Witches were a big problem back in the old days. They were everywhere. Throughout the Middle Ages and in Early Modern Europe, witches were nothing but trouble. Some of your cattle have died? Witches. Problems with your well? Witches. Political unrest? Social problems? People acting up and not behaving the way they should? You’ve got witches! The problem was not confined to Europe. It occurred in the colonies, as well. A witch hunt in New England from 1648 to 1663 resulted in the successful executions of 13 women and two men. During the famous Salem witch trials of 1692, 140 people were accused of witchcraft, 19 witches were hanged, one was pressed to death under rocks, and as many as 13 died in prison.
Were the people who were charged, imprisoned and executed guilty of the satanic shennanigans of which they were accused? Of course not. These were people who simply had been accused of being witches by people who were superstitious, vengeful, paranoid, mentally ill, mean and hateful, or just didn’t like them — or all of the above. “Witch” was a catch-all accusation that could not be refuted. How do you prove that you’re not a witch? More importantly, why the hell should you have to? The accused who immediately confessed to witchcraft and succumbed to the religious and political authorities — which were pretty much the same thing — had a good chance of surviving if they were properly repentant. But those who adamantly denied being witches and insisted they had rights … well, those folks were screwed. The people who were out to punish witches in Salem were, of course, not on speaking terms with the facts. Or with reality.
Many people think the days of witch hunts are behind us. They are mistaken. Oh, we don’t call them witch hunts anymore because here in the United States, nobody thinks witches are a widespread problem. I’m not saying people don’t still believe in the kind of witches who cast spells and cavort with Satan, because many do. There’s even a candidate for the United States Senate who has felt the need to assure Americans that she is not a witch. That’s because there are still a lot of people who are not on speaking terms with the facts. Or with reality. People like that need people to hate, to punish. They need people to bully. In the Year of Our Spaghetti Monster 2010, we’ve got no shortage of bullies.
17-year-old Eric Mohat of Mentor, Ohio, was a quiet, sensitive, funny boy who played the piano, was involved in theater and enjoyed Harry Potter books, video games and anime. Throughout high school, Eric was bullied without mercy by other kids who called him “fag,” “queer,” “gay” and “homo.” His mother said he had never identified himself as gay, but he was smart, into music and theater and wore bright clothes. The bullies at school added all that together and came up with “gay.” He complained to teachers, who would change the seating arrangement in class to get him away from the bullies, but nothing more. As a result, Eric was bullied even more for being a snitch. The school’s attitude, according to Eric’s mother, was “they are just being kids, boys are just being boys.”
Most of the bullying took place in math class. The teacher was also an athletic coach and he did nothing to protect Eric or stop the bullying. According to Eric’s mother, other students said that his class was “hell on earth.” When she offered to get involved, Eric said, “No, it’s under control.” But it wasn’t. One day, Eric said to his mother, “I get picked on every day and I’ve got a whole nine weeks left. I can’t do this anymore.” A few days later on March 29, 2007, one of those bullies, openly in class, said, “Why don’t you just go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you.” And that was what Eric did.
That same year at Mentor high school, three other students committed suicide. According to a counselor at a suicide support group where the parents of two of those students sought counseling, bullying played a large role in those deaths, as well.
School officials were reluctant to cooperate with the investigation that followed Eric’s death and discouraged students from doing so. According to them, there was no bullying at Mentor High School. Communications director for the Mentor Public School District Justin Maynor told ABC News, “We don’t believe it’s a problem. We have a program of anti-bullying education to raise awareness for students about what constitutes bullying and differences among students.” Mentor had implemented the Olweus anti-bullying program. But Olweus was designed for elementary and middleschool children. The bullies remained unremorseful and school officials unhelpful and unwilling to take responsibility for or even acknowledge a problem at their school. So the Mohats filed a lawsuit in federal court to hold the school responsible.
This is just one story. They are endless.
13-year-old Asher Brown was picked on relentlessly by kids who called him “gay” and even tormented him with mock sex acts in P.E. class. He was bullied because he was small, didn’t dress the way other students thought he should, and because his family was religious. His parents complained to Hamilton Middle School about the constant bullying, but nothing was done. Asher shot himself in the head on September 23 of this year. The morning of his death, he admitted to his stepfather, David Truong, that he was gay. Truong said he had no problem with the admission and added, “We didn’t condemn.”
