Redneck Driscoll

I’d never heard of Damon Thompson before I ran across the him on The American Jesus. He’s the preacher in the Born Again DNA post. TAJ refers to his as “Redneck Driscoll,” which seems apt.

Thompson has a reputation for being an extremely blunt anti-homosexual preacher. Ashton Elijah at LGBTQNation tells a story of attending one of Thompson’s sermons at “The Ramp”:

Damon called upon those who were struggling with homosexual demons to come to the front and be “set free from sin.” He and members of The Ramp began to work the crowd into a frenzy as they labored to draw people out of the closet and onto the altar. At first, only a few guys and girls came forth. But, aided by music, the ministry leaders continued to pluck at the heartstrings of every struggling gay kid in the audience, promising that if they would only make themselves known, God would grant them the deliverance they so longed for.

Over a period of forty minutes, kids approached the altar one-by-one — some admitting to same-sex attraction for the first time in their lives. Some fell to their knees in brokenness, rocking back and forth as they prayed for absolution; others stood with their arms spread out as tears spilled from their eyes. By the end of the morning, dozens had approached the altar hoping to lay their burden down.

The Ramp leaders onstage rejoiced at the turnout, their music and shouts escalating ever louder as they began to wail repetitious phrases like, “Thank you Jesus, for a mind that is free, a mind that is free, a mind that is free!”

Every person in the room was spellbound by the spectacle. Every single one of them seemed to believe that these kids had truly been ‘delivered from homosexuality.’ Every person but me.

Ashton walked out with a DVD of the service. It’s now a few years later, and Ashton has uploaded a clip of it to youtube:

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  • Gwiwer

    What do you think the odds are that at least one of those people who stepped up there that day later went on to commit suicide from shame and guilt after Jesus failed to heal away their gay?

    Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the odds of that are pretty high.

    • Mike

      Far too damned high.

  • Andrew Hall

    Some day the media will discover Damon Thompson’s elicit affair with a priest. I’m looking forward to that day.

  • Jean

    I am bawling my eyes out. These poor kids. I think this man means well, but this is just so ignorant and cruel. These poor kids. This may be the most awful video I have ever seen in my life. I rarely cry; I’m old and straight; I think gay is just another piece of the spectrum of human characteristics.

    • Hamish Milne

      Totally agree. What a horrible cult Christianity is.

  • Hamish Milne

    That is the single most awful thing I have seen in a long time.

  • TrickQuestion

    What is really, really sad is that this same technique could be used to bring a really positive GLBT message, if the outcome was done better (not the exact wordings, but the technique)
    If a church were to really get all those who were struggling with their sexuality to come out, and then have the message “god loves all of you, just the way you are, and so do we” then it could really help them spiritually I think. however, this is my own delusional way of thinking that this could ever really happen in the “house of god’s love”. Instead, as per usual, something that could strengthen people’ unity is used to make people feel “wrong”.

    • Miss Poppy Dixon

      That would be so amazing and so powerful.

      As sick and broken as this man’s thinking is, it makes me think legalizing marriage may fundamentally change the American religious landscape in ways we cannot imagine. It could be that fundamentalists and evangelicals sense this and that is way they’re fighting tooth and claw. If love wins out it will expose the American church as bankrupt and irrelevant.

      • Gwiwer

        I’m sure they don’t just sense it, they KNOW it because they know what happened when mixed race marriages gained popular approval. Conservative white evangelical churches, for the most part, fought tooth and nail against that with many of the same justifications they use for fighting gay marriage. “We don’t hate the negros. In fact, we love them! We just can’t marry them to white people because it’s unbiblical and would undermine this country’s Judeo-Christian values.” Yet, when popular opinion on the issue changed, it stopped being a “moral” or “theological” issue and instead became a human rights issue and that forced these churches to change their interpretations of scripture and took away their ability to justify hatred and bigotry with cherry-picked, out of context bits of scripture. The same thing is happening with gay marriage and that’s why they’re in a mad frenzy to try and tame the tide before it reaches a point of no return.

  • James G

    But if homosexuality is a choice, as practically all Evangelicals claim it is, then why do they need God to set them free from sin? Surely they can just choose to be straight. Problem solved!

