Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

Religious Extremist Reactions To The Legalization Of Gay Marriage

KImOn June 26th 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that state enforced same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruling is seen as a triumph for the LGBT civil rights movement, however the American people did not embrace the ruling whole-heartedly. The right wing religious sects within the United States have campaigned, picketed, and protested against the new legislation and about the sanctity of marriage. This is depicted in the political cartoon by Nick Anderson, which shows religious protester Kim Davis alongside an ISIS extremist holding a banner that reads ‘My religion prohibits gay marriage’. The cartoon raises the question, are right wing religious sects within the USA radically evolving enough to be classed as terrorist? If so, will America take a similar approach to the fight for world freedom as they do at the oppressive Islamic State?


The discussion of gay marriage within the USA is a heavily loaded topic. The issue will always carry religious implications and when discussed, the idea of religious opposition always follows closely behind. The US media has a tendency to generalise the term ‘religious opposition’ to include all world religions. The generalisation of religious opposition to gay marriage within the USA is unjust, as there are religions such as Hinduism and even Christian denominations that do not oppose. In San Francisco, The Freedom in Christ Church is vocal about the inclusion of homosexuals and has produced literature challenging discrimination based on biblical texts.


For full disclosure I am not a religious person, I believe in the theory of evolution and the growth of man. I am an advocate for LGBT rights, not exclusively to same-sex marriage. I admit to having fairly liberal views and therefore I am challenged by the idea of religious opposition to human civil rights in today’s society. Having said that I do understand the position of change within religion as they are following rules and virtues interpreted from of holy scripts written hundreds of years ago.


When it comes to America’s war on terror, the aim is to free a nation from a regime which restricts the rights of the citizen and inhibits the freedom of the nation. This is clearly demonstrated in Robert P. Watson’s work America’s War on Terror in which he clarifies the aims of ‘Operation Enduring freedom’ in Iraq and Afghanistan as ‘both counterterrorism and humanitarian relief operations’. [1]. America takes the chief role within the world freedom police, yet within its own borders, the country is a minefield for oppression at the hands of religion. It feels odd that America is fighting so many wars in different countries, yet within its own borders, its beloved Constitution is protecting the rights of the religious bigotry. For what used to be a ‘City Upon a Hill’, the United States is not protecting the rights of all its citizens by allowing major oppression to same-sex marriage.


The Cartoon features two figures; the first is a clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky named Kim Davis. Davis gained notoriety for denying marriage licences to same-sex couples because it went against her religious beliefs.[2] Since the ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, the idea of religious freedom within the United States has been questioned a lot. Jason Pierceson states in his work Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court and Beyond that many right wing religious leaders believe law and politics should not support ‘sin’, and that the gay agenda is fighting for special rights, not equality.[3] The actions taken by Kim Davis and the ability to preach such hatred on a public level seems astounding in a first world country like the United States. America is supposed to be a leading by example, yet it listens to the hatred from religion and protects religious freedoms that no longer preach about love and unity, rather they focus on intolerance and prejudice. This is actively shown in posts on the American Family Association, which detail how to protect itself against ‘the coming storm of homosexual activism’.[4]


Nick Anderson’s cartoon depicts Christian fundamentalists to be the same as Islamic state extremists on their views on same-sex marriage. This may be correct for particular religious groups within the USA. A Huffington Post article about religious views on same sex-marriage prior to Obergefell v. Hodges demonstrates the outcome of a study carried out by the Public Religion Research Institute.[5] The graph demonstrates how many religious groups are showing acceptance to the idea of same-sex marriage with Catholics, for example, at 60%. The graph also demonstrates the strong oppression from the Christian right, with religions such as the Evangelical Church and Mormon denomination within the country. These statistics shed light on the same-sex equality fight within the United States. If you couple this with the new developing support from the Republican Party, as shown in this Huffington Post article, it demonstrates a change in approaches to civil rights within America.[6] With the increased religious support for same-sex marriage, it raises the question of whether or not the religious right could alienate themselves from society due to their oppressive ideas. The fight between religion and LGBT civil rights also leads to the idea that the religious right’s anti same-sex marriage views will fall on the wrong side of history, and leave a permanent mark on the landscape of civil right debates in the future.

[1] Jack Covarrubias et al., America’s War on Terror, (Ashgate Publishers, Surrey, 2013) Pg. 61

[2] Alan Blinder et al., ‘Kentucky Clerk Denies Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Defying Court’, New York Times, (First Accessed 27.10.2014)

[3] Jason Pierceson, Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court and Beyond, (Rowman & Littlefield, Plymouth, 2014) pg.13

[4] Anon, ‘Gay Marriage: Three things your church must do immediately to protect itself’, American Family Association, (First Accessed 28.10.2014)

[5] Carol Kuruvilla, ‘Religious Views On Same-Sex Marriage Have Radically Changed’, Huffington Post, (First Accessed 28.10.2014)

[6] Sam Stein, ‘Some Republicans Want Their Party To Just Shut Up About Gay Marriage Now’, Huffington Post, (First Accessed 29.10.2014)


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This entry was posted on December 2, 2015 by in Uncategorized, Vol 3, 2015/16.
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