For three months, Massachusetts teenager Phoebe Prince endured a merciless campaign of humiliation, threats of harm and physical assaults from other students at South Hadley High School – much of which took place in the presence of faculty members who did nothing – until, on January 14, she was found hanging in the stairway leading to her family’s apartment.
Just last week, a 14-year-old boy was brutally beaten on a school bus in Mineola, New York, by three teenage boys who believed him to be gay. The teenagers slapped, punched, kicked and stomped the boy while uttering sexual slurs. All three boys have been arrested and charged with a felony hate crime.
The stories go on and on. And on and on and on. Bullying certainly isn’t new. Some see it as a rite of passage. The school bully is an archetype in literature in film, which usually tell us that all we have to do to vanquish him is to stand up to him. If only life were that simple.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 20% of high school students reported being bullied in 2009. In a review of research from 13 countries published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found an apparent link between bullying and suicide. Almost all of the 37 studies examined showed connections between bullying and suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents. Five revealed that victims of bullying were two to nine times more likely than other children to report suicidal thoughts.
Children are bullied for a wide variety of reasons — physical appearance, clothes, weight, speech impediments, ethnicity, religion, or just for being different, for not quite fitting the norm. For not conforming. But a recurring theme can be found in the cases of severe bullying that have been in the news so much in recent years, many of which have resulted in the suicide of the victims. So many of them have, in one way or another, involved vicious hostility toward gay people. Children have been targeted with gay slurs whether they’re gay or not, some because they have gay parents.
This subject has received a great deal of attention lately. That’s good — it should, because young people are dying. They are being so deeply hurt and their lives are being made so miserable that they are killing themselves. If that doesn’t deserve attention, nothing does.
A wide variety of anti-bullying programs have been developed to educate students, parents and teachers about what constitutes bullying and how harmful it can be. They are designed for specific age groups and there are enough different programs to cover all needs. So many teenagers have killed themselves due to constant bullying that 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. I think it’s safe to say that these are very good ideas, don’t you? I mean, surely there’s no one out there who would be opposed to efforts to stop bullying and to end the destructive victimization of children and teenagers. Right? Well … right?
Wrong. In an effort to prove, once again, that they’ve never met the wrong side of an issue they didn’t like, some Christians groups are objecting to anti-bullying efforts. That’s right — they think discouraging bullying is a bad idea, that it’s somehow … anti-Christian.
When anti-bullying legislation was proposed in Minnesota recently, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer opposed it. His explanation?
“I don’t think we need more laws. I think we need more understanding. We need people to start to understand what respect is all about. Guess what? Every one of us has a point of view. We are supposed to respect each other’s point of view, and we are not supposed to tell because they have a different point of view that they are not entitled to have that. We should all be able to have the point of view and respect each other but we don’t need more laws trying to get in between people.”
That might seem familiar to those of you who regularly read my posts. Tom Emmer is a friend and supporter of Bradlee Dean, who heads up You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, a group that uses stealth tactics to get into public schools posing as a punk rock band that addresses issues like drugs and suicide, and then evanglizes to their captive audiences of public school students. Earlier this year, Dean said this on his radio show:
“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination. If America won’t enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that. That is what you are seeing in America.”
When it was revealed that Emmer was not only a friend of Dean’s who visited his home, but a financial supporter of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, International, Emmer was asked what he thought of Dean’s support for the idea of executing homosexuals. This was Emmer’s response:
“These are nice people. Are we going to agree on everything? No … I really appreciate their passion and you know what, I respect their point of view. I respect their right to have whatever view. That’s what makes it a great country. You don’t have to agree with it.”
Well, if executing homosexuals for being homosexuals is nothing more than a “view” that Tom Emmer respects, then it’s not too surprising that children being bullied to death is just another “view” that he respects.
According to the powerful Christian hate group Focus on the Family, gay activists are using tolerance to promote homosexuality to children. From a September 1, 2010 ABC News article:
Focus on the Family has accused gay-rights groups of using tolerance and anti-bullying programs to introduce curricula and books into schools that promote political aims such as same-sex marriage. The same groups, it says, lobby for gays and other minority groups to be specifically mentioned in anti-bullying legislation and try to depict Christians opposed to such treatment as bigots.
Does anyone really need to “depict Christians opposed to such treatment as bigots?” It looks like Christians are doing all that work themselves. In the article, Focus on the Family complained, “Schools are only allowed to provide one message about homosexuality; that it’s normal and should be embraced.”
