The Failure of Bible Based Bigotry to Keep DADT Alive

It was exciting that the Senate passed legislation to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by a vote of 65 – 31, and it must have been a relief for the brave men and women who have had to hide their sexuality while serving in the military. Repealing the law was the right thing to do and it had nothing to do with security or unit cohesion; it is a civil rights issue. It must have been difficult for some Senators to vote for repeal because not all Americans supported it, and in some areas the constituents will make their legislators pay at the ballot box.

Although the majority of Americans supported repealing DADT, and 65 Senators agreed with the majority, it is the minority who shame America’s guarantee of equal rights for all its citizens. There were 8 Republicans who joined Democrats in voting for the repeal and Democrats praised Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) for her efforts in bringing 7 other Republicans on board.

Senator Collins said that, “It takes time for people to change long held beliefs. I believe if we held this vote five years ago it would not have passed.” Collins is right that change is slow, and if this vote were held just a year ago it wouldn’t have passed, but it doesn’t make it right to deprive any citizen their equal rights under the law. John McCain (R-AZ) doesn’t agree that every citizen is worthy of equal rights, after the vote he said that, “Today is a very sad day.” It is a sad day, but only for bigots and religious fanatics who cling to Stone Age tenets of Jewish mythology found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Every civil servant in America whether a school teacher or a United States Senator must sign a “loyalty oath” that says they will protect the Constitution as a condition of employment. The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, and the 14t Amendment guarantees equal protection for all citizens. It is especially egregious that United States Senators are willing to deprive any citizen of their Constitutional protections, or that they allow a soldier to die for our country as long as they hide their sexual preference.

Although the objections to gays serving openly in the military are based on bigoted religious grounds, some made the argument that the ability to defend our nation will be diminished if gays are open about who they love. That argument falls short of the mark because gays have always served in the military, and many decorated war heroes have been dismissed because someone found out they were gay.

The idea that the military is weakened if a soldier discloses their sexual preference is ridiculous, and the opponents of repealing DADT offer twisted-logic arguments to support their nonsense positions. Tony Perkins is president of the Christian organization the Family Research Council and he said, “Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda.” Perkin’s group promotes and is founded on what it calls “the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian value system upon which it is built.”

Although Perkins feigns concern for the ability of the military to fulfill its mission, it is religion that drives the organization’s and Republican legislator’s politics, and they are using the military to mask their blatant bigotry. Perkin’s group is more concerned about losing control of America than a weakened military and he admits as much when he says, “This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.” Perkins equates equal civil rights with a movement to impose a radical social agenda on the country, and many Americans, including 31 Republican senators agree with that sentiment

Senator Collins is correct that society changes slowly, but Republicans, conservatives, and religious bigots prefer to stay in the dark ages and deprive gays of the equal rights and freedoms that are guaranteed to every American. Using the despicable argument that the military will not function at the highest level if gay soldiers are not forced to stay in the closet is childish and as believable as the ancient Jewish mythology it is based on.

Repealing DADT is a civil rights issue and nothing more. It is not about imposing social change on the country and is not an attack on any religion or the family. The senators and opponents of repealing DADT are attacking the civil rights of every American, and are attempting to impose their bible-based radical agenda on all Americans. Now that the Congress has repealed DADT, maybe they can repeal religion that imposes bigotry on America.

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16 Replies to “The Failure of Bible Based Bigotry to Keep DADT Alive”

  1. I thank Rmuse for a thoughtful post. As one Christian, and as an Army Chaplain who supports the repeal of DADT, I wish to respond.

    Partly I want to call into question the original premise. Is the bigotry that supported suppression of open sexual minorities in the military Bible-based? In my experience, while the Bible has been used as ammunition, it probably has less to do with motivation than it might appear at first glance. Let me put it this way: I expect that people who opposed women and African-Americans being incorporated into the military found passages in the Bible to support their beliefs. Their beliefs were not formed by their faith experience. Given the demographic identity most of them had in addition to their particular faith, they were likely to oppose inclusion of those groups anyway. Religion, along with other cultural components, provided a handy tool.

    In addition, not everyone who holds the Bible to be unique and authoritative for their lives has agreed with DADT. Certainly the Bible has been used to justify continuing DADT. Verses were found within the Bible that, in a narrow context, without considering the broad sweep of the entire work, seemed to support slavery. Yet those who fought for civil rights for African-Americans found it a work that provided strength and sustinence in the struggle. There is no question that the majority of self-identified evangelical Christians disagree with the repeal of DADT, but they are not all of the Christian community. Sadly, corporate media, having longstanding difficulty in the nuance of covering religion, allows one component (albeit a large one) of the faith landscape to have by far the largest megaphone. The faith community has been less supportive of gay rights than it was for civil rights for African-Americans, but portions of it have been supportive.

    American Christians have not been of one voice on this issue, and Rmuse does a disservice to those of us who have tried to be allies, to congregations who have been brave on this issue even as they paid for that bravery in internal strife and (sometimes) loss of resources, and to the liberating Spirit within the work (that, again, sustained civil rights workers in the late 50s and 60s) to write as if it does. There are scriptures in Leviticus and Romans that allow for one Biblical way of looking at this issue; it is not the only way. Religion did not, as Rmuse contended, impose bigotry on America. People did. And although religion was extensively used (as it always is) by some to maintain their grip on power and privilege, it was also used by some as fuel and sustenance for the fight.

  2. @Chaplain Mike

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply, and additional perspective on issue that should have been a simple matter of policy, but became manipulated into an emotional standoff.

