I've always liked Kirk Cameron, considered him a good Christian, and appreciate much of his adult work, that often reflects strong moral values and support for traditional family. Knowing just these few things about him, from afar, doesn't surprise me, in the least, that he would hold conservative, Christian positions on these controversial issues -- in fact, I would expect it of him. But apparently that's not how this is all going down for Kirk, in regards to a few of his earlier Growing Pain co-stars, who have contributed to the Twitter firestorm by tweeting out their disdain for Kirk's public declaration, on these sensitive issues, and encouraging others to do the same.
And now, Twitter is on fire with people from both sides of the debate using 140 characters to voice either, support for Kirk Cameron's bold stand for traditional values -- or to levy vitriolic statements against what they believe are out-of-step public declarations. I've also seen carry over on both Facebook and Google+.
It's no secret that Hollywood is flaming liberal and proud of it! For one of their own to step out from their strong public advocacy for liberal tolerance, and what they believe to be issues of social justice -- including strong support for the LGBT community -- well, is apparently NOT okay, and shouldn't be allowed!
I'll be honest and say that I'm always moved when anything that calls out evil, publicly, catches the attention of a large audience. However, I'm finding myself uncomfortable with this latest incident, that has become somewhat of a brawl -- now picked up by every radio, cable/television and Internet news outlet available.
So at this point, if you haven't already seen parts of this controversial interview by Piers Morgan with Kirk Cameron, you need to take a look at this video clip -- now:
Video: Kirk Cameron Interview with Piers Morgan on CNN Tonight Show
(apparently this is the part that is really disturbing to LGBT community)
Okay, so for me, here's the deal... It's obvious that Kirk Cameron was not expecting such an extreme interrogation from Piers Morgan -- but since he was put on the spot he decided not to dodge the questions -- and in response, chose to be respectful, honest and true to his Christian beliefs. One would think that most people, regardless of differences, would respect the right of another human being to have an oppositional opinion and not perceive it as an all out personal attack. Unfortunately, that is not the world that we are living in, currently -- and that leads me to the concern for religious freedom in America.
Sidebar/disclosure: When I initially began writing this post I had no intention that it would lead to the topic of religious freedom. However, in researching and fact checking the information, it became evident that this is exactly what needed to be addressed in this post. In other words, my little pop culture post for today, suddenly, became very serious. You see, this is what happens when we become aware. So, consider this post "officially" hijacked, by me!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), via the LDS Newsroom, has just published a four-part series on Religious Freedom -- covering what it is, and what it is not -- its importance to everyone, and the vital need for us to recognize the current threat to its ongoing maintenance, throughout the world. I've been studying these articles, and others, and feel more passionate, than ever, to better understand the principle of freedom of religion -- and how standing up to preserve it is imperative -- for all of us!
What we are witnessing with Cameron's public comments, and the extreme response that it has generated, is just the latest attack against religious freedom -- and is exactly the type of thing that we need to be more aware of, and concerned about -- not the specific opinion/position but rather the intolerance, to allow freedom of speech for all, in mainstream society.
I've pretty much come to the opinion that religious freedom, in general, is a difficult principle to teach. Therefore its value, to most, is subjective to personal experience. Until there is conflict that we believe affect us personally, one-by-one, the majority won't get it. So, let's hope and pray that mainstream society gets it, before it's too late.
A very sobering thought came to me, personally, as I was watching Piers Morgan question Kirk Cameron -- I could easily envision myself, (not necessarily on CNN, but who knows, stranger things have happened to me lately!?!;) or any one of us, being asked similar questions and responding in nearly identical fashion. Am I right? Come on, you know I am! This should freak us all out, or at the very least be disturbing! Who wants to be labeled and treated like a bigot for simply, and sincerely, holding to personal beliefs and opinions? If you think I'm being dramatic, check out the backlash coming from the LGBT community, as reported by CBS News:
"The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation also fired back at Cameron over his comments. "In this interview, Kirk Cameron sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character," said Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD. "Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.""
Certainly I don't agree with these sentiments, but lest you presume that I'm here to defend the religious right, of which I'm sure some readers would label me as, let me share a principle of religious freedom that, regardless of left or right leanings, needs to be understood by everyone.
From the LDS Newsroom:
"Contrary to what some may assume, religious freedom is not simply the freedom to worship or to believe the way one chooses, though these are essential parts of it. Neither is it just for religious people. Religious freedom is actually deeper, broader and more important than most realize.