Well, we can’t have that! Because, as we all know, the eleventh commandment is “Thou shalt not tolerate,” and Jesus said, “Suffer the children to come unto me so that I may torment the ones who don’t conform!”
Focus on the Family recently launched a website called TrueTolerance.org that addresses what it calls “homosexual advocacy in schools” and offers to teach Christian parents how to “respond in a loving and fact-based way.” In an article on the website titled “Parents Beware,” Focus on the Family “education analyst” –
I’ll pause a moment so you can laugh. Go ahead. Get it out of your system.
– Candi Cushman, writes about the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and how a parent named Tammy Schulz discovered a sinister conspiracy behind it:
“Safe schools” and “welcoming” sounded nice. But when Schulz did a little research on the internet, she didn’t like what she saw. It turned out that the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance had strong ties to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight education Network) – a national homosexual activist group dedicated to promoting homosexuality to public school kids all the way down to the kindergarten level.
Targeting schools has always been a high priority of homosexual activist groups. It’s not even something they’ve tried to hide – “we recognize that schools are ‘ground zero’ in our efforts,” proclaims the website for PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
The article also claims that
gay activists realize that if they can capture the hearts and minds of the next generation, they will, for all practical purposes, have won the culture war. Problem is, they still find their agenda being blocked by a formidable force – parents and people of faith who don’t want their taxpayer-funded schools transformed into indoctrination centers.
It’s difficult to know where to start in pointing out what’s wrong with this. First of all, these “parents and people of faith” have no problem at all with the idea of “taxpayer-funded schools” being transformed into Christian indoctrination centers, which is one of Focus on the Family’s primary goals, one of the reasons it exists. They support stealth evangelism in public schools, work to put prayer in public schools, and have managed to have Christian sexual restrictions taught in public schools under the guise of “abstinence only before marriage sex education” — all of which is in violation of the Constitution, but goes on every day. If you don’t like that, they don’t care. But they are angry because they claim “taxpayer-funded schools” are being transformed into homosexual indoctrination centers — which is not happening!
What this article claims is going on — that these programs are “promoting homosexuality to public school kids all the way down to the kindergarten level” and that the schools will introduce “mandatory homosexuality lessons” — simply is not true. What Christians call “promoting homosexuality” and “homosexuality lessons” are actually attempts to raise the awareness of students about what constitutes bullying and the damage bullying does. Bullying is always wrong, of course, no matter who is bullied or why. But the fact is that much of this bullying targets gay teens and the children of gay parents, or children who are perceived as gay whether they are or not. Lesbian and gay teens are three times more likely to report being bullied than others. Homosexuality is a big part of bullying in America and until recently, it has never been addressed. That’s what these programs attempt to do. They also work to encourage tolerance and acceptance of these students.
And that is what bothers Christians. They are in a panic because they are on the verge of losing one of the last groups they can openly and freely demonize. Christianity has always been hostile toward homosexuality — toward sexuality in general — but there are big changes in the wind right now that have caused Christians to amp up their persecution of gay people. If openly gay people are integrated into our society in a way that grants them the same rights and protections as everyone else — and that includes the right to marry — the days of Christian bigotry toward them will be over.
The panic Christians are feeling is evident in their propaganda. In an article published on WorldNetDaily – which is either a mouthpiece for conspiracy-minded right-wing hatemongers or a satirical news website, it’s difficult to tell which – titled “Transgendered, Transsexual and Trans Fats,” Pastor Ken Hutchison – a black man, by the way, which makes his bigotry even more appalling – writes:
Legislators around the country are considering banning sugar and fatty foods in schools, removing salt and butter from restaurants and want to control what temperature you can have in your own homes, because they fear the potential of health problems. Perhaps they should consider banning the promotion of a lifestyle that the Centers For Disease Control has determined actually causes HIV/AIDS. On the Day of Silence, an entire school day is set aside to ensure every young, impressionable student is exposed to homosexuality. Does this really make sense to you?
In the article, Hutchison refers to some bogus statistics generated by a 1983 study by Paul Cameron that has been widely debunked, but that are still being used by Christians desperate to smear gay people. He refers to the National Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN, a day on which, GLSEN claims on its website, “hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools.” Hutchison objects to this because, he claims, it exposes students to homosexuality.
It is virtually impossible today to wake up and go about your day without being aware of the fact that gay people exist. But that’s what Christians want for their children. They want the only exposure their children get to homosexuality to be the Christian indoctrination that paints them as vile sinners, panting sex maniacs and child molesters. What upsets Christians most right now is that gay people are being depicted as — GASP! — human beings just like everyone else. That throws a major wrench into the Christian machine of homosexual bigotry, exclusion and myth. That’s why they’re panicking.
