Monday, July 27, 2015

E. Dewey Smith Condemns Hypocrisy in the Church

"Bishop, don't tell me what the Bible says about homosexuals, and you change wives like we change underwear. Sit yourself, your hypocritical self down!"

High-profile homophobic Christians are easy to find, but it's also important to acknowledge Christians who speak out against homophobia. Pastor E. Dewey Smith of the House of Hope Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia has some strong words for homophobes in the Christian community. In a sermon posted on YouTube on July 23rd, Smith blasts homophobes for using Leviticus to condemn LGBTQ people while ignoring passages that are at odds with modern life.
"On one hand, you quote homosexuality is an abomination from Leviticus, but you say that right after you ate some shrimp, some catfish, and some lobster. You quote Leviticus while you're wearing a wool blend suit. It's also in Leviticus that you shouldn't wear mixed linens. It's in Leviticus that if your wife is on her cycle, that you shouldn't go in the same house with her or even sleep on the same bed with her. That's in Leviticus too. Here's my point: we pick and choose the scriptures that we want to use to beat folks up with, rather than look at our own lives!"
Smith reminded his audience that LGBTQ Christians have made many contributions to the church. He likened the dehumanization of LGBTQ people to the dehumanization of blacks under slavery.
"God said to me, here's the problem. You guys in the church can be so hypocritical ... You are guilty of condemning the Supreme Court system and preaching against something, but if you look at half of our choirs and a great number of our artists that we call abominations, that we call demons, we demonize and dehumanize the same people that we use, and we don't say nothing about the gay choir director because he's good for business. 'As long as the choir sounds good, I ain't saying nothing about his sexuality.' We have done what the slave master did to us: dehumanize us, degrade us, demonize us, but then use them for our advantage."
(Hat tip to the Advocate.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

News Tidbits

Daily Journal: Oath Keepers and militia 'guarding' local Armed Forces Career Center

Religion News Service: Pharmacists can’t claim religion to deny emergency contraception, appeals court rules 

Religion News Service: Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore to interview Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio at evangelical rally

USA Today: Baked in the cake: Legal battles follow gay marriage ruling 

Pink News: Clerk ‘fasted and prayed’ before refusing to marry gays

Gay Star News: Louisiana: Married gay man says he was denied communion at his mother’s funeral Mass

WMAZ 13: Dodge judge won't perform weddings, to protest same-sex ruling 

The Advocate: POLL: Thousands of U.K. Health Workers Believe in Gay 'Cure' 

Politico: Code Pink protesters disrupt Ted Cruz at rally

Commentary Tidbits

Christian Today: Protesting Mark Driscoll at the 02: Lone campaigner on why she took a stand

Vice: Why I'm Never Going Back to the Mormon Church

We Were Going to Be Queens: Mormonism makes family relationships difficult

Monsters and Critics: The Duggars Are Still Delusional

News*com*au: Aussie behind bizarre and ‘scary’ life-size replica of Noah’s Ark

Right Wing Watch: World Congress Of Families Feigns Ignorance About Supporting Anti-LGBT Extremism

Huffington Post: Exposing the Global Coalition of Organisations That Support Anti-Gay Laws Around the World

Inquisitr: Ex-Believers Accuse Jehovah’s Witness Leadership Of Covering Up Sexual Abuse

Washington Post: Living with the Amish is actually no romance novel, one woman explains

Wall of Separation: Arkansas Law Attacking LGBT Protections Goes Into Effect

Sunday, July 19, 2015

TLC Cancels "19 Kids and Counting"

The Duggar family has been reeling from a media firestorm over Josh Duggar's reported sexual abuse of children, including several of his sisters, as a teenage boy (more here). Public outrage mounted after details emerged of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's poor response to the abuse and their misguided attempts at damage control.

The Learning Channel (TLC) pulled the Duggar's reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, off the air in May shortly after the scandal broke. Now, TLC has officially canceled the show after a 10-season run, according to Talking Points Memo. Christian Today reports that fans have launched a petition to reinstate the show.

The Duggar family responded to the cancellation in a July 16th statement at their website, in which they insist that the family "overcame" the "terrible situation" of Josh's abuse.
"With God’s grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become.

