Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Liberty Sunday Reports

Yesterday was yet another of those frequent religious right “conferences” – really just a series of ridiculous speeches to fire up the base with rhetorical red meat to get them out to vote in November. This one was disingenuously called Liberty Sunday, following on the heels of the equally misnamed Justice Sunday earlier this year. There are several reports on what was said, all of which was predictable and much of it patently absurd. In keeping with their theme, they used a picture of Boston’s famous Old North Church, indicating their metaphor that, like Paul Revere, they were bravely riding to warn our citizens of an impending attack from “sodomites” (none of whom would be caught dead in a red coat, mind you). And as Right Wing Watch reports, the pastor of that church is none too happy about their appropriation of his church as a symbol for intolerance. Rev. Stephen Ayres writes:

I was profoundly uncomfortable to see Old North’s steeple used in promotional material for an event hosted by The Family Research Council that may inadvertently suggest we support it (“Hub anti-gay marriage event to feature gov’s wife in national broadcast,” Oct. 11). The Family Research Council prominently features an online image of two lanterns shining from Old North’s steeple.

Old North is in no way affiliated with Family Research Council and does not support its stance on many issues, including the ones to be discussed at the forum. Old North is an active, Episcopal church whose members represent a diversity of opinion as we try faithfully to discern God’s will in these matters.

The Old North Church is a symbol of freedom for all Americans. The first sermon preached at Old North in 1723 called us to be “a house of prayer for all people.” In fulfillment of that charge, Old North strives to be a “big tent” parish, open to all regardless of race, gender, orientation or political persuasion. We do not affiliate with partisan organizations.

The two lanterns that hung in the steeple on April 18, 1775, became famous on the eve of the Civil War, when in 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Interestingly, Longfellow was an advocate for liberty for a disenfranchised and enslaved minority. In this spirit, Old North continues to support civil liberties for all.

Bravo, Reverend, bravo. The messages at Liberty Sunday were predictably alarmist and silly. Bishop Wellington Boone, the virulently homophobic black minister who recently called homosexuals “faggots” and “sissies” at the “Values Voters Summit”, this time accused the “sodomites” of committing “rape of the civil rights movement.” Compare that to what Coretta Scott King has said about civil rights for gays and lesbians:

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood…

For too long, our nation has tolerated the insidious form of discrimination against this group of Americans, who have worked as hard as any other group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law…I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. My husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” On another occasion he said, “I have worked too long and hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible.” Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

Now those are civil rights leaders, Mr. Boone; you, by contrast, are nothing but a two-bit hustler, casually and self-righteously dehumanizing an entire group of people to satisfy a thirst for what you wrongly think is moral superiority. This is the standard new tactic of the religious right, to put the black ministers right up front in their anti-gay strategy, presumably on the notion that blacks can’t be accused of bigotry. Well I’ve got news for you, blacks can be every bit as bigoted as whites. That fact is tragic, since they of all people ought to know better, but it’s still a fact. And I will call gladly (and accurately) call Wellington Boone and Dwight McKissic bigots just as surely as I’ll call Paul Cameron and Tony Perkins bigots.

The other dominant theme among the homophobes these days is that any advance for gay rights is an attack on the right of Christians to speak out against homosexuality. That theme was all over the place on Liberty Sunday and at the Values Voters Summit. They point to arrests of ministers in England, Sweden and Canada and say, “You just wait, they want to do the same thing here. And if you don’t vote against gay marriage and anything else that might protect the rights of gay people, the next thing you know they’ll be handcuffing your minister behind the pulpit and dragging him off to prison for preaching the word of God.”

All that is nonsense, of course. We have the first amendment here, something they do not have in Canada, England or Sweden. And while I agree with them on the absolute injustice of such arrests and have written at great length of my opposition to them, there is very little chance of that happening in the US. Ironically, in the fanciful and highly unlikely scenario that legislatures in America attempted to make such laws prohibiting one from speaking out against homosexuality, it’s those “activist courts” that the right complains about so much that would strike them down with all due speed.

And if that should ever happen, they would find a great many gay rights supporters (like me, and Jon Rowe, and Jason Kuznicki, and Timothy Sandefur, and Dale Carpenter, and Jonathan Rauch, and Andrew Sullivan, and Tom Palmer, and countless others) taking just as strong a stand for their liberty as we do for the liberty of gays and lesbians. I will not compromise my principled belief in the right to free expression to censor beliefs I despise; indeed, I probably am more concerned to protect the right to express those beliefs than I am my own.

