The next request was for the department to “sponsor” a presentation on the ex-gay movement. The event featured a speaker who scoffed at the notion that homosexuality could be learned or un-learned. He also badly denigrated the “religious right.”
As a proud fundamentalist Baptist and self-proclaimed member of the “religious right” I was simply appalled that the event would be advertised with posters saying “Sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.” Saying that “we” sponsored that attack on fundamentalism was an act of deep religious bigotry. It was almost as bad as forcing me to take an oath (read: endorse) the Koran or the Book of Mormon – two books I consider to be both fictional and blasphemous.
Please make no mistake about where I stand on this issue. I support Ellison’s decision to take his oath on the Koran just as I would support the decision of a President Romney to take an oath on the Book of Mormon. I would even support an atheist’s decision to take a secular oath so long as it was devised in a manner sufficient to awaken his conscience to the necessity of executing his responsibilities in a truthful manner and in accordance with the laws of this great nation.
It has been said that such a stance would have adverse consequences. Indeed, some have noted that Muslim extremists would see Ellison’s oath on the Koran as a victory that would encourage them to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. That is true. But Muslim extremists would see a prevention of Ellison’s oath on the Koran as an insult that would encourage them to commit acts of violence in the name of Islam.
In that respect Muslim extremists are like American feminists whose emotional instability justifies Jihad – whether against the “infidel” or the “fetus” – under any conceivable circumstance. Those of us who oppose their fanaticism can take some consolation in the fact that the Muslim extremists will eventually martyr themselves – just as the feminists will eventually abort themselves – out of the gene pool.
Since we can expect a negative consequence no matter what we do with Ellison’s request we should make a decision based on principle rather than pragmatism. In my view, the overriding principle is individual religious liberty, not collectivism hidden beneath the veil of mainstream conservatism.
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