When gay-bashing goes viral

Brad Loper AP Dale Robinson waves his flag for people driving by a rally of the Dallas LGBT Community to … Continued

Brad Loper

AP

Dale Robinson waves his flag for people driving by a rally of the Dallas LGBT Community to applaud President Obama’s stance on Gay marriage and in the Oaklawn neighborhood in Dallas, Texas Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Biblically justified hatred seems to me to be a circuitous, mean-spirited and fearful interpretation of Christianity’s main text.

But hello! This is America, home of free speech, religious liberty and sexual politics. And the contentious flaps we seem to adore that come from mixing religion, sex, and politics. Americans appear increasingly uninterested in publicly and respectfully acknowledging each other as individuals who – for myriad psychological, educational, and social reasons – hold vastly different religious views about sex with vastly different ramifications. And who have the right to do just that.

The national conversation about gay rights has been particularly strident recently, fueled by a biblically-based backlash to President Obama announced support of gay marriage. God has never been more screechingly partisan.

What I would call a particularly titillating example of hate speech credited to the Word of the Lord was reportedly delivered on Mother’s Day by Pastor Charles Worley, a Maiden, N.C., Baptist preacher, who suggested that someone “build a great big large fence, 50 or a hundred mile long. Put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can’t get out.” Pastor Worley then lobbed a clearly political statement from his tax-exempt pulpit: “I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover! You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You better believe I did!”

A video of Pastor Worley’s inflammatory (and illegal?) sermon when viral. We Americans love this stuff.

There is also recent sad video evidence of how carefully hatred of homosexuals is being taught in some churches. A video, shot at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana, treats us to a very young boy singing “The Bible is right, somebody’s wrong. Romans 1 and 27, ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven.”

Again, the video went viral; the response has reportedly included death threats against the pastor of the church.

These two are the conversational extremes – at least I hope they are. I took heart, recently, when a much more respectful acknowledgment of differing religious/sexual-political views took place during my public radio station’s (WMRA) talk show, Virginia Insight. The topic was “God and Politics.” The first two-thirds of the hour went along pretty much as you’d expect; liberal folks grappling with what to do when politicians advocate less-liberal, biblically-based stances.

Then, host Tom Graham put caller Ron from Augusta County on the air.

Ron: Yessir, I’d just like to comment that religion does play a very important part of who I vote for. I am a born again Christian, and values and morals are very important to me…

…TG: I don’t know if you heard it, Ron, but we heard some data earlier that there are people who have similar views on religion to yours who do not believe Barrack Obama is a Christian. Do you have a view on that?

Ron: My personal opinion would be absolutely not. And my stance on that is that he is for gay rights. And that is an abomination unto the Lord. He burnt Sodom and Gomorrah for that sin of sodomy. And if he was a true Christian, he would definitely be against that.

That was that. Ron had had his say; his biblically-justified homophobia was allowed air-time. There were no titillating, personal attacks. God was mentioned, but nobody was threatened, no voices were raised, nobody was disrespected for either their sexual orientation or their religious/political views.

The last I heard, that particular conversation had not gone viral.

The same American Constitution that separates church from state and allows no religious requirements for presidential candidates, also guarantees free speech. The tenor of that speech, however, is on us, the citizens of today. Why are we Americans so disinterested in civility when it comes to mixing God, sex and politics? Why did Pastor Worley’s video and the video of that sad little boy go viral? Have the manners and mores of reality TV taken over?

Martha’s note: This essay is a feature of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the Web site), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.

  • marcluxjd

    Is your point that people watching these videos is somehow wrong? Why aren’t you making the point that these episodes of church-based hate [not bible-based] is repulsive to civil society, and the speakers should be condemned for it?

  • joyoflife11

    Maybe because it is not as “repulsive to civil society” as you think. Let’s speak the truth for once. Many of us are REPULSED by expressions of homosexuality and the people so inclined. We feel our civil rights, not to mention our sense of decency, challenged by being forced to tolerate public behavior that we feel is obscene. I believe the author is pointing out just how current and important this issue is to the direction of our society and the choice of our leaders.

