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God Hates Fags Is The Heart Of The Religious Right

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From Fred Phelps to Tony Perkins to Bryan Fischer to Rick Santorum to Rick Perry, “God hates fags” — the concept — is at the very heart and soul of the Religious Right.

Say what you will about the Westboro Baptist Church, at least they are straight forward about their argument. Fred Phelps doesn’t go around hiding his hateful message in code phrases such as “protecting marriage” or waste time talking about how his organization is only trying to defend “family values.” They cut straight to the point. God hates fags. Simple. Concise. It takes people like Tony Perkins the entirety of his Hardball segment to put a well honed shine on precisely the same message.

This nuance is the mark of a quality hate group. While it is impossible to take the Westboro Baptist Church seriously, organizations like Focus on the Family maintain their popular legitimacy by being sneakier about their hate. They operate through slander, and construct elaborate narratives designed to paint the LGBT community as sinister and depraved. It is important they not be seen as the mean spirited thugs they truly are, but as heroes, fighting on behalf of the Lord in the war on moral decay. Only then can their own motivations escape scrutiny.

But the work of fantasy creation is hard and perpetual. In order to create the monsters their campaign requires, they must always be super imposing their version of reality on the world. This effort is much like trying to blow up an inner-tube with a hole in it; it will only stay inflated for as long as someone is breathing hot air into it. Every mild-mannered same-sex couple who wishes only to adopt must be somehow transformed into dire threats to society. Every gender non-conforming teenager must be marginalized and painted as maladjusted threats to community tranquillity. Every moment must be tinted and reprogrammed to reflect their basic assertions. This is the job of people like Tony Perkins. He constructs the argument.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

Gays shouldn’t be allowed to do [whatever the topic of discussion happens to be] because they have never been allowed to historically. It will lead to acceptance of the “homosexual lifestyle.” This acceptance will cause the destruction of society.

Why will not being awful to gay people destroy society?

Because homosexual behavior is immoral, and doing anything other than throwing rocks these degenerates amounts to willing support of immorality.

And why is this behavior immoral, and not just, you know, none of anyone’s business?

Because God says so, and don’t argue, because if you do, it means that you are discriminating against Christians, and our right to deprive people of their civil rights in accordance with Jewish laws written thousands of years ago. We believe it, so you have to too.

In summary, God hates fags.

Shockingly, some people require more proof than the biblical interpretations of Fred Phelps and Rick Santorum. After all, there is a vast portfolio of things that piss off God. The Bible takes a decidedly hard line on adultery for example, yet somehow Newt Gingrich’s propensity for double-booking his penis isn’t so much of a problem.

“Bearing False Witness” is also kind of a no-no, yet that doesn’t stop Rick Santorum from lying his ass off whenever the moment suits him.  How are those on the fence supposed to understand how dangerous homosexuality really is? Can someone produce a little evidence of this homosexuality provoked global carnage?

Friends, this is where things get ugly.

Meet Bryan Fischer. Mr Fischer hosts a radio show, and has long worked with the American Family Association (SPLC-certified hate group) as Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy. Mr. Fischer was a massive Rick Perry supporter, and as part of the AFA helped sponsor Rick Perry’s prayer rally held back in August. He is also an AIDS denialist.

That’s right. AIDS Denialism is a thing. In America, AIDS denialism is the notion that rather than AIDS being caused by HIV, AIDS is instead brought on either by the “unhealthy nature” of homosexuality, or as punishment from God, or most probably, both. I’ll let Mr. Fischer explain. From The Huffington Post:

“The reason HIV was invented as the cause of AIDS is it was a way to get research money,” [Bryan] Fischer, who serves as Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), said on his “Focal Point” radio show. “If AIDS is caused by behavior…there’s no money in that because you just tell people, ‘Hey, stop doing the behavior.’ So that’s why they have to find some bug that they can blame it on.”

I know. Shocking, right? What the hell is he talking about? HIV dosen’t cause AIDS? Since when? How on earth would this horrifying person justify such absurd nonsense? Further explanation can be found in this post from the AFA blog, in a post authored by Mr. Fischer.

Gays around the world have been all atwitter over my reporting on Peter Duesberg’s theory that HIV does not cause AIDS. Duesberg, who is a molecular biologist at UC Berkeley and one of the leading virologists in the world, argues, persuasively in my view, that HIV is a harmless passenger virus. (His credentials are impeccable: he isolated the first cancer gene in 1970, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986.)

The breakdown in the immune system, which gives AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) its name, is caused, in Duesberg’s scientific opinion, by the cumulative damage done to the human body primarily through the use of alkyl nitrites, or “poppers,” in the homosexual subculture. Inhaling nitrites heightens the sexual experience and makes it possible to engage in multiple sexual episodes in a matter of hours.

See how that works? Conservatives require “proof” that being gay is immoral and will lead to the destruction of society. AIDS has served as that proof. It is used as the great gay boogyman by those unscrupulous and shameless enough to resort to using it. People like Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield, who last week said:

It is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.

