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Fri

26

Dec

2008

The Infamous Among Us: Part II
Friday, 26 December 2008 12:31
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Part I is located here.

Fifties pop music icon Pat Boone began his December 6, 2008 World Net Daily article “Hate is hate, in India or America” with the folksy jargon James Dobson made so popular: “Pretty rotten thing that happened in Mumbai, huh?” But he wasn’t writing about the tragedy in India. He was just using it to set up his attack on gay Americans:

Are you unaware of the raging demonstrations in our streets, in front of our churches and synagogues, even spilling into these places of worship, and many of these riots turning defamatory and violent? Have you not seen the angry distorted faces of the rioters, seen their derogatory and threatening placards and signs, heard their vows to overturn the democratically expressed views of voters, no matter what it costs, no matter what was expressed at the polls? Twice?

I refer to California's Proposition 8. You haven’t heard about the well-oiled campaign to find out the names of every voter and business that contributed as much as $1,000, or even much less, in support of Prop 8? You haven't heard about the announced plans to boycott, demonstrate, intimidate and threaten each one – because they dared to vote to retain marriage as between one man and one woman? You haven't seen, on the evening news, prominent entertainers and even California Gov. Schwarzenegger, urging the demonstrators on, telling them they should "never give up" until they get their way?

Take a deep breath, Mr. Boone, and try reading something other than the hysterical yellow journalism World Net Daily is so famous for.

“Raging demonstrations”? By virtually all accounts the overwhelming majority of demonstrations immediately following Prop 8’s passage were spontaneous, filled with camaraderie and positive energy. Since I can only assume you were not present at any of the demonstrations, perhaps you should read the account of someone who was, such as Shahan Sanossian’s “A Post-Election Letter to Friends and Family.” And you might want to have a look at this latest “riotous” protest against the civil discrimination Prop 8 represents.


“The angry distorted faces of the rioters.” Rioters? Really, Mr. Boone, dishonesty is so unbecoming for one who claims to be a “Christian.”

Yes, there were no doubt some “angry faces” in the crowds. Do you think it’s unreasonable that American citizens just stripped of an existing civil right just might be a tad angry? Do you think it’s unreasonable that people might be angry if the campaign that resulted in their being stripped of an existing civil right was based on lies, distortions, and unfounded scare tactics?

“The well-oiled campaign to find out the names of every voter and business that contributed as much as $1,000, or even much less, in support of Prop 8.” You haven't heard about the announced plans to boycott…” Let’s begin with “well-oiled campaign” misrepresentation. The Yes on 8 campaign was well-oiled, “greased” on might say, by the $20,000,000 from the Mormons and the other mega-contributions from organized religion and its minions:

$1,300,000 from the Knights of Columbus (plus “priceless” pulpit politicking by Catholic priests)


$622,000 in monetary and non-monetary contributions from James Dobson’s Focus on the Family


$785,750 from the National Organization for Marriage


$500,000 from Don Wildmon’s American Family Association


“To find out the names of every …” That’s largely been public knowledge, and did you forget the threat issued by the “Yes on 8” campaign?

Yes on 8 Folk Threaten No on 8 Donors

Fri Oct 24, 2008

Here’s a new way to get campaign donors in a tight race: contact the opposition’s supporters and threaten that they donate the same amount to you or else.

That’s exactly what the Yes on 8 campaign did this week in a letter to a San Diego realtor who had donated to the LGBT civil rights non-profit Equality California. The letter, signed by the Yes on 8 campaign chairman Ron Prentice reads, “If you were to elect not to donate comparably it would be a clear indication you are in opposition to traditional marriage. The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”

The No on 8 campaign is calling it a brazen intimidation tactic for supporters of LGBT rights.

“These are businesses that donated to Equality California that are being targeted in what certainly smacks of a small time extortion campaign,” says National Center for Lesbian Rights Director Kate Kendell. “As we talk to colleagues that have been involved in political campaigns, even some rough and tumble ones, they've never seen these tactics used so brazenly, an actual letter threatening due harm to corporations signed by a campaign executive committee.”

