May 25, 2011
‘Religious freedom under attack’ has become a common refrain. Regular news updates remind us of such things as the “candy cane” case currently being heard before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the removal of crosses on Utah highways, or whether or not prayer should be allowed at high school graduation. We at UFI want to make you aware of another battle front in the war against religious freedom.
Over the last few years our UFI teams have noticed that anti-religious bias has become very overt and quite accepted at the UN. But recently we’ve begun monitoring a particularly interesting and insidious brand of anti-religious fervor. The new strategy seems to be to label your ideological and political opponent with the term “religious fundamentalist.”
It’s quite a brilliant strategy actually. The term “religious fundamentalist” conjures up images of fanatics; crazies who break laws and usually live in isolation. Fundamentalism has become synonymous with violence and terrorism. It’s a very effective and simple formula: religious fundamentalists are bad –> you are a religious fundamentalist –> thus you are bad. If you can be successful at labeling your opponent as “one of them” then the debate is over – you win.
This whole strategy carries with it another very tangible benefit. Those who use it can claim to not be against religion – “Oh no, we’re not anti-religion; we’re just against religious fundamentalists!” Then they can go on to utilize those in religious circles who might agree with them – while working to discredit and silence those who don’t.
Who’s leading this effort?
Most of the anti-family/anti-life groups in the UN system would agree with this strategy, but the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is certainly at the forefront of this effort. The UN has given this group a very big microphone with which they promote their anti-religion agenda. Their recently released publication “Towards a Future without Fundamentalisms: Analyzing Religious Fundamentalist Strategies and Feminist Responses” received UN accolades and wide distribution.
The rhetoric in this publication is nothing short of silliness were it not so intense in its effort to diminish, libel, and stop opponents. Their definition of a “fundamentalist” ranges from those who want to stone women for adultery – to a mom who wishes to stay home with her kids. As you read through this publication, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. So with apologies to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, we thought we’d share the contents of this outrageous publication with a little twist.
You might be a religious fundamentalist…
If you “idealize motherhood” and believe that children are better off being raised by their mother than by daycare, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 20 -22)
If you believe that being a mother is the “ultimate dream” and that being a working woman is an “unfortunate reality in a global economy,” then you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg .17)
If you believe that the “natural” family is heterosexual or feel the world should function from a “hetro-normative” perspective, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 16)
If you believe that parents should be in control of their children’s education, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 17)
If you oppose abortion and oppose the promotion of LGBTQI behavior and rights [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, intersexed], you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 21)
If you blame social problems on the “decline in morality” or the “disintegration of the family,” you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 18)
If you believe in “limiting women’s expression of sexuality to the confines of the heterosexual family,”you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 21)
If you support laws banning “sex work” [prostitution], you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 21)
If you have “co-opted science” and use science to support your positions, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 30)
If you’re involved in your child’s school, or formed a parent group – then you must have “infiltrated” the public education system, and you just might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 36)
If your religion gives you a “sense of belonging” and helps you feel a part of a community, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 39)
If you feel your religion is a good place to interact with others and even search out a marriage companion, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 37)
If religion is providing you with opportunities to serve people and help during times of crisis and natural disasters, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 40 & 49)
If you oppose laws to legalize abortion, then you’re probably violent and you must be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 43)
If you don’t believe that widespread condom distribution is the best way to combat HIV/AIDS, you’re probably a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 43)
If you are a religious person and vote for people who share your values, you might be a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 50)
If you feel your religious beliefs and values have a place in the public square, you are probably a religious fundamentalist. (pg. 47 & 49)
What does all this mean?
As we’ve mentioned, some of their points are so ridiculous it’s hard to believe they are for real. Unfortunately, this is real and the groups that supported the writing of this publication are quite serious. They are desperate to have their ideology succeed and are shocked and dismayed that religion continues to have a voice in the public square – so they want to silence that voice. There is no recognition that religion is equally entitled to be engaged in the political and cultural dialogue.
The irony is that they speak of the traditional religious perspective as though it were the newcomer, the interloper, or the intruder – as though the promotion of abortion, redefinition of gender, and the mainstreaming of homosexual behavior have always been a societal norm. The fact is, the “fundamental” religious beliefs they now fight are exactly what has always created the prosperous and stable societies that they claim to be striving to create.
All who hold traditional, religious, hetero-normative values and beliefs need to not be cowed or intimidated by their rhetoric of “religious fundamentalist.” Get out and get involved! You must be making a difference or these national and international groups wouldn’t be getting together to develop strategies to stop you.
United Families International felt it was important to make you aware of the specious tactics being used and we encourage you to take some time to research it for yourself. As always, UFI will continue to promote and fight for laws, political structures, and religious and cultural norms that preserve and protect the family. Let’s continue to work together in this great effort.