Photo by Edwin Kagin

Fundamentally Aware

 

Bringing America’s Own Religious Extremism to the Forefront

May 27, 2003

Volume 1, Number 7

 

SPECIAL OFFER

Small supply of brand new copies of

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF EXTREMISM with slightly damaged covers

 

Hardcover $19.95 (regular $24.95)

Paperback $12.50 (regular $15.95)

 

Call toll free

(866) 639-2678

while they last!

 

 

 

 

“A blockbuster

exposé of the activities of the

Religious Right,”

says JOHN SHELBY SPONG best-selling author of Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism

 

Click image for details or visit your favorite online bookseller.

 

“I have just read this brilliant book from start to finish, almost without a break, and I am stunned and horrified by what I have learned,” says RICHARD DAWKINS author of Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fundamentals of Extremism is now listed in  

The New York Review of Books’ The Reader's Catalog (online continuously updated version) “an annotated selection of some 40,000 of the most interesting and informative books in print today. Carefully selected by a distinguished group of writers, scholars, and critics, it is, in essence, their collective ‘Dream Library.’ ”

 

From the publisher

 

 

Welcome to issue 7 of Fundamentally Aware. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my complimentary e-newsletter, be sure to sign up. You’ll find details in the lower left column.

 

Please forgive the delay in this latest newsletter.  I recently moved to a new office before scheduling my Internet installation.

 

As you’ll discover in my column below, June may bring about a Supreme Court decision that’ll finally determine the fate of unconstitutional antisodomy laws still existent in several states for purposes of repressing homosexuality and oppressing gays and lesbians.

 

Also read an excerpt from The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America on the effects of Christian fundamentalism and the religious right on homosexuals.

 

As always, please feel free to share your comments with me.

 

Kimberly Blaker

 

KimberlyBlaker@chartermi.net

 

 

Contents

 

 

  1. Homophobia: a Problem of Christian Conservatives

 

  2. Politically Incorrect

 

  3. The Real Dilemma Homophobics Face if Antisodomy 

      Laws Rules Unconstitutional

 

  4. Where There is Hate….

 

Homophobia: a Problem of Christian Conservatives

 

The following is excerpted from Chapter 5: The Social Implications of Armageddon by Kimberly Blaker in The Fundamentals of Extremism.

 

The group least tolerated both vocally and visibly today, however, is homosexuals. . . . those who continue to speak venomously regarding homosexuality generally do so from a selective literal and inerrant interpretation of the Bible. They use Christian doctrine to support their contempt.

 

To fundamentalists, the possibility of gay marriage is extremely threatening to the envisioned American family. This is regardless of the fact the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recently reported that children raised by gays and lesbians are no more likely to be maladjusted than their heterosexually parented peers.[i] Even so, gays and lesbians are the target of much criticism and attempts at conversion or correction. It matters not whether the homosexuals are actually attempting to create a family.

 

Gays and lesbians often suffer from family rejection and verbal abuse. Similar to the discrimination once endured by African-Americans (that is to a disturbingly large degree still experienced today), homosexuals suffer from housing and job discrimination, to threats, and, occasionally, actual violence.[ii] Unfortunately, gays have more difficulty protecting themselves from discriminatory practices today because in many states there are few laws to protect them.

 

Legislation has been proposed to protect the rights of homosexuals, and there have been some successes. Still, most bills see strong opposition from fundamentalists, many within the political system, and the bills are therefore, unable to muster enough support. As an example, Attorney General John Ashcroft, while serving in the Senate, opposed a bill aimed at stopping employment discrimination of gays and lesbians. He insisted homosexuality is a choice that can be changed and that such a bill would send the wrong message to the youth in America .[iii] The legislation failed to pass the conservative-controlled Senate by a single vote.[iv]

 

Del Stover, editor of Urban Advocate, the newsletter of the National School Boards Association, describes the tragedy of the fundamentalist view on homosexuals. Gay and lesbian students feel alienated in a society that treats homosexuality as a plague. Parents of one child threatened: “If I thought you were gay, I’d smother you with a pillow.”[v] Anyone growing up in fear of being disowned, ostracized, or killed for something they cannot change about themselves is likely to grow up with emotional problems.

 

Suicide is an all too common response to the emotional impact of fundamentalist attitudes toward homosexuality. It is estimated that thirty percent of teen suicides are by gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual youth.[vi] Yet, only an estimated four to ten percent of the population is homosexual. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Education Association, and the Child Welfare League of America are unanimous on the need for more services helping gay youth, Stover indicates that such relief for a gay teenager is not likely to happen. The battles imposed on school districts by religious conservatives in regards to intervention for gay students and opposition to sex education in general, make this a no-win situation.[vii] Unfortunately, members of this at-risk population rarely receive intervention. This is because some religious conservatives protest so fiercely against anything possibly giving an appearance of accepting homosexuality, which they “decry . . . an abomination. . . .”[viii]

 

When gays and lesbians force themselves to conform by marrying traditionally, their families can suffer greatly from the eventual revelations of their true orientation. Stanton L. Jones wrote in an article appearing in Christianity Today about a gay friend, Peter, who married a woman. Peter tried, unsuccessfully, to repress his urges for fifteen years. During his marriage, he had affairs with other men. When his wife eventually learned of the affairs, their marriage and lives were destroyed.[ix] Although Peter was finally able to have a healthy relationship with a man, his ex-wife remained distraught from the destruction of their marriage.[x] Had Peter not been placed in a position of needing to repress his feelings, he would never have married a woman. This would have prevented the painful and traumatic experience.

