Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gays Winning, Christians Losing in America’s Marketplace of Ideas



Two recent Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage highlight fast and steady progress gays and lesbians are making over long-held Christian ideas of morality. Decades of polling show that the gay perspective continues to gain favorably in the court of public opinion, while the Christian perspective continues to decline. Why is a forty-five year old newcomer supplanting a two thousand year old movement?

Disregarding the Golden Rule
“You should treat everyone as you would hope to be treated by everyone” is a concept as old as ancient Babylon, though it’s often attributed to the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, and is the basis on which the government of the United States of America was founded, a belief that all men are created equal.
The idea of basic fairness is so strongly held as an American ideal, that any movement seeking to supplant it is deservedly doomed to eventual failure.  In 1977, Anita Bryant, a popular Evangelical Christian role model and spokesperson for Florida Orange Juice, launched a demonizing campaign against the gay community that eventually allowed for gays to be persecuted across the entire country by taking away their right to housing and employment. Bryant founded Save Our Children, using the historically effective defaming tactic of protecting children from sexual predation to further marginalize gays worked: Laws allowing discrimination were quickly passed in nearly every state and locality, making it nearly impossible for gays and lesbians to exist at all, for without a home or job, how can one exist? How can the golden rule exist with such punitive and unfair laws?
The overreaching cruelty of these laws is slowly causing a backlash of compassion and rationality across the country. Seventeen states have banned housing discrimination, while twenty-one states prohibit workplace discrimination. Though recent polls suggest that between 52% and 73% of Americans (depending on the state) believe these practices of discrimination already are, or should be, illegal, attempts to pass a federal law protecting these basic rights has yet to succeed, mainly due to opposition by Evangelical Christians in Congress who increasingly look out of step with the rest of America.
Unfair and Inconsistent Interpretation of Biblical Texts
Evangelical Christians argue that they are following God's laws when explaining why it is their moral obligation to deny gays and lesbians basic rights. We would assume then, that Christians would follow all of God’s laws equally.  Let’s take one of those laws, “Keeping the Sabbath holy”, as an example. This law is elevated to being one of the Ten Commandments, so one would think that all Evangelicals would follow it to the absolute letter.
Since the laws were given to Moses, Sabbath began on Friday night and continued until sundown on Saturday. No work of any kind was to be performed, in keeping with God’s law, and no machine or tool was to be used.
What’s the first thing the Evangelical Christians do to God’s law? They change it to Sunday. Then they fool with the sundown-to-sundown part of the rule and ignore the machines and tools part to make it more convenient.
Nor do Evangelicals adhere to the Old Testament laws of Kashrut proscribing the eating, wearing, or touching of any part of a pig, or eating shellfish. Nor is there slavish adherence to Biblical laws concerning beards, covering one’s head, women speaking in church, women as property, divorce, slavery, polygamy (which is allowed), treatment of the poor, rape, allowable child and spousal abuse. These and many, many other laws clearly specified in scripture are equivocated or completely ignored by all Christians who state that they are “free from the law.” This is very strange in light of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ states that he did not come to abolish the law, but fulfill it.
Modern Evangelicals proclaim that loving and building a life with someone of the same sex is an unforgivable sin, though that actual “sin” is never mentioned negatively in the bible, and is often equated by Christians as equal to sex with animals, stealing, pedophilia, and murder. Abusive and predatory same-sex acts, or same-sex acts done in pagan ritual are listed as an abomination, as are eating shellfish and having sex with your wife around or during menstruation, as are all sex acts done outside of marriage.
Loving, committed same-sex relations are only mentioned in a favorable light. In 1, 2 Samuel, the highly regarded (King) David and Jonathan’s special love was so intense that they “became one”, and their love was  “more wonderful than what a man feels for a woman.” It’s perplexing that this clear example of same-sex love is completely ignored by most Christians, Evangelical or not. When asked why, you;; hear the same disingenuous answer. “hey, they were just best friends, not homos!”
Fred Phelps of the “God Hate’s Fags” movement is not an anomaly among Evangelical Christians. Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and every Evangelical Christian Republican leader has made statements equating gay people with alcoholism, drug-addiction, child-molestation, bestiality, and murder.
Why does the sin of same-sex love become a “deal-breaker” sin, when no such sin exists in the laws of God and if it were a sin, why is it one so heinous when, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23?
Singling gay people out for bullying with the bible makes Evangelical Christians look like mean-spirited hypocrites who use gay people as scapegoats to gain power and wealth.
Demanding Impossible Change
Evangelical Christians believe that same–sex attraction is caused by turning one’s soul away from God, the result of being a deeply sinful person. Once a homosexual submits to God and admits his sin, healing can begin and eventually heterosexual attraction will replace the “warped sexuality” of the sinner through reparative therapy. The American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, and every respected scholarly study done since the 1950’s concludes that same-sex attraction is as immutable as opposite-sex attraction, and there is no compelling evidence that either attraction can be changed.

