We throw around the term “religious right” so often that sometimes I wonder if it’s not as much a bugaboo as the “homosexual agenda.” But then I read articles like Sarah Posner’s today on AlterNet. Posner profiles an organization called the Alliance Defense Fund. The ADF is a legal organization created in 1994 with support from all the other players in what is actually a small, well funded, clique. Contributing to ADF were James Dobson of Focus on the Family, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, and Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.
Last year, ADF received more than $21 million in charitable donations. Major donors included:
— the Covenant Foundation (which, in turn, is financed by James Leininger, the “sugar daddy” of the Texas religious right);
— the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, whose vice president, Erik Prince, founded the Blackwater USA military-security firm; and
— the Bolthouse Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Bolthouse Farms, the California natural-foods company whose products are often seen at leftie natural foods stores.
The ADF is to the Christian right what the ACLU is to the left. It has trained more than 900 lawyers, who must then perform extensive pro bono legal work for Christian causes. It happily provides free legal services to the (well funded) groups that created it. Its causes? Pro-life, anti-gay, and “religious freedom.” ADF has been particularly ingenious in its definition of religious freedom. The group invented the motif of Christian victimhood that fuels everything from claims of a “war on Christmas” to religious groups’ “rights” to public funding.
ADF successfully argued in Rosenberger vs. The Regents of the University of Virginia that public bodies which fund non-religious groups “discriminate” against religious groups if they do not fund them. The case did serious damage to the wall of separation between church and state and, as Posner says, “elevated ADF’s mythology of the victimized Christian to a legal precedent.” The precedent is especially damaging because ADF is now using it to claim that preventing Christians from discriminating against gays and lesbians is actually discrimination against Christians and a violation of their religious freedom.
And there you have it: That’s why Christians are on a crusade against gay people. Not because they are actually a serious threat, but because they provide a test case to see how much the religious right can get away with in the name of religious freedom.