Right Wing Watch reported yesterday that, “Rev. Mark Creech of the North Carolina-based Christian Action League warned that marriage equality will lead to “a flood of religious persecutions” and can only be stopped by reversing America’s “rapid decline into paganism.”
Well, we’ve seen already how stupid the cries of persecution are. I’m sorry Rev. Creech is upset that we have had the audacity to say no to his intolerance, but the First Amendment says he’s going to have to find a way to cope.
This “descent into Paganism” he laments is what I would call a “Pagan Renaissance.” The Polytheistic world was tolerant of all religions for the simple reason that all gods were known to exist. Jan Assmann calls polytheism a means of translation between cultures, an “ecumene of interconnected nations.”
Before monotheism, there was no true/false dynamic in religion. As Assmann puts it, “The different peoples worshipped different gods, but nobody contested the reality of foreign gods and the legitimacy of foreign forms of worship.”
Of course, this source of religious pluralism is what conservative Christians most fear. Thus the “descent” into what can only be considered a good thing for most people because it undoes the evil created by the Old Testament’s anti-Gentilism whereby everyone who was not one of the Chosen People became, in effect, to use Jesus’ own words, a dog or a swine (Matthew 7:6). As Bart Ehrman writes, “Basic tolerance was one of the central aspects of ancient Greco-Roman religion” thus any “descent” into Paganism brings with it a renewal of religious tolerance. We can’t have that, people like Creech are saying. It frankly terrifies them.
I wrote the other day about the anti-Pagan diatribe that is the Old Testament, which is the product of what Assmann calls “‘counter-religion” because it rejects and repudiates everything that went before and what is outside itself as ‘paganism.'” The true/false distinction turned the world upside down: “the new counter-religion blocked intercultural translatability. False gods cannot be translated.” Christianity not only claimed to be the religion of a new chosen people, but it picked up this intolerant baggage, carried it with it for twenty centuries, and has been actively persecuting people on account of it for seventeen centuries, including, especially, the original chosen people.
The consequences should be obvious to all: homosexuality is something Pagans “do.” Thus a culture that tolerates homosexuality is Pagan and one which promotes it is in open rebellion against their God. The god they insist, whether we want him or not, is our God – our only god – too. God destroyed Israel for its sins and so it only stands to reason he will destroy his new Israel full of his new chosen people: America. You can readily see why people like Rev. Creech have become completely unhinged.
So Creech did the only thing he could do: he got on his big martyr bandstand and started pointing fingers so God would know who to smite:
These events of late prove, without question, that the normalization of homosexual behavior in the culture and the legalization of same-sex marriage will inevitably usher in a flood of religious persecutions for Christians who dare say homosexuality is a sin. Touting as they have that gay rights are about civil rights, the LGBT community deceives the public into believing every born-again, God fearing, Bible-believing, follower of Jesus Christ is worse than an prejudiced Archie Bunker type idiot.
Okay, marriage equality does not prove any such thing since there is nothing in the historical record which shows a culture tolerating homosexuality persecuting non-homosexuals. Giving everybody the same rights is not persecution. Freeing everybody to worship and believe as they will means, necessarily, freeing them of the constraints of others who believe differently.
Christians are and will continue to be free to say homosexuality is a sin, even though homosexuality is a pathology that has been with us only since the 19th century, and even though the Church was not particularly ill-disposed toward homosexuality for most of its history. The thing is, and Rev. Creech really very clearly hates this, the rest of us are and will continue to be free to object to Creech’s religion-based bigotry.
As I wrote here the other day, conservative Christians want to be able to hate without consequence. As for Archie Bunker, if the shoe fits…
But Creech has more whining to do:
Unfortunately, very few people understand why such persecution is inevitable for those who would reject same-sex marriage. The reason is because the legalization of gay marriage doesn’t simply facilitate the ability of homosexuals to marry along-side of heterosexuals; instead it legally redefines the institution of marriage for everyone. No longer is marriage between a man and a woman, but between two adults – regardless of gender. Therefore, this presents a radically different paradigm resulting in a myriad of societal conflicts that government uses its broad enforcement authority to resolve. In other words, if citizen Christians with small businesses or Christian organizations and ministries are unwilling to comply with this new legal orthodoxy on marriage, then such are outside of the law and vulnerable to the government’s coercive powers to bring them into compliance.
This is just hilarious. It’s perfectly okay, Creech is saying, for Christians to use government’s coercive powers to force us into a Christian paradigm. He’s all cool with that and why wouldn’t he be? It’s been the Church’s modus operandi for seventeen hundred years, since the publication of the Theodosian Code. But gods forbid other people have a right to paradigms of their own. That hasn’t been possible for most of the Common Era thanks to bigots like Creech, not since the days of polytheism, in fact.
But Creech isn’t done with his fantasy yet:
For many years, Christians in this country – one largely based on Christian values – have had it relatively easy and not experienced serious bouts with persecution. But that may soon change if America continues its rapid decline into paganism.
Serious bouts of persecution? Really? Really? How about, oh…I dunno…NONE? Who has persecuted Christians in America since the Constitution was signed? And all the persecution before this and any after, were examples of Christians persecuting other Christians. Rev. Creech needs to get a grip.
Don’t be fooled. True Christianity is in no way compatible with homosexuality. And same-sex marriage is in no way compatible with religious liberty.
Yet, somehow denying religious liberty IS religious liberty? Oh dear…. This is a real testicle-twister. Wrong, wrong, wrong, Creech old chum! Religious liberty means more than the rights of Christians to religious liberty. It means religious liberty for everybody, like the Constitution intended. You remember…the First Amendment? You may have heard of it. It means the rest of us are not bound by your ideas of morality, which, as science has shown, did not come from your god or any god. Get over the idea that you have exclusive claim to morality. You don’t. You never did.
Creech saves his real hyperbole for the conclusion of his rant:
This writer is not conceding to the so-called inevitability of gay marriage. But his point is that regardless of what happens on that front, every genuine believer must always like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, purpose in his heart that he will not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
Oh wow, Nebuchadnezzar? Really? I really don’t think there are too many images of Nebuchadnezzar you need to worry about, Rev. Creech. This image doesn’t even work metaphorically.
Keep your highly bigoted version of Christianity. Please. Fewer and fewer people want it. But if you insist on continuing this promiscuous spewing of hate, expect some return on that investment, and not just in numbers of young people leaving the Church, because we “Pagans” have a right to opinions too, and we do intend to express them most strenuously.
 Jan Assmann. Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 3.
 Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004), 30.
 Assmann (1993), 3.
 Assmann (1993), 3.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.