Evidence confirms that attempts to change often end in life-long depression and suicide, and as a result, many of those who were once in favor of reparative therapy have since apologized for the damage they have caused and now denounce its practice. They have been joined by parents who have seen the damage caused by this so-called therapy first-hand.  They now blame themselves and church leadership for their children’s now foreseeable suicides, and have begun to speak out against the practice.  Entrenched Christian leadership has responded to these parents and ex-leaders of reparative therapy by denouncing them, calling them traitors and liars.

History of Racism
We’ve seen this parade of righteous hatred before when verses were plucked out of scripture to legitimize slavery, white supremacy, prohibitions against interracial marriage, the right to vote, and the rights to work, sit, eat, drink and live wherever one wishes.

Catholic, Mormon, and non-African American Protestant Churches never stood up to the obvious immoral and heinous acts of cruelty visited on fellow human beings. These leaders preached from the pulpit that it was the mark of Cain (skin color) that legitimized their evil practice of bigotry. Some in the Deep South continue to preach this today.

Gay people have correctly pointed out that Evangelical Christians are just repeating the same song and dance, creating fear of them to gain power, money and influence.

Likability Factor
If you had to make a choice between Ellen DeGeneres and Sarah Palin, whom would you rather have at a dinner party? Ellen is fun, witty, intelligent, has a sense of humor, is kind, and generous. Sarah Palin ludicrously insists that we should trust her knowledge of foreign policy because she could once see Russia from her house in Alaska. Sarah is self-righteous, has absolutely no sense of humor and is just generally tiresome. I can see Ms. Palin arguing some point that no one cares about, to the point where everyone wishes she would just shut up. Thankfully, Ellen would make some funny, self-deprecating comment to take Sarah off the hot seat, have everyone laughing, including Sarah, and thereby save the entire evening from disaster.

Other possible match-ups: Elton John or Rick Santorum? David Geffen or Donald Trump? Anderson Cooper or Mitt Romney? Neil Patrick Harris or Kirk Cameron?

There’s something telling about Evangelical Christian Republican Mark Sanford’s belief that, after lying to everyone and cheating on his wife and then marrying the woman he cheated on her with, God has forgiven him so everything is okay. He was disgraced enough to step down from the Senate, but Evangelical Christian voters from his district overwhelmingly voted him back into Congress. The mindset here is, “Mark sinned and asked for our forgiveness. Since he is now washed clean by the blood of Christ, he’s good. We can trust him to not lie and cheat again.” Though the Christian penchant for forgiveness is admirable here, it looks foolish and premature. The guy continues to live with the woman he cheated with, so what about his wife? She was cast aside for a younger woman and that’s acceptable for a role model to our children?

What would’ve happened if Mark Sanford cheated with a man and later asked forgiveness and stayed with his wife? Well, Ted Haggard, the charismatic former leader of the once largest Evangelical Church in America is a pariah to most Evangelicals, living what appears to be a Christ-like life with his understanding, faithful and devoted wife, preaching a humble and true gospel, while hypocritical Evangelicals like Mark Sanford and Newt Gingrich are made leaders in our mainstream Christian Churches and society. Haggard’s homosexual fling is an unforgivable sin as judged by the community he formally served.

Gay people have a reputation for being fun, spontaneous, kind yet dishy, real, generous, open, fair, supportive, unpredictable, stylish, irreverent and are great for improving property values. Evangelical Christians have a reputation for yearning for the apocalypse (decidedly not fun), and for being self-righteous, predictable, judgmental, 1950’s hair, stingy (not good tippers), hypocritical, and tiresome. Evangelical talk about loving the sinner and hating the sin is pure nonsense. You can’t hate the deepest, most intimate expression of love that people have for each other, call it perverted, or worse, and still say you love them.

(Note: 03/38/2014 When I wrote this article back in July 2013, I had no idea that a study would back up my opinion. Here is a Huffington Post article about the study. Links to the data can be found here.