It is our prayer that the painful situation our family went through many years ago can point people toward faith in God and help others who also have lived through similar dark situations to find help, hope and healing, as well."
Once again, the Duggar's message seems to be "oh, it's in the past, everybody's moving forward". Given how Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar failed to grasp the gravity of the abuse, and given how their Quiverfull subculture silences and denigrates females, I highly doubt that Josh's female victims "found healing and a way forward".

I admit, I feel schadenfreude over the Duggar gravy train coming to a screeching halt. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar promote a Quiverfull subculture that does a grave disservice to women and children. To boot, Michelle actively fought against equal rights for LGBTQ people through a transphobic robocall campaign. Finally, Jim Bob and Michelle failed to grasp the gravity of Josh's abusive behavior, failing to protect their daughters or get their son professional help after his abuse came to light. For so many reasons, I'm disgusted by the couple's choices, and I'm pleased that they're finally facing consequences for their actions.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

TLC will be exploring the issue of child abuse after the 19 Kids and Counting fiasco. In an online statement, TLC observed that "the recent attention around the Duggars has sparked a critical and important conversation about child protection." As part of this public conversation, TLC is collaborating with two victims rights organizations -- the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) and Darkness to Light -- to create a child sexual abuse awareness campaign. In a baffling move, TLC and its partners are working with the Duggar family to create a documentary on childhood abuse, which is expected to air later this summer.

My feelings about TLC's decisions are mixed. First, why did TLC wait this long to cancel 19 Kids and Counting? In my opinion, TLC should have canceled the show once it became clear that Jim Bob and Michelle completely mishandled the sexual abuse revelations in their household. Was TLC hoping that the scandal would blow over, allowing them to continue reaping profit off the show? When did they finally realize that the Duggars were a liability, and that the scandal was dragging the network's reputation through the mud? While I'm relieved that 19 Kids and Counting is off the air, I think TLC should have taken action sooner.

Second, while I applaud TLC's collaboration with RAINN and Darkness to Light, I question their decision to include the Duggars in an upcoming documentary about child abuse. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar responded to their son's abusive behavior in all the wrong ways, making them the poster children for what parents of sexually abusive youth should not do. I hope that the documentary does not feature Jim Bob or Michelle or hold up their actions as an example of what parents should do.

When Josh Duggar's sisters/victims appear in the documentary, will they feel free to speak their minds, or will they feel pressured by their subculture to defend their brother and downplay the abuse? If the latter, I worry what message this will send to other sexual abuse victims. As Elizabeth Esther argues at Time, Jill and Jessa Duggar cannot offer victims a useful model for recovery because they are still being victimized by their fundamentalist subculture. The world of Quiverfull Christianity, purity culture, and Bill Gothard in which the sisters are immersed gives males power over females, silences women and children, and promotes toxic ideas about sexuality. In short, it does not provide abuse victims with tools for healing, and may even exacerbate abuse. The documentary must stress that sexual abuse is a serious matter, victims are not obligated to forgive their perpetrators, and no one should sweep abuse under the rug.

The content of TLC's child abuse documentary remains to be seen. However, I hope their collaborators can help them create a documentary that condemns abuse and champions victims. That would be a welcome act of contrition from the network.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Think Progress: TLC Waited Two Months After Josh Duggar’s Sexual Abuse Came To Light To Cancel ‘19 Kids’

The Daily Beast: The Duggars' Road to Ruin

USA Today: Timeline of Duggar Sex Abuse Scandal

Fundamentalism's Unwritten Rules

Stuff Fundies Like recently shared a meme about unwritten rules in fundamentalism, which hit the nail on the head. Among Protestant fundamentalists, at least, unwritten rules abound for distinguishing the righteous from the unrighteous.

More times that I can count, fundamentalists assured me that all I had to do in order to be saved was to accept Jesus as my personal savior. They conveniently left out the fine print, which is required for believers to be considered truly saved in their camp. When one observes fundamentalists, the fine print quickly comes into focus:

(1) Thou shall tithe AT LEAST 10% of ones' gross income to the church, regardless of whether one is struggling with poverty, and regardless of whether the church is transparent about its finances.

