Recently Mike Pence’s wife took a job teaching art at the Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia. That private school bans all LGBTQ faculty, students, and families. Virginia is one of the few states that does not have job discrimination laws to protect the LGBTQ community. Karen Pence was criticized for taking a job at a school that discriminates. In an interview, Laura Ashburn frames the discrimination as “A school that requires employees to affirm traditional religious values.”
Brushing aside the discrimination issue is bad enough in itself and labeling it a “traditional value” is worse, but one of the things that irritate me the most is how Fundagelicals believe that when they speak of their brand of Christianity, they speak for all Christians.
This kind of “I-speak-for-everyone-because-I-speak-for-God” language gets me a fired up. Sorry, Laura, not all religions discriminate against the LGBTQ community, maybe you were trying to suggest that Christianity is the only religion. That would be equally wrong of course. The worst offense is to mislead people in believing anti-LGBTQ discrimination is traditional. The “tradition” of discriminating against the LGBTQ community can be traced back to the early part of the twentieth century. Heather White in her brilliant book, Reforming Sodom, gives a detailed account of how condemnation of homosexuality developed, became stigmatized, and later legitimized with a fallacious false “tradition.” And your final error is to think it is a Christian value. Discrimination is not a Christian value no matter how you try to pretty it up with religious phraseology.
Mike Pence defended his wife by joining in the”I-speak-for-everyone-because-I-speak-for-God” arrogance party by saying,
“To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”
He added, “We’ll let the critics roll off our backs, But this criticism of Christian education should stop.”
Sorry, Mike, the news organizations weren’t questioning Christian education they were questioning a private school that practices fundamentalism. Although Fundamentalist and Evangelicals are a very loud and often annoying voice on the far Right of Christianity, their voice isn’t the voice of all Christians.
Their tendency to speak as though their group speaks for all Christians is born from the arrogance that their view is the only correct view and anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe isn’t really a Christian. If you don’t think as they do, then you are going to hell. They are so sure they are the possessors of absolute truth that they appoint themselves as gatekeepers over the Kingdom of God and attempt to keep out anyone who doesn’t meet their doctrinal purity test.
Most Fundagelicals live in an isolated bubble and would be genuinely surprised to find out that many Christian denominations are both open and affirming of the LGBTQ community. Having been born and bred among them, I know they would dismiss any denomination that would affirm “The Gays” as heretical.
Christianity is made up of such a diverse group of human beings. Christianity has a kaleidoscope of different denominations. It is this amazing rich diversity which reflects the infinite character of God.
So Mike, please be offended if you don’t like news outlets criticizing fundamentalist schools but don’t try to paint the discrimination practiced at Immanuel Christian School as a Christian value. Fundagelicals are just one kind of Christian and don’t represent all the rest of us, or didn’t you know that?
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