Thursday, May 3, 2012


This now notorious church rant went viral a few days ago and has been endlessly discussed and criticized in the press, and condemned by other clergy, including other fundamentalist clergy. Pastor Harris has since sorta (sorta not) apologized for this. I use it to illustrate a point.


Simon Sarmiento and other Anglican bloggers, including those on the right, are too polite and civilized to allow something like this to be posted. However, this is the face of the anti-gay religious right that most of the public sees now.  It is not purple clad Anglican bishops clutching their staffs and their theology doctorates while they argue the authority of Scripture, tradition, and "natural law" is against same-sexuality with excruciatingly correct courtesy.  Roman Catholic bishops who perch nervously upon their cathedras  and pontificate about the "perverse and disordered" nature of same sexuality find themselves overshadowed by a colossal criminal scandal of global child molesting.  Fewer and fewer people take the bishops seriously anymore as much of an authority on anything, let alone morality. 

 Anti-gay right wing posters on Anglican blogs always argue that this is an issue of permission, that homosexuality is an unnatural pleasure forbidden to us by God for our own benefit. They portray gays and friends of gays as petulant and spoiled, throwing a tantrum when Father won't let them have their way, even when it isn't good for them.

 On the contrary, I argue that gay rights and gay acceptance are not about permission, but about morality in the fullest sense of that word. The opposition to gay liberation offends not people's sense of permission, but their moral sense, their convictions about what is right and fair.  People believe that God is just, fair, and good before He is anything else (even atheists believe this about God even if they think He is an imaginary phantom).  If God is arbitrary, or if God is a tyrant (one Southern writer described the god of the Southern Baptists as "a mean old granddaddy home from a three day drunk"), then He is not our friend, unworthy of our worship, and probably is not really God.  It is the arbitrary prejudice against gays and lesbians that is contrary to evidence, reason, experience, and justice, that is ungodly.
It is diatribes like the one above that betray many levels of fear and hatred, that so deeply offend people. I should also point out that the above screed is not exceptional. The anti-gay cause attracts scores of bitter angry crackpots, bigots of all sorts, and now even racists.  Theirs is a losing cause, and it deserves to lose because it is morally repugnant.   Though these folks cry that they are oppressed when anyone calls them out on their shit, and they try to claim a false equivalence to gay oppression, that they are being denied their "religious liberty," there is no right to dehumanize people and to harm them.
(Some of this chip-on-the-shoulder defensiveness can take ludicrous form, such as the fundamentalist walkout in Waco, Texas when Bill Nye the Science Guy offended Scripture by pointing out that the light of the moon is the reflected light of the sun.  Apparently the moon as sunlight reflector is contrary to Genesis 1: 14-15.)

I wonder if so much of this crap, like Harris' rant, is really just so much supremacism tricked out in religious drag.  So much of this anxiety about threatened masculinity common to all fundamentalist movements (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu) has nothing to do with the proclamations of anyone's religion, and everything to do with the question of who's in charge and who gets to decide what constitutes "normal."  The high priests and holy men are angry because their authority is called into question and their power is diminishing.


Wormwood's Doxy said...

Fewer and fewer people take the bishops seriously anymore as much of an authority on anything, let alone morality.

And yet they were allowed to hijack the debate over healthcare reform, and they were also allowed to thwart attempts to ensure that all women have access to health care (which includes contraceptives and abortion).

For people who have no moral authority, they sure have a lot of sway....

Counterlight said...

"For people who have no moral authority, they sure have a lot of sway...."

True, but Catholic laity around the world are voting with their feet and leaving in droves, especially the young.

June Butler said...

Disgusting. Nasty.

I agree with Doxy. People like Harris still have far too much influence in the US.

Pfalz prophet said...

As a taxi driver once pointed out, "clout ain't what ya got, it's what other people think ya got".

"Clout" is built up over time, so it only erodes over time. Give it time, the clout of the RC bishops is waning.