NOM's Strategy of Hypocrisy, Part 2: Religious Freedom

We’ve already seen that one of NOM’s favorite claims — that they’re protecting voters’ rights — is just a deceitful pose.  NOM has another argument:  They defend religious liberty against intolerant gays.  Let’s see if that one holds up any better.  [SPOILER ALERT: It does not.]

The argument is tough to analyze — it changes based on whom they’re speaking to.  Writing for the uber-conservative Townhall website, Maggie Gallagher frets that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to marry gays.  But when addressing an audience less eager to fall into an orgy of anti-gay fear-mongering, she admits, “Clergy may be protected by the First Amendment.”  Though even there, she’s being dishonest in saying they only may be protected.

Still, you’d expect NOM to be happy when the California legislature passes a bill saying,

The bill would specify that no priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination would be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. The bill would state that any refusal to solemnize a marriage under that provision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.

But no, NOM’s unhappy.  NOM’s youth outreach affiliate, the Ruth Institute (“Making marriage cool again!”), says this:

The real intent behind this bill is to make it appear as though it eliminates one of the main objections to same-sex marriage, that it jeopardizes religious freedom, in what gay activists hope will be an effort to get gay marriage on the ballot in California in 2012. They think that doing this will make gay marriage seem more acceptable to the voters of California and make it easier for such an amendment to pass…

The bill modifies several sections of California law and would change the word ‘marriage’ to the phrase ‘civil marriage.’ But a wedding is already a civil ceremony! Again, why would they want to modify these portions of the civil code? Well, the idea is to pave the way for two different kinds of legally recognized marriages: religious marriage and civil marriage.

But you know, the Public Religion Research Institute recently surveyed Californians and discovered support for marriage equality zooms to 61% with a law like this one in place.  It’s what the voters want.  And yet NOM and the Ruth Institute are against it.  Funny — first they condemn us for opposing the vote of the people, and then they condemn us for supporting the will of the people.  It’s almost as if…as if…as if NOM would condemn us no matter what we do.

Okay, so it’s not about clergy.  Then what is NOM worried about? Maggie keeps bringing up Catholic Charities of Boston, which shut down adoption services because it could no longer legally discriminate against married same-sex couples.  Maggie considers this a violation of Catholic religious freedom.  Hmm.  Where does this reasoning take us?

Same-sex marriages are just one type of marriage the Church refuses to recognize.  The Church will recognize as valid a marriage between, say, a Lutheran and a Methodist conducted in a Methodist church.  But it will not recognize a marriage between a Catholic and a Methodist conducted in a Methodist church.  Now, Massachusetts law forbids Catholic Charities from discriminating against such a couple, even though the Church doesn’t view the marriage as valid.  Yet Catholic Charities never threatened to shut down adoption services over it.  Why not?

Oh, hell, let’s go even further.  I had this email exchange with Maggie in April, 2009 (I’m in italics; she’s in bold):

Do you believe that accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior is necessary in order to go to Heaven?


I believe that the only way to the Father is through the Son.

Is the a mass email or a personal question directed at me?

(Do I know you?)


This is not a mass email, but your work has been in the news lately and I’ve been curious about your religious beliefs, since most of your work seems to focus on secular evidence about marriage.

Thanks for your quick reply.  Your answer could have several meanings, though.  I’m not sure if your answer means that one must accept Jesus as one’s lord and savior in order to be granted access to Heaven.  Is that what it means?

I believe God sent his Son to die for us and it is only through Jesus that we are saved.

And that God does not force salvation on anyone so yes we have to choose to accept Jesus.


Thanks for the clarification.  I hope you don’t mind if I share this with others who might be wondering as you continue your work.

My faith is not a secret so sure.  (I am a Roman Catholic)  Maggie

Thanks.  I was raised in a Roman Catholic family, too, and was an altar boy even.

There’s one thing that some of my Jewish friends find troubling about this issue.  They interpret it as a statement that Jews cannot go to Heaven unless they convert.  That offends them.  Is there a way to counter that belief (does God give an exemption for his Chosen People) or is this something that has no wiggle room?

