Category Archives: Christian Right

>It’s Official: You Can’t Pray Away The Gay

>At dinner Tuesday night the guy at the next table was speaking extremely loud, the kind of loud that you can’t help but overhear, much as you wish you could. And I really wished I could, because what he was saying was standard-issue evangelical Christianese.

Yuck. Reminded me of the time my mother and I went to Tony Roma’s and the couple at the next table waxed enthusiastically through the entire meal about how great God is to have created such awesome barbecue.

Anyway, such things wouldn’t be noteworthy here in the buckle of the Bible belt except Tuesday’s dinner yakker set off my gaydar big time. In fact, the disparity between the evangelical religious-speak and the clanging gaydar made it difficult for me to concentrate on my food, which I needed to do because we were using chopsticks, which I’ve never mastered. I just wanted to go over and ask the guy if he was aware he was gay and I hoped his church was okay with that, because if they weren’t, there are plenty of churches in Nashville that are.

Now of course I don’t know this person or what kind of church they are part of, so it’s very possible they’ve found a welcoming and affirming congregation, though there are precious few of those of the evangelical flavor.

But it’s really sad that so many religious folks have this completely messed up attitude toward gays and lesbians, even promoting these totally abusive “therapy” programs that the APA has now officially concluded don’t work:

There is no evidence to support the claims of some practitioners that sexual orientation can be changed through therapy, a special committee of the American Psychological Assn. reported today. Mental health professionals should not tell patients that they can change their sexual orientation and instead should help them “explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation,” according to the report, which was released at a Toronto meeting of the association and online.

I wonder if the American Family Assn.’s Charlie Butts will be all over this story like he was the APA’s statement on the “gay gene” that he misconstrued and redacted to say what he wanted it to. That lie ricocheted around the right wing media, including WingNut Daily.

It seems to me it’s better for everyone all around if we just accept people for who they are and be done with it, and avoid such tragic experiences as the ones “ex-gay therapy” survivor Patrick McAlvey relates here:

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Filed under Christian Right, GLBT

>This Week In Intolerance

>Book burnings? Really? Sadly, when it comes to library books that don’t portray GLBT folks as demons, yes:

Ginny Maziarka, 49, said the books in the section of the library aimed at children aged 12 to 18 included homosexual and heterosexual content she thought was inappropriate for youths.

She and her husband also asked the library to obtain books about homosexuality that affirmed heterosexuality, such as titles written by “ex-gays,” Maziarka said.

“All the books in the young-adult zone that deal with homosexuality are gay-affirming. That’s not balance,” she said.

[..]

Outside West Bend, the fight caught the attention of Robert Braun, who, with three other Milwaukee-area men, filed a claim against West Bend calling for one of the library’s books to be publicly burned, along with financial damages.

The four plaintiffs — who describe themselves as “elderly” in their complaint — claim their “mental and emotional well-being was damaged by [the] book at the library.”

The claim, unconnected to the Maziarkas, says the book “Baby Be-bop” — a fictional piece about a homosexual teenager — is “explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian.”

Braun, who says he is president of a Milwaukee group called the Christian Civil Liberties Union, said he singled out the book because it “goes way over the line” with offensive language and descriptions of sex acts.

So, just to recap: A Wisconsin mom wants to remove books about gays from the young adult section of her public library because they don’t portray gays as having some kind of disorder.

Meanwhile, some old farts who don’t even live in that town claim to have been so traumatized by one of the books in the library that they want it to be burned and they are suing for damages.

Let’s be even more clear: West Bend, where the library is located, is in Washington County, “an hour’s drive north of Milwaukee.”

Braun lives in West Allis, in Milwaukee County, which is just west of downtown Milwaukee. Not very close to West Bend, at all. I’m wondering if he couldn’t be emotionally damaged by some library books a little closer to home?

However, I did learn that West Allis is home to the International Clown Hall Of Fame. I think they have a new member to induct.

