Michael wrote last night about the piece in the New York Times about the Uganda “Kill the Gays” bill and its American Evangelical supporters. The piece exposes the inciting role Don Schmierer of Exodus played in the inception of this bill, and showcases his mewling attempts to deny any responsibility for what’s now happening in Uganda. Schmierer’s statements can be summed up as “We was fooled!” That’s right, they’re just a few innocent, sweet ex-gay activists, and they’re just trying to help! Give me a break. Jim Burroway handily disposed of that notion in a piece last night. If you haven’t read Jim’s piece, do. I’ll wait.
What I want to draw attention to, though, is Amanda Marcotte’s piece on this, because she brings in some really important historical perspective on what Schmierer, Caleb Lee Brundige, and Scott Lively did on their little jaunt to Uganda, and she also makes an important point about the weak denials and condemnations they (and Rick Warren) have issued, now that the American press is paying attention:
Right now, Rick Warren and company’ slow-moving denunciations of this law are due strictly to their desire to stay in the mainstream of American society, and have nothing to do with actual moral outrage. After all, it’ an article of faith for the religious right that gay people “recruit” children because they can’t have their own. There are so many assumptions bundled up in that—that gay people don’t have children, that children can be considered carbon copies of their parents, that homosexuality is something taught at the knee instead of a genuine expression of sexual desire—but I’d like to point out that what the accusation is, at its base, is a 21st century version of the blood libel. The traditional blood libel that was a big deal in medieval Europe was to accuse Jews of killing and eating Christian children. Nowadays, the accusation has changed somewhat—now it’ that gays rape and recruit children—but the structure is basically the same, which is to say that the hated group is constructed as a cult that feeds on your children. And the religious right believes this stuff. (…)
The point is that the blood libel exists to justify extreme violence against the targeted group, painting them as child-thieves who inflict a society’ most dreaded crimes (molestation, cannibalism) on the children, and by doing so, take them away from the parents. So when the people who perpetuate this myth about gays and lesbians play innocent, we shouldn’t let them get away with it.
Exactly. I’ve said several times in the past (I’ve actually said it today) that there is no fundamental difference between religious extremists in the West and those in Uganda, or in the Middle East, etc. They look different to the untrained eye, simply because they can’t get away with what they really want to do in the West. Modern society won’t allow it. So of course they’re trying to cover their lily-white behinds in the American press, for their own followers, and for the rest of the American public which still thinks of Warren as the Purpose-Driven Cuddle Monster. These people have a narrative to uphold, and it’s a narrative that is in sharp contrast to their actual beliefs and actions: That Evangelical Christianity is primarily about love and family and patriotism and lots of other Pollyanna BS that plays well with the Fort Worth crowd. And for many Evangelical Christians, it is about those things. They may be misled about a lot of things, but I highly doubt that the average Saddleback member is jonesing to kill gay people.
But their leaders? As Amanda says in the piece, they’re not off the hook for this one. Growing up in That World, and now analyzing it from the perspective of one who knows the language, I’ve often noticed that the people who follow these leaders are, for the most part, fairly decent human beings, but that they have no idea what their leaders are really like. (And of course, when you point it out, most of them retreat into their shells or stick their fingers in their ears.)
The blood libel is not new. But it’s taken far too long for the LGBT community and its supporters to realize that the tactics of Warren, Lively, Schmierer, Brundige, Richard Cohen, etc., are indeed the modern-day version of this age-old Christian tradition. And the ex-gay element is just more delicious icing on the cake for those who promote this blood libel. Elsewhere in the piece, Amanda puts it this way:
When an ex-gay claims that gays recruit by raping children, wingnuts can feel good about themselves, because they say, “Hey, he should know.” But of course, that’ simply not true, because the religious right has created huge incentives for so-called ex-gays to lie about their previous (and often ongoing) sexual behavior and habits, in order to keep the esteem and the paychecks coming.
Sick and sad, but true. What a feat these religious extremists have accomplished — they have an entire “ex-gay” industry devoted to making gay people hate themselves so much that they’ll travel thousands of miles around the world to confess the sins of which they’ve been brainwashed to believe they’re guilty.
For these leaders to now claim that they couldn’t have imagined that things would play out the way they have is simply more disingenuous lying. They know what they’re doing.
Shame on all of them.