The Harmful Rhetoric of “Normalizing Sin” Against Marginalized Communities in Media

In a commercial for TurboTax Live 2023 that features a person who is free to do “not taxes” after meeting with a TurboTax expert who will do his taxes for him, several scenes flash by with people doing many activities. The sets vary with images such as playing a guitar, painting, getting tattoos, and two men walking down the aisle in a same-sex wedding.

In 20203, these may all seem like everyday, ordinary things, except if you happen to be part of religious conservative Christian groups like “One Million Moms,” an offshoot of the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group “American Family Association.” OMM (One Million Moms) and AFA (American Family Association) have started a petition vowing to not use TurboTax’s services because of the “LGBTQ agenda” they are “forcing on families” and that TurboTax is purportedly “normalizing sin” and “using public airwaves to subject families to the decay of morals and values.” They add soundbites like “belittling the sanctity of marriage” and attempting to “redefine family.”

Using the term “normalizing sin” to describe the representation of marginalized communities in media and popular culture is not only offensive but also deeply misguided. Despite claims that these portrayals are promoting “sinful” behavior, the truth is that they are providing much-needed representation for groups that have been historically excluded from mainstream society.

The term “normalizing sin” has gained traction in conservative circles, particularly among religious groups that view any deviation from traditional gender roles or sexual norms as morally objectionable. According to this view, media that depicts LGBTQ+ characters or non-traditional family structures is not only immoral but also dangerous, as it may lead to an erosion of traditional values and the breakdown of society.

However, this argument is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to provide representation for marginalized communities. For many people, seeing themselves reflected in media and popular culture is a powerful form of validation and empowerment. It tells them they are not alone, that their experiences are valid, and that their voices matter.

Furthermore, the idea that the representation of marginalized communities somehow promotes sinful behavior is not only baseless but also deeply insulting. It implies that these communities are inherently immoral and that any attempt to recognize their humanity threatens society’s moral fabric.

In reality, the exclusion and marginalization of these communities are truly damaging. By denying them representation, we deny them the status of full and equal members of society. We are telling them that their identities and experiences are not worthy of acknowledgment and that they should be ashamed of who they are.

It is worth noting that the term “normalizing sin” has been used to attack a wide range of minority groups, from the LGBTQ+ community to racial and ethnic minorities. In each case, the underlying message is the same: any attempt to acknowledge the humanity and dignity of these groups is a threat to traditional values and social order.

But the truth is that these groups are not a threat to anyone. They are simply asking to be recognized and respected for who they are. And by denying them representation and attacking their attempts to gain visibility, we are only perpetuating the injustices inflicted on them for generations.

In conclusion, using the term “normalizing sin” to attack the representation of marginalized communities is not only offensive but also deeply misguided. It perpetuates the exclusion and
marginalization of groups already suffering too much. It is time to reject this harmful rhetoric and embrace a more inclusive and compassionate vision of society.

For the record, I will be happily using TurboTax for my taxes this year.