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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

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.

9 Responses to “On Kirk Cameron, the Religious Right, and Our Future”

  1. Theo Deck says:

    Kim, I think your argument is a bit panic-inducing as written, but you do make some excellent points. I am one of those rare people – a born-again Christian who happens to support gay rights and gay relationships. To me, if God has a problem with you being gay, then you’ll deal with it when you go to meet your maker. That having been said, I’m also a conservative-leaning libertarian who thinks that some liberals have gone way overboard pushing the gay political agenda also. To me there is one simple solution – be happy while you’re here on Earth, and deal with the consequences in the afterlife – it’s GOD’s right to judge, not yours, your neighbors, or your political opposition. Cameron has a right to his views and a right to tell people what they are, which the other side seems to forget. Lately, if you don’t agree with the current political agenda, you’re “dangerous”. Funny, it was always called “agreeing to disagree” when I was growing up. What happened to that spirit? It’s all gone away in the cutthroat political world that exists today. And that’s a damn shame…

  2. waterbucket says:

    Why can’t people just all be Buddhists? They’re a peaceful bunch and I don’t see any of them imposing their beliefs on others.

  3. Lisa says:

    I agree with Theo. You aren’t going to be able to convince the Christian church that the Bible is not true. Fact is, it IS possible to love people that you disagree with. I think that is what Cameron was trying to say. He should have weighed his words in a more respectful way, but I don’t think he HATES gay people- his faith (and the Bible) does INDEED teach that homosexuality is a sin.
    Fact is, there shouldn’t be a “political agenda” to begin with. This is a “live and let live” country. Yes, we all have the right to express our opinions. But until people on all sides of the issue will be able to debate the issues intelligently and learn to respect people who don’t agree with you, we are in for trouble. And I think that’s the real issue here. We all have to learn to respect each other.

  4. jane doe says:

    Wow, This was kind of an amusing report!! “Lets look to the future” What will happen to America if we all live by this moral code of conduct and high standards what will become of our children? Kirk Cameron’s Christian faith and values are menacing to the future of our children and you mean that now they are going to have lots of christian children to add to our future? WHAT WILL WE DO? WHAT WILL BECOME OF US? THIS MAN IS GOING TO DESTROY US ALL? HE is calm, kind, Intelligent, Well Mannered, Devoted, and a LOYAL FATHER? He is compassionate and Inspirational? He has to be stopped he is sooo dangerous!!what kind of future would it be if we were all like this man? What is this world coming to? WAAAHAAA Hope everyone can get the humor in this as I have!!! KIRK, YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Kim Voynar says:

    jane doe,

    I’d actually be interested to see how compassionate he would really be if one of his own six kids came out as gay. And whether, if faced with his own child telling him, “Love and accept me as I am, you’re my dad,” that would change his perspective.

    And yes, an imbalance of children born to conservative-minded, Christian parents now versus children born to parents with more liberal views will absolutely affect the future. Basic mathematics there. If you are a conservative Christian, of course you see that as a Good Thing. If you are from the liberal side of the debate, though, and you see everything you value being attacked by the right NOW, it’s not that difficult to extrapolate from that what that imbalance might mean for our future.

    Cameron is compassionate and inspirational to those who hold his views, which obviously includes you. For those who believe as he does, of course he’s inspirational. Myself, while I can objectively characterize him as compassionate, intelligent and well-spoken, I can also see how that is a potential threat to the values I hold just as dear as you hold yours.

    And lastly, if everyone on the right was all “like this man” — meaning calmly and respectively holding to his own beliefs and evangelizing them to those who agree, that’s swell. Where it gets not so swell is when those on the right in public office start shoving those personal values down the collective throat, as we’re seeing with personhood legislation, attacks on birth control and the rights of women to control their bodies, legislation making the bullying of gay kids in school legal, etc.

    THAT is where the line gets crossed, and where your values impact OUR lives in very real ways. And I’m not talking in the “I don’t want a gay couple living next door to me” way, or an “It grosses me out to see two guys holding hands or kissing” way, which is the reality of how conservative Christians are actually impacted by the existence of gay people. I’m talking about kids being bullied to the point of suicide, gay youth being physically attacked and beaten, gay people being killed for being gay.

    You do not have a right to never SEE anything that irritates you or grosses you out. But people do have rights to not have their lives and well-being endangered by those who hold a different world view. THAT is what is at stake here.

  6. Kim Voynar says:

    Theo wrote: Cameron has a right to his views and a right to tell people what they are, which the other side seems to forget. Lately, if you don’t agree with the current political agenda, you’re “dangerous”. Funny, it was always called “agreeing to disagree” when I was growing up. What happened to that spirit? It’s all gone away in the cutthroat political world that exists today. And that’s a damn shame…


    I don’t know how to be any clearer about this than I have been. I absolutely uphold Cameron’s right to say as many things as I don’t agree with as he wants. But when you talk about the “current political agenda,” what exactly are you talking about?

