Why Should Christians Be Troubled by the Resignation of Mozilla CEO, Brendan Eich?

As recently as 2010, a majority of Americans believed that marriage should consist of one man and one woman who make a permanent, exclusive, and comprehensive commitment to each other and raise the children that result from their union.

This traditional view of marriage has served as the foundational element of human society for centuries, and it has been held by the religious and nonreligious, alike.

Christians believe marriage is a sacred covenant established by God, who created male and female with the expectation that they join together as husband and wife. And even ancient pagan philosophers like Aristotle considered marriage to be a natural institution, essential for both procreation, survival, and the practice of virtue. “The friendship between husband and wife seems to be according to nature; for man is by nature coupling more than political … [and] the household is prior and more necessary than the polis” (Nicomachean Ethics).

But in 2014, if you support traditional marriage, you cannot possibly be an effective CEO. That’s the message that was delivered loudly and clearly to Brendan Eich, who, just two weeks after being named CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, was forced to resign because—in 2008—he donated $1,000 to a campaign urging California voters to support Proposition 8, a ballot initiative endorsed by 52 percent of the electorate that would have incorporated the traditional definition of marriage into the state constitution. If a federal court had not glibly overturned the will of 7 million Californians, same-sex marriages would not be legally recognized in California today.

Even though there remains a significant split in our country regarding the acceptance of same-sex marriage (same-sex marriage is legal in only 17 states), the cultural thought police are taking extraordinary measures to ensure people are on “the right side of history.” The push to expel Eich from his well-deserved post has propelled the modern-day left into a surprising position — they have become, in effect, the new moral majority. Billed by one author as the “New Torquemadas,” the LGBT community and their supporters have sought to squelch dissent, to stifle free speech, and to strangle free expression by forcing everyone to conform to a radically new and alarmingly unreasonable proposition — namely, that marriage has nothing to do with biological complementarity (and thus, procreation) and everything to do with emotional compatibility.

Throughout this affair, the only genuine expression of tolerance has come from Brendan Eich. After his $1,000 contribution to traditional-marriage proponents was made public, Eich authored a post on his personal blog, pleading with people to extend him the same respect that he extends to them — to tolerate his personal views as he tolerates theirs.

Writing about his dual commitment to traditional marriage and to a welcoming workplace environment, Eich notes, “I challenge anyone to cite an incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully, because of a group affinity or individual identity. … [T]he donation does not itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. … Not only is insisting on ideological uniformity impractical, it is counterproductive. … I do not insist that anyone agree with me on a great many things. … I hope for the same in return.”

A week after he began his run as Mozilla CEO, Eich took to his personal blog again to reaffirm his commitment to diversity. In a post titled “Inclusiveness at Mozilla,” Eich writes, “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion. You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. …

“I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. … A number of Mozillians, including LGBT individuals and allies, have stepped forward to offer guidance and assistance in this. … I ask you for ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all.”

In his effort to quell the controversy before it began, Eich did more than was required of him, promising to make Mozilla one of the most welcoming and gay-friendly workplaces of any corporation by, among other things, strengthening Mozilla’s anti-discrimination policies, reaching out to the LGBT community, and offering health insurance to same-sex couples.

But this was not enough for the rabid defenders of the new-orthodoxy, who cannot countenance any objection to their libertinism. The same movement that resisted traditional norms has now asserted itself as a norm against which no resistance can be tolerated. No matter how many times Eich professed that he would separate his (personal) beliefs from Mozilla’s mission of promoting openness and opportunity on the web, gay-rights activists amped up the pressure until his resignation was assured.

Eich, a Mozilla co-founder and developer of the JavaScript programming language, was qualified to lead the organization. Rising to his defense a couple of weeks ago, Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s chairwoman, stated, “I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.”

In 2010, Baker insisted that diversity was a core value of the Mozilla Corporation: “Mozilla’s diversity is a success condition. … If we start to try to make ‘Mozilla’ mean ‘those people who share not only the Mozilla mission but also my general political/social/religious/environmental view,’ we will fail.”

Yet, in this case, diversity lost. Tolerance lost. Freedom was trampled by a cooperative effort of bullies who are seeking to eliminate all opposing viewpoints. A qualified CEO was cast out because he supports a view of marriage that was held almost unanimously until four years ago.

One of the many employees who criticized the election of Eich tweeted, “To me @Mozilla is about openness & expression of freedom. I hope to see us have leadership that represents those values in their actions.” Apparently, the irony of publicly endorsing freedom of expression and then expelling someone for freely expressing his beliefs is not evident to Mozilla employees.

