Important work, thank you. I wish there were some outlet for k-12 educators and health care workers who are caught in the culture wars. There's reams of reporting on higher ed, the arts and media, but many of us on these essential front lines have nowhere to turn. Our unions are captured by DEI propaganda while we are struggling to cope with understaffed and increasingly violent workplaces. Our voices have been silenced by the threats of mob cancelation and loss of livelihood. There are millions of us, and we vote.
What's the name of your organization? Oh, that's right: Foundation Against INTOLERANCE and Racism.
How do FAIR's leadership reconcile the demands that FAIR's principles place on the organization with its gushing endorsement of the so-called Religious Freedom Institute and the words of FAIR Advisor Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University?
FAIR set the tone when it chose to platform the National Catholic Register. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has been a global center of intolerance towards gay people. Surely the champions of tolerance and pluralism at FAIR know that anti-gay bigotry has its roots in the Old Testament and that to this day most of the intolerance of "homosexuality" and gays is grounded (or justified) by religious faith.
Gay people alone bear the stigma of having their sexuality and intimate loving relationships (or, for that matter, their Grindr hookups) slandered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, 141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.'' 142 They are contrary to the natural law. 2333 They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. . . ."
These concepts are not mere abstractions. They inform religious thinking to this day. For proof, we need look no further than the recent words of the lauded Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University. In Professor George's remarks on the occasion of receiving the award of "2023 Defender of Religious Freedom," he stated:
"And here at home, we stand up for the rights of the Evangelical Christian baker or wedding planner threatened with legal sanctions for honoring his or her conscientious belief in marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife . . ."
God forbid a person whose union with their life partner violates "natural law" and whose sexuality is "intrinsically disordered" and an "act of grave depravity" should be permitted to do business with a God-fearing Christian. Ordinarily the of phrase "God forbid" would be metaphorical, but increasingly it appears the defenders of religious freedom consider it their mission to impose their divinely ordained mores and beliefs on the rest of society in the form of law. Don't take my word for it. Earlier in his address Professor George articulated an extremist agenda that envisions a society in which the rights of others are curtailed so that religious people may live their faith untroubled by sinners:
"We insist on the right to shape and run our institutions — be they schools, hospitals, food pantries, shelters, adoption agencies, rehab centers, or what have you — in line with the tenets of our faiths, and we further insist on our right as free and equal citizens to engage in advocacy on terms of equality with our fellow citizens in the formal and informal forums of deliberative democracy."
One need not speculate what it means when religious operatives demand that they be permitted to operate "in line with the tenets" of their sectarian beliefs. We know from the most recent Supreme Court term that when religion wins, gay people lose. Who would have predicted decades ago that compelled-speech jurisprudence would provide the pretext for subjugating gay rights to religious freedom?
The scale of the ambitions Professor George proclaimed in his speech is breathtaking. His is not a church that fears it is on the verge of being crushed by a hostile society. No, to the contrary, the professor is describing nothing less than a form of Christian imperialism. Businesses and activities that are not intrinsically religious and are subject to antidiscrimination laws everywhere else in American society ("schools, hospitals, food pantries, shelters, adoption agencies, rehab centers, or what have you . . .") become church "institutions" - "our institutions" - that today have the legal right to discriminate against gay people.
This is not scaremongering. The Catholic Church can and does fire gay people from Catholic schools even when they serve in purely secular roles. Future restrictions on gay people's rights to to interact with "schools, hospitals, food pantries, shelters, adoption agencies, rehab centers, or what have you" are limited only by the imaginations of the faithful (or of far-right projects like the Alliance Defending Freedom) as to when and where a gay person's desire to do business with one of their institutions offends their religious tenets. Test cases are working their way through the courts as I write this.
I thought the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism was against intolerance. I no longer believe that. As the NRA does with the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, FAIR takes a maximalist view of the First Amendment's religious freedom clause. Balancing tests, it seems, are for gymnasts, not jurists.
I call upon FAIR to explain itself. In secular terms, and without resorting to the reasoning of the notorious 303 case (303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, 600 U.S. 570 (2023)), why are religious beliefs that curtail gay people's right to do business with businesses in a secular society not also a clear expression of the type of intolerance that FAIR purports to oppose? Why must I be expected to tolerate an Evangelical's intolerance?
Still, it is true that every pitch-black cloud has a sliver lining. Among the many arguments against gender identity ideology, quite a few of which have merit, is the charge that the trans identity is not an ancient manifestation of humankind's variability but a recent sociocultural phenomenon that has more in common with fads than in human constants such as sex and race. Well, that's one thing we gay people don't have to worry about, and we have it on no less of an authority than the Roman Catholic Church: "[Homosexuality] has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures." Thank you, Leviticus, for sealing our claim to be part of the human family.