Dr. Ben Carson is calling for more attention to be given to Christians and their rights, suggesting that they are being passed over in favor of other concerns, such as gender identity and sexual orientation.
“I would like to see as much emphasis on the rights of Christians and people who are members of the faith community as there is for some of the other groups,” he tells CNN’s “New Day.”
In the face of the massive attention given to sexual orientation, Carson suggested that the vast majority of believing Christians are being overlooked in their most fundamental rights.
Pressed by host Chris Cuomo on the issue of LGBT rights, Dr. Carson suggested that his host might be passionate about the question, whereas other people might not be.
“It seems to be a topic, a person’s sexual orientation, that is of a fair amount of concern to you,” Carson said, adding that he didn’t find it quite so interesting. “I think it’s personal issue,” he said, “and I think we ought to leave it as a personal issue.”
“I respect the LGBT community,” he said. “I respect the traditional marriage community. I think that’s enough to be said.”
Carson reiterated that proportionate attention should be given to the Christian faith community.
As Cuomo kept bringing the conversation back to the question of gay rights, Carson insisted that he would like to see more conversation about Christians and their rights.
“Why are we not talking about that?” he asked.
Cuomo also asked Dr. Carson about so-called “conversion therapy,” the practice of trying to help a patient work through sexual orientation or gender identity issues through therapy. Carson insisted that such a practice should be a matter for a patient and his or her therapist.
Cuomo attempted to force Carson to take a stand on the effectiveness of conversion therapy, but Carson continued to say it was a matter for the people directly involved.
“My position is that that kind of thing should be left to therapists and individuals,” Carson said.
Thursday’s debate followed on the heels of an article in the New York Times proposing that Christians be coerced into accepting the morality of homosexual relations and that they be subjected to their own sort of “conversion therapy,” whether they like it or not.
Writer and gay activist Frank Bruni wrote that “our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”
Citing fellow gay activist Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith in America, a lobby group dedicated to ending religion’s opposition to gay sex, Bruni said that church leaders should be obliged to take homosexuality off the sin list.
A biblically based position regarding the immorality of homosexual relations is no longer acceptable, Bruni proposed.
“Religion,” Bruni wrote, “is going to be the final holdout and most stubborn refuge for homophobia. It will give license to discrimination.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome