dealing with the concept of mutual free speech.  They love the idea that they can say whatever hateful thing they want.  But then they get very upset and confused when someone gives them a piece of their mind in return.
I can’t prove that the White House told Louie Giglio to take a hike.  I’m simply reading tea leaves.  And the tea leaves I’m reading are making me more and more pleased about how the White House has handled this issue.
I wasn’t pleased that Giglio was selected in the first place.  It was a huge oversight, considering past history.  But they fixed things fast, and to our satisfaction.

(John Aravosis) This is a “progressive” version of the right’s incorrigible misrepresentation about Obama’s “you didn’t build that” thought. “Nasty,” “anti-gay bigot,” “religious bigots,” and “hateful” are very broad-brush and very dubious. It is possible to “love the sinner” while hating the sin, and it does not sound to me as if Giglio is a hater in the mold of Fred Phelps.

The silver lining in this – and, yes, it’s an ominous cloud – is the adage that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. A court recently declined to decree same-sex marriage into his state’s laws precisely because the lobby seeking it is powerful, well-funded, well-connected, and has gained such remarkable cachet in just a few decades that they really don’t need courts carrying water for them any more. They can make their case politically, as they did in several referenda last November.

Perhaps it is something of a paradox that as their political clout grows stronger, the constitutional claims of same-sex marriage advocates become weaker. But if powerlessness is a legitimate variable in judicial decision-making, it is hard to gainsay the view of Judge Jones:

The question of “powerlessness” under an equal protection analysis requires that the group’s chances of democratic success be virtually hopeless, not simply that its path to success is difficult or challenging because of democratic forces. . . . The relevant consideration is the group’s “ability to attract the attention of the lawmakers,” an ability homosexuals cannot seriously be said not to possess.

Of course the advocates of same-sex marriage will continue to press their case in courts of law. They would rather convince five justices of the Supreme Court to impose their agenda on the country than try convincing the country itself.

Yup: “It’s hard to claim the place of the oppressed when you wield power like this.”

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.