Stanton v. Bruni: August 6, 2018

Dear Mr. VP,

After a particularly damning NYT editorial from Frank Bruni (he calls you a “holy terror”), The Federalist came to your defense today, with a piece written by Glenn Stanton.

Stanton says you’re simply a “run-of-the-mill evangelical, like millions of Americans.” That you are just a “Christian who actually believes what Christians actually believe.” Namely, that ” God governs the affairs of men, that prayer is effectual and worth doing, that marriage and family are best when built upon a married mother and father, that life is sacred and abortion destroys life, and that God appoints our government’s leaders, even those who are hostile to Him.” Stanton scoffs at the idea that bringing these beliefs into government and enacting policy based on them is problematic.

Glenn Stanton is, I was not shocked to find out, an employee of Focus on the Family. His biography notes he’s traveled the country debating “LGBT advocates” and has even “become friends with those who live on the other side of the same-sex marriage issue.” How lovely. I suppose this could absolutely be true, though honestly, I generally don’t make friends with people who would deny folks in the LGBT community the right to form families as they see fit, because that seems pretty dehumanizing to me. I fail to see how I was committing a mortal sin in the very lovely seven years I spent in a relationship with another woman, and I don’t really think I’d want to hang out with someone who judged it to be one. But that’s just me.

What Stanton is trying to do is normalize your viewpoints and make them seem less problematic than they are. So it’s worth pointing out: what does it mean to believe that families are best when they have a mother and father, and to enact laws based on that belief? It means demonizing the LGBT community, denying that queer people have a right to self-determination, and arguing that queer families are somehow lesser-than. Concretely, where does that lead? To laws that prevent queer families from adopting, to bias in employment, to an inability for someone to visit their dying partner in the hospital. Let’s not normalize that, or make it seem anything but what it really is: cruel.

And what does it mean to say abortion destroys life and to enact laws based on that belief? It means denying people their right to routine medical care, to bodily autonomy. It means forcing people to bear children they do not want, and using children as punishment for what you believe to be immoral (i.e. not in the pursuit of procreation) sexual acts. It means likening those who have chosen abortion to murderers. Again — let’s not normalize these beliefs. They are extreme, and they have real-life, and potentially deadly, consequences.

I shouldn’t be surprised that Stanton has written this article. A few years ago he wrote a book called “Loving my (LGBT) Neighbor”, which, from what I can tell, is all about how we should congratulate him for being nice to the faces of LGBT people but turning away ASAP in order to attempt to enact legislation that strips these same people of their humanity, which doesn’t sound particularly loving or friendly to me. For kicks, I’ve taken the list of questions that Stanton apparently asks in his several hundred page book and answered them here. I don’t think he needed that many pages to parse through these — they seem pretty simple to me.

  • What does it look like to be friends with my lesbian neighbors? 
    • Bring them a pie when they move in, offer to water their plants when they’re out of town.
  • How should I love my gay child and his partner?
    • The same way you’d love your straight child and his partner.
  • What if I’m invited to a same-sex wedding?
    • Go, and please note your gift should be about equal to what you assume your hosts will be spending on your attendance. Don’t buy off-registry, that’s obnoxious.

Anyway, I think Stanton is missing the point. I don’t actually agree with the totality of Bruni’s argument about you. I do think we should impeach Trump if given the chance, and then we can work on you. But Bruni isn’t saying Christianity is the problem. I’m sure Bruni, like myself, knows plenty of lovely Christians who attend church, who profess a belief in Jesus Christ as a personal savior, and who manage to do those things without dehumanizing others. Bruni doesn’t dislike Christianity, or Christians. Bruni’s problem with you is not that you’re a Christian. His problem is that you use your beliefs like a weapon, to strip the humanity from others.


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