(2) Thou shall adopt an anti-abortion, anti-Planned Parenthood stance, no matter how much evidence shows that reproductive health services help women.

(3) Thou shall adopt an anti-LGBTQ stance and support efforts to deny rights to the LGBTQ community.

(4) Thou shall resist church-state separation, no matter how fair or reasonable the wall of separation.

(5) Thou shall vote Republican, no matter how disastrous or unreasonable their policies.

(6) Thou shall support patriarchy. If female, thou shall submit to one's husband, no matter how foolish, selfish, or abusive his behavior. If male, thou shall lord over one's wife as a parent lords over a child. If bitterness and passive-aggression seep into one's marriage, thou shall not blame this patriarchal arrangement.

(7) Thou shall marry and have children, regardless of whether one wants to or can afford to do so.

(8) Thou shall defer to the pastor in all things.

(9) Thou shall circle the wagons around any Christian authority figure accused of illegal or unethical behavior, no matter how much suffering this inflicts on his victims.

(10) Thou shall adopt an inerrant interpretation of the Bible, no matter how abhorrent or antediluvian some of its passages may be. Thou shall ignore the passages that are incompatible with 21st century American life.

(11) Thou shall suppress one's natural feelings and faculties, including but not limited to doubt, critical thinking, sense of fairness, sexual desire, and anger.

(12) Thou shall adopt new fundamentalist language, including thought-terminating cliches and weasel words. Use of the Lord's name in vain, profanity, or the words "luck" or "magic" are grave sins deserving furious condemnation.

(13) If female, thou shall adopt arbitrary modesty standards, lest one be blamed for leading men astray. Thou shall cover up from head to toe and refrain from wearing pants.

(14) Thou shall ostracize those who will not join you. Thou shall fear and hate anyone outside of the fundamentalist bubble, thinly veiling one's disdain in language of "love". Thou shall act catty and passive-aggressive toward non-believers, apostates, and the "wrong" types of Christians if they refuse to join you.

(15) Thou shall despise nuance. Thou shall divide reality into black-and-white categories (saved vs. unsaved, Christians vs. "the world", masculine vs. feminine) and refuse to countenance shades of gray.

(16) Thou shall not respect the boundaries of others, especially when proselytizing.

(17) If Charismatic or Apostolic, thou shall speak in tongues, pray loudly and ostentatiously, and spout vague prophesies, lest the others question your faith.

I have no patience for high-pressure sales pitches that leave out the fine print. If fundamentalist Christians are going to proselytize, they should at least be honest about these unwritten rules of their faith.

News Tidbits

Talking Points Memo: Duggar Family Reality Show Finally Gets The Axe After Molestation Allegations 

Courthouse News Service: Gay Ugandans Suing Lively Seek Redactions

Gay Star News: Contractor sues Ford for firing him after he complained about it ‘promoting sodomy’

Pink News: Record broken by crowdfunding campaign for anti-gay bakery 

The Guardian: Australia: Sydney archbishop tells Catholics to resist being bullied into supporting gay marriage

Al*com: Roy Moore tells radical anti-abortion, anti-gay rights group that America is under attack

The Advocate: Pastor Encourages Christians to Fight Same-Sex Marriage Ruling With Guns

Commentary Tidbits

Al Jazeera America: America’s biggest terror threat is from the far right

Media Matters: 3 Deceptive Edits In The Video Claiming Planned Parenthood Is "Selling Aborted Baby Parts"

Spiritual Sounding Board: Christian Blogger Claims that Husbands Don’t Like to Use Words to Resolve Marital Conflict, Physical Force Works Better  

Evangelicals for Social Action: Please Stop “Loving” Us (to Death)

The Atlantic: Gay Marriage and the Future of Evangelical Colleges 

The Daily Beast: How the Religious Right Scams Its Way Onto the New York Times Bestseller List

Internment Camps, Sodomites, and Smelly Hotel Rooms

NOTE: This post contains strong language.

