Pastor Wants Christians to Come Out of the Closet

Mark Harris is a Baptist preacher who stepped down from his church to run for the U.S. Senate. After losing badly, he’s returned to the pulpit and is back to spouting all manner of nonsense. After a rant about gay marriage and other things, he told his parishioners that it’s time for them to come out of the closet.

Harris told his congregation that the majority of Americans oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage and abortion but the media are shutting out such conservative views, while judges, such as the one who struck down North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, are unilaterally “changing the will of the people.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot believe the lies that will be fed,” Harris said. “Listen, everybody else is coming out of the closet, maybe we need to come out of the closet.”

Yes, it’s time for you to stop hiding your light under a bushel basket! Come out of that closet, because we’re barely aware of your existence, despite the tens of thousands of churches, thousands of TV and radio stations, thousands of newspapers and magazines and millions of websites on which you rant and rave on a daily basis. That’s the largest, loudest and most well-publicized closet in history.

About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • eric

    Harris told his congregation that the majority of Americans oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage and abortion but the media are shutting out such conservative views

    Unskew those polls! I love the smell of reality denial in the morning.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Yawn. “Great Silent Majority,” part LXIV

  • sundoga

    Hmmm…if they’re in the closet, then we must all be in the closet. The whole country must be the closet…so what he’s actually saying is that Christians should leave the country?

    I could get behind that.

  • Loqi

    Mark Harris has a hard time remembering the difference between the closet and the rest of the house. It makes his real estate agent’s job a pain. “I like the 4000 sq ft of closet space, but there’s only one walk-in room. And who puts a stove in a closet?This house must’ve been built by an idiot. Let’s try a different one.”

  • wreck

    “Harris told his congregation that the majority of Americans oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage”

    “Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot believe the lies that will be fed”

    Another irony meter blown to smithereens.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I sort of agree with this minister: people who actually understand and follow the teaching of Jesus should come out of the closet and stop letting themselves be bullied and silenced by religious bigots and con-artists. Jesus warned of false prophets, so it’s long past time for his followers to start calling such people out.

  • whheydt

    Who knew that a majority of people are opposed to same-sex abortions?

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    sundoga #3,

    so what he’s actually saying is that Christians should leave the country?

    I could get behind that.

    You could get behind that? Really? Then you are no better than those who could get behind the idea of {african americans, gays, jews, muslims, Mexicans, liberals, atheists…} should leave the country. Nicely done.

    RB,

    I sort of agree with this minister: people who actually understand and follow the teaching of Jesus should come out of the closet and stop letting themselves be bullied and silenced by religious bigots and con-artists.

    I agree with RB, but usually what is implied in this criticism is that we “reasonable types” should somehow drown out the lunatics. But the problem remains that blowhards and provocateurs generate interest and create cult followings. (In all spheres, not just religion). Many of us do decry such nonsense wherever we can–but we have no comparable volume.

  • dugglebogey

    This is a very old trope. When opinion polls show that your opinion is in the minority, your only hope is to claim the polls are wrong, or your people are being intimidated and lying about their true feelings.

    In this case (as in most) the opposite is actually true. The right are (and always have been) trying to make it more difficult for people to vote and express their real opinions. Homosexuals are the ones who have been forced into the closet.

    The biggest factor in this turnaround of public opinion are brave people who are honest about their sexuality, and people realizing that their friends and community consists of many diverse people and that it’s actually a good thing.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    You could get behind that? Really? Then you are no better than those who could get behind the idea of {african americans, gays, jews, muslims, Mexicans, liberals, atheists…} should leave the country. Nicely done.

    heddle, are you really too dumb to get sundoga’s joke?

    I agree with RB, but usually what is implied in this criticism is that we “reasonable types” should somehow drown out the lunatics.

    No, we’re asking the “reasonable types” to at least take a visible stand. Far too few of you are making any visible attempt to join the debate — and far too many of you are more concerned with maintaining a unified front and avoiding all hard questions of what goes on under your identity-badges.

    But the problem remains that blowhards and provocateurs generate interest and create cult followings. (In all spheres, not just religion). Many of us do decry such nonsense wherever we can–but we have no comparable volume.

