Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Fundamentalists are Obsessed with Gays

When conservative evangelical minister Ted Haggard’s secret life, seeking male prostitutes, was exposed the media took notice. There has always been a certain drama in the tent meeting revivalist seducing young women along the “sawdust trail” or the charlatan faith healer taking money from the gullible and desperate. It is no surprise that revelations of Haggard’s hidden gay life received such attention.

That quintessential American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne tackled this topic a century and a half ago in The Scarlet Letter, his story of Hester Prynne who gives birth, out of marriage. Hester is ostracized and shamed by the community, but refuses to allow this to destroy her and she hides the secret of the child’s father—the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, even when Dimmesdale joins in vilifying Hester and demanding that she identify her lover.

In this somewhat prophetic tale Dimmesdale is chosen to give the Election Sermon, an important honor. What Hawthorne wrote of Dimmesdale could be applied to Haggard, “‘At least, they shall say of me,’ thought this exemplary man, ‘that I leave no public duty unperformed or ill-performed!’  Sad, indeed, that introspection so profound and acute as this poor minister's should be so miserably deceived!  We have had, and may still have, worse things to tell of him; but none, we apprehend, so pitiably weak; no evidence, at once so slight and irrefragable, of a subtle disease that had long since begun to eat into the real substance of his character. No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Throughout the days leading up to his final confession Haggard seemed confused as to what was true and what was false. His explanations were tortured and irrational. He first denied ever knowing his accuser, Mike Jones, but his memory suddenly returned when Jones played voice messages that Haggard had left him. Only then did Haggard remember that he had gone to Jones, but he insisted it was only for a massage. Haggard admitted that had he purchased drugs but claimed he threw them away every time.

Larry Stockstill, one of the ministers brought in by Haggard’s church to investigate the matter, said that Haggard “is not in touch with truth and reality, and he admitted that.” Hawthorne put it more eloquently; the man with two faces is bewildered as to which is the true one.

A pitiful letter Haggard wrote his congregation showed his torment. He all but explicitly says the he had known he was gay his entire life. “There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.”

“For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experience desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

“Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.”

Anyone who has ever known a gay fundamentalist has seen this process before. As they enter adulthood, as puberty hits, their sexual orientation asserts itself: it is resisted and fought at every turn but reality cannot be denied. Repression and denial only works for so long and then, as Haggard admits, it resurfaces and reasserts itself.  That which cannot be openly admitted, but which can’t be changed, must be hidden.

Few noticed that only a few months before the Haggard revelations another well-known fundamentalist minister was caught up in exactly the same sad tale. Rev. Lonnie Latham was a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church and his sermons were as strident and firm as Haggard’s. He said that homosexuals could become heterosexuals if “they accept Jesus Christ as their saviour and reject their sinful, destructive lifestyle.”

On January 3, 2006 Latham drove up to the Habana Inn in Tulsa. The hotel/night spot was famous as a meeting place for gay men. Latham did not seem to actually break any law; he was the victim of routine police harassment of gay men. Latham approached a man and invited him to come back to his nearby hotel room for oral sex. The man was an undercover police officer who arrested Latham. Police confiscated Latham’s car and promptly released his photograph, and identity, to the press, a pretty slimy thing to do considering Latham had committed no crime at all.  

Latham, like Haggard, used a false name. He had told the police officer his name was Luke. And after his arrest he denied everything, like Haggard. He claimed he was only in the area ministering to police officers. And again, like Haggard, a few days later he finally admitted the truth and resigned all his denominational positions.

There is no alternative to the gay fundamentalist but the clandestine and secretive. Facts, which cannot be accepted, must be cloaked in dishonesty and lies.

In Hawthorne’s tale Dimmesdale is also caught in a trap of his own making. He is befriended by Roger Chillingsworth, Hester’s long absent husband, who suspects the truth and uses his friendship with Dimmesdale to exacerbate his guilt and torment.

In one scene Chillingsworth is holding some dark looking herbs picked off an unknown grave and says: “They grew out of [the dead man’s] heart, and typify, it may be, some hideous secret that was buried with him, and which he had done better to confess during his lifetime.”

