(That’s optimism. I know this won’t be the last time.)
In response to people getting worked up over the Chick-Fil-A thing, using rhetoric like “Christians in this country are being treated like Jews in Nazi Germany,” some relevant points:
* You are completely free to express your disapproval of the lifestyle I have chosen to live, and the fact that I am petitioning our government to recognize that lifestyle.
* I am completely free to express my disapproval of your disapproval.
* When a company donates lots of money to groups that are trying to get me to live my life in a way I don’t want to, I am free to express my disapproval of that company in many ways, including telling other people about them, taking my business elsewhere, and asking other people to take their business elsewhere too.
* Most importantly, me living my life in a way you disapprove of IS NOT RESTRICTING YOUR RIGHTS IN ANY WAY. Can I be more clear about that? Your rights as an American do not extend to having other people live the way you feel is right. Thomas Jefferson did not write, “that among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and telling other people what to do.” (In fact, that last one was a deliberate omission seeing as how it was kind of the whole point of the Declaration of Independence, you know?)
In a larger sense, the fact that a fast-food chain has become a referendum on social policy is kind of laughable. Amazon announced that Jeff Bezos is donating $2.5 million to support same-sex marriage in Washington state. Microsoft and Starbucks and Google have come out publicly in support of same-sex marriage. None of those announcements caused a hundredth of the stir that Chick-Fil-A did (admittedly, the Jim Henson Company’s action and CFA’s ham-handed handling of it helped keep it in the spotlight). CFA is one of the few corporate entities (sorry–individuals) to come out publicly against same-sex marriage in recent years, and the fact that it made headlines and has attracted so much negative attention is a real indication of how the larger currents of society have shifted. It is shocking to us that a company would make a statement like that (and they backpedaled unsuccessfully from it) in 2012, because it’s such an unpopular position, and that in itself is a pretty startling and encouraging indication.
What the poor oppressed “Christians” (*) are screaming now is fear-based. They were, not so long ago, the policy-makers of this country, with a hand in the dominant political party and a confident grip on the social agenda. That grip has slipped, not because of any missteps, but because of the continuing evolution of social consciousness in this country. It’s evident that we have more pressing issues to deal with than the gender of the two people next door who want to build a life together. But some people persist in viewing this as the be-all and end-all of this country’s moral compass. They know their number is dwindling. They know that while they may win a few more popular votes on the issue, the tide is turning, and their victories will be fewer and fewer. They are not the Jews in Nazi Germany; they are the Neanderthals looking around in bewilderment as more evolved humans take over their territory, beating their chests and screaming ineffectually in the face of inexorable progress. They are the people who protested integration in the sixties, women’s suffrage in the nineteenth century, and so on. And like those people, society will nod politely to them as it goes on down the road, leaving them shaking their fists, remembered mostly as obstacles that were overcome.
* Most of the actual Christians I know are terrific, lovely people who are delighted to meet me and my husband, and are just as horrified at the people making Nazi Germany analogies as we are. Important to keep in mind.