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


  1. Thank you for posting this. I'm afraid that there are a lot of people who follow this argument, but when in front of the right audience claim that they oppose the SCOTUS decision because they think that gay marriage laws should be "up to the states."

    1. Donna -- Thanks. More people are seeing through the "states' rights" nonsense, fortunately.


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