How to Behave When Tragedy Happens
Not a week goes by without Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Archbishop Dolan or some other ultra-rich-mega-church leader blaming terrorist attacks, hurricanes, floods, mass shootings, or some other tragedy on gay people. They’ve learned that donations go up when you combine fear of gays and tragedy. It works every time and no matter how often you do it, some sweet little old lady living on a pension can be counted on to write a check or drop a few notes into the basket on Sunday whenever the words homosexual and destruction are uttered in the same sentence. When the heart of the homophobic Oklahoma Bible Belt is destroyed by one of the largest tornados ever seen and no gays are killed, it’s still “God’s Wrath on Gays”, according to Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church.

When tragedy struck the gay community, gay men and lesbians responded, showing the world the depth of our love for each other. While the government did nothing, gay men and lesbians cared for the sick and dying, organized to help a few noble doctors find a cause, taught the world how to stem the tide of infection, pushed and prodded the slow and entrenched pharmaceutical industry to find therapies that would extend lives. We offered ourselves up as guinea pigs, sacrificing our own lives for the hope of saving others. This was all done while Evangelicals called AIDS, “Gods Judgment on the Homosexuals,” and shouted out from the pulpit, “What does Gay stand for? Got AIDS Yet?”

Though the virus is not easily transmitted and requires intimate sexual contact to spread, calls by Evangelicals Lyndon LaRouche and Mike Huckabee to round up and quarantine all gay people were seen as a fascist tactic. Since the virus that causes AIDS (HIV) has been traced to origins in Africa, where the disease had been propagating among heterosexuals for years, isolation of gay men was and is perceived as just another attempt by “Compassionate” Conservative Evangelicals to get rid of gay people.

We are Family
Gay people are members of everyone’s family. They are sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers. Every family in America, in the entire world for that matter, has a gay person in it. If you condemn someone’s family member, you are doing damage to that entire family. You insult everyone and make everyone your enemy. Maybe not at first, but families reconcile and love wins over fear. Blood should be thicker than hate.

Shame on Evangelical groups like Focus on the Family for teaching the false and damaging message of “tough love, my way or the highway, you are dead to me, get out”, to parents of gay and lesbian children. The rising numbers of hopeless and homeless boys and girls who have fallen prey to drug abuse, prostitution, and suicides are the fruit of their form of Christianity. Abandoning your children is deadly wrong.

Science vs. Opinion
Christian churches have a history of persecuting, imprisoning, torturing, and killing scientists. In 1952, the creator of the first digital computer, Allen Turing, was imprisoned and then castrated for being a homosexual. Albert Einstein was demonized by the German Catholic Church and fled to the United States for his life. The Pope imprisoned Galileo for life, and Copernicus, fearing he would be burned at the stake (a common practice for those who disagreed with church doctrine) did not allow his theories to be published until after he was dead. The last Pope finally pardoned Galileo for being correct, but the poor guy has been dead for 400 years, so what’s the point?

The insistence on a literal translation of the bible for some passages and not for others creates a weird belief system that is hard to follow, is arbitrary, and shrinks God down to some kind of super-magician. For example: Radiometric dating of samples taken from the Earth, Moon and meteors places the Earth at 4.54 billion years old. Most Evangelicals, believing their currently popular (only among themselves) and newly created Intelligent Design theory, place the Earth’s age at 5,700 to 10,000 years, based on a formula derived from opinion. There is no way to test that opinion as it is based on an interpretation of language written in the book of Genesis.

Scientific Theory is a system that requires repeatable, empirical evidence to support its claims. Religion supports current popular opinion of like-minded individuals as fact. This belief says that the Creator didn’t have the skill or knowledge necessary to create subatomic particles that gave rise to a vast universe that is so big; it would take billions of years to cross just a small part of it --if you could travel at the speed of light. No, their puny god (I should say, “idol”) is like some kind of creepy Steven King character who can create something by simply thinking about it on the fly, but it still took him six days, not segments of time, but days; literally 6 – twenty-four hour days. Why is it so important to limit God?

13 billion years ago, a creative force (God) set up an incredibly complex mix of sub-atomic particles smashed into a space so tiny that they had to explode with a bang so big it created a vast universe that, after billions of years, gave rise to billions of galaxies that are made up of billions of suns and planets, blowing apart, creating new elements in vast clouds of stellar and planetary gas and dust that were pushed ever closer together by the not so gentle stellar winds from nearby stars and the constant force of gravity. This gave birth to new stars and planets, and as the planets cooled, more and more complex chemicals developed into a rich stew of gas and liquid, and after enough time and, much iteration, developed into organic life. After several billions of years, that organic life, surviving and mutating under constant bombardment of radiation from the sun, gave rise to you and me. Now that sounds like Intelligent Design! Evangelicals look silly when they deny science and it takes their organizations four hundred years to catch up.

