Rainbow Oreos & American Democracy

Mike Mitchell on June 30, 2022

For those who suffer from a lack of enthusiasm for LGBTQ activism, there is a weirdness about the movement that, upon reflection, seems to be a serious threat to American diversity and democracy.

Within the wide range of beliefs and backgrounds that comprise a vastly diverse American society, it is no surprise to find groups of people who fundamentally disagree with each other on highly important issues, such as the nature of human sexuality. Christians make for a good case in point.

Traditional Christians affirm sex only within male/female marriage. However, as is the case with every other moral question, not everyone agrees. There are many who don’t believe the writings of Paul are inspired, many who don’t believe monogamous marriage is important, and many who don’t believe there is an intended order inherent in the human body. Welcome to America!

Many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are offended by people proudly practicing homosexuality; many who identify as gay are offended at their offense. Being offended is the price one must pay for living in a pluralistic, liberal democracy. Our characteristically thick-skinned nation is, in many ways, an unprecedented city on a hill for the world to see, but I recently had the unsettling sense of an ominous cloud engulfing that city as I clicked on my inbox during pride month.

I’m on an email list for the National Park Service, and I received an announcement proclaiming National Parks as “outdoor safe spaces,” which offered the opportunity to purchase a rainbow-colored pin, sticker, or tumbler (with spill-proof lid) to show that you’re either LGBTQ or an “ally.” At first this struck me as woefully weird. Until now, has it been the case that one could drive through a National Park and see signs that say, “Don’t feed the wildlife,” “Only camp in designated areas,” and “You better not be gay here!”? What in the world do people’s sexual desires have to do with hiking? What exactly is the National Park Service supposed to protect gay people from?

Shortly after being notified that the canyons and streams in our parks are fully affirming of same-sex relationships, I was walking through Wal-Mart with my 14-year-old. In the center walkway, between the paper goods and the cereal aisle, we both noticed a big stack of rainbow Oreos with a large cardboard display that read, “Come out with pride and show that you’re an ally.” This is beyond weird. It’s like a big Keebler cookie display in the middle of Target showing the Keebler Elf caressing two female elves with the caption, “Keebler loves swingers!” Or maybe a promiscuous peanut butter ad with a quote bubble over a salaciously grinning Planters Peanut Man saying, “Spread the love.”

I know the alleged purpose of the rainbow movement is to counter oppressions of the past. But blacks and Jews have suffered as much or more oppression as gays (setting aside for the moment the fact that being of a certain race is a very different thing than engaging in certain kinds of sexual behavior), and yet the National Parks have never been declared a “black safe space.” To my knowledge, there have never been any pro-Jewish Oreos.

At this point, I’d like to be able to leave the issue alone and just stop while scratching my head at the weirdness, but, as Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, our capacity for reasoning was not given to make us happy. (Dogs live happy lives because they don’t contemplate issues like these).

On his website, the activist who came up with the rainbow tree logo to signify “outdoor safe spaces” in the National Parks gives some chilling insight as to why so many things from the Grand Canyon to Oreos are covered in the rainbow flag: “Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Is it safe to hold my significant other’s hand here?’ LGBTQ+ people are regularly assessing if spaces are welcoming. Even more so in outdoor and rural places that have traditionally been less-so than urban bubbles.”

Here’s another way to say the same thing: “Have you ever been troubled by the fact that when you go into public places some of the people you see don’t hold the same beliefs as you? Does it bother you that anyone would have the audacity to disagree with you or to believe that you’re not behaving as you should? Here’s a pin you can wear on your jacket or backpack to let people know that they should never be allowed to disagree with your beliefs about human sexuality.”

In a thoroughly pluralistic society, how is asking “Is it safe to hold my gay partner’s hand here?” any different from a Christian walking into a diverse neighborhood with a mix of Muslims and Jews and asking (with a quivering voice) “Is it safe to eat pork here?”

In reflecting on all this, it seems there is something intentional behind the weirdness of gay-affirming National Parks and Oreos. One doesn’t have to be a total cynic to suspect an illegitimate motive when canyons and cookies are said to have a sexual ethic. Regardless of what one believes about the morality of homosexuality, the ubiquitous and hyper-active rainbow campaign should be deeply concerning to any American. The utter intolerance of differing beliefs about sexual ethics in the LGBTQ movement and the incessant, often militant, obsession with “affirmation” and “allies” should not be taken lightly.