  • jay2drummer

    how exactly are your civil rights being challenged by what gays do in private? you still have all your rights. you’re just not allowed to take someone else’s away on the grounds that it makes you squeamish.

  • joyoflife11

    We are ONE NATION UNDER GOD. That has not changed. Now obviously we are not following God’s prescript for these people or we wouldn’t be talking about this. Even as corrupt and secular as we have become, there are some people and practices that we cannot and will not accept, support and tolerate within our society, even when done in private. Now you may disagree and that is where our political process comes into play. Well that political process is demonstrating that many people are deciding our next leaders on the basis of this issue. I will point out that many constituencies exist where the majority advocate recriminalizing homosexual behaviors so do not underestimate the power and angst behind this issue.

  • jay2drummer

    note it doesn’t say which god. the catholic god, the jewish god, the muslim god, one of the millions of other gods out there. never mind that that line was not part of the original pledge of allegiance, and was only added during the cold war to distinguish us from the communists. however, the document that governs our country and determines our laws states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In other words, you can do what you want in private, but you can’t make laws based on your religion.

  • myroro

    In the Indiana town where the boy sang that gays were not going to heaven, the police have stated that to their knowledge no death threats have been made against the loving Christians or their pastor. But don’t let facts spoil a good story.

  • SODDI

    They go viral because MILLIONS of people are sick and tired of christian hate speech. I heard christians speaking with this kind of vitriol against black Americans during the civil rights era. It hasn’t changed, just the targets.

    For some reason, christians need enemies they can persecute. In Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, it was the Jews.

  • joyoflife11

    Well it’s obviously time for that to change. We can and if we have grown so warped that we can no longer oppose abomination in our midst, we must.

  • joyoflife11

    One other point is worth mentioning. These battles are not about civility, morality, or ethics. The issue is strength. We weaken our society and encourage our enemies with every one of these so-called “progressive” moves. It’s takes a level of hardness, intolerance, belligerence, stoicism, and certainty on the part of the majority to effectively defend one’s country and one’s way-of-life. Acceptance of these “alternative lifestyles” directly attacks the heart of who we are and must be in order to stand against our enemies. Perhaps that is our real opposition to gays – not who they are but who they indicate WE are.

  • Karom

    I served my Country in the military and im Gay. And your comments and those of like minded bigots like yourself Offend me a Tax paying Ex-Military Gay American. And if you don’t like the move toward equality for all Americans, then I guess its time for you to Leave these United States. And like you said the issue is strength. And we are not backing down. The battle lines are drawn. LETS GO URAHHHHH!

  • Catken1

    Joyoflife, if you want a nation where you can regulate other people’s private lives according to your personal religious dogma, then found a theocracy. In America, religious freedom is a core value, and you attack the heart of what America is when you attack other people’s freedom.

    “Perhaps that is our real opposition to gays – not who they are but who they indicate WE are.”

    That is, a free people, strong enough to respect others’ rights to make choices even when we disapprove of them – as I respect your right to free speech even though I disapprove of the content and find it un-American, sinful, and abominable. If you don’t approve of that, you don’t belong in this country.

    And that’s not even going into the morality of declaring love and family “abomination” because they involve the wrong set of dangly bits, or the morality of hurting other people’s marriages, family and children because they didn’t abide by your religion’s taboos.

  • Catken1

    Also, to those of you moderates who argue that atheists and others are being ridiculous by criticizing the “one nation under God” addition to the Pledge, because it’s really only a meaningless phrase – now do you see our point? It feeds ammunition to those who want to argue that of COURSE America is a theocracy, and “religious freedom” really means “the freedom to submit to MY religious beliefs.”

