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Sun

22

Feb

2009

The Religious Right’s Continuing Wrongs: Part II
Sunday, 22 February 2009 12:25
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D
Part I is located here.
They’re still at it. Same old tired arguments, same old blatant prejudice. Two events in mid-February exemplified the Religious Right’s continuing attempts to wrong gay Americans in any way possible, but all they’re really doing is flapping their Chicken Little wings and exposing their unbridled bigotry.
Don Wildmon and his grotesquely misnamed “American Family Association” are notorious for their homo-hunting and boycotting of any company that treats its gay employees as equals or that advertises in a gay-related publication. Disney, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Company, Hallmark, and McDonald’s have all been targets of Wildmon-led boycotts. AFA’s latest targets are PepsiCo and Campbell Soup. The latter drew the wrath of Wildmon because
In the December, 2008 and January, 2009 issues, Campbell Soup Company bought two, two-page advertisements in the latest issues of the nation’s largest homosexual magazine, “The Advocate.” The ads promote their Swanson line of broth.
In one of the December ads, the Campbell Soup Company highlighted the lives of two lesbians with their son. The others feature New York City chefs. See the ads here.
Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. …
Aside from the fact that target-marketing is a common practice, what kind of “man,” what kind of “Christian” would deny that legally married parents and their child do not constitute a family? If ever there was an example of raw hatred and seething bigotry hiding behind religion, it’s Don Wildmon and his American “Family” Association.

Always on the lookout for new ways to demean and hurt gays and their families, Wildmon’s AFA put together a 60-minute paid-programming “infomercial,” Speechless: Silencing the Christians. The television stations they targeted were in states beginning to become more conscious of gay Americans’ civil equality. “Civil equality” for gays is anathema to Wildmon and the AFA.

They were able to get WSPA in Greenville, South Carolina, to air the “infomercial,” but the station manager subsequently aired an apology for doing so. WSXY in Columbus, Ohio, refused the air it. But the station that really got Wildmon’s knickers in a twist was WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Religious right lashes out with virulently anti-gay infomercial
by Kilian Melloy
A bold forward attack against GLBT Americans has been launched by an anti-gay group that claims in a video that equality for gays and lesbians harms families and curtails religious freedom.
The video, called “Speechless: Silencing the Christians” is poised to air on a Grand Rapids, Michigan TV station as a paid program.
The “infomercial” was scheduled to air just before President Obama’s televised address. But after shifting the time and day it was to air – and after receiving more than a few complaints about their decision to air it – WOOD decided to pull the plug:

Michigan TV Station Ditches Plans to Air Antigay “Infomercial” February 12, 2009
A Michigan television station has rescinded its offer to air an hour-long antigay “infomercial” produced by the American Family Association this weekend on the heels of a campaign by the Human Rights Campaign to have the program yanked from airwaves. …
“Make no mistake ... this is the opening salvo in a campaign designed to denigrate LGBT Americans and deny us our basic rights,” HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “Just as our community is at a point where measures protecting millions of Americans heads to Congress and a willing president, the AFA unleashes 60 minutes of lies and distortions to scare voters. The AFA and its allies have never been ‘speechless’ when it comes to promoting their own agenda, and that’s driving a wedge in the very places where LGBT Americans work, live, and even pray.” …
… WOOD TV released a statement on its website that the station no longer planned to air the program.
“We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period,” WOOD TV general manager Diane Kniowski said in a statement. “It’s been 24 hours and we had no response. Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter.”
Was this another example of “silencing the Christians,” as Wildmon and the AFA are claiming? Or was WOOD-TV’s decision a civically responsible one? If any group produced an “infomercial” that used religion to justify civil discrimination and the marginalizing of a certain group of American citizens, would any responsible television station agree to air it? Kilian Melloy’s article “Religious right lashes out with virulently anti-gay infomercial” noted something else about the AFA “infomercial”:

The one-hour production starts as a look at how a group of Christian demonstrators were arrested for, as they tell it, trying to “share the Gospel,” but almost immediately focuses on gay and lesbian Americans’ struggle for equality under the law. …


That arrested “group of Christian demonstrators” were eleven members of Repent America, a radical Philadelphia-based “Christian” group founded and led by Michael Marcavage, who was the subject of a 2005 article in Philadelphia’s City Paper, “Jesus Geek Superstar.”



