When North Carolina amended its constitution last month strengthening its prohibition against LGBTQ marriage equality, it came as no surprise it was the loudest voices condemning President Obama’s support of marriage equality.
“The last time NC amended the constitution on marriage was in 1875 to ban interracial marriage. We look like a bunch of backward jack assess down here! Please tell your friends we don’t all fly confederate flags & thump our Bibles quoting Leviticus,” my friend Cora from Greensboro, N.C wrote me in an email.
But the passing of Amendment One, which now constitutionally defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, has emboldened many of its Bible-thumping denizens of that state. Especially its ministers, who not only verbally condemn LGBTQ citizens, but now openly speak of exterminating us.
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“I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers but I couldn’t get it pass the Congress—build a great big large fence, 50 or a hundred mile long. Put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can’t get out,” Rev. Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC stated in his Mother’s Day sermon, responding to Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Worley continues his sermon, explaining what he predicts would eventually happen to us.
“And you know what? In a few years they will die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce. If a man ever has a young’un, praise God he will be the first.”
Unfortunately, Worley isn’t the only North Carolinian cleric to brazenly voice his opinion; his just reached national attention.
Rev. Sean Harris, senior pastor of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, reparative therapy advice to parents in his congregation for their gender non-confirming children is to engage in assaultive behavior toward them. For effeminate sons, Harris advice, is to punch them and “crack that wrist” if they are limp-wristed.
“Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”
And Rev. Ron Baity, a prominent pastor of Winston-Salem and head of the anti-marriage equality organization Return America, told his congregation favoring of Amendment One that LGBT people were once upon a time justly prosecuted.
“For 300 years, we had laws that would prosecute that lifestyle,” he is quoted as saying. “We’ve gone down the wrong path. We’ve become so dumb that we have accepted a lie for the truth, and we’ve…discarded the truth on the shoals of shipwreck!”
Given the country’s positive change toward LGBTQ civil rights, its backlash from ultra-conservative clerics and politicians won’t stem our progress, but it will always reminds us of our history of homophobic persecution and scapegoating.
For example, Believing that the judicious way to keep account of those who were infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and to stop the virus from spreading, conservative political commentator William F. Buckley Jr. in 1986 suggested that people with AIDS be tattooed on their buttocks and forearms.
While we can perhaps now chuckle at this ludicrous suggestion, this was much of the nation’s mindset. And it was not that long ago.
Another example, In an essentialist argument where biology is believed to determine one’s destiny, all marginal people to mainstream society—women, the physically challenged people of color as well as LGBTQ people, etc.—must tune into this debate about genetic engineering. If LGBT people are viewed as genetically flawed from a scientific point of view, and an abomination before God from both religious fundamentalist and conservative points of view that are a lot more pervasive in religious thought then we like to think, then our unique way of being sexual and loving in the world is not only looked upon as an aberration to human sexuality, but it can also ostensibly be viewed an abhorrence to human life itself that might need to be exterminated.
With science as an authoritative voice in society, any counter moral and religious arguments on our behalf lose their footing. And while we like to believe that the field of science is objective and value free of human biases and bigotries, scientists are, however, human beings who analyze and interpret their datu from their subjective and often times politically motivated viewpoints.
A classic example of how politics informs science is Nazi Germany’s extermination plan of gay men, and how Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code differentiated between the type of persecution non German gay men received from German gay men because of a quasi-scientific and racist ideology of racial purity. Richard Plant, makes this point in The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals, when he stated that “The policies of persecution carried out toward non- German homosexuals in the occupied territories differed significantly from those directed against Germans gays. The Aryan race was to be freed of contagion; the demise of degenerate subjects peoples was to be hastened.”
NC has made a backwards move on marriage equality. And a cleric like Worley maintains the climate.
Rev. Irene Monroe is a Ford Fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School. One of Monroe’s outreach ministries is the several religion columns she writes - “The Religion Thang,” for In Newsweekly, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper that circulates widely throughout New England, “Faith Matters” for The Advocate Magazine, a national gay & lesbian magazine, and “Queer Take,” for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal. Her writings have also appeared in Boston Herald and in the Boston Globe. Her award-winning essay, “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia”, was greeted with critical acclaim. Monroe states that her “columns are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American , queer and religious studies. As an religion columnist I try to inform the public of the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Because homophobia is both a hatred of the “other ” and it’s usually acted upon ‘in the name of religion,” by reporting religion in the news I aim to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism and anti-Semitism.”
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