A relatively small item. Many �gay
news� sites didn�t even mention it. Obviously, no mainstream media did:
opposed to the state�s gay rights law are being advised to tone down their
condemnation of homosexuality and focus as much on love and support as on sin
and scripture. [Mike] Haley and Melissa
Fryrear from Focus on the Family have urged a meeting of about 200 leaders from
Maine�s evangelical community to stop quoting Leviticus, which refers to gay
sex as an �abomination,� and to avoid sayings like, �Love the sinner, hate the
sin.� . . .
or hateful tone could steer undecided voters away, while one of kindness and
compassion could help win supporters, said Mark Brewer, a political science
professor at the University of Maine.
This kinder, gentler approach to discrimination is damage
control necessitated by more and more Americans getting sick and tired of
hearing hate wrapped in religion and the preposterous claims that inevitably
follow. For example, in his 2003 book Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win
This Battle, founder and chairman
of Focus on the Family James Dobson�with fire and brimstone blazing�claimed
that civil equality would not only �quickly destroy the traditional family,�
but also bring about the end of the world: �the culture war will be over, and
the world may soon become �as it was in the days of Noah.��
Neither Focus on the Family nor its chairman have changed.
Now they�re just sugar coated and even more hypocritical. Why were Focus on the
Family representatives in Maine in the first place? �They
hope to overturn a state law that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual
orientation.� So much for love and support for fellow citizens battling the
hate called �bigotry� encouraged by religious-political leaders like James Dobson.
With �gay marriage� again in the
headlines coming from Massachusetts
and California, I doubt Lou Sheldon and the family-run core of the
Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) will tone down their
rhetoric. And that�s a good thing. Disguised, sugar-coated bigotry is more
insidious than Lou�s overt version.
So for Lou and the TVC as well as
other hell-bent religious leaders assaulting civil equality, I have some
thoughts and questions. Please feel free to reply . . .
You call yourselves and your cause
�pro-family.� Same-sex parents are currently rearing 8 to 10 million children
in the United States. Yet virtually all your efforts have been specifically
designed to deny those real-world families social, cultural, legal, and
economic recognition. Why? Don�t these American families count? Aren�t your
actions toward these same-sex parents and their children proactively
You say you�re dedicated to protecting the institution and
the �sanctity� of marriage from those gay and lesbian Americans who wish to
endorse monogamy and the institution of marriage by getting married. (FYI: The total
U.S. gay/lesbian population is between 2 and 4 percent�not exactly the �legions
of angry homosexuals and lesbians determined to abolish Christian virtue and
moral judgment in any form� Lou Sheldon rants about in his latest book that�s drawn little
serious attention but a lot of deserved criticism.)
As I�m sure you protectors of marriage are aware, on
September 8, 2004�during the height of the pre-election campaign to �save
traditional marriage��the Christian marketing-research Barna Group issued a report,
entitled �Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce As Are
Non-Christians.� It documented that �among married born again Christians, 35
percent have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome
among married adults who are not born again: 35 percent.� Barna also documented
that �nearly one-quarter of the married �born agains� (23 percent) get divorced
two or more times.�
Echoing the words and �thought� of
Jerry Falwell��The Bible is the inerrant . . . word of the living God.
It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith
and practice��faith-based politician Rep. John
Hostettler (R-IN), one of the sponsors reintroducing a constitutional amendment
to ban same-sex nuptials, has hinted at something one would think should be
foremost in the minds of the bible-based �protect marriage� crowd. In his
address to the Indiana Family Institute in Evansville, Hostettler said �The
picture of marriage is the picture of Christian salvation,� and that �any
diminishing of that notion�whether homosexual marriage or any other degradation of marriage�is something we must fight in
public policy� (italics mine).
What about adulterers? Shouldn�t you guardians of marriage
be seeking legislation to punish them for their �degradation of marriage�?
