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Facebook’s a funny thing; or, at least it’s full of things that are funny. Like the puritan Valentines day cards, which were perfect for this year’s Ash Wednesday / Valentines day mashup. I really like this one:
Messing around on Facebook the other day I found something strange. The Facebook page for the Sioux County Conservatives is promoting a petition calling for LGBTQ books to be removed from a local public library. Here’s what I don’t understand: Everything I know about political conservatives suggests that removing or banning books from a public library strikes at the heart of the freedom they value. On every other issue conservatives claim to be on the side of freedom: freedom to bear arms, freedom from regulations, freedom from overtaxation, etc. Furthermore, the constitution has built in protections so the majority cannot simply run over the minority. On the one hand, conservatives believe the government shouldn’t be able to force a baker to make cakes for a gay wedding. Why, then, would these same conservatives call for the removal of LGBTQ books from a public library? Doesn’t the same principle apply? If someone won’t bake a cake, find a different baker who will. Or, if you find certain books offensive, don’t check them out.
I don’t consider myself politically conservative, but I admit there’s a form of principled conservatism I find appealing. The type that pushes back against unnecessary government intrusion into the public square. The type that wants to create opportunity for people regardless of culture, race, and yes, even sexual identity, to seek a good life. The type that takes seriously the free expression of religion so people are free to practice their beliefs without fear of persecution. In this case, however, there seems to be an obvious transgression of religious freedom. Clearly, one group is trying to impose their moral beliefs, which are clearly grounded in religious beliefs, on another group. I don’t care where you stand on the issue of homosexuality, this is wrong.
The reason I’m not politically conservative is because the human condition is such that we always seem to be afraid of people who are different. Our tendency is to demonize the “other” with labels and stereotypes; unfortunately, religion tends to make this worse. We take a gospel message of God’s love for the world and turn it into the hateful justification of our own agendas, our own issues, and our own fearful attempts at self preservation. I’d like to believe the freedom political conservatives value is possible, but I’m not optimistic. If we’re unable to let people read the books they want at a public library—we have a long way to go.