Teaching bigotry and hate: Lessons from the Christian Reich
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Journal Contributing Writer
Jun 27, 2006, 00:59
Like all �irrational fear of, aversion to, or
is a learned behavior. It feeds on hate and the desire to do harm to fellow
citizens that have been reduced to abstractions or objects of disgust.
Don Wildmon�s American Family Association is well-known for
its anti-gay boycotts. They
try to hurt American businesses that treat their gay and lesbian employees
equally. They turn people into targeted objects of disdain and fodder for their
In a June 2, article carried
by Agape Press, Wildmon chirped about how AFA�s boycott was hurting the Ford
Motor Company and the families it --
and its suppliers and dealers -- support:
More than 20 pro-family groups are currently
boycotting Ford, which also makes Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, Mazda, Lincoln and
Mercury. The American Family Association, which initiated the boycott, has
learned that Ford dealers recently met with corporate officials, and the
boycott�s effect on sales was the major topic of discussion.
In fact, while Ford�s financial
difficulties are not new, the company�s woes appear to be accelerating. The
automaker�s sales dropped 5 percent in March and 7 percent in April, and Ford�s
stock has dropped more than 14 percent since the boycott began, reaching the
lowest price in nearly 20 years.
The �pro-family� designation is blatantly fraudulent,
hypocritical and, in this case, nothing less than evil. How many families -- including Christian and
�traditional� ones -- are being adversely affecting by this �pro-family�
boycott? Do the AFA and their allies care? Not in the least. Their malevolent
goal is to teach irrational fear of, aversion to, and discrimination toward gay
and lesbian Americans.
That was made clear by �Rev.� Wildmon in his mid-June statement:
The American Family Association says
that its boycott of Ford Motor Company over the automaker�s support for LGBT
issues is having an impact.
�The boycott of Ford Motor Company is
working! Sales of automobiles made by Ford dropped 2 percent in May,� AFA chair
Donald E. Wildmon said in an email to supporters.
What kind of man, what kind of �Christian� would take
pleasure -- note Wildmon�s excited exclamation point -- in hurting people and
American automakers are in a slump. According to a recent
poll, that has little if anything to do with the AFA�s boycott that was
precipitated by Ford
advertising in GLBT publications:
More than 80 percent of Americans are not influenced in
their buying decisions when a company decides to market to gay audiences,
according to a national survey released today [June 15, 2006] by FH Out Front,
the global gay communications practice within the Fleishman-Hillard public
The survey also showed that 52 percent of Americans would �do nothing�
to support a boycott against companies targeted for promoting their products to
the gay community while 14 percent of respondents said they would speak out
against such boycotts. . . .
Socially conservative groups that
encourage boycotts of corporations that advertise in gay publications, for
example, are actually putting out a �lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,�
[said Ben] Finzel [vice president in Fleishman-Hillard�s Washington office].
The legal arm of the AFA is the Center for Law and Policy.
Steve Crampton is its the chief counsel.
"Unless the people of the State of Massachusetts rise
up with one voice in opposition to this lawless and socially destructive
behavior, it will destroy society as we know it," said Crampton, following
the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision acknowledging civil marriage equality
When the University of Florida began offering health care
coverage to same-sex domestic partners -- all 25 couples who initially signed
up -- he had this
nonsensical response: �Steve
Crampton, chief counsel with the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, says, in this
case, homosexuality appears to be the preferred lifestyle of the State of
In his latest missive -- �Poison In Our
Libraries� -- Crampton and the AFA Center for Law and Policy again taught
the lesson of irrational fear of, aversion to, and discrimination toward the
gay and lesbian Americans.
Laurie Taylor is the
mother of two school age children in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She discovered
some books in the school library she objected to. Naturally, they had to do
with the reality of homosexuality and that homosexuals are people �just like
you and me.�
She demanded the
school place the books in a �parent library� section. She and like-minded
others formed �Parents Protecting the Minds of Children.� Not exactly a
descriptive name. �Parents Closing the Minds of Children� or �Parents
Perverting the Minds of Children� would have been more accurate.
they found other books they objected to and demanded the school not make them
available to students without parental approval. Many of the books they
targeted had won awards, including �outstanding book for children.� The school
refused their request to censor.
Crampton and the AFA Center for Law and Policy were quick to
join the fight for irrational fear of, aversion to, and discrimination:
"The AFA Center for Law & Policy has agreed to represent Taylor and
other Fayetteville parents in a federal lawsuit seeking to protect their constitutional rights to oversee the education of
their children." [italics added]
Crampton�s own words: "All Taylor and the other parents
asked for was that the books be placed in a restricted access section, thereby
allowing parents to exercise their God-given
(and constitutionally protected) rights to oversee the moral upbringing of
their children." [italics added]
Unlike Crampton, I
do not presume to speak for God or know Her will, but I can read. The
United States Constitution does not contain the
words �parent� or �parents,� �moral� or "morality.�
The Christian Reich and their legal eagles adamantly advocate
the philosophy of �originalism�
and �textual literalism� when it comes to interpreting the Constitution,
especially in relation to the separation of church and state, free speech, the
civil equality of all Americans, and the right to privacy. So from whence does
this �constitutional right� of which Crampton speaks come?
