Christians: Stop letting hate control the conversation on LGBT equality!

As the country moves forward with the idea of embracing marriage equality after the Supreme Court hands down their ruling, a small but vocal smattering of anti-gay bigots have dug in their heels for an all-out attack on the LGBT community. Most legal analysts (even the anti-gay ones) believe the court will strike down all bans on same-sex marriage when they hand down their ruling in June. Verbal arguments were heard on April 28.

Basically, for a bigot with a microphone, this is a pretty uncomfortable time. The country has moved past their hatred for LGBT people, and most of us know someone very well in our family or circle of friends who is gay. Frankly, we know the things they say about us are completely, totally wrong. But that doesn’t stop them from a race to out-hate each other with some truly loathsome rhetoric.

World Net Daily, a website that hasn’t met an anti-gay screed or a conspiracy theory it didn’t like, is one such example. The site urged its readers to sign an online petition that claims the endgame for LGBT equality activists – is to “outlaw the practice of faith that formed the moral and spiritual foundation of our nation from its birth,” and asserts that the movement is “strikingly reminiscent of communist totalitarian countries like Mao-era China.

But that’s just one, modest example.

In a time where SPLC-certified hate group FRC’s hater-in-chief, Tony Perkins regularly states that LGBT-affirming Christians commit “heresy,” it’s pretty sad when his rhetoric is mild when compared to his peers.

James Dobson, who just a few years ago in 2009 admitted that the “culture wars” were lost by those who opposed equality, now says that we could have “another civil war” if the Supreme Court rules for equality. According to Right Wing Watch, he told his fellow anti-gay activists that the issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and … well, see for yourself:

He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

Dobson also claimed that marriage equality will lead to the collapse of the nation: “The country can be no stronger than its families. I really believe if what the Supreme Court is about to do is carried through with, and it looks like it will be, then we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two. I just am convinced of that. So we need to do everything we can to try to hold it back and to preserve the institution of marriage.

Then there’s Rick Scarborough, a former Baptist Pastor from Texas who has a microphone of his own to spew hate into. He’s the current head of a group called “Vision America,” and has a long history of demonizing gays. He hates marriage equality so much, that he insists that his followers should “fight until we die” to stop it.

“We don’t capitulate, we fight until we die, we push back with all our might,” Scarborough said. “This is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment for every preacher in America. This is a moment where we find whether the Christians who claim to know Jesus really confess Christ, that is what we’re attempting to find out.”

After all, the gays want to control everything, according to Pat Robertson. And former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay insists that Christians should fight for the right to discriminate with every ounce of their being. Kind of like he fought to stay out of jail for violating campaign finance laws, I suppose.

So, there’s gonna be a civil war, and anti-gay bigots should “fight until they die.” Surely, no one would come up with the outrageous notion that gays should be killed in 21st century America?

Think again.

A California lawyer filed a petition that, if passed by California voters, would require that citizens execute homosexuals “by any convenient means possible.” Naturally, this bill will never see the light of day on the California ballot, but the fact that it was filed shows just how low the anti-gay crowd will go.

Harlem hate pastor James David Manning, famous for his “Semen Lattes at Starbucks” rant a few months back, doubled down this month on his “Jesus would Stone Homos” view:

“Let me tell you something, if you’re not willing to kill for what you believe, if you’re not willing to kill those that are diametrically opposed in great evil against what you believe, then you’re not worthy of his service. You gotta be willing to kill. You gotta be willing to die.”

Who would have thought? Peter LaBarbera and Mat Staver aren’t the most vitriolic homophobes out there anymore? If I were a betting man, I’d say they’ll be ramping up their screeds any day to match — any day now. God help us.

So let’s review what’s going on in hate-group-land:

  1. Ignore decades worth of history where LGBT people have been beaten, arrested, attacked, fired, kicked out of homes, denied custody of their children, shamed, and even murdered.
  2. Paint gays as the worst possible kinds of people — i.e. “just like Nazis.”
  3. Claim that “Christians” are really the victims — “Gays just want Christians in jail,” or “Gays want Churches eliminated,” or similar garbage.
  4. Blatantly call for the murder of LGBT people.

My prayer is that we won’t see the obvious result of their vitriol. But sadly, it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing of more and more violent hate crimes against LGBT people. Please, in the name of sanity, hope, and everything that is holy, don’t let this happen.

Look, folks. This isn’t just hyperbole. It’s happening right now. As marriage equality gets closer to reality, we’ll see it even more.

And they claim to be Christians. Every. Single. Hateful. One. Of. Them.

So, fellow Christians, I ask you two simple questions.

First, do you agree with these people? If so, how do you reconcile such hateful vitriol with Christ, who commands us to love our neighbor and our enemy?

Second, if you don’t agree with these people or their rhetoric, why the hell aren’t you speaking out against it? Do you not realize that their brand of hate is being represented as “true Christianity?” Do you not realize that your silent acquiescence is complicit agreement with their hate?

And please, don’t bother telling me how you would never say such things. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t need to hear it. The people that do are the ones who shout their venom into microphones for millions to hear.

You must be louder. Louder in numbers, and louder in volume. You MUST speak for what is right. Speak for equality. Stop letting hate control the conversation! Your silence, dear Christian, is complicit with their poison. And by not saying anything, I blame YOU for their success in getting their message across.

These blowhard bigots are screaming into their microphones about how horrible we are in the LGBT community, and some of them are even insisting that we deserve death. How could you possibly agree with this? How could you sit idly by while these monsters wage war on sanity itself?

At this point, we need to stop using the Bible to defend our arguments (for or against) on the topic of same-sex relationships. When it comes to civil law and LGBT equality, the law of the land is the US Constitution, not the Bible. When so many people use their Bible to justify hate, it’s time to stop arguing on their own turf.  Dan Savage (who is completely, deliciously reviled by bigots everywhere) said — and rightly so — that the Bible is fundamentally wrong on slavery. The Bible is used to justify keeping women as subservient to men. It’s used to justify wars. It’s used to justify racism. Such people have no interest in actual scholarly review on the topic. We’ve seen this time and time again. All they’ll do is get louder and louder.

There’s only one thing that these hateful bigots understand – shame. And they need to be completely, utterly, and publicly shamed for the horrible things they say about their fellow human beings — the same way we shame racists (at least in most parts of the country, anyway).

Shame them with your love. Shame them with your genuine desire to follow Christ. Shame them with your righteous anger that they would dare to use the altar of Christ as an excuse to belittle and demonize people just because they’re gay.

Shame them with living with honesty, integrity, hope, and genuine love — and a voice that speaks out against such vitriol for exactly what it is: the excrement of bigoted, hateful shortsightedness that lost its way long before William Tyndale dared to bring the Bible to the masses by translating it into English.

The same kind of religious fervor that burned him at the stake would like very much to do the same to LGBTs.

Stand up with truth, love, and justice. The truth is that LGBT people are part of God’s creation. Love is never a sin, and justice is to bring equality to everyone.

It’s the only way we’ll truly move forward.

This post originally appeared on David’s Skipping to the Piccolo.

photo credit: Bolton on Flickr, cc
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Shelton-David3DAVID W. SHELTON is a writer, speaker, publisher, business owner, and activist in the Clarksville, TN area. He’s also served as a pastor. He is a diversity trainer with the Tennessee Equality Project, and author of The Rainbow Kingdom: Christianity & The Homosexual Reconciled.

You can keep up with David’s view of the world on his sites, Skipping to the Piccolo and The Rainbow Kingdom.