Barely two weeks before the November 4 election, the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family posted a long "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," purporting to describe changes wrought by a President Obama, should he be elected-what a conservative Christian would call a "worst-case scenario."
As with many worst-case scenarios, the Letter projects some plausible events and then extrapolates trends from them, reaching far into the realm of fantasy. The Letter necessarily ignores political and popular resistance to any such changes and the inevitable compromises necessary to bring about the changes.
But the Letter is useful as a compendium of issues the Religious Right is focused on, from maintaining Christian special privileges to opposing moves toward gay and lesbian equality, from opposing sex education, birth control and abortion to outlawing pornography. Surprisingly, there is little about such "family" issues as easy divorce and domestic violence.
The Letter begins by implausibly postulating a sea change on the Supreme Court. Not only do liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens retire and are replaced by "ACLU-oriented" liberals. But then Justice Anthony Kennedy and shortly thereafter Justice Antonin Scalia retire, allowing Obama to create a solid 6-3 liberal majority on the court. This supposedly removes any Supreme Court opposition to the changes that follow.
But this all assumes that Obama would not take into account possible congressional opposition to far-left justices and appoint more moderate liberals. It also implausibly assumes for many of the changes that "ACLU-oriented" liberals run roughshod over First Amendment protections for speech and religious observance.
According to the Letter, same-sex marriage was determined to be a constitutional shortly after Scalia and Kennedy's departure. But not only has marriage always been a state matter, it is unlikely that the court would move on something so controversial until there is much greater popular support for the decision and (as with its sodomy decision) a significant majority of states have allowed gay marriage.
Shortly thereafter the court ruled that the Boy Scouts had to allow gay Scoutmasters, which led the Boy Scouts to disband rather than allow gay Scout leaders to sleep in the same tents with young Scouts. We see here openly expressed the religious conservative fears about gay child molestation and recruitment-or at least the Letter's willingness to play to those fears. It is their obsession, their idée fixe.
Schools were required to include instruction about varieties of sexual and gender expression beginning in first grade. This led to the resignation or firing of thousands of evangelical teachers who refused to teach about something they regarded as morally wrong. Here the idea is not-so-subtly insinuated that learning about something makes children find it attractive and want to try it, another notion dear to the anti-gay propagandists.
Catholic and evangelical adoption agencies were required to stop discriminating against same-sex couples as adopters, leading many of those agencies to close rather than place children with "immoral" parents. Here the obsession is with the canard that role models influence children's sexual orientation, the third great anti-gay myth. The Letter cites no evidence to support its implications.
President Obama himself reversed the exclusion of openly gay people from the military. But this is absurd. The Letter writer seems unaware that the exclusion of open gays is a law passed by Congress and would have to be repealed by Congress. In fact, the Obama administration plans to work for this, but not in the near term.
There is much more anti-gay material in this long pre-election Letter-sections opposing the outlawing of anti-gay hate speech including religious speech in churches quoting the bible, the outlawing of discrimination against lesbians for artificial insemination services, the requirement that churches allow gay couples to use their facilities for weddings, the loss of licenses by counselors who refuse positive counseling for gay and lesbian couples, etc.
There are other issues too, dealing with removal of restrictions on abortion and pornography, banning the church use of public (government) school facilities, and removal of the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. But the lead part of the Letter and more than one-third of the items relate to homosexuality and homosexuals.
(Fans of the Christian numerological tradition will note that the first 12 items (counting the unnumbered same-sex marriage item) and the 33rd paragraph all deal with homosexuals. Both numbers are important for certain Christians.)