This is how fundamentalism ends: not with a bang, but with Rick Santorum pretending to have gay friends

Vjack of Atheist revolution argues we should be careful about saying Christian fundamentalism is on the decline:

During my lifetime, the political influence of evangelical Christian fundamentalists has waxed and waned. It has never been a constant, and I’m not sure why this would surprise anyone. Again and again, we witness a rise to power, a series of overreaches that make most of the sane public quite nervous, and a loss of influence. But it would seem naive to assume that there will not be another rise in the future.

Even though I would like to believe that we are finally seeing the beginning of the end of this toxic movement, I cannot. It isn’t going anywhere.

While it’s good to be cautious about predicting the future, this is one where the trends are pretty clear. I think the key thing to watch is not whether the fundamentalists make comebacks, but how hard do they come back? Dan Savage had a very good blog post on this, commenting on a HuffPo story that quoted Elizabeth Santorum saying that she has gay friends who support her father (presidential candidate and anti-gay bigot Rick Santorum):

Elizabeth Santorum—follow her on Twitter @esantorum2012—has gay friends. Just like her father. And Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and Donny Osmond and Sarah Palin. All the high-profile homophobes seem to have gay friends. Or at least they claim to have gay friends. No one has ever met—and no reporter has ever asked to verify the existence of—one of Rick Santorum or Elizabeth Santorum or Rick Warren or Joel Osteen’s gay friends.

[...]

Political reporters? When Elizabeth Santorum says, “I have gay friends and they support my dad because they agree with him about family issues,” i.e. her dad’s opposition to gay people having a families of their own, your immediate response should be a request for the names and phone numbers of some of these gay friends. Because that claim requires checking out before you put it in print or pixels. Reassure Elizabeth you’ll quote her friends anonymously to protect them from potty-mouthed gay bloggers, they can talk to you on background or whatever, but tell her that you’re going to need to verify the existence of these gay friends. Because you’re a journalist, not a stenographer. You’ll either catch Elizabeth Santorum in a revealing lie—what does it tell us about this moment in the struggle for LGBT equality that even homophobes like Elizabeth and her dad perceive a political risk in being perceived as homophobic?—or you’ll land a fascinating interview. [Emphasis mine.]

I haven’t checked, but I’d bet good money that neither Pat Robertson nor any of his family members claimed to have gay friends supporting him during his 1988 presidential campaign. Christian fundamentalists may seem like they’re still a big force for scariness, but times are a changin’ all the same.

(For more on this, see this post from last week. Apparently no one read it because of the boring title, but I think I managed to make important points.)

  • The Lorax

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is rapidly fadin’
    And the first one now will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’

    ~ Bob Dylan

  • Anna O. Zacher

    It seems politicians and their supporters, fundamentalist or not, will say anything to make themselves attractive to potential voters, so their making stuff up should not be seen as surprising. This pol, however, seems to have gone `one step beyond’, as they say. I wonder, if any of it is true, who the gay person would be?

  • Brian Symonds

    Imagine: Klaus Eichmann saying: “I have Jewish friends and they agreed with my dad on the ‘Jewish Question’… ”
    ..Um, yeah…right…
    (I know…I just validated Godwin’s Law but it’s never far away in internet discussions.)

  • Observer

    I think it more likely that Rick Santorum has met some gay people who address him politely to his face, and he interprets that to mean that they’re friends.

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