Dimmesdale explains that some men “are kept silent by the very constitution of their nature. Or—can we not suppose it?—guilty as they may be, retaining, nevertheless, a zeal for God's glory and man's welfare, they shrink from displaying themselves black and filthy in the view of men; because, thenceforward, no good can be achieved by them; no evil of the past be redeemed by better service.  So, to their own unutterable torment, they go about among their fellow-creatures, looking pure as new-fallen snow, while their hearts are all speckled and spotted with iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves."

Dimmesdale’s words seem to fit the situation of the closeted gay evangelical who must see himself as “spotted with iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves”.  It matters little if homosexuality is really sin, iniquity or even the “repulsive and dark” thing that Haggard called it. What matters for the faithful is that they believe it to be this way.

Fundamentalists seem obsessed with the existence of gay people. They drum up crusades on homosexuality unlike any they mount against other “sins,” even far more serious isues like murder or rape. Why is this the case?

Here is their dilemma. Gay people exist and, worse yet, are asserting their right to equality before the law. The fundamentalist believes that Scripture, in no uncertain terms, condemns such people as sinners unworthy of the law’s protection. For the law to protect the rights of homosexuals is for the law to condone sin, at least in their mind.

But there is a discomfort as well. How does one condemn a man or woman for a fact of nature? Persecution of any group over shared genetic or natural traits went out of fashion with the defeat of the Nazis. So homosexuality must not be a natural predisposition that affects a certain, but relatively steady, percentage of the population. It must be a choice. And, if not a choice, then it is an illness that can be cured, or a demonic affliction that can be exorcised. But it cannot be an unalterable fact of nature.

For the fundamentalist, the Bible speaks on everything important. It says homosexuals are worthy of death and condemns them to eternal damnation. But, if homosexuality were a natural trait, as unchangeable as skin color, the deity who damns gays would be on par with the genocidal Nazis. Mounting evidence of a natural predisposition in regards to sexual orientation must be swept aside and entire organizations of Bible-believing Christians now exist to prove that homosexuality is a choice, and only a choice.

David Klinghoffer, a writer for the Discovery Institute, of “intelligent design” fame, looked at the Haggard incident and recognizes there was a problem for the Religious Right. He wrote: “But if even Haggard, this Christian fighter against homosexual culture, succumbed, doesn’t that prove that gay identity is natural, inborn, and therefore normal? Well, yes, in a way it does. But all temptations are natural, many are inborn, and to be called to fight them in ourselves, according to a religious view, is the most normal thing in the world.”

But is it succumbing to temptation for a gay man to form a relationship with another man, or is it human bonding? Heterosexuals are not asked to forgo their sexual orientation completely. Conservatives want them to cultivate a relationship within the boundaries of marriage, yet then advocate that homosexuals forgo all love and sexuality entirely, and must certainly not be allowed to marry. Klinghoffer wrote, “Gay advocates reason that because a man has a temptation to homosexuality, he has little moral choice than to obey it.” Andrew Sullivan aptly responds: “Ice cream is a temptation. Hunger is a condition. If you think hunger itself is a temptation, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to an eating disorder.”

That is the problem for the fundamentalist. He is convinced that homosexuality is merely a temptation; it is the ice cream, and not the hunger. He pretends not to see love, bonding, mutual support and all the things that make loving relationships so important to human society. It is just sex, lust, perversion, temptation and nothing more. It is a heterosexual merely getting off in a different way. Even when Klinghoffer comes close to seeing the reality he quickly slips right back into the old mindset. Being gay is a temptation and has nothing to do with who a person actually is at their deepest core.

Yet sexual orientation is so central to an individual’s being that it can’t be cut out the way a rotten tooth can be pulled, or cancer can be excised from the body. It goes far too deep to be manipulated by prayer, therapy, ostracism, or jail terms. Something this central to the human psyche is not amenable to outside manipulation. But, for the fundamentalist worldview to appear true, they must pretend that it can be excised or exorcised.

The Haggards of the world are a strong indication that it is not a choice. He was one of the most prominent evangelicals in the world. There is no indication that he did not take his own theology seriously. He tried to be exactly that which his faith demanded of him. But his faith demanded something that was not possible—that he change a basic aspect of who he was.

