This is the best time in the history of the planet to be homosexual. New York was added to the marriage equality club, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is now the embarrassing relic of the past, and we have never had a better ally in the White House than President Barack Obama. Public opinion is on our side for the first time in the history of the country, and our movement has finally obtained the momentum necessary to see even broader successes in the future. Things are better than they ever have been, and the future promises profound gains in our struggle for full national equality.
Perhaps due to these victories, it becomes more and more difficult for the gay community to appropriately quantify for the general public the depth of opposition we still face. Our society is a little drunk with progress, and it is easy to mistakenly assume that the fight is all but over. I wish that were true, and I wish all this progress made me feel better about the state of things.
Let’s look at those polls. Back in 1996, according to the New York Times, support for gay marriage was about 25%. I am guessing this number was primarily made up of gay people, hardcore progressives, and the families of those gay people forward thinking enough to cast their prejudices away and embrace equality. The most recent polls show that this has grown to around 54%. Great right? Look at those gains!
Genocide. Awesome. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that my boyfriend and I can’t get married because of Jesus reasons, I also get to live in a world where fundamentalist Christians want me and my millions of LGBT brothers and sisters put to death.
Except that sucks. 54% fails any class on earth. The same poll shows 40% opposed. It’s these people I am concerned with. If I filled a room with 10 people. 6 of them think I am a person, 4 of them do not. Of those four, one of them is this guy, New Hope Baptist Church Pastor Curtis Knapp.
“[Gays] should be put to death, that’s what happened in Israel, that’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel,” Pastor Knapp says. “It tends to limit conversions, it tends to limit people coming out of the closet. ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them?’ No, I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should. Say, ‘I can’t believe you, you’re horrible, you are a backwards Neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what they are calling scripture? Is God a Neanderthal backwards morality? Is this his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine, and I’m not ashamed of it.”
Genocide. Awesome. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that my boyfriend and I can’t get married because of Jesus reasons, I also get to live in a world where fundamentalist Christians want me and my millions of LGBT brothers and sisters put to death. Fantastic news. I can’t adequately describe for straight people the feeling you get when large groups of your fellow citizens, people who you have never even met, much less harmed in any way, passionately advocate for the execution of you or anyone like you. I really didn’t need this in my day.
Really look at that statement. He is saying four things:
- Homosexuals should be rounded up and murdered.
- The collection and extermination of homosexuals should be the official policy of the United States government. He sounds almost annoyed by the idea that he would personally have to do any of this killing, instead insisting that it is the job of the government to stage this particular public policy. This is apparently one government program he can get behind. Socialized Genocide. What fun he must be at parties.
- This would “limit the conversation” and keep people in the closet. I expect this part is likely true.
- I may be wrong, but he appears to believe that there are no homosexuals in Israel. This may be a bit of a surprise to the many LGBT Israelis living and working in Israel.
This isn’t just one psychopath’s extreme view. This stuff crops up all the time. Here is another one from last week. This time, the pastor has a plan.
“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Pastor Worley says, as his sermon builds. ”Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”
Apart from the basic incoherence of this statement, I find myself a little confused about the overall concept. Gay people come largely from straight parents. You can round us all up for today, but we are genetically impossible to entirely eliminate. New models come out all the time. Are fresh homosexuals going to be arrested and sent to this concentration camp upon discovery of their sexuality? Are there going to be special police assigned to “round up the homos” detail, or are the regular beat cops going to be expected to do this dirty work? What of children? If a 13-year old boy comes out of the closet, do you wait until he’s 18 to imprison and then murder him, or do you tear him from the arms of his parents right then? Is there food in this camp, or are we intended to starve to death? I’m just not sure how this is all supposed to work. Details are important.
If you are opposed to equal rights for LGBT people on religious grounds, then you must therefore support the part about killing all of us. I didn’t make this up, your guy did, and you can’t have it both ways.
