The War on Christians and the Values Voter conference opens in Washington DC today. The list of speakers is drawn from the power elite of the christian right: Senators, Congressmen, professional media pundits and millionaires. The list itself is near refutation enough of their claims of persecution. Add to this the fact that their allies now control all three branches of government and that the president is widely viewed as the head of the christian right and their fear of persecution sounds downright delusional.
This posturing is no doubt useful for them. Like the undead myth of the liberal media, this myth of persecuted christians builds righteous enthusiasm for forcing their agenda and values on everyone else.
The mainstream media of course tries to create an illusory balance here. While finding the extreme claims of persecution implausible, USA Today nonetheless sees a supposed kernel of truth in christian complaints.
It is worth noting that most of the complaints listed are about the behavior of others, whose freedom the christians at this conference would like to see restricted. Actual restrictions on their freedom as christians are relatively minor, not unique to christians, not particularly new, and notably absent from the actual agenda of the conference. What they are really focused on is taking over the public sphere, which sounds pretty close to theocracy to me. Thus the key themes of the conference are homosexuals, Hollywood and the judiciary.
There are stricter limits on explicitly Christian expression in schools and other public settings. There is growing public acceptance of homosexuality and out-of-wedlock births, while television and movies seem awash with sex, nudity and profanity.
And if the claims of Christian persecution sound shrill, so do those of secular Americans who sometimes equate the political activity of religious conservatives with a crusade to replace our Constitution-based government with a hard-edged theocracy.
The main goal of this year's War on Christians conference is in fact to stop activist judges or, as Sandra Day O'Connor put it, an assault on the independent judiciary. And, as it turns out, several of the speakers at the conference want to eradicate the separation of church and state and do in fact advocate theocracy rather openly.
Update: More background on the conference from Media Transparency and Campus Progress gives us some undercover reports.