Did Orson Scott Card Advocate Overthrowing the Government if Same-Sex Marriage is Legalized?

Award-winning author Orson Scott Card, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been in the news lately, and it’s not just because a movie of his popular book Ender’s Game is slated for release later this year.

help wanted no mormons need apply sign

Card was hired to write a story for a comic book series called The Adventures of Superman. But after some fans of the comic complained because of Card’s outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage the illustrator walked away from the project and so DC Comics has apparently decided not to run his story.

One of the things that many outraged critics cite is a quote from Orson Scott Card in which they say he advocates for the violent overthrow of the government if same-sex marriage becomes legal. But is that what he really said?

Here is the quote to which they refer, taken from an article published in July 2008:

“If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn’t require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government?”

“What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them.”

“How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

“Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.”

A cursory reading of Card’s words might appear to confirm what the critics are saying, but a careful reading show that it is not so simple.

The context of the article is important. It’s the summer of 2008. Judges had recently overturned California’s democratically passed law defining marriage as only between man and woman. The campaign for California Proposition 8, to counteract the judicial decision by putting the definition right into the California state constitution, is in full swing. Card is outraged by the threat of having the definition of marriage changed by judicial decree and foisted upon an unwilling majority.

While his words are not limited to judicially imposed same-sex marriage, that is the context of the article’s outrage.

In his own dramatic way he proposes a hypothetical future (what do you expect from a famous author of speculative fiction?) in which America becomes a place where “children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught” that their religious views on sexuality and marriage are false.

Then in the context of THAT hypothetical future he wonders how long it would be before the hypothetical victims of such action would turn against the government. The words “… any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down…” are the words of those who have hypothetically had their children taken from them and forcibly educated contrary to their parents moral and religious views. To say that the “my” and “I” in these sentences are references to Card himself in the present, real world is taking the words out of context.

So to say that Card personally advocated for the overthrow of the government in the event that same-sex marriage is legalized is simply inaccurate. He predicted that if the legalization of same-sex marriage leads to a future of severe State persecution and suppression of those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage, those people would likely be justified in turning against the government.

Frankly, if we ever did reach the point where the government would forcibly take our children away from us and make them accept same-sex marriage as a legitimate construct through state indoctrination, there are a lot of people who would see that as legitimate, justifiable grounds for possible revolt.

Card’s article says a lot of things that I think are true and that I agree with. I encourage you to read the whole thing rather than just react to out-of-context excerpts.

Those of us who believe in traditional marriage should be really concerned about how Orson Scott Card is being treated.

If he were writing a superman comic in which the characters or plot were speaking and acting as proxy for his beliefs, then those who disagreed could refuse to spend their money on a product that they found offensive or distasteful.

But that is not what is happening.

Interested groups are working to prevent a product he is creating, which no one has claimed will contain any material representing his personal views on this topic, from even being created or marketed in the first place. In other words they are trying to prevent him from working in the industry because he stands up for traditional marriage and religious belief.

Here is an illustrative comparison: Imagine if Card were a software developer instead of a writer. He gets hired by Google to create an exciting new product that allows people to use the Internet using special glasses. He starts working on the project, but part way through LGBTQ groups, who don’t like the fact that when he is not at work he writes letters to the editor opposing same-sex marriage (something that he had been doing long before being hired), start to pressure Google. They tell Google that they wont buy the new glasses because one of the developers opposes same-sex marriage. Google knows it can’t break the contract because that would be religious discrimination. So the LGBTQ groups try to create enough controversy that the Google employee who is working on the hardware portion of the project becomes uncomfortable and responds by refusing to continue to work on the project because he refuses to work with someone who opposes same-sex marriage. Google then uses the fact that this other employee refuses to work with the developer because of his personal views (which have no bearing on the project itself) to scuttle the project and lay off the developer.

That is essentially what has happened to Card. Just change the industry to comic books instead of technology.

“No Mormons Need Apply.” Is that the world we want to live in? Where those of us who have honest, good reasons to oppose same-sex marriage will be blackballed, denied jobs, and have people publicly refuse to work with us because of our religious and political positions, even when those views have nothing to do with our qualifications, quality of work, or the products we create?

And this is only the beginning. Doesn’t this treatment only serve to reinforce and legitimize the kind of future that Card fears may come? By persecuting him they are making his predictions seem more likely to come true, not less.

Let’s hope Card is wrong about the future.

Speak up and let others know you support Orson Scott Card’s right to publicly oppose same-sex marriage.

Tangentially, if you do support the legalization of same-sex marriage, or haven’t made up your mind yet, or you want to see marriage “privatized”, or even if you already oppose same-sex marriage, you need to read the recent book by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George called:

What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.

The authors make a non-religious, philosophical case for a legal preference for the traditional, conjugal definition of marriage and against the new revisionist definition upon which same-sex marriage depends.

Nobody can claim to have made a truly informed decision on the legalization of same-sex marriage until they have honestly considered the information in this book.

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2 Responses to Did Orson Scott Card Advocate Overthrowing the Government if Same-Sex Marriage is Legalized?

  1. Bookslinger

    Max, I think we need to apply the same detail level of parsing here as you did to Card’s remarks. Otherwise we would deny to our opponents that which we would claim for ourselves, freedom of speech, freedom of commerce/patronage (tobuy from whomever we please), and freedom of association.

    Card’s detractors have so far only engaged in speech. It is the illustrator and DC who may have violated contracts, but the news reports have not specified if any contract terms have been broken orr not. Card may already have been paid for his work for all we know.

    This is the marketplace of ideas. On the other hand, various LDS factions have called for boycotts of hotels (eg, Marriot) that show adult in room movies. There are many artists whose music I like on the radio, but I don’t patronize thembecause I disagree with things they advocateoff stage.

    This boycott is a “chilling effect thing”. But we can and should do similar things: say what we believe and vow to vote with our wallet.

  2. Consumers choose where they wish to spend their money- and it wouldn’t be the first time that the actions of a corporation or individual generated a boycott. Orson Scott Card presented his political views loudly- and there are pros and cons to it. The pros are that you are able to support your cause and use your celebrity to lend momentum to that very same cause.

    The con is that now that one has declared, particularly on such an divisive issue, there will be those that will no longer funnel any of their income in their direction. If one is completely self-employed it’s no big deal- work comes and work goes.

    If one is working for a corporation that has a duty to increase shareholder value (DC) and one of your potential contributors is a political hot potato (Card) and there is a movement to boycott anything that Card does, it behooves the corporation to ditch him as soon as possible. Margins in the comic book industry are slim enough- DC doesn’t need any more help loosing money.

    OSC is a public figure and his outspoken politics are a liability.

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