You may not like being cramped next to the large, snoring person on a flight from New York to San Diego. You don’t have to put up with it, but your only other option is to take the extra four days to make the drive. The problem with so many LGBTQ activists is that they are not like the annoyed, skinny person on the flight who can accept that losing the armrest to a portly passenger in the next seat is the price one must pay for traveling 3,000 miles in four hours. They begin yelling that only skinny people and skinny allies should be allowed on the plane. The fat passenger may think at first that he has as much right to fly as anyone else, but when he looks around and sees skinny-affirming flag stickers on the pretzels, the flight attendant’s lapel, and the airline logo, he realizes that he’s probably not going to be on the plane much longer.

If we cannot live with the ideological tension inevitable in such a diverse nation as ours, we would likely be better off moving to a more culturally and ideologically homogeneous society like Iran or North Korea. The thing that should trouble all Americans is that the motives and methods of the rainbow movement seem frighteningly similar to those of the people who created Iran and North Korea.

Mike Mitchell is a former pastor of a United Methodist congregation. He holds a BA in English and professional writing, an MA in theological studies from Asbury Seminary, and a PhD in philosophy and theology from Liverpool Hope University.

  1. Comment by Tom on June 30, 2022 at 5:34 pm

    ““Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Is it safe to hold my significant other’s hand here?’”

    I’ll bite. How is holding hands unsafe? Does holding hands guide a lightning strike? Does it trigger large hordes of mosquitoes to bite you to death? Does it trigger devastating earthquakes or volcanic eruptions? Sheesh.

  2. Comment by Kevin on June 30, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    Good article Mike. Keep them coming.

  3. Comment by Dan W on June 30, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    Violence against homosexuals, often called gay bashing, was common in the U.S. not long ago. In Atlanta, young men from the suburbs would attack men and women leaving the gay/lesbian clubs after dark. I worked at a large hotel in the late 1980s and knew coworkers that were attacked. It wasn’t just big cities where these folks didn’t feel safe. Some were terrified to go to rural areas as couples. I love exploring our National Parks, and it doesn’t bother me to visit them with people from all walks of life. If a rainbow flag at a National Park visitor center, or a rainbow pin on a ranger’s uniform helps a visitor feel accepted, I’m cool with it. What kind of Christian wouldn’t be?!

  4. Comment by David on July 1, 2022 at 8:01 am

    The Gay Rights movement followed in the wake of the Civil Rights movement. Following the overthrow of Jim Crow, there was the Black is Beautiful movement. Holidays were established for Martin Luther King, Jr. and most recently Juneteenth. There are various Black festivals and events where people don African-style clothing.

    Eisenhower purged the Federal Government of gay employees and many private employers did the same. Even in liberal New York City, there was a time when it was illegal for gays to “congregate” in public places. Two gay men were technically prohibited from having dinner together in a restaurant. There were police raids on the then common cafeterias where gay people might gather. The aforementioned gay bashing was common and deemed a just punishment. It calls to mind the same attitudes towards the lynching of Blacks.

    Pride marches began as political protest parades. After rights were won, they became more of a celebration. These rights may change with the current Supreme Court as encouraged by Thomas. The political protest aspect of these events may return.

  5. Comment by David S. on July 1, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Sadly, the people commenting are ignorant of the fact that The Alphabet Soup Gang activists said, “We only want to peaceably live with the same rights as others”, yet they continuously push the envelop, demanding more and more on society. Consider the fact that it only took five-six years before they started pushing transgenderism on society, and denouncing even their most supportive allies, who questioned sudden onset gender dysphoria and the medicalization of children through treatments, which poorly supported research and life-long effects over an age at which mental health treatment to understand what is going on should prevail. The latter point is especially important since statistically, most minors exhibiting gender dysphoria were historically male and most who expressed discomfort with their sex/gender (about 70%) typically become comfortable and go on say they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

    Then there is the whole hypocrisy in applying their demands. If you don’t bake the wedding cake, forget whether or not you will gladly provide a birthday cake, a holiday cake, a baby shower cake, or just a plain old cake that you can take home and add the remaining decorations, you are a bigot. But, let’s ignore the fact that as a major national newspaper several years ago profiled, a party planning business fired its long-time church client with which it never had any trouble and was one of the business’s best and most profitable customers, because it doctrinally held to a traditional biblical believe on sexual ethics. No longer doing business with a long-time client with whom one has always been satisfied, but which does not genuflect and give obeisance before the secular gods is suddenly not bigoted and discriminatory.