As mentioned in a prior post, Oath Keepers and ATLAH pastor James David Manning held an Independence Day gathering at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Racial Reconciliation and Healing event included speeches and a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Videos of the event are now available on YouTube, and make for amusing and disturbing viewing. Even though racial harmony was the event's theme, speakers went off on tangents about unrelated pet issues. Oath Keepers speakers painted the government in ominous colors, while Manning spewed his usual vitriol about LGBTQ people.

As a funny side note, James Manning was not happy with his accommodations in Gettysburg. In a July 8th video entitled "Super 8 Motel in Gettysburg Is a Flea Bag", Manning had nothing but criticism for Gettysburg's Super 8 hotel, where his group reserved twenty-five rooms. He described the hotel as as a "dive" with smelly rooms and "arrogant staff" who treated his group "like dogs". Manning urged listeners to launch a national campaign against Super 8 until something was done about the Gettysburg Super 8 manager, Brian. At the 7:22 mark, he had this to say.
"I want you to unite with me. I plan to hold a rally out in--a prayer meeting out in front of the Super 8 Hotel in Bronx, New York on Southern Boulevard, [the] one near Yankee Stadium. We're going to announce the date that we will be out there, demanding that Brian be removed from the Super 8 Motel there in Gettysburg for treating us, a busload of Christians, people who bring over four-hundred people into Gettysburg every year, as if we were dirt. They were very vicious about their pricing, they were arrogant about their pricing, they were arrogant about their accommodations, their food service was unsanitized. They were very mean-spirited."
Funny, how a preacher renown for his mean-spirited words takes offense when mean-spirited behavior is directed at him, I thought.

The Independence Day event featured messages of racial equality mingled with warnings about "exploitation of race". For example, the Oath Keepers website posted a transcript of Lyle Rapacki's speech, in which he stressed that all people are of "one blood" under God.
"Whether some like this truth or not, or want to believe or not, the Lord God created mankind upon the earth, and a black person or yellow person, is a part of the exact “race” that the white person is; THE HUMAN RACE. Since the Lord God created mankind, no person or people is “inferior” or “superior” based on their skin color, their language, or their geographical location on the earth. While it is true there is a division by skin color, language, and geographical location, these divisions were set into place by the Lord Himself. God’s Word explicitly states; we are all “of one blood” (Acts 17:26)."
Rapacki's speech also featured warnings about alleged "diabolical schemes" involving "exploitation of race" in the U.S., a country "divorced from God".
"One year ago today, Pastor James David Manning brought many of us to these hallowed grounds to begin a dialogue promoting healing and restoration between people of all color but of only one race – the Human Race! Pastor Manning asked us to come and start the process for reconciliation. Little did he know the riots of Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; New York City were waiting to ignite! Little did he know exploitation of race would be employed as a political means to excite disruption to this country already under the diabolical schemes of transformation and change into a country divorced from God and the principles written in His Word that helped shaped the foundation of this nation!"
Oath Keepers founder Steve Rhodes also argued that the powers that be are scheming to divide the country along racial and economic lines at the 1:37 mark of this video. (See above)
"Right now, there is a very well-orchestrated attempt to divide this country along racial lines, along socio-economic lines, divide the police from the people, divide the military from the people, divide you in any way possible to get you fighting each other. So what we have to do is realize we're being manipulated and fight back against that manipulation and stand together, united."
His speech quickly turned into a jeremiad against the government. Rhodes criticized the U.S. executive branch for allegedly claiming too much power, first under President George W. Bush, then under President Obama. At the 8:02 mark, he claimed that our "totalitarian" government is overseeing an unaccountable "national security state".
"Each one of you now is subject to a claimed illegitimate power that's every bit as totalitarian as anything that Josef Stalin or Adolph Hitler claimed the power to do. Life and death over you. There is a secret kill list of people they will kill, and Americans may or may not be on it, have been on it in the past, that still exists to this day. That is where our country is ... What they're doing is they are creating East Germany right here, and it is over all of you. It's over every one of you. A national security state of unaccountable shadow governments that are hidden in secrecy. NSA, CIA, operating here at home, the FBI." 
What any of this had to do with racial reconciliation in America was beyond me.

