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Sat

13

Dec

2008

The Christian Right: Hysterical, in Both Senses of the Adjective
Saturday, 13 December 2008 19:52
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

The Protestant Christian Right (and their allies) are wring their collective hands and forecasting doom. Why? Because President-Elect Barack Obama is including gay people in his administration and has vowed to work toward equality for all Americans.

The chronically hysterical Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel and a frequently cited spokesman for the Protestant Christian Right, recently wailed to the Baptist Press, “I would consider him [Obama] to be the biggest threat to religious liberty we’ve ever had because he will push the homosexual agenda." Mr. Staver was commenting on one of the President-Elect’s statements:

While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.

– Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

Mr. Obama’s “we” refers to all Americans, but especially those who have been discriminated against by an oppressive majority. History is very clear. Ever since “Christianity” divorced itself from spirituality and became a socio-political institution – whether it be Catholic or Protestant – it has always been the oppressor. From the extermination of the Cathars through the Inquisition and on into the Salem witch hunts, from the Vatican’s silent consent of the slave trade, Pope Pius XII’s “complicity” in the holocaust, and the Protestants’ Bible-thumping support of segregation, opposition to interracial marriage and today’s campaigns against gays, self-appointed spokesmen for “Christianity” have always been victimizers and advocates of discrimination. The Vatican and the Church of Jesus Christ and Later-day Saints recently made that abundantly clear. More about that in a moment.

 

Staver invoked the battle cry of the Christian Right: defend against the dreaded “gay agenda.” What a farce: the victimizers’ pathetic attempt at self-justification and to cast themselves as victims. U.S. Representative Barney Frank expressed the so-called “gay agenda” very well at the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

On behalf of the Stonewall Democratic Federation, the national organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Democrats, I want to apologize to some people whose peace of mind we seem to be disturbing.

I want to apologize to the various self-proclaimed divine messengers who appear deeply troubled by a dark plot they label the “gay agenda.”

Troubled as I am by the prospect of these pious men denied a good night's sleep by their need to be eternally vigilant against us, I have decided to break the silence, decode the cryptogram, unravel the mystery, and tip our hand. We have an agenda, and we hope to achieve it through the Democratic Party.

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

We also believe that we – and all Americans – should enjoy full access to health care; that strong environmental protection is fully compatible with economic prosperity. We know that the free market is the best way to generate our national wealth; and that we need cooperation between the private and public sectors to be sure that we as a society and as individuals get the maximum benefit from the wealth by the quality of all our lives.

We are also convinced that America must not only remain the strongest nation in the world, but that our strength is magnified, not diminished, when we work with other nations and institutions for common goals.

Some of these things are especially important to us because we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. All are important to us as people.

Oppressors and victimizers hate idea of “quality for all.” Therefore it’s not surprising that when they perceive that they’re losing their privileged position and ability to encourage others to hate and discriminate, their rhetoric gets more perverted, more preposterous, and more toxic, as Hendrik Hertzberg noted in his article “Eight is Enough” in The New Yorker,

Like a polluted swamp, anti-gay bigotry is likely to get thicker and more toxic as it dries up. Viciousness meets viscousness. “Look,” Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, said the other day (on the air, to Bill O’Reilly), “I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence... I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact.” For diversity’s sake, he added that “the historic version of Islam” and “the historic version of Judaism” are likewise menaced – which is natural, given that gay, secular, fascist values are “the opposite of what you’re taught in Sunday school.”


This sort of sludge may or may not prove to be of some slight utility in the 2012 Republican primaries, but it is, increasingly, history.


Newt Gingrich’s gay sister had the most appropriate response to her brother when she spoke with Keith Olbermann. She began with, “I must say, after years of watching you [Newt] build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan – ‘There you go, again.” See and hear the rest of what she had to say, here.

You can view Mr. Obama’s equality agenda that Staver was whining about here. It includes Expand Hate Crimes Statutes, Fight Workplace Discrimination, Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples, Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage, Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, Expand Adoption Rights, Promote AIDS Prevention, Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS.

How is any of that a threat to “religious liberty”? Unless, of course, one is using “religious liberty” as a rhetorical cover for bigotry and discrimination. And speaking of bigotry and discrimination…

The “holy” Roman Catholic Church sponsored the Inquisition, sanctioned its use of torture and, more recently, covered up decades of child abuse by its priests… and then played victim.

The Vatican’s latest:

This week [December 1, 2008] the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, said the Holy See would oppose a resolution that would protect gays from being killed, just because they are gay, because it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination” and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.




The French resolution, scheduled to be proposed this week, recommends protecting Gays and Lesbians from being jailed or killed because of their sexual orientation and is being introduced to the UN on behalf of the European Union.

But Archbishop Celestino Migliore said, if adopted, the resolution would create “new and implacable discriminations," and also said that states which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an objects of pressure.

However, the French resolution, which is supported by all 27 members of the European Union, says absolutely nothing about gay marriage; it is about ending jail and death penalty sentences gays yet face in more than 85 countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen where you can still be killed for being gay.