That would be up to God, not me.

That’s what I found troubling about your question: I don’t put restrictions or issue edicts to God about what is necessary for Him to save people.

I believe he sent his Son to do this.  Maggie

Near as I can tell, Maggie thinks only Christians can go to Heaven, unless God grants a special exception.  The implication for adoption is clear, then:  Placing child with Jewish parents (for instance) would put that child’s eternal fate in jeopardy.

So does Maggie think Catholic Charities should be allowed to discriminate against Jews?  I’ve never heard her say so.  I doubt that she does believe so, even though it’s a clear implication of her rhetoric about religious freedom.  It’s almost as if…as if…as if she only cares when it comes to teh gays.

That’s bad enough, but as is so common with NOM, it gets even worse.  Go back to the Ruth Institute article about California’s religious liberty bill, and you’ll find this worry:

[W]hat about the county clerk who refuses to conduct gay marriages because of his faith…

Wow.  They’re no longer talking about clergy, or charities, or even some random private individual.  They’re talking about a government employee, hired to provide services to the American public, and paid with taxpayer dollars.  They think government employees should be able to freeze out any  American citizen they like, as long as they can shout, “Religion!”  And still keep their jobs.

As far as I know, NOM complains a lot about religious freedom, but they’ve never fully defined the  protection they’re looking for.    Would they dare?  Because I think it comes down to something like, People can ignore any law they want if they can give a religious pretext for doing so.

Wait, that’s not right.  If that were right, then people of faith would be able to do any religious thing they wanted — even marrying same-sex couples despite state law to the contrary.  And we know NOM doesn’t want to extend that liberty, no matter how religiously motivated.

Geez.  It’s almost as if…as if…as if NOM’s vision of religious liberty consists of allowing people to do whatever NOM wants them to do.

No wonder they’re so vague.

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17 comments to NOM’s Strategy of Hypocrisy, Part 2: Religious Freedom

  • 1
    Tre says:

    Rob, once again, your genius exposes NOM for the disgusting, hypocritical, pit of evil that it truly is.
    On a lighter note, I have to say that knowing you had an actual one-on-one email exchange with “The Maggie”, I can’t help but thinking if that were me, I would feel dirty and need to bathe immediately !

  • 2
    Neil says:

    It must be very comforting for lobbyists when they can afford themselves the luxury of a sort of background radiation of unexamined prejudice to carry aloft their scatty scattered rhetoric.

    Were Ms Gallagher and Mr Brown to extemporise in the Martian language made familiar to us in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! at one of their marriage salvage rallies, it would surely persuade their audience that “Ack!” forms the basis for a valid argument. For the general population, however, I suspect “Ack!” wouldn’t do. But put out some blather that employs words like protect and save and you’ll doubtless give the impression that it is chivalry you’re doing to slay those gay dragons with all that imposing they’re threatening.

    Before long, persons not given to examining their prejudices are likely to feel that if they’re not of a mind to oppose marriage equality, some gay man or lesbian is liable to come along and shove something down their throats. That’s an alarming prospect, so it’s no wonder NOM can do such wonders with referenda about the issue.

  • 3

    Still, you’d expect NOM to be happy when the California legislature passes a bill saying,

    And voters in California passed not only a law, but also a constitutional amendment, banning gay-sex marriage.

    Which, since both were ignored, not enforced, and not defended by the executive, the Legislature, the attorney general, and the courts because the gay and lesbian community ordered them to do so, became meaningless.

    And now this same gay and lesbian community is asking people to buy into the theory that a law will protect them — when this same gay and lesbian community has demonstrated repeatedly that laws are to be ignored, not enforced, and not defended if the gay and lesbian community so demands.

    Furthermore, Rob, if the Attorney General, the governor, or other elected officials do not have to defend or enforce laws because of their personal beliefs, why should a county clerk be forced to do so? Do you support criminal penalties for them refusing to do so?

    And really, this was beyond funny.

    There’s one thing that some of my Jewish friends find troubling about this issue. They interpret it as a statement that Jews cannot go to Heaven unless they convert. That offends them.

