Online Journal
Front Page 
 Special Reports
 News Media
 Elections & Voting
 Social Security
 Editors' Blog
 Reclaiming America
 The Splendid Failure of Occupation
 The Lighter Side
 The Mailbag
 Online Journal Stores
 Official Merchandise
 Progressive Press
 Barnes and Noble
 Join Mailing List

Religion Last Updated: Aug 23rd, 2006 - 01:29:07

Scapegoats and bloodlust
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 23, 2006, 01:24

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

Blaming gays for Armageddon and the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict, as absurd as it sounds, is just what Rabbi Yehuda Levin did and implied: �The homosexualization of the Middle East, beginning with God�s backyard, is one of the end-day struggles that could literally lead to a spiritual and physical Armageddon in both Israel and spread back to America.�

According to Agape Press, a Christian Right �news service� and propaganda organ for Don Wildmon�s American Family Association, Rabbi Levin was convinced that Jerusalem�s hosting of World Pride would �bring on severe judgment from God.� He based his �reasoning� on the fact that �24 hours before the hostilities [with Hezbollah] began, an effort to get the [Israeli] government to rescind the permits for the week of pro-homosexual activities was rejected.�

Never mind that the religious-political forces warring in the Middle East have been at each other for millennia, once again gays provide a convenient scapegoat. The origin of that term explains much. The following is from Bishop John Shelby Spong�s response to a reader who was seeking to justify �God�s� vengeful nature and the need for bloody sacrifices to fulfill �His� will:

I believe what you need to do is to free yourself of the theistic God who lives above the sky and who guides human history to accomplish the divine will. That mentality forces us to find purpose in everything. Locked into this view of God, the early Christians sought to find purpose in the cross. That is how we got substitutionary theories of the atonement and began to view the cross through the lens of the sacrificial Day of Atonement that the Jews called Yom Kippur.

In the liturgy of Yom Kippur a perfect Lamb of God was slain. Its blood spread on the mercy seat of the Holy of Holies that was thought of as God�s place of occupation. Therefore, to come to God, people had to come through the blood of the lamb.

Then a second animal was brought out and the priest began to confess the sins of the people. As the priest confessed, the sins of the people were thought to leave the people and land on the back and head of this animal. Then burdened with the sins of the people, this animal was driven into the wilderness. The sin bearer (called �the scapegoat�) thus carried the sins of the people away. Both the sacrificial lamb and the sin-bearing goat became symbols by which Jesus was understood.�

Bloodlust �gods� such as Jehovah and Allah reflect their human creators who propagate their own kind and they, in turn, are in constant need of scapegoats: someone to blame for their sins against spirituality and fellow human beings.

On August 10, a group of about 200 gay men and women held a silent vigil in Jerusalem�s Liberty Bell Park. The event was scheduled after the war with Hezbollah forced cancellation of a massive World Pride parade. As the Jerusalem Post reported, the participants were peaceful and respectful:

A huge red banner at the protest read �Jerusalem is for all,� while rainbow-colored placards included such slogans as �The Path to God is not always straight� and �Senseless hatred.�

�We believe that the holiness of Jerusalem is increased by this city being the center of tolerance and coexistence,� said Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, 32, who lead a delegation from New York City�s Congregation Beth Simhat Torah, the world�s largest gay and lesbian synagogue.

She added that organizers understood that the tone had to be �appropriate� during wartime when �the voices of tolerance and hope are all the more essential.�

And how did Rabbi Yehuda Levin reply?

�At a time when Jewish blood is being spilt in Lebanon, all that these self-indulgent narcissistic, selfish, perverted people can think about is engaging in sodomy,� said New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of the Orthodox Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the US and Canada, who has been spearheading an international campaign against the parade.

Levin, who was prevented by police from entering the park lest there be a violent confrontation, slammed police for �wimping out like French poodles� in not stopping the gathering.

The tone of the comments and their overall messages speak for themselves. Rabbi Levin epitomizes the �senseless hatred� defining bloodlust and its eternal need for scapegoats. Apparently the rabbi did not learn the lesson the Holocaust taught about scapegoats and bloodlust.

It�s not surprising that Rabbi Levin�s initial comments were featured in Don Wildmon�s propaganda machine, Agape Press. Wildmon and his American Family Association (AFA) are in the Schadenfreude business of hurting gays and their families. That they hurt or destroy other people and their families in the process is of no concern to them: collateral damage, acceptable losses, economic bloodlust in the so-called �culture war,� a hackneyed term the belligerent Christian Right loves to use.

