A religious context
Bret Hinsch tried to defend marriage equality by interpreting the opponent’s slogan “traditional family” as referring to traditional “Chinese” family, which is inappropriate (“Traditional values may surprise,” page 8, Dec. 6).
I would like to point out the trap in the term “traditional” here. While Taiwan is culturally very Chinese, the use of the word “traditional” here is actually religious, I would say particularly evangelical.
Celebrities Ho Jong (何戎) and Amber Kuo (郭采潔), who were major figures in inciting anti-marriage equality sentiment in the recent events, are members of the New Life Church, whose founder Abraham Ku (顧其芸) is a graduate of the China Evangelical Seminary.
The spokesperson at the demonstration on Nov. 30, Chang Chuan-feng (張全鋒), is a member of the Unification Church.
When these Christians talk about marital values, they mean traditional Judeo-Christian marriages, and the evangelical interpretation of that kind of marriage would essentially come back to the Adam-and-Eve argument; that marriage is a celebration of God’s will embodied in the union of Adam and Eve, or some such narrative.
How could one miss it? The traditional idea of marriage being heterosexual is a very popular argument made often by conservative US Christians, and of course it means marriages sanctioned by the church, such as in old Europe even before there was a US.
We must never lose sight of the religious objectives of these organizations — in this case, imposing conservative or “tradional” Christian values on Taiwanese law. Their objectives are often in conflict with secularism.
By not interpreting the slogan in its proper context, Hinsch has helped steer the debate away from an important point of contention, and saved the Christian right from having to face charges of offending Taiwan’s secular legal system.
Americans in Taiwan should be experiencing a sense of deja vu, as the same arguments employed in the battles against homosexuals in the US, appear in Taiwan now.
Deliberate conflation, to direct the discussion away from secular issues, is a necessary and therefore familiar maneuver by conservative US Christians. We should expect to see more of these kind of moves.
Xizhi, New Taipei City