Heads in the Sand: Equal Marriage Edition (“We Lost This One”).

Heads in the Sand: Equal Marriage Edition (“We Lost This One”). June 26, 2015

This is also not a great week to be a religious bigot-for-Jesus.

Courtesy of Friendly Atheist, we get this link to the current absolute ridiculousness erupting among the Religious Right.

If you haven’t heard yet, the Supreme Court has handed down its 5-4 decision about equal marriage. The decision was in favor of equal marriage; they said that no state is allowed to ban it, period.

5-4 is a little closer than I’d like, but a miss is as good as a mile, as they say, and I’ll take it. This is amazeballs news and I am rejoicing today for the LGBTQ community as it marches closer and closer to equality and full civil rights.

Congratulations, everyone!

A mythical character comforts his partner. (Credit: Steven Depolo, "Gay Jesus Musical 12-18-09 13", CC license.)
A mythical character comforts his partner. (Credit: Steven Depolo, “Gay Jesus Musical 12-18-09 13”, CC license.)

Now, there’s one part of the country that is not as happy about this decision, and that would be the part of the country that has fought tooth and nail for decades to prevent this exact eventuality.

I mean, of course, the Religious Right: fundagelicals and hardcore Catholics who think that equal marriage is ickie and treat LGBTQ people like lesser human beings who don’t deserve equal rights. That side has turned equal marriage into a culture-war issue with the basest and most mercenary of motivations: to demonize LGBTQ people so hard that they get turned into an enemy that must be opposed at all costs.

Oh, they said it with the most pious, sanctimonious Jesus smiles imaginable. They didn’t hate the sinner; they hated the sin (sure they did). They didn’t hate LGBTQ people; they just didn’t think they deserved rights (hate doesn’t have to be shrieked or snarled to exist). They blamed LGBTQ people–gay people especially–for every single breakdown in society, for every single fault, for every single harm they perceived. They made that fight one of their two twin hills to die on (women’s rights being the other).

As Neil Carter pointed out a year ago, the Southern Baptist Convention has actually made the opposition of equal marriage one of its primary in-group markers. One would think the SBC would want to be known by something like “loving Jesus” or “preaching the Gospel,” but no. As I’ve recently noted, they don’t even seem aware of how right-wing Christians’ deep, ingrained, endemic, systemic bigotry has become their own worst enemy, with one survey finding that about a third of young people who pulled away from Christianity did so specifically because of the religion’s vicious and brutal political agenda against LGBTQ people.

But as equal marriage marched on through the country, the Religious Right only got worse in its viciousness and brutal rhetoric. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who perceived a certain note of desperation in their thunderous denunciations–and certain disturbing note of pleasure in these repeated masturbation fantasies about the punishments bigots thought they’d get for their bigotry. The more they began to lose, the more they could imagine themselves the embattled crusaders for justice against a much-bigger foe. Fred Clark of Slacktivist wrote two years ago of professional bigot Richard Land of the SBC: “he’s just masturbating–fap-fap-fapping to the self-pleasuring fantasy of being a bold and courageous martyr for his faith,” and of another bigot, Frank Wright of the National Religious Broadcasters group, “he’s just trying to feel the buzz of imagining himself as an imperiled and courageous member of some righteous remnant facing persecution from the ungodly because of his awesome godliness.” Nothing has changed. One can totally imagine these zealots with one hand in their pants while they pontificate, they’re so eager and overheated about these imagined penalties they’ll face.

One also wonders, idly, if maybe the reason these Christian bigots were so sure of persecution if they lost is that they were perfectly aware of how they persecuted LGBTQ people while they still had the ability. They know they persecuted others, so why should others not persecute them in turn when they get the chance? Thankfully for them, though, the rest of us have real morality and wouldn’t do that, which makes their fantasizing doubly confusing and disturbing. It really sounds like what they’d happily do to others if they only had the chance and legal ability to do it. (That their imaginary perfect world would likely turn out about as well as right-wing buddy Sam Brownback’s huge social experiment in Kansas doesn’t matter; zealots don’t let messy reality get in the way of a good Christianist-utopia masturbation session.)

To a certain extent, LGBTQ people are a living raised middle finger to all that the Religious Right believes about men, women, and relationships. People who reject the Mayberry fantasy ideal are a huge threat to right-wing Christian ideology, which depends on people thinking they must fulfill certain sex-based roles and cannot find peace, joy, or happiness any other way. Men must be like this; women must be like that; relationships must look like so; people must live this particular way. Anyone who deviates shows the group that deviation is possible and that the script isn’t universal at all, so deviation must be stamped out. So these zealots have been doing their damndest to stamp it out.

They wrote books about the so-called “homosexual agenda”. They introduced bills overseas to murder gay people for the crime of being gay (link goes to good news on that front–Scott Lively, the architect of that bill, is in court now for crimes against humanity). Their shock-radio jocks openly compared equal marriage to Islamic State militants beheading people. They threatened riots and social upheaval if equal marriage got made the law of the land here. One really dedicated bigot, Franklin Graham, even is on record saying he’s totes willing to be beheaded for opposing this right (someone fetch that poor fellow some smelling salts and a glass of water for his fit of vapors).

