Honest Priorities of the “Family Values” Set: The Three Gs
It has always bothered me that because religious ideas, and especially Christian ideas, are afforded social and political deference in the United States that those who champion regressive social policy are allowed to call themselves “pro-family” with no challenge from journalists or the general public at large. They are not pro-family; saying that is disingenuous. They are not pro-family because the policies they support harm families of those who are outside their religious idea of gender roles and sexuality. It angers me that these sorts of people are allowed to wrap themselves in a seemingly positive light when their arguments don’t actually improve the lives of the ideal families they champion, but instead simply punish those who want to live differently.
I would argue that the religious conservative elements in the country can break down into three main priorities and ideas.
God Religious conservatives want to blur the line of public entities and religious belief uniformly across the board, with the sole provision that every instance is in line with Christian ideals. Whether you’re talking about removing restrictions on formal led prayer in schools, inclusion of creationism alongside science or legislation of religious morals of private behavior, the answer is to ignore the Constitution’s Establishment Clause when it’s inconvenient. God’s approval and disapproval is judged based on how much these people like you and how successful you are publicly; the poor are lazy and unmotivated while the wealthy are humble hard workers that God has blessed. It becomes a fantastically easy way to rationalize away real problems with social justice and inequity.
Gays Watching Republican debates (and even some campaigns among Democrats in conservative areas), it seems very much like a contest of who can hate gay people more (obviously this includes everyone under the GLBTQ umbrella), all while pretending their vicious attacks on people whose only offense is being themselves is nothing more than their right under the First Amendment. And while it’s true that you are absolutely entitled to hate others and say so publicly (the KKK is still around and kicking, for example), when you want to push those beliefs into laws governing the country, this becomes something else entirely. It becomes even worse when those advocating these extreme and unconstitutionally discriminatory policies use bad science, falsified “science,” long-exposed hoaxes and lies and misrepresent real science to cloud their motives. Everything is reworked until people just wanting freedom to live happily and be treated fairly under the law are a threat to God, religious conservatives, marriage and “the family.”
Gestation Women aren’t really people, or at the very least, they’re not fully human the way that men are. They couch it in terms of God simply blessing women with different capabilities and callings that make her the wife, the mother, the homemaker. But not all religious conservatives are this covert and diplomatic; it is no surprise a traditional Jewish prayer for women is to thank God for creating them “according to his will” while men thank God for “not making me a woman.” At least they are more honest in admitting that there is something undesirable and less free in being a woman. Religious groups may allow women to work and have careers without violating a sect’s morality, but there is always the idea that women follow husbands’ direction and that motherhood is the greatest value of a woman. And that’s just the public face they cannot avoid in a modern social structure like we have the United States. There is always a push to keep women from becoming educated about their own fertility through moral objections to sex education; it’s far better to be able to point to undesirable consequences of riskier sex practices to control the sexuality of daughters and wives. Religious conservatives speak publicly about how birth control allows greater freedom for sex, and this is seen a bug, not a feature. Abstinence only education is seen as the only moral kind of instruction, and even mentioning birth control methods in classrooms is a perennial source of drama given the veneration of local control of public education. (And as we saw with the recent sex education proposal by British MP Dorries, sometimes these pushes are fairly transparent. That bill would have required that girls and only girls be restricted to abstinence only education. I don’t think I could ask for a more clear example of the double standard from religious conservatives imposed on women.) Women who find themselves in need of abortion are consistently straw-manned into loose and cavalier women with no morals whatsoever. Debates about abortion all center on the idea of a zygote as a full legal person whose rights are superior to those of the woman it is within.
The degree to which many conservative politicians sincerely believe in this ideas in the “culture wars” is debatable, but that doesn’t change the effect of this kind of discourse and behavior. Whether most of these politicians are sold on the Three Gs here or whether they’re simply pandering to a more radical portion of the conservative base, the end result is that I find myself very concerned about the future of my country.