Additional details and the names of those who sent the letter were provided in an October 23, 2008 report by Lisa Leff of the Associated Press:

Calif. gay marriage ban backers target businesses

Leaders of the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California are warning businesses that have given money to the state's largest gay rights group they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too. …

“Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error,” reads the letter. “Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”

The letter was signed by four members of the group’s executive committee: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of [sic] Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com. A donation form was attached. …

And then, of course, there’s the irrefutable fact that Don Wildmon and his American Family Association have launched boycotts against several companies that supported civil equality for all citizens. Disney, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Company, Hallmark, and McDonald’s have all been targets of Wildmon-led boycotts. AFA’s latest targets are PepsiCo and Campbell Soup. The latter drew the wrath of Wildmon because:

In the December, 2008 and January, 2009 issues, Campbell Soup Company bought two, two-page advertisements in the latest issues of the nation’s largest homosexual magazine, “The Advocate.” The ads promote their Swanson line of broth.




In one of the December ads, the Campbell Soup Company highlighted the lives of two lesbians with their son. The others feature New York City chefs. See the ads here.



Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. …

Aside from the fact that target-marketing is a common practice, what kind of “man,” what kind of “Christian” would deny that legally married parents and their child do not constitute a family? If ever there was an example of raw hatred and seething bigotry hiding behind religion, it’s Don Wildmon and his grotesquely misnamed American “Family” Association.

Of course, Wildmon ended his vindictive Action Alert with “would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?”

When the Christian Right boycotts and blacklists companies it’s “justified,” but when others do the same it’s not. Can there be any more precise definition of “hypocrisy”? Or perhaps that should be spelled “hypocri$y:”

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which watches extremist groups and began watching conservative Christian advocacy groups like the AFA [Don Wildmon’s American Family Associaton] after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nation’s sodomy laws, said the AFA’s media savvy in targeting well-known corporations and TV shows is simply a way to raise money.

“Boycotts like theirs do chase some advertisers away, but they are replaced by other advertisers,” Potok said. “But it helps them raise money.” …

Rob Boston’s article “The Top Ten Power Brokers of the Religious Right” appeared in Church & State magazine in early November 2008. It relied “on Internal Revenue Service Form 990, a document that most 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups are required to file” for budgetary data:

American Family Association

Founder and Chairman: The Rev. Donald Wildmon

2007 Revenue: $22,547,087

Mr. Boone made other befuddling statements in his article:

Every homosexual citizen has the same, identical rights as any other American. The Constitution says nothing about marriage, and shouldn’t. Marriage is not a governmental creation; it is a time honored and biblically ordained institution that is subject not to the government but to the will of the people. …


Every homosexual citizen has the same, identical rights as any other American.” Did Mr. Boone miss the wording and intent of Prop 8: “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.” Landlords and employers can – and do – still legally discriminate against gay people. Four landlords in Allentown, Pennsylvania refused to rent to gays, thereby violating an Allentown anti-discrimination ordinance. They were sued. But a section of Pennsylvania’s Home Rule Act, which includes Allentown, prevented the city from requiring businesses and employers not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender, so the landlords won the case. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have made it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or fail to promote an employee because of the person’s real or perceived sexual orientation, was meant to address the fact that gay Americans do not have equal civil rights or equal protection against discrimination.

Mr. Boone was correct about one thing: “The Constitution says nothing about marriage, and shouldn’t.” So why then are people who share Mr. Boone’s views about marriage pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage equality?

“Marriage is not a governmental creation; it is a time honored and biblically ordained institution that is subject not to the government but to the will of the people.” This statement defies reason as well as history. The civil institution of marriage existed long before the texts subsequently compiled as “the Bible” were written.


If the institution of marriage is not “subject … to the government,” why are marriage licenses issued by the state? And if, as Mr. Boone asserted, marriage is “biblically ordained,” and biblical marriages were often polygamous and/or included girls as young as 13, why do states have laws regulating how many spouses one can have and at what age one can legally marry?