At the most fundamental level, religious freedom is the human right to think, act upon and express what one deeply believes, according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience. In fact, religious freedom has always been understood in conjunction with “freedom of conscience” — the liberty to develop and hold moral convictions and to act accordingly. So while religious freedom encompasses the liberty of religious belief and devotion, it also extends well beyond that, incorporating the freedom to act — to speak freely in public, to live according to one’s moral principles and to advocate one’s own moral vision for society. The breadth of religious freedom and its relationship with freedom of conscience helps explain why religious freedom is important for everyone, not just for people of faith."I'm pleased to report that although this storm started brewing last Friday, just today, Kirk Cameron made this bold statement, posted on his Facebook wall, which is now flying through cyberspace at lightening speed -- and is how I found it:
"I recently was asked to join Piers Morgan on CNN for an interview about my new film “Monumental.” During that discussion, I was asked to express my views about homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion. While that was not the agreed-upon purpose of the interview, I was pleased to answer Piers’ questions as honestly as I could.
In some people’s eyes, my responses were not sufficiently "loving" toward those in the gay community. I can only say that it is my life's mission to love all people, and that I expressed the same views that are expressed clearly and emphatically throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures. As a Bible believing Christian, I could not have answered any other way.
I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally) in the wake of condemnation by some political advocacy groups. In the case of one of my gay friends, we regularly talk and have healthy and respectful debate. We learn from each other, and serve others alongside one another. I thank God for all of my friends...even when they hold very different views on issues of faith and morality. I do not, however, believe that the right way to advance our views is to resort to name-calling and personal attacks, as some have done to me.
I also believe that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand-in-hand in America. I should be able to express moral views on social issues--especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years--without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach "tolerance" that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.
I hope more than a few people could see the large volume of secularist morality being imposed on me. In any society that is governed by the rule of law, some form of morality is always imposed. It's inescapable. But it is also a complicated subject, and that is why I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect.
To the thousands of you who have written me letters of encouragement... thank you! And to those who would like know how to further your support, please gather your friends and family, and join me as I seek to show you our true “National Treasure,” at the live, nationwide viewing of “Monumental” on Tuesday, March 27th (www.MonumentalMovie.com)."At this point in my research, ( Especially after watching the trailer to Kirk's ready to release documentary, Monumental -- you should watch it, too.) I've realized that Kirk Cameron knew what he would be walking into by going on CNN and allowing the very liberal Piers Morgan to interview him, publicly. (Perhaps not to such an extent, but he knew) In other words, he played right into Kirk's hands and vice versa. In someways, I feel a bit exploited. However, I can get past that super fast, because in the end, it's an excellent example -- IF we will see it -- of how too many are using their opposition to promote their personal agendas, and in Kirk's case, his movie. Sadly, this strategy, of which many are guilty, is becoming far too common.
Nevertheless, I wish Kirk success with his new movie, Monumental, because the message of its content appears to be of good report, and much needed. I hold similar values and beliefs, as a Christian, as does he -- even though, for now, he doesn't accept that Mormons are Christian. But that really doesn't matter. What does matter, is that those who value freedom, in all its forms, including religious, need to stand together to uphold it. From that perspective, I take my hat off to Kirk Cameron for willingly, and courageously, not only speaking up, but also for speaking out on this important topic.
"Introduction to Religious Freedom" - A Broad Overview
"For many people in the world, there are few things more precious than freedom. Freedom — the power to live as one would choose — is one of the great sources of human dignity. Exercising freedom correctly is also one of the great responsibilities that humans hold. We continue to grapple with how to define our freedoms, how to understand them, and how they should be both cultivated and tempered. At the heart of these questions, we find one of the most fundamental of all freedoms: freedom of religion."
"My purpose today is to challenge you to work with people of other faiths to improve the moral fabric of this nation and the world and to protect religious freedom. In order to do this, you need to understand and comprehend “things which have been,” with particular emphasis on certain knowledge and events which were precursors to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and still need to be protected. These are the underpinnings of our Judeo-Christian heritage and bless people worldwide"
Selected Beliefs and Statements on Religious Freedom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Note: I have requested permission for the use of Kirk Cameron's picture and the text to his letter included in this post.