After gay marriage, expect conservative amnesia


History is not always written by the victors. Often the losers knit together a version of past events that disposes of the more damning details and casts their side in a more favorable light. In the 1970’s, UCLA history professor Russell Jacoby studied trends in the collective forgetting of groups of people. He dubbed it “social amnesia.” Others since then have also noted the tendency of groups to collectively repress history, usually because remembering the facts is not in the group's best interest.

Conservative Americans—and particularly conservative Christians—lost a decades-long cultural battle last week when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. The decision, though expected, plunged conservatives into varying states of mourning, uncertainty, retreat, and retrenchment. But as the dust settles and reality sets in, we’re already witnessing signs of social amnesia. Expect to see more.

On the day of the decision, I posted a satirical tweet about how millions of straight conservative Christians were shocked to discover their marriages had not actually been harmed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Some conservatives responded that this was “straw man” and a “bogus red herring.” They contended that conservatives never made such arguments. Karen Swallow Prior, an author and professor at Liberty University whom I respect, objected that “no conservative Christians ever made that argument.” Another said I was “mocking an argument that no one is making.”

But there are plenty examples of such arguments being made by high-level conservative Christian leaders in recent history. And they are easily accessible via a global information search engine that researchers are now calling “Google.” To wit...