Litmus Tests

This story bothers me immensely.

Several women carrying pride flags embroidered with the Star of David were asked to leave the Chicago Dyke March, because the march (which, to be clear, is distinct from the primary Chicago Pride parade) does not support Zionism or the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

ISRAELJERUSALEMGAYPARADE.jpeg.CROP.promo-xlarge2.jpg
Note: This is an image from a pride parade in Israel, not the parade from the story. 

There are a couple of problems with this. I get that, to the organizers, the Star of David is a symbol of Israel. But it is also, inextricably, the symbol of Judaism. As much as they may want to make it about a specific Israeli policy, it is very much so, at heart, about religion, and allowing intersectionality to include religion. Even if we do view it as a symbol of Israel, however, Judaism is in very real ways an ethnicity or a nationality as much as it is a religion, and that kind of intersectionality is obviously important as well. Indeed, in other contexts, liberals have no problem accepting that religion and nationality may be as central to a person’s identity as sexuality. As this article persuasively notes, liberals don’t hold Chinese Americans responsible for the policies of China. And far from holding Muslims responsible for atrocities committed by terrorists or Saudi Arabia, liberals are adamant–rightly so–that society must do much, much more to eliminate the persistent Islamophobia that would hold peaceful Muslims responsible for their co-religionists’ extremism. Why then is it okay to take the opposite position when Jews are involved?

Moreover, LGBT groups specifically have enough problems with religion without picking additional fights. As Andrew S. at Wheat and Tares persuasively warns, as much as everyone hopes and believes Mormonism or religions generally will become increasingly accepting of homosexuality, it is just as possible that there will be retrenchment instead:

My conservative religious friends (and yours too, probably) see some of the same things — they see themselves vilified for their religious beliefs. They see it becoming more and more popular to use one’s position on homosexuality or, heck, even one’s position on the exclusivity of Christianity, as a litmus test for employment fitness.

…but these religious folks do not see that as justification to compromise on religious values. To the contrary, they see it as evidence of liberal progressive intolerance and hypocrisy, and seek payback — and this payback has come in the form of support of political figures like Donald Trump who, even if they lack theological bona fides at least aren’t further marginalizing traditional Christian theology.

So I’ve identified two reasons this event bothered me. First, it entailed holding Jews to a different standard than those of other ethnicities or religions. Second, it is the kind of thing that provokes a backlash among those already skeptical of LGBT rights.

But a third reason is more basic: judgmental liberals drive me insane. I am very solidly liberal; my parents thing I’m a communist. But I am solidly liberal in very large part because I believe in being part of a big-tent party. I hate when liberals engage in behavior that detracts from that message.

I have come out to a number of active Mormons. So far, not one has rejected me or made me feel like it was a mistake to come out to them. Not one has been unkind. I don’t mean to generalize from my experience; I know there are still far, far too many whose experience coming out to members of the LDS Church has been much worse. But for me, at least, my friends and family and ward members have all expressed kindness and support.

You know who has occasionally been less supportive? The non-Mormon or former-Mormon liberals that I have come out to. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of them are fine. But others look askance at any desire I have to continue associating with the Church. They view this as my opportunity to run far away from the Church, or religion in general, and aren’t particularly thrilled that I refuse to do so.

From a political perspective, this is a terrible strategy. Religion is part of the fabric of America, and is a key to winning elections. But even if there were no political points to gain from being sympathetic and understanding to different religious views, it would still be wrong. I’m gay, and that’s a big part of identity, but I’m also religious, and that is not just a big part of my identity, but perhaps the central, foundational building block of my identity. And I am liberal because liberalism allows me to retain both parts of these identities–indeed, it encourages me to embrace them. And those liberals that disagree, that think one narrow, progressive-approved identity is all I should have, well, those liberals just drive me crazy.

You want to know how to do it right? Try something a bit more like thisScreen Shot 2017-07-02 at 10.27.28 PM.png

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