Years ago, evangelical writer Barbara Johnson discovered her son, David, was gay. In Christian Life magazine she wrote an article on “godly” advice to parents of gay children. She sought advice from C.S. Lovett, a leading evangelical minister of the day, who told her: “I think we’re on the right track in placing David in Satan’s hand so that he can land in the pigpen as quickly as possible.” Johnson told her readers that having a gay child “is no simple problem... treat it as a real DEATH or GRIEF (emphasis her own) situation... it is worse than death to me.”

She told her readers:

 "Terminally ill patients often struggle with denial, anger and depression before they can accept their own approaching death... The reactions of a parent whose child has labelled himself a homosexual often parallel these initial traumatic reactions, but the emotional loss of a child to homosexuality is more far-reaching. It affects one with physical symptoms of anxiety-chest pains, nausea. It becomes a living grief with an uncertain end.”
Johnson also told her readers that prayer was slowly transforming her son. She wrote: “Can a homosexual be ‘cured’? We have seen answers to prayer with our own son.” Yet decades later her current biography, on a Christian web site, speaks of the trauma of her life saying one son was killed in Vietnam, another killed by a drunk driver and the third was “estranged from the family while pursuing a homosexual lifestyle.” Note that there is no orientation, only a chosen lifestyle and notice how having a gay son is on the same plane as having two dead ones. After decades there is still no indication that anything changed, as she implied was happening decades earlier. Yet she clings to her beliefs.

In Christianity Today another mother, Shirley Rorvik, spoke of her son’s disclosure that he was gay. She starts out her article saying: “I first became aware of how much I despised homosexuality when I worked at a savings and loan in 1981.” A gay man and his companion came in to withdraw some money and she “swallowed hard and shuddered” when she had to hand him his cash. She went home and told her family, in a voice “tinged with disgust” how happy she was there were no homosexuals in her family. 

A few years later her youngest son, Tim, told her in a letter that he was gay. She said she “fell to my knees sobbing.” In his sad letter Tim wrote: “I feel alone, I’m so afraid of my family rejecting me...” She told her son “you must renounce this lifestyle.”

She says she saw gay people as “the enemy” but she tried to change. She says she has become more accepting by learning to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” But the underlying contempt remains. Instead of being the enemy they are now “wounded souls” in desperate need of changing. As she sees it her son “has strayed away” from Jesus but “God hasn’t moved. He’ll be there when Tim chooses to resist the Devil and listen to the Holy Spirit.” Her faith requires her to insist it is a choice almost on par with deciding what color socks to put on in the morning and that if Tim wishes, he can simple choose to “resist the Devil” and become heterosexual.

Mary and Bobby Griffith
Mary Griffith was another fundamentalist mother who learned that her beautiful, loving son was gay. She and her fellow church members intentionally made his life a living hell, hoping that the torment would make him turn to heterosexuality. Bobby Griffith tried. He tried hard. Before his “secret” was out he wrote in his diary: “I can’t ever let anyone find out that I’m not straight. It would be so humiliating. My friends would hate me. They might even want to beat me up. And my family? I’ve overheard them... They’ve said they hate gays, and even God hates gays, too. Gays are bad and God sends bad people to hell. It really scares me when they talk that way because now they are talking about me.”

Mary was convinced that her constant preaching would change her son. But when reality didn’t change, no matter what Bobby tried, he took more drastic action. He went for a walk one evening and as he crossed the highway he stopped to watch the traffic below. A large semi tractor truck came racing down the highway and Bobby timed it just right so that he leapt directly in front of the truck. His torment was over. He was no longer gay.

A young man in San Francisco found himself in conflict between his faith and his sexuality. He joined one of the “exgay” ministries seeking a way to stop being himself. No one can question his sincerity. He proved he meant it when he took his own life. He left behind a letter explaining his suicide.

He spoke of how his life looked so perfect. But then “I ...turned my life over to the Lord.” And in so doing he learned how evil it was for him to be homosexual. “I must confess that there were things in my life that I could not gain control, no matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed.” Is not this the same tormented cry we heard from Ted Haggard?

This young man said his “constant failure... made me make the decision to terminate my life here on earth.” He said that death was the only thing he knew that would stop him from being gay. And to remain alive threatened his salvation. “I shall have everlasting life with Him by departing this world now, no matter how much I love it, my friends, my family. If I remain it could possibly allow the devil the opportunity to lead me away from the Lord. I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple.”