    You’re saying all those reasonable non-extremist Christians have no organizational or money power to counter the extremists and con-artists? What a transparently spineless excuse for inaction. That’s why — in your own words — “the problem remains.”

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Many of us do decry such nonsense wherever we can–but we have no comparable volume.

    Elizabeth Warren and other progressive Democrats can make exactly the same excuse. But guess what — they’re not making it! That’s why we’re hearing more from them than from you oh-so-reasonable types who are too reasonable to talk to the genpop.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    RB,

    heddle, are you really too dumb to get sundoga’s joke?

    I guess I am.

    No, we’re asking the “reasonable types” to at least take a visible stand.

    How? Can you book me on the Today show? I take the most visible stand available to me, which is to argue, publicly, to general audiences and church audiences, that such people are nuts. That’s usually a whopping 10-50 people at a time! Of course you will say that is not enough, because you wouldn’t want anything to interfere with your nice, tidy, trivial certainty that permits you sit on a fucking ivory tower and criticize not just the lunatics but also those fail to criticize the lunatics to your satisfaction.

  • eric

    Heddle:

    what is implied in this criticism is that we “reasonable types” should somehow drown out the lunatics. But the problem remains that blowhards and provocateurs generate interest and create cult followings. (In all spheres, not just religion). Many of us do decry such nonsense wherever we can–but we have no comparable volume.

    That may be true in your case, Heddle, but not generally. Protestant causes claim moderation on same sex relationships while supporting Putin and Nigeran oppression. The RCC touts itself as mainstream, but when a skeptic in India points out that a statue ‘bleeds’ due to capillary action, they use political pressure to try and put him in jail, resulting in his exile. Your “reasonable types” seem to be only as reasonable as they need to be to fit into western society; when they don’t have to be that reasonable to fit in, they immediately reverse and become bloody-minded theocrats.

    I do think the polls don’t lie, I do think that 60% of the population now approves of SSM. But given that most “non affiliated” and “prefer not to says” are probably also socially liberal, that means that acceptance among self-identified Christians is probably down closer to 50% or even lower. You are not some silent enlightenment-supporting majority and this is not merely a squeaky wheel poblem. The majority or at least a huge majority of self-identified Christians doesn’t support enlightenment values of relgious and expressive freedom, and the reason they are silent about radical anti-SSM speech is beause there, but for the fear of social disapproval, go they.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    RB,

    You’re saying all those reasonable non-extremist Christians have no organizational or money power to counter the extremists and con-artists? What a transparently spineless excuse for inaction.

    If you had half a brain you’d be able to come up with a plausible explanation, or rather contribution to the explanation. Non-extremist Christians who deplore this type of activity are also, by nature, not activists. Extremism and activism tend to go together. Given that they (non-extremists) despise the (mis)use of Christianity in the public forum in this manner, it is not surprising that they are also loath to engage in similar practices to combat it. It’s pretty fucking obvious, that given the choice between fighting the political lunatics and doing what they see is their primary purpose (spreading the gospel and worshipping God) that they will give priority to doing the routine Christian stuff. They are not going to take time and effort away from that to form counter-organizations just to satisfy the likes of you.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    How? Can you book me on the Today show?

    The fact that you’re asking me that, rather than observing how the loony extremists manage to get bigger audiences than you, or how other non-extremists manage to get a word in from time to time, once again shows you’re not really willing to do what it takes to fight the extremists in your own religion.

    You want suggestions from me? Organize a donation drive in your church for a larger-scale PR campaign against religious insanity and bigotry. Let other churches know you’re looking to them to follow your example. Work with bigger mainstream denominations (Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.) to organize a nationwide media strategy. Or, at the very least, if you don’t trust advice from a non-veteran-PR-expert like me, you could get some donations to hire a REAL PR expert to give you better advice. Or maybe find a good sensible Christian who shares you views, and also happens to work in PR, to give you pro-bono advice.

    Of course you will say that is not enough, because you wouldn’t want anything to interfere with your nice, tidy, trivial certainty that permits you sit on a fucking ivory tower and criticize not just the lunatics but also those fail to criticize the lunatics to your satisfaction.

