If there’s one thing the Left hates, it’s corporate America meddling in politics. Well not all of corporate America, but, like, Hobby Lobby and stuff. And not all politics: fighting against those wicked Southern Christians is okay. So maybe the Left isn’t actually against corporate greed. I mean, they sure seem to enjoy having a wealthy friend like Tim Gill, who has spent more than $400 million dollars fighting for gay rights.
Now I should start out by saying that I don’t think it’s wrong for Tim Gill to use his wealth to try to lobby for what he believes. We all should put our money where our mouth is. But this particular case is concerning for two reasons. First, it shows that the Left is not actually opposed to using incredibly wealthy people to get what they want–which is scary because they’ve managed to market themselves as the party of human decency, to be explained later. Second, we should be worried because Gill’s goal isn’t just to expand the LGBTQ agenda into conservative states, but also to “punish the wicked.”
So let’s get down to business here, and pull apart the issue of wealthy liberal interference in the political process. Is it wrong to use your own money to fight for a cause you believe in? Typically not. Nor is it wrong for liberals to be excited that they have a champion using his own money to fight their cause for them. Is it wrong to decry the “1%” interfering in our political process and then gratefully accept their help in influencing political decisions? Obviously.
This reveals a serious hypocrisy in the leftist thought. In a recent Facebook discussion with a liberal friend-of-a-friend, his criterion for what makes an opinion tolerable quickly became clear. “The moment CC [Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho] can learn to accept LGBTQ, a woman’s right to have an abortion, and gay marriage, I’ll have some more respect for its belief system, but until then, I don’t buy it. It just isn’t right.” That was his thinly veiled way of saying, “I’ll respect you when you just admit I’m right.” Ironically this came after he commended his University of Idaho education as wholesome, diverse, and accredited (he wrongly believes my alma mater, New Saint Andrews College, is unaccredited). For some reason he ignored my offer to meet up in person so that we could talk further about our beliefs; maybe my viewpoint wasn’t the right kind of diverse.
I find this exchange enlightening because it’s an example of the identity politics that is at the foundation of leftist thinking. To explain briefly and crudely, identity politics uses certain traits or beliefs to signal who is part of the in crowd. So in this case, as I am part of a group that doesn’t believe the LGBTQ movement is right, I am identified as part of the oppressive crowd. Identity politics removes the nuance by reducing a person’s entire identity down to what they believe on particular issues. Since I disagree on gay marriage and abortion, my Facebook friend-of-a-friend was able to label me as intolerant without having to do the hard work of understanding my arguments. As this black and white philosophy pervades the Left, it allows them to reason together contradictory actions.
For example, say that a pro-LGBTQ person (we’ll call him Bernie) is strongly against the rich using their money to influence political proceedings. This same person sees Tim Gill using his wealth to threaten massive loss of jobs and revenue to Georgia, eventually causing the Republican governor to veto the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for fear of losing businesses like Coca Cola, Google, and Marriott. How should Bernie feel about this? If he’s consistent, he should be angry. If he believes that he is one of the good guys, fighting against oppression, he will feel it was a victory. This sort of identity politics—I’m one of the good guys, and the people who disagree with me on an issue of my choice are the bad guys—lends itself to Machiavellian thought. When you’re fighting against unadulterated evil, it’s easy to convince yourself that the ends justify the means.
So all that Tim Gill has to do is convince people who already agree with him that they’re fighting a battle not against other reasonable people with opposing viewpoints, but against evil. And that’s the second point of contention I have with Gill’s approach. Speaking of the conservative states, he said “We’re going into the hardest states in the country…We’re going to punish the wicked.” His fight is not just about expanding rights for the LGBTQ community; his fight is about hitting the dissenters in the pocketbook. And he’s not alone in this. While listening to an NPR interview with a gay rights activist, the interviewer brought up the issue of religious freedom and whether or not business owners should be able to refuse to work with a gay couple. The activist was clear that they should have the right to refuse service. Then she said, almost word-for-word, “But those business owners should know that we won’t want to do business with them, and we’re coming for them.”
Now I will pause and say that many homosexuals are not this aggressive. Many are truly content with simply buying from people who support their cause and avoiding those that don’t. That’s the free market, and I have no problem with it. But many ascribe to an identity politic. Their “Coexist” bumper stickers can only do so much, when they believe we are diametrically opposed to good since we don’t support their agenda. These people do not plan to simply take their business elsewhere. They aim to find out who believes what, make it public, and then run us out of business. That is because this is not just a fight for rights, but also a punitive mission.
These events should serve as a call to really understand what we believe and why. There are people who are calling us “the wicked” and truly do want to see us punished for believing as we do. We should always be ready with a response for them, and we should deliver it tactfully (1 Tim. 3:15). We also need to avoid this kind of hypocritical identity politic that our opponents will frequently set up. It kills conversation and the chance to understand each other when one person says that the other has to agree with them to be worth speaking to. As Christians, we should be aware that God has given knowledge to members of all groups and have the humility to converse with them. The paradigm of identity politics says that those who disagree with you are your enemies. But Christians should try to communicate with our ideological enemies, remembering that we were all once enemies of God.