On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.
Rena Lindevaldsen, attorney with Liberty Counsel and professor at Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University, will be giving a talk at the Truth* Academy called “Marriage and Family in the Crosshairs,” the same title it had last year. If you’re a second time student, be ready for a rerun.
In January, Rena Lindevaldsen started a blog sensitively titled Only One Mommy, in an apparent attempt to become better known as the attorney who helped “ex-lesbian” Lisa Miller kidnap her eight-year-old daughter Isabella in late 2009 so her former partner, with whom she had the child, couldn’t have court-ordered visitation with their child.
The Miller case is what Lindevaldsen is best known for these days, but let’s take a look at some of her other claims to fame.
A few days before last year’s Truth* Academy, Peter LaBarbera (who we’ll get to in another post) sat down and talked to Lindevaldsen about their shared beliefs. The audio is below if you want to hear the whole thing. It’s 47 minutes long, and it’s a fair bet that her talk will hit the same points as the radio interview.
[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/7-31-10-rena-lindevaldsen.mp3″ text=”Peter LaBarbera with Rena Lindevaldsen”]
Keep in mind that all the instructors at this year’s Truth* Academy are Biblical Literalist/Evangelicals (last year they had a Jewish speaker). For them, in practice, basic intellectual activities of thinking, interpretation, and context discernment are (selectively) irrelevant while reading the Bible.
For example, here’s Lindevaldsen on Christians who believe that being gay isn’t horrible (19:00 – 19:24):
If you proclaim to be a Christian and you believe and state that God’s word is Truth, you don’t have a choice. You don’t have the right to alter God’s standards and alter God’s word. And so we’re spending more time up front to instruct this generation because they have been brainwashed for so long. So it’s taking more time, but they’re turning around because they understand that it’s not up to them. Either they’re going to follow God or not follow God.
Of course, I don’t know anyone who is trying to “alter God’s standards and alter God’s word” by saying that it’s okay to live with integrity by being gay instead of living in denial and self-hatred. The people I know understand that some rules in the Bible are irrelevant now, if they were relevant at one time. For example, I don’t think a person is spitting in the face of God by not following Deuteronomy 22:8, which clearly states in unambiguous language that a railing must be built around the roof of one’s house. It was a good rule in its day, but applying it literally today is utterly meaningless.
Likewise, disregarding a rule from an ancient culture that had a mistaken understanding about the biology of procreation does not necessarily mean that one is not following God. We know now how babies are made, and that knowledge makes the literal application of the rule irrelevant.
(And if I did think that God’s Design for home construction was a railing around the roof, I certainly wouldn’t be demanding that my city government adopt that requirement in its building codes. There are Muslims, Catholics, Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Mormons, non-Evangelical Protestants, and a whole passel of other groups of Americans whose religious or irreligious traditions don’t recognize Deuteronomy 22:8 as ultimately important, and as an American I understand that our government does not and should not codify one group’s rules over another’s.)
This is one of the toughest problems working with the views of someone like Lindevaldsen. She starts with the presumption that everybody must always agree with her view of the Bible, and if they don’t they’re either “brainwashed” or treasonous. Before you can even get to the basics of an issue, such as marriage equality or parental rights, you have to discover and counter the inarticulated error that she made at the very first step.
Looking further into Lindevaldsen’s past, she seems to have had a hand on the losing side of Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that decriminalized gay sex (Yes, that happened only eight years ago.), or at least her name appears in the decision.
According to a report by someone who was at last year’s Truth* Academy:
In her view, the last U.S. Supreme Court case which correctly described marriage was Murphy v. Ramsey, a case on polygamy decided 125 years ago. Decrying Lawrence v. Texas, which protected citizen privacy from anti-sodomy laws, Prof. Lindevaldsen admitted that she didn’t want “the government peeking into my bedroom.” However, privacy in this case should be sacrificed because “laws normalize conduct.”
In other words, she thinks it’s bad for the government to violate the privacy of straight people, but violating that same privacy of gays is okay because, you know, they deserve to have their rights violated because gay people having sex is gross.
But she says she really loves us. Can’t you just feel it?