Are Conservative Christians the New Queers?

Think again.
May 2 2014 10:20 AM

Are Conservative Christians the New Queers?

484926521-president-barack-obama-sits-next-to-dr-russell-moore
Russell Moore at a meeting of faith leaders with President Obama, April 15, 2014.

Photo by Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday I wrote about the decline of anti-gay religion. The context was the recent Faith Angle conference at which speakers and participants discussed the shifting views of Catholics and evangelical Protestants on homosexuality. The one speaker who clearly reaffirmed his belief in the sinfulness of homosexual behavior was Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Even he acknowledged that his brethren were becoming more realistic and modest in their approach to the issue.

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

One thing I didn’t write about was Moore’s cultural view of the anti-gay resistance. I’m using the term anti-gay here to mean opposition to homosexual behavior, not to homosexual inclination, since Moore would certainly say that he loves the sinner, gay or straight. What’s striking about Moore’s perspective is that he no longer sees gay people as the deviant minority. The deviants, in his view, are Christians.

Advertisement

I don’t mean that he thinks there’s anything wrong with being Christian. I’m using the technical definition of deviance: divergence from the norm. The new norm is acceptance of homosexuality. Those who disagree are, in Moore’s language, freaks.

“The illusion of a Moral Majority is no longer sustainable in this country,” Moore told the conference participants. Given the country’s cultural transformation, he argued, pursuing “a constitutional amendment for same-sex marriage is a politically ridiculous thing to talk about.”

Instead, he described a future in which “Christianity becomes, with a secularizing America, increasingly strange and increasingly freakish to many people.” He continued:

Christianity, even in some of its most basic claims, is going to seem strange, is going to seem freakish. And I say we should embrace the freakishness of Christianity, because it enables us to talk clearly about what really matters.

This is a throwback to the faith’s early years, when Christians were more likely to be persecuted than to persecute others. It’s also an inversion of the relationship between Christians and gays.  If you’re gay, this claim may seem preposterous, since Christians have workplace and marital rights that are still denied to you. But Moore is talking about the larger direction of the culture. And his political strategy reflects his belief. He no longer expects a Republican presidential candidate to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as heterosexual. Instead, he says,

I would want a presidential candidate who understands the public good of marriage, and I want a presidential candidate who is not hostile toward evangelical and Catholic concerns about those things, and I would want a presidential candidate who is going to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

That’s how you operate when you’re a minority. You look for sympathy, tolerance, and the freedom to be different. It’s what gays have been asking for all along. Now conservative Christians will learn what that’s like.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?