Would you pay a price for what you believe?

Standing up to opponents just got harder

Firefox is one of the most popular search engines on the internet. It is owned by a company called Mozilla. Last week the Chief Executive Officer of Mozilla, Brendan Eich was forced to resign. What had he done? Was he corrupt? Was he incompetent? Had he propositioned an employee? No, none of those things. His ‘crime’ is that he opposes same-sex marriage. Welcome to the new ‘tolerance’.

Eich was barely in his new job when a ferocious campaign against him began. Back in 2008, California was holding a referendum aimed at defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Eich made a $1,000 donation to the ‘yes’ side. This information got out and the result is that Eich has effectively been sacked from his job.

The episode shows two things. The first is that the secular left isn’t content simply with political victory. It wants to crush anyone and everything that stands in its way. No-one must be allowed to speak differently or act differently than the approved way. If you do, then you must be prepared to face the consequences, and the consequences can be very severe indeed.

The second thing it shows is that laws which require political donations to be made public can be extremely dangerous. Once it becomes known that you have made a donation to a ‘politically incorrect’ cause then that knowledge can and will be used against you. This is why we developed the secret ballot, so that people cannot be intimidated because of their political views. Only large political donations, say €50,000 plus, should have to be made known.

Mozilla is part of what’s called ‘silicon valley’ in California, which essentially consists of the hi-tech companies which have brought about the computer revolution, the mobile phone revolution and the internet. Silicon valley is extremely socially liberal and even though Eich is a brilliant programmer and absolutely part and parcel of the silicon valley revolution, his views on gay marriage have made him unacceptable.


This, of course, is because some people see opposition to same-sex marriage as being equivalent to racist bigotry. Would Mozilla want as its CEO a person who opposed interracial marriage? Of course not.

But it is this equation of opposition to same-sex marriage with racist bigotry which is so dangerous. Once you get it into your head that someone who believes that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman is like a racist bigot, then it becomes very easy to convince yourself that they deserve whatever they get. It becomes very easy to convince yourself that the full might of the State should be used against such a person in order to punish their ‘bigotry’.

Of course, it goes without saying that comparing opponents of same-sex marriage with racist bigots is very far off the mark. The difference between white skin and black skin is absolutely trivial. The difference between men and women is not trivial. Marriage is rooted in the differences between men and women, mother and fathers, and in the fact that the sexual unions of men and women have a great social significance, namely their potential for children.

It is ludicrous, therefore, to pretend that opposition to same-sex marriage is like opposition to interracial marriage.

However, the fact that the two are constantly equated is why Brendan Eich has been forced to resign. It is why Christian wedding photographers are forced to work at same-sex weddings irrespective of their own beliefs. It is why Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close. It is why religious believers have every reason to be worried by what is happening in society.

The fact is that the change to the definition of marriage is putting orthodox religious believers in a very difficult position. The State, and politically correct opinion formers, are effectively telling them that if they choose to be faithful to their beliefs about marriage then they must face the consequences and the consequences will be dire.

Robert George is professor of law at Princeton University. In an article last week he said that Mozilla has now made its employment policy clear.

“No Catholics need apply.

Or Evangelical Christians.

Or Eastern Orthodox.

Or Orthodox Jews.

Or Mormons.

Or Muslims.”

Unless, that is, they are willing to ditch their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.


As he said in an interview commenting on the same episode: “We Christians and our fellow believers are already being labelled as ‘bigots’ and ‘homophobes’; the next step will involve outright discrimination and the imposition of disabilities in domains such as employment, licensing, accreditation of institutions, and government contracting. This is going to be rough sailing.”

He believes that like the rich man who would not give up all his possessions to follow Jesus, many of us will take the easy route and either be silent about our opposition to same-sex marriage, or else go along with dominant opinion altogether and so have an easier, more comfortable life.

His advice? “Stay strong. Stay faithful. Bear witness. Do not yield. Remain on the field of battle. Organise. Cooperate. Encourage one another.  Fight in the domain of ideas. Fight in the arena of politics. Fight in every nook and cranny of the culture.”

And if we don’t stand up for what we believe and face down the bullies? Then we will be resigning ourselves to a ‘very unhappy status’ in society.

George says: “When tactics of intimidation succeed, their success ensures that they will be used more and more often in more and more contexts to serve more and more causes. And standing up to intimidation will become more and more difficult. And more and more costly. And more and more dangerous.”

We are faced with something very similar here in Ireland unless we, too, learn to stand up for what we believe even when there is a price to be paid. Indeed, if we’re not sometimes prepared to pay a price for what we believe, then what are we really worth?