Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, noted homophobe, bigot, and a supporter of Proposition 8, appeared on American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues” to say that the push for gay rights will end in the persecution of Christians, telling host Tim Wildmon, who also happens to be president of the AFA,
The short answer is persecution of Christians. It is staggering across America the depths of persecution believers are already beginning to experience. This is not about homosexual marriage; this is about crushing expression of the Gospel.
Crushing expression of the Gospel…Really?
The Religious Right is so opposed to equal rights that they have invested everything in the idea that LGBT equal rights = persecution of Christians.
Yet one has nothing to do with the other, obviously, and worse, their scheme misrepresents their own gospels as being predicated on the idea that the “Good News” Jesus went on about as he preached through Galilee, was itself anti-gay.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus did not talk about sex, let alone gay sex. He never mentioned men loving men or women loving women. Of all the historical Jesuses that have been suggested since it became possible to suggest historical Jesuses without being burned at the stake, none of them is Jesus the anti-gay prophet.
Yet to listen to the religious right, their entire religion revolves around just two issues: gay people and abortion. Guess what? Jesus didn’t talk about abortion either.
Part of the problem is that the term “homosexual” (like the oft-used term “Caucasian”) dates only from the 19th century. There was no idea of “homosexuality” in the ancient world for Jesus to address. Ironically, Garlow has admitted this (sort of) by saying that while the Bible does not address the issue of “orientation” it does address the issue of “practice.”
But of course, Garlow draws the wrong conclusions from this by claiming that because “orientation” is “a modern phenomenon” that nobody is born gay. So because nobody used a certain term to describe something in nature, it was not happening. For examples of more specious logic, you’d have to look long and hard.
The thing is, we have all sorts of modern terms – in modern languages, surprise, surprise! – that we use to describe and explain the world around us, including human behavior. That we describe this behavior in light of modern science does not mean that this behavior did not exist in the days before science.
Nobody described the germ theory of disease in Jesus’ day either (another idea that gained currency only in the 19th century). In the days of Caesar Augustus, the miasma theory was prevalent, that idea that disease was transmitted by miasma, or “bad air.” This should not be taken to mean that people did not get diseases from germs in the ancient world. But that is the conclusion Garlow’s egregious logic demands.
And then there is the not-so-small matter of the gospel itself. Jesus talked about rich people, and how difficult it was going to be for them to get into the Kingdom of God, you know, because to be rich meant that they had sold their souls to the dark powers that ruled this age. But you won’t hear the Religious Right talk about how evil rich people are. They would rather talk about things they care about than the things Jesus cared about. As I’ve said before, this weaponizes Jesus; it does not make them Christians.
Jesus preached about the coming Kingdom of God. His message was to prepare for that upheaval. It was a very different message from what we are hearing today. Jesus not only condemned the rich, but he extolled the virtues of the poor. The First shall be last, he said, and the last shall be first. Today, that Religious Right would have you believe that Jesus’ message was “The first shall remain first and the devil take the hindmost.”
Christians ought to be outraged at this perversion of Jesus’ message. They ought to bridle at letting a bigot like Jim Garlow misrepresent the gospel. Sadly, it is the bigoted atrocity peddled by people like Jim Garlow that gets heard, and that drives the Republican Party of 2014. We hear about the persecution of Christians but what they are really talking about is the persecution of bigots, because Jesus’ message has nothing to do with bigotry, but rather with meekness, love, and turning the other cheek.
It is past time Christians rise up and denounce the false gospel of conservative thuggery, and reclaim their religion. Only when this false gospel is purged from the Republican Party will true Republicans be able to reclaim their party and return to America a functioning government. In the end, this will be a task that requires a Hercules, or, dare I say it, a Jesus. A Jesus, necessarily, who has been de-weaponized.
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.