Even vocal supporters of gay marriage are appalled that Eich was strong-armed out of his job because of personal views that had absolutely nothing to do with his qualifications.

Andrew Sullivan, a long-time same-sex marriage advocate, excoriated his fellow revolutionaries for brandishing a radicalism that undercuts tolerance and swipes away at freedom: “If this is the gay-rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out. … If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.” Sullivan laments, “What we’re talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor.”

The purpose of the campaign against Eich, which a New York Times author called “unseemly and disturbing,” was not necessarily to oust him but to reform him. Owen Thomas, managing editor of Valleywag, demanded that Eich follow these procedures in order to keep his job: “Say that you support the rights of people to enter into same-sex marriages everywhere. … [M]ake a donation equal in amount to the money you gave to Proposition 8 and candidates who supported it to the Human Rights Campaign or another organization that fights for the civil rights of LGBT people.”

Because Eich refused to recant his beliefs — because Eich refused to be rehabilitated — he resigned from his post.

Living together with people with whom we disagree is a key component of peaceful co-existence in a pluralist society. In this instance, the gay movement should remember the words President Obama spoke about the respect we ought to grant people who defend opposing positions: “I think it’s important to recognize that folks who feel very strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a woman … are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective. They’re coming at it because they care about families. … A bunch of them are friends of mine … pastors … and people who I deeply respect.”

Are Christians being hypocritical?

This whole scenario might remind readers of the pressure that conservative Christians put on World Vision to reverse their decision to hire gay Christians in same-sex marriages. The following question might be posed: If faith-based workplaces don’t hire people with a secular worldview, then why should secular workplaces tolerate people with a Christian worldview? But these two situations differ considerably.

A key feature of World Vision’s mission is their profession of faith in Christ and their commitment to follow his teachings, which are fairly clear regarding sexual morality. World Vision would be violating its mission by hiring someone who did not abide by that standard. [RELATED: World Vision Reverses Decision to Adopt Revisionist Definition of Marriage.]

Mozilla, on the other hand, values inclusion, openness, and diversity. While the executives at Mozilla — like the executives at Hobby Lobby — should have every right to follow their consciences and abide by their respective mission statements, Mozilla is obviously acting contrary to their stated values by punishing someone for expressing his views — views that have no bearing on web design. In the World Vision case, it could be argued quite persuasively that a Christian who willfully and persistently fails to adhere to Christ’s teachings would negatively impact a Christian humanitarian organization’s mission.

Mozilla can — and did — decide to encourage the resignation of a proponent of traditional marriage from a newly attained leadership position. But let’s be clear: That is not a move consistent with openness, inclusion, and diversity. The only hypocrisy here is on the side of the narrow-minded paladins of openness.

Biblical Insights

Christians differentiate themselves by loving their enemies and praying for those who disagree with them.

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Part of God’s promise to Noah, when he said he would never again send a flood to destroy the wicked, entailed that the righteous and the wicked would co-exist without facing immediate punishment from God. By averring that God sends rain on the just and the unjust alike, Jesus is implying that good and evil will not be separated until the harvest, when God judges everyone according to his deeds.

The public square and the secular workplace are made possible by this post-flood promise. Today, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists live without instantaneously provoking God’s wrath. The free flow of ideas engendered by such an arrangement is a both a prerequisite of truth-seeking and a product of God’s mercy.

Until God, the all-knowing judge, renders his verdict, we as followers of Christ are called to love those who disagree with us — even those who hate us. As difficult as it is to pray for our enemies, we are testifying to the grace of God when we do.

While the gay movement drifts into fits of intolerance and bouts of bitter rage, Christians can display true tolerance in the public square. Although we should redouble our efforts to promote traditional marriage and stand firmly on behalf of our beliefs — especially within the church, where Christians are expected to abide by a particular ethic — we do not have to demonize our opponents. Our defense of traditional marriage is not anti-gay, but pro-family, pro-faith, and pro-life. We uphold marriage as an image of Christ and the church. We extol marriage as a God-given institution that is the best means by which to raise children, to train them in virtue, and to prevent child poverty. Christians take this pro-family message into the public square, where we — like people holding other viewpoints — deserve a hearing.

The ethic of the gay movement is like that of Polemarchus in the Republic, a barbaric mindset that leads one to benefit friends and harm enemies. The Christian ethic is the polar opposite and is the very ground of liberty and tolerance in the public square. Only God can rightfully judge the soul of a person, the seat of his beliefs, thoughts, and intentions. When the gay movement lifts up its boot of oppression, perhaps it will recognize the imprint it has left is a despotic one that has curtailed the free exchange of ideas in the public marketplace.