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Conservatives Lose - and Lose - and Lose

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This month's Supreme Court decree that gays cannot be fired from jobs simply because they're gay is a solid blow to white evangelicals, the heart of the Republican Party. Such born-again conservatives claim they have "religious freedom" to treat gays cruelly. Now they're exposed, once again, as more intolerant than the rest of America.

Gay-hating is deeply rooted in Puritanical religion. The Bible (Lev. 20:13) says male homosexuals "shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them". Evangelist Jerry Falwell, who led fundamentalists into the GOP, wrote: "Homosexuality is Satan's diabolical attack upon the family, God's order in Creation."

Many churches supported laws mandating prison for gay sex. Clergy backed hundreds - thousands - of attempts to demonize gays, strip them of jobs and ostracize them from society.

But religion was refuted in 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled that gay sex isn't a crime - and in 2015 when the court let same-sex couples marry - and now in 2020 when the justices banned gay firings.

This month's 6-3 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County applied simple logic. It said the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination based on sex, protects homosexual, lesbian and transgender people. Some religious groups are howling. The Colson Center for Christian Worldview called parts of the ruling "patent nonsense". Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore said the decision "will have seismic implications for religious liberty".

Fundamentalist pillar James Dobson called the ruling "an affront to God". Archbishop Jose Gomez, head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it's "an injustice".

Actually, looking at the long range of history, the new ruling is another step for human rights - a glacial process that began with The Enlightenment three centuries ago. Time after time, progressive crusaders won victories allowing more personal freedoms. Time after time, they defeated entrenched conservative resistance. Here's a history record I once compiled:

Conservatives tried to retain slavery, but they lost.

They tried to block voting by women, but lost.

They tried to prevent couples from using birth control, but lost.

They tried to obstruct Social Security pensions for oldsters, but lost.

They tried to outlaw labor unions, but lost.

They tried to prevent unemployment compensation for the jobless, but lost.

They tried to keep stores closed on the Sabbath, but lost.

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James A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Mr. Haught has won two dozen national news writing awards. He has written 12 books and hundreds of magazine essays and blog posts. Around 450 of his essays are online. He is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, a weekly blogger at Daylight Atheism, (more...)

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