Friday, April 14, 2006

“We are not making a statement!” they stated

People who fib cannot help but contradict themselves, almost immediately.

I’ve watched this play out in the White House Easter Egg Roll story. Gay activists are trying to use this children’s party to grab some publicity. Several plan to attend with their young children. No problem there. Have fun!

But the rub comes in the fact that they are telling two very different stories about what they intend to accomplish by attending. And the story differs depending on the audience. Supporters are told it’s an opportunity to make a statement (but beforehand, they need to keep the action “under the radar” to pull it off successfully). On the other hand, the public is being told that it’s just family fun for the children. So which is it?

And thinking ethically, is it okay for gay parents to exploit their very young children for publicity, or for the groups to politicize a children’s event simply because the press will be there?

This well-coordinated political action is a wily ploy on the part of gay organizers. If you leave the welfare of their children out of the equation, the gay activists can’t lose. If they do manage to find a lot of gay parents willing to exploit their children to grab the media spotlight, and if they make a big splash at the event, the activists have gotten the publicity they crave. The gay families will wear splashy identifying rainbow leis (it was originally going to be T-shirts with a political message), and what was once a fun day for children becomes a national news story about sexual orientation.

But let’s say that the leis are banned as a political statement. Or maybe gay groups trying to stretch the “two adults per child under 7” rule get turned away. Or maybe somebody somewhere feels somebody looked at him funny. Well, then you gather groups forlornly outside the iron fence, get the kids to cry, and invite the cameras to roll, creating a bogus “Gays excluded” news story on the spot. (I’m not making this up.) More publicity.

So for those shamelessly willing to exploit their kids and turn innocent children’s fun into the political story of the day to promote a homosexual lifestyle, this is a winner.

But the fibbing part is a problem. The strategists have to promote the political value of the day with the gay parents, while playing it down altogether with the authorities and the press.

Soulforce leader Mel White failed miserably in the task of speaking out of both sides of his mouth when he appeared on MSNBC’s “The Situation” with Tucker Carlson. He just couldn’t pull off the ruse of calling the action simple family fun, when it was so obviously a political statement.

Now Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, has stepped into the role of trying to make a calculated political statement appear as if it were only children’s play. Note the immediate self-contradiction in her statement in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Our participation in the egg roll is certainly not a political demonstration or a political statement," said Chrisler, who is going with her partner, Cheryl Jacques, and their 4-year-old twin boys, Tim and Tom. "It's just taking our kids to the egg roll to help the American public see that our families are just like them." [emphasis added]

Had Chrisler ended with “It’s just taking our kids to the egg roll,” she might be almost believable. But she’s not just taking her kids for a family activity, because there’s a very political statement she’s wanting to make in going to the White House lawn. She definitely is making a political statement, the statement that “our families are just like them.”

That’s the real intent, the political statement, the low-key political demonstration that the gay-identifying leis are being used to promote, and the darling children are being dragged along to exploit. If it's just a family activity, why the necessity of the "Look everybody--I'm gay!" leis? Chrisler and White have to fib in order to try to cover up the real intent.

In an article on MSNBC, Chrisler tries again to paint over the reality of the event, spinning the intent of the gay parents for taking part in this political action with their young kids: "We care about the same things that all parents care about: providing our children with every opportunity and every experience possible.”

While I am sure Chrisler loves her twin sons, I can't buy her "We care about the same things that all parents care about." Her kids are 4 years old. Most parents would not travel across the country to use their kids at a tender age for a politicized photo opportunity that could possibly turn sour and confrontive. Most parents care about the sensitivities of their children and shelter them from exploitation.

While I have no reason to doubt that Chrisler wants to provide learning opportunities for her kids, I can't believe she wants to provide "every opportunity and every experience possible." Every opportunity? How about the opportunity to be raised by a caring father and a mother in the same household? Every experience? How about the experience of parents who are male and female, rather than two of the same?

Obviously this isn't about the kids. The kids are only a photo-opportunistic prop for nifty publicity for a personal, adult cause more important to the parents than the nurture of their children.

I sincerely hope that all the families have a great time at the White House Easter Egg Roll. I hope the gay families have no trouble being admitted. I hope they simply blend in, focus on their kids’ needs, make no fuss, and allow their kids to enjoy a family outing.

Or maybe “family outing” is the wrong choice of words here. The gay political sense of that phrase is definitely not the reason for the traditional children’s White House Easter Egg Roll. Children are. And children are being used rather than nurtured in this outing.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fawning Pretense or Cloying Obsequiousness?

The Covenant Network sends me its newsletter. I always read it, because it is good to know what that small but vocal group’s particular anti-constitutional emphasis is at the moment.

The Covenant Network is like a parallel universe. There are some nice folks who populate that universe, along with some real scoundrels. But their values, their reasoning (or lack thereof), and their heroes are just so very different from those of the general majority of Presbyterians with more orthodox beliefs and practices.