Two pastors, two different states. These are simply two examples of anti-gay genocidal religious extremism, only notable due to their close proximity in the news cycle. What percentage of fundamentalist Christians feel this way? If it is a number higher than zero, then Christianity has a problem. Keep in mind, these churches aren’t empty on Sunday. Pastor Worley was immediately defended by his parishioners.
“So he had every right to say what he said, about putting them in a pen, feeding them. The Bible says they’re worthy of death. He only preaches the word,” says Geneva Sims of the Pastor’s plan to kill gay people. Sims is a parishioner of Pastor Worley and fully supports him.
The problem here is that she is absolutely correct. That is exactly what the bible says. I turn to Leviticus 20:13.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
That seems pretty clear. The problem for me here is one of intellectual consistency. As religious conservatives can’t wait to remind everyone, the Bible is straight forward about this subject, and those passages are the basis for most of the resistance seen by the 40%. However, if the word of God is basis enough to deny homosexuals the right to marry, then what is to be done about the “put to death” part. Which is it? Is the word of God literal truth, or not? I get that some parts of the Bible are somewhat ignored. The slavery stuff, and the horrifying treatment of women are mostly avoided. People seem to be plenty busy on the sabbath, and there is enough divorce and adultery to fuel 1000 reality shows a minute. But with the Leviticus passage, mainstream conservative political figures are attempting to both disavow, and enforce, two parts of the exact same sentence. If you are opposed to equal rights for LGBT people on religious grounds, then you must therefore support the part about killing all of us. I didn’t make this up, your guy did, and you can’t have it both ways. If I will be forced to live under these rules, despite my not being Christian, then I just want to be able to make sense of them. In these times of oppression at the hands of our Christian rulers, even an Atheist has to be a little bit of a biblical scholar.
The Christian community, by not explicitly denouncing these people in large, public, and explicit terms, are tacitly endorsing these extreme views. Every pastor preaching genocide should be met with one hundred preaching love and acceptance.
Keep this in mind as you hear these people call for the death of all gays. This kind of hate doesn’t belong only to the Westboro Baptist Church. There are hundreds of Westboro Baptist Churches out there, and these people aren’t kidding. This isn’t hyperbole for them. This is a matter no less important than the preservation of their their immortal soul, and the salvation of what they see as a morally bankrupt society. These people are trying to be good Christians. If we are ever going to have real progress on LGBT issues, we need to be honest about where everyone stands, and who asked them to stand there. Christianity is a large component, justification, and sanctuary for hate based anti-gay bigotry.
Is this all Christians? Of course not. Does this make up all of what Christianity is about? Also no. But those decent, good hearted Christians who take the long view of history by supporting equal rights for all of our nation’s citizens have a responsibility. As a card carrying Sodomite, it is unlikely that anything I say will have much sway over those who wish nothing more than my federally mandated execution. It is up to decent, non-genocidal Christians to clean up this mess. Know that when people like Pastors Worley and Knapp give fiery speeches about how horrible gay people are, and how awesome it would be if the government would exterminate us, this reflects on Christianity as a whole. This dogmatic quagmire isn’t our problem to solve. This war needs to be waged in the pews of every country church, and in the hearts of every decent Christian. The Christian community, by not explicitly denouncing these people in large, public, and explicit terms, are tacitly endorsing these extreme views. Every pastor preaching genocide should be met with one hundred preaching love and acceptance. Christianity must get its house in order. Christians must adapt their dogma for the modern age, or embrace the basic hatred at the heart of those passages. Either the homosexuality part of the Bible is to be ignored, or homosexual genocide is part of the Christian platform. Anything else is either cynical political posturing, or a demonstration of shockingly poor reading comprehension skills. Again, I didn’t make these rules. Your guy did. Either these passages are to be taken seriously, or they aren’t.
Either way, let me know about the fence. If you are going to round up all gay people and throw them in an electrified desert pen, I’d like to pack a few things for what will surely be the party of the century. Think Bonaroo, but with better alcohol. We’ll have people waiting in long, long lines trying to get into our side of the fence.
Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.
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