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Filed under Christian Right, gay equality, GLBT

>Overturning Tables

>Yet another right-wing fundiegelical snake-oil salesman attempts the inevitable post-scandal “comeback”:

“This is not going to be your daddy’s Christian Coalition,” Reed said in an interview to describe his new venture, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “It has to be younger, hipper, less strident, more inclusive and it has to harness the 21st century that will enable us to win in the future.”

Here’s a question: why are these right-wing conservative Christian groups always “coalitions”? Who are they coalescing with?

I visited the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s website and here’s what a found: a picture of a happy white family and this message:

We are advocating time-honored values, protecting the dignity of life and marriage, reducing taxes, and insuring [sic] fiscal responsibility in Washington.

Oh. So in other words, the same old shit, complete with grammatical error. So much for that “less strident” and “more inclusive” stuff.

There’s no coalition here, just a scandal plagued homophobe peddling the same crap we’ve already decided we don’t want. Hey Ralph, I’ve got a steaming cup of STFU and it’s got your name on it.

Here’s Reed again:

“You have to reinvent it,” Reed said. “It’s the political analog to the iPod and the iPhone. It would be cool. It would be transformative. It would transform our politics and bring younger people to our ranks. All of those are critical imperatives.”

You know you’re doing this religion thing wrong when:

• “faith” means you have to be a member of one particular political party;
• “faith” has anything to do with consumerism;
• you need your “faith” to be “cool.”.

If you’re describing your movement as “the new iPod” then you’re not talking about faith, but a product. And that’s just wrong.

Faith is not a product. It is not a political party. And it is not a trend that is “cool” or “uncool,” “in” or “out.”

Ralph Reed is a first-class huckster and charlatan. Anyone who gives him a dime has been duped.

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Filed under Christian Right, Ralph Reed

>War On St. Patrick’s Day

>Oh, fer crissakes. Stop the insanity!!

Granted, the original is from the Waco Tribune, not exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity. But holy shamrock, Batman. I’m with Thers: this is the laziest excuse for reporting this side of a wingnut wank-fest like WorldNutzDaily:

“Some folks”…? “Card shops”…? “The Disney Channel”…? “Some Places”…?

Who? Where? No specific card shops advertising “Shamrock Day” are mentioned in the article, and I haven’t seen any, though perhaps I only hang out in the more disreputable card shops.

Turns out one children’s museum in Berkeley is all it takes to spawn an eeeevil librul “trend” that threatens this Christian nation. You have to dig pretty deep into the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to find any mention of “Shamrock Day” over at House of Mouse. Looks like the story was mostly pulled out of reporter Terri Jo Ryan’s ass.

Onward Christian soldiers. Isn’t there a war on poverty you people could be fighting?

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Filed under Christian Right

There’s A Cult In The Quiver

Whew. This is gonna be a long one, folks.

Over at Salon I just read about Vyckie Garrison Bennett, a former member of the Quiverfull movement.

Surely by now everyone has heard of Quiverfull, but if not, here’s some background from the Salon piece:

In 1985, homeschooling leader Mary Pride wrote a foundational text for Quiverfull, “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality.” The book argued that family planning is a slippery slope, creating a “contraceptive mentality” that leads to abortion, and that feminism is incompatible with Christianity. As an antidote, Pride told Christians to reject women’s liberation in exchange for the principles of submissive wifehood and prolific stay-at-home motherhood. The core ideology was a direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade: Women’s bodies and lives did not belong to them, but to God and his plans for Christian revival.

For those women who have left the movement–and some still in it–the Quiverfull lifestyle is grueling,

one of unceasing labor and exhaustion — a near-constant cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and the care of small children — for the women at its center.