ATLAH congregant Rhonda Herrington delivered a speech on Jesus' inevitable victory over a "sodomite world", which Right Wing Watch captured and shared. Cries of "Devils, go to hell where you belong!" and "Sodomites, go to hell!" rang out from the audience. When Manning arrived at the podium, he egged on the attendees' homophobia.

"Stand up and say sodomites, go to hell," Manning urged his audience.

"Sodomites, go to hell!" the audience shouted.

In another Right Wing Watch video, Manning oozed homophobia, defending his hatred as a righteous expression of "the word of God".
"The other day before leaving here, we had on our announcement board that all fags, all lesbos, all fag churches that burn in lust for human waste will burn in hell as human waste. [Applause] Two women--a family walked by of women and looked and said, 'Ain't that a shame. A church making such a statement. How awful that is. That's not God. That's not love," they said ... You need to understand that where we are at present in America and the church,people don't believe the word of God anymore. They walked away from it. But I do, and we're going to keep on preaching and teaching that fags, lesbos, sodomites and all other hell-raisers are going directly to hell, and I pray that God will let me sit some place where I can send them to hell."
The irony of all this made me chuckle. At an event ostensibly about unity, Manning urged hatred and division. At a gathering meant to cultivate harmony, Oath Keepers representatives encouraged fear and us-versus-them thinking. While the event gave lip service to racial reconciliation, it encouraged other types of bigotry, namely homophobia. What reconciliation or harmony can be realized by people whose worldviews leave little room for it?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

News Tidbits

The Guardian: First Vatican child abuse trial places former nuncio in dock

Religion News Service: Mennonites apologize for history of sex abuse following theologian John Howard Yoder scandal

BBC News: Brazil: 'Sin free Facebook' attracts thousands

Washington Post: Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments statue isn’t going anywhere, governor says

New York Times: Boyd K. Packer, Advocate of Conservative Mormonism, Dies at 90

Houston Chronicle: Baylor University drops ban on 'homosexual acts'

Raw Story: Right-wing Christian ‘expert’ on feminism insists that submitting to marital rape makes Jesus happy

Raw Story: ‘The devil is taking control': Watch South Carolina senator derail Confederate flag debate with insane gay marriage rant

Gay Star News: Mike Huckabee: US worse than Sodom and Gomorrah after Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

Commentary Tidbits

Public Catholic: Many Rape Victims Have a Bit of Trouble with Saint Maria Goretti. Here’s Why. 

This Ain't Livin': Churches aren’t the only organisations providing direct services

Sacred and Profane: Did Pope Francis hint at rationale behind sainthood for Junipero Serra?

Al Jazeera America: Anti-abortion extremists are domestic terrorists

Godless in Dixie: The Sequel to God’s Not Dead Happened in My Classroom, But In Reverse

Time: The Troubling Connection Between Modesty Culture and Rape Culture 

Alternet: Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems 

Salon: The raging hypocrisy at the center of the Christian right’s persecution complex

Queerty: The Ten Biggest Losers of the Marriage Equality Debate, And How We Should Deal With Them


I realize that I haven't blogged for two weeks, but I'll be posting on recent Religious Right events soon. In the meantime, let's celebrate NASA's new knowledge about Pluto, courtesy of New Horizons.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

News Tidbits

CNN: Oklahoma Supreme Court orders removal of Ten Commandments

Public Religion Research Institute: Is America a Christian Nation? Majority of Americans Don’t Think So

Associated Press: Indiana's religious freedom bill among host of new laws

In Touch Weekly: Duggar Investigation: Emails Reveal Cops Were Paid to Guard the Very Family They’re Investigating

Los Angeles Times: Christian activist decries 'evil' gay marriage with a honey-smooth voice

Gay Star News: Gays want to force Christians to ‘have sex’ with them: Anti-gay pastor Tim Brooks

WKRN 2: Tennessee store owner replaces ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign

UPI: Catholic Church in Norway ordered to pay $5.1 million for fraud

News*com*au: Australia: Calls for ‘gay-away’ therapies by groups against same-sex couples to be banned

Commentary Tidbits

Overturning Tables: Everyone Who Promoted Doug Wilson’s “Gay Marriage is a Far More Serious Problem Than Slavery” Article

Friendly Atheist: Where Was God’s Wrath All Those Other Times?

