by Edwin Kagin
America’s Own Religious Extremism to the Forefront
Volume 1, Number 7
supply of brand new copies of
FUNDAMENTALS OF EXTREMISM
with slightly damaged covers
$19.95 (regular $24.95)
$12.50 (regular $15.95)
of the activities of the
says JOHN SHELBY SPONG best-selling author of Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
image for details or visit your favorite online bookseller.
have just read this brilliant book from start to finish, almost
without a break, and I am stunned and horrified by what I have
says RICHARD DAWKINS author of Unweaving
the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Fundamentals of Extremism is
now listed in
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.
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.
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….
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.
fundamentalists, the possibility of gay marriage is extremely
threatening to the envisioned American family. This is regardless of
the fact the
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.
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
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.
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
Yet, only an estimated four to ten percent of the population is
homosexual. Although the
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.
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
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]
more on this issue, including studies on the relationship between
Christian fundamentalism and prejudices in The
Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America.
my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental
institute instead of having a law like this passed for them.”
Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in
your name and email address to:
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
your name and email address with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line
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
The case that
finally made it to the high court, after a 1986 Supreme Court ruling
upholding antisodomy laws, is
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.
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
Blaker is editor and coauthor of The
Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in
There is Hate….
the Reconstructionist take on “the homosexual agenda.”
is a typical example of the “softer” antigay approach that
nonetheless drives the message that homosexuality is not okay.
this online forum on “Homosexuality & its dangers.”
Maybe it’s time they be enlightened.
offers a good article on anti-gay legislation promoted by
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.
Dennis Coon, Introduction to Psychology: Exploration and Application
(Minneapolis/St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1995), 615.
American Civil Liberties
Peter Hanson, “The Hatred Behind the Defense of Marriage Act,” The
Online Daily of the University of Washington, [online] [cited
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.
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).
Stover, “The At-Risk,” 262.
Stover, “The At-Risk,” 261.
Jones, "The Loving," 19-25.
Julie Cart, “
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.'”
David Doege, “Anger at his homosexuality led Dahmer to kill,
psychiatrist says,” Milwaukee Sentinel,
» go to Atheists of Silicon Valley home page «