Editor’s Note: In January, Jon Stewart had director Roger Williams on “The Daily Show” to discuss his documentary on the damage being done to Africans by overbearing and, in some cases, vicious American missionaries, who probably believe that they’re helping people and saving souls. This article immediately generated one letter to the editor from an evangelical/homophobic bigot, who attacked me on some issues I never brought up at all. That was then followed by a letter from a proponent of separation of church and state, who defended me.
pendulum has swung, and, on gay rights, the battleground dearest to its heart,
the Religious Right is losing the culture war, both legislatively and in
Americans’ hearts and minds. By 2030, outside the Deep South (which may, by
then, be entering the 20th century), young people will wonder why civil
unions and gay marriage had ever been
conservatives were already being traumatized by legalized marijuana, the
continued semi-availability of abortion, the fact that even most Catholics have
now practiced birth control, the existence of evolutionary biology in science
classrooms and a tolerant new Pope. Now they’re also being horrified by
homosexuality’s entry into mainstream America.
partnerships are following the same trajectory as miscegenation, which was once
considered too scandalous to show in movies or on TV. You know something has
become mainstream when it begins appearing in commercials. By their nature, ads
are purposefully designed to avoid offending prospective consumers, and gay
partners are fast becoming this decade’s mixed-race couples, even during the
the Religious Right hasn’t abandoned its desire to intrude into other
people’s sex lives. George W. Bush once noted that our enemies “hate us for
our freedoms”; however, the Swiss, the Swedes and the French have at least as
much freedom as we do, but unlike us, they’re not telling people in other
countries what to do. American social conservatives operate globally as
“busybodies without borders.”
depiction of our sectarian colonialism is director Roger Ross Williams’ 2013
documentary, “God Loves Uganda,” which shows how American evangelicals are
pushing harsh anti-homosexuality legislation in Africa. Missionaries from
fundamentalist megachurches, such as the Kansas City-based International House
of Prayer (IHOP), are promoting the death penalty for gay Ugandans, because,
according to Williams, they believe “Biblical law is above any other law.”
Although the tide may have turned domestically, IHOP hasn’t lost faith that the culture war can still be waged internationally by “eradicating what they believe is sexual sin, and that means homosexuality.” They’re also convinced this cleansing will help usher in the End of Days, although why an all-powerful God needs IHOP’s assistance to bring on an apocalypse He’s been planning for 2,000 years is anybody’s guess.
The Oscar-winning director cites radical Christians, such as “ex-gay” American preacher Scott Lively, whose cachet among Ugandan leaders has been bolstered by crackpot rants about the gay agenda’s conspiracy to destroy the traditional African family. In 2009, he addressed Uganda’s parliament on the need for tougher punishments for homosexuals. (Lively also wrote a discredited history of homosexuality and National Socialism, “The Pink Swastika,” which blamed gays for Nazism and the Holocaust.)
in Nigeria, another popular target for evangelical missionaries, gay sex has
been banned, and violators are subject to long prison terms. Under its draconian
laws, homosexuals can be jailed just for holding meetings.
same evangelicals who protest the mistreatment of Christian minorities in Muslim
countries fail to see the irony of persecuting gay minorities in Africa. And
Americans who donate money so that missionaries can convert the unsaved in
Africa fail to see the irony in saving them from a hell that may or may not be
imaginary, while creating an actual hell of prosecution and persecution in
places like Uganda and Nigeria.
Many Christians like to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Among mainline Protestants, the response is usually positive. But the fact that Jesus never mentioned gay sex doesn’t prevent the Biblical literalists from obsessing that it’s an abomination prohibited by the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22). And they contend that, as a devout Jew, Jesus would have agreed that homosexuals should be executed (Lev. 20:13).
if this is true, then why the selective fundamentalism? Why don’t they
try to enforce Old Testament laws against blending two kinds of fabric in
the same garment, mixing cheese and beef in the same burger, eating shrimp
wrapped in bacon, or lobster? And what about the Biblical laws on how to
treat one’s slaves and the command to stone those who work on the
Gay sex doesn’t offend me, but I would enjoy traveling for free as a missionary. I’d like evangelical donors who are still “fighting the good fight” to send me to Paris to keep French sinners from eating escargot (Lev. 11:10) or to the Riviera to stop them from offending God (and fashion sense) by wearing wool and polyester in the same outfit (Lev. 19:19). And I wouldn’t mind a weekend in Cape Cod to preach against tattoos (Lev. 19:28) and clam chowder.
most people, I enjoy telling others how to run their lives. I missed my chance
to go to the Super Bowl and protest violations of the taboo against touching
pigskin (Lev. 11:8) and competing on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32), and Vladimir
Putin is already doing God’s work against gay Russians, but, I’d still like
to go to this year’s Sochi Olympics to condemn female athletes who wear gold
medals or braid their hair (1 Tim. 2:9).
only those without sin should cast the first stone, but when was the last time
anyone paid any attention to that?
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