    Once again, you pretend to abhor Christian bigotry and extremism, but then you attack me with more vitriol than you’ve ever directed at the extremists. I guess this is typical behavior for someone who’s desperate to keep up the pretense that his religion can never be wrong.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Eric,

    You are not some silent enlightenment-supporting majority and this is not merely a squeaky wheel poblem.

    I’m not claiming that. I’m not claimig any sort of “silent majority” status. I am arguing that RB’s criticism that we should somehow be louder in our criticism of the activist Christians is dumb for the reasons I’ve discussed. I wasn’t delineating between those who support SSM and those who are against it, but between those Christians who think it is proper to wage a public, political culture war and those Christians who do not think that is our proper role, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the issue at hand.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Non-extremist Christians who deplore this type of activity are also, by nature, not activists.

    Then they’re useless, and they’re part of the problem; and you can’t pretend they’re taking an honest stand against the extremists, can they?

    Extremism and activism tend to go together.

    Really? Are all activists, throughout human history, extremists? Do you have ANY factual or historical support for that statement? Of course not — you’re just being a snob and thinking you’re too good or pure of heart to get out and get your hands dirty with actual useful work. Your excuses are no better than those of the other born-agains who loudly insist that “good works” don’t get you into Heaven, therefore Christians don’t have to do anything good.

    It’s pretty fucking obvious, that given the choice between fighting the political lunatics and doing what they see is their primary purpose (spreading the gospel and worshipping God) that they will give priority to doing the routine Christian stuff.

    That’s my point exactly: you “reasonable Christians” don’t give a shit about anything other than preaching your sermons and staying high on your “spirituality.” Those two things are both easier, and more important to you, than actually doing the work your God did, and advised others to do, when he was on Earth. That’s why you let the extremists take over your religion, and that’s why you really don’t do anything meaningful to fight them, even though you pretend you’re doing your best.

    They are not going to take time and effort away from that to form counter-organizations just to satisfy the likes of you.

    And here’s another reason why you’re part of the problem: you’re stuck in your belief that your religion is the One True Religion, therefore you can’t bear to be seen taking advice from someone who doesn’t follow your religion — that would mean admitting you’re not always right.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    RB,

    Then they’re useless, and they’re part of the problem; and you can’t pretend they’re taking an honest stand against the extremists, can they?

    Well, yeah, sure, if Raging Bee declares it so.

    That’s my point exactly: you “reasonable Christians” don’t give a shit about anything other than preaching your sermons and staying high on your “spirituality.”

    I’ll take “crude generalizations”, “false dichotomies” and “excluded middle fallacy” for $2000, Alex.

    Just curious, when we provide NSA food and clothing to our community, is that “preaching our sermons” or “staying high on our ‘spirituality'”?

  • dingojack

    Wait now — the National Security Agency is running soup kitchens now?!?

    Dingo

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Well, yeah, I “declare it so” based on what you’ve told me.

    Just curious, when we provide NSA food and clothing to our community, is that “preaching our sermons” or “staying high on our ‘spirituality’”?

    Just curious, when you refuse to take a real stand against policies supported by the loony Christian right, many of which exacerbate the suffering your food drives only put a Band-Aid on, and many of which inflict more hate and marginalization on poor people you claim to help, do you really think you’re doing enough? Or even going in the right direction?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I’m not claiming any sort of “silent majority” status.

    No, you’re claiming “tiny minority of misunderstood little lambs who can’t speak loud enough to be heard” status — which is totally dishonest, because you ARE in the majority, and you ARE silent.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Yes, dingo, they are, so quit your librul-pantywaist bitching about their warrantless surveillance — that’s what they have to do to know where all the “truly needy” people are.

  • dingojack

    Does the NSA also run homeless shelters — for spies who want to come in from the cold?

    Dingo

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    RB,

    Just curious, when you refuse to take a real stand against policies supported by the loony Christian right

    But I do take a stand as I described in #12. It is just not a “big enough” and “loud enough” stand to satisfy the exacting standards of Your Worshipfulness. And things important (yes, even more important) to us (but not to you) haven’t been reduced in our priorities so that we might be aligned with your priorities. How shameful.

    We claim to help.

    You are such a jackass.

    many of which exacerbate the suffering your food drives only put a Band-Aid on, and many of which inflict more hate and marginalization on poor people you claim to help, do you really think you’re doing enough? Or even going in the right direction?

