By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com
On Kirk Cameron, the Religious Right, and Our Future
The other day I posted this CNN video of former Growing Pains actor Kirk Cameron, who’s now a grown-up, well-spoken, fundamentalist Christian evangelist, and it’s stirred up a bit of a heated discussion. I said when I posted the link to that piece on Twitter that Cameron is dangerous, Roger Ebert retweeted it (thanks as always, Roger) and that spurred some interesting comments from the Christian side, folks who aren’t necessarily regular readers around here. And it’s been an interesting discussion, but the whole issue of the fundamentalist perspective on homosexuality, and the impact the religious right has on the future rights of both the LGBT community and women’s rights, deserves more serious discussion.
First, to clarify, when I said that Cameron is “kind of dangerous” on Twitter, I absolutely meant that. He’s not dangerous in the sense that I think he’d personally go out and beat up someone who’s gay that he saw walking down the street, but he is the kind of dangerous that has the potential to incite others to act on their own passionate feelings. He’s not the kind of guy who’d tell people to go out and commit hate crimes, but I bet he could rouse his fanbase to get to the polls on election day. And he’s “dangerous” to those of us who hold to a more liberal perspective, for a number of reasons, some of which I already articulated in the comments of the previous post, and some of which I’ll go into a little more here.
A guy like Cameron, who’s good-looking and charming, who speaks intelligently and calmly states his views, is way more dangerous to the left than a blowhard doucherocket like Rush Limbaugh. Cameron knows exactly to whom he’s speaking – and for whom he’s speaking – when he goes on a show like CNN. He appeals strongly to the Christian right, he’s a hero for them, a guy who’s not afraid to both be an actor and to say, hey, I’ve been a fundamentalist Christian since my teens, that’s not changing. He doesn’t make movies that go against his moral beliefs. His primary work now is in ministry and evangelism and has been for years. He has six kids, and appears to be a loving and devoted father. He’s a role model for that side, folks.
And ultimately, he’s more electable than a lot of your schlubs out there on the right, precisely because he doesn’t come across as extreme. He has appeal to moderates who constitute the swing vote. He doesn’t lose his cool, he chooses his words carefully, even when the person interviewing him is barely restraining himself from open attack. He’s been out there more and more over the past five years or so, calmly and consistently espousing views that absolutely appeal to people of a conservative social mindset, and there are a lot of otherwise perfectly reasonable folks out there who, when it comes to the issue of gay rights and, in particular, gay marriage, have a very different viewpoint than those of us on the left have about that subject. He speaks for those people, and he does so very, very well. Personally, I think he’s a GOP wet dream, especially if they wanted to start him out by running him for a gubernatorial position and then leverage that into a presidential run down the road. I don’t know that he has that inclination, but if I was involved in GOP leadership, I would absolutely have him flagged as a potential political recruit.
And all those things about a guy like Cameron, if he got involved in politics, do make him dangerous to the values that we on the left hold dear. Our values, our right to live our lives according to those values, is under attack. Hell, even women’s reproductive rights, a done deal for decades, is an issue back under attack again. I’m not 100% convinced that the current Supreme Court will shoot down the personhood bill that my home state of Oklahoma passed recently. The current political climate makes me concerned about what kind of future my kids will be dealing with when they are adults.
It’s even more concerning if you ponder the number of children Christian families are having versus more socially liberal families. I know a great many Christian homeschooling families that have six, eight, even 10 or 11 kids. The Quiver Full movement, specifically, is about encouraging parents of fundamentalist Christian faith to have as many children as God can give them, and raising them with those values. As an aside, this is actually kind of an interesting thing the fundamentalist Christians, the Mormons, and the Catholics all have in common. They get that what a Church represents is really an Idea — a set of values about how to live — and that best way to propagate those ideas and values is to make lots and lots of future Christians and Mormons and Catholics so that you can eventually outnumber the other side. And it’s absolutely their right to raise their kids in accordance with their values, as it is ours to raise our kids according to our own.
But do the math, folks. We’re talking a very basic equation here. If all the folks on the left side of the equation have one, maybe two kids, while the folks on the right side of the equation, on average, have five or six, and that happens with the next generation too, and the next, what’s going to happen to the balance of voting power in a 20 or 30 years? The left, my friends, is going to be vastly outnumbered, and we’re going to be outnumbered by people who go to church, who turn into religious-themed tv and radio, who live by the Bible, who listen when their evangelists and preachers tell them how to live according to their faith’s values, and how to vote, and what causes to support. What do you think is going to happen to these issues we’re fighting for now — civil rights of gays, gay marriage, women’s reproductive rights, not to mention that flabby pink elephant that’s been standing in the corner for years, equal pay, in a few decades? We will be outnumbered, and the way our society looks in 30, 40 years — that’s still within my lifetime, and yours, and my kids, and my grandkids — could very well look very different from what most of us on the left would like. We cannot sit back on our laurels and live selfishly only in the present, people. We have to be forward-thinking. And the time to start thinking about all this is NOW, not when it’s already happened. We all have to share this country, this planet, with each other. We have to find ways to compromise and get along and peacefully coexist.
I’m not a Christian, I am a Unitarian Universalist, and one of the key values Unitarians have is being welcoming to all and tolerant of differing views, to seek ways to encourage peaceful coexistence among all people, to find ways for those who profoundly disagree on moral issues to be able to live side-by-side in respect and tolerance and even love. Those of you of the Christian faith who have found your way here are welcome to share your views, but I ask that you do so in a way that’s respectful of others. Posts that are vitriolic, name-calling and the like will be deleted. Those of you who are atheists, or liberals, or what have you are also welcome to discuss and debate here, but please also do so with respect for the right of others to have their perspective as well.