He told his friends and family that if they understood God they would be pleased he was dead. “If you get your hearts in tune with the word of God you will be as happy about my ‘transfer’ as I am. I hope that this answers sufficiently the question, why?”

Most others steeped in the fundamentalist milieu took actions less drastic than this. But the actions they take are merely other versions of the deceit that Haggard was forced to practice. Certainly, prior to the Stonewall incident when the gay rights movement was born, homosexuality was not an issue. And this pre-Stonewall era is what the fundamentalist desires. It was a world where homosexuals hid every facet of their life from “normal” people. Out of sight, out of mind.

There was no cognitive dissonance since the homosexual was hidden away. Only his visible presence challenges either the decency of their God, or the validity of their beliefs about a deity. As fundamentalists became politicized, and got a taste of state power, they also discovered that gay baiting was an effective tool. A visible enemy is always an efficient means of rallying the troops, as Karl Rove has learned.

Rev. Robert Billings was the first executive director of the Moral Majority. And he told one meeting: “I know what you and I feel about these queers, these fairies. We wish we could get in our cars and run them down while they march.” But he also pointed out: “We need an emotionally charged issues to stir up people and get them mad enough to get up from watching TV and do something. I believe that the homosexual issue is the issue we should use.” Apparently a lot of other leaders on the Religious Right agreed with him.

Don Boys was a fundamentalist minister. He was also one of the first fundamentalists to infiltrate the Republican Party. He was elected to the state legislature in Indiana and introduced legislation that he named the Right to Decency bill.  His bill, which was not enacted, would have made it a felony to be gay. In his book Liberalism: A Rope of Sand Boys wrote: “We want homosexuality to once again be a crime. We want homosexuals pressured into seeking help and to stop living as if Christ never lived on earth and never told men how to live. If they refuse to obey the law they should be placed in jail after a fair trial for the good of society.”

Rev. Greg Dixon
Boys said: “I don’t hate perverts; I just want to see them in jail away from decent, innocent people.” His bill would have required a 2 to 21 year sentence in prison.  Rev. Greg Dixon, the leader of Boys church, the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, wanted to go much further. Dixon, who was a national officer of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority at the time, preached a sermon where he said: “When they say homosexuals should have their civil rights I ask one question. Do you give criminals rights like honest citizens? Absolutely no! Criminals do not have their civil rights.” At another point he said concerning gays: “I say either fry ‘em or put them in the pen. Don’t unleash them on the human race.” And again, “I don’t know how in the world you can get a society that won’t even put their murderers to death, I don’t know how you can ever get them to put these homosexuals to death but God’s word would uphold that. They which commit such things are worthy of death.”

Worthy of death: the young man in San Francisco thought so. Bobby Griffith thought so as well.

Short of suicide what are the options for the homosexual brought up in the world of fundamentalism? Change? They try and nothing changes. The Religious Right has poured millions into trying to prove that homosexuality can be cured. The have created an entire movement to push the idea that “change is possible” and that one can become “exgay”.

The father of this movement was Guy Charles, founder of a group called Liberation in Jesus Christ, which was affiliated with an evangelical Episcopal church in Fairfax, Virginia. Charles was the executive director, the spokesman, and the lead counsellor who would show other homosexuals how to find heterosexuality through religion. After several years of ministry, accompanied by great fanfare in the evangelical press, Liberation in Jesus Christ sent out a final press release: “Mumford Yates, Jr., President of Liberation in Jesus Christ, a ministry of healing for homosexuals, announced today the resignation of Mr. Guy Charles as Executive Director for personal reasons.”

It soon came out that Charles himself was not only not “Liberated” through Jesus Christ, but was actively bedding the young men who came to him for counselling. One young man who went to Charles for “treatment” told me, “All I got from him was venereal warts.” Charles vehemently denied the charges saying, “homosexuals are known liars.” His ministry vanished and so did any memory of him among evangelicals. Years later when Charles died, at the age of 78, he had spent the last 21 years of life in a committed gay relationship. Reality could not be denied.