An editorial in Italy’s mainstream La Stampa newspaper said the Vatican's reasoning was "grotesque." Another editorial in Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper said the Vatican's position "leaves one dumbstruck."
…

They have also said that the Vatican’s reasoning smacked of “total idiocy and madness” and what the Vatican really feared was a “chain reaction in favor of legally recognized homosexual unions in countries, like Italy, where there is currently no legislation.”


A Vatican spokesman said yesterday “no-one wants the death penalty or jail or fines for homosexuals” but defended Archbishop Migliore’s comments, adding that the Vatican was in the majority on the issue…

“The Vatican was in the majority on the issue.” Yes. The oppressor is, by definition, always “in the majority.” They’re usually leading it.

Have another look at the Vatican’s excuse for once again advocating oppression and discrimination: “the Holy See would oppose a resolution that would protect gays from being killed, just because they are gay, because it would ‘add new categories of those protected from discrimination’ and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.”

Beyond the obvious question – “Shouldn’t everyone be protected from ‘discrimination’?” – if you try to find any semblance of logic in the Holy See’s “thinking,” especially given the Vatican’s longstanding opposition to the death penalty (except when they were issuing it, of course), you’re brain will probably implode.

And then there’s the equally inert non sequitur statement that the U.N. resolution – which says absolutely nothing about marriage – “could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.” HOW? With all “due respect” – and little is due – to Archbishop Migliore and the Holy See, that’s a preposterous statement and an insult to every thinking human being on the planet. The Vatican and its henchmen have been twisting the truth – and Christianity – to suit their own socio-political purposes so long that perhaps they don’t realize that people in the twenty-first century as not as uninformed or as uneducated as those in the Middle Ages when the Church ruled with an iron, Inquisitional fist.

The Protestant Christian Right has been claiming to be victims for years and have now begun calling for protection form “hate crimes” even though they have passionately opposed all hate crime legislation. A November 20, 2008 article by Charlie Butts in Don Wildmon’s American Family Association OneNewsNow propaganda organ makes the point:

Gay activists engage in ‘hate crimes’ against Christians

Homosexual militants have been conducting legal demonstrations in opposition to Proposition 8’s victory in the election; however, one Christian believes the increased attacks and harassment of supporters of traditional marriage are illegal and should be treated as such. …

Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is calling on law enforcement to provide protection … “Had the same level of violence and rhetoric been directed toward homosexuals or their groups, there would be accusations of hate crimes,” he suggests. …

Wildmon’s American Family Association, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, and “Lucky Louie” Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition have vehemently argued against hate-crime legislation that included gay and lesbian Americans. Their partyline has always been all crimes should be treated equally, and that gay people don’t deserve “special protection” since, they argue, sexual orientation is a choice. Virtually all legitimate medical and scientific research strongly suggests homosexuality is not a choice. On the other hand, “religion” is clearly “a choice.” One can change religions on a daily basis. But now, those who chose to be Christian fundamentalists or Bible literalists and used their “religion” as a means to deny some American citizens equal civil rights want what they call “special protection” when it involves gay Americans. Hypocrisy 101.

The Mormon church is also now also claiming to be a victim. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently moaned that “the right of free expression of people of faith has come under attack.” The hypocrisy is glaring, as this writer noted:

When a church tries to legislative its religious views and turn them into laws that force others to abide by [their religious] beliefs, then they loose the ability to claim their “right of free expression of people of faith has come under attack” when people object to their strong arm methods.


It is simple: the Mormon Church can teach and tell its members to do what their faith requires. But when the Mormon Church – or any other Church – tries to compel others to live by [their] religious standards, then that church is fair game in the rough and tumble world of politics.


Individuals who use politics to impose their religious beliefs on others can fairly be opposed, and that opposition can include boycotts, demonstration and the like. You can’t make money off the LGBT community, work to make the LGBT people second class citizens and then expect the LGBT community to continue to support your business.


Odd that Elder Ballard never complained when his Evalngelical allies launched boycotts [against] companies that were “pro-gay.” …


It’s difficult to use the word “hypocrisy” and not immediately think of Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, or “Lucky Louie” as Jack Abramoff called him:

The Washington Post reported in October how Sheldon helped gambling interests who did business with Abramoff – and Sheldon. In 2000, eLottery, an Abramoff client, sent a $25,000 check to the Traditional Values Coalition, as per Abramoff's instruction. Then, the anti-gambling Sheldon lobbied enthusiastically against a bill to curb online gambling. At Casa Sheldon, grease is a traditional value.

Sheldon recently ranted that “Every state should ban adoption of children by unmarried couples – especially homosexual couples (married or not).” It’s not surprising that Lucky Louie couldn’t give a damn about what parentless children might want or need. After all, following the terrorist attacks of 9-11 Sheldon argued against giving aid to the surviving members of gay and lesbian partnerships, more than a few of whom were now single parents.

