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Sat

18

Nov

2006

Determined to Discriminate in the Name of “God”
Saturday, 18 November 2006 04:22
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

“Welcome to Americans for Truth, the only national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda.” That’s the proud-to-promote bigotry greeting on the AFT website.

The “homosexual agenda” they want to counter was eloquently exposed by Rep. Barney Frank:

We want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

Civil equality is what the so-called ‘homosexual agenda” is all about. Denying civil equality is what AFT is all about, as was well illustrated by its president, Peter LaBarbera, in one of his recent “press releases.” Consider his convoluted words and overt desire to discriminate.

Americans For Truth President Peter LaBarbera today called on the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to rescind its “sexual orientation” policy as inconsistent with the GOP’s professed pro-family values, and said pro-“gay” Political Correctness contributed to Sen. George Allen’s narrow loss for re-election in Virginia.

LaBarbera also called on all homosexual staff in both major parties to be open about their lifestyle in the interest of full disclosure to the public and each Member’s constituents. …

“In recent weeks, homosexual activists have sought to ‘out’ various high-level GOP staffers and leaders as homosexuals, to highlight their hypocrisy in working for a socially conservative party,” LaBarbera said. “Now we in the pro-family movement are calling for full disclosure for a different reason: because homosexual GOP staff and pro-‘gay’ policies in the party are undermining the wholesome values Republicans say they support.” …

Why isn’t Mr. LaBarbera calling on all heterosexual “staff in both major parties to be open about their lifestyle in the interest of full disclosure to the public and each Member’s constituents”? Using his voyeuristic “reasoning,” wouldn’t full disclosure about heterosexual staffers’ perhaps promiscuous lifestyle, the reasons for their divorces, or their extra-marital affairs be just as “important” for the public and members’ constituents to know?

Clearly, LaBarbera wants nothing more than to single out gay Americans so that they and their families can be targeted for discrimination. After all, fostering hate and promoting discrimination against gays and their families are the modi operandi of the perversely misnamed “pro-family movement.” LaBarbera made that very clear when he went on to damn Sen. Allen for signing a “‘nondiscrimination’ pledge for his Senate office.”

Mr. LaBarbera finds a nondiscrimination pledge offensive. And this man has the nerve to claim he advocates “wholesome values”? LaBarbera would do well to reread Rep. Frank’s statement of the “gay agenda” as well as Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Americans for Truth” is anything but that. AFT’s desire to discriminate against some American citizens is by definition “un-American” and contrary to the ideals of civil equality and equal civil rights. AFT’s version of “truth” rests squarely on a selective twisting of religious dogma and equally twisted selective Bible reading. The same tactics used by other groups in the Christian Right.

Under the heading “The Bible, Churches, & Homosexuality,” AFT features an excerpt from an article by Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the host of a nationwide radio show that describes itself as “devoted to engaging contemporary culture with the biblical truth.” Mohler is also a member of the board of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and a member of the governing body of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

The AFT excerpt from Dr. Mohler’s article features bold, blaring (in purple, of course) highlights:

More than anything else, Sullivan’s [October 2005] article should awaken thinking Christians to the fact that homosexuality is being normalized in the larger culture. This surely represents a matter of urgent missiological concern, for the normalization of sin represents a progressive hardening of the nation’s heart against the Gospel. [link added]

At last check, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality. Nor did Jesus have anything to say on the subject.

Dr. Mohler used “gospel” to mean the man-made dogma that the institution of Christianity evolved as a means of social and political control, which is exactly how AFT uses dogma and selective reading of a book – the Bible – that was cobbled together over centuries by men picking and choosing from among myriad “sacred texts” in order to create a religion that would justify their damning some and denying civil equality to those who didn’t fit their agenda. You know… “those people.”

Bleating the same message as LaBarbera is master homophobe Louis P. Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition. One of “Lucky Louie’s” latest rants was against what he called the “pro-homosexual, anti-Christian Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)” that may receive renewed attention in the new Congress. Sheldon and the TVC vehemently oppose the bill because it would bar discrimination against gay Americans in the workplace. How is this type of civil equality “anti-Christian”?

Sheldon’s concern is that ENDA would prevent “Christians” from basing hiring, firing and other business decisions and practices on their “religious beliefs.” As noted earlier, the gospels – and Jesus – had absolutely nothing to say about homosexuals. They did, however, have something to say about divorce (Matthew 19:6). And St. Paul in First Timothy did direct Christians to “suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

If, as he says, Sheldon believes “each word, each sentence [in the Bible] – is the Word of God,” why isn’t he calling on “Christian” businesses to fire, refuse to hire or do business with divorcees? Why isn’t he calling on “Christian” businesses to keep women “in their place,” as St. Paul dictated?