But the movement Charles helped start continued on without him. It was soon taken over by Mike Busse and Jim Kaspar and their ministry Exodus. Kaspar wrote, “Too many people believe the old lie 'once-gay, always-gay'. But I can tell you that becoming exgay is very much a possibility. I know I've been changed....” Busse wrote, "People often ask how I got out of gayness. They're looking for ABC's, fail-safe steps, a simple 'how-to' procedure. I suppose that's the way our society operates. But I've come to feel that 'how' is far less important than 'who.'  A living person, not a method, makes me exgay." One day Kaspar and Busse, invited to speak about the reality of change did something no one expected, they spoke about the REALITY of change. They admitted they were both still gay and told the shocked audience that they had fallen in love with each other.

Roger Grindstaff founded a ministry called Disciples Only. He even sold a set of audiotapes Deliverance from Homosexuality. He told the world he was ex-gay and was even married. But Roger simply disappeared one day, leaving his wife and his ministry behind. And the same happened with Greg Reid’s exgay ministry Eagle and Jeffry Ford’s ministry Outpost. Colin Cook, leader of the Seventh Day Adventist cure ministry, Homosexuals Anonymous, was ousted, and outed, when he was found to be giving nude massages to those coming to him for help in overcoming their orientation. Cook then opened a new ministry in Colorado, FaithQuest, where the same problems arose again. 

Evangelicals launched major media campaigns pushing the promise that change is possible. One of the organizers of such a campaign was Michael Johnston, the founder of Kerusso Ministries. In one of the TV ads his mother, Frances, appears saying: “My son Michael found out the truth— he could walk away from homosexuality. But he found out too late—he has AIDS.” Michael then praised his mother for her religious witnessing “that set me free” and told the audience, “A decade ago, I walked away from homosexuality through the power of Christ.” Johnston left the ministry when it turned out he was still gay and sexually active. Not only was Johnston sexually active, but he did not practice safe sex with his partners, and he hid his HIV status from them as well.

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family has actively pushed the idea that change is possible for the homosexual. He was one of the “experts” that Haggard’s church brought in to “minister” to the fallen preacher. Dobson promoted the exgay claims of John Paulk. Paulk appeared as an exgay on the cover of Newsweek in 1998. With him was his “exlesbian” wife. But only two years later Paulk was discovered inside a gay bar in Washington, D.C.

He was recognized and a gay journalist showed up with a camera. Paulk went running down the street, but it was too late. He claimed at first that he had no idea it was gay bar and that he just wandered in off the street to use the restroom. He had been there for a considerable time when the journalist appeared and was sitting at the bar having a drink.

Christian Right leader Rev. George Rekers was a founder of the antigay Family Research Council; he was an advisor to a group of religious therapists who promise to “cure” homosexuality.  He even wrote a book called Growing Up Straight to help parents raise heterosexual children. Conservative politicians brought him to testify about the evils of gay people at legislative hearings. Yet his career abruptly ended when it was discovered that he hired a male prostitute from Rentboy.com to travel with him in Europe and give him, nude genital massages. In spite of that Rekers insists he is not homosexual.

Rev. Pat Robertson used his 700 Club show for fundamentalists to promote Pastor Matthew Manning as a "cured" gay. Manning even went so far as to claim he was miraculously healed of AIDS, even though no evidence that he was infected has ever been presented. Manning claimed to have been "delivered" of being gay in 1989. But a series of unfortunate incidents certainly call that "deliverance" into question.

In 1998, nine years after his allegedly cure, Manning had charges filed against him for trying to get another man "in lewd or dissolute conduct" in a public place. Perhaps it was a coincidence and he was falsely accused. But then in 2000 the exact same charge was laid against Rev. Manning, though this time it happened in a completely different city. Insufficient evidence was found and Manning was acquitted but it is coincidental to the maximum that it was the precise same "lewd" conduct charge as before. 

The first two cases regarding Manning were filed in Los Angeles County, but in 2005 he once again faced charges. This time it was for touching "an intimate par of another person... against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse..." The complaint was brought by a 22 year old heterosexual man. In what appears to be a plea bargain Manning pled "no contest" to a lesser charge of "lewd" conduct. Manning was ordered by the court to stay away from the complainant, as well as avoid a particular fitness club. That seems to indicate that the "lewd" offenses may have involved the "cured" Manning coming on to the man inappropriately at the fitness club in question. 