In his call to make even more children parentless, Sheldon cited the work of Dr. George Rekers, “one of the world’s foremost experts on sexual orientation and gender issues.” The ACLU’s “George Rekers Fact Sheet” exposes why Lucky Louie would claim Rekers was “one of the world’s foremost experts”:

Rekers is one of the founders of the Family Research Council, a notoriously anti-gay group.

Rekers relies on the discredited research of Paul Cameron, an anti-gay "researcher" who was kicked out of the American Psychological Association for misrepresenting the research regarding homosexuality.

Rekers has suggested that gays are unsuitable to serve as foster parents because they're at higher risk for AIDS and other sexually-transmitted disease, ignoring the fact that there is a physical examination required of all foster parent applicants in Arkansas that would weed out any applicants with health conditions that could jeopardize a foster child.

Rekers says that children are best served when raised by both a mother and a father, but doesn't favor excluding single heterosexual single women from fostering.

Rekers is an ordained minister in the southern Baptist convention. He has strong religious beliefs about homosexuality and the role of men and women, including the belief that married women should be submissive to their husband's leadership in the home.

Rekers practices "conversion therapy," the attempt to "cure" people of being gay.

Rekers has said he favors pulling children from long-term placements with gay foster parents if the opportunity arises to place them in homes headed by straight parents even though, as he acknowledges, research shows such transitions are traumatic for children.

“Rekers relies on the discredited research of Paul Cameron”:

At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.
Mark E. Pietrzyk, News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995.

Dr. Rekers is affiliated with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, one of the leading proponents of “ex-gay” (aka “reparative therapies)”:

Reparative therapy unnecessarily tampers with the mind


Reparative therapy, the psychotherapeutic process pioneered by Joseph Nicolosi and Charles Socarides [of NARTH], is widely condemned by the vast majority of mental health professionals, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association. In addition, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers and the Royal College of Nursing also have renounced it. . . .


But the harmful pseudo-science of “ex-gay therapies” is not enough for Sheldon. He suggests exorcisms: “Lou Sheldon suggested exorcism is necessary to ‘release’ a person from homosexual lifestyle.”


However Sheldon does have his supporters, especially in Florida which boasts the nation’s most discriminatory adoption laws:

A group of conservative preachers representing the Christian Coalition said they support removing adopted children of gay parents from stable homes…

The group, led by Rev. Paul Carbalho, [included] the leaders of three other churches including Nathaniel Wilcox, among the most vociferous anti-gay agitators in Miami-Dade County.

…

In support of their position, the conservative preachers upheld many of the same homophobic stereotypes that were refuted in the trial, including suggestions that gay people are likely to be pedophiles. …

Why are these “Christians” so willing to lie? As Kathryn Conroy, assistant dean of Columbia University’s School of Social Work, pointed out in a New York Times piece following the Vatican’s “gay priests” witch hunt,

What is forgotten in all of the hysteria about priest sexual abuse is that pedophilia is about a sexual attraction to children (most often, regardless of their sex) and about access. …


Reliable studies show that pedophiles (those adults who sexually abuse children) are overwhelmingly heterosexual. In fact, homosexuals are statistically underrepresented as those who sexually abuse children. …


Hendrik Hertzberg was indeed correct: “Like a polluted swamp, anti-gay bigotry is likely to get thicker and more toxic as it dries up.” Hysterical statements, fear-mongering, and overt bigotry exemplified by people such as Mat Staver, Newt Gingrich, Archbishop Migliore, Lou Sheldon, George Rekers, and Paul Cameron are testimony to that process. But an ever-increasing number of Americans have had enough of the hypocrisy, the malicious stereotypes, the hysteria of divisive politics, and bigotry hiding behind religion.

If you haven’t seen it, please do: Proposition 8: The Musical.

Some have criticized it because at the end of the video, Proposition 8 supporters “give up their religious objections when they learn they can make money from gay weddings.” To be sure, there are those who have “religious objections” to marriage equality, but then again, those “religious objections” are based on selective reading of the Bible, as Proposition 8: The Musical points out, yet again.

Aside from the fact that Lucky Louie Sheldon certainly seems to have “ignored” his faith-based objection to on-line gambling when he accepted and didn’t publicly return – with the self-aggrandizing fanfare he used so often in the past – the donation from an Abramoff gambling client, similar faith-based organizations have been using “save traditional marriage” as a fund-raising windfall for years.

Organized religion has always been a business. It sells “redemption” and “salvation,” as long as you do what you’re told to do by its spokesmen. It also keeps those spokesmen living in the lap of luxury. The Vatican is a monument to that.

So let’s not confuse “spirituality” that would inexorably lead one to want everyone to have the same civil rights and the same chance at happiness, with the socio-political institution of “religion” that’s predicated upon an US vs. THEM mentality and, therefore, needs someone to condemn… and raises fund to help publicize and carry out that condemnation in the real world. The latest incarnation: Proposition 8.
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