Many have argued that resentment and hostility in the LGBT movement was fully justified at one time. The religious right focused heavily on homosexuality and often disregarded how its messaging affected gay individuals. Many organizations and writing careers grew out of combating a narrative that felt unfair and hateful.
In many ways it was the advocacy of love, tolerance, and normalcy from much of gay media that successfully integrated gay people into society. But the progressive instinct to perpetually challenge the status quo and demand change by any means necessary, as well as its fixation on past sins, has taken the gay movement into the very depths of hatred and bigotry it long fought to remove from society.
Today we see unreasonable targeted hostility toward people of faith who seem more than willing to compromise for a peaceful society. It is more common for a Christian to be told her assumed religious beliefs are hateful than to see a Christian berating a gay person in public about his views on homosexuality.
The most recent Pew Research poll in 2017 found 35 percent of evangelicals support same-sex marriage. Clearly there is a significant and growing gap between how the LGBT left perceives the world and how Christians actually live in it. Two prominent examples of how this plays out in the media entertain Chick-fil-A as a champion of anti-LGBT legal and social advocacy, and Vice President Mike Pence as an anti-LGBT leader influencing national policy.
‘If You Really Love LGBTQ People,’ Boycott Chick-fil-A
Noah Michelson, the editorial director of HuffPost Personal, argued in his article, “If You Really Love LGBTQ People, You Just Can’t Keep Eating Chick-fil-A,” that queer people and their allies have an obligation to continue fighting Christian advocacy. “[W]hen a corporation is wafting its anti-queer stance directly under your nose, as Chick-fil-A has and continues to do, not giving them more money to use against us is a no-brainer.” He was responding to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey innocently boosting the restaurant after eating there. (Dorsey quickly apologized.)
In 2012, Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy advocated for traditional marriage and argued that marriage held biblical meaning and could not be so easily manipulated by society. He stated, “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
He later discussed the effects of potentially isolating segments of the population from his restaurant by saying, “I think the time of truths and principles are captured and codified in God’s word and I’m just personally committed to that,” he said. “I know others feel very different from that and I respect their opinion and I hope that they would be respectful of mine.”
This declaration of respectful tolerance did not move Michelson, who argued that the organization donated millions to “anti-LGBT” groups in 2009. The list of organizations includes the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Focus on the Family, as well as $1,000 to the now-defunct Exodus International.
Of course, in 2009, President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held the identical view on marriage, as did a significant majority of the American population. In 2012, while Hillary remained squarely on the side of Chick-fil-A, the drag queen group DWV released a parody song titled “Chow Down at Chick-fil-A” (NSFW), an anthem to encourage gays to protest the restaurant by eating there. Chick-fil-A has never been known to discriminate against LGBT customers or employees and never sought any action towards the group or YouTube for the video’s false accusations.
In March of this year, Chick-fil-A’s continued support for various Christian organizations was once again denounced, this time via a Vox headline, “Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation kept donating to anti-LGBTQ groups.” The article says “The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to three groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in 2017, according to recently released tax filings analyzed by ThinkProgress.”
The three organizations in question are the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Paul Anderson Youth Home (a Christian organization helping troubled youth), and the Salvation Army. The three Christian organizations in no way discriminate against people based on their sexuality but do advocate a biblical view of homosexuality. This is a private and voluntary experience for everyone involved and none of the organizations protest, provoke, or instigate hostilities towards LGBT people or groups.
Mike Pence Has No Record of Treating LGBT People Poorly
Naturally, Pence has been a target of anti-LGBT accusations for some time now, despite repeated debunking of the various claims against him. Most recently, openly gay Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg reflected on his experience coming to terms with his sexuality and his faith. He said, “That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
The vice president was never involved in this conversation and did nothing to provoke the response from Buttigieg. In fact, in 2015, when Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, came out, then-Indiana governor Pence responded by saying, “I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. We have a great working relationship. I see him as a dedicated public servant, and a patriot.” Also in 2015, Pence tweeted, “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn’t eat there anymore.”
Both Chick-fil-A and Pence demonstrate a growing trend in American Christianity to be vocally respectful of liberal social issues while privately embracing religious tradition and morality that directly affects their own lives. The controversy does not come from what Christians, as a group, do to LGBT people, but what LGBT people speculate Christians must collectively and individually think and feel about the LGBT movement as a whole.
Pence is remarkably tolerant in every sense of the word, separating his personal religious views from his personal and professional relationships in a way as to not impose on anyone else. He is the ideal example of Christians coexisting in a secular society, and he has been repeatedly kind, generous, polite, and welcoming to LGBT Americans in every scenario he encounters them.
There is not a single example of Pence in his professional leadership role being rude, disrespectful, or hostile towards a gay person in the years he has been vice president, governor, or a member of Congress. Remarkably, no one accuses him of doing so privately either. To demonstrate this, in response to Buttigieg’s recent statement, “Pence insiders said they are shocked since he has not said anything derogatory about ‘Mayor Pete’ or his marriage to Chasten Buttigieg.”
No Malice Directed Toward LGBT People
In the same way, Chick-fil-A is an open and welcoming environment and no one, from customers to employees, is treated poorly for any reason. Their sole unforgivable sin is supporting charitable organizations that reflect their religious ideals and also happen to be conservative on the issues of secularism and sexuality.
The organization has gone out of its way to demonstrate no malicious intent whatsoever toward LGBT people. In 2017, Chick-fil-A said in a statement, “Since the Chick-fil-A Foundation was created in 2012, our giving has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda. There are 140,000 people—black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian—who represent Chick-fil-A. We are the sum of many experiences, but what we all have in common is a commitment to providing great food, genuine hospitality, and a welcoming environment to all of our guests.”
What we are seeing now is a profound intolerance to the most moderate social expression of Christian faith in our country. If anything, the hateful, bigoted Christian lives in the mind of the progressive as a mythical collection of ideas, and the more they seek to marginalize and shame the most mainstream views of Christians as extreme, the more hatred they create in their own communities.