Last week, things reached a fever pitch in Arizona as legislators tried to clarify existing religious liberty protections in state law in light of incidents, in which Christian business owners have been sanctioned for refusing to participate in gay weddings. The bill in question was immediately assailed as “antigay” by journalists we can confidently say cared nothing about how religious freedom laws work. A respected group of scholars—including gay marriage supporters—sent a letter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer explaining that the law was not antigay and urging her to sign the bill. But faced with a threat from the NFL to relocate the Super Bowl and pressure from national Republicans, Brewer vetoed the legislation. The Scrapbook is old enough to remember way back in the ’90s when archconservatives like Chuck Schumer were widely praised for authoring sweeping federal religious liberty legislation along identical lines.
Interestingly, at the same time there was a handy lesson in what it takes for the powers that be to show some deference to religious conviction. On February 20, bubble gum pop star Katy Perry uploaded the video for her latest single, “Dark Horse,” to YouTube. The video is rife with ancient Egyptian costumes and imagery, and about a minute into the song a CGI lightning bolt comes out of the sky and turns an elaborately costumed man into dust.
You could blink and miss the entire shot, and you have to employ Zapruderesque levels of scrutiny to notice the pendants of the necklaces the man is wearing. But someone did just that and noticed that one of the pendants formed the word “Allah.” Before long there was an online petition with 50,000 signatures denouncing this “portrayal of blasphemy. . . . Katy Perry engulfs the believer and the word God in flames.” And just like that, the tiny pendant was digitally edited out of the video.
Of course, if the desecration of Christian symbols were ever cause for concern, we’d have to rip about four decades’ worth of heavy metal off of YouTube. However, this will never happen because, despite what you may have heard from the media in the past week, Christians are actually extremely tolerant.
And so we are once again left to ponder the hypocritical, if not culturally suicidal, paradox of America’s elites. Christians who practice tolerance—and have the nerve to ask to be tolerated in return—are bullied and held in contempt. But since Muslims might pose a violent threat, the dominant cultural and political forces cower and hasten to remedy even inconsequential slights.
There’s no word yet on what tragedy in the Mideast the Obama administration will attribute to the Katy Perry video, but we’ll probably find out soon enough.