I see that Jack Rogers, once an evangelical scholar, remains near the top of their panoply of heroes. He speaks at their conferences and touts his new book on homosexuality. Rogers can be counted on these days to conveniently grant supposed legitimacy to homosexual practice, blithely reversing all of Christian moral history and most of biblical theology. Rogers is very handy for Covenant Network to keep around to try to divert people’s attention from the true scholar in the field, Robert Gagnon, who can twist Rogers into a limp knot, scholastically.

I see also that the Covenant Network is producing yet another resource that finds a way to re-imagine both the Bible and the Book of Order to actually condone (if not wildly promote) homosexual practice. The previous resource, prior to the 2004 General Assembly, was woefully tendentious and misleading.

But it is the “Message from our Co-Moderators” on the last page of the newsletter that really gets my attention. Read what Kimberly Richter and Jon Walton have to say, and I think you’ll see why the terms cloying, pretense, obsequious, and fawning come to mind. Why do I say this?

First, the letter attempts to position Covenant Network as the pleasantly loyal crowd in the PCUSA. They try to appear so devoted to the denomination--the denomination whose Constitution they are intent on reversing if at all possible, or undermining if they remain unsuccessful in changing it.

Their manner reminds me of the wastrel son in a family, who attempts to play nice to dear dying Mother. He’s just full of fawning words and boxes of candy, but what he really wants is for her to forget that he ran astray and has violated her values, while his siblings were there for Mother and yet remain her stalwart caregivers, sometimes having to deliver unhappy news or make difficult decisions with her. His attempts to sound so loyal and true (when he is just the opposite) while conning Mother are really rather pathetic, but he sure wants her estate! It’s not hard to see through such transparent efforts.

Second, the letter attempts to grab “the middle” and elbow others out by labeling them “strident voices.” To hear the Covenant Network speak, you would think it represents the longstanding tradition of the PCUSA and the vast majority of Presbyterians. They do not. They represent a very vocal and prominent few who are a distinct minority that wants to actually reverse the longstanding and faithful convictions of the PCUSA.

Third, the letter appears to highly regard the report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. Out of one side of their mouths, Richter and Walton speak approvingly of the report and commend it for serious discussion, but out of the other side of their mouth, they mumble almost imperceptibly behind their hand, “But we aren’t going to follow it.” That is obvious in the fact that they want to directly defy the report’s Recommendation #6, which pleads for Presbyterians to leave the Constitution’s ordination standards in place. They support overtures to remove G-6.0106b and the Authoritative Interpretation from 1978.

This is not an unusual situation for the Covenant Network. They have a history of giving lip service to honoring the Constitution of the PCUSA while ignoring, defying, or sidestepping it with an embarrassing lack of shame. It is entirely consistent, then, for them to slyly treat the PUP report with the same surface “respect,” while going ahead with plans to defy a major provision of it altogether.

Fourth, they have every reason to be absolutely delighted if people would actually take their advice, pass the report, and let the chips fall where they may. The reason is that the chips will fall entirely in the Covenant Network direction!

For the minor price of retaining “fidelity and chastity” in name only in the Book of Order (Recommendation #6 in the PUP report), the Covenant Network would buy the enormously increased availability and incidence of ordinations of sexually active homosexual persons. All over the denomination, the Covenant Network could finally start doing what it has only talked about before, or done by ruse and deception in some cases. And they could do it with impunity, because the Authoritative Interpretation in Recommendation #5 would definitely lead to such ordinations.

Thus, it is really cheap talk to be “disappointed” that the report’s approval wouldn’t remove G-6.0106b (“fidelity and chastity”), because in actuality, the Covenant Network would be rejoicing in the newfound legality of ordinations in any congregation or presbytery that wanted to ordain sexually active homosexual persons.

Fifth, they talk about “open[ing] up needed theological space and lay[ing] the necessary groundwork to move closer” to the day when G-6.0106b is removed. How true! By ordaining practicing homosexual after practicing homosexual to sessions and presbyteries, they’ll be adding bulk to their currently flimsy numbers. You can bet that they rejoice over that prospect! The PUP Report plays right into their hand.

Take the newsletter message from the Covenant Network co-moderators with a grain of salt. They have to look concerned with the report’s recommendation that G-6.0106b remain in the Constitution--for now, as they would put it. By appearing to rue the idea, they appease their more radical fringe that is so doctrinaire that they can’t appreciate the win that the approval of the PUP Report would be for their intentions.

But rest assured that the Covenant Network has clearly calculated that the approval of the PUP Report would be a tremendous boost for them. It would provide the prospect of legal ordinations of practicing homosexual persons, using the means of treating immoral sexual practice as a nonessential for ordination consideration. The Covenant Network has its eyes set firmly on the goal of “removing G-6.0106b,” and the PUP Report moves them a giant step along in that process, getting them all but to the finish line.