N.C. fundamentalists’ much ado about nothing

The Christian Action League of North Carolina‘s executive director, Mark Creech, a regular criticizee of my blogging here at InterstateQ.com, is making much ado about nothing.

He’s trotted out a scare tactic for local churches, urging them to “protect themselves” from legal challenges of gay activists. What’s so unfortunate is that he considers long-time, much loved church members a threat:

A church refuses to consider a homosexual man for an advertised job as organist. The daughter of the head deacon and a member of the church since childhood demands to use the sanctuary for her lesbian commitment ceremony, but the church says no. These are just two of a myriad of situations that could lead to drawn out legal battles unless church leaders take precautions.

“I’ve thought for some time that the Christian Action League should provide some information concerning what churches needed to do to protect themselves from gay activism,” Creech says in the latest article posted at the group’s website. “It is important that they make sure they are prepared for such a threat and that they have what they need in place to protect themselves legally, especially as the political climate becomes more hostile to organizations of faith.”

The crux of the League’s “concern” is that new employment non-discrimination laws might “allow” gays to “target” churches:

According to Barbara Weller, an attorney with the Christian Law Association, although North Carolina employment law doesn’t currently include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, there are a growing number of local ordinances that do. And if President elect Barack Obama keeps his promise to usher the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the federal law will force Christian businesses across America to put aside their own convictions and hire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers. Though the current version of ENDA includes an exemption for religious organizations, there are gray areas, and it’s impossible to say exactly what the fallout will be if the bill passes. Therefore, Weller says church leaders would be wise to re-examine their job descriptions and make it clear that all their staff members are engaged in ministry.

The League’s solution? Make your church as explicitly anti-gay as earthly possible:

Gramlich said churches that don’t spell out their beliefs about sexuality might still be able to prove that those beliefs are part of their practice, but “it could go either way.”

That’s why she said the CLA “strongly recommends the really black and white language” that should leave no questions about the church’s stance.

Congregations should also make sure those beliefs are reflected in the policies that govern use of their facilities, as an ongoing legal battle in New Jersey illustrates. A church organization there – the United Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association – is facing a discrimination case brought by two lesbians who wanted to rent the group’s facilities for a ceremony. The association had allowed the public to use its land for years under an agreement with local government, but that was before the state set up a same-sex civil union law.

What the League conveniently forgets to mention about the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association situation is that under their years-long public-use agreement, the Association received countless government grants and assistance through public monies (read: taxpayer support). That’s why the courts and other government agencies have ruled in favor of the lesbian couple.

A religious group needs to decide: Do they want to be public and subject to all anti-discrimination laws, or do they want to be private and discriminate to their bigots’ heart’s delight? It’s totally up to them, but they can’t have it both ways.

5 Responses to “N.C. fundamentalists’ much ado about nothing”
  1. tristram says:

    Matt – I have dealt with a lot of bigotry in my time, and have no doubt that, year for year, you’ve faced even more. But I just read John Corvino’s essay comparing anti-gay and segregationist positions, and much of what he says (including his clarification about ‘bigotry’) makes sense to me.

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