Mr. Boone’s confused and confusing understanding history and logic continued when he asserted, “In America, at least the America we’ve known till now, rights are earned and won in a deliberative, legal way – at the polls.” In relation to the civil institution called “marriage,” the clearest example to refute this and his previous statements is Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that struck down all laws banning interracial marriage, laws that were, by the way, based and upheld on the basis of so-called “biblical views”:

In June 1958, two residents of Virginia, Mildred Jeter, a Negro woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in the District of Columbia pursuant to its laws. Shortly after their marriage, the Lovings returned to Virginia and established their marital abode in Caroline County. At the October Term, 1958, of the Circuit Court of Caroline County, a grand jury issued an indictment charging the Lovings with violating Virginia's ban on interracial marriages. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty to the charge and were sentenced to one year in jail; however, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years. He stated in an opinion that:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”


Mr. Boone ended his comments with a truly absurd assertion: “What troubles me so deeply, and should trouble all thinking Americans, is that there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists.”

Aside from the fact Mr. Besen pointed out – “it was religious extremism that was responsible for the attacks in India” – what Mr. Boone also failed to understand is that “thinking Americans” actually think, which is precisely why his “unbroken line” allegation gave new meaning to “lead balloon.” What thinking Americans are seeing and understanding when they read articles and allegations such as Mr. Boone’s is that “homegrown” religious fanatics have become desperate and are willing to twist history, distort facts, employ specious reasoning and, ultimately, play victim when, in fact, they are the victimizers.

Did the Church of Jesus Christ and Later-day Saints really think it could pour $20,000,000 plus hordes of “volunteer” into a campaign to remove an existing civil right from some Americans and not face a backlash?

Did the Roman Catholic Church – that sponsored the Inquisition, sanctioned its use of torture and, more recently, covered up decades of child abuse by its priests and then played victim – really think it wouldn’t be condemned for hypocrisy when, despite it long standing opposition to the death penalty, the Holy See objected to the United Nations’ resolution condemning the death penalty… because the resolution included gays and lesbians being condemned to death just because of their sexuality?

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. …




“Shouldn’t everyone be protected from discrimination?” The Vatican claimed the U.N. resolution – which says absolutely nothing about marriage – “could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.” HOW? With all “due respect” to the “Holy See” – and little is due – that’s a preposterous statement and an insult as great as the pope celebrating “Human Rights Day”?

In his attack on gay Americans Mr. Boone condemned what he called their “irresponsible, blindly selfish goals.” Did he mean the goals of civil equality and fair treatment for all citizens? Perhaps he meant the goals of being treated as equals and as human beings of worth whose commitment to a partner and their family matters?

It’s anyone guess what Mr. Boone meant by “sexual jihadists.” Throwing around words in order to incite hatred of fellow Americans seems to be the modus operandi. Mr. Boone clearly has no idea – or knowledge – of the various types of jihad delineated in the Qur’an, but chose instead to use the perverted meaning given to the term by theopolitical fanatics.

And now, back to Mr. Colson and some of his other hate-mongering “Christian” pronouncements:

To Colson, marriage equality was among the greatest dangers facing our nation because, in his view, it ended up playing into the hands of Islamic terrorists who wished to destroy America. Believing that “Islam is a vicious evil,” Colson warned back in 2004 that the Senate’s failure to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment would only end up endangering the lives of American citizens:

“We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let’s acknowledge that America’s increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. …

“Radical Islamists were surely watching in July when the Senate voted on procedural grounds to do away with the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America’s decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.”

Play one religion against another. Play one American against another. Inspire hate and fear. Watergate Colson has an excellent resume for doing just that. What was that analysis? “As special counsel to the president, he was Richard Nixon’s hard man, the ‘evil genius’ of an evil administration.” The George W. Bush administration certainly qualifies as “an evil administration,” hence the Citizen Medal for Charles Colson.

Why does Mr. Colson advocate “privately run prisons and the delivery of all social services by faith-based groups”?

Recruitment, plain and simple. The tactic is a familiar one in evangelical circles. The late D. James Kennedy, a patriarch of the dominionist Christian Right, ran a five-day seminar titled “Evangelism Explosion.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author (and graduate of Harvard Divinity School) Chris Hedges attended Kennedy’s seminars and wrote about what he experienced and learned in his 2006 bestseller American fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America:

The flight into the arms of the Christian Right, into blind acceptance of a holy cause, compensates for converts’ despair and lack of faith in themselves. And the more corrupt and soiled they feel, the more profound the despair, the more militant they become, shouting, organizing and agitating to create a pure and sanctified Christian nation. … Many yearn to be deceived and directed. It makes life easier to bear.

