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The Church is Not a Closet

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There are many people today who despise conservative religious beliefs, but they are quick to say, “We don’t want to restrict your religious freedoms in any way. Just keep your beliefs in the church.” What they fail to realize is that the church is not a closet, and it is our private beliefs that fuel our public acts. Shouldn’t it be this way?

President Obama claims that it was conversations he had with his daughters, coupled with his interpretation of the teaching of Jesus, that caused him to take a public stand for same-sex marriage last May. Did his supporters criticize him for bringing his private beliefs into the public square? (If anyone could be criticized for this, it is the President of the United States, due to his massive powers and influence.)

When gay clergy fought for the redefinition of marriage in their respective states, based on their religious beliefs, were they faulted for this? Did the secular media vilify them for violating the separation of Church and State?

Just a few days ago, Sen. Dianne Feinstein opened up her anti-gun press conference by inviting Rev. Canon Gary Hall, the gay-affirming Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, to offer up a prayer. As reported by the Washington Examiner, “Hall spoke briefly before the prayer, calling for Washington lawmakers to stop fearing the gun lobby and fulfill their ‘moral duty’ to restrict guns.

“‘Everyone in this city seems to live in terror of the gun lobby,’ Hall said. ‘But I believe that the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.’”

So, a clergyman opens a Senate-related press conference with prayer, invoking the cross and calling on Americans to fulfill their moral duty, and the secular media does not howl in protest, “Separation of Church and State!”

Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if, hypothetically, Senator Tom Coburn had invited Rev. Franklin Graham to pray and offer comments before a press conference defending the right to bear arms? How long would it have taken for shrill cries of “Religious Jihadists!” or “Christianists!” or “Dominionists!” to ring through the airwaves?

The hypocritical double standard is so thick you could cut it with your finger.

In my recent article, “My Response to Your Inaugural Speech, Mr. President,” I claimed that gay activists wanted to take away the rights of conservative believers like you and me and put us in the closet. Some comments posted on a well-known gay activist website joyfully affirmed this prediction (which, these days, is becoming more of a reflection than a prediction).

One commenter wrote, “They certainly WILL be denied jobs, as they bloody well should be. If your job involves dealing with the public and you refuse to do your job, you will lose it or not be hired in the first place.” Another wrote, “When someone is beating you with a stick, it isn't discrimination to take the stick away.”

Another explained that the LGBT goal was “to be able to create open dissent against hateful people who really have no basic justification behind the reason for their hatred.” (Yes, once again, they must play the irrational, emotionally-charged, baseless hate card. But what else should we expect?) Still another commented, “It’s the new America- those who are inclusive are included, those who are exclusive are excluded. You have the right to choose your own path.” (I assume this commenter was unaware of the exquisite irony of his post.)

There were others, however, who differed with my claims, yet confirmed them in a backhanded way. “Mr. Brown,” one gay man posted, “I could give a rats a-- if you want to ‘affirm homosexual practice’ or not. I DO mind, however, when you use YOUR religious views to DENY my equal rights. My 21 year relationship to my husband is just as right as anything you have had.”

So, it’s fine if I oppose redefining marriage based on my spiritual and moral convictions, as long as I don’t vote or act based on those convictions. Put another way, because my convictions are judged as immoral and wrong by others, I shouldn’t have the right to act on them. As explained in another comment, what gay activists want to oppose is the right of conservative believers “to impose their religion and views on everyone else.”

They, however, are free to impose their religion and views on you and me, since they, of course, are right.

All this reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with a man on Long Island who was known by sight to everyone in our town because of his hairdo – a glaring shock of combed-back, dyed-blond hair. He got upset when I shared my faith with him, yelling at me in response, “You need to keep that stuff in the church!”

Had I wanted to be snide, I could have replied, “And you need to keep that hairdo in the salon!”

The fact is, he went to the salon in order to display his hair in public, just as we worship in our church buildings (or synagogues or mosques) in order to help us live out our faith in public. To do otherwise would be the height of hypocrisy.

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