In a major foreign policy address last December in Geneva before United Nations delegates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified "deeply-held … religious beliefs" as among "the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] people." Criticizing those who "cite religious or cultural values" to oppose "LGBT" rights, she then made a doctrinal point: if properly understood, "religious traditions" actually support the progressive march of "human rights" and sanction homosexual behavior.
Clinton's remarks followed an executive order making "combating criminalization of LGBT status or conduct" by foreign governments "central" to U.S. foreign policy.
Harnessing a "good religion vs. bad" theme to advance divisive social policy strikes a favored administration chord. Just as the White House has promoted ObamaCare's abortion pill/contraception mandate by using "Catholic" spokesmen such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Vice President Joe Biden to blunt Church disapproval, the Obama administration speaks in religious language to advance its global social policy objectives while marginalizing faith-based opposition.
In Jamaica, for example, activists attribute religion-based disapproval of homosexual conduct as a factor in the continued penalization of sodomy. U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater has intervened in Jamaican domestic debates under the guise of combating "homophobia," framing the issue in religious terms: "As a lifelong Christian, I sometimes struggle with religious beliefs which seem to be at odds with tolerance. Then, I simply consider afresh the gospel of love, which convinces me that tolerance is in accordance with the Christian faith and practice."
Bridgewater, an accomplished diplomat in her own right and former President George W. Bush's ambassador to Ghana, is a strategic choice for another reason: Her husband, Rev. A. Russell Awkward, is a dynamic African-American Baptist pastor, who thus cloaks his wife's statements with vicarious clerical approval in a society where the voice of clergy is given great weight.
In El Salvador, where last June then-acting Ambassador Carmen Aponte created a kerfuffle by penning a heavy-handed article decrying "homophobia" in the local press, part of the U.S. strategy has been to work with the Anglican church as "one of the only LGBT-friendly religious institutions in El Salvador," according to an unclassified State Department document, thereby aligning with a "progressive" denomination against "reactionary" Catholics and Evangelicals.
Other clergy enlisted in the Obama administration's religious offensive include Bishop John Bryson Chane, the retired Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C. Chane served as a U.S. delegate at a meeting in Kazakhstan on "the rights of [LGBT] persons in Central Asia," where activists excoriated Evangelicals and other religious groups for opposing persons of "non-traditional orientation."
Bishop Chane is an interesting choice: a number of years ago he promoted himself as the chief antagonist of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who had championed the rights of traditionalist Anglicans in North America and Europe displaced by progressives within their own denomination. The Obama administration appears to pay close attention to an on-going intra-Christian debate, co-opting sympathetic clergy to advance its objectives.
Indeed, for what most would consider a secular-minded administration, the Obama presidency seems exceptionally concerned about dictating what religion ought say and do regarding moral issues, going so far as to define what is a religious body via federal regulation and thus breaching the wall that protects the church from the state.
"Kulturkampf" refers to Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's policy in the 1870s to marginalize the Catholic Church, which he thought impeded building a centralized, paternalistic state. Similarly, the Obama administration has picked a battle with Evangelicals and Catholics, whose biblical and natural law-based alternative narrative stands in the way of the Latex Left's quest for utopia at home and abroad.