Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The UN Economic and Social Council is a group of non-governmental organizations that work to find solutions to social problems around the world and facilitate greater respect for human rights and human liberty. There are over 2100 NGOs involved with the council and recently two more applied for membership, the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians. The United States joined forces with Iran, Egypt, China, Zimbabwe and Cameroon to not only prevent these groups from joining, but to prevent them from even getting a hearing on their application to join.

This is not exactly good company to be in. China is among the world’s most repressive nations, of course. Iran’s Muslim theocratic rulers have been busy putting gay teenagers to death over the last few months, and Zimbabwe, under Christian theocrat Robert Mugabe, has a long track record of imprisoning and executing gays. I am appalled, but hardly surprised, that the current administration would join this axis of bigotry. The rest of the world is rapidly moving ahead of us in protecting the freedom and dignity of gay people while we lag behind with the likes of these vile nations. It’s time to join the 21st century.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    It makes my physically sick to think about what this country has become.

  2. #2 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Zimbabwe, under Christian theocrat Robert Mugabe

    This is the first time I hear someone refers to Mugabe this way. He started as a socialist. He’s not particularly friendly with Christian churches. But hell, anything goes for a political spin, eh?

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    Mugabe is indeed a Christian theocrat. He has established one party rule in Zimbabwe and passed a series of repressive laws, particularly against homosexuals. That nation’s laws against sodomy carry a 10 year prison sentence. He is on record as saying that he doesn’t believe gays have any rights at all and that they are “lower than pigs and dogs”. In 1995 he banned a gay rights group from an international book fair, then declared that homosexuals should leave the country or face “dire consequences”. He has called on the people of Zimbabwe to hunt down gays and lesbians so they can be arrested, which has resulted in many beatings and even fire-bombings of the homes of gay men and women. I’m sure it won’t shock anyone that Mugabe has appeared on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson as they both preached against gays.

  4. #4 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    “Mugabe has appeared on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson”

    Strange bedfellows, but no stranger than the US and Iran, Egypt, China, Zimbabwe and Cameroon. I suppose they all have their priorities straight: Opposition to homosexuality trumps all other human rights and moral concerns.

    It’s no wonder countries like Cuba scoff at the US when we preach at them about human rights.

  5. #5 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Mugabe is indeed a Christian theocrat. He has established one party rule in Zimbabwe and passed a series of repressive laws, particularly against homosexuals.

    In what particular way it makes him a “Christian theocrat”? All you were able to deliver against my argument was proof by assertion and a collection of events proving that Mugabe is what he is, a bloodthirsty thug. He probably goes after gays because they make an easy target, nothing more. In your mind, apparently, attacking gays is 100% proof that someone is Christian and a theocrat. News flash: Commies were hard on gays, too. Ditto Nazis.

    I guess that Mugabe noticed that by 1989, the times started a’changing and sucking up to the USSR as a socialist is no longer profitable. Instead of serving the imported demon, he reached for what is common in human nature and most probably also appeared from time to time in African culture: intolerance and prejudice. Why do you think that Africans need the Europeans/Americans to teach them homophobia?

    It is funny that you don’t notice that the biggest thing Mugabe was pushing recently, much important for the masses (and Zimbabwean economy) was the land grab he carried out (destroying the agriculture). Now — how many Christian theocrats do you know, INCLUDING those in the White House, who would break the sacred law of private property on such a large scale?

    Strange bedfellows, but no stranger than the US and Iran, Egypt, China, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.

    I’ve lost my respect for the mental abilities of the “neocons” a long ago. Now I begin to lose my respect for the other side of the political spectrum.

    It’s no wonder countries like Cuba scoff at the US when we preach at them about human rights.
    No wonder indeed. Hypocrisy was always common in human culture.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    A dictator who imposes his religious views by imprisoning and killing those he believes are sinners can fairly be described as a theocrat in my book. If you disagree with that, that’s fine by me. Pick your own word and use it.

  7. #7 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    Merriam-Webster Online
    American Heritage Dictionary

    “Your book” is obviously none of the above. Being given the choice, I prefer to stick to standard English than to your distorted usage of the word.

    You failed to present ANY argument showing that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is a theocracy. Thus, Mugabe is not a theocrat according to the English (not Braytonish) meaning of the word. You also failed to present any argument that Mugabe is really a believing Christian. His past is an argument for my point of view, that he is a power-hungry thug who picks at any pretext to abuse his people, kill his opponents and amass power. Furthermore, I think that the chain of resoning, according to which anyone who attacks gays is a “Christian theocrat” is particularly amusing. I’m sure Iran mullahs and Soviet Russia Communists would agree.

