I’ll join Wes in making a brief comment on the Phil Robertson fiasco.
First: I agree with Rod Dreher that Robertson’s suspension shows a double standard on the part of A&E, a standard that is much more hostile to criticism of homosexuality than it is to other offensive content.
However, this reminds me of Rod’s gushingly positive response to Joshua Gonnerman’s first post on First Things just 18 months ago. The title of Rod’s post was “One Crazy — Or Very Brave — Gay Catholic,” and he began by saying, “Joshua Gonnerman, a gay, chaste Catholic who is a theology doctoral student at Catholic University, may have blown up his academic career with his short, courageous piece in First Things today.”
Why would it take courage for Joshua to write that post, and why would it potentially blow up his academic career?
Because A&E is not the only operation out there that has double standards when it comes to homosexuality.
Rod recognized that a chaste gay graduate student would not just be at a disadvantage when it came to looking for jobs in conservative Christian circles: he could be at such a serious disadvantage that disclosing his sexuality could amount to “blowing up” his academic career.
This is not just an abstract worry. More than one of the bloggers at Spiritual Friendship has lost a job in a Christian institution, solely because he disclosed his sexual orientation. In each case, the Christian bosses agreed that the person they were terminating was not guilty of any sin, nor did he hold any belief about sexuality at odds with Christian orthodoxy. It was simply that they were unwilling to have an employee with same-sex attraction, even if he was completely committed to orthodox belief and obedient to orthodox teaching.
This is not to say that this prejudice is everywhere: most of us, including those who have at one point lost a job over our sexuality, have also been welcomed in other Christian circles. But the fact that discrimination is not ubiquitous does not mean it is not still a real problem in Christian institutions.
I think social conservatives are right to be upset at the double standard which A&E has applied to Phil Robertson. But we can’t do much but complain about the prejudice at A&E. On the other hand, we actually can do something about the prejudice and double standards in the Christian world.
In other words, now might be a good time to remove the log from our own eye.