What Crampton�s Center for Law and Policy are really doing
is teaching homophobia. By arguing books that reference homosexuality or that
contain �gay� characters should be sequestered, the lesson being taught is that
�gays� are bad people to be mocked, shunned, or otherwise tormented. British
educationalist Mark Jennett recently made the case at a conference in London,
as reported by the
said figures showed 81 percent of primary school pupils identified the use of
the word �gay� as �a means of attacking or making fun of someone.�
He added: �By
the time they find out that it means to be homosexual, they have already learnt
that it means something bad.� . . .
He said: �We
should talk about sexuality, not sex: things like people�s family lives.
school children are very strong on the concept of fairness. We should tell them
just how unfair homophobia is.�
The same lesson was taught by the Alliance Defense Fund
(ADF), a kindred organization to the Center for Law and Policy. The ADF
was founded by a group of ultra conservative Christians, including Dr. James Dobson and Dr. D.
James Kennedy, both infamous for their homophobic crusades. Threatening a
lawsuit the school could ill afford, ADF forced Springfield High School in Oregon to allow a
student to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with the message �I am a Christian, and I
am against homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, and drugs.� What�s the definitively non-Christian message being
taught about gay and lesbian students?
In the gospels Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality,
abortion or drugs. But he did -- with Mary Magdalene at his side -- call upon
the faithful to dedicate themselves to creating a more ethical and just world
and to assuring justice and equality for all �God�s children,� especially the
disenfranchised. Bishop Gene Robinson
was blunt and true to the gospels when he told reporters he believes �gay
rights� are consistent with Christian values and that �Jesus is the agenda, the
homosexual agenda� of equality for all God�s children.
But the ultra-conservative Christian Reich is
obsessive-compulsive (anal retentive?) about teaching irrational fear of,
aversion to, and discrimination toward gay and lesbian Americans:
Allowing Textbooks to Include Gay Information
Written for the web by Elizabeth Bishop, Internet News Producer
Hundreds of members of conservative and
religious groups rallied at the State Capitol to urge legislators and the
governor to reject bills they say will indoctrinate public school children.
They are especially upset about a bill that would require lessons on positive
contributions of gays and lesbians in history.
and history offend the self-righteous who wish to exclude, shun and
demonize some of the most prominent men and women in American and world
history. What are the lessons these protestors and their actions are
teaching American youth?
It�s the same message the Christian Reich proudly
proclaimed when $300,000 for construction, expansion and renovation of the Gay
and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles was axed by �pro-family� Republican
representative Steve King of Iowa. His amendment to the
funding bill says "none of the funds made available in this act [a Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban
Development appropriations bill] shall be for the construction,
renovation or building of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.�
"If his amendment doesn�t pass, King says others in the
House may vote down the entire bill because of the provision."
What�s the message Rep. King is teaching the country�s
youth? The answer is simple: gay and lesbian Americans and their families don�t count. Shun them, demean them, exclude
What America�s youth are learning is that the agenda of the
�Christian Right� is anything but Christian and that the �pro-family� label is
anything but pro-family. And those are lessons worth learning, especially in
the historical light cast by burning books:
in library�s gay books section
June 15, 2006
BY ANNIE SWEENEY, Crime Reporter
Chicago Police are investigating a
suspicious fire that burned about 100 books from the gay and lesbian selection
at a North Side Chicago Public Library branch.
The fire -- definitely deemed
arson -- was set days before a gay pride parade and walk in Chicago, the
city hosting Gay Games VII that,
despite feverish efforts and boycotts by the Christian Reich, continue to gain
major corporate sponsors, the latest of which are ESPN and QTG, the maker of
Quaker Oats, Tropicana juice and Gatorade.
The morning after the blaze, Rick Garcia, public policy
director of Equality Illinois, said that he had little doubt about the
motivation: �Anti-gay activists trade on lies about gay people and our
families. Books and information are the first things they want to target.�
Germany, 1930s: book-burning was also a favorite pastime of
those who feared knowledge and truth. How far we haven�t come . . .
Then, Hitler was in charge and Germany had become a fascist
state with designs on world domination. Today, George W. Bush is in charge and
America has become a theofascist state with designs on world domination. Some
of the first groups Hitler went after -- aside from the Jews -- were those with
mental illness or retardation, personality disorders (as defined by the Reich),
physical defects and homosexuals. America�s commander-in-chief and his military
establishment found it easier just to combine
A Pentagon document classifies
homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts
abandoned that position.
The document outlines retirement or
other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in
a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and
And what�s the cost of this purge? The government says one
thing, but an independent investigation says another:
Discharging troops under the U.S.
military policy on gays cost $363.8 million over 10 years, almost double what
the government concluded a year ago, a private report says.
The report . . . by a University of
California Blue Ribbon Commission, questioned the methodology the Government
Accountability Office used when it estimated that the financial impact of the
�Don�t Ask, Don't Tell� policy was at least $190.5 million.
Even in 2005, the ruse
was exposed: ��Even by GAO�s admission they don�t reflect the enormity of
the information that�s missing,� said Tony Smith, executive director of
Military Community Services Network. �It only includes information on enlisted
service members, not those in the Marine Corps, National Guard, Coast Guard or
other specialty areas.��
financial costs are important but secondary to the ruined lives and message
being sent to American youth: If you are gay or lesbian, you are not welcome;
you are �defective.�
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