  8. #8 spyder
    January 25, 2006

    “All you were able to deliver against my argument” and the entire “argument” consisted of:
    “This is the first time I hear someone refers to Mugabe this way. He started as a socialist. He’s not particularly friendly with Christian churches. But hell, anything goes for a political spin, eh?”

    I find it difficult for you to claim you present an argument in the first place, when all you seemed to have done was ask a rhetorical question in a generally insulting manner. But i gather you were merely baiting a point to initiate an opportunity to offer other stranger notions: “how many Christian theocrats do you know, INCLUDING those in the White House, who would break the sacred law of private property on such a large scale?” ugh???

  9. #9 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Spyder,

    1. Mugabe does not come across as a typical Christian theocrat, with his socialist past — doesn’t he?
    2. I inluded a link to Mugabe’s speech in which he criticized Christian churches
    3. I pointed out that Christianity includes, a respect to the right of property and Mugabe is far from that. In fact, his land-grabbing smacks more of communism.
    4. I finished with a rhetorical question in an insulting manner because I find it annoying that the OP presumes anyone who attacks gays is a “Christian theocrat”. The only logical basis for that notion would be that only Christians attack gays, which is obviously not true and is even underlined in the same posting.

    Now do you understand?

  10. #10 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    As far as I can tell Mugabe is identified as a christian, specifically a catholic. Homophobia is certainly characteristic of fundamentalist christians in the US, but I can’t tell whether Mugabe cloaks his barbarism in religion. Ed, can you enlighten me on this?

  11. #11 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Ed,

    “theocracy” according to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    … according to Merriam-Webster
    and the American Heritage Dictionary.

    “Your book” is none of the above, it seems. I don’t want to “pick my word and use it”. I prefer to use standard English.
    (If you are able to show me I am wrong, please do. I am always willing to learn).

    You’ve given no proof that Mugabe’s backlash against gays is a display of his religious convictions. It may be as well — and I personally think that this is closer to the truth — that Mugabe was looking for an enemy to attack and found gays an easy target. Instead, all we have is an apparent assumption that homophobia is inherently a Christian quality and had to be imported to Africa by Christians. For God’s sake, don’t be so paternalizing! Africans can be homophobic on their own, they don’t need any damn missionaries to “teach” them that!

  12. #12 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    Roman, you posted while I was writing. Original christianity says essentially nothing about property rights. That is almost exclusively a more modern reading (most notably southern baptist) that has nothing to do with Jesus’s teaching as reported in the christian bible. Many, many people have noted that the early christian church was very close to a pure communism, as opposed to what was called communism under the Soviets and now under China and North Korea.

  13. #13 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Ed,

    “theocracy” according to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
    … according to Merriam-Webster
    and the American Heritage Dictionary.

    “Your book” is none of the above, it seems. I don’t want to “pick my word and use it”. I prefer to use standard English.
    (If you are able to show me I am wrong, please do. I am always willing to learn).

    You’ve given no proof that Mugabe’s backlash against gays is a display of his religious convictions. It may be as well — and I personally think that this is closer to the truth — that Mugabe was looking for an enemy to attack and found gays an easy target. Instead, all we have is an apparent assumption that homophobia is inherently a Christian quality and had to be imported to Africa by Christians. For God’s sake, don’t be so paternalizing! Africans can be homophobic on their own, they don’t need any damn missionaries to “teach” them that!

  14. #14 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Many, many people have noted that the early christian church was very close to a pure communism, as opposed to what was called communism under the Soviets and now under China and North Korea.

    Ah yes, the usual illusion of “pure communism” as opposed to the “imperfect version”.

  15. #15 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Ed,

    look up “theocracy” in any online dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster, Cambridge or American Heritage. “Your book” is none of the above, it seems. I don’t want to “pick my word and use it”. I prefer to use standard English.
    (If you are able to show me I am wrong, please do. I am always willing to learn).

    You’ve given no proof that Mugabe’s backlash against gays is a display of his religious convictions. It may be as well — and I personally think that this is closer to the truth — that Mugabe was looking for an enemy to attack and found gays an easy target. Instead, all we have is an apparent assumption that homophobia is inherently a Christian quality and had to be imported to Africa by Christians. For God’s sake, don’t be so paternalizing! Africans can be homophobic on their own, they don’t need any damn missionaries to “teach” them that!

  16. #16 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Original christianity says essentially nothing about property rights. That is almost exclusively a more modern reading (most notably southern baptist) that has nothing to do with Jesus’s teaching as reported in the christian bible.

    I’m grateful for the shocking information that “Thou shall not steal” is an invention of the Southern Baptists.