That’s Mr. Marcavage, in the yellow shirt, carrying the bullhorn he uses when “preaching” at gay events where he knows Repent America and their “biblical” anti-gay message are not welcome. One could argue that Marcavage and Repent America show up at these evens just to incite conflict and confrontations.

What the AFA “infomercial” conveniently neglects to mention is that the “Philadelphia Eleven,” as they came to be called, were freed by the courts the Religious Right usually rail against: “activist judges,” “black-robbed tyrants.” The event was hailed on this website, with this picture:



Just in case you’re not familiar with the Full Quiver movement, their biblically-ordained “mission” is to have as many children as possible, home-school them in the “Christian” way so that in a generation or two they can sway elections, take over the country and make it “Jesusland.”

As for the other revealing event, this February 12, 2009 report summarizes:

Utah gov. faces wrath after supporting civil unions
(Salt Lake City, Utah) Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) is facing a backlash from fellow Republicans, the powerful Mormon Church and from evangelical Christians following this week’s statement that he would support civil unions for same-sex couples. …
Huntsman did not show up at his office in the Capitol on Wednesday. He canceled a scheduled news conference and moved several meetings to the Governor’s Mansion prompting several news organizations to speculate there had been threats against the governor, something his office denied.
Inside the legislature, Sen. Chris Buttars (R) – a longtime foe of gay rights – circulated a statement claiming civil unions in Utah “would threaten marriage and religious freedom.” …
Wednesday night gays and their allies staged a candlelight vigil outside the Governor’s Mansion to show their support for the governor and to urge passage of LGBT rights bills before the legislature.
In addition to saying Tuesday he supports civil unions, Huntsman also said he is in favor of most of a group of LGBT bills called the Common Ground Initiative.
This year LGBT rights groups unveiled a group of bills called the Common Ground Initiative that includes legislation to begin process of repealing the section of the amendment banning civil unions. Other bills include adding gays in job and housing protections, a domestic partner registry and partner health care rights. … [italics added]

Alas, the Mormons do seem to have a problem with “truth” and “honesty”:

Direct Evidence Mormon Church Violated Tax Exempt Status
Friday, January 30, 2009
On November 3, 2008, ProtectMarriage.com received a contribution of $30,354.85 from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You read that right. The Mormon Church donated more than $30 thousand dollars to eradicate the right of same-sex couples to marry. This is clear evidence, with a paper trail showing the Church and their personal financial contribution.See the filing here.

A day later this item appeared:

More 'Revelations' For the Mormon Church Tax Scandal
Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.
The report, filed with the secretary of state’s office, listed a variety of California travel expenses for high-ranking members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and included $20,575 for use of facilities and equipment at the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters and a $96,849 charge for “compensated staff time” for church employees who worked on matters pertaining to Prop. 8.
The Mormon church had been under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failure to report its contributions as required by law. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Fred Karger, of Californians Against Hate.

Then came a “confession”:

Mormon Church admits it spent 100 times more for Prop 8 than reported
02.02.2009
(San Francisco, California) Six weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has admitted that it spent nearly $188,000 more on the campaign to approve Proposition 8 that it had initially stated. …

In early February 2009, things got even worse for the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints:

Prominent Mormons Reimbursed for Prop 8
February 3, 2009
In what is now being called Mormon Gate by Californians Against Hate, the LDS church finds itself embroiled in a new scandal every day over their social, and financial involvement in banning same-sex marriage in California.
All this may be the tip of the iceberg as new reports indicate the following people, and probably more to follow were allegedly reimbursed by the church.
— Lawrence Research (Gary Lawrence, Mormon pollster and Meridian contributor): $528,877.35
— Eagle Foundation (a Mormon PAC set up by Bart Marcois and David Parker): $135,912.76
— Glen Greener (former Salt Lake City Police Commissioner, Meridian contributor, and now a GOP operative and sometime Cali property developer): $50,236.42
— Sonja Brown (Protectmarriage.com communications director): $41,844.00
— Zion Multimedia Corp.: $2,000.00
— Rob Wirthlin: $768.18
The full list of those who contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign can be viewed here courtesy of California’s public records law. …

The statement by Utah senator Chris Buttars – quoted in the “Utah gov. faces wrath after supporting civil unions” article – that civil unions “would threaten marriage and religious freedom” well represents the Mormon Church’s unfamiliarity with “truth” and “honesty,” and epitomizes the Religious Right’s continuing campaign of lies and distortions.

