Most of the regulars here–except perhaps MrsLarijani, who wasn’t around when this happened–remember the fall of Anita Bryant. She became the symbol for victory for the left in general, the Gay Rights movement in particular.
Anita Bryant was a beauty queen who became Miss South Carolina in 1958, and a runner-up in the 1959 Miss America pageant. From there, her music career began to rise. She would become the face of Florida orange juice industry. She was outspoken as a Christian, and lobbied for causes dear to social conservatives. While many on the left found her obnoxious, they tolerated her.
That began to change in 1977, when Dade County (FL) passed an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. At the time, it was a huge victory for the gay rights movement.
Anita Bryant proceeded to swing into action, leading the charge to repeal this law. National Christian leaders–particularly Jerry Falwell–supported her in this effort, which was successful, as voters repealed it by a 69-31 margin.
From there, the gay rights crowd proceeded to destroy the career of Anita Bryant. They mobilized, they wielded influence behind the scenes, they threatened her sponsors.
The Florida Citrus Commission did not renew Bryant’s contract. Her leads with promoters began to dry up. Her cash flow slowed to a trickle. She was blacklisted.
Making matters worse, she would eventually divorce her husband–thus alienating herself from her allies in the Church–and never regain her footing. Her business efforts resulted in bankruptcy. Twice. Anita Bryant was done in showbiz.
The warning to Christians in the business and entertainment world was clear: if you cross the gay rights movement, we will bury you. That was the standard for 30 years.
That changed two years ago, and in the most unlikely fashion.
A man from Georgia–S. Truett Cathy–founded the Dwarf Grill in 1946. That small restaurant would become Chick-Fil-A. From the ground up, the Cathy family grew that small outfit into a very profitable national business run by high, Christian standards of excellence six days a week. (They are closed on Sundays.) They worked hard and, in spite of their conservative Christian orientation, stayed out of the culture wars.
In 2011, that all changed, as one of the Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Pennsylvania agreed to provide sandwiches at a conference of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposed same-sex marriages. The gay rights movement sought to bully Chick-Fil-A into submission by threatening boycotts to “kiss-ins”.
The Christian response–helped in large part by former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)–was huge: Chick-Fil-A saw record profitability. The indication was that Christians have just about had enough of the left-wing bullying.
Dan Cathy is no Anita Bryant.
This year, the Robertson family–of Duck Dynasty fame–received a baptism by fire in the culture wars.
The Duck Dynasty series–a reality show run by A&E, based on a family of intelligent, self-made millionaires with a happy-warrior redneck Christian flavor– is the most profitable in the history of cable television.
Phil Robertson–the family patriarch, who played college football and was ahead of Terry Bradshaw on the depth chart–was outspoken, both on-screen and off, about his Christian faith, particularly of his story of a former decadent hedonist who experienced a life of repentance through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Duck Dynasty episodes end with the family praying together before a meal. When A&E expressed interest in cutting that out of the show, Phil Robertson held the line: keep it or cancel the show. A&E grudgingly demurred.
That was until last week, when, in an interview with GQ magazine, Phil Robertson made some pointed statements about homosexuality. For one, he called homosexuality a sin, and–to the horror of everyone on the left–stated the obvious: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?”
The response from the left was nothing short of apoplectic. A&E suspended Phil Robertson “indefinitely”, and gay rights groups immediately began targeting Duck Dynasty sponsors. The gay rights groups were seeking to do to Robertson what they did to Anita Bryant.
As with Chick-Fil-A, they failed. Badly.
For one thing, the Robertson family response has been unified. It helps that, as with the Cathy family, they were already millionaires many times over and did not need A&E. It also helps that the Robertson family–in spite of the baggage they have–has a handle on what is really important.
Phil Robertson is no Anita Bryant.
For another thing, Christians–not just those who would have identified with the Moral Majority in the 1980s–decided they have had enough of the left-wing bullying.
As a result, Cracker Barrel–which had pulled Duck Dynasty products from their shelves–reversed themselves and profusely apologized to their customers in near-record time.
I’m not saying that this is indicative of a national revival or even a “Resurgence” (to borrow the term from Mark Driscoll); at the same time, the Christian consensus has apparently decided that they have had enough. The dogs of the left will have their day, but the Christian consensus is not going to take it lying down.
It’s game on in the Culture Wars.