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    Roman wrote:

    1. Mugabe does not come across as a typical Christian theocrat, with his socialist past — doesn’t he?

    Okay, so he’s not a “typical” Christian theocrat. That doesn’t mean he’s not a Christian theocrat.

    2. I inluded a link to Mugabe’s speech in which he criticized Christian churches

    This has no relevance at all. I can show you hundreds of articles by Christian Reconstructionists – you know, genuine theocrats – that are critical of Christian churches. Indeed, that is almost a hallmark of theocrats, they treat the “enemy within” even more harshly than the heathens.

    3. I pointed out that Christianity includes, a respect to the right of property and Mugabe is far from that. In fact, his land-grabbing smacks more of communism.

    This is just plain false. Christianity does not include a respect for the right of property. It’s true that in the US, the Christian right is generally allied with capitalism (one of the few areas I agree with them, of course), but that’s their doctrine, not Christianity’s doctrine. Indeed, I would argue that the words of Jesus are far more socialist than the right would like them to be.

    4. I finished with a rhetorical question in an insulting manner because I find it annoying that the OP presumes anyone who attacks gays is a “Christian theocrat”. The only logical basis for that notion would be that only Christians attack gays, which is obviously not true and is even underlined in the same posting.

    I would say it’s rather ridiculous to think that my position relies on the notion that “only Christians attack gays”, especially when the very same post mentions the Muslim theocrats who attack gays in Iran and the atheists in China who attack gays. Clearly I couldn’t possibly think that only Christians attack gays. But in this case, Mugabe is a Christian, in this case a hardcore Catholic with a penchant for pre-Vatican II theology. And he does impose those religious views in his country by imposing Biblical injunctions against homosexuality on the people, punishable by imprisonment. That’s enough to warrant being called a theocrat in my book.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    Roman wrote:

    You’ve given no proof that Mugabe’s backlash against gays is a display of his religious convictions. It may be as well — and I personally think that this is closer to the truth — that Mugabe was looking for an enemy to attack and found gays an easy target. Instead, all we have is an apparent assumption that homophobia is inherently a Christian quality and had to be imported to Africa by Christians. For God’s sake, don’t be so paternalizing! Africans can be homophobic on their own, they don’t need any damn missionaries to “teach” them that!

    For crying out loud, I didn’t say anything whatsoever about homophobia being imported from America. I didn’t say anything about Americans at all in regard to my label of Mugabe. And no, I do not believe that homophobia is inherently a Christian quality, or that all Christians are homophobic. But homophobia IS a part and parcel of Christian theocracy, which seeks to impose the Mosaic law as the civil and criminal law, including the Levitical injunctions against homosexuality. Now, whether Mugabe really believes this or whether he’s just using religion as an excuse and is really acting out of self-interest, I have no idea how one could distinguish between the two or why one should care. But I’ve seen him myself on television talking about his anti-gay policies being a function of his religious views (and being cheered on while doing it by Pat Robertson).

  19. #19 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Christianity does not include a respect for the right of property.

    “Thous shall not steal”

  20. #20 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    For crying out loud, I didn’t say anything whatsoever about homophobia being imported from America.
    Neither did I. There are Christians outside America, you know.
    But homophobia IS a part and parcel of Christian theocracy, which seeks to impose the Mosaic law as the civil and criminal law, including the Levitical injunctions against homosexuality.
    Hmm. This excludes any theocracy which would take the New Testament more seriously.
    Now, whether Mugabe really believes this or whether he’s just using religion as an excuse and is really acting out of self-interest, I have no idea how one could distinguish between the two or why one should care.
    Here’s why: if it is the first, then his rule can be according to your definition (a standard one as found in dictionaries would require Mugabe to be some sort of a priest) called a theocracy. He will stick to it unless he becomes a Muslim, a born-again socialist or whatever. If it is the second, then you can’t call his rule a theocracy even according to your non-standard meaning of the word, and — what is more important — he may change his policies in an instant and decide that the Current Enemy are people with big noses or childless women.
    But I’ve seen him myself on television talking about his anti-gay policies being a function of his religious views (and being cheered on while doing it by Pat Robertson).
    Publicity, money…

  21. #21 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    If the discussion collapses down to whether Mugabe really means it or whether he just uses religion as a cover to justify his barbarism, the whole thing is pointless. I have no idea why you’re focusing so obsessively on such an irrelevant question but frankly it’s boring the hell out of me. Get over it.

  22. #22 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    If the discussion collapses down to whether Mugabe really means it or whether he just uses religion as a cover to justify his barbarism, the whole thing is pointless.
    No, it doesn’t. In fact I’ve pointed out that you were wrong on several points. Being willfully ignored is not my fault.
    I have no idea why you’re focusing so obsessively on such an irrelevant question but frankly it’s boring the hell out of me. Get over it.
    Strange. Generally, I enjoy when other people point out my errors.