    Why don’t you come and explain to people that we feed how our money would be better spent creating organizations to fighting Christian activists? How that take priority over providing food and clothes to their families? I’m sure they would agree that the “band aid” they receive is just not worthy when compared to your lofty goals, and I’m sure they’d agree that in providing such help to the poor we are not even going in the right direction.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Y’know, that’s a damn good question — when was the last time a spy came in from the cold here in the USA? It used to happen all the time, but now, nothing. Either the spies no longer trust the USA to shelter them, or no one’s spying for us anymore. Either way, it kinda says something about our post-Cold-War stature.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    But I do take a stand as I described in #12. It is just not a “big enough” and “loud enough” stand to satisfy the exacting standards of Your Worshipfulness.

    Yeah, the oh-so-exacting standard of having a noticeable impact reflective of both your numbers and your dedication. Funny how you seem to ridicule the very idea of having standards to meet.

    And things important (yes, even more important) to us (but not to you) haven’t been reduced in our priorities so that we might be aligned with your priorities. How shameful.

    Yeah, it is kind of shameful that you’re refusing to change your priorities to fight the very pernicious evil within your own faith.

    Why don’t you come and explain to people that we feed how our money would be better spent creating organizations to fighting Christian activists? How that take priority over providing food and clothes to their families?

    Wow, did someone say “false dichotomy” and “excluded middle?” Why can’t you ramp up your fundraising and do a bit of both?

    Also, I’m sure that, for example, a homeless vet with PTSD would understand if you want to spend some money to unseat some of the idiots who sent him to the war where he got PTSD, and who might well send others to the same fate if you let them.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee

    Rather surprising that the blog’s resident physics professor and former math department chairman hasn’t brought out his patented no true Scotsman shtick.

  • eric

    Heddle @16:

    I wasn’t delineating between those who support SSM and those who are against it, but between those Christians who think it is proper to wage a public, political culture war and those Christians who do not think that is our proper role, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the issue at hand.

    Yes, and I was pointing out that the people you claim ‘don’t think its their proper role to wage a culture war’ happily and gladly wage that culture war when they think the rest of the western world isn’t looking. Your compatriots who “don’t think its their proper role?” Most of them do think its their proper role…when they can get away with it. They do it in India, and various African countries, and Russia…and those are merely the cases that have made the world news in the last year or two.

  • eric

    Heddle:

    when we provide NSA food and clothing to our community, is that “preaching our sermons” or “staying high on our ‘spirituality’”?

    I have no idea how your specific organization is run, but surely you understand that, on a global basis, Christian charitable organizations use charity as an evangelical opportunity, yes? And you understand how this is subtly coercive, yes? If some western organization comes into a village and tells the villagers they’re going to feed them, provide them with clean water, and help them set up their infrastructure…and oh by the way, it would be nice if they attended this entirely voluntary and not-linked-to-the aid discussion about Jesus, of course the villagers are going to do it. They aren’t stupid or naive. They know that even if that mission group is entirely sincere, the slow, subtle push of the organization over many years will be to send aid and support back to places where the missions are successful. Its corrupt and nasty and yes, the mere request for a talk about Jesus or other equivalent attempt at low-pressure conversion is a form of “staying high on our spirituality.” You want to be truly charitable? Remain anonymous. Blind the experimental subjects, as it were. How many churches do you think would go for that approach, do you think? Not many. Not many at all.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @10 Raging Bee

    No, we’re asking the “reasonable types” to at least take a visible stand. Far too few of you are making any visible attempt to join the debate — and far too many of you are more concerned with maintaining a unified front and avoiding all hard questions of what goes on under your identity-badges.

    QFT. I’ve been in a running debate elsewhere about the total and utter silence from the so-called “liberal” churches on all manner of bigotry, asshattery, and nonsense committed in the name of Jesus by the right. Crickets chirping. Silence. Tacit agreement. That’s what you get.

    You want my respect, Heddle? Start speaking out in the places where the right-wingers congregate. Not here. Condemn them loudly and consistently. Yes, it’s your religion unless you specifically say otherwise.