Hutchison’s ridiculous article was echoed by David Barton and Rick Green of WallBuilders on their radio show WallBuilders Live. Barton repeated the disinformation in Hutchison’s article and said the unhealthy nature of homosexuality should be “taught in kindergarten and on up.” Apparently, it’s okay to expose young children to homosexuality in school as long as that exposure is made up entirely of Christian bigotry and lies. On that radio program, Barton read from an unidentified “legal work” from 1814. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the show, provided by RightWingWatch.org:
Barton: There is a piece I want to read out of an 1814 legal work on why – and this is without all of the medical evidence back there – but this is why homosexuality was not promoted …
Green: What date did you say there?
Green: A lot of people thing this is an issue that has not been dealt with before. I’ve heard you talk about George Washington dealing with it in the military …
Barton: 1778 … so this is an 1814 legal work on why we didn’t promote homosexuality:
If we reflect on the dreadful consequences of sodomy to a state, and on the extent to which this abominable vice may be secretly carried on and spread, we cannot, on the principles of sound policy, consider the punishment as too severe. For if it once begins to prevail, not only will boys be easily corrupted by adults, but also by other boys; nor will it ever cease; more especially as it must thus soon lose all its shamefulness and infamy and become fashionable and the national taste; and then … national weakness, for which all remedies are ineffectual, most inevitably follow; not perhaps in the very first generation, but certainly in the course of the third or fourth. … To these evils may be added yet another, viz. that the constitutions of those men who submit to this degradation are, if not always, yet very often, totally destroyed, though in a different way from what is the result of whoredom.
Whoever, therefore, wishes to ruin a nation, has only to get this vice introduced; for it is extremely difficult to extirpate it where it has once taken root because it can be propagated with much more secrecy … and when we perceive that it has once got a footing in any country, however powerful and flourishing, we may venture as politicians to predict that the foundation of its future decline is laid and that after some hundred years it will no longer be the same … powerful country it is at present.
Green: I’ve actually seen you give statistics on what happens in nations that adopt homosexuality and homosexual marriage and how quickly that nation does deteriorate.
Barton: Now this was 1814, but there was a study done back in the 1920s and it looked at eighty-some odd nations and those rejected sexual regulation like with homosexuality, none of them lasted past the third generation from the time that they embraced it. So how ever many it looked at …
Green: … confirmed exactly what that study in 1814 said.
Notice that at no point does Barton identify the “1814 legal work,” nor does he identify the study he cites from the 1920s. For all we know, he could have fabricated the whole thing — and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that was done by a Christian propagandist. But for the sake of argument, let’s say the 1814 “legal work” is authentic and there really was a study in the 1920s that looked at “eighty-some odd nations.” Isn’t it rather telling that Barton has to go back 90 years and 196 years in order to find any support — which, again, he does not identify — for his bigotry.
And one more thing. What about sodomy committed by heterosexuals? Is that okay? Gay men aren’t the only ones who can do it, you know. They don’t have special sodomy-committing body parts that heterosexuals don’t have.
Barton’s remarks were addressed on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, where host Ed Schultz talked to Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Schultz pointed out that in addition to Barton’s hateful remarks, Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said at a recent rally that gay people and sexually active single women should not be allowed to teach in schools. In response to Barton’s call to regulate homosexuality, Lynn said:
The only way you regulate this, I guess, is if you put people in a camp, in a single cell in a camp, and then you just keep them there. … People say, “Well, that would never happen.” Of course, sadly, it has happened in our history. And as you pointed out, Jim DeMint says one way that we start all this process of demonizing and making it even more difficult to be a gay or lesbian person in America, make sure they can’t teach. … This is a very vile, very evil campaign.
I agree with Lynn. I can easily imagine a Christian America in which gay people are punished for their sexuality and forced to enter the “reparative therapy” programs that Christians love so much, programs that involve giving gay men drugs that make them severely ill so they will vomit while being shown images of gay erotica, or administering electrical shock while they view those images. That is already being done — the only difference in this scenario is that it would be mandated by the government.