I never thought God meant us to have families of eight or 10 or 12, otherwise we’d have litters, like Newscoma’s puppies. God wouldn’t have intelligently designed the human female body to do things like suppress ovulation while breastfeeding. And the notion that Christians can “out-breed” the enemy just doesn’t make any sense; if God gave everyone free will, then square parents are just as likely to have round children as square ones. You just can’t assume your kids are going to grow up to be Fundie true believers.

But that’s just me.

Garrison’s story is compelling because she was one of the leading voices in Quiverfull; under her married name Bennett she wrote articles in movement publications (you can read some here at the Nebraska Family Times). Her family was even named the Nebraska Family Council’s “Family of the Year” in 2003. But behind the facade, the “Godly family” and perfect “Proverbs 31 wife” was crumbling.

Garrison finally left the movement (and her husband) when her eldest daughter attempted suicide. As she observed acidly on her blog:

“I could have kids in the psych ward for a lot less effort.”

Heh.

Equally tragic is the story of Garrison’s fellow Quiverfull apostate, Laura, who blogged her story of being the daughter of a lesbian-feminist couple turned “Proverbs 31 wife.” This strong-willed and independent-minded woman found her way into the movement through a boyfriend who eventually became her husband. Because her parents were lebsians, Laura was instructed to shun them, to “protect her children from them” — their own grandparents.

These stories are not just tragic, they are huge red flags to me. Removing individuals from their support structure — family and friends — and replacing that support with a new one; separating the world into those who have privileged access to an exclusive truth and those who do not; placing a group’s doctrine over and above an individual’s experience; use of overly-simplified, cliche-ridden language and slogans; use of “sacred science” — the idea that if something works for so many in the group it has the authority of “science”; and a cult of confession where one’s testimony is told so often it becomes a well-rehearsed script outlining how lost and sinful the individual was before finding salvation in the group: these are all classic hallmarks of a cult. For those interested, noted researcher Robert J. Lifton warned of this way back in 1981.

I was raised in Los Angeles in the ‘70s and well remember the stories of abusive cults and equally abusive cult “deprogrammers.” When I was a kid you couldn’t walk through Westwood Village (our version of the shopping mall back then) without being accosted by Moonies, Jews for Jesus, Hare Krishnas (we called them “hairless Krishnas” because of their shaved heads), Synanon and est adherents, you name it.

I well remember front-page stories about Scientologists infiltrating the FBI and members of Synanon placing a rattlesnake in the mailbox of an attorney representing an ex-member of the group.

Since then we’ve stopped talking about cults and thought-control techniques in this country. It’s almost become a quaint vestige of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, as if the cult movement is something we don’t need to worry about anymore. And cults thrive under this kind of ignorance.

Cults are everywhere around us, disguised as religions, self-help groups, economic groups and even political groups. Anyone is susceptible to the lure of a cult–anyone. You don’t have to be from a “certain kind of family” or a typical “lost soul” to be susceptible. You don’t have to live on a compound in the countryside to be in a cult. Any group that demands the subjection of individual will and personal identity to group will and group identity is a cult. Any group that does not allow followers to question the group’s belief system should be approached with caution.

Let’s quit pretending that cults are something from our past. Our country is going through hard times, people are searching for answers to questions which may have none. Absolutism and certainty are seductive, but most of the time they are false concepts. It goes against human nature to be comfortable with the gray, to be content with flux and instability, and this is why cults thrive. But cults destroy families; left to their own devices, they can give rise to massive totalitarian movements. History proves this.

It’s time we got comfortable with the words “cult” and “thought control” again. We live in a mass-media age, and the tools of exploitation have expanded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

I’m not meaning to knock religion here, and not all religions are cults. Stories like Vyckie Garrison’s are warnings of a larger problem at play. As the country splinters ever further into ideological sub-groups, isolated and insulated through technology, we put ourselves at risk.

Make of that what you will.

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Filed under Christian Right, cults, culture wars, feminism, religious fundamentalism

>The Future Is Here & Its Name Is Bobby Jindal

>No, not really. But David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network thinks so. He’s got a man-crush and its name is Bobby Jindal:

Bobby Jindal is going to be a star. Correct that. He is a star already. His star turn came tonight when the Lousiiana [sic] Governor gave the Republican response to President Obama’s speech tonight. Can anybody say 2012?

