I went to my first Values Voter Summit (VVS) over the weekend, and it was… unique, to say the least.
It was interesting to see a loud majority gather together in a series of events to discuss how oppressed they are for not being able to oppress other people with their religious dogma.
I have too many thoughts. So, I’m going to narrow it down to a few things that popped up to me.
The Religious Right [mostly] lived up to its stereotype of Christian privilege. This was the most “privileged” conference I’ve ever attended. It was really hard to not roll my eyes at every complaint about discrimination. If I were to write a synopsis about the VVS, it would be: “Highly privileged majority members of society gather to debate whether they’re oppressed due to their legally limited power to oppress other people.”
The sad part is, most of the people I encountered actually believe their religious freedom is under attack because of the social and political progress for women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, etc.
That’s a huge problem, because many of the attendees and speakers think they own this country and that the rest of us are subgroups of inferiors who should submit to their “biblical” principles. Yeah, no.
Nobody at this conference actually understood what religious freedom is! (Exclamation point highly intended)
“Religious freedom” at the VVS = the right of a right wing, evangelical Christian to force his or her religion onto you. Former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said Friday night that he’s “sick and tired of hearing separation of church and state,” and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said, “There is no such thing as freedom from religion – that would allow you to shut everyone else up."
This theme kept occurring with nearly every speaker. Yes, Rep. Gohmert, freedom to reject religion is protected under the First Amendment as much as freedom to embrace faith is. And to West I’d say, it’s too bad if you’re tired to hearing about it, but the Constitution is the law of the land, not the Bible.
Privileged conservative Christians gather to talk about their oppression.
Essentially, this crowd is Christians first, Americans second, but they really think that their version of Christianity is their most patriotic trait. These people need a history lesson. Did you know that this country was “built on Christian values?” Oh, yes! You have been reminded by the very historically-aware speakers at the VVS. You’re welcome.
Now, I don’t think Religious Right-style Christians realize that when they say their narrow version of “Christian” values built this country, they’re insulting themselves. When genocide and slavery built up this country and its economy, it’s probably best to not put that under “Christian values,” you feel me? Just a tip.
The Religious Right continues to have huge communications problems with minorities. It amazes me that after all these years of complaining about not attracting minorities to their platform, they still continue to alienate us. From women, to people of color, to the LGBTQ community – the Religious Right seems to love isolating itself.
As I was listening to West insult Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement – this, by the way, was a huge hit with the majority-white crowd and gathered many “Amen!”s – I wish I could say I was surprised. But nope. The Religious Right is still terrified of listening to people’s struggles outside their bubble of privilege. If it’s not “everything about America is great,” then it’s unpatriotic and ungrateful and non-unifying. The thought of equality is the monster under their beds.
And they wonder why so many non-white Christian people aren’t attracted to their platform?
Members of the Religious Right genuinely and hilariously think they are saviors, even globally.
One of the worst quotes I heard Friday night came when Oliver North, a Fox News host, said that Christians of his stripe have “become protectors of Muslim women and children.” Really? The same people gathered at a conference where Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said that Muslim immigration equals Americans wanting to commit suicide (with loud cheers!) believe the far right is protecting Muslim women, through… war? By making them target for evangelism? By denying them basic rights? By not admitting them into this country when they need it? Having had multiple conversations about this with Muslim women, I promise you, the vast majority do not see these things as protections.
But carry on. The people at the Summit enjoyed talking about how Christianity was all about love, morality and goodness whilst preaching nothing but hatred towards various groups of equal human beings.
I have never witnessed a group more oblivious of their actions.