I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said that I felt comfortable about homosexuality. That’s because I do not understand this inclination and because I do not know anyone who is gay. It would probably be a little different if it concerned someone who meant something to me. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-gay. I recognise the rights of this group because I know that I want to enjoy the same principles myself.
The channel A & E got into trouble recently. Phil Robertson from the family in the TV-series Duck Dynasty compared homosexuals with “drunks, prostitutes and terrorists.” The gay scene in the U.S. was furious and demanded that A & E cancelled the series. That’s what usually happens. There is no discussion, if you have offended someone because of sexual orientation, you have to pay a high price. What Robertson said may not have been very wise, but I can’t understand why it’s so hard to accept different opinions, even those that are negative. This wasn’t about violating any rights.
In this case it affected one of the most popular series in the United States (and in Norway), and after discussing this with their lawyers, A & E decided to continue making a new season. I have a feeling that’s something unique in the United States. That’s a step in the right direction for free speech, and in my opinion it shouldn’t be harder for gays to accept indecorous remarks than others. There is almost no limit to what some other groups have to tolerate without anyone defending them.
We had a similar situation in Norway just before Christmas. It’s nothing new that the Salvation Army refuses to hire gay people. There have been controversies over this before, and it happened again towards the end of 2013. A man confessed to be gay and as a result they wouldn’t give him a position as a secretary (an unpaid position). This resulted in many hostile reactions. The football club Rosenborg has a tradition of giving NOK 25,000 for the Salvation Army Christmas fund raiser, but this Christmas they refused.
Jo Nesbø, a Norwegian musician and crime novelist refused to play at one of the Salvation Army’s Christmas concerts for the same reason. A number of other musicians did the same, and Askil Holm said to the newspaper VG that “when little or nothing happens in the Salvations Army’s views on homosexuality, I think it was time to take a clear stand. ”
These were just some of the many responses to the Salvation Army just before Christmas. I’m sitting partially on the fence on this issue, but I’m not likely to land on the gay side. If we are talking about employment this is the type of violation of rights that easily could be used against other groups as well. I have often been a victim myself of people who wouldn’t hire someone with a blemish. Mine is nonverbal learning disabilities.
But we are not talking about employment rights now, but about theology. I don’t agree 100 % with the Salvation Army, but just as I will fight for the general rights that include gays, I also contend that different faiths may retain their faith. I respect a church that says that this is what they believe in, and that they will not be pressured to follow the flow. In this case, a man doing voluntary work was upset because they didn’t want to change their own theology to accommodate him. In my opinion the Salvation Army didn’t do anything wrong, not legally or morally. If they believe homosexuality is wrong according to their interpretation of the Bible, we should allow them to be a part of a minority.
I can kind of understand the reactions, but I still have limited sympathy for the gay Salvation Army soldier. In this case no one is denying this man the right to live openly as gay, a Christian gay or gay employee. He knows what the Salvation Army’s official stance on homosexuality is, so this can hardly have been very surprising. What disturbs me the most is that we are not allowed to have a different view. There are plenty of options for Christian gays, but that doesn’t seem to be the issue. This is about forcing and bullying people into accepting what you believe in. It’s about forcing everyone to adopt the same theology.
This is in a way the large community’s version of “the hamlet beast.” This is something you find in small places. The beast is a collective making sure no one thinks or acts differently, and don’t you dare think you are better than us! We don’t want a minority. We want to be one, big troll speaking with one voice. Personally, I think it’s a sad development. How will we be able to develop a multi-cultural and multi-religious society that works with this attitude?
The Norwegian government’s attitude has always been to let society evolve naturally, particularly in relation to integration. That’s just leaving society to the troll that we in rural areas call the hamlet beast, and if we allow this animal to get momentum it can accomplish anything, whether it’s right or not. There are certainly many that don’t think very carefully about the gay issue either. They just follow the crowd. Do you think the animal knows what the right development is? I certainly don’t.
That’s why I am a minority. I will respect the gays, but they are not going to tell me how to believe. The best they can hope for from me is that I respect their rights. That should be adequate. I’m tempted to end with a quote from Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People. There are several really famous quotes from this play. I have chosen: “The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. Because he dares to speak the truth in defiance of the vast majority.”