It’s time for us to create a new mantra, because over the next several years, the fight for LGBT equality is going to come down to two words: “religious freedom.” As Amanda Marcotte explained the other day, the Religious Right is very skilled at playing victim, and they are also very skilled at redefining words to mean the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to mean:
Why does every religious-right publication and event echo the claim that right-wing Christians are somehow being stripped of the very right to religious freedom the right has worked tirelessly to take from everyone else for decades?
The simple answer is they’re lying. Claiming the mantle of victimhood is so politically potent that religious-right leaders are going to do it, no matter how untrue it is, because, to be blunt, they’re not held back by any moral interest in honesty. Getting Grandma to think she’s going to lose her church is a great way to get her to sign her Social Security check over to your organization.
The longer answer is that the religious right has concocted a new strategy to squelch religious freedom: By redefining “religious freedom” to mean its opposite. The hope is that by repeatedly using the term “religious freedom” when they mean “giving the Christian right power to impose their faith on others,” they can eventually drain the phrase of all its meaning and finally, after decades of fighting secularism, make it easier for the religious right to strip away individual protections for religion. In other words, they hope by saying that up is down long enough, the public and the courts will finally believe it.
As she explains, this is where the fake “War On Christmas” comes from. As the headline implies, we are dealing with yet another baker — a surprising number of bakers seem to also be bigots — who is crying “religious freedom!” after being asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Think Progress has a good explanation for why this baker lost his case, under the following subheadings:
“It doesn’t matter if the bakery otherwise serves gay people.”
“This case has nothing to do with whether same-sex marriage is legal.”
“Cakes do not constitute ‘speech.’”
“The act of selling cakes also does not constitute ‘speech.’”
“Baking cakes is not religious conduct.”
Think Progress is doing straight reporting in that piece, but you’re not to blame if the last three statements make you giggle a little bit. We really have gotten to the point where wingnuts are claiming that their precious freedom of religion is being threatened if they are forced to make money by baking cakes for the weddings of gay and lesbian couples.
This brings us to the new mantra, which should be repeated, loudly, every single time the Religious Right starts whining along these lines:
CAKES. ARE. NOT. PEOPLE!
You’d think we wouldn’t have to coin that phrase, but that’s how absurd our opponents are.
Now, to the point of the headline. Said Colorado baker went on the fact-free Fox & Friends program this morning, where he explained that he would rather go to jail than bake a gay cake. The baker, of course, is in absolutely no danger of jail, and is just being a professional victim. Listen to Jack Phillips solemnly explain that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, he simply cannot muster up the batter to “participate in a gay wedding ceremony” by baking a cake and having it delivered to the venue where the reception is being held. Something tells me he won’t end up in the revised edition of Foxes Book Of Martyrs:
Again: CAKES ARE NOT PEOPLE. CAKES ARE NOT PEOPLE. CAKES ARE NOT PEOPLE.
Say it until you’re hoarse.