    And yet, those same Jewish friends seemingly take no offense to Barack Obama’s church and its religious beliefs.

    Because after all, if they did, you’d have email exchanges to publish with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, right?

    And also, given Barack Obama’s allusions to God and use of Christian imagery to portray himself, wouldn’t that be a constant offense to your “Jewish friends” as well?

    I mean, none of this is surprising; it’s the main reason you’ll never see gays and lesbians protesting outside a mosque, a predominantly-black or Hispanic church, the Nation of Islam headquarters, or anywhere else that isn’t perceived as predominantly Christian, white, and Republican leaning, regardless of what is being said inside.

  • 4
    Tom D says:

    ND, what so frustrating about you is that you’re obviously not dumb, but instead of using your smarts to deal with real facts, you just make stuff up. Like in your recent posts, you talk about the attorney general not defending or enforcing Prop 8. Well, it’s true he didn’t defend it, but how can you say he didn’t enforce it? Did gay couples marry after Prop 8? Can you name any? Can you name any time it wasn’t actually enforced?

    No. But instead of sticking with the truth (he didn’t defend it), you step in the realm of made-up stuff and claim he didn’t enforce it. That’s just not true. But you keep saying it.

    You make it really hard to take you seriously and it’s like you do it on purpose.

  • 5
    Bobby in Seattle says:

    I’ve come to realize long ago that they simply hate us. They wished we’d simply fade away and die. Yes. They. Do.

    They try to hide this fact with rhetoric of “tough love.” Under the guise that they must be “tough” with us, they explain we’re like spoiled children that simply must be grounded (if you will). Punished and pushed back into the closet. The keys to the family vehicle taken away with our privileges of seeing our friends and watching television revoked.

    Face it. They’re a house of vicious hypocrites. For instance, for years they’ve chided that they support Domestic Partnerships. “Give the gays the rights and benefits to marriage, just don’t call it marriage.” Well, here in Washington State, our legislature did just that, and what happened next? They didn’t want that for us either. They felt by giving us every thing “but” the word marriage, it was too much like marriage, and the result was Referendum 71 (which thankfully failed). They’re liars. Proof that they simply want us to go away. Forever.

    My belief is we must stay resilient. Their method is to constantly change the goal posts. Hoping that we’ll simply become exhausted and quit. Well, in my heart I know we’ll continue to win this battle and the proof is in the recent polls that show people are starting to realize that we deserve the same rights and privileges that all other American citizens enjoy. And that keeps me hopeful.

  • 6
    Scott says:

    Would that the gay community had the power ND30 keeps saying it has; surely, then DADT and DOMA would be history by now. And it is incorrect, btw, that Prop 8 was ignored and not enforced; gay marriages were halted.

  • 7
    tavdy79 says:

    If religion was a free pass to breaking the law, the USA would still have lynchings, slavery and female servitude.

  • 8
    Beau says:

    Rob: Great article as always. I love reading your stuff. Your always very thorough and provide wonderful, and insightful, arguments. Keep up the great work! :D

    North Dallas: It is true that the LGBT community fought against a law voted on by the people. But the question is not if we fought against it, it’s why. It was a law that was unconstitutional, and needed to be removed because of this fact. Our great nation was founded on the idea of equality, but Prop 8 prevented this equality, and as a result, like so many other laws that were unconstitutional, it was struck down. It is good to give the people the chance to vote on a law, but that same right gives people the option to oppose that law if it goes against the Constitution, which was the case with Prop 8. If a Same-Sex Marriage law passes, it is also the right of the people to fight that law, but they have to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is an unconstitutional law.

    Bobby: I would like to clarify something, as I am a Seattle resident as well. Referendum 71 was the law that passed providing Domestic Partnerships the same rights as married couples. It was even referred to as the “everything but marriage bill”. Its kind of confusing, because the law was launched in an effort to Veto Senate Bill 5688, if R71 had not passed, then SB 5688 would have been vetoed. But R71 did pass, and therefore, did provide Domestic Partners with rights equal to that of a marriage. At least that is my understanding of it. Sorry if I am mistaken, but one thing I am certain about is that R71 did pass, thankfully.