Before you tell me I’m a paranoid conspiracy theorist, let’s take a look at who David Barton is, what he does and what his goals are. A February 7, 2005 Time magazine article titled “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America,” described Barton, who came in at number three, this way:
Even before he got directly involved in politics, David Barton was a major voice in the debate over church-state separation. His books and videotapes can be found in churches all over the U.S., educating an evangelical generation in what might be called Christian counter-history. The 51-year-old Texan’s thesis: that the U.S. was a self-consciously religious nation from the time of the Founders until the 1963 Supreme Court school-prayer ban (which Barton has called “a rejection of divine law”). Many historians dismiss his thinking, but Barton’s advocacy organization, WallBuilders, and his relentless stream of publications, court amicus briefs and books like The Myth of Separation, have made him a hero to millions – including some powerful politicians. He has been a co-chair of the Texas Republican Party for eight years, is friends with House majority leader Tom DeLay (whom he has advised on the Pledge Patriot Act, which seeks to keep the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance) and was tapped by the Republican National Committee during its election sprint as a liaison to social conservatives. Those elected as a result of his efforts need not feel lonely in Washington: Barton conducts tours of the Capitol, during which he shows his rare copy of the Bible that Congress once printed – for use in the schools.
David Barton is an evangelical, and certainly a fundamentalist. But he is also known as a Christian nationalist. What is a Christian nationalist? In her 2006 article “What is Christian Nationalism?” Michelle Goldberg explains:
It’s an important concept to understand, because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity. It comes from those who adhere to a political ideology that posits a Christian right to rule. Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives. One of the foremost Christian revisionist historians is David Barton, who, in addition to running an organization called Wallbuilders that disseminates Christian nationalist books, tracts and videos, is also the vice-chairman of the Texas Republican Party. The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation. As George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy’s influential Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote in his book The Changing of the Guard:
“Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.”
In 2000, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala became the first Hindu priest to give an invocation before Congress. This enraged the Family Research Council, formed by James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and the group released an angry statement (included in Michelle Goldberg’s article) that gives us a glimpse at the America toward which Christian nationalists are working:
“While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country’s heritage … Our founders expected that Christianity — and no other religion — would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples’ consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.”
In addition to being the former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Barton also serves as a political consultant to the Republican National Committee. The website of the organization Barton founded, WallBuilders, states that the organization is:
dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.
WallBuilders’ stated goal is:
to exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena.
Barton is a powerful man in Republican politics and an extremely influential figure to American Christians.
What about Republican Senator Jim DeMint? He’s the guy who believes that gay people and sexually active single women should not be allowed to teach in schools. DeMint is a prominent member of the Family, one of the most powerful organizations you’ve probably never heard of. Also known as the Fellowship, the men who make up this secretive organization like to call themselves “the Christian mafia.” They own the Capitol House on C Street in Washington, D.C., where members gather and sometimes live. The Family’s only public event is the yearly National Prayer Breakfast. A 2009 Examiner article called “Christian Mafia: The Family at C Street” describes the group this way:
The family espouses strange and nefarious goals. Indeed, their mission is to create a universal Christian theocracy, a world where all governments are subordinate to this peculiar and secretive Christian sect. The family at C Street preaches a secretive doctrine known as the “Seven Mountains Mandate” in which believers seek to gain world control, by gaining influence over seven key sectors of society: religion, government, media, education, arts and entertainment, family, and business. The group is racist and sexist, believing in a strong patriarchy and that God has chosen rich white elites to rule. Members take an oath and are sworn to secrecy.
Writer Jeff Sharlet spent some time living at the C Street house and has written two books about the Family — The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. If you’re looking for some terrifying reading this Halloween, you won’t find anything more frightening than these books. In July of 2009, Sharlet wrote an article for Salon magazine called “Sex and Power Inside the C Street House” in which he describes the men of the Family:
They’re followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to “advance the Kingdom.” They say they’re working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. … The Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn’t registered as a lobby — and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.
Family leaders consider their political network to be Christ’s avant garde, an elite that transcends not just conventional morality but also earthly laws regulating lobbying. In the Family’s early days, they debated registering as “a lobby for God’s Kingdom.” Instead, founder Abraham Vereide decided that the group could be more effective by working personally with politicians. “The more invisible you can make your organization,” Vereide’s successor, current leader Doug Coe preaches, “the more influence you can have.” That’s true — which is why we have laws requiring lobbyists to identify themselves as such.