There is no rational, cogent argument supporting the contention that civil unions would in any way “threaten marriage.” Heterosexual couples can already opt for a civil marriage ceremony rather than a “church wedding,” and if Sen. Buttars means the so-called “Biblical view of marriage,” then perhaps he should re-read Lisa Miller’s December 15, 2008 Newsweek cover story:

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel – all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments – especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple – who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love – turn to the Bible as a how-to script?
Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so. …

The claim by Mr. Buttars that civil unions would threaten “religious freedom” is one of the standard scare tactics used by the Religious Right. It’s as bogus as their other arguments. Churches have the right – and should have the right – to refuse to marry any couple that “violates” their dogmatic beliefs. The Mormons should understand that better than any group. If a heterosexual couple wanted to be married by the Mormon Church, the Church could refused based on dogmatic principles. That’s their right. The state could not force the church to marry the couple.

What Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman supports is civil unions. They pose no threat to “religious freedom.”

Mr. Buttars elaborates on his bigotry and fanaticism in a forthcoming documentary, 8: The Mormon Proposition, by Reed Cowan:

Senator Buttars compares some gays to radical Muslims
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Utah state senator Chris Buttars is now comparing some in the gay community to radical Muslims.
Buttars makes this strong comment in an upcoming documentary about Prop 8.
And they come just a year after remarks by Buttars greatly offended many African-Americans. …
In it, Buttars not only makes the comparison to radical Muslims, but also suggests that gays could pose the greatest threat to America. …
… in the audio clips which ABC 4 received permission to broadcast from Reed Cowan Productions, Buttars makes several equally strong comments.
Sen. Chris Buttars: “Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts. But I don’t care.”
Just one year ago, Buttars found himself in hot water locally and nationally for this comment on the senate floor.
“This baby is black...this is a dark, ugly thing.”
And even though Buttars says in the documentary interview, ... "the ACLU - bless their black hearts...,” it’s his other comments which may get the strongest reaction.
Like this one which the documentary maker confirms is about gays.
“They’re mean. They want to talk about being nice. They’re the meanest buggers I have ever seen.”
And just seconds later, Buttars draws a comparison between some gays and radical Muslims.
“It’s just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.”
Buttars also claims he’s “killed” every gay rights bill in the legislature for the last 8 years.
He also talks about gay marriage being the beginning of the end.
Buttars: “What is the morals of a gay person? You can't answer that because anything goes.”
And finally, this is how senator Buttars refers to the “radical gay movement.”
“They’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of. …

Two Utahns who “think” like Mr. Buttars took matters into their own hands, as Rebecca Walsh reported in her column in The Salt Lake Tribune:

Sandra Rodrigues and Jonas Filho are patriotic American immigrants. They love the place – all its rights and freedoms. Stuff like free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press.
So when they were thinking of creating a nonprofit organization dedicated to denying gay Americans civil rights, they named it America Forever. Of course.
The incorporation papers for the foundation have since lapsed. But that didn't stop the Rodrigues family from placing a full-page ad in both of Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers Sunday – price tag: about $15,000 – filled with the sophomoric, pseudo-legal reasoning of two people who get up in the morning to be hateful.
Under the headline “Stand up and stop the homosexual movement,” and squeezed around a picture of a Utah gay couple kissing – one white, one black, for added shock value – America Forever raises conspiracy theory to a new level. "Shame on Governor Huntsman for joining, and adding to this public shame by endorsing the common ground initiative" and "Shame on Utah Gays for using the LDS Church."
It goes downhill from there – equating gays with a woman who shows up at work dressed like a hooker, promoting so-called “anti-species behavior” and misquoting a gay satire, the “Homosexual Declaration of War,” based loosely on Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal.” …
… A week ago, Rodrigues told lesbian lawmaker Christine Johnson, a Salt Lake City Democrat, that her vagina is wasted.
More ads from Rodrigues and Filho can only drive public opinion to the center.
“It took me a while to realize I should be grateful for Chris Buttars,” says Johnson. “He’s giving me allies. This group is the same.”