Head in the Sand about Climate Change
For decades, Evangelical Christians denied any evidence of climate change, but recently, now agree in the face of so much overwhelming evidence, the Earth’s climate is indeed undergoing rapid change. They still maintain that it won’t be catastrophic, is not a problem and believe that man is not the cause. No reputable scientists agree with them.

So the question is, shouldn’t we be hedging our bets by making changes that make sense, like switching to LED bulbs, insulating our homes, making more efficient vehicles, using fuel cell generators, more solar, wind and wave energies? “Waste not, want not” is a very conservative principle, but seems to be abandoned by the “Conservative” Evangelical community. It’s almost like they don’t care if things start going badly for all of us. Is that because they believe that they won’t be around to suffer the consequences of their actions? Yes. That’s actually it. By bringing about a destruction of this Earth, many believe they are hastening the “end times”, when Jesus will come back and lift them up. Not the Gays, though, and not you either, unless you believe exactly what they believe. You’ll just have to suffer through it.

Government is the Boss of Your Body
If you believe public opinion polls touted by Evangelicals, Anti-Choice folks are gaining ground over those who feel that the decision should be left up to the person who is going to carry the developing fetus and give birth. Once people start living with the results of that mindset, blaming Christians is going to become the new National Sport.

Evangelicals are always complaining about big government overreaching into personal affairs except when it comes to deciding one of the most personal and intimate events in a couple’s life. Life is sacred, unless it’s been born. Then parents can pray for miracle healing instead of going to the doctor, teach children at home without any certification or proven ability, kick the child out if he or she is gay, or subject that gay child to damaging conversion therapy. If the child has become an adult and has committed a crime punishable by death, is that life no longer sacred?

Conclusion
The Gay Rights Movement has been one of the most peaceful movements in the history of mankind, but gay people have been and continue to be discriminated against, denied basic rights, beaten and murdered. All this has been prompted by and is the result of the unrelenting and unrepentant hate speech from Evangelical Christians. Thankfully, no Christian has ever been murdered by a gay person due to Christianity’s heinous and unforgivable behavior. Gay men and women continue to turn the other cheek despite a hostile and cruel opposition fueled largely by the Evangelical Christian Church.

Afterward
You can’t hear my voice, and you can’t see my facial expressions, so you might assume that I don’t like Christians very much. That is not true. I love my Christian brothers and sisters, whether we agree or not. I was once a celebrated youth leader, teacher, choir director, leader and front man for a few Christian Rock bands. I was ostracized for questioning my sexual orientation in the late 1970’s, just when Anita Bryant began her campaign.  I still dream of a day of reconciliation, but that day has yet to come.

I write in desperate hope that the hard, but obvious truth of my words will begin to pierce hardened hearts and seared consciences that have been carefully led astray by lazy, ignorant, or avaricious leadership that will only repent when they are sure to lose power over the flocks whom they have betrayed.

I’ve been silent for far too long, silent when Christians refer to my life style as the “Gay Lifestyle.” What is that? For twenty-six years, my husband and I have gone to work, paid taxes, donated to charity, taken our dogs to the park, shopped, cooked, cleaned our home, gardened, maintain our cars, taken vacations, gone out to dinner or a bar with friends, thrown dinner parties, gone to barbecues, attended firm, lab and company picnics together, laughed and cried at weddings and funerals, and helped each other get over a cold or flu. We’ve lived our lives just like most people do if they’re lucky, and occasionally, when we’re not too busy to forget, we express to each other how much we appreciate and love each other by holding hands, or with a peck on the cheek or lips, a smile, a hug, and even sometimes when we’re not too tired…well that part is none of your business.

A few of my Christian friends believe like I do, that Jesus Christ expressed His most important message to humanity during His sermon on the mount. Bad leadership that began with Paul of Tarsus confused and distorted Jesus’ message, but using the sermon on the mount as a kind of lens, and viewing the Old (Torah) and New Testaments through that lens, we can begin to separate the kernels of wheat from the chaff and come to a more enlightened understanding of the books that became today’s Bible.

I firmly believe that those who’ve become caught up in judgment and hatred deserve our love, understanding, and patient guidance. New believers “reborn” after hearing Christ’s message are most vulnerable to established church authority and have been led astray by the very “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that Jesus warned about at the end of his sermon, knowable by their fruits. Their fruits are destruction of the family, intolerance, hatred for fairness, justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and unseemly hatred for those that are slightly different from them.

By their fruits, I can see the wolves. Can you?

Rich McCracken is a composer, writer and screenwriter living in California with his husband and partner of 26 years, celebrated 
intellectual property attorney, Dr. Michael J. Shuster.

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