The Homophobia-Christianity Complex

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 16, 2014

Since the dawn of recorded time, aggressors have shared one common trait: They believe - or would have others believe - that they are the aggrieved party.

The latest iteration of this guiding principle has consumed the airwaves, ether and pulpits among the Christian right: Practicing Christians have declared themselves a persecuted minority. These activists and commentators fail to add that we remain very much a nation far more devout than Western Europe and much of the rest of Christendom. Our pro athletes regularly have prayer circles before or after games. Out-and-proud believers populate the highest precincts of Wall Street (e.g., Mitt Romney), Hollywood (Tom Hanks, Tyler Perry, et al.), even the Devil's music (U2, Jonas Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, and many more).

The Nazis, who were masters at this, found a convenient scapegoat in "the Jews," who were blamed for everything from Germany's loss in World War I to inflation, rampant communism, rampant capitalism and bad crop yields. For today's Christian right, the blame falls squarely on the gays, widely known to them as "homofascists." Among those leading the charge is Scott Lively, whose "scholarly work" got the ball rolling back in 1995 with his book The Pink Swastika, a work of historical revisionism that argued homosexuals were not only not persecuted by the Nazis, but remained the bulwark of its power base through the entire Third Reich.

Somewhere along the way, gay men morphed from limp-wristed, dyed-miniature-poodle-walking hairdressers into muscle-bound, jack-booted thugs, the Storm Troopers of the progressive elite. Lesbians in the collective Christian consciousness didn't have nearly as far to go to fit the gross stereotype. Those who are transgender are still too busy invading restrooms to man the barricades.

Lively is typical of the way hard right-wing Christian activists have made a name for themselves - and a tidy income - by continually evoking the Homosexual Agenda, which, in its mystery, reach and power, apparently makes the Elders of Zion (a conspiracy of Jews invented by the czarist secret police) look like amateurs. The head of Abiding Truth Ministries, he was instrumental in nearly pushing through the Ugandan legislature a law that would have mandated the death penalty for practicing homosexuals. He is currently running as an independent candidate for governor of Massachusetts. Indeed, there's a whole industry based on this meme. I call it, with apologies to Eisenhower's military-industrial complex, the homophobia-Christianity complex.

The ultimate goal of this queer Fifth Column is no less than "redefining truth" and coming "to regard our conscience as an enemy," David Kupelian explained on World Net Daily, aka the voice of the oppressed, in an article titled "Meet the New Fascists - And Their Victims." In order to establish this Kingdom of the Damned, according to Jonathan Saenz, the head of Texas Values whose wife it was recently revealed left him for another woman, the homosexual militants intend to attack churches and jail pastors by the thousands.

Their list of grievances is long, but they boil down to four categories:

• Marginalizing those opposed to "the escalating gay tyranny" via the media, entertainment, sports figures and anyone else who happens to be around.

• Making the good bad, the bad good, until the good succumbs to the bad, as happened with the Boy Scouts and the Armed Forces.

• Silencing brave martyrs to the cause, such as the patriarch of cable reality show Duck Dynasty and Brandon Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla.

• Turning the law on its head, such as the ongoing claim that antidiscrimination statutes mandate Christians turn their backs on their faith to stay in business and pervert the privacy of public restrooms.

There's more, much more, but it's the last that has been most in the news. New Mexico's highest court ruled against a wedding photographer who refused to shoot a lesbian couple's nuptials. B&B owners in Hawaii and Illinois were both told to accept a lesbian couple as guests. Bakers in Oregon, Indiana and Colorado were told to accommodate LGBT patrons who wanted a wedding cake or rainbow cookie.

The Christian media has been aflame with reports that a baker in suburban Denver was threatened with jail time, he would be forced to enter a "re-education camp" and that his employees would have to undergo grueling hours of antidiscrimination reminiscent of Mao's Cultural Revolution. In truth, the owner of Masterpiece Cakes was never seriously at risk of going to jail. A perfunctory glance at the Colorado Civil Rights Division's webpage reveals he and his employees will sit through a cursory half-hour session, much of which will be spent watching a video presentation.

As reported in EDGE, just last month a baker in another gay-friendly part of the world - Shuylkill, Pa., an hour's drive from Philadelphia and the heavily gay town of New Hope - has refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple renewing their vows. The owner told one of the women that she "had talked to Jesus for two weeks and that because it was two females getting married, she couldn't make our cake."

Jesus may be a savvy businessman as well as the savior of the world. The Denver baker has found himself in a rather sweet spot. Although he may not have scored any points with potential LGBT customers, his business has been booming thanks to the custom of like-minded sympathizers - a far larger customer base than LGBT carb loaders, even in marijuana-addled Denver.

Although it's easy - OK, really easy - to dismiss these self-styled activists as crackpots, they retain a powerful hold on a significant number of Americans. Powerful fellow travelers in the media like Fox News, where the "war on Christmas" is as regular an annual event as the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony, have given them a nationwide platform. And politicians are listening.

Progressives cheered when Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer made a last-minute veto of a bill that would have rolled back anti-LGBT discrimination statutes after corporations decried it and the NFL even threatened to move the Super Bowl. But I had to look long and hard to discover what happened to the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act after it sailed through Tennessee's legislature. The bill, as per the ACLU, "crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students' personal religious viewpoints on other students" and will likely result in condoning - if not encouraging - bullying of students out or perceived to be gay.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslem, who had vetoed another bill that would have allowed teachers to "present" alternatives to Darwin's Theory of Evolution and global warming (i.e., humiliate students who disagree), is considered a relative moderate in the state. Nevertheless, he signed Religious Viewpoints into law.

Expect similar blowback in the months ahead. Meanwhile, hard right-wing Christian organizations, like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, will continue to feel the heavy brunt of the gay homothugs.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).