Scapegoats and bloodlust
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Journal Contributing Writer
Aug 23, 2006, 01:24
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
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�
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
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
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.
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!'�
Louie� doesn�t know what �sodomites�
really means. But then again, ignorance and unbridled hate are his forte.
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