When Manning's legal run-ins were publicized he filed a motion to have his record expunged

Repeatedly exgay advocates are found to be not so exgay after all. They merely hide the truths from the public; some even manage to hide it from themselves. Some have openly confessed later, that while telling the world they were exgay, they were still having clandestine gay relationships. Some went so far as to marry. Some managed these deceptions for years. Haggard, Latham and many others clearly managed to hide their orientation for decades. Ask the evangelical how they know that homosexuals can be changed and they point to others who, for all we know, simply have not yet been found out. It may sound harsh and unfair, but when dozens of high profile exgays are exposed for deception, it is easy to suspect that the problem is nigh unto universal.

If not change, then what about honesty?

Maya Keyes loved her father. Alan Keyes was a Republican senatorial candidate in Illinois. When Keyes ran for the Senate his daughter moved to Illinois to work for his campaign. She didn’t agree with her father, but she loved him. Her father knew that she was a lesbian and was willing to live with it, provided no one else knew. But when it became public knowledge, according to the Washington Post, Keyes “threw her out of the house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her.” Maya said that as long as she “was quiet” about her sexuality “we got along.”

The Point Foundation gave her a scholarship to finish college. They provide 40 scholarships per year to young people who are cut off financially by their families because they are gay. And the Foundation says they have to turn down one applicant for every one they accept.

Jamiel Terry is the son of right wing, antiabortion crusader Randall Terry. When it was revealed that Jamiel is gay his father issued a public statement to “help other grieving parents and serve as a warning to moms and dads of small children to be unflinching and unashamedly diligent to protect their children from predators, and bring a reality check to those exploiting my son.” Worse yet, he then launched into lies about his own son.

Terry says he was willing to have his son in his home, after he knew about the homosexuality, but said that when this information became public knowledge his son “betrayed our family privacy” and was no longer welcome to visit “because he could sell us out again.”

Tess Fields is the daughter of Sadie Fields who runs the Christian Coalition in Georgia. Tess is also a lesbian. When her lesbianism became known: “My mother came over to where I worked screaming and told me that I was ‘dead’ to the family. She called me ‘sick’ and ‘of the devil.’” Sadie says that she will accept her daughter only when she returns to God. “She is going to have to come back to God first and then she’ll come back to me.”

Republican state senator Peter Knight of California, now deceased, was one of those candidates who was on a perpetual campaign against homosexuals. He authored a successful antigay marriage initiative in California, a precursor to the infamous Proposition 8. His son David should have made him proud, as a graduate of the Air Force Academy, and a fighter pilot who served in the Gulf War. But he is also gay, just as his father’s brother was gay.

During the brief spell when the city and county of San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses to gay couples David Knight and his partner, Joe Lazzaro, married. David said: “Joe is my family. And my blood family that has accepted me is my family.” He said: “Three years ago, I told my father I was gay and that I have a life partner, Joe. From that moment on, my relationship with my father was over. I can’t begin to explain the hurt that has come from this rejection.”

But it could be here, within the family dynamics, that we discover another reason for the ferocity of the Religious Right in regards to homosexuality. If you look at the actions of these fundamentalists historically you will see that for many decades they tried to isolate themselves from the world, which they consider to be sinful and evil. The whole purpose of their Christian school movement was to create “hot house” environments to protect their young from the evil influences of the world.

But how do they prevent their own children from turning out gay? They can’t. They may wish to believe that homosexuals recruit, but the evidence seems fairly convincing that they are simply born. The hot house doesn’t stop a fundamentalist from having a gay child. And while that ought to indicate that sexual orientation is more nature than nurture, fundamentalists can’t accept the logic for the reasons I’ve outlined. Instead they double their ferocity toward gay men and women.

Michelle Goldberg, in her book on Christian nationalism, Kingdom Coming, wrote: “The homosexual agenda canard is to Christian nationalists what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was to earlier generations of authoritarians.” And this is correct with one major difference. The anti-Semite never worries that his children might secretly be Jewish. That sort of assurance does not exist for the antigay fundamentalists.  The repression they advocate only guarantees that more hidden homosexuals will exist within their community and that one-day the hidden will become visible. It might be the fundamentlist’s own child, or even his favorite preacher.