The Advocate: Beware the Snake-Oil Slingers 

Huffington Post: The Struggle For The Soul of The Church

Joe.My.God: Matt Barber Columnist: All Gay-Friendly Christians Must Also Be Executed 

Corner of Church and State: 40 questions for Christians who oppose marriage equality

Reuters: Even Christian Evangelicals are warming to gay marriage

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Light Wins" Recycles Old, Tired Homophobic Arguments

Religious Right activist Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action, released an anti-LGBTQ documentary earlier this year. Light Wins: How to Overcome the Criminalization of Christianity is a confused, convoluted piece of homophobic propaganda, featuring Religious Right figures such as Mike Huckabee, David Barton, and Peter LaBarbera. The film argues that LGBTQ equality is a threat to Christianity, freedom, and children, and must be resisted by people of faith.

Right Wing Watch has posted several excerpts from Light Wins on YouTube, revealing how much homophobic rhetoric is contained in the film. In Light Wins, Porter and her fellow commentators depict gays as diseased, predatory, and fundamentally opposed to American Christian values.

In one excerpt of the film, Religious Right author David Barton applauded a Bible passage in which "sodomites" were forced into exile. He seems to be referring to 1 Kings 22:45-46, in which King Jehoshaphat "rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes".
BARTON: Very interesting thing we're told in the Book of Kings. When they had a revival, it says that they chased the sodomites out of the land. That is, they addressed the homosexual issue. They confronted it head-on. If you think we can have a revival and not address the issue of homosexuality and marriage, then you're denying the authority of the scriptures, and you're denying what history tells us across all the great revivals America's had in its own history.
1 Kings 22:45-46 refers to a king stamping out pagan worship. By likening the gay community to pagans, was Barton suggesting that LGBTQ persons are opponents of the Christian faith? Was he suggesting that LGBTQ people should be driven out of the U.S. like Jehoshaphat drove out the shrine prostitutes? I found the implications of Barton's statement disturbing. 

Light Wins depicts sexual diversity as a vector for deadly disease. The film likens "homosexual behavior" to a "lethal product" that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Gays, quite literally, are a plague in the eyes of the filmmakers.

No, idiots. Disease transmission makes people sick, not being gay. People of all orientations can contract disease through unprotected sex, not just gay people, I thought.

In another segment of the film, Porter condemns same-sex marriage as a threat to children alongside Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage and AFTAH's Peter LaBarbera. Porter claims that church-state separation in public schools created a "void" that wicked LGBTQ rights activists quickly filled. The implication, it seems, is that LGBTQ people are predators waiting to corrupt children, a dangerous myth that homophobes have used to demonize LGBTQ persons for years.
PORTER: Our children are the picture of innocence. They are by nature trusting, impressionable, and vulnerable. Prayer, God, and his commandments were kicked out of the classroom because they might influence children not to lie, steal, and kill. But ushered into that void was a dark agenda that robs children of their innocence and puts their life at risk ... In states like Massachusetts that redefined marriage back in 2004, we now know that with the redefinition of marriage comes a state invitation to indoctrinate your child.

PETERS: If you change the public law about what marriage is, then you change what the public education system does when it talks about it.

LABARBERA: It leads to children being taught dangerous sexual practices in the guise of equality.

NARRATOR: We've abandoned, we have left people who may have homosexual tendencies to adults to step in and so-called groom them, perhaps with their purposes down the line.

In a third segment, Porter depicts LGBTQ rights advances as a threat to American freedoms, framing LGBTQ equality and First Amendment rights as mutually exclusive.
PORTER: This is where the battle is the hottest, and right now, our freedoms are on fire. The attack against the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the freedom of religion has come to Main Street, to the business you own and the place where you work.
A few moments later, the film shows a map of the United States on fire, with Porter warning viewers that business owners will suffer due to LGBTQ equality. Mike Huckabee used Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson (who made homophobic and racist statements in a 2013 GQ interview and who defended child marriage in a 2009 speech) as an example of a Christian man persecuted by pro-LGBTQ "political correctness".
PORTER: When the government mandates public endorsement of sin, it's not just the bakers and photographers who suffer. It's the printers, the fire chiefs, adoption agencies, bed and breakfasts, facility owners, counselors, broadcasters, students, teachers, and groups like Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the Knights of Columbus, and the Salvation Army. And now under attack is anyone who ever ran for public office, and anyone who ever will.