The American Family Association has been waging war on Ford Motor Company. Rev. Wildmon�s latest missive began with �Great News!� followed closely by �Ford sales have consistently dropped since AFA began the boycott. The drop in March was 5 percent; April, 7 percent; May, 2 percent; June, 6.8 percent; and July, 4.1 percent.� What Wildmon forgot to mention was that Ford�s decline in sales was the smallest among the three major U.S. automakers. But then again, truth has no place in bloodlust�s propaganda.

Whether AFA�s boycott is having any real effect or not is debatable, but what kind of man � what kind of �Christian� � would take pleasure in trying to hurt the people who work for Ford because the company advertises in gay publications, believes in diversity and practices equality?

Rev. Wildmon and Rabbi Levin are of a kind: bigots who use a corrupt, highly edited, exclusionary text to justify their hate. Again Bishop Spong hit the proverbial nail on the head in responding to a reader�s question about a stagnant theology:

The other issue you raise is far more important. That whether or not it was proper to close the Canon of scripture when the Church did and to suggest thereby that the revelation of God and God�s purposes ended about 135 c.e. when II Peter, generally regarded as the last book of the New Testament, was written.

Was there no new insight to come out of Christianity after it was recognized by Constantine in 313? When Augustine related Christianity to the thoughts of Plato in the 4th and 5th centuries, was none of that worthy of being incorporated into the Canon of Christian scripture? When Thomas Aquinas rethought Christianity in the 13th century in terms of the thoughts of Aristotle, was not some part of that work worthy of inclusion? Were there no voices out of the Reformation that rose to the level of scripture? When liturgies were shaped in the 13th century, should not the account of that have been incorporated into our sacred story? If the book of Acts that chronicled events in the first century or epistles that addressed issues in the Church in the first century were thought of as sacred scripture, why not events and issues that shaped Christianity in other centuries?

Next there is the issue of the voices that were excluded from the Bible by our prejudices. No voices of women are heard in the Bible. Did 50 percent of the human race never think a thought or say a word that we might call �The Word of God?� There are no voices of ethnic minorities. Does the word of God come only through Middle Eastern males? Should Martin Luther King�s �Letter from a Birmingham Jail� be read as an epistle to the Church? I consider it a tragedy that the Bible was closed to all new additions in the early years of the second century, when Christianity had just begun its journey through history.

That�s the essential problem with religious fundamentalism and the dogma in which it�s buried. Unlike human thinking, human society and the physical universe, it doesn�t evolve. It can�t. It�s stuck in the past, a past that�s long dead. Those who try to keep it �alive� are defined by their hypocrisy. Does either Levin or Wildmon obey all biblical laws, including those in Leviticus and Deuteronomy? If they did, they�d be arrested, tried and convicted of premeditated murder.

But no one exemplifies pure hatred, perverted religion and its pathological need for scapegoats and vicious bloodlust more than Louis P. Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition.

His outburst said it all. "None of the panelists delivered as bombastic a screed as the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the hard-line anti-gay group Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon demanded laws that treat homosexuality as 'a social disorder.' Decrying the term 'homosexual' as the brainchild of a 20th-century German psychologist obviously sympathetic to gays, Sheldon implored the conferees to return to the 18th century�s superior diction. 'The word used in America [then] was perverted,' he noted. When Sheldon was asked by an audience member what to call homosexuals, he shot out of his chair and shouted, 'Call them what they are � sodomites!'�

Too bad �Lucky Louie� doesn�t know what �sodomites� really means. But then again, ignorance and unbridled hate are his forte.

Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
Theo-political prostitution: Bush and the Christian Right
Ban Ki-moon: Is he or isn't he a Moonie?
The conversion factor
The bully pulpit, sanctimonious Santorum, and the meaning of �zero�
A new low, even for the Traditional Values Coalition
For God's sake
Pious right-wing Republicans smear the name of Jesus and ravage the image of Christianity
Tolerating intolerance
The Panzer Pope pontificates on Muslim violence
Et tu, Benedicte?
Neocon pope
The role of religion in political affairs
The curse of radical Islam as a political religion
Schwarzenegger caves to bigots and bullies in vetoing Bias Free Curriculum Act
Theocrats or theofascists? The Religious Right�s true colors
November 2006: The GOP and Christian Right, inbreeding and infighting
Scapegoats and bloodlust
�Subornation of false muster�: The case against �Dr. Dino� and Young Earth Creationism
A �New Vision� prompts a new low
Christian right steps up pro-Israel lobbying