Leave it to Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group, to completely (deliberately?) butcher the meaning of Oprah Winfrey‘s passionate speech at the Golden Globes over the weekend.
Even if, like me, you don’t particularly care about celebrity awards, Oprah addressed the #MeToo movement in a way that will make you ugly-cry. She encouraged women, both in Hollywood and out, to speak out about sexual abuse and harassment:
… I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.
I know readers of this site aren’t necessarily fans of Oprah, given her embrace of pseudoscience and dismissal of atheism, but seriously, that was a good speech. What could the most fundie of fundamentalist groups possibly find wrong with it?
If you’re Paul Asay, writing for the organization’s pop culture blog and clearly grasping for something to complain about, then you take Oprah’s clear-as-day meaning and twist it into a straw man:
Winfrey’s word choice is… an interesting reflection of our time — and appropriately so, given that she’s perhaps the most powerful, most popular entertainment figure of our time. She has come to represent an expression of how society would like to view itself: persuasive and ethical while somehow being accepting and nonjudgmental, spiritual without being explicitly religious. And her use of phrases like “your truth” and “their truth” reflects how malleable many may believe the truth is. We all know that two and two is four. That is truth. We know that the moon affects the tides and the sun affects the seasons. That is truth. And as Christians, we know that our God is righteous and forgiving, all powerful and all loving. That, too, is truth. And He has some definite ideas how we should worship Him and carry ourselves, too. Those ideas are truth, as well, because he is Truth.
His truth. Her truth. Their truth. Semantics aside, there is only one truth: the truth.
“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus, just as our culture asks today. Little did Pilate understand, and little do we sometimes, that the Truth was standing right in front of him.
I’m not a fan of calling people idiots. I’m a grown-up. I can handle myself maturely around people whose ideas I find particularly asinine. That said, I have a strong urge to quote Billy Madison.
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but let’s try: Oprah wasn’t addressing any moral, absolute, capital-T “Truth” in her speech. She was encouraging women to tell the truth about the abuse that they suffered; to tell the truth about what happened in front of critics who would rather focus on what they were wearing (looking at you, Joshua Feuerstein); to tell the truth to journalists who fawn over Hollywood stars and gloss over any allegations of abuse.
TL;DR: Oprah wants to encourage women to tell the truth about their experiences with abuse. That’s all. It wasn’t some anti-Christian statement daring people to ignore the “Truth” of someone’s religious beliefs.
But, considering Focus’ founder, James Dobson, is encouraging people to fast in order to prevent the impeachment of America’s most famous pussy-grabber, it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t get it.