by Sean Kosofsky
Only by understanding that our nation was NOT founded by leaders interested in theocracy will we be able to block further attacks on our equality including a discriminatory definition of marriage.
It is not often that a fiery minister can get hundreds of radical LGBT activists on their feet applauding his message. But when that minister and activist is Barry Lynn, you will understand why. Although I have been a follower and fan of Lynn for years, I finally got to see him speak live at the Creating Change conference a few years ago. Instantly many of us at Triangle Foundation knew we had to bring him to Michigan.
It is nearly impossible to be a part of the LGBT civil rights struggle and not value the separation of church and state. That is why the message of the Rev. Barry Lynn is so compelling to LGBT audiences. Lynn is one of the most strident voices in the world for the religious freedom and religious expression, but that position is not inconsistent with his belief that religion should not intermingle with politics and governmental affairs.
Lynn runs Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which is hated by religious fundamentalists. Americans United were front and center in the struggle to take down a massive Ten Commandments display in the Alabama State Judicial Building erected by Roy Moore. They also have been leading the fight to expose “intelligent design” as merely another reincarnation of creationism.
But most importantly Lynn and Americans United have been on a campaign to cure Americans of their historical amnesia regarding the “establishment” and “free exercise” clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Too often liberals and progressives and certainly the LGBT community throw up their hands and concede defeat when right wing evangelicals start railing on about the United States being a “Christian nation.” Americans United has compiled the best research and historical documentation to help arm civil libertarians with the truth. Read just one issue of “Church and State” their monthly newsletter and you will feel smarter and more empowered to take up the cause of religious liberty.
Right wing extremists have a schizophrenic relationship with church/state relations. Pat Robertson nearly imploded when he learned that mosques were applying for faith-based initiative money. Their hypocrisy is amazing. Christian Reconstructionists would prefer to replace the Constitution with the Bible, but the minute they find themselves in the minority they retreat on their religious zeal. After the U.S. invaded Iraq and began nation building, Robertson all of a sudden became a huge supporter of church/state separation in Iraq. Why? Because it didn’t coalesce with his exact brand of Christianity.
Our community must be informed and prepared to fight religious extremists when they try to dominate our school boards, city councils, county commissions and state legislatures. We must not allow them to strip comprehensive sex education from our school curriculum, or force ridiculous “abstinence only” education on our children. We must fight back when Concerned Women for America or the American Family Association try to block Plan B (the morning after pill) or Guardasil (a vaccine against cervical cancer) because of their narrow religious mindset. Only by understanding that our nation was NOT founded by leaders interested in theocracy will we be able to block further attacks on our equality including a discriminatory definition of marriage. In short we need groups like Americans United and the ACLU to protect our rights.
I encourage everyone reading this column to join Americans United today at www.au.org and learn more about how you can stand up to right wing bullies who lie about our nation’s history. Better yet – come to the Triangle Foundation annual dinner this Saturday, September 29th and hear Barry Lynn in person. I guarantee you will be moved to action by his powerful presence. You can order tickets at www.tri.org