Thursday, November 04, 2004
Listening to the Radio This Morning
In an interview on the NPR about the election turnout of the two parties, the interviewer asked a Baptist minister about why his flock turned out in such large numbers. He talked about how excited everybody was to vote and how they were really energized by their opposition to the possibility of same-sex marriage. Also abortion limitations, but especially the prevention of same-sex marriage. He compared the emotions of his congregation to those of a person standing on the edge of the cliff and being pushed over. The alternatives left would be to fall into the abyss or to push back. His congregants decided to push back.
It is an appealing story, isn't it. The problem is that nobody was pushing these people into an abyss, nobody was actually telling them anything to do whatsoever. Same-sex marriage is not something that would be required by law by a certain percentage in each Baptist congregation. In fact, a legal same-sex marriage in the whole nation would have no effect on any Baptist church's ability to refuse to marry people of the same sex.
This is because of the separation of the church and the state. If the two were not separated as many fundamentalists desire, the state could make the churches carry out their laws to the letter.
It seems that the fundamentalists are not really thinking this out carefully, though of course they do, they don't want no separation between the church and the state in this direction: the state infiltrating the church, only in the other direction. And they clearly assume that the state would then make only such decisions as the church approves of.
Another fascinating aspect about this interview is the feeling I got that this particular Baptist minister felt that it was his rights that were infringed by the looming spectre of same-sex marriage, even though this is not the case. Nobody is forcing him to divorce his wife in order to marry some man. It is all about other people's rights, and to argue for these appears to be equated with the oppression of religion.
The program didn't mention if this particular church was Southern Baptist or not. But it's good to remember that the Southern Baptists no longer allow women to be ministers and that they recommend the submission of women in marriage. As far as I can see, religious oppression is much more likely to initiate from the church than to focus on the church.