In case you have any remaining doubt that the Religious Right wants to obliterate all appearance of LGBTQ people — to make them invisible once again — consider the dustup over a single photograph showing a small Pride flag atop a piece of equipment on the set of the popular television show The Chosen.
As we’ve seen with similar anti-gay campaigns lately, the appearance of a single symbol of support for LGBTQ folk can result in a far-reaching boycott campaign. That’s because the anti-gay forces of conservative evangelicalism have a zero-tolerance policy for things they don’t like and can’t control.
It is hard to imagine the arrogance of expecting the rest of the world to conform precisely to your image of what’s right and what’s wrong. But that’s the world we now live in with these holier-than-thou hypocrites.
Religion News Service reports on the furor that has erupted since “a small rainbow flag spotted on the set of The Chosen, the wildly popular TV series on Jesus’ life, has triggered a dust-up among fans of the show on social media. The hand-size flag, usually symbolizing support for LGBTQ rights, appears in the corner of the screen for approximately 4 seconds of a 6:49-minute promotional video … released Sunday, May 28.”
It appears for 4 seconds. One little Pride flag.
That 4 seconds got amplified by Jon Root, a blogger for Turning Point USA, a group associated with Trumpism and Christian nationalism. Root posted a screenshot of the flag and tagged the official Twitter account of the Bible-retelling show: “Can you explain why there’s a Pride flag on set?”
Dallas Jenkins, the show’s creator and director, gave a statement to RNS: “We’ve made no secret our cast and crew come from all different beliefs and backgrounds. I don’t believe personal workspaces on set are relevant to the content of The Chosen, but if someone wants to stop watching a free show because of it, it’s their right.”
Root’s action was so over the top that even Turning Point USA — a far, far-right political advocacy group — disavowed him.
Yet this zero-tolerance policy reminded me immediately of how the most conservative faction of the Southern Baptist Convention — looking for an excuse to discredit the sexual abuse investigation there — seized upon a single tweet last year by the investigative firm Guidepost Solutions. One year ago this week, that single tweet affirming the secular firm’s LGBTQ employees at the beginning of Pride month lit a fire that blazes bright to this day.
“You’d think the firm was led by drag queens reading books to children and handing out hormone injections.”
You’d think the firm was led by drag queens reading books to children and handing out hormone injections.
This is so extreme with the Religious Right that some of them recently disavowed a company those on the left often boycott for (previously) funding homophobic organizations. Yes, I’m talking about Chick-fil-A.
What is the delicious chicken sandwich maker’s high crime? Employing a diversity, equity and inclusion officer. By the far right’s playbook, that makes Chick-fil-A “woke.”
You’re just not going to find a more “Christian” company than Chick-fil-A. But being closed on Sundays and operating by Christian values and donating to Christian causes is not enough to balance hiring a DEI officer.
This is nuts. But it’s the world the far-right lives in. They are ready to take offense at the slightest deviation from their narrow worldview — while claiming everyone else is forcing an agenda on them.
“They are ready to take offense at the slightest deviation from their narrow worldview — while claiming everyone else is forcing an agenda on them.”
Sadly, the other examples of this right-leaning political correctness run amok are too numerous to mention but include boycotts on Target and Bud Light, for example.
Once again, the rest of us need to speak up and let the world know these narrow-minded bigots do not represent the whole of Christianity. They don’t even represent the majority of Christianity.
But in this age of social media, one or two zealots can stir the pot so quickly and so viciously that the whole gang jumps on the bandwagon without thinking.
These folks need to watch some more episodes of The Chosen and pay attention to the inclusive love of Jesus.
Those who claim to be centrists need to stop enabling their bad behavior too. It’s not enough to shrug your head and say, “Oh, I wish they wouldn’t do that.” Take some pride in yourself and speak up. Even wave a small flag if you must.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. He is the author of the new book Honestly: Telling the Truth About the Bible and Ourselves.
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