We’ve written here before about the Münchhausen martyrs — privileged people who prefer the self-congratulatory fantasy of persecution. And, as Kyle Mantyla reports, Garlow is an extravagantly ridiculous example of this.
Speaking at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall” conference (the name of which is, itself, a gloriously pompous example of Münchhausen-martyrdom fatuousness), Garlow denounced same-sex marriage. In doing so, he also unwittingly denounced a host of biblical heroes, saying that “Nature has dictated what the Bible clearly affirms, and that is, one man, one woman” as the only acceptable form of marriage.
Then — after condemning Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Gideon, Moses and many others as the enemies of biblical marriage — Garlow turned his sights on President Obama for speaking in support of marriage equality:
Maybe a basic 101 of Christianity, it would be wise for [the president] to know, that throughout historic, orthodox, authentic, biblical Christianity — and there’s no other kind of Christianity other than biblical Christianity — marriage has always been defined as one man, one woman.
Pope Garlow I wants you to know that he, and he alone, is the arbiter of who is and who is not a real, true Christian. President Obama, by citing the Golden Rule and the words of Jesus, has set himself beyond the bounds of Christianity acceptable unto Pope Garlow I. Obama, therefore, is not a “historic, orthodox, authentic, biblical Christian.” And that, Pope Garlow I says, means he is no Christian at all, because “there’s no other kind of Christianity” than that taught and affirmed by this wannabe pope and his gaggle of supporters.
OK, you’re thinking, so far we’ve seen that Jim Garlow is a self-righteous, judgmental jackwagon, but when do we get to the ridiculous martyrdom business?
That’s next. Garlow and his cohorts, he said, are:
Like the Colonial pastor who called his congregation to go stand at the bridge. According to the story, he took off his vestments, he marched out with his musket. The men of the church followed him. He stood at a bridge watching the British troops advance towards him. And he turned to his men and he said, “Here we die.”
And that is where we are here. This is one we go to the mat for. If necessary, here we die.
Does Garlow really believe a word of this? Is he so caught up in the paranoid delusion of his own martyrdom fantasy that he actually imagines that some vague government entity is trying to kill him? (Or, perhaps, to pin him in a wrestling match?)
Because no one is. Garlow and his ilk are not in any danger. His physical safety is not in jeopardy. And his constitutional rights — the same rights he proudly seeks to deny others — are not in jeopardy.
People like Garlow like to pretend they’re being courageous by spouting this kind of thing, but, again, if this is what constitutes courage, then Fred Phelps is the bravest man in the world.
As mean-spirited as Garlow is in his politics and his theology, Fred Phelps is far worse. Garlow wants to deny LGBT people the right to marry, the right to serve in the military and the right to employment protection, but Phelps wants them all to burn in Hell. Garlow thinks he knows the secret to who is an “authentic, biblical Christian” and who is an “apostate,” but Phelps draws that circle even tighter, excluding everyone who isn’t a member of his congregation– meaning everyone who isn’t a member of his family.
But give Phelps credit for at least this much: He doesn’t pretend that his cruel beliefs make him some kind of martyr. Fred Phelps doesn’t pretend that Obama’s redcoats are marching across some bridge to kill him. He doesn’t pretend that he’s somehow being persecuted because he knows he is not. And Phelps doesn’t pretend that his “religious liberty” to say the most hatefully bigoted things he can imagine is somehow being threatened, because he knows it is not.
So if Garlow really believes his own hype, let me reassure him:
Mr. Garlow, look at Fred Phelps. He is, like you, a free man enjoying his freedom in the Land of the Free. His religious liberty is unfettered — just like yours.
So relax. You’re not on a bridge with a musket facing down a powerful army. No one is coming to take away your rights or your freedoms or your safety. You’re not persecuted, you’re privileged. Try to enjoy it.
And maybe try not to be such a jerk to other people who don’t get to enjoy all the same rights, freedoms and safety you do, OK?