 

Tragically, Matthew Shepard learned very well the pain homophobia can cause. Shephard’s fate resulted from a society inundated by conservative Christian opposition to and outright contempt for gays. It came on October 12, 1998 , because one of his assailants had been embarrassed when Shepard allegedly made a pass at him in a bar. In retaliation the assailant decided to steal Shepard’s money. But it went far beyond robbery when Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson brutally beat Shepherd and then abandoned him on the side of the road, tied to a fencepost.[xi] McKinney and Henderson are now serving two consecutive life sentences each, with no possibility of parole, for Shepard’s murder.[xii] . . .

 

The other side of the efforts to repress homosexuality is most dramatically illustrated by the case of Jeffrey Dahmer. The insistence that homosexuality is a disorder and a sin has taken a visible toll on society. Convicted serial murderer Dahmer suffered from severe self-hatred because of his own homosexuality. He was convinced by his fundamentalist upbringing that he was at heart a sinner and that his family would never accept him if they knew of this. Dahmer’s rage was catastrophically turned against seventeen men and boys. He murdered and then performed sex acts on them before mutilating their bodies. Psychiatrist George Palermo testified in Dahmer’s trial. He said to the Milwaukee Sentinel, “I believe Jeffrey Dahmer killed his victims because he hated homosexuality.”[xiii]

 

Read more on this issue, including studies on the relationship between Christian fundamentalism and prejudices in The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America.

 

Politically Incorrect

“In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a law like this passed for them.”

 

-- George County ( Mississippi ) Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson in a letter to the editor, George County Times, March 28, 2002

 

 

Click image

Fundamentally Aware

Published by

Kimberly Blaker

 

Editor/coauthor

The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America

 

 

E-mail:

KimberlyBlaker@

chartermi.net

 

 

 

 

To subscribe:

Send your name and email address to:    

newsletter@

NewBostonBooks.com. 

 

Notice of confidentiality

Your name, email address, and contact information   will not be sold or disclosed to anyone. It will be used strictly for purposes of distributing the Fundamentally Aware newsletter. You will not receive any other email from New Boston Books, Inc.

 

 

 

 

To Unsubscribe:

Send your name and email address with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line to:    

newsletter@

NewBostonBooks.com

The Real Dilemma Homophobics Face if Antisodomy Laws Ruled Unconstitutional

 

As June approaches, the gay and lesbian community, and their Christian right adversaries, will be prepping for victory or defeat, accordingly, for a possible Supreme Court decision that’ll finally determine the fate of antisodomy laws in America . Such archaic statutes still exist in 14 states (though not necessarily because they were simply never erased) carrying penalties ranging from 6 months in jail and a $500 fine to the outrageous—life imprisonment.

 

The case that finally made it to the high court, after a 1986 Supreme Court ruling upholding antisodomy laws, is Lawrence v. Texas ; it was heard in late March. 

 

In response, Senator Rick Santorum, a Catholic extremist, told the Associated Press, “if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

 

Such asininity and bigotry from the radical right is hardly new—or surprising to those of us who keep a close eye on it. After all, such ignorance is often catered to, or at the very least disregarded by even those highest in power. President Bush, rather than denouncing Santorum’s statement, had the nerve to refer to Santorum as “inclusive.”

 

Regardless, early this month (May), a Harris Poll was released which found that 82% and 87%, respectively, of our adult population opposes state regulation of private, sexual relations between same-sex domestic partners and opposite-sex married couples.  Given the widespread homophobia that persists, this is a remarkable revelation of the value Americans place on the right to sexual privacy.

 

While majority rule has no role in issues affecting the freedoms and civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, in this instance it’s worth noting that antisodomy laws both violate the right of privacy and run counter to the opposition the majority of Americans hold toward government intrusion into private, consensual sexual relations.

What’s unsettling is the effect these statutes have on the gay community. Such laws have been used to criminalize homosexuals to render them “unemployable”; to prevent them from legally marrying; to allow housing discrimination; and to prove them “unfit” for parenting, sometimes resulting in the loss of custody of their own children or the inability to adopt.

Most disturbing is the punishment some Christian extremists hope will ultimately be imposed on those who break these laws—execution. 