These antigay views mean that in fundamentalist circles honesty is not an option, unless one is pursuing a cure. But God seems to have not received the message. The promised changes are not taking place. Time passes and there are no steps, not even small ones, toward change. Instead they do what Ted Haggard did. They hide their true sexual orientation behind claims of change.

It is drummed into the heads of church members that claims based on faith are real. If you claim a healing from God, then you must continually claim it, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. If you acknowledge that nothing is changing, you lack faith and that is the reason no change takes place. Self-deception is thus encouraged. Truth, by which I mean that which corresponds with reality, is not just discouraged, but also actively opposed. The homosexual within the fundamentalist community is encouraged to deceive himself and everyone around him. And so he does.

Then, when one of them, especially a prominent member of their faith, is suddenly thrust reluctantly into full disclosure, the church goes into collective mourning, lamenting the fact that they were being deceived. But it was a deceit that they solicited. Their outpouring of grief, anger and depression during such incidents, I suspect, is not really about the fact that a “lie” was detected, but that a truth was revealed. The presence of the homosexual is a direct challenge to their view of the Bible, God and reality. They are upset the deception stopped, not that it ever began.

What appears to be a war on homosexuals is not really that at all. Homosexuals merely act as visible symbols of the real problem. Fundamentalism is at war with reality. The fundamentalist Christian is a man or woman of The Book. They are called fundamentalists because they cling to the Bible ferociously. To them it is the inerrant, infallible, literal word of God, which gives man all that he needs to know to live in this world and to prepare for the next.

They need to push the homosexual into the darkness for the same reason they need to banish evolution from the classroom. No evidence that appears contrary to their reading of The Book can be allowed. Evidence that challenges The Book implies, by its very existence, that The Book may not be true, or may not contain the truth the way the fundamentalist desires. He has already convinced himself that the worst sin possible is to question The Book. So instead he hides the evidence. When the evidence is covered up, it simply ceases to exist for the fundamentalist. His faith is then secure, at least until the next piece of inconvenient truth crops up. For there is one thing certain about faking reality—reality has a way of reminding you that it is always there.

Note: This essay appears in Mr. Peron's book Within Reason: Essays on Objectivism, Ayn Rand and Christianity. The book is available from the Storey Institute's book service here at prices below what it can be purchased from Amazon. Profits go to further the work of the Institute.


  1. Thank you so very much for writing this thoughtful piece. There are perspectives and explanations that have caused me to see people, who feel very much like my "enemy," in a new light--a light of compassion and understanding, rather than of fear and loathing. A much better place to be. So many mysteries now have plausible explanations. Why do these "Christians" want to deny my civil rights? Why do they act as if they'd like me to just go away? Why are they so impervious to reason? Goodness gracious, just read the Prop 8 trial transcripts (and the recent Motion to Vacate) to see how irrational these folks are. NOW I understand just a little. Again, my deepest thanks.

  2. A very good article and one which deserves more prominence.It is interesting to note that the fundamentalist approach in the United Kingdom avoids such conflict, by and large, by avoiding homosexuality as a topic. I think that one of the reasons the fire brand approach still clings on in America is because of that country's large isolationist nature. I don't mean isolationist in the political sense, I mean it in the literal sense. Many of the remote areas in the mid west lack the free interaction of a more cosmopolitan Europe. Not only is it possible to propagate an extreme viewpoint within some of the isolated communities in the mid west and deep south, but it is also possible to hide ones own proclivities in the same way. On the other hand, England for example, by being so small a country does not lend itself so easily to small time dictators religious or otherwise, they soon come under the spotlight where they are more easily challenged, both by individuals and the prevailing view of the country as a whole. The same would apply in France or Germany for example. For the above reasons I believe old notions seem to hang on longer in remote areas of America than they would in the more cosmopolitan Europe.

  3. i would like to conect with bobby´s mam .my e-mail is danndry@yahoo.com
    today 08/12/2011 i see the movie "prayers fot bobby " and i fell her pain,
    i am sorry for my bad english and i hope that i should be understand

  4. Anonymous: there is no guarantee she will visit the site, but we will put your request here in case she does.