In other words, only filthy gay people get AIDS. Read David Badash’s superb take down of Stacey Campfield right here.

So who is this Peter Duesberg, scholar of the AIDS Denialism movement, the man who represents the cornerstone upon which the premise of AIDS denialism is based? Bryan Fischer is right. He does have outstanding credentials. He was in fact elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986, and was really was the first person to isolate a Cancer Gene. All true.

Keep in mind though, it wasn’t until 1987 that he started talking about this nutty AIDS denialsm stuff, and it wasn’t exactly well received in the scientific community. Steven Epstein goes into this in some detail his his excellent book Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge.

I’m going to edit this down, as the section is quite long, but I encourage any of you interested to read the entire thing. It really is worth it.

…PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] was unlikely to be receptive to Duesberg’s views. Yet by virtue of having been inducted into the academy a few years earlier, Duesberg enjoyed a privilege unique in the world of scientific research: NAS members generally could publish in the Proceedings without submitting themselves to the rigors of formal, anonymous peer review.

[Chairman of the editorial board Igor Dawid] eventually surrendered to the inevitable. “At this state of protracted discussion I shall not insist here—if you wish to make these unsupported, vague, and prejudicial statements in print, so be it. But I cannot see how this could be convincing to any scientifically trained reader.” In truth, what Dawid may have failed to see was that Duesberg could later use the very fact of having been published in the Proceedings as capital to advance his position.

Which is exactly what he did. But perhaps this is just an example of the scientific community expressing resistance to an unpopular or controversial idea. I turn to this investigation by Science Magzine to do the heavy lifting here:

This investigation reveals that although the Berkeley virologist raises provocative questions, few researchers find his basic contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS persuasive. Mainstream AIDS researchers argue that Duesberg’s arguments are constructed by selective reading of the scientific literature, dismissing evidence that contradicts his theses, requiring impossibly definitive proof, and dismissing outright studies marked by inconsequential weaknesses.

The main conclusions of Science’s investigation are that:

  • In hemophiliacs (the group Duesberg acknowledges provides the best test case for the HIV hypothesis) there is abundant evidence that HIV causes disease and death.
  • According to some AIDS researchers, HIV now fulfills the classic postulates of disease causation established by Robert Koch.
  • The AIDS epidemic in Thailand, which Duesberg has cited as confirmation of his theories, seems instead to confirm the role of HIV.
  • AZT and illicit drugs, which Duesberg argues can cause AIDS, don’t cause the immune deficiency characteristic of that disease.

In short, Peter Deusberg is completely full of shit. Not that it matters. Bryan Fischer has no interest in what is or isn’t true. He is interested only in advancing his view that homosexuals have brought AIDS on themselves. Only in this way can institutional mistreatment of the LGBT community be justified to the American people, religious or otherwise.

AIDS Denialism is monstrously dangerous, and displays a pathological lack of humanity. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa used the work of Peter Duesberg to justify his policy banning access to critical antiretroviral drugs, leading to around 343,000 preventable deaths and contributing the the unrestrained spread of the disease throughout the world. Countless millions of lives will in the end be impacted by these choices, justified by Peter Deusberg’s “unsupported, vague, and prejudicial statements.”

The view that AIDS results in the righteous deaths of immoral heathens can be traced all the way back to the source from which all the most lasting conservatives values stem: Ronald Reagan. In 1987 when after years of pretending that AIDS didn’t exist, and siting idly by while thousands of Americans died simply because he didn’t like homosexuals that much, Reagan finally managed to cough up this little nugget, at the announcement of his way-too-late initiative to fight the spreading epidemic.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, AIDS information can not be what some call ‘value neutral.’ After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons.

What lessons would those be exactly? That homosexuals get what’s coming to them? The religious right has always seen AIDS as fitting punishment for the “sin” of homosexuality, and they will always resist giving up that notion, even if they have to distort scientific fact to do it, because for them, at the heart of it, God hates fags.

Image, top, by boris.rasin
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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News

Trump’s Scheme for Absolute Immunity From State Prosecutions Forever: Report

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Having successfully obtained delays in his federal trials and his state trial in Georgia, possibly until after the November election, Donald Trump is now seeking an “insurance policy” to protect him from any future state prosecutions if he again becomes president.

The indicted ex-president who turns 78 next month “seems convinced that if he wins another four years in the White House, state prosecutors will still be waiting for him on the other side of his term — ready to put him on trial, or even in prison, just as they are now,” Rolling Stone reports.

“To avoid such risks, the former and perhaps future president of the United States wants Congress to create a very specific insurance policy that would help keep him out of prison forever, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Trump vaguely alluded to this idea last week outside his New York criminal hush money trial, when he said he has urged Republican lawmakers to pass ‘laws to stop things like this.'”

Trump “has pressured” Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do so, describing it as imperative that he signs such a bill into law, if he again ascends to the Oval Office.”

READ MORE: Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

Rolling Stone also notes, “Trump appears fixated on the idea of passing a law to give former American presidents the option of moving state or local prosecutions into a federal court instead, the two sources add.”

