With attention focused on the dangers of fake news and how much damage it causes in a general sense, it wouldn’t be fair for the lgbt community to be left behind. One significant tool of the religious right which does not get enough attention is its power to spread a horror story about so-called anti-Christian persecution.
It goes like this ― something seemingly unfair to Christians takes place in a public venue. A religious right talking head or publication promotes a slanted version of the story and it spreads all over the right-wing, conservative internet. Then it’s promoted by organizations such as the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, or other affiliates as an example of how Christians are supposedly being persecuted in America. Before long, the incident goes mainstream usually via a one-sided snow job done by Fox News or a conservative columnist in a legitimate newspaper. Then the religious right groups mentioned above refer to said incident as either a fundraising tool or constantly repeated talking point. The coda to this train is that we find out that the incident in question was blown out of proportion and had noting to do with any type of persecution. Of course that generally happens after the lie has become so successful that the truth becomes powerless to change the generated fears, resentment, and alarm.
A perfect example of my point is Fox News personality Todd Starnes. He has made a career out of publishing articles which claim that “Christians are under attack” (usually from lgbts). Generally, his articles are sloppily written and often omit crucial details. Such as the following:
Starnes spin - A San Antonio non-discrimination ordinance will bar all Christians from serving in public office, discriminate against folks for having prior anti-gay beliefs, and will “force churches to allow transgender bathrooms.”
Truth - Equality Matters refuted every one of those claims. The site called the last claim regarding churches a boldfaced lie.
April 2014: Starnes spin - As part of a lgbt-inclusive anti-bullying workshop at Linden Avenue Middle School in New York, two female students were forced to kiss each other.and male students were told to carry condoms in their pockets Truth - The school district investigated and issued a statement that neither of these incidents took place From the Huffington Post (Full disclosure. I wrote this Huffington Post article.)
The idea that lgbts are trying to persecute Christian is only one falsehood generated by the religious right’s usage of fake news stories. I’ve compiled a list of false beliefs which the religious right, via fake news articles (not to mention junk and cherry-picked science), have created about the lgbt community over a number of years. How many do you recognize:
- 1. Homosexuality is a lifestyle more harmful than cigarette smoking.
- 2. Gay men have a short life span.
- 3. The gay and lesbian community have a high rate of domestic violence.
- 4. Unhealthy behaviors (i.e. substance abuse, promiscuous sexual behavior) is indicative of the gay or lesbian orientation.
- 5. Gay men molest children at a high rate .
- 6. Gays and lesbians want to silence Christians.
- 7. Gays and lesbians recruit people, particularly children, to their “lifestyle.”
- 8. Gays and lesbians are following a six-point plan to take over America.
- 9. Any judge who rules in favor of the gay and lesbian community in a case is an “activist judge.”
- 10. Anal sex is “homosexual behavior.”
- 11. Robert Spitzer’s study confirms that gays and lesbians can change their orientation.
- 12. Gays and lesbians want to force acceptance.
- 13. Gay bowel syndrome is a legitimate medical term.
- 14. A man who molests a boy or a woman who molests a girl is automatically homosexual.
- 15. A convenience sample or out-of-date study can be used to generalize about the entire lgbt community.
- 16. The average gay man has many sexual partners.
- 17. Laws created to protect transgenders from discrimination will make it easier for sexual predators to come into womens’ bathrooms and locker rooms