  • 9
    Bobby in Seattle says:

    Beau, you’re absolutely correct, in that R-71 “passed.” For simplicity sake I said it “failed,” in that the push to take away the “everything but marriage legislation “failed” to pass.

    Sorry for not clarifying that better.

    I actually worked on the campaign to pass R-71. And yes, you are correct. The way the referendum was worded, it needed to “pass.”

    Hope I cleared that up. Sorry for being lazy and not clarifying that better. My bad.

  • 10
    Emma says:

    Hi Rob,

    Have you seen this thing Dan Savage is trying to get started, making videos aimed at gay teens about how life may suck now but it gets so much better? Given your awesome videos and outlook on life, I watched his video and thought it might be something you’d get in to.


  • 11
    Wade MacMorrighan says:

    Ummmm….Rob? The Ruth Institute stepped into a rather sticky-wicket that most citizens tend to believe, even though it’s far from factual. You see, a religious marriage is not, and can never be a legal marriage unless the couple first acquires a license from the state making it *also* a civil marriage! i would LOVE to see RUTH’s and NOM’s supporters denounce Civil Marriage in favor of purely symbolic and non-legal religious ceremonies if it’s “so important” to them and has such “meaning” for them!

    Though, speaking of Gallagher and the Catholic Charities in Boston, Mass., something REALLY bothers me which none in the media care to tackle: if you challenge her and her so-called “fact” (which are distorted misrepresentations) she accuses you of lying! After all, she’s merely “a good ol’, harmless, Christian girl!” She even LIED when confronted with the demonstrable fact that NOM was even targeting not just Civil Marriage Equality, but lesser and unequal “Civil Unions” as in WA. state, denouncing such a factual claim as a lie! CNN allowed the controversy to stand at the time, and didn’t fact-check either allegation (even though WE know that she was, in fact, lying on national TV!). Just don’t get me started about how, when she’s on TV, she fails to directly answer question and speaks in sugar-sweet talking points, with a disarming smile!

    Oh, and btw, Rob, if you’d ever like to discuss the authentic history of marriage, which I’ve learned a great deal about as a freelance historian, just lemme’ know and I’ll rattle off a bunch of stuff for you to mention with her that she can fact-check, if she’s so-inclined (which I personally doubt she’ll bother with).

    >>>As far as I know, NOM complains a lot about religious freedom, but they’ve never fully defined the protection they’re looking for. Would they dare? Because I think it comes down to something like, People can ignore any law they want if they can give a religious pretext for doing so.<<>>Geez. It’s almost as if…as if…as if NOM’s vision of religious liberty consists of allowing people to do whatever NOM wants them to do.<<<

    Again, you are absolutely right, because it seems to me as if NOM completely ignores and rejects the voices of other religions that want to legally officiate over SSMs.

  • 12
    Jason D says:

    “They think government employees should be able to freeze out any American citizen they like, as long as they can shout, “Religion!” And still keep their jobs.”

    That’s what’s beyond me. NOW they want religious exemptions for completely secular activities. No, your freedom of religion doesn’t extend outside your religious practices. You don’t get to break driving laws because of your religious beliefs. You don’t get to kill sinners because of your religious beliefs.
    You personally don’t want to attend a gay wedding, awesome, knock yourself out. You professionally want to refuse to do your job? No. Get a different job if your religion is that important to you. When you’re a civil servant you serve THE PUBLIC, not just the members of the public whom you approve of, ALL OF THE PUBLIC. It’s really simple, if you have moral objects to performing your duties, it’s time to find a different job.

  • 13

    […] Organization for Marriage with Robert George (and whom George cites approving in his article) believes “the only way to the Father is through the Son.” This belief is not uncommon in America. Surely […]

  • 14

    […] Organization for Marriage with Robert George (and whom George cites approving in his article) believes “the only way to the Father is through the Son.” This belief is not uncommon in America. Surely […]

  • 15

    […] Organization for Marriage with Robert George (and whom George cites approving in his article) believes “the only way to the Father is through the Son.” This belief is not uncommon in America. Surely […]

  • 16

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  • 17

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