After my earlier post, I’m not quite sure whether I can tell the difference between religious-based satire and satire-based religion, but I’ll try.
I’m not sure how I manage to get on these mailing lists, but an outfit called “Americans for Truth” — describing itself as “a public policy organization devoted solely to countering the homosexual activist agenda” — emailed me about the Minneapolis Police Department’s suspension of police psychological screener Michael Campion. The AFT calls the MPD’s action “blatant, illegal discrimination and anti-Christian bigotry?one which should send shivers down the spine of every person of faith.” (Matt Barber has posted the same argument at The Conservative Voice.)
From what I’ve read in the AFT account and news accounts like this, it appears Dr. Campion was suspended after questions were raised about whether his membership on the board of the Illinois Family Institute — a group run by well-known antigay activist Peter LaBarbera — might have introduced bias into his psychological screening of police applicants. La Barbera, by the way, runs an Alan Keyes type of outfit which among other things denounces gay-friendly Republican candidates as “anti family,” and common sense would suggest (to me, at least) that someone on the board of his organization might very well not believe homosexuals should be employed as police officers.
But I can’t state that for a fact, and the point is not whether I agree with the IFI, or Peter La Barbera, or post author J. Matt Barber. These are hot-button political issues, and it is possible to agree or disagree on them just as it is possible to agree or disagree on a lot of things.
Do I expect the IFI to offer me a job on its board? No. Would I expect them to fire me if I managed to inveigle myself into their organization? Um, yes! (Doh!)
What concerns me is to see religion invoked not only to shield political beliefs and biases, but in such a way as to imply that disagreeing with a particular Christian is to disagree with all Christians. (Or “every person of faith.”)
Let’s look at Barber’s argument:

?What was Campion?s crime? It seems that three years ago, he was a board member with the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a Christian organization which advocates traditional family values,? said Barber, who himself was fired by Allstate Insurance Company last year after writing an online article critical of homosexuality.
?This official government action by the Minneapolis Police Department is a transparent and egregious violation of Dr. Campion?s First Amendment rights to both freedom of association and religion,? Barber said.

I previously discussed Barber’s firing infra, as I didn’t see what his religion has to do with Allstate’s actions:

There is just as much right to hold antigay views as there is to hold racist views or anti-Semitic views. Whether one bases one’s claims on the Bible is irrelevant. If the Boy Scouts have the right to refuse to accept homosexual members, then wouldn’t a gay group have just as much right to refuse anti-homosexual members? Does a Jew hater who thinks Hitler was right have a right to work for a Jew? If he claimed justification for his views under the Koran, why would that make any difference?

But according to Barber, if someone opposes homosexuality for religious reasons, then that view should qualify for special religious-based protection, and any discrimination against him would constitute religious discrimination.
Those holding the opposite view, however, would not be entitled to protection against discrimination. This gives an advantage to whatever side of an argument is able to invoke religion, and I don’t see how it is to be squared with logic or simple fairness. I think it’s a warmed over version of “free speech for me, but not for thee.”
Interestingly, Barber’s argument that religion affords special protection offers no succor to atheists who might dislike homosexuality. They could be fired. Yet I suppose that homosexual Christians like the Rainbow Baptists might be able to claim that because it was their view that Jesus accepted them, any intolerance of them would also constitute religious persecution. (More here on the disagreement-as-persecution quandary.)
Let’s take another issue — abortion. If a pharmacy discovered that one of its employees refused to dispense RU-486 for religious reasons, why should that employee have superior rights to someone who thought the morning after pill was simply evil because it destroyed human life? (Yes, secular opposition to abortion exists.)
The same would apply to the invocation of race. Suppose I owned a company and didn’t want people with views I considered kooky working for me. Suppose I considered the idea of reparations for slavery to be a kooky idea, and I fired an employee who believed in that idea. If he were black, would that constitute racial discrimination? I don’t see how.
This is getting a bit old. But at the risk of repeating myself, I don’t think anyone’s religious views breathe special status into the opinions held by that person, or his actions.
Otherwise Muslim anti-Semitism would be more protected than “ordinary” anti-Semitism.
Hmmm….
(Maybe religion can also be used as a sword.)
UPDATE: In an article he wrote for the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (JASA), Dr. Campion takes the position that homosexuality is a treatable disorder, that homosexuals are hedonists who confuse lust for love, and that stable homosexual relationships are the exception rather than the rule:

The third basic factor is the fact that homosexuality satisfies man’s basic nature of selfishness. The homosexual basically confuses lust with love and uses the homosexual relationship in most cases to satisfy his own sexual desires. Because of this there is no need to develop long-term relationships that require day-today submission and a general selflessness in giving to another person. There are, however, rare occurrences where stable relationships have developed, but this is by far the exception rather than the rule.

While this compleletly contradicts what I saw and experienced for many years, the point here is not to debate Dr. Campion, but to ask whether or not a city which disagrees with his views should be forced to retain him because of a claim that they are religious views. If Dr. Campion thinks homosexuals are selfish hedonists who do not enjoy stable relationships, that would seem to beg the question of whether he believes they should serve as police officers. (A question highly relevant to his position as a psychological screener.)
Again, I don’t see what religion has to do with it.