The most susceptible people, we are told in the seminar, are those in crisis… We are encouraged to target the vulnerable.

To be sure, there are those imprisoned who do change their lives and go on to contribute meaningfully to society and the human experience. They deserve everyone’s respect and encouragement. But using jaundiced, politicized religion to prey on the vulnerable is contemptible, just as contemptible as Colson’s signature on the No Mob Veto ad in The New York Times.

Bible-thumpers and those who use “religion” to separate Divinity from everything human and advance their own self-aggrandizing divisive agendas really need to read the article by Susan K. Smith, Senior pastor, Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio:

There is such a divide, I think, between God and religion.

That is an ironic statement, because religion has taught us about God: it has taught us that God is good. God is loving, and kind and merciful and forgiving. We were taught as children that God created everyone, and loves everyone. That was good news, indeed.

But somewhere along the line, religion decided to put itself ahead of God and the principles of God it, religion, had taught us. When that separation occurred, humans took the place of God and began to make human decisions, but attributing them to God.

And so for too long, too many people, too many groups, have been marginalized and scorned, in the name of God and in the name of the Bible, which, again, we humans seem to have “fixed up” for God.

In the fray of Biblical interpretation has been the whole subject of sexuality and marriage. Gay people have been said to be Biblically-pronounced abominations to God, and gay marriage an affront to Biblical intent.

Poppycock. …

It all comes down to a basic question: “Why?”

Why are the Church of Jesus Christ and Later-day Saints, the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical leaders like Rick Warren and all their brethren at theo-political organizations such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family (2006 Revenue: $156,972,266), Don Wildmon’s American Family Association, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council (2007 Revenue: $11,783,971), “Lucky Louie” Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition, and their media pundits spending so much money and so much time to prevent monogamous couples in a very small minority from having their unions socially and legally recognized?

They claim they’re “protecting” the institution of marriage by excluding couples that believe in it from participating in it. Does that make any sense? Some of their other major lies were again highlighted after President-elect Obama selected Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration ceremony. Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way, pointed them out in her CNN Commentary:

Warren also campaigned for Proposition 8, the initiative that stripped same-sex couples in California of their right under the state constitution to get legally married. But it’s not just his support for Prop. 8 that is so galling to equality activists.

It’s that Warren, in an interview with Beliefnet.com, has since equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia.

And he has repeated one of the Religious Right’s big lies: that somehow allowing marriage equality to stand would have threatened the freedom of preachers like him to say what they thought about homosexuality. That’s not remotely true, but it’s a standard tool of Religious Right leaders trying to resist the public’s increasing support for equality.

They claim they’re being faithful to a “Biblical view of marriage,” but as Lisa Miller’s Newsweek cover story pointed out, yet again,

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel – all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments – especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple – who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love – turn to the Bible as a how-to script?


Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.

The religious opponents of marriage equality claim “God” decreed homosexuality is an abomination, but that same “God” decreed many things were an abomination: eating shellfish, wearing clothing made of two different threads, and working on the Sabbath. So why aren’t “the righteous” trying to shut down industries that produce those food and clothing products, as well as hospitals, police and fire departments, retail outlets and, of course, preachers who work – and work on – the Sabbath?

That’s Old Testament stuff, some would answer, as they then quote Paul in Romans 1:26-27. But Paul also decreed in First Timothy “suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” So why aren’t “Christians” crusading to have women put back in their Biblically-ordained “rightful” place?

Could it be that all these “Christian” organizations and their self-righteous leaders just need someone to hate, someone to condemn, someone to put down in order to fulfill some pathological need they have and are then just using concocted religious dogma to justify their actions? As Professor James H. Leuba of Bryn Mawr College wrote, in the 19th century, “The truth of the matter can be put this way: God is not known, he is not understood; he is used….” And used in the most ungodly ways by those who claim to speak for Divinity and know Its will: something that in and of itself seems the ultimate blasphemy.

Could it also be that fighting the so-called “gay agenda” is just the latest gimmick the self-proclaimed speakers for “God” use to raise money… for themselves and their profitable non-profit organizations?

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