You can view the Rodrigues/Filho ad here.

It’s also quite telling to visit America Forever’s website. This is how the opening salvo read on February 17, 2009 (yes, I have a screen shot to verify):

Do Not Be Fooled By Equality Utah and The Common Ground Initiativ
They are using intimadation [sic] to gain ground and are lying to the public, ALL THEY WANT IS MARRIAGE RIGHTS to valdite [sic] their relationship of the same-sex!!! THEY ALREADY HAVE THE RIGHT to Marry, a gay man can marry a gay woman! If they want Marriage Rights then get married, but we cannot afford the same rights of Marriage to other relationships for it will devaluate Marriage and change society’s perception of what Marriage is!!!
Below is en excerpt from their Declaration of War, and what is the Homosexual's Movement Ulitmate [sic] Goal, see how close they are to acheiving [sic] it...

Perhaps the Rodrigues family should have spent that $15,000 on some writing and spelling lessons instead of the ad.

The movement of history is clear: same-sex marriages will eventually, inevitably, become legal everywhere. Future generations will look back at this time and wonder what all the fuss was about… and wonder why religious institutions and their pocketed politicians spent so much time and so much money trying to hurt a small group of people instead of helping the millions who truly need help.
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Tom said:

0
Memories, Like the Corners of Mind....
It's clear to me now that same-sex marriage will happen in my lifetime. As heartbreaking at the Prop 8 result was, we're nearly there. So, I want to up the ante. Rather than consigning Donald Wildmon (American "Family" Association), James Dobson (Focus on the "Family"), Peter LaBarbera (Americans for "Truth" about Homosexuality), and Randy Thomasson (Campaign for Children and "Families" - who, by the way, while opposing same-sex marriage, does support child-abuse) to obscurity, I'd like to suggest that we immortalize them as the bigots that they are. Let's remeber them. Let's put them right up there with Jim Crow and George Wallace, where they belong. Let's put them on a new series of "History's Bigots" postage stamps. Let's include them as part of the third-grade history standards for examples of blatant discrimination. Obscurity is too good for them. We need to use them as examples of a paradigm we need to avoid in the future.
 
February 22, 2009
Votes: +2

Steve said:

0
Gay marriage is wrong -
It was wrong for the TV stations to refuse to run these commercials. Your foolish article here (and you guys are in the Netherlands for crying out loud!). I also find your article one-sided. I live in Greenville, South Carolina and while I didn't see this program when it was aired, I can assure you that most people in this city would agree with the message propagated by this program. Your implication that the decision by the media to reject running this programme somehow reflects the will of the people or the voters is simply wrong.

Whenever the American voters have spoken on these issues, they have almost always spoken against gay marriage. Just this past November (in addition to left-leaning California), Floridians approved an amendment outlawing same-sex marriages and civil unions with 62% of the vote, Arizonas with 56% of the vote and 57% of Arkansans approved an initiative that essentially banned gay adoption. Below are the percentage of support from the American voters in some states that approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages over the past few years:

Alabama: 81%
Arkansas: 75%
Alaska: 69%
California: 52%
Colorado: 55%
Florida: 62%
Georgia: 76%
Idaho: 63%
Kansas: 70%
Kentucky: 75%
Louisiana: 78%
Michigan: 59%
Mississippi: 86%
Missouri: 71%
Montana: 67%
Nebraska: 70%
Nevada: 67%
Ohio: 62%
Oklahoma: 76%
Oregon: 57%
South Carolina: 78%
Texas: 76%

It's clear: a lot of Americans agree with the AFA.
 