Of course, Liberty Sunday also had its fair share of looney nutballs preaching insane things. The star of the show this time was Roberto Miranda. He pulled the church lady act: who could it be wanting those naughty gays to get married, hmmmm? Could it be….Satan! Well yes, apparently:

Satan has warred mightily against this region, and has effectively neutralized it through the influence of principalities of rationalism, humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance. Massachusetts, as well as all of New England, has become a cemetery of churches, a breeding ground for heretical doctrine, and intellectual furnace energizing attitudes of godlessness, rational arrogance and secularism. It is no coincidence, of course, that something as dramatically distant from the Christian worldview as gay marriage would be originated in this region.

And yet, Mr. Miranda, your state, so full of godless, arrogant secularists, has the lowest divorce rate and one of the lowest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation, while states like Texas, so full of Godly believers, has astronomical rates of both. Fundamentalist, heal thyself. And I love it when preachers use words like “principalities”, especially when it makes no sense whatsoever in the sentence it’s used in. “Principalities” is a great fundie word. So is “fellowship”, especially when incorrectly used as a verb, as in “we were down at the church fellowshipping with the folks.” But he wasn’t done yet.

Is it exaggerated to see prophetic significance in the fact that on September 11, 2001 Boston served as the point of departure for the deadly forces that spread so much destruction and havoc in this nation and all over the world? What took place at the material level is now being carried out at the moral and spiritual level, as the virus of homosexuality and gay marriage begins to spread dramatically all over this nation and perhaps the world.

Exaggerated? No. Ridiculous, absolutely. Miranda also declared that the homosexuals are “like a rogue foreign cell inside an organism, it will continue to replicate itself.” At the risk of provoking Godwin’s wrath, that sounds suspiciously like Hitler’s constant habit of calling Jews a “cancer” on German society, eating it away from the inside, doesn’t it? Actually, according to Mitt Romney, we won’t even have to worry about that if gay marriage continues: civilization itself will be gone. He told the audience:

“Here in Massachusetts, activist judges struck a blow to the foundation of civilization – the family,” the Republican governor and likely presidential candidate said to an applauding crowd of about 1,000 people, some of whom responded “Amen.”

Well yes, of course. If gays are allowed to get married, civilization itself will crumble into dust. Seriously, how does someone say something that freaking stupid with a straight face? And how is someone so deluded or ignorant that they applaud such nonsense? They’re preaching to the choir. And the choir is full of morons.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    October 17, 2006

    Seriously, how does someone say something that freaking stupid with a straight face? And how is someone so deluded or ignorant that they applaud such nonsense? They’re preaching to the choir. And the choir is full of morons.

    Yeah, that choir is full of morons. Even more disturbing, though, is the fact that the preacher is considered a serious candidate for President. Gov. Wallace, pick up the white courtesy phone.

  2. #2 NonyNony
    October 17, 2006

    Well yes, of course. If gays are allowed to get married, civilization itself will crumble into dust. Seriously, how does someone say something that freaking stupid with a straight face?

    Ed, don’t you realize that if being gay is accepted as normal, then every male will want to be gay, because gay sex is so much better than normal hetero sex? Civilization will crumble because there will be no children from these gay unions and so the whole of human history will grind to a halt!

    Or perhaps GOD will be so offended by the sight of gay men living together that he will “do a Sodom and Gommorah” on us, destroying civilization as wel know it! I mean, look at what GOD has done to San Francisco and Massachusets because of their acceptance of gay men! Clearly, we wouldn’t want the wrath of GOD to fall on the rest of civilization like it has on those two places!

    Seriously, I think they’re just fear and hate mongers, using the same rhetoric that fear and hate mongers have used for all time to build their mobs.

  3. #3 Adam Ierymenko
    October 17, 2006

    “Satan has warred mightily against this region, and has effectively neutralized it through the influence of principalities of rationalism, humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance. Massachusetts, as well as all of New England, has become a cemetery of churches, a breeding ground for heretical doctrine, and intellectual furnace energizing attitudes of godlessness, rational arrogance and secularism. It is no coincidence, of course, that something as dramatically distant from the Christian worldview as gay marriage would be originated in this region.”

    Wow! I knew I moved here for a reason! That should go in a travel brochure or something! I mean, I’ve heard some gushing recommendations but damn… are you sure he meant this in a negative sense?

  4. #4 Sastra
    October 17, 2006

    Adam:
    Ha! Just what I was thinking. Where’s Orbitz? Perhaps the Buffalo NY-based Council for Secular Humanism can use the quote to help promote their Center For Inquiry events.

  5. #5 Garrett
    October 17, 2006

    I would just like to point out that your country is fucked.

