Tag Archives: homosexuality

And Then There’s the Blowback….

So a few days ago, I posted about a new Evangelical organization supportive of same-sex marriage. Lest readers get too excited, there’s plenty of evidence that the more conservative churches won’t go down that road without a very substantial fight. According to Baptist Press, 

 FRESNO, Calif. (BP) — The California Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Board voted Thursday (Sept. 11) to withdraw fellowship from a church whose pastor says he believes homosexual acts are not always sinful.

In a unanimous vote of the 35 members present (six were absent), the board voted to withdraw fellowship from New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif., for holding beliefs contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message. Article XVIII of the BF&M defines marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” Article XV states, “Christians should oppose … all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”

If the Southern Baptists want to dictate proper sexual behavior to their members, they are of course entitled to do so.

I just wish they–and similar churches–would spend half as much time and energy preaching against predatory behaviors, exploitation of the poor and powerless, and moral smugness (what their bibles call, if I recall, “stiff-neckness”). Or–let me go out on a real limb here–how about “forms of immorality” like wife-beating and child abuse?

Maybe the Southern Baptist Convention has issued an official statement on the recent NFL scandals, but my quick google didn’t find one. The Convention did find Michael Sams’ on-camera kiss worthy of an official condemnation, however:

Be it resolved that we believe that it is inappropriate for children to be subjected to having to watch same-sex couples engage in public displays of affection while watching a sports-related event on allegedly family-friendly channels. We discourage any further televising of such events. While there is a missing airplane somewhere in the Far East, over 200 kidnapped girls from Nigeria, and high unemployment in America, we respectfully request the President of the United States to refrain from congratulating and extending well wishes to any future homosexual professional sports players, unless simultaneously he is going to make celebratory and well wishes calls to the likes of Tim Tebow, Prince Amukamara—the “Black Tim Tebow,” and AC Green, professional athletes committed to sexual purity.

Interesting moral priorities….


From Russia, Without Love

There is a lesson for all of us in Russia’s dramatic repression of gays and gay advocacy, and it isn’t necessarily the lesson we think.

For readers who may have spent the last few weeks on an ice floe in Antartica, here’s the quick-and-dirty: Russia strongman Vladimir Putin suddenly (at least it seemed sudden from an American vantage point) announced what amounted to an official war on homosexuality. The Russian legislature unanimously rubber-stamped a measure imposing huge fines on people found to have engaged in “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which has increasingly been used to harass, fine and imprison anyone expressing pro-gay sentiments.

Although same-sex relationships are not criminal in Russia, anti-gay sentiment is very strong there, and support for Putin’s vendetta against the GLBT community is high.

Putin is engaging in a time-honored tactic employed by autocrats when things aren’t going so well. His personal prejudices or lack thereof are irrelevant. His goal is distraction, and his  tactic is to identify the most useful “shiny object”—a group sufficiently powerless and unpopular to guarantee that a high-profile campaign against its members will shift citizens’ focus away from what’s wrong with the country.

Eventually, history suggests that the group won’t just be used as a distraction; it will be made the scapegoat for all the things that are wrong with the country. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews; in other countries, it has been communists or Muslims or Shi’ites. An academic paper on scapegoating explains why it works:

A strong advantage in scapegoating is that the whole society or a whole social group is raised in status against the targeted minority or individual, and any societal behavior is at the same time legitimized (“Of course we are full of defects, but we do not act like them”).

In order to reap the political benefits of scapegoating, however, it is first necessary to dehumanize members of the targeted group. So gays are promiscuous pedophiles, Jews are scheming, rapacious businessmen, lazy black men lust for white women, Muslims are obsessed with jihad…. Whoever they may be, “they” aren’t people like us. History provides us with a long list of convenient and available stereotypes for almost any group you might want to target.

Scapegoating as a political tactic almost always arises in times of national stress—times  when things aren’t going well, and those in charge need someone to blame.

What is happening in Russia right now is a textbook example. The dissolution of the Soviet Union did not bring nirvana to the long-suffering people of Russia—far from it. Russians have struggled to form democratic governing institutions in a country that has never had them, a country without a culture of self-rule. Much the same upheaval—for many of the same reasons—is occurring in the Middle East, in the wake of the Arab Spring. For that matter, there is unrest in many other parts of the world, including much of Africa.

These are profoundly dangerous times for people who belong to marginalized groups. The temptation to “pull a Putin” will be very great in many of the countries experiencing upheaval. (And yes, if we don’t address America’s growing inequality, it can happen here.)

Gay people are at risk in Russia. We must bring political pressure to bear, and we must work to moderate and reverse Putin’s discriminatory policies. But the real lesson to be learned from this is that we are all in this together. In a dangerous world, we are all vulnerable.

When I was director of Indiana’s ACLU, I constantly reminded people that rights are indivisible. If everyone doesn’t have them, no one really does. A country that can pick on gay people today can pick on Muslims or Christians—or redheads—tomorrow.

As a friend of mine once put it, “Poison gas is a great weapon until the wind shifts.”