    The only redeeming aspect to all this, is that many everyday LGBT folks, who I truly believe want to simply go about their lives in peace, as opposed to the activist crowd and Twitterati who make demands on society that are not tenable in the long-run, are finding out is that corporatism merely views them as a means to make money, which ultimately demonstrates that they are not as special as the activist crowd says they are.

    God bless this former pastor for pointing out the lunacy of all this, even if the activists homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, transexuals (to use the older term), and the like, like roaches in the night don’t like having the lights turn on and protest.

  6. Comment by Mike Mitchell on July 1, 2022 at 10:49 am

    The two opposing responses above make very clear the epidemic of sentimentality which has made the rainbow movement possible. The logic that undergirds the movement is something like this: Some people who are naturally inclined toward bad sexual behavior have been mistreated, sometimes with violence. The best way to counter the violence is to have flags and parades to celebrate the bad sexual behavior and pretend that refusing to celebrate is the same as enacting violence.

    As I emphasize in the article, not everyone believes homosexual behavior to be bad, but the overwhelming majority of devout Christians, Jews, and Muslims do, and they have just as much right to follow the dictates of their own conscience as do those in the rainbow movement. It’s the totalitarian impulse in the LGBT movement that is the grave concern.

  7. Comment by Search4Truth on July 2, 2022 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you, Mike. While I am grieved that some people feel it is necessary to defy the Word of God, this is their choice. What I deeply resent is the fact they vilify me for not approving of their behavior. I do not defend violence against them, but they don’t seem to believe in the same treatment for those who do not approve of them.

  8. Comment by David on July 3, 2022 at 2:14 pm

    It is interesting to note that according to Gallup, 71% of Americans feel that same-gender marriage should be recognized by law. This now even includes a majority of Republicans. The question naturally arises as to who is morally wrong in this debate. Few parts of the Bible and none of the Gospels claim to be the “word of God” in their texts.


  9. Comment by Search4Truth on July 3, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    David, as I read the history of the living God slowly revealing to man who is, I don’t remember seeing anything about taking a pole about how man feels about what God says about Himself. Do you realize that one day you WILL stand before Him?

  10. Comment by Dan W on July 4, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Mike, I re-read your article thinking I may have missed something on the first read. You ask several questions including “What exactly is the National Park Service supposed to protect gay people from?” I tried to answer that in my response.

    If you are just sick of being beaten over the head with the rainbow flag, I can sympathize. I’ve seen the rainbow flag flown in UMC sanctuaries where the U.S. flag was banned! Sometimes the rainbow symbol is appropriate, Sometimes it’s an idol.

  11. Comment by David on July 4, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Search4Truth: Whether anyone will stand before God depends on which part of the Bible you care to believe. Most of the OT rejects the notion of an afterlife. As the KJV thunders, “The Dead praise not the Lord.”

  12. Comment by Sandy K on July 5, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    I wonder what consumer tactic would injure greedy, soulless retailers more: waiting until “Pride” month is over to buy deeply discounted goods, or avoiding specially-labeled products and leaving these items to rot on their shelves?

    While it may seem like an old-fashioned notion, I remain convinced that the only way to punish retailers/manufacturers for their rapacious cash-grab efforts is to further tighten our grip on our last remaining dollars and starve the beast, Pandersaurus Rex, of it’s endless thirst to cater to anyone in the name of “everyone”.

    If Oreo wants to put LGBTQIAPP+++ crème sandwich cookies on the shelves loaded with rainbow-colored chemicals in celebration of their pandering, fine. The Hydrox cookies next to them will get my money. That goes for any other divisive stance that these institutions choose to foolishly embrace and package to us, the general public.

    Completely ignoring the obsequious overtures of the Pandersaurus Rex may be our salvation. We water the field of consumerism with our fertile greenbacks; withholding the precious trickle of our fiat watering can may cause the beast to shrivel on the vine and die. Together we can do this.

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