Christian Reconstructionists, says William Martin, author of With God on Our Side, are striving for a theonomy in which homosexuality (and many other benign or relatively harmless behaviors) is subject to the death penalty. 

In 1997, on Crosstalk, a conservative Christian radio program, the now former-host Rich Agozino suggested that homosexuality should be punishable by death.  According to Agozino, "Lesbian love [and] sodomy are viewed by God as being detestable and abominable. . . . Civil magistrates are to put people to death who practice these things.” He even urged his audience to contact their legislators to propose antigay laws that would carry such penalty.

As an aside, I found this an interesting gem given that in February, Ingram Shlueter, producer of a nationally syndicated radio program by the same title (Crosstalk) dedicated a 30-minute segment to bashing my recent book, The Fundamentals of Extremism, refering to the authors, and liberals in general, as a  menace.

Also, in 2001, Larry S. Kilgore of the Constitution Party of Texas said, “Well, we know punishing homosexuals by death would be extremely hard in today’s society,” adding, “But we hope that we can help to drive it underground so in about twenty or thirty years, the punishment can fit the crime.”

The question that remains is why some Christian conservatives feel such a need to meddle in the private lives of others.  Part of the answer was found in a 1996 experiment by Henry Adams, Lester Wright Jr., and Bethany Lohr, of the University of Georgia . Heterosexual men were hooked up to a penile plethysmograph and then watched videos of heterosexual, homosexual, and lesbian sex acts.

 

The men who were categorized as homophobic prior to viewing the videos were actually aroused while watching them; the nonhomophobics were not.  In the end, the homophobic group still denied their sexual arousal, which suggests that homophobics are repressing, or unwilling to acknowledge, homosexual feelings.

 

I’d venture to guess that some of those protesting loudest against the removal antisodomy laws are really just terrified, maybe not even consciously, that the legalization just might lead them to cave in to homosexual temptations.

 

 

Kimberly Blaker is editor and coauthor of The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America . Visit http://www.NewBostonBooks.com for details.  Read previously published columns of The Wall™ at http://www.thewall-onchurchandstate/com © 2003, Kimberly Blaker

 

 

Where There is Hate….

 

Here’s the Reconstructionist take on “the homosexual agenda.”

http://www.chalcedon.edu/report/2003jan/stoos.shtml

 

This is a typical example of the “softer” antigay approach that nonetheless drives the message that homosexuality is not okay.

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Faith/Jan-Feb00/Morality.html

 

Visit this online forum on “Homosexuality & its dangers.”  Maybe it’s time they be enlightened.

http://www.christianforums.com/threads/25888.html

 

ReligiousTolerance.org offers a good article on anti-gay legislation promoted by fundamentalists.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_legis.htm

 

 

 



[i] Allie Martin and Jody Brown, “Lesbian-Raised Daughter Rebuts Doctors' Stance on Same-Sex Parenting,” Agape Press, 13 February 2002 [online] [cited 24 June 2002]; available at http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/2/132002a.asp.

[ii] Dennis Coon, Introduction to Psychology: Exploration and Application (Minneapolis/St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1995), 615.

[iii] American Civil Liberties Union , 2001 Workplan.

[iv] Peter Hanson, “The Hatred Behind the Defense of Marriage Act,” The Online Daily of the University of Washington, [online] [cited 28 June 2002 ]; available at http://archives.thedaily.washington.edu/1996/093096/hanson93096.html.

[v] Del Stover, “The At-Risk Students Schools Continue to Ignore,” in Oppression and Social Justice: Critical Frameworks 4th ed., ed. Julie Andrzejewski (Needham Heights, MA: Ginn Press, 1993), 261. Reprinted from The Education Digest, May 1992, vol. 57, no. 9, 36-40.

[vi] Stover, “The At-risk,” This 30% figure is widely quoted from Paul Gibson’s section of Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, entitled “Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide.” This report was commissioned and published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1989. The statistic was later repudiated and removed, but it is unclear if this was due to any reason besides pressure from the Religious Right (since the statistic gave schools strong motivation to provide counseling and resources for gay and lesbian students).

[vii] Stover, “The At-Risk,” 262.

[viii] Stover, “The At-Risk,” 261.

[ix] Stanton L. Jones, "The Loving Opposition," Christianity Today 19 July 1993 : 19-25.

[x] Jones, "The Loving," 19-25.

[xi] Julie Cart, “ Wyoming Campus Mourns Slaying of Gay Student,” Los Angeles Times, 13 October 1998 , A-1.

[xii] Julie Cart, “Killer of Gay Student Is Spared Death Penalty -- Courts: Matthew Shepard's father says life in prison shows 'mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy.'” Los Angeles Times, 5 November 1999 , A-1.

[xiii] David Doege, “Anger at his homosexuality led Dahmer to kill, psychiatrist says,” Milwaukee Sentinel, 7 February 1992 .


» go to Atheists of Silicon Valley Commentary page «

» go to Atheists of Silicon Valley home page «