You Will Be Made To Care
by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen
Erick Erickson is not a stupid man. As a conservative Christian, he has been one of the most outspoken and successful manipulators of media dialogue with his founding of Redstate.com, the far-right website, his frequent appearances on cable news and his radio show. He made statements calling a retiring Supreme Court justice a “goat fucking child molester”, saying Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize due to affirmative action, and derided Wendy Davis’s run for Governor of Texas by tagging her “Abortion Barbie”. Despite his vile rhetoric he’s still considered to be a leading voice of right-wing Christianity, and his latest book (with Bill Blankschaen), You Will Be Made To Care continues his assault on “the progressive Left” and the “gay Mafia” and their supposed “war on faith”.
To put Erickson in context, let’s look back at other social movements and the religious reactions of the day:
“God meant for women to reign over home, and most good women reject politics because woman suffrage will destroy society.”
Reverend John Williams of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 1890
Somehow society withstood the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and continued to function, despite women getting the right to vote.
Or perhaps this:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races show that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Judge Bazile, 1963
Despite such clear thinking, bans on inter-racial marriage were found to violate the 14th Amendment in Loving v. Virginia by the Supreme Court in 1967. Society continued.
Erickson’s screed warns of eminent peril to our republic and loss of the 1st Amendment right of religious freedom if “the Left” is allowed to cast people of faith as being discriminatory for simply refusing to make a cake or take wedding photographs. Or, in the case of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, fired for “the audacity to write a book about his Christian beliefs.”
As with most accounts that Erickson cites, it’s a lie. Cochran was an agent of the state. His actions as a Fire Chief are not the same as a private citizen, for he represented the City of Atlanta in an official capacity, and his statements and actions could be considered as being that of the government- the same government that is prohibited from making a law respecting the establishment of a religion by the 1st Amendment. If Cochran had published his book as a private citizen, and didn’t give out copies to co-workers in fire department, there would have been no issue. But he didn’t, and employees complained, and after a 30-day suspension, he was fired, in part because he opened the city up to discrimination lawsuits.
Erickson goes on to list example after example of people of faith being, in his view, deprived of their religious freedom, stating that if unchecked, the left and atheists will remove all mention of faith “in public square”. Again, a lie. Now, being both a “leftist” as well as being an atheist, I can attest to that some of my ilk are simply nuts about the issue, and would like nothing more than any mentions of faith be stricken from public discourse. That is deeply disrespectful, childish and above all, illegal. If religion fades, it will be due to society finding no reason to keep it- as is happening world-wide. What I object to is my government giving license and tax money to religious organizations. Anytime a courthouse erects a statue of the Ten Commandments, they are breaking the law. End of story. Anytime a business is permitted to refuse services to one, while providing the same service to others, and the state allows it, it’s illegal.
Erickson didn’t set out to change anyone’s mind with You Will Be Made To Care. It is written for people who already believe what he believes- “preaching to the choir” as it were. The book rests on what Erickson believes to be two factual statements, that is, that God exists, and gays don’t. That’s fine. I believe the exact opposite, and Erick’s faith makes no difference in my life. He can believe anything he chooses, as can I. But what does matter to me, as being a son of a gay man, is that Erick’s faith gives him the right to deny equal representation and services to some groups of people, while allowing them to others. That was wrong when women wanted to vote, blacks to own property or mixed-race couples wanted to marry. People argued a Biblical justification for all, and in the end, society progressed. Because, as history has repeatedly shown- it just doesn’t matter. If Jim and Jay want to marry, it has no effect on David and Susan’s marriage. Or mine. Or yours. Or Erick Erickson’s.
As stated in the beginning, Erick Erickson is not a stupid man. He is, however, a liar. I started reading this book with the intention of pointing out the falsehoods contained within, but that’s really not the point. The book, as with all the other aspects of Erickson’s mission, is power. He wants to stiffen the spines of his followers, to sell books, generate page views on his websites, and to have them vote the way he deems “right”. No, he’s not stupid. But he is dangerous.