  • arensb

    How is Biblically-inspired gay-bashing “circuitous”, when the Bible quite clearly looks down on gays, in both the old and new testaments, and even commands that gays be put to death?

    If you want to say we should ignore those parts of the Word of God because they’re clearly immoral, then good for you, and I support you. But at least be honest about it. Don’t pretend that the Bible is LGBT-friendly.

  • shidisurber

    We used to be ONE NATION – now we are divided because of this vile homophobia in the name of poor old Jesus to pander for votes.

    We can only hope President Romney will order NASA to build a huge spaceship so he and his Mormons can “hie to Kolob” where God lives and take his hateful neochristian Fox News base with him.

    A win-win for us all.

  • Calvin

    Pretty appalling that the pastor’s sermon and the resulting “death threats” are reported as “conversational extremes”– when there is absolutely zero evidence of any threats of violence against the pastor or his congregants whatsoever. The sheriff has confirmed that no threats have come in.

  • Joel Hardman

    Is Ron’s comment presented as the way intra- and inter-faith discussion should be conducted? I don’t think Ron’s comment is productive for a few reasons:

    1. Ron’s not just saying that this is his interpretation of the Bible, he’s saying that people who disagree aren’t even Christian! What sort of discussion can Ron have if he can’t even acknowledge that Christians could disagree with him? Combined with the fact that Ron’s reading of the Bible’s position on homosexuality is likely cribbed and shallow, this is a problem.

    2. I’m suspicious of the value of any argument for restricting others’ civil rights that doesn’t address the civil rights issue. So you think god doesn’t approve of homosexuality, Ron? Why should we give your religious beliefs the force of law?

    3. There’s something unbelievably insulting about an argument that someone isn’t entitled to the equal protection of the law for no better reason than that Ron thinks god said so.

  • Truthbetold3

    This highlights the difference between free speech and hate speech. The latter (used by the ‘pastor’) calls for harm/death to the victims.

    Jesus would weep.

  • Truthbetold3

    The Bible DOESN’T “clearly look down on gays”. If it WERE “clear”, there wouldn’t BE a debate. The Bible does condemn homosexual rape, homosexual lust, and homosexual temple/cult prostitution – which is NOT what we are discussing now, today, in America, some 3,000 years later.
    In addition to the “command” (actually, a regulation for priests of the Levite tribe) that you quote as “that gays be put to death”, the exact same book of the Bible says we are also to put non-virgin brides to death, disobedient children to death, and the victims of incest to death. Do YOU “want to say we should ignore those parts of the ‘Word o’ God’ (TM, all rights reserved)”? Or are YOU just another selective Biblical semi-literalist? At least be honest about it. Sure hope you don’t eat shrimp or lobster, ‘cuz yer BuyBull says that’s “an ABOMINATION unto your Lord”.

    Be healed.

  • dcrswm

    But we all know the jewish zombie religions are really the only true religions…….

  • dcrswm

    Ghandi~ “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” seems to fit now more than ever.

  • Karom

    Arensb show me the word Gay, homosexual in the Bible?! The story of Sodom was not homosexual. It was plain rape. The townspeople of Sodom were married. They wanted to dominate the angels. So in fact if your looking at it. it was heterosexual males that wanted to rape. You ignore the most important words Judge not lest ye be judged. you will be judged for your hate and bigotry. And if i look down from my place in heaven i will still ask GOD if he would find a place for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Karom

    you still cannot find homosexual or gay in the BIBLE can you I love ignorant people. THey may be dangerous but I still love them

  • Karom

    Ok Calvin whats your point? Is it that you think its ok for a man of God to say these things? Or you cant believe Americans would be offended by his hate filled words. I certainly would never have my children listen to that crap! And if my Minister ever started spewing that hate in front of my children, He would not be here to hear the birds song in the morning.

  • jay2drummer

    there is no reason to mock other people’s religious beliefs. it makes you no better than those who think their religious beliefs should be the law.

