Commentary

When did the Christian Action League become experts on sexual predators?

Rev. Mark Harris - image: CrooksandLiars.com

Rev. Mark Harris – image: CrooksandLiars.com

You’ve got to hand it to the troubled souls on the religious far right who are defending North Carolina’s new, all-purpose discrimination law, HB2. They have their story and they’re sticking to it — no matter how utterly preposterous it is.

The latest evidence of this cringe-inducing situation was visible yesterday at a rally organized by groups like the Christian Action League and its boss/perpetual candidate for public office, Mark Harris. According to Raleigh’s News & Observer, Harris, who is currently running for Congress after running for the Senate in 2014, condemned the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance struck down by HB 2 as an invitation to sexual predators:

“Such an ordinance creates a loophole sexual predators can exploit,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, as members of the crowd waved signs saying “Keep kids safe.”

As I noted in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing, however, isn’t it a little strange that the religious right has, all of a sudden, appointed itself our societal experts on sexual assault?

“…the fact that conservative Christians feel obliged to hold public ‘prayer vigils’ in support of the law sure would seem to indicate that it’s a lot more about keeping LGBT people in their place than it is about ‘bathroom safety.’”

This obvious truth is further confirmed by the following statement that was issued by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault last month in response to HB 2:

“Yesterday HB 2 was passed and signed into law in North Carolina. This bill overrides a recently passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, prevents local governments from enacting a range of nondiscrimination and employment policies, and requires all public facilities, including schools, to allow restroom access only on the basis of “biological sex”. This bill specifically excludes LGBTQ people from legal protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds that NC schools receive under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.

A central argument in this case was about the prevention of sexual violence and the use and safety of public bathrooms. NCCASA is deeply committed to the prevention of all sexual violence, and it is essential that any efforts to do so are rooted in fact. What we know to be true is that the majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by someone the victim knows in a familiar place, rather than by a stranger in a public place. 200 cities across the nation have protections in place similar to the Charlotte ordinance, and none of them have reported an increase in sexual violence related to these protections.

On the other hand, physical and verbal assaults on transgender people in public bathrooms are not rare, and over 50% of transgender people have experienced sexual violence. We cannot end sexual violence unless we are committed to ending sexual violence for all people. What will actually prevent and end sexual violence is for us to create a culture in which respect for the identities and bodily autonomy of others is a deeply held value. Policies prohibiting discrimination based on one’s sexuality and gender identity, like the one passed in Charlotte, are a positive step toward ending sexual violence.”

In other words, the “sexual predator” rap is an obvious ruse designed to mask the real motive for the HB 2 defenders — keeping LGBT people down. Perhaps, however, it’s a hopeful (it pathetic) sign that they feel obliged to make pretenses about their true objectives.

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