Trump “has hinted at a legislative push to limit his exposure to such criminal charges. In an improvised press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, Trump said he’s been telling the Republican lawmakers who want to attend his trial and show solidarity to focus on legislation instead.”

“We have a lot of ’em. They want to come. I say, ‘Just stay back and pass lots of laws to stop things like this.’”

In 1973, while still President but under the cloud of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.”

If Trump is elected in November, he can have his Attorney General drop any federal prosecutions he is currently facing. That may call into question, for some legal experts, the actions of the far-right justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who have delayed ruling on his immunity claim, and U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On May 7, Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case, against Donald Trump.

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf this week blasted the judge:

“Judge Cannon is not, as commentators and cartoonists would have it, just working on behalf of Trump. She is actively working on behalf of the enemies of the US who have and would benefit from the national security breaches she is effectively defending and making more likely.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) earlier this month declared, “The courts are deliberately delaying justice — and effectively denying it.”

This coming week Americans may get a verdict in the New York criminal case against the ex-president. If it comes, it may be “guilty” or “not guilty,” but it could also be a hung jury, forcing another trial which also would not likely come before the election.

If Trump is elected in November, and can get his “insurance policy” legislation passed, he could possibly avoid all criminal trials for the rest of his life.

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OPINION

Pence Defense of Alito’s Insurrectionist Flag Highlights Its Ties to Violent Government Overthrow

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Mike Pence is defending far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, whose ethics and ability to serve on the nation’s highest court are being questioned after The New York Times revealed he had been flying a highly-controversial flag used by the January 6 insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and a far-right neo-fascist hate group. Democrats are demanding the justice recuse himself from all cases involving Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election, and some are also demanding his resignation or impeachment.

The former Trump Vice President, in defending Alito, may have made the situation even worse for the 74-year old jurist by highlighting the flag’s ties to revolution and the overthrow of government. In his defense Pence also encourages all Americans to fly the flag: “The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is part or our proud heritage of Faith and Freedom and every American should be proud to fly it,” he writes.

“The Appeal to Heaven Flag” dates back centuries, to the American Revolution, but in recent years was very clearly co-opted by the radical religious right and was seen being carried by the insurrectionists during the assault on the U.S. Capitol, some of whom who chanted, “hang Mike Pence,” as he and his family were being whisked away by Secret Service on January 6:

MSNBC columnist Sarah Posner, who for years has been writing about religion and politics, on Thursday noted, “the more one knows about the background of the flag, the more chilling its presence at [Alito’s] house becomes.”

READ MORE: ‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

Posner says the flag is “an unmistakable emblem for an influential segment of Christian nationalists who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, contrary to God’s will, and that believers’ spiritual warfare is essential to restoring God’s anointed leader to his rightful office.”

“It was one of numerous Christian nationalist flags and other iconography carried by Trump supporters Jan. 6 and at the Jericho March, a series of prayer rallies that were like jet fuel for the insurrection,” Posner explains. “The Jericho March featured right-wing evangelical and Catholic speakers alongside militants such as conspiracist Alex Jones, Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Oathkeepers founder Stewart Rhodes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for seditious conspiracy and other crimes.”

Posner adds the flag “originated in Revolutionary times as a call to take up arms against unjust rulers who ignored the pleas of their citizens.”

Pence also refers to the Revolutionary War in his defense of Justice Alito, ignoring that the Revolutionary War was won several hundred years ago, and ignoring that a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice promoting the very concept of taking up arms against rulers, unjust or otherwise, is, as constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe wrote, “close to treason.”

Pence calls the “controversy” of Justice Alito’s flag-flying “absurd and anti-historical.” He quotes English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke, promoting his idea of the right to revolution, to replace a government.

In its Bombshell report Wednesday announcing the existence of a second Alito flag tied to the insurrectionists, The New York Times explains the Locke tie to the “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Since its creation during the American Revolution, the flag has carried a message of defiance: The phrase ‘appeal to heaven’ comes from the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, who wrote of a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule. ‘It’s a paraphrase for trial by arms,’ Anthony Grafton, a historian at Princeton University, said in an interview. ‘The main point is that there’s no appeal, there’s no one else you can ask for help or a judgment.'”

Coincidentally or not, Grafton’s “trial by arms” seems to echo Trump acolyte Rudy Giuliani’s January 6 speech in which he specifically called for “trial by combat.”

Religious studies scholar Matthew Taylor, quoted in The New York Times’ report on Alito’s “Appeal to Heaven” flag, told CBS News (video below) Christian nationalist leader Dutch Sheets “was given one of these flags and he believed that he received a prophecy when he received this flag, that it was a symbol of a revolution that would take place in America, a spiritual revolution that would reconstitute the United States as a truly Christian nation.”

He adds the “Appeal to Heaven” flag has become a “very potent symbol of Christian nationalism, Christian Trumpism, opposition to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, and the desire for a more Christian America.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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