Gene Robinson: Religious Conservatives Are Not the Victims of Bullying They Claim to Be

In a terrific column over at The Daily Beast, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson rips apart the victimization rhetoric of religious conservative who claim providing public services and accommodations to gay people is a violation of their freedom of religion, saying "[it's] time we called out our religious brothers and sisters for misunderstanding their recently-acquired status as members of a shrinking minority as victims." 

Writes Robinson:

Gene robinsonAppeals to the courts are being made for “relief” for this violation of the service providers’ “freedom of religion” and “religious liberty,” claiming that forced compliance with such anti-discrimination laws is a violation of the providers’ free practice of their religion. Indeed, the language used in defiance of these anti-discrimination laws takes on the language of victimization. These providers feel as though they are victims of discrimination themselves based on their religious beliefs.

But I have to ask: are religious conservatives confusing the pain of finding oneself “suddenly” in the minority with actually being a victim? Both feel uncomfortable, even painful, and are fraught with anxiety. But they’re very different.

Here’s what victimization looks like: every day, especially in some places, LGBT people face the real possibility of violence because of their orientation or gender identity. Young people jump off bridges or hang themselves on playground swing sets because of the bullying and discrimination they face. In 29 states, one can be fired from one’s job simply for being gay, with no recourse to the courts. In most places, we cannot legally marry the one we love. Some of us have been kicked out of the house when we come out to our parents, and many young LGBT people find themselves homeless and on the streets because of the attitudes of their religious parents toward their LGBT children. And did I mention the everyday threat of violence?

Robinson goes on to say that “as a society, we would do well to distinguish between real victimization and the also-very-real discouragement felt by those who now find themselves in the minority”

You can read the full column HERE


  1. john patrick says

    Excellent article. I am so sick of these “christian” people who whine about having to treat gay people like everyone else and use their religious beliefs as an excuse to refuse service. As though Jesus would not want them to bake cakes or arrange flowers or take photographs at the wedding or commitment ceremony or reception of a same sex couple. They forget the quotes: “Whatever you do to the least, you do to me,” and “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

  2. ascanius1 says

    this has been clear for a long time.

    for jebusites victimization means no longer being able to impose their mistaken beliefs on the rest of society.

    beat back religious overreach. join and support an agnostic/atheist/secularist organization today.

    while we can appreciate moderate/liberal religious folks like robinson, they unfortunately give shelter and support to the conservative anti-gay religious bigots by endorsing the same basic supernatural worldview for which there is simply no credible evidence.

    once you make that leap into accepting a metaphysical world without evidence, anything can be justified, since it’s imaginary.

    anti-gay christians are just as much christians as the pro-gay ones. in fact, they have greater biblical support.

    it’s time to dispense with these archaic superstitious worldviews altogether.

  3. anon says

    The possibility of injustice exists for anyone. A store owner can be a victim of crime, for example. The key here is that you actually have to suffer the injustice. A theoretical injustice is not an injustice at all. You can still suffer injustice even if the injustice is barred by law. Either the perpetrator uses a loophole, the system of law enforcement breaks down or making use of the system is too burdensome. The crime victim is still a victim even if the criminal gets caught and goes to jail.

    Here’s the real caveat though: you can be a victim simply from your own judgment and perspective. That is, you can consider yourself a victim even if the law is silent. You might, for example, argue that your property taxes are too high. You might feel that the product you bought was no good. You might feel that your boss asks too much of you. Etc. In fact, the law is going to be silent on most private grievances. Your boyfriend ignores you? Well, there’s no law about that, is there?

    Robinson’s perspective is essentially wrong: it’s not that these people are not victims, it’s that the in many respects the law cannot properly adjudicate their grievances. In fact, you have to be on guard about what you attempt to adjudicate, because the results can get mired in all the sticky details and loopholes.

  4. jamal49 says

    It’s about time all of us fight back against this evangelical effluvia and their bogus claims that they are “victims” because of civil marriage equality. It’s time we excise the cancer that is evangelical, fundamentalist christianity from the American body politic by whatever means necessary. Better now than later.

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