HUCKABEE: Phil Robertson from the famous and successful show Duck Dynasty made some comments that, well, they might have been a little on the edge in terms of the manner in which he said them, but they were consistent again with Christian beliefs of people all over America and the world. A&E, the network that had made a lot of money off the Robertson family, initially decided to yank them off the air, but the outcry was such, they finally had to reverse that decision. In both of these cases, it was a matter of people who were politically correct somehow wanting to tell Christians to just shut up and go away. Jesus told his disciples that they weren't supposed to shut up and go away, and he told them right here at Caesarea Philippi, so I couldn't think of any better place to say it than here.
Light Wins also endorses conversion therapy and the so-called "ex-gay" movement. The implication, it seems, is that LGBTQ people are not entitled to equal rights if they can simply transform into straight people.

The film's website features contact information for so-called "ex-gay" organizations so as to provide "help for those with unwanted same-sex attractions". In the film, Porter criticizes state bans on conversion therapy for minors, depicting conversion therapy as a legitimate counseling practice for those who want to transcend "same-sex attractions". She conveniently fails to mention that medical expects have condemned conversion therapy as dubious and potentially harmful, and that the practice is not supported by research.
PORTER: In The Criminalization of Christianity, I warned that counseling people out of homosexuality would be made illegal, and now, licensed counselors in California and New Jersey are forbidden from giving hope to minors who do not want same-sex attractions. If they do anything other than encourage homosexual behavior, they will lose their license to counsel, even if they are a pastor, so for those who want help leaving homosexuality, that door is closed.
If the Right Wing Watch excerpts are anything to go by, Porter's film merely rehashes old, tired myths about the LGBTQ community. The film's attempts to demonize LGBTQ people fall flat in 2015, when most people know that gays are not diseased, predatory vermin. Porter's defense of conversion therapy is unconvincing at a time when ex-gay ministries are closing their doors and losing court battles. The film's assumption that LGBTQ people are enemies over there ignores the reality that LGBTQ people can be found among our friends, colleagues, and loved ones. The Religious Right is losing the culture wars, and propaganda films like Light Wins remind us why.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Salon: This anti-gay movie is true evil: What are Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee doing in the vile “documentary” Light Wins?

Unicorn Booty: All The Lies (And Republican Presidential Candidates) In the Despicable Anti-Gay Doc ‘Light Wins’

Raw Story: Mike Huckabee and a passel of pastors star in hilariously over-dramatic trailer for anti-gay film

Friday, July 3, 2015

News Tidbits

WITF: Pennsylvania: 'Death to Islam' signs at West York Bar draw attention 

WBIR: East Tennessee hardware store puts up 'No Gays Allowed' sign

Sydney Morning Herald: Hillsong conference shows interview with controversial U.S. pastor Mark Driscoll

In Touch Weekly: Duggars Facing Lawsuit From Nonfamily Molestation Victim

Christian Science Monitor: What do same-sex opponents do now? New plans start to bubble

Associated Press: Roy Moore on gay marriage ruling: 'Christians are going to be persecuted'

The Clarion-Ledger: Mississippi: Grenada Circuit Clerk resigns over same-sex marriage

Lexington Herald-Leader: Several Kentucky county clerks defy same-sex marriage ruling, refuse to issue marriage licenses

Arkansas Online: Cleburne County clerk will resign over same-sex marriage licenses

WFAA 8: Texas: Clerk won't issue same-sex marriage license

Al Jazeera America: Archbishop's resignation could signal change for church

Commentary Tidbits

Center for New Community: Blurring Borders: Collusion Between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents

SPLC Hatewatch: Extremist Highlights from the 2015 Western Conservative Summit

Washington Post: 81 things that Mike Huckabee has denounced

Warren Throckmorton: Hillsong’s Brian Houston Interviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll After All