  23. #23 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    To further rebuke the “Christianity does not respect the law of property” nonsense, a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property.

    The Catechism lists exceptions to this rule, far more exceptions than any “neocon” would like, but the general rule is as written above.

  24. #24 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    “I’m grateful for the shocking information that “Thou shall not steal” is an invention of the Southern Baptists.”

    Perhaps you missed it – it was a few years ago – when the then-president of the Southern Baptist Convention said that Jesus would be a capitalist if he were alive today. Perhaps you do not live in the South, as I do, and are not familar, as I am, with the particular brand of christianity practiced among many, although certainly not all, southern baptists. I think perhaps Jesus as real estate developer is pretty much a southern baptist invention, although I would be interested in hearing of similar inventions by other sects.

  25. #25 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    So it’s either Jesus the Socialist or Jesus the Real Estate Developer? I think there some more choices.

  26. #26 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    Oh, wait a minute! I think I know what you’re talking about. It must be the religious justification of slavery advanced by many christians, especially in the South, before the American Civil War. Is that the “property rights” you’re talking about?

  27. #27 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    It must be the religious justification of slavery advanced by many christians, especially in the South, before the American Civil War. Is that the “property rights” you’re talking about?

    No, since it not my habit to talk gibberish.

  28. #28 Mark Paris
    January 25, 2006

    How shall I count the rhetorical fallacies? I think perhaps it is not worth it.

  29. #29 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    I must admit I got lost in your sentence. Please show me the path to understanding.

  30. #30 Reluctant Cannibal
    January 25, 2006

    Thank you Ed, that was a fascinating and disturbing article. It’s as if this US administration is longer aligned with the civilised world.

    Homophobia is strongly ingrained in many traditional African cultures, and I think this is where Mugabe gets it from. It’s significant that Cameroon is also in the list. Another interesting effect of this is the strong resistance to gay clergy within the Anglican church from African bishops. Ironically, the American branch of the Church of England is by far the most liberal, largely for this reason. On the subject of gay rights in Zimbabwe, Peter Tatchell has done some amazing things.

    Richard (Zimbabwean).

  31. #31 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Another interesting effect of this is the strong resistance to gay clergy within the Anglican church from African bishops.
    There is a long stretch from that to homophobia, don’t you think?

  32. #32 TikiHead
    January 25, 2006

    Totally OT, but I clicked on Roman’s homepage… Wow! He’s a cute guy! :)

  33. #33 Ed Brayton
    January 25, 2006

    Yes, much of my information about this comes from Peter Tatchell’s writings on the subject.

  34. #34 Reluctant Cannibal
    January 25, 2006

    > Another interesting effect of this is the strong
    > resistance to gay clergy within the Anglican church
    > from African bishops.
    There is a long stretch from that to homophobia, don’t you think?

    I’m not accusing African bishops of homophobia, necessarily. Nevertheless, most (maybe all?) of them do oppose the ordination of gay clergy, and I attribute this to their cultural background.

  35. #35 Roman Werpachowski
    January 25, 2006

    Maybe.

  36. #36 Chance
    January 26, 2006

    What an odd bunch of comments these have been. Roman methinks you are fighting a nonsensical battle.

  37. #37 Roman Werpachowski
    January 26, 2006

    What an odd bunch of comments these have been. Roman methinks you are fighting a nonsensical battle.

    Me ain’t fighting any battles, man. Just correcting other people’s mistakes. It’s not some fault some people don’t like being corrected…

  38. #38 Mark Paris
    January 26, 2006

    Roman, I want to thank you for correcting the mistakes I made in observations regarding the religion of people I grew up with. I am sure that from your vantage point thousands of miles away, you are far more able to tell what’s going on than I am, since you are not handicapped by actually being able to see the behavior in question.

  39. #39 Roman Werpachowski
    January 27, 2006

    Mark, the point that we were discussing Christianity in general, not just some brain-damaged Souther Baptist sect, seems lost on you.

  40. #40 TikiHead
    January 30, 2006

    “Mark, the point that we were discussing Christianity in general, not just some brain-damaged Souther Baptist sect, seems lost on you.”

    Roman,

    This is known as the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy — Ed said “Christian Theocrat,’ not ‘Christianity in General,’, and I believe that was what Mark Paris was addressing — am I correct, Mark?

    Christian, please don’t move the goal posts around in mid-game. (though I do think this game has ended from lack of interest). Did you know that the ‘brain damaged Southern Baptist sect’ you refer to has enormous political sway herein the USA? That makes them relevant, especially to discussions of theocracies, here and even elsewhere.

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