    Thank you.

  6. #6 Skemono
    October 17, 2006

    He pulled the church lady act: who could it be wanting those naughty gays to get married, hmmmm? Could it be….Satan!

    Huh. You know, now I finally get all those Satanists. I mean, Satan’s at the forefront of every civil rights movement. He’s for gay marriage, he was for interracial marriage, and he was against slavery, as portrayed in the most wonderfully-titled pamphlet ever: A Dialogue Between an Abolition Croaker, A Citizen of Boston, and the Prince of Darkness.

    Plus, Satan’s responsible for the spread of “the influence of principalities of rationalism, [and] humanism”! What an awesome guy! Count me in his camp!

  7. #7 Skemono
    October 17, 2006

    And I forgot–whereas God has killed over 2,270,365 people, and plans to kill 3,250,000,000 more, Satan has only killed 10 people. What a swell guy!

  8. #8 Adam Ierymenko
    October 17, 2006

    “And I forgot–whereas God has killed over 2,270,365 people, and plans to kill 3,250,000,000 more, Satan has only killed 10 people. What a swell guy!”

    I’ll suggest an alternate explanation: maybe God has standards. If I were God and I heard my followers spouting stuff like this, I’d be killing a few too. Maybe Satan just doesn’t care who he’s represented on Earth by.

    Dear Lord, protect us from your followers.

  9. #9 paleotn
    October 17, 2006

    “And I love it when preachers use words like “principalities”, especially when it makes no sense whatsoever in the sentence it’s used in. “Principalities” is a great fundie word.”

    In his use of “principalities”, I think Miranda is referring to so called “spiritual warfare” in the same context Paul supposedly used in some of his letters. That’s right folks; it’s Satan’s minions who are to blame for infecting seemingly normal, rational people with such diabolical ideas as “humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance”.

    You see, there is this whole legion of dark powers at war with God, Christians, truth, justice, apple pie and the American way. These supposed, dark powers and principalities are much discussed and written about in fundie circles. Go through virtually any Christian bookstore and one will find volume after volume on the subject. It’s a real eye opener and a bit frightening to glance through some of these books and discover how many of these fundies really think. It is one bazaar world they live in.

    So what may seem like so much gibberish to normal, intelligent people is fully understood by the fundie masses. It’s the devil at work in their midst! Let the pressing, dunking, burning and hanging begin!

    And these people actually think that a rational, 21st Century society should take the seriously?

  10. #10 Irrational Entity
    October 17, 2006

    The dire warnings from these people do give me an idea. All of us gays should congregate in a state capital city. The resulting concentration of sinful deviance will attract God’s wrath, which will be displayed in the form of locusts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and various other natural disasters. We then refuse to leave until same-sex marriage is legalized and repeat the process as necessary. Who’s with me?

  11. #11 jufulu
    October 17, 2006

    Irrational Entity :”The dire warnings from these people do give me an idea. All of us gays should congregate in a state capital city. The resulting concentration of sinful deviance will attract God’s wrath, which will be displayed in the form of locusts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and various other natural disasters. We then refuse to leave until same-sex marriage is legalized and repeat the process as necessary. Who’s with me?”

    See, see, they (the ungodly) figured it out. God doesn’t go after them, he goes after the godly to punish the world for ungodly acts. We are doomed.

    NO, wait! It’s ok, all my ungodly behavior is going to payoff after all.

  12. #12 Skemono
    October 17, 2006

    The dire warnings from these people do give me an idea. All of us gays should congregate in a state capital city. The resulting concentration of sinful deviance will attract God’s wrath, which will be displayed in the form of locusts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and various other natural disasters. We then refuse to leave until same-sex marriage is legalized and repeat the process as necessary. Who’s with me?

    Jody Wheeler.

  13. #13 Adam Ierymenko
    October 18, 2006

    “The dire warnings from these people do give me an idea. All of us gays should congregate in a state capital city. The resulting concentration of sinful deviance will attract God’s wrath, which will be displayed in the form of locusts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and various other natural disasters. We then refuse to leave until same-sex marriage is legalized and repeat the process as necessary. Who’s with me?”

    Dude! This totally gives me an idea!

    Send Iran hundreds and hundreds of gay nuclear physicists pretending to be defectors! Then, when all those gay nuclear physicists congrigate in Iran’s nuclear facilities, God’s wrath will take care of the whole Iranian nuke problem!

  14. #14 raj
    October 18, 2006

    Ed, you might want to re-work this into an OpEd piece and see if the Boston Globe would publish it. Seriously.