Torn Over Donald Trump and Cut Off by Culture Wars, Evangelicals Despair

Oct 3, 2016

By Laurie Goodstein

GRIMES, Iowa — Betty and Dick Odgaard used to own the tiny church next door to their home. They had built it over 13 years into an art gallery, bistro, flower shop and framing service. They even rented out the chapel, with its bright stained glass windows, for social events.

But three years ago, the Odgaards refused to rent the quaint site to two gay men for a wedding, saying it would violate their religious beliefs about marriage. The men filed a civil rights complaint, and the Odgaards settled, paying a penalty because it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. After the controversy, regular customers stopped coming. Friends and family members stopped speaking to them. The Odgaards were vilified as bigots and haters.

But it was not long before the Odgaards found themselves cast as heroes as well. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, then a Republican candidate for president, visited the Odgaards’ business and videotaped a sympathetic interview with them. They joined a troupe of business owners upheld as Christian martyrs in the nation’s culture wars: the cake baker, the florist and the photographers who stood up for their religious beliefs and lost legal battles. They received a standing ovation at a Cruz rally and signed on as “religious liberty ambassadors” in his campaign.


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29 comments on “Torn Over Donald Trump and Cut Off by Culture Wars, Evangelicals Despair

  • @OP – The men filed a civil rights complaint, and the Odgaards settled, paying a penalty because it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. After the controversy, regular customers stopped coming. Friends and family members stopped speaking to them. The Odgaards were vilified as bigots and haters.

    But it was not long before the Odgaards found themselves cast as heroes as well. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, then a Republican candidate for president, visited the Odgaards’ business and videotaped a sympathetic interview with them. They joined a troupe of business owners upheld as Christian martyrs in the nation’s culture wars: the cake baker, the florist and the photographers who stood up for their religious beliefs and lost legal battles.

    Religious charlatans and bigots, associate with political charlatans and bigots, for mutual benefit and to seek public support and sympathy from the gullible! Nothing novel there!



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  • I feel a certain amount of sympathy for people like the Odgaards.

    But of course, if they hadn’t impinged on the happiness of others by imposing their beliefs on them they wouldn’t be so unhappy themselves now.

    “Religion poisons everything.”.



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  • Religious freedom used to mean the right to worship as you choose. Today it means the right to discriminate against homosexuals.

    The bible demands so much shedding of blood. Why do Christians ignore most of it, but tenaciously cling to the right to kill gays?

    Why don’t they fight for the right to torture Jews? It used to be integral to the faith.



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  • Until non-religious freedoms are recognized, I have no respect for religious freedom.
    They talk about their “freedom” and at the same time are more than eager to limit others.



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  • Religious freedom in this sense is madness. Christian Science is a religion as is Scientology. Perhaps store owners who should be allowed to discriminate against customers who take medication or who visit doctors.



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  • The story continues in The New York Times. The new followers with their view of the “inerrant” words of the Bible are “preparing evangelists to meet atheists”! I find it slightly distressing that they all have Norwegian names! An odegaard being a remote farm.



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  • Two excellent tweets about the VP debate.

    The epic extent of Pence’s lying has to be part of the debate analysis. Anything less is an abdication of journalistic responsibility.

    You can’t say Mike Pence won the debate “on style” and then admit that he lied the whole time about his running mate’s positions.

    Fact-check No. 9: Kaine says Pence said Putin is a stronger leader than Obama.

    Kaine: “This is one where you can just kind of go to the tape on it. But Governor Pence said inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.”

    Pence: “That is absolutely inaccurate.”

    Kaine: “And I just think a guy — Pence: He’s been stronger on the world stage.”

    Kaine: “No you said leader.”

    Pence: “I didn’t.”

    Grade: Mostly True

    Explanation: Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said last month that Putin has been a stronger leader than President Barack Obama.

    “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” Pence said during an interview with CNN. “And that’s going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America.”



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  • Now if we went back a few decades and wrote an article about Klansman feeling ostracized and hard done by because society was moving on without them and expressing some shame at their patent bigotry how would we feel about them? I frankly think it a little gentle shaming is a good thing that the religious are feeling some embarrassment over this. The next step shame, then hopefully they will either modify their religious beliefs and pretend that god always loved homosexuals and didn’t want them killed and we can all move on or they will realise the error of their ways and be embarrassed that they could ever think this way.



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  • Though atheist, I feel some sympathy. People should be allowed the freedom to chose who may use their facilities, rent their property, whatever- without having to give a reason.
    Would I let my nice modern apartment to a bunch of wired unemployed junkies?? NFW!



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  • @OP But three years ago, the Odgaards refused to rent the quaint site to two gay men for a wedding, saying it would violate their religious beliefs about marriage.

    A college pal of mine and his partner own and run an up-market bed and breakfast hotel.

    They used to advertise it as “gay-friendly” in gay magazines, but he tells me he doesn’t bother now, because nobody in this part of England cares about the orientation of customers who use their services.



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  • “It all flipped, so fast,” said Mr. Odgaard, a patrician 70-year-old
    who favors khakis and boat shoes. “Suddenly, we were in the minority.
    That was kind of a scary feeling.”

    Sucks, don’t it?

    Now, you would think those who are suddenly thrust from the norm into a minority would experience an epiphany, no? Not these guys! They’re getting just enough encouragement to validate their position.

    But to be fair, I have noticed some anti-gay advocates come around when a close friend or family member comes out.