    Not fair, you claim? Fuck fair. I want effective.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Eric

    You want to be truly charitable? Remain anonymous. Blind the experimental subjects, as it were. How many churches do you think would go for that approach, do you think? Not many. Not many at all.

    Does that standard apply to all organizations? If secular/humanist/atheist organizations do not provide their charity anonymously–if they have their name on anything–a box, a package, a banner, their t-shirts, or just let be known that they are from a specific non-religious charitable organization, does that mean they are not truly charitable? If we were to google and find secular/humanist/atheist organizations say–sitting at a booth handing out care packages with a banner for their organization in prominent display, would you be willing to label that as “not truly” charity?

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Kevin Kehres,

    And what do you do? I’ve not heard your name on the news or seen it in the paper regarding anything. Is their no outrage that can get you off your ass to make some noise that we can hear? Are you so complacent with the world’s troubles that whatever action you take, if any, doesn’t seem to make any discernible blip? I haven’t heard the name “Kevin Kehres” associated with outrage against any problem whatsoever–therefore I conclude that you simply don’t care. You want my respect? Let me see your name prominently associated in the public sphere for any cause at all.

    You want my respect, Heddle? Start speaking out in the places where the right-wingers congregate. Not here. Condemn them loudly and consistently.

    Well that’s where you are wrong, because that’s exactly what I do. I have spoken out against Christian political activism, often, in conservative Christian churches–which everyone here assures me are the breeding grounds of right-wingers. So, again, your complaint cannot be that I have not spoken to the right crowd, but I haven’t had an impact of any significance. (Which is certainly true.)

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    Mark Harris is also an Atlantean, at least if you remember short lived ’70s TV shows.

  • bryanfeir

    No, we’re asking the “reasonable types” to at least take a visible stand.

    There is always Fred Clark, aka Slacktivist. He’s a progressive evangelical Christian who’s been blogging about these sorts of things for years, and is best known for tearing apart the ‘Left Behind’ books not only for the crappy writing, but for the abysmal theology. I first saw him referenced on, of all things, Bruce Schneier’s security blog, where somebody was joking about the security aspects of your co-pilot being raptured.

    He’s also somewhat well-known in blogging circles by responding to complaints about ‘we would have included more women Christian writers but couldn’t find any’ by building up a list of over 2500 Christian blogs written by women. (Followed by similar lists of GBLT Christian bloggers and non-white Christian bloggers, because intersectionality.)

    Fred also has ‘Dispatches from the Culture Wars’ here on his blogroll.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    And what do you do? I’ve not heard your name on the news or seen it in the paper regarding anything. Is their no outrage that can get you off your ass to make some noise that we can hear?

    Seriously? You make excuses for not doing anything effective on a large scale, or being part of a larger organization that can do more; then you say you don’t have to change your priorities to go out of your way to do anything any outsider asks you to do; and now you demand WE provide examples of what we’ve done? After you’ve only provided one specific example of your own? Do you even take your own defensive flailing seriously?

    The very least I can say for myself is that I kept on voting Democratic while millions of “mainstream” Christians kept on voting for the party of “conservative” “family” “values” no matter how vile and un-Christian their policies and mindset were shown to be. How many of those so-called sensible non-extremist Christians voted to put Bush Jr. in power — and keep him there even after he gave us the Iraq war?

  • anubisprime

    Pastor dude has got all his metaphoricals in one doozy of a tangle there.

    Seemingly it stems from a basic fail in understanding what the term ‘in the closet’ actually means!

    But he has heard so much about’ teh ghey’ emerging from their closets and about how courageous they must be that he wants some of that for his compatriots and himself so that their combined ego’s can get all righteous and ‘brave little soldier’ about…which kindda is the clue that he is not terribly bright to begin with!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Anubis: Glenn Beck tried pretty much the same trick when he had his “White Pride or something” march in DC, blatantly co-opting the place, time and spirit of MLK’s original March on Washington, in order to pretend that since everyone else was marching for their rights, it was time for white people to do the same.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    bryanfeir: thanks for the link; I just bookmarked it.

  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    RB,

    The very least I can say for myself is that I kept on voting Democratic

    My gosh, you vote! No wonder you scoff at my puny efforts to effect change! I apologize, and I stand in awe of the substantive impact you are making, which comes on top of the already effectual commenting on many different blogs.