Sometimes when I catch myself being unduly
optimistic about the human race as a whole, I like to flip on Pat
Robertson’s TV show, “The 700 Club.” Nothing like
a full hour of dead-eyed, militant born-again moral superiority to
bring a starry-eyed college girl back to reality. Also I have a
fairly sick sense of humor, and religiously intolerant folks tickle
my funny bone like no one else. The stereotypes they spew and
embody — and I find this to be true of most stereotypes
— are hilarious. Wealthy white Southerners talking about
where a woman’s place is (beneath man, clearly) and how the
homosexuals are trying to ruin marriage. No hyperbole necessary. I
love it.

Mira Levitan

Anyway, I was watching Thursday night and Lee Webb, the
“news” anchor guy, was reporting a story about a
“former lesbian who became a Christian” and her legal
struggle for the right to raise a good Christian daughter. (Note:
As a matter of course, I do not assume anything I hear on
“The 700 Club” is even remotely true. So after the
show, I performed a little informal Internet search and found a
Denver Post article confirming that the “former
lesbian” is in fact a Colorado physician named Cheryl Clark.)
After converting to Christianity and splitting from her partner
— with whom she had been raising an eight-year-old adopted
daughter — Clark was granted full responsibility for the
girl’s religious instruction with just one little sticking
point: that Clark “make sure that there is nothing in the
religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to
that can be considered homophobic.”

Gordon Robertson — son of Pat — was furious. And so
was I.

I’d never agreed with a Robertson before. After pausing to
slap both hands against my cheeks and let out a “Home
Alone”-style yelp, I realized that ol’ Gordon was
missing the point as usual and — sigh of relief — the
world made sense again.

Gordon was shaking his head, insisting that this ruling
“should alarm Christians everywhere.” Correct on count
one (alarming), short sighted on count two (Christians).

This ruling should alarm everyone everywhere — not just
Christians. No judge has any right to tell a mother what she can
and cannot teach her child as long as the lesson itself does not
place the child in physical danger or involve active infringement
on anybody else’s rights. A judge could, for instance,
reasonably order Mom not to teach her daughter to eat rat poison or
to punch Pat Robertson in the face, but anything beyond that would
be way out of line.

Gordon Robertson didn’t like this ruling because he saw it
as a threat to his deeply held religious prejudices — which
it definitely was — but in his fervor, he failed to notice
the two bigger and scarier issues at stake here: the legislation of
parenting and the censorship of ideas.

Some people (and I’m looking to the Left here) might be
tempted to side with the judge on this one because they also happen
to think homophobia is a poor quality to instill in a small child.
But I suspect that every one of those people would be outraged if
the tables were turned and a judge was ordering them not to teach
their children that politicians tend to be greedy and deceitful by
nature.

Am I suggesting that Cheryl Clark should be allowed to teach her
daughter that homosexuality is evil? Yes. I’m more than
suggesting it — I’m insisting. And if she wants to, she
should also be allowed to teach her daughter that one race is
superior to another, that the moon is made of green cheese, that
all poor people are lazy, that the tooth fairy exists, that Fox
News is fair and balanced, that every woman’s purpose in life
is to serve her husband and raise 14 children and that if she makes
that face one more time, it’ll stick that way. The kid might
grow up to hate certain people and disapprove of others and be
thoroughly confused about the moon, and that is unfortunate.

But the alternative — the government claiming the right to
step in and tell Mom to keep her mouth shut about ideas it
doesn’t like, at least until her child has grown beyond the
formative years — is just too frightening a precedent to
set.

Any judge’s order that could make Pat Robertson’s
kid sound reasonable even for a second is major cause for alarm.
But if we let our own inner zealots stop us from defending one
woman’s right to pass her personal prejudices onto her child,
we may ultimately have someone like him to thank for our right to
teach our children that he is an idiot.

Henretty can be reached at
“mailto:ahenrett@umich.edu”>ahenrett@umich.edu.

 

 

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