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  • “Would I let my nice modern apartment to a bunch of wired unemployed junkies?? NFW!”
    Your example is poor. You would, if you were not ignorant, perform a credit check. That is not unusual or illegal.

    Your next post is off topic. We are not discussing or attacking Obama here.



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  • The country didn’t turn their back on the Osgaards, they turned their back on the Constitution. They got just what they deserved. What they don’t understand is that they are not the majority in the country. Read the book, The End of White Christian America and you will see that the percentage of white evangelical protestants is very low now:
    White evangelical protestants = 18% of the population (Osgaards)
    Mainline protestants = 14 %

    The big problem with evangelicals like the Osgaards and company is that they think all Christians think alike and believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. This has never been true. It always amazes me when I meet evangelicals who don’t realize that mainline protestants and Catholics accept evolution and all of science. They’re shocked! This is what happens when you live in a way that you are isolated from the rest of society and surrounded only with people that think like you do– Surprise!

    I just can’t muster up any sympathy for bigots. It’s time for the country to move forward and leave Bronze Age Bullshit behind…
    Vote Hillary– the sane one!



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  • @JimFox

    Though atheist, I feel some sympathy. People should be allowed the freedom to chose who may use their facilities, rent their property, whatever- without having to give a reason.

    You you say the same if they were positively discriminating based on race?

    I can however see a point in allowing these people to have private spaces where their bigotry is their right for example in their home. I would even go so far as to say that I don’t think Catholic Churches should be forced to Marry Gays. Clearly this contradicts their faith (however ludicrous), however in doing so they should be prepared to make a clean break from society. ie. no tax breaks – The concept of tax breaks in this country is on the basis that churches do good works that society would otherwise need to do. Well if this is the case then the good they do should be in tune with societal values. If they want to maintain a separate value system then kiss your tax free status goodbye. How many churches can you see making that bargain? To his credit my Father in Law and Anglican minister feels exactly this. I can’t support his reasons, he doesn’t wish to see his church go even further down the track to watering down his beliefs but at least he isn’t a hypocrite.

    These people (in the article) were not privately rejecting their booking, they canceled their booking publicly on the basis of their bigotry. They seek to have an exception to anti-discrimination laws made on the basis of their faith. If this is to be allowed how is the KKK’s activities (up to violence) any different? They are not in the roll as business owner as just private citizens, starting a business means you need to follow relevant laws and government policies. If you don’t want to be put into this position you will need to get another job. I can’t as a school teacher decide whom I teach, I certainly couldn’t refuse to teach a student without very good reason, most professionals can’t, why should they have an exception to this?



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  • Just wait until the evangelicals wake up tomorrow morning and watch the video that broke this afternoon with Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Republican women – you’re in bed with a psychopath, run for your lives!

    Witness that, evangelicals.



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  • Laurie (Phil)—

    Re: the stupid majority

    Pence doesn’t believe in evolution, said that it is only a theory. (Saw this on YouTube. He gave a speech about this.)

    Laurie, the Fox News people were saying that “Trumps’s comments were taken out of context.” I spoke to a climate denying, pro-Trump republican today. Nothing I said got through to him. It is almost impossible to get Republicans to change their minds. They are extremely loyal people, are thoroughly brainwashed, and they are not rational. That is the problem. They are not amenable to reason. Perhaps over time, and with better education and more equality, things will be better. But the Republicans, the ministerial, plutocratic oligarchs (including people like Karl Rove, the corporate owned media executives, the Koch brothers, Roger Ailes, and many, many others going back decades), have a vested interest in their voters remaining stupid. They have done a superb job. They have had a sales pitch: “Republicans are strong, patriotic. Liberals are weak, are socialists, will bankrupt us., etc., etc.” This has worked as well as hypnosis – and it is a form of hypnosis. The red states, dependent upon government programs, are voting against their own interests. Reason is powerless against indoctrination. They need to be reprogrammed.

    Well they will lose in November. The less stupid majority has them outnumbered this time.

    P.S. Remember when that gold star Muslim father, with his wife, spoke at the Democratic convention? He was good, but one thing he said bothered me: “I am absolutely loyal to the United States.” No one should be absolutely loyal to anything. Phil is right and so is Haidt. Loyalty is a primary emotion and a very dangerous one – a double-edge sword.

    Pinker is great!! Fantastic stuff!! What are you doing next week-end? I will be at Harvard Square. (Kidding. And I haven’t bought it yet.)



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  • Come on, Laurie. That’s out of context, you tree-hugging commie. (Kidding.)

    I hate Kellyanne Conway. God is she annoying.

    Could you imagine Obama saying what Trump said? “Aaaand I grab them by their____. ”

    Sounds like something O.J. would say, right?



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  • There seem to be more Republican politicians bailing out and seeking to distance themselves, before Trump loses them their governorships and positions in local state legislatures at their next elections!



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  • OMFG! A presidential debate that plumbed new depths for American politics or indeed most countries that aren’t banana republics or dictatorships. Trump actually calls Hillary the Devil! Says he’ll make sure she’s put in jail if he gets elected. He stalks round the stage after her when she’s talking, still snuffling like a coke addict like in the first debate, trying to put her off her thoughts and physically intimidate her. He’s disgusting beyond comprehension yet still over 40% of the electorate are probably going to vote for this lying sack of shit. Boggles the mind.



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