Can you? Can you feel the Jindal-mentum? Huh? CAN YOU? I’M TALKING TO YOU!

It gets better:

In Jindal, the GOP has a new fresh face who is ridiculously bright, very convincing and folksy. He’s a little bit of everything. You see it’s all about how you package it. It’s all about how you are defined as a candidate. Jindal has the advantage of being a guy who has huge upside in the way he’s defined. By being a different sort of looking Republican, he has a built in advantage already in a party looking to redefine itself. It molds perfectly together.

Whoa there, cowboy. What do you mean by “different sort of looking Republican”? You mean … not white? Or just … a really goofy grin and big ears?

I’m thinking he means “not white.” But as I said before, if the Republican Party wants to redefine itself, it will need to do more than change the color of the person talking. They need to put to rest their tired old “government is the problem not the solution” script. And based on Jindal’s performance last night, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Meanwhile, the free hand of the market doesn’t think Jindal 2012 is a good investment after last night’s speech.

Ooops.

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Filed under Bobby Jindal, Christian Right, David Brody

>Rebranding The Religious Right

>Apparently the “religious right” is looking to rebrand itself:

However, several politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the “Religious Right,” “Christian Right,” “Moral Majority,” or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.

“There is an ongoing battle for the vocabulary of our debate,” said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. “It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the ‘American Taliban,’ ‘fundamentalists,’ ‘Christian fascists,’ and ‘extreme Religious Right.’ “

Amazing. I wonder why that is? Hmmm …

But I digress:

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Family, said that when writers include terms like “Religious Right” and “fundamentalist,” they can create negative impressions.

“Terms like ‘Religious Right’ have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism,” Schneeberger said. “The phrase ‘socially conservative evangelicals’ is not very exciting, but that’s certainly the way to do it.”

I wonder if Schneeberger gets that it’s not the use of the term Religious Right by journalists that creates the negative impressions but the actions of those people these journalists are writing about.

And it always amazes me that the Religious Right tries to present itself as some kind of majority–dare I say it, a Moral Majority?–and then acts offended when their crackpot ideas about women, birth control, gays, science, etc. are held up for ridicule. If this group was anything close to a “majority” their ideas wouldn’t be viewed as radical and their self-identifiers wouldn’t become pejoratives.

And why do they care? Christianity has always been a counter-cultural movement. They should revel in being a fringe minority. That’s the point. Be mocked for Jesus, and wear it as a badge of pride. Blessed are those who are persecuted … Blessed are you when people insult you. Don’t you guys read that part of the Bible?

Furthermore, while a cumbersome phrase like ‘socially conservative evangelicals’ may (temporarily at least) be more palatable to the folks at Focus on the Family, it seems to exile Bill Donohue, Raymond Burke, and the rest of the non-evangelical socially conservative zealots from their freaky little club. Suck on it, Catholic League! You’re not invited to the party!

Well, good luck with the reframing, folks. I know it helped a lot of Southern Baptist churches to drop the “Baptist” from their name–at least until people got to know them better. Once again, focusing on the image and not the content, a favorite conservative strategy, has lead to predictable, superficial results. Just be who you are and be proud of it.

Here’s a little ditty that I stumbled across in your honor. And a warning: this is not safe for work, so keep the volume down low or the earbuds in place:

(h/t, ThinkProgress.)

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Filed under Christian Right, Christianity, religious right

>I See Your Fantaticism And Raise You One Zealotry With A Side Of Biblical Illiteracy

>Rep. Michelle Bachman, R-Wingnuttia, takes the right-wing habit of cherry-picking Bible passages to score political points to new levels of idiocy:

GOP Rep. To Environmentalists: Jesus Already Saved The Planet

“[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she’s just trying to save the planet,” Bachmann told the right-wing news site OneNewsNow. “We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet — we didn’t need Nancy Pelosi to do that.”

