This past Easter Sunday, reliably incendiary voice of anti-LGBT discrimination Harry Jackson appeared on CBS News' highly respected Face The Nation program. The purpose of the panel—which, in addition to Harry, included Imam Suhaib Webb, Rabbi David Wolpe, and Mariann Edgar Budde, the pro-equality Episcopal bishop of Washington DC —was to foster discussion about the state of religion in America. To most of us, this means support for the intensely American idea that people are free to believe and pray as they please. That is, after all, what we largely mean when we talk about religious freedom: the ability to hold differing views yet maintain basic respect.
But while he played perfectly nice while the mainstream media cameras rolled, Harry went back to his home church and conveyed his true intent. Namely: His desire to "convert" those who believe differently than himself.
What follows are two clips. The first is the CBS News roundtable. Harry's focused portion, in which he actually achieves head-nodding agreement with the pro-equality bishop, begins around the 6:00 mark:
[SOURCE: CBS News]
But now listen to this one. This is the very same Harry Jackson talking in his own church—talking, in fact, at around the exact time his pre-taped segment aired on CBS. But there, in the safety of like minds, Harry comes out and admits his belief that both the "possessed" imam and the pro-equality bishop need to be "converted" out of "darkness":
[SOURCE: Hope Connection, 3/31/13]
This is such an egregious breach of faith. The Bishop Budde presumably said she wanted to attend Harry Jackson's church so that she could be in relationship and fellowship with people from a different religious tradition than her own. Imam Webb surely agreed to appear on Face The Nation so that he could have a rational discussion through theological disagreement. But what does Harry Jackson do? He takes these seeming acts of good will back to his congregants and proceeds to denigrate the faith, motivations, and general character of his fellow panelists. He even has the audacity to say that his church is the only place that has the "dynamic power of God" to convert his fellow panelists. His version of "religious freedom" becomes one where freedom is only truly available to those seekers who convert to his way of thinking. And of course he waits to have this conversation at a time when no one can (or will) talk back.
If this is how Mr. Jackson feels, then he should have the fortitude to say it while the CBS News cameras are rolling and his fellow panelists still have a live microphone. The anti-LGBT opposition is always talking about faith and how pro-equality voices are supposedly out to undermine or even denigrate it. So okay, Harry: let's have that national conversation avout religious freedom and what it really means! You go on air, look your fellow faith panelists in the eye, and tell them they need to be "converted" from their "darkness" and let's see how the American public responds to those views. It's very to say these kinds of things when in the confines of your home church, but if you can talk the talk there, then let's walk that same walk when a major network opens its green room to your views.