  • Brian M

    Len: Even this more…nuanced…view just confirms how awful Biblegod is. How unfair, how petty, how mean this deity is.

    • Agathos

      Brian, I would say it this way: Even this more…nuanced…view just confirms how awful even more liberal conservative Christians are. How unfair, how petty, how mean, they are.

      • Hamish Milne

        You’re both correct. In this case, a deity is used to give authority and credibility to the morals they champion, so by definition it encompasses their characteristics.

      • Gwiwer

        Well, it’s actually not as black and white an issue as most people on both sides of the argument assume it is. The key question is, “What does the Bible say about gay people?” and the scholarly answer to that question is, “Probably nothing.” The people who wrote the texts that make up the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible simply did not have any understanding of homosexuality like we do. The idea that someone could be gay, lesbian, or transgendered is a concept that only started becoming clear in relatively modern times. In the case of the Bible, every verse I know of that speaks against behavior one would attribute to homosexuality is actually referring to pagan practices which were, at that time, fairly common, but almost totally unheard of today. There were many pagan cults that practiced things like having male priests dress up like women and engage in sexual acts with both males and females and other similar sorts of temple prostitution and related acts. The parts of the Bible that seem to cast homosexuality as evil are actually referring to these pagan practices and not homosexuality as we now understand it. I would liken it to the way the Bible doesn’t necessarily state that wine is evil in and of itself, but has strong prohibitions against drinking wine dedicated to idols. The same thing with eating animals that have been sacrificed. The object or behavior, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily evil. It’s the intentions behind the behavior, and the fact that the behavior is in the worship of pagan deities, that makes the actions evil.

        Similarly, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has little to do with homosexuality. God makes it pretty clear that the primary reason he hates those cities is because the inhabitants are cruel, manipulative, and mean towards strangers seeking refuge in them. Even ancient Jewish commentaries on the Bible make it clear that that was the reason those cities were destroyed. They tell stories about how the people of those cities would do things like ambush strangers, beat them until they were bleeding profusely, and then demand the strangers pay them medical bills for surgery as anything which led to drawing blood was considered surgery under ancient Jewish culture. These stories rarely had anything to do with sexuality one way or the other. The offensive act almost always had to do with the people of those cities mistreating and taking advantage of strangers. Any kind of sexuality was secondary and usually only factored into the story because it involved rape, thus going back to the theme of mistreatment and taking advantage of people.

        • trj

          All of this may be true, but in practice it matters little. Bigots will continue to find confirmation of their bigotry in the Bible and to use the book to their own ends. And I’m not even talking about radical Christians here, but ordinary, average Christians; the everyday petty bigots who think homosexuality is “unnatural” and sinful and against God’s will even when they claim they don’t judge.

          • Gwiwer

            Times change and people’s interpretations of what the Bible says change with them. A couple of centuries ago, the Bible was used as justification for slavery, refusing women the right to vote, American exceptionalism, and displacing Native Americans from their lands. Just a few decades ago, it was used to justify segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the belief that interracial marriage was sinful. The point is that both sides of the argument seem to accept the assumption that the Bible is distinctly homophobic with conservative Christians arguing that this means homosexuality is morally wrong and liberal Christians, along with non-believers, arguing that those parts of the Bible reflect an outdated worldview inappropriate for our modern times. What I’m pointing out is that this is not inherently true and that people’s understanding of what the Bible seems to be saying can change over time without them necessary having to throw out or ignore certain Bible verses. In other words, it really wouldn’t surprise me if 50-100 years from now even conservative churches accept homosexuality as not being unbiblical in the same way that few churches today see the Bible as condoning racism. It is possible for believers to shift to this perspective without having to believe the Bible is wrong or lacking in some way. In fact, we already see this happening. A majority of Catholics and Jews in America already support gay marriage to some degree and a fairly large number of young Evangelicals do as well. These numbers continue to grow each year and that’s only in America. In other countries, particularly in Europe, the number of Christians who are supportive of equal rights for gays is even higher. The change is inevitably coming, but I think what will surprise people is that it will happen without anyone having to admit that the Bible was “wrong” about the issue. There will simply be a broad consensus that what people thought the Bible was talking about and what the Bible was actually talking about turned out to be two separate things just as what happened with slavery, segregation, suffrage, Civil Rights, and a whole slew of other social issues which originally caused Christians to attempt to use the Bible to justify their own personal bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia.