Oooh, saving the planet–bad! There goes the premise of every Hollywood blockbuster of the past 30 years.

By Bachman’s logic, why search for a cure for cancer, or AIDs, or any other disease, since Jesus already saved us all 2,000 years ago? Why fight starvation, since those kids with the swollen bellies in Africa were saved 2,000 years ago?


Why–dare I ask it–fight abortion, since those “unborn babies” you’re constantly yammering about were already saved 2,000 years ago?

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Filed under Christian Right, Michelle Bachmann

>Yank That Leash

>I wonder how conservatives ever got elected before evangelical voters were manipulated to the polls by election-year ploys like this one:

Measure that could ban abortion on November ballot

DENVER — Whether the state constitution should define life as beginning at fertilization will be up to Colorado voters in November.

And unlike other ballot initiatives, it appears it will head to the ballot without having to go through the courts.

The Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday certified that Peyton resident Kristi Burton collected more than enough signatures to put her Personhood Amendment to a statewide vote.

The newly renamed Amendment 48, which opponents fear could be used to ban abortions and is likely to make Colorado a national battleground, is the third citizens initiative to qualify for the ballot this year.

[…]


Protect Families Protect Choices Coalition spokeswoman Crystal Clinkenbeard said Thursday the organization doesn’t plan to sue over Amendment 48, Instead, it will work to defeat it at the polls, she said.

Colorado is one of the Western states pundits say could swing to the Democrats in the presidential election, so it’s predictable that a piece of wingnut candy has found its way onto the November ballot. Conventional wisdom holds that pro-life evangelical voters who wouldn’t bother to show up at the polls for John McCain will make the effort for a pro-life amendment. The hope is that they’ll check the box for the Republican candidate while they’re there.

That could backfire, though, as BeliefNet’s interview with Mark DeMoss illustrates:

Barack Obama is trying hard to win evangelical voters. Does that effort stand a chance?

If one third of white evangelicals voted for Bill Clinton the second time, at the height of Monica Lewinsky mess—that’s a statistic I didn’t believe at first but I double and triple checked it—I would not be surprised if that many or more voted for Barack Obama in this election. You’re seeing some movement among evangelicals as the term [evangelical] has become more pejorative. There’s a reaction among some evangelicals to swing out to the left in an effort to prove that evangelicals are really not that right wing. There’s some concern that maybe Republicans haven’t done that well. And there’s this fascination with Barack Obama. So I will not be surprised if he gets one third of the evangelical vote. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 40-percent.

In fact, a good bit has been written about young evangelicals swinging to Obama. The rules have changed with this election; the old GOP playbook no longer applies. The Bush-era political tactic of using Christian voters for political gain has backfired. You can’t give people hugs and kisses in person, then refer to them as “nuts” behind their back, and not expect to suffer the consequences.

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Filed under 2008 presidential election, abortion, Christian Right

>Hooked On Edenics

>The cavalcade of clowns continues:

Here you will discover that ALL human words contain forms of the Edenic roots within them. These proto-Semitic or early Biblical Hebrew words were programmed into our common ancestors, Adam and Eve, before the language dispersion, or babble at the Tower of Babel — which kickstarted multi-national human history.

Oh, for crying out loud. I thought I put you morons on my Burn List this year. 

Amusing though this may be, the problem with religion-as-fake-science is that before you know it, some idiot in Kansas is going to want to teach “Edenics” as an alternative to Linguistics, and they will find another group of idiots–maybe, for instance, the Alliance Defense Fund–to pay for the series of lawsuits to try to force this garbage onto American kids. Meanwhile, another group of idiots, completely unrelated, will complain about “frivolous lawsuits.”

And no one will get the irony.

(h/t, Pharyngula)

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Filed under Christian Right, science