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Brooks and Shields: Gay Rights Movement Shouldn’t Demonize Religious People

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Columnists David Brooks and Mark Shields argued that the gay rights movement should show more respect to religious people on Friday’s “PBS NewsHour.”

Brooks said that while he is pro-gay marriage and didn’t agree with Indiana’s RFRA law, he added “there is genuinely a tension between religious freedom and tolerance and full equality for gays and lesbians. There are some people who have different points of view than me, and somehow we have to give them some respect and some space. That does not mean they’re allowed to discriminate. So, that’s just a substantive tension there I think between those two things. To me the larger issue is simply pragmatic. The gay rights agenda and the cause has had an amazing couple of years and decade sweeping across the country and it’s doing great in urban America and suburban America. But there are large parts of America, a lot of rural, more religious, where it’s still facing a lot of opposition. And so the question becomes how do you make those areas more amenable to change? And I know so many Christians who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but they’re wrestling, they’re really wrestling with this. And to me, making it very polarized and very culture war-seeming, is the wrong way to move people. It’s much better to go gently and allow the natural momentum to build up and so some of the reaction to the Indiana law, I thought was over the top.” He also suggested the businesses who refuse to serve gay weddings should simply be boycotted and not coerced by the government.

Shields agreed, stating that the question of religious liberty had been “lost” in the debate over gay rights. He continued, “I just think the gay rights movement is in such ascendancy…that I do think it’s time to look for converts rather than heretics.” And “it’s the time, not to take a victory dance in the end zone, I think it’s the time to reach out and reach across the divide at this point and acknowledge the good will of people who are on the other side.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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