Or is this just another example of how Sheldon, LaBarbera, and the other leaders of supposedly “Christian” groups twist dogma and use selective Bible reading to justify their desire to discriminate against some American citizens?

The hypocrisy of the leaders of the Christian Right was blatantly exposed in an interview Sheldon gave that was the centerpiece of a November 10, 2006 article by Larry Cohler-Esses, editor at large of The Jewish Week: “Sheldon disclosed that he and ‘a lot’ of others [the leaders the Christian Right] knew about [Rev.Ted] Haggard’s homosexuality ‘for awhile ... but we weren’t sure just how to deal with it’” [italics and link added].

So they just covered it up.

What does that say about these leaders? What does that say about their ethics, their morals, and their holier-than-thou posturing? It certainly speaks volumes about their very secular sociopolitical agenda.

And what of the Republican party that had used and been used by these leaders of the Christian Right? Even after the “thumping” they took in this year’s elections, they too are still intent on fostering discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans:

Mel Martinez, a notoriously antigay U.S. senator from Florida who previously served in President Bush’s cabinet, will assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman, GOP officials said Monday [November 13].

“Senator Martinez was elected in 2004 by taking page 1 out of Karl Rove’s gay-baiting playbook,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. “His campaign was one of the most antigay, bigoted, and divisive campaigns in the nation’s history. We are deeply troubled that this kind of senator has been chosen to lead the Republican Party.”

Martinez and the rest of the conservative GOPers would do well to read Michael Moore’s November 14, 2006 letter, “A Liberal’s Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives.”

Sheldon and LaBarbera – along with other flamboyantly antigay leaders of the politicized Christian Right, such as James Dobson and Don Wildmon – would do well to read a November 16, 2006 New York Times OpEd by David Kuo, former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction:

John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, the conservative Christian organization that gained notoriety during the 1990s when it represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton, wrote this after the elections: “Modern Christianity, having lost sight of Christ’s teachings, has been co-opted by legalism, materialism and politics. Simply put, it has lost its spirituality.”

He went on, “Whereas Christianity was once synonymous with charity, compassion and love for one’s neighbor, today it is more often equated with partisan politics, anti-homosexual rhetoric and affluent mega-churches.”

Mr. Whitehead is hardly alone. Just before the elections, Gordon MacDonald, an evangelical leader, wrote that he was concerned that some evangelical personalities had been seduced and used by the White House. He worried that the movement might “fragment because it is more identified by a political agenda that seems to be failing and less identified by a commitment to Jesus and his kingdom.” …

C. S. Lewis once warned that any Christian who uses his faith as a means to a political end would corrupt both his faith and the faith writ large. A lot of Christians are reading C. S. Lewis these days. [italics added]

Mr. Kuo cited a post-election survey of evangelicals conducted by Beliefnet and summarized in their article “Evangelicals Sour on Politics: A new Beliefnet survey reveals why many born-again Christians have cooled on Republicans and political fray.” The survey showed that “40.2 percent of the evangelicals surveyed favored the idea of Christians taking a ‘fast’ from politics,” especially the divisive, hate-mongering politics exemplified by Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition and LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth. As Mr. Kuo noted, “Beliefnet’s poll showed that nearly 60 percent of non-evangelicals have a more negative view of Jesus because of Christian political involvement.”

Homophobia and the blatant desire to hurt others have blinded some evangelical “Christian” leaders to the message of the faith they say they represent. That’s not surprising. Bigotry is always blind and blinding.

The ongoing attempts to disenfranchise gay and lesbian Americans and their families by those who claim to be “Christian pro-family” advocates defiles not only America’s promise of equality for all and the essence of true spirituality, but underscores how some sick souls continue to use “religion” to foster hate.

As Ermalou Roller, ordained minister and dean of the cabinet of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, so accurately stated in her November 12, 2006 Washington Post article “Hurting Gays, and Ourselves,”

Today too many people are hurting and too much damage is being done to continue to wait for any church to step up and admit it is wrong about its condemnation of the “practice” of homosexuality. It’s time we did our own critical thinking and rejected outdated … theology. For, ironically, the anguish of our rejection of gays and lesbians, as horrible as it is for them, affects us all. …

I would urge us all to seek actively to inform ourselves and change our attitudes about gays and lesbians. For only in this way will we begin to address the real problems that our condemnation has visited upon them, upon those who love them and, indeed, upon us all.
 

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