  3. The change started in the late 1960’s. Where was Perkins then?

    In an interview with Daniel Cho on CNN, he stated that almost everyone in the military knows if they are serving in close proximity to a gay person. The military is like a family with members in its immediate area knowing what is going on with the others. It hasnt been a distraction to this point and people like McCain(I was for it before I was against it) know it full well. We are all gods children, remember that one McCain?

    The only difference here is that we choose to recognize openly that we have gays in the military. Of course once again well behind Europe. In an enlightened country, this never would have been an issue. In a country filled with mysterious religious dogma and voodoo and people clawing for power over others, it will always be an issue.


  4. Very thoughtful post. I believe one of the largest problems is that the voice of the thoughtful is not being heard, particularly when it comes to Christianity these days. Christianity has been hi-jacked by the far right and used as a weapon of hate. I know of many Christians who do not support this and yet feel their voice is lost. There are folks who are actively working on remedying this problem in California for example. However, I’m sad to say that the loudest voices representing the Christian faith these days seem to be as anti-Christlike as one can conceive, e.g., the discussions regarding the ground zero “mosque”.

    I wish voices like yours could be heard more; it’s up to people like you to band together and renounce the misuse of the bible and Jesus’ name for hate. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to email us at the contact us address. There’s much to be said on this topic. Lastly, I’d like to see the day when faith was not politicized at all, as I can’t imagine how a force for power can co-exist with true spirituality.

  5. BTW Mr Perkins, the “the traditional family unit” comes from the 1950’s. You could see it nightly on Ozzie and Harrient, Leave it to Beaver, Father knows best and the Life of Riley where mom cleaned and cooked all day, dad wore a suit and came home at night to discuss what the rug rats had done all day.

    That died when mom was forced to go to work and the kids because turnkey kids. Let yourself in and make a sammie. Re-evaluate your standards. You see, in the families of the 60’s, there were gay people.

  6. You have summarized quite well the tendency of a large number of people to use the Bible in order to justify their prejudices. People like that cherry pick in order to rationalize bigotry. It was done to defend slavery and Jim Crow as well as the second-class status of women in this country. At its best, religion helps to provide a moral compass, and at its worst, it’s used to demonize
    “others” on the basis of differences in religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and race among other issues.

    You have done a great job in encapsulating the mindset of those who hew to the letter of religion with their tendency to dot every i and cross every t, at the expense of the loving spirit toward fellow humans.

  7. Perkin’s, and the conservative vision of the ‘traditional family’ never existed.

    It’s a fantasy created with a complete denial of reality. The families portrayed in those shows never dealt with teen pregnancy, drug use and abuse, alcoholism, the family struggling to make ends meet, dad carrying on with the secretary, mom and her little helper, or anything approaching real in life.

  8. Chaplain Mike,

    I appreciate your comments, and to some extent I agree with you. The problem I see is that the humanitarian segment of the Christian community is not screaming out against hatred for the gay community from so many evangelical groups. It also quite curious that a large segment of the Christian community rejects the teachings of Jesus Christ. For example, opposition to programs to clothe and feed the poor and disadvantaged for whatever reason is in direct opposition to Christ’s admonition to care for blind, lame, poor etc.
    The conservative movement that supports war, corporatism, and deification of the extremely wealthy is predominately Christian. It is true that many voters are not informed as to the anti-Christian activities of conservative leaders, but they are informed of Christ’s teachings. The disconnect and silence from many in the Christian community reeks of hypocrisy and is contrary to Christ’s most basic teachings.

    For the record, in a previous time of my life, I was part of the Christian community as a minister. When the realization set in that my faith supported slaughter and deprivation for profit, my tenure ended immediately and with extreme prejudice.

    I am still waiting for the true Christians to make their voices heard, but they are mute. Whether out of ignorance or denial, their tacit support of anti-Christ like actions surely disappoint their Lord and savior.

    Thank you for reminding me that there are Christians who support civil rights, my hope is that attention can now turn to supporting peace, tolerance, and humanitarian endeavors. A million Christian voices would be a powerful force for good.

  9. Which is Perkins entire premise. None of that stuff ever existed when the traditional family “existed”. They never dealt with that stuff in public. They did in private though. Of course his argument now is that Obama has stopped the traditional family and changed it to something evil.

    Perkins better hope I am never the King.

  10. What a beautiful comment, Rmuse. I share your wish to hear a million Christian voices speak out for the true teachings of Jesus Christ.

  11. Robin Roberts asked her what she would do first as president, Paylin said:

    1. No health care unless you are rich, no government health care except for my family.
    2. Drill for oil.
    3. No social security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSR., public school or any programs that help anyone she doesn’t deem worthy. (not rich)
    4. No regulations, big business should be able to screw, hurt and kill to make a profit, and they should be able to keep all the money they make and not pay taxes on it.

    So she has learned to repeat what all the GOPers are saying. Amazing they tell people what they want to do and how much they hate everyone who is not rich, white and right wingers and people vote for them anyway. The way people are acting today it truly must be the last days. So many people are not properly loving and caring for others, it’s every man for himself as far as they are concerned.

    If she were president would she appoint everyone from her high school and church to her cabinet, or has she thrown so many under the bus there aren’t any left? It’s sad we even have to discuss such people being elected to government offices she should have been laughed at in 2008 and went home never to be heard of again. Crazy times indeed.

  12. But about this one, they aren’t against people who are divorced or commit adultery, they don’t treat them like second class citizens who should have their rights denied. After all that’s one of the commandments so shouldn’t it be an even worse sin in their minds. Oh that’s right too many of them are guilty can’t be calling them out.

  13. There are also those among them who are gay, and who are probably some of the worst bashers of others who are like them. Talk about self-hatred!

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