Jeremy at Good As You highlights an interesting piece in Mother Jones about Esther Fleece, the new hire at Focus on the Family tasked with bringing young people into the fold, and with tailoring a younger, hipper message to reach these folks. What’s strange, though, as Jeremy points out, is that Esther acknowledges and understands the reasons that FotF-style religion repels younger people (e.g. the gay hate just doesn’t fly with the younger set), and her superiors seem to understand this, but yet they refuse to correct the problem!
You see, the younger generation has grown up, for the most part, knowing gay people, and when you know us, it’s a lot harder to accept the parallel-universe lies propagated by the Religious Right against the LGBT community. So when Gary Schneeberger says something like this…
As for revising the positions that are alienating youth, though, that’s not really in the cards. “The things we stand for, especially in the policy realm, are things that are rooted in our understanding of the Scripture,” says Schneeberger. “So when we say we think we believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that’s not going to change.”
it becomes abundantly obvious that Focus on the Family, and by extension, the entire Religious Right, simply doesn’t get it. Their “ideas” about the supposed threats posed to society by the Ever Present Gay Menace are laughable to a generation which has grown up with out [of the closet] gay parents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Focus and Pals simply aren’t going to win that argument, ever.
So the choice for Focus et al. seems to be either A. Change or B. Become resigned to the gradual onset of irrelevance. For the moment, it seems, they’re sticking with B.
UPDATE: Now, this is interesting. A reader pointed me to Esther’s “fan page” on Facebook (it’s public, obviously), so I decided to check it out, and saw an update from last month that caught my eye, in light of Esther’s acknowledgement that the demonization of gays is part of the problem faced by Focus on the Family in recruiting new, younger followers. Consider first, this passage from the above referenced MoJo piece:
But Fleece hopes that at some point, gay people will feel welcome at Focus. “I have biological family that are gay. I mean, let’s be honest–who doesn’t?” she says. While she doesn’t endorse their lifestyle, Fleece thinks there is no reason to single out gays for more moral censure than, say, men who cheat on their wives. “We’re all sinners.”
Okay, aside from the fact that she’s wrong, that statement does reflect the conflict experienced by many Evangelicals between actual reality and the reality they’ve been taught. She seems to be striving to move forward, in some way. Ready for the status message that caught my eye?
Esther Fleece More than 92,600 Christians have signed the Manhattan Declaration. Find out why, and sign it, too at //bit.ly/4y3xct
November 24 at 6:23pm
How interesting! Would that be the same Manhattan Declaration written by self-important hack “philosopher” Robert George, he of the circular logic and “because-I-said-so” definition of “natural law”? The one signed by all the greatest luminaries of bigotry, bias and discrimination, wherein they pledge to defy any law that recognizes equality in the United States and abroad?
It would seem that this self-styled modern-day Queen Esther is talking out of both sides of her mouth.
Shall I feign surprise?