Religion News Service: After gay marriage, expect conservative amnesia

Raw Story: Captive virgins, polygamy and sex slaves: What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible

Think Progress: Texas’ Attorney General Is Confused About How Religious Liberty Works

No Longer Quivering: When Christians Eat Their Own Wounded: Bill Gothard’s New Website

Huffington Post: An Evangelical Minister Explains Marriage to Rick Santorum, Dr. Moore and Mike Huckabee

Oath Keepers and ATLAH Pastor to Speak in Gettysburg on July 4th

There seems to be no end to controversial gatherings in my region this summer. Recently, Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley was the site of Restored Hope Network's annual conference and a seminar on Islamic extremism featuring Jerry Boykin. Now, a homophobic pastor and a controversial "patriot" organization are scheduled to appear in Gettysburg for an Independence Day event.

According to their website, Oath Keepers will gather at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield at 11 a.m. on July 4th. The purpose of the gathering is to "pray and bring attention to the struggles of our great nation and the attempts to divide the races," the website states. Speakers will include Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and James David Manning, pastor of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem, New York. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

ATLAH is encouraging people to take an all expenses-paid bus trip to Gettysburg for the event, which will feature gospel music and a barbecue. Funding for this trip may be a problem, since Manning begged his supporters to donate money to the event in a June 25th video.

ATLAH World Missionary Church is infamous for its inflammatory signs condemning LGBTQ people. The church has posted messages on its marquee such as "Jesus Would Stone Homos ... Stoning Is Still the Law" and "Harlem Is a Sodomite Free Zone; Stop Sodomizing Our Children in Schools Across America", according to Huffington Post.

ATLAH pastor James David Manning is notorious for his bizarre, homophobic statements about gays. During a 2014 online commentary, Manning claimed that Starbucks uses semen from "sodomites" to flavor its coffee, according to the International Business Times. Starbucks is a gathering place for "upscale sodomites", he insisted, according to Huffington Post. What Manning's obsession with gays suggests about him, we can only speculate.

Manning's appearance in Gettysburg, the site of a major Civil War battle in 1863, will come in the wake of his bizarre video statement on same-sex marriage. A new Civil War will erupt over same-sex marriage, he claimed, insisting that "the Confederates and the South will win this time." (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

Manning's friends at the Gettysburg event also have a controversial reputation. Oath Keepers describes itself as a non-partisan organization devoted to protecting the U.S. Constitution.
"Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders  who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial..."
Oath Keepers' "Declaration of Orders We Will NOT Obey" seems to have been written with fear of government detention camps, blockades, mercenaries, and an overreaching federal power in mind. The declaration includes the following vows:

  • "We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union."

  • "We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps."

  • "We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext."

  • "We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances." 

  • "We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control” during any emergency, or under any other pretext. We will consider such use of foreign troops against our people to be an invasion and an act of war."

The organization has a controversial history. Oath Keepers drew media attention in 2014 when members stood guard in Ferguson, Missouri, the city in which Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson. St. Louis County Police told the Oath Keepers to stop perching on Ferguson rooftops, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eventually, authorities ordered the Oath Keepers to leave, according to Fox 2 St. Louis.

Oath Keepers also supported Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy during his high-profile dispute with the Bureau of Land Management, according to Talking Points Memo. SPLC Hatewatch reported that tensions erupted between the Oath Keepers and other militiamen during their time at the Bundy ranch camp.

The vitriolic language of the group's leader has also attracted public attention. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, said that Senator John McCain should be "hung by the neck until dead" for treason at a Liberty On Tap gathering in Tempe, Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic and Right Wing Watch.

I don't know what public statements will come out of this collaboration between Oath Keepers and Manning. I do wonder how much racial harmony will be realized at a gathering featuring a pastor who claimed that "sodomy is a white people's disease" and praised a KKK imperial wizard who "despises and eschews evil the way any righteous man will".

For more information, visit Right Wing Watch, which has kept meticulous tabs on Oath Keepers and Manning. Hatewatch, the blog of the Southern Poverty Law Center, regularly reports on U.S. patriot groups, including Oath Keepers.