Since you�re so fond of using the Bible to damn homosexuals, shouldn�t you be
reviewing scripture for the appropriate punishment for adulterers? Allow me to
help: Deuteronomy 22:22 clearly states that �If a man
is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man
who lay with the woman as well as the woman.�
No doubt more than a few of those
multiple divorces among born-again Christians reported by the Barna Group
involved adultery. They all grossly violated Matthew 19:6: �Wherefore they are
no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not
man put asunder.�
Hostettler said, �The picture of
marriage is the picture of Christian salvation.� All you bible-based
religious-political lobbyists constantly maintain your motivation is to
bring people to �Christian salvation,� so why aren�t you calling for a Federal
Divorce Amendment, as well as amendments to state constitutions to ban divorce
and additional legislation to enable the execution of adulterers as demanded by
Deuteronomy 22:22 and supported by Matthew 19:6?
Furthermore, shouldn�t you be
campaigning against equality for
women as directed by the apostle Paul in First
Timothy? He instructed Christians �suffer not a woman to teach, nor to
usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence� because �Adam was not
deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression.� Or are your
theocratic applications of so-called �biblical truths� as self-serving and
hollow as your rationale for protecting the phrase �under God� in The Pledge of
To what are those reciting The Pledge pledging allegiance?
Despite (or because of) Jerry Falwell�s yammering about �religious references indicate the true chronicle of our
nation,� a brief look at The Pledge�s history is in order.
Dr. John W. Baer provides �A Short History� of
The Pledge of Allegiance:
Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August
1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas
of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian
novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).
in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles
described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with
political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a
peacetime economy similar to our present military industrial complex.
What was the original pledge Bellamy wrote?
allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
This secular pledge to a secular nation was published before
it was actually used in an 1892 public school quadricentennial
celebration of Columbus Day. As Dr. Baer noted, Bellamy �considered placing the
word, �equality,� in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of
education on his committee were against equality for women and African
Why aren�t those groups incensed by the recent 9th Circuit
Court�s ruling acknowledging that bit of history? Could it be because they are
the ones currently arguing so vehemently against �equality� for gay and lesbian
One of the most obsessively vehement of those groups is none
other than the Traditional Values Coalition, founded and chaired by the Rev.
Lou Sheldon. As previously mentioned, the Traditional Values Coalition is a
family affair. TVC�s executive director is Sheldon�s daughter Andrea Lafferty,
a former Reagan administration official. Her husband James is a TVC
�consultant.� He was a former press secretary for Tom DeLay.
By mid-morning on September 15, the Traditional Values
Coalition was already using The Pledge controversy as a way to gather financial pledges
for their organization and it campaigns against the word and concept Bellamy
wanted to add to the original Pledge: �equality.� (Not surprisingly, TVC also
problem with an African American woman by the name of Rosa Parks.)
So who added the words �under God,� and when were they
added? Congress did, in 1954, after an intense lobbying campaign by the Knights of
Columbus (one of the participants in the current litigation). As Dr. Baer
noted, �The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and
a public prayer.� But there�s more to it than that.
What does the phrase �under God� actually mean? According to
the eleventh edition (2003) of Merriam-Webster�s Collegiate Dictionary, the
word �under� can be used as an adjective, an adverb, or a preposition. In The
Pledge, it�s most likely intended as a preposition, one of the definitions for
which is �subject to the authority, control, guidance, or instruction of.�
Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that The Pledge�s reference to
one nation �under God� violated school children�s right to be �free from a
coercive requirement to affirm God.� He was correct, linguistically and
morally, especially since so many �religious leaders� recently claimed
hurricane Katrina was that same �God�s�
wrath purposely guided and intended to destroy New Orleans and kill
hundreds of people�and untold thousands of totally innocent animals�because of
alleged �sins.� Everyone should be free from such a malicious
�God� and its �religion.�
The Pledge of Allegiance is to the secular republic called the United States,
there is absolutely no reason to mention the �God� of certain religions while
ignoring other religions� concepts of Divinity, especially in multicultural
twenty-first century America. If the Pledge is to a theocratic state�the
Christian one the Religious Right so adamantly advocates�then �under God� is
appropriate. Similarly, in a secular nation �with liberty and justice for all�
has meaning. In a theocratic state, those words not only lack meaning, they�re
subversive . . . just as �subversive� as Sheldon's, Dobson's, Falwell's and the
other leaders of the American Taliban claim civil marriage equality would be.