I do not mean to be in any way rude to American readers, but there are lots of things that happen over on your side of the Atlantic that often seem to make little sense over here. I think this is partly because in many ways the Conservative, Christian, largely Republican middle America is so very different from the UK- even if this is just one part of your vast and wonderfully diverse country.
However, the influence that American Christian media has on certain strands of religion over here is significant- music, satellite TV, funding for ‘mission’, Evangelists, books- these are overwhelming dominated by US products.
Then I read this story in the guardian.
Here is Fox New’s take on it;
It goes something like this- CEO of fast food company (who donate millions of dollars to charities who try to ‘cure’ homosexuality) openly states his opposition to gay marriage. This causes a backlash, including from the Mayor of Chicago, and- Kermit the Frog;
However, step forward the right wing ‘Shock Jock’ Mike Huckerbee;
…former Republican presidential candidate and current Fox News host, Mike Huckabee stepped in to defend Chick-fil-A. In order to bolster support for the company, he encouraged people to visit their local franchise on Wednesday. It was dubbedChick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
As Huckabee put it, it had the “simple” goal of affirming “a business that operates on Christian principles, and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse”.
Too often, he said, “those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same-sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant”.
There is so much I could say about this story. I think we have to start with an understanding of how easy it is to be influenced and controlled by our culture. Culture in this case that is mixed with religion and becomes so rigidly conservative and controlled by assumptions and normative values that make anything outside seem threatening and requiring a defensive (or even an aggressive) response.
There is also the fact that for much of Middle America, President Obama (the physical embodiment of this threat) and is ahead in the polls, leading to great uncertainty. Mitch Romney’s blunder-ridden jaunt around Europe might make him a comedic figure this side of the Atlantic, but to many he is the hope for salvation.
Then there is that word ‘fundamentalism’- which in this context involves a literal interpretation of the Bible- even if thinking Evangelicals would admit that there are still nuances to this when we try to adopt words into our culture. I have been around this way of thinking for much of my life, and though I currently find myself at considerable divergence, it is clear to me that many people who hold to these beliefs are actually trying desperately to live a good life, according to the light of God revealed through the words of the Bible.
On this issue however, I find myself with more in common with Kermit than with Huckabee.
Partly this is because my theology sits quite comfortably with same-sex unions- I am quite happy to celebrate love and life long commitment wherever we might find it. Far from this being a threat to any kind of family values I hold dear, my hope would be for new families to thrive and grow as mine has done.
I also do not think that Christians need to engage in any kind campaign to protect their ‘rights’ to proselytise or to condemn others for what we would see as immorality. Let us raise our voices against injustice, corporate greed, globalisation, leave the rest to God, and resist the throwing of the first stone.