    The one in which a personhood law that threatens women’s rights to not only abortion, but birth control, that’s been hitting conservative states right and left, just passed in my home state of Oklahoma? The legislation making bullying of gay kids legal? Prop 8 and other anti-gay legislation?

    There is no “agree to disagree” when you are talking about the conservative religious right trying to take away rights from other people like that. Can we agree to disagree personally on the issue of, say, abortion or gay marriage? Absolutely. But in the political arena, where those debates directly impact how we can live our LIVES?

    Absolutely not. For the same moral reasons that we couldn’t just “agree to disagree” that a Black person doesn’t count as a full person, or that Blacks can’t use the same swimming pools and water fountains, or that women shouldn’t vote or have a right to control their own bodies.

  7. Eileen Carroll says:

    …a personhood law that threatens woman’s rights to not only abortion…
    Seriously? The baby in the uterus THREATENS a woman’s rights to choose to kill her baby?? That person in the uterus should not be bullied, violently torn to pieces, or denied any right that you and I enjoy just because they are in the uterus. As a Catholic christian I’m with you in that we all need to love one another, not just tolerate one another.
    A gay person has the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any citizen of the USA. They are not threatened with the violence of being torn limb from limb the way a baby in the uterus is and lawfully can be at the wim of their mother. Catholics see the beauty of every person and value that life. It is our duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with the bullied, the outcast, the discriminated and to work for a just society not for only some but all people. That’s what love is: not a sentimental feeling but a choice to do what is good and right for all – the common good. No one should have a ‘right’ to kill.
    My body is mine and I have the choice to take care of it or not. When I have sexual intercourse that results in a baby – my body is still mine but the baby inside my uterus is not my body – that baby is another person.
    I do not have the right to kill that child or any other person. God the Creator made it that way – I am not the Creator: I am a creature.

  8. Kim Voynar says:

    No, Eileen. The PERSONHOOD LAW threatens women’s rights to abortion and birth control. Whoever said that a zygote, embryo or fetus did? Pregnancy and birth can and do kill women — about 1,000 a day globally.

    You know, I was raised Catholic. Catholic schools, uncle who’s a priest. I got pregnant when I was 17, had my daughter and raised her. She’ll be 27 this year. There would have to be a really extreme reason for me to ever get an abortion myself. Key word there: Myself.

    My choice not to get an abortion is based on my personal moral values, my relationship with my deity or theology, however you want to look at it. It’s a personal choice. Key word there: Choice.

    I absolutely support your right to feel as passionately about abortion as you do. But I do not support any laws that force your perspective on abortion, a position based on faith, personal morality, whatever you want to call THAT, on anyone but yourself. It’s MY uterus. MY body. Not yours or anyone else’s to dicate a decision that’s a personal medical and moral choice.

    In other words, just because I would not personally choose to have an abortion, does not in any way mean that I would ever support laws that dictate what any woman must do with her own body, and that includes the ridiculously invasive, rape-by-vaginal-ultrasound legislation that’s popping up lately.

  9. JPLibinCal says:

    I believe this last post puts an exclamation point on your previous points. The words “myself” and “choice” are key. We are all free to live our lives the way WE CHOOSE, but not free to tell others how to live.

    I personally live a pretty conservative lifestyle, but I am as liberal as can be ideologically, and I hold that my lifestyle might not be what someone else is comfortable with. I don’t believe in God, but I would never presume to take away the right’s of others to believe. I love the Dallas Cowboys, but have no interest in outlawing the Washington Redskins(though I would like them to change their nickname if at all possible).

    This country should be about standards that are good for all, not just good for the majority. I can’t for the life of me figure out how a gay couple next door getting married is going to impact my marriage in any way. My lack of faith does not endanger anyone’s faith, and my belief in evolution does not in anyway affect what is taught in Sunday School.

    Why do people think that rights given to others somehow take away their own rights? Unless of course they wish to have the right to control other people’s lives through prejudice and bigotry. Why do people who claim to be for freedom consistently speak of taking freedoms away? Unless of course we’re talking about their freedoms or the freedoms of their church or their company.

    Giving other’s a right that harms no one, does not force a person who is against that right to avail themselves of it. Abortion being legal does not force anyone to have an abortion. Gay marriage? Well of course not…

    Live and let live, first do no harm, do unto others, etc., let’s simply follow these basic tenets. Oh what a world THAT would be.

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“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
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To me, Hunter S. Thompson was a hero. His early books were great, but in many ways, his life and career post–Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a cautionary tale for authors. People expected him to be high and drunk all the time and play that persona, and he stuck with that to the end, and I don’t think it was good for him. I always sort of feel mixed emotions when I hear that people went and hung out with Hunter and how great it was to get high with Hunter. The fact is the guy was having difficulty doing any sustained writing at all for years probably because so many quote, unquote, “friends” wanted to get high with him … There was a badly disappointed romantic there. I mean, that great line, “This is where the wave broke, the tide rolled back … ” This was a guy that was hurt and disappointed and very bitter about things, and it made his writing beautiful, and also with that came a lot of pain.
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