February 22, 2009
Votes: -2

Juan said:

0
The sooner we accept it the better...
Steve, Your statistics only reflect a point in time. Humans always resist change in the beginning. The older the person the harder the acceptance of change. As an IT professional I see this all the time. Once they get over the initial resistance they begin to see the benefits of change they wonder why they put up the fuss in the first place.

Let's take an example...

In 1958 when interracial marriage was granted nation wide by the courts, only 4% of the US population approved of black/white marriages. It was not until 1991 that more people approved than disproved. In 1997, we finally made it over the 50% mark. 39 years! If it was just up to the voters, blacks and whites would not have been able to marry until 1998, just 11 years ago! (source Gallup - http://www.gallup.com/poll/284...iages.aspx)

Your statistics show an average of 69% would not allow SSM. So it's not as far to go as from 4%! According to demographics, most of those who object are over 50 and those who approve are under 30. So, if the pattern holds true, which progress in California suggests, opinions will change by 1-2 percent or more each year and accelerate as the older citizens stop voting. In eight years, the public opinion could be very different and SSM will be a national civil right.

You can't put the gay genie back in the closet. The gay members of our community are not going anywhere and will not stop asking for their civil rights. The sooner we accept this and move on, the better...
 
February 22, 2009
Votes: +1

hyphenate said:

0
Very well done piece
I really appreciate a long, well thought out article. Some people like them short and sweet, but in order to convey the true sense of the subject matter, one needs to sacrifice brevity for reality.

As in other articles of late, the Religious Right has been complaining how much they hate the epithet of "Religious Right." They whine endlessly wherein they say that they aren't in league with conservative politics, and that title is not a good one. It's hard to imagine that the bloc of voters that gains inspiration from some of the most selfish, bigoted and hardly compassionate people in the world can say they aren't aligned with right politics in our country. How can many of them say that, yet continually insistent that they are not to the right? I had a friend who supposedly was quite compassionate in some ways, yet after discovering "the bible" and the fundamentalist teachings, she said gays were okay as long as "they weren't having sex" and that Israel had to eliminate the Muslims (and presumably other residents) in Jerusalem in order to fulfill the criteria needed for the apocalypse to happen. I tried endlessly to convey my complete and utter distaste for her newfound beliefs, but instead of listening to a word I said, she said she had put my name into one of Pat Robertson's prayer circles!

Regardless, these people are propelled by intolerance, but also by fear and the desire to remain "above" what they consider to be a class lower than them in the food chain. Everyone wants to be above someone else--it often explains why some poverty stricken folks revolt against others in the same dire straits, because perhaps the other group is of a different color or a different religion. This kind of hierarchy of those who are part of the movement of the religious right is likely a result of something arising out of hatred and arrogance, because it keeps the focus on the circumstances of class in life, even if it is entirely inimical to any message from their chosen Messiah, who based his life on love, friendship, and association with the sick and poor. Rather than condemning others for their choices, they need to look inward to their own souls and see how black and dark their lives are for all the prejudice, hatred and callousness they contribute to the world every day just by judging others for their choices, the people they love and the way they live their lives.

No one can change these people except themselves. If it could happen--and unfortunately, i doubt it will--this world would continue to enter the 21st century with a chance to make the human race a better, stronger and solid force of good. But as long as there are bigots, hatred, resentment and a desire to make others seem as though they worship a "lesser god," the human race will never evolve to a higher level. The dinosaurs were around for 25 million years in one form or another. If the human race can't eke out a mere 10,000 years (or less) for only their recorded history in one form or another, it gives the impression that dinosaurs were smarter, more adaptable and a superior group of living beings.
 
February 23, 2009
Votes: +0

vvv123 said:

0
...
Juan, you cite an excellent historical analogy. I would just like to get nitpicky and correct you on one point, for accuracy's sake.

You wrote: "In 1958 when interracial marriage was granted nation wide by the courts,..."

It was actually 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, that antimiscegenation laws were struck down. Your analogy still stands though: ironically enough, the 1968 poll (one year later) still demonstrated a 72-73% disapproval rate.

This is not the only time we've seen this pattern...ALL social movements in US history demonstrate a majority disapproval. Thankfully then, we're in a constitutional republic, and not a direct democracy.
 
February 23, 2009
Votes: +0

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