  • Calvin

    You didn’t understand my point.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    There are innumerable reasons to mock religious belief, the best one probably being the preservation of the human species.

  • jay2drummer

    people have the same right to their religious beliefs as you have to yours (whether your are atheism, christianity, judaism, islam, or any of the millions of other religious beliefs out there). unless they are trying to force their beliefs on you, then they deserve the same respect for their beliefs that you want for yours. there are many things science doesn’t explain. you may be comfortable with that fact, but some people aren’t, and for them, religion fills that void. the vast majority aren’t harming anyone, and as such, deserve basic respect of not having their beliefs belittled.

  • Joel Hardman

    Jay2drummer,

    Do you think it’s wrong to mock UFO believers or big foot believers? Why is religion in its own category?

  • dcrswm

    If you chose to base your life on a spooky ghost story expect to be ridiculed…simple as that.

  • jay2drummer

    A) Yes, I do think it’s wrong to mock them. B) The first amendment protects the right to practice your religion. C) Religion is not some spooky ghost story. Much of the bible was based on events that occurred, with exaggerations and misunderstandings woven in. Just because you don’t believe in what they do doesn’t make them inferior for believing in it.

  • dcrswm

    Is anyone telling them not to practice it? I must have missed that, they are free to believe that a jewish guy is the son of a magical sky wizard and he wants them to be christians (wouldn’t a jewish guy say “Be a good jew”?) But their right to believe in a ridiculous story does not also give them some made up right not to be rridiculed for that belief. As Joel asked, do you extend this same protection to people who belive in bigfoot? If not, why is believing in biogfoot worse than believing in a zombie lord?

  • jay2drummer

    i already answered that, but yes, i do extend the same respect for them. i may not agree with them, i may even think what they say sounds silly, but they have every right to believe in big foot or aliens, and so long as they aren’t trying to force me to agree with them, yes, they do deserve the basic respect of not being mocked or looked down on. after all, there is no evidence that aliens and big foot don’t exist, and while lack of evidence against may not mean as much to me as lack of evidence for, all people deserve basic respect.

  • Joel Hardman

    Jay2drummer,

    I’m advocating the prohibition of belief. We may be operating under a different definition of mocking.

    If mocking religion or big foot belief is wrong, then it’s because all mockery is wrong. I don’t see why anyone’s belief is above mockery. People deserve respect, but not all beliefs do. Do you think all beliefs are equally valid?

  • SODDI

    Karom didn’t even read what you posted.

    THE PASTOR LIED ABOUT THE DEATH THREATS. Southern baptists lie all the time.

  • Catken1

    I think arensb is NOT saying that the Bible or anyone else are justified in attacking gay people or their families. I believe s/he called that “cruel and stupid.”

  • Catken1

    Yes, but for the record, it’s Gandhi. If you respect the man, respect him enough to get his name right, please.

  • dcrswm

    My bad, Gandhi*

  • Trav

    The constitution doesn’t mention the seperation of Church and state, it simply prohibits the state from establishing an official religion. The comments mad by Pastor Worley certainly bring images of the Nazi agenda to rid themselves of a “plague”. But believing the act of homosexuality is wrong does not constitute hate speach. The bible is clear on homosexuality being wrong, however to burn anybody for the offence is to be left to God for the last days. We as christians should remind people that it is wrong but leave the consequences to God.

  • Madtown

    The bible is clear on homosexuality being wrong
    ———————
    Oh? That’s true for you, only because you interpret it that way. Show 10 people a line of biblical scripture, you typically get 10 interpretations. Besides, the bible contains the often edited words of imperfect men, not the “infallible” word of God. Man should not have the audacity to think he can speak on God’s behalf, and cast down judgement. Therefore, don’t “remind people it’s wrong”, because it’s not wrong! If it’s wrong, why does God continue to make people that way?

  • dcrswm

    If you think homosexuality is wrong I suggest you take it up with all of the heterosexuals having gay children…..

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