In his new book, C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, Sharlett explores one of the nastier activities of the Family. The group has a branch in Uganda, where they are actively supporting what has come to be known as the “kill the gays bill,” which will make homosexuality a capital offense. The Family — of which Senator Jim DeMint is a prominent and very active member — is supporting the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals … simply because they are homosexuals. Is it being presumptuous to say that this sounds like a test run? A kind of laboratory to see how this sort of law might pan out when put into action?
Do I still sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist? What do you think would become of homosexuals — or even effeminate heterosexual men, for that matter — in the America envisioned by David Barton and Senator Jim DeMint? Do you think they would be tolerated? Do you think they would be able to live free and open lives? Or do you think it’s more likely that they would be thrown into prison cells and perhaps executed for their homosexuality, which the bible describes as an “abomination?” There are powerful people in the United States who are working toward that America — Christian nationalist groups like Focus on the Family and its branches, WallBuilders and others, and theocracy fanatics like the Family.
The increase in Christian hostility toward gay people in America that we’re seeing right now is a fit of panic brought on by the fact that we’re on the verge of legalizing same sex marriage in this country. It’s also the result of efforts to discourage the use of the word “gay” as a pejorative and to combat the bullying of gay teens. These Christian groups cannot stomach the thought of homosexuals being integrated into American society in such a way that it becomes unacceptable to harass or demean them and illegal to discriminate against them. What these groups are loudly advocating — no matter what they may call it — is discrimination of and hatred for gay Americans, and it is encouraging violence against this community and resulting in so much despair that gay teens are killing themselves.
We’ve all seen the Phelps family of the Westboro Baptist Church carrying their “God Hates Fags” signs at funerals. If you mention the Christian persecution of gay Americans, most people will think you’re talking about them and will laugh, because nobody takes those people seriously. They are the extreme, of course — the extreme that is enabled and quietly tolerated and thus excused by the “moderate” Christians. But they are far from being the only example of the persecution of gay people by Christians. They are, in fact, a joke compared to the much more insidious and damaging ways this is carried out by people who are much harder to pick out of a crowd, people who never in a million years would consider carrying one of those signs
This brings us back to bullying. That’s what these people are — the people who are trying to keep anti-bullying programs out of schools and prevent gay Americans from being granted the same rights everyone else has are nothing but bullies. They think they have god on their side. The thing about god is that he’s invisible and silent … he does nothing, says nothing … he simply isn’t there. So can be whatever you want him to be. They want him to be an excuse for their hatred.
Just as Christians once accused people — for a variety of reasons, none of which involved the truth — of being witches and harassed, bullied, imprisoned and even executed them, they want to continue to be able to harass and bully gay people. And if they get their way, they will one day imprison and even execute them. Witches were blamed for every conceivable problem, from the trivial to the catastrophic. Some Christians do the same thing with homosexuals.
Pat Robertson has been one of the most powerful and influential Christian leaders in America for decades. On the occasion of the Orlando, Florida, Gay Pride Festival in 1998, Pat Robertson said on his TV show The 700 Club, “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in god’s face if I were you.” Here are a few other things he’s said about gay people on his TV show:
“It’s one thing to say, ‘We have rights to jobs … we have rights to be left alone in our little corner of teh world to do our thing.’ It’s an entirely different thing to say, well, ‘We’re not only going to go into the schools, and we’re going to take your children and your grandchildren and turn them into homosexuals.’”
“I have known few homosexuals who did not practice their tendencies. Such people are sinning against god and will lead to the ultimate destruction of the family and our nation. I am unalterably opposed to such things and will do everything I can to restrict the freedom of these people to spread their contagious infection to the youth of our nation.”
“If the widespread practice of homosexuality will bring about the destruction of your nation, if it will bring about terrorist bombs, if it’ll bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, it isn’t necessarily something we ought to open our arms to.”
Remember, Robertson — who ran in the 1988 Republican presidential primary — represents a large segment of American Christians. When Christians don’t like something, or even merely disagree with something, they are quick to gather and loudly make their opinions known. Have you ever known Christians to protest statements made by Pat Robertson?
The Republican party is no longer simply a political party. It is now the political arm of the Christian religion in the United States. Every time a Republican wins an election, it brings us one step closer to the America envisioned by Republican National Committee consultant David Barton and Republican Senator Jim DeMint, and all the others in office and running for office who agree that America should be a Christian nation run by Christians that favors Christians … a nation in which bullying children until they are so miserable that they commit suicide is an acceptable activity.
We have an election coming up. It is absolutely vital that you vote. And when you do, don’t forget who the bullies are.