            • Bender

              It is possible for believers to shift to this perspective without having to believe the Bible is wrong or lacking in some way

              Yeah, we’re pretty familiar with christian’s ability to ignore inconvenient parts of the bible.

              The change is inevitably coming, but I think what will surprise people is that it will happen without anyone having to admit that the Bible was “wrong” about the issue.

              That will surprise exactly 0 people. As said before, they’ll just continue cherry picking the parts of the bible they like, and ignoring the rest. They can’t afford to admit any part of the bible is wrong, because inmediatly the next question would be ‘how do you know anything at all in the bible is right, then?’.
              I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Are you defending the bible has some validity? Because your own examples show otherwise. All those changes in the “consensus” were forced by society, and inspired by secular values.

            • Hamish Milne

              I agree. The only way to stop the cycle is to ensure that religion and religious texts have no effect on government, the legal system or the economy, and we can only do this by attacking them as a whole, or at the very least, the whole apart from the ‘good bits’, humanitarian type stuff.

              In an ideal world, we would all be like Gwiwer, analysing, researching and thinking deeply about what we read, but in reality, people are stupid, and will believe what anyone in authority tells them, be that their parents, the government or a priest. Organised religion knows this and uses it to their advantage.

            • trj

              Indeed. Some decades into the future Christians may for the large part be accepting of homosexuality. But this change will not have come about as a result of new insights into what the Bible really is supposed to tell us, but as a result of independent, secular societal changes. The moral teachings of the Bible will have had nothing to do with it, except as a futile attempt to resist this development.

              But I’m sure at that future time there will be no lack of Christians telling us that the bible was really ok with homosexuality all along.

        • James G

          No, the key question is “what do people think the Bible says about gay people?” That Christianity as a whole is largely homophobic is unarguable.

  • Lisa S

    Motherfucker! I have not been this angry/depressed about something in a long time. I’m a pretty laid back and peaceful person, and I would have no problem running up to that man and punching him in the face. This is psychological abuse.

  • Elyse

    On top of how awful this is, I can’t help but be reminded of my own experiences with altar calls and how manipulative they all are. The music, and the rambling. I went down to altar calls to “recommit” myself more times than I care to count just to get the strange high feeling of brokenness because those were the only moments I felt connected to “god” — when I forced myself to see myself as totally worthless and unsaveable and unloveable by anyone but him.

    Altar calls, in my opinion, are sick, twisted and manipulative no matter what. But this call definitely takes the cake. And I can’t help but wonder how many individuals went up there just to get that high, even if they had never seriously considered a possibility of being gay (but hey, going up to an altar call and being cured of something, even if you never had it, is just par for the course). Those kids who went up there immediately and without question though, I sure hope they’ve found real love and real help.

  • Julie

    This is completely reprehensible. Jean, you said you think this man “means well”. I’ll have to disagree with you. I think he feels powerful manipulating these kids and perhaps is one of those gay-bashers who are themselves gay. Too bad he can’t be thrown in prison for this; of course, that would make him a martyr to his followers. Sickening.

  • Bookingelf

    Hmm… wait a minute, I know this is irrelevant, but this guy has a tattoo on his arm… and what does have the bible say about this? “Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

    Why these people listen to this kind of pricks? He preaches water and drinks wine… he doesn’t follow his own “book” why should anyone follow him? When I see people like this, it really makes me sorry that there is no Hell for them… He would be one helluva’ good candidate for Hell… It is sick to mess with other peoples mind this way…

    btw.. the women in pink should be punished too…
    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

    Damn! These people are preaching and they have no idea about the Bible??

    It is sad that people who buy all this bullshit for their preachers don’t know almost nothing about their own believes… and they are tricked with good old public hysteria tricks into this kind of crap…