''No I honestly don't [think gays have a purpose in life]. Sorry, but I don't,'' proclaimed Diana Medley, the now infamous Indiana special education teacher.
Medley has found herself, willingly, in the middle of a major cultural confrontation pitting her perceived right to the free exercise of religion against a gay or lesbian individual's right to equality under the law. In Medley's eyes it is classic David vs. Goliath.
Ground zero for this epic battle of titans? A high school prom.
Medley and her supporters want to secede from Sullivan High School and create their own gay-free prom. Gays, according to the group, have no place in a Christian society and, therefore, it is right and just to treat them like the lepers who walked with Jesus.
Medley has won the praise of many a pastor and is yet the latest example of what one may call Christian opportunism.
Self-proclaimed protectors of the faith are finding that if they publicly admonish gays they will win favor with a faithful that often confuses political playbooks with Christian principles. Such favor, as demonstrated by the Oregon baker who showed a lesbian couple the door, is a boon for business.
For any believer who has picked up the Bible, such practices have presented a Chick-fil-A conundrum. While such discrimination is great for rallying the faithful and boosting the bottom line, can it really be said that Jesus, the man who broke bread with sinners, would embrace such a deliberate discrimination intended to marginalize a specific group of people?
How can any person of sound mind believe that Medley's crusade is remotely Christian? How can anyone claim that kicking an individual out of a bakeshop because they are different is an example of Christian love?
Easy. This doctrine of hate and fear is being peddled by pro-family groups that have ditched the compassion of Christ for the cash of a faithful that has let fear guide their hearts.
Just look at Liberty Counsel's Steve Crampton, who, by coincidence, was my former boss. According to Crampton, the right of gays to marry means the end of days.
On Liberty Counsel's ''Faith & Freedom'' network, Crampton claimed that if the Supreme Court paves the way for same-sex marriage it would put society ''on the verge of total collapse.''
Even more shocking, Crampton has stated that if the ''homosexual lobby'' is not stopped, it will ''eradicate us''; us being the good Christians who persecute gays.
Crampton is not alone, as the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer has carved out a niche verbally persecuting gays. Fischer has gone so far as to claim ''Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler.''
At first glance, most would view this rhetoric like they would a drunken uncle at a wedding – they roll their eyes, conclude Uncle Teddy is at it again and pray he is too intoxicated to partake in karaoke. There is, however, much more to this deliberate perversion of Christian truth.
This is the rhetoric the Medleys of the world are hearing. They are hearing that gays are the ultimate evil, so it makes perfect sense to treat gays as lepers.
Moreover, groups like AFA and Liberty Counsel can raise boatloads of cash fanning the flames of fear by telling the faithful a homosexual lynch mob is coming to eradicate them. It is good business to scare the pants off of folks like Medley.
At the end of the day Medley is only a product of the corrupt Christian culture in which she opened her heart. It is the Cramptons and the Fischers of the world – and the groups they represent – for whom Jesus truly weeps.
Joseph R. Murray II, is founder of the Center for Liberty & Justice and a civil rights attorney residing in Ripley, Miss. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.