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Case Study in Conservative Mindset? (Freedom Federation vs. Supreme Court)

June 27, 2013

I just became aware of a significant document released by the “Freedom Federation” on defining marriage… A real “taking a stand” kind of statement!

Freedom Federation seems to be a new organization, or merely a coalition of like-minded Christian conservatives, both Catholic and Protestant.  Whatever it is, that name and logo appears at the top (at least in the version here) of the two-page statement just released which basically says any redefinition of marriage by the Supreme Court to anything other than between one man and one woman is a line in the sand for the 200+ signers.  Specifically what the signers plan to do now that (in their own leader’s judgment) their line has been crossed is not clear.

I haven’t been able to determine just when the statement was released, but apparently sometime before June 22.  As of yesterday, June 26, the day of the Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 of California, Mat Staver, one of two co-drafters, wrote about the High Court’s decisions on the Liberty Counsel Action website.  He confirms things said in the earlier statement and calls for donations and further support in the cause.  One of the key aspects of this involves some ominous-sounding language about acceptance of the Supreme Court’s authority:

If the Supreme Court were to issue a decision that redefined marriage or provided a precedent on which to build an argument to redefine marriage, the Supreme Court will thereby undermine its legitimacy.

The statement and Staver’s later comments go further in criticizing the court (since it “crossed the line”) and warning about America having “lost its moral compass” and such.

Now there are a number of “big names” among the signers, including Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee and Gary Bauer, along with many pastors and seminary leaders.  In other words, these are people who are looked to as authority figures and tend to reflect the conservatism of their constituencies.  So don’t expect this large segment of not only Evangelical Christians but also Catholics (the other co-drafter is a Catholic leader) to now quietly accept a new appearance for marriage and equal rights for same-sex partners.

If you enjoy strong satire, I recommend a look at Frank Schaeffer’s (a former influential figure in Evangelicalism and the Religious Right) very insightful and clever piece on the Freedom Federation statement here.  With his former-insider viewpoint, Frank nails a lot of the subconscious or intentionally-hidden motivation behind various parts of the statement, even if you may feel he’s a bit unfair at times.

My title asks if this situation is a good case study in the conservative mindset of American Christians these days.  If so, what does it indicate? Some of the language in the statement, plus the fact that Evangelicals and Catholics are actively cooperating here, seems to say that theology is not, in fact, the deepest-set aspect of many Christians’ belief system.  Social or other factors run deeper… views that are not actually rooted where they think they are (in the Bible and “Natural Moral Law”).

Your thoughts and observations?

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