I’ve lost count of how often Christian bigots claim LGBTQ people are some sort of threat to children, or unable to parent children properly, or shouldn’t be allowed around children, or otherwise are some sort of demonic threat. I’ve lost track of all the pseudoscience they’ve brought on board to bolster their claims that being LGBTQ is some sort of choice when it isn’t. I’ve forgotten how often they’ve tried to whine sanctimoniously that oh, they don’t hate these folks… they just don’t think they deserve rights and should continue to be the whipping-boy of the bigot-zealot end of Christianity, and they’ll just keep on trying to deny LGBTQ people every single dignity and protection possible and even threaten their right to transact business in their supreme exalted bakeries like they’re normal folks or something, and considering LGBTQ people the total bane of all that is decent and moral and proper in this world.

But the LGBTQ community has not lost count.

Or lost track.

Or forgotten.

They didn’t have that luxury. This constant stream of indignities and outrages pinged my radar often but probably nowhere near as much as they did the radar of those directly affected by them all.

Bigots fought with every ounce of effort they had to deny LGBTQ people the simple dignity of marriage. They brought out every shitty argument imaginable against it. They fought against this right with all the savagery of cornered honey badgers, with flashing tooth and razor-sharp nail, seeking whatever soft tissue they could find to rend and tear. And this desperation reminds one of right-wing Christianists’ battle–still ongoing, for that matter–against people of color.

Sulking powers, activate!

The reason I’m listing all these links to all this vile bigotry is I want you to keep that all in mind when you see this link about how one Christian thinks his tribe should react now that they’ve totally and finally and completely lost the culture war. “Now is not the time to sulk,” Mark Galli admonishes his tribe, in a post that sounds a lot like, well, sulking. Bear in mind, please, that I don’t know what he thinks of LGBTQ rights. For all I know he is all for equal marriage (though I doubt it, given that he is the editor of the site indirectly linked here). I’m speaking more about his tribe than him, and more about the bizarro instructions he gives that seem so spectacularly unaware of how his tribe’s treated people and engaged on this topic. It’s like he’s been stuck up in a tower like Rapunzel, totally unaware of what’s been happening outside his tower, all of which makes his advice seem like a solution trotting around in search of a problem. It simply doesn’t fit what his tribe’s actually been doing, so it has a certain surreal quality.

Here’s what he thinks his tribe should do:

1. Rejoice that there’s still a god and all that.
If they’d done this in the first place, they would have been too busy to worry about other people’s rights and lives. But sure, now that they’ve totally lost, they can do that. Maybe they’ll learn something. He repeats this point at the end as an ersatz number 6, in an effort to make his tribe aware of how important this point is. A pity he and his tribe didn’t realize that long ago.

2. Repent of their utter hypocrisy.
This, too, would have been nice if they’d done this all along instead of concentrating on policing everyone else’s lives. Mr. Galli suggests that they take a look at how they’ve been so busy patrolling for “sexual sin” that they’ve ignored all the other sins that they themselves commit all the time without worrying about getting the same treatment they dole out to LGBTQ people. Better late than never, I guess.

3. Rethink what they should do about divorced couples in their ranks, or how they treat all those gay couples who are sure to beat a path to their church doors now that Christians have lost the culture war against gay people.
Yes, really. Mr. Galli thinks that tons of same-sex married couples, “seeking to draw closer to God,” will immediately think that these gay-bashing, gay-persecuting, gay-hating churches are where they can do that. He’s already wringing his hands about what churches will do in that situation, which is totally for sure going to happen now that these couples know Christians are no longer a threat to their marriages. Oh, what on earth are churches going to do? He also adds that he thinks churches maybe are inconsistent about how they treat divorce, which is true; Jesus supposedly said a hell of a lot more about divorce than he ever said about gay people (which would be “not one single-dingle word”), but really, one cannot get hyper about divorced people considering that right-wing Christians get divorced all the time and cheat on each other and have non-marital sex constantly. If church leaders got serious about so-called sexual sin, they’d empty their churches! Can’t have that. Much better to pick on one small but visible segment of society, one that is very unlikely to ever want to join or be part of their religion. But the answer to that inconsistency isn’t to start treating divorced people as poorly as churches treat LGBTQ people. One wonders how he’d feel if he figured out that no, actually, these bigoted churches will not need to worry about tons of LGBTQ people, couples, and allies beating down church doors and demanding to participate.

4. Re-engage in politics (because obviously they “disengaged” at some point).
He advises his tribe to become valiant “peacemakers” and invokes Matthew 5:9. Really. This is another of those things that might have been good to do, you know, like 30 years ago when the Religious Right was starting to ramp up its utterly Machiavellian war on LGBTQ people. As it is, Bryan Fischer over on his American Family Association’s radio show is busy having a “meltdown” on Twitter comparing the ruling to 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mr. Galli tries hard to make his tribe aware that fundagelical Christians are far from living in true exile, but I don’t think his tribe is ready to hear it yet. And, uh, not to put too fine a point on it, but engagement in politics is exactly what got his tribe in so much trouble with the rest of us in the first place; maybe disengagement is what they need now, rather than more engagement. Maybe the time for “peace” was a long time ago before they decided “war” sounded awesome.

Get a Load of THIS Guy.

This is Mr. Galli’s final unique suggestion to his tribe of shocked, stunned, floored, weeping Christian bigots who are convinced the world has ended:

5. Reach out to all those gay people his tribe previously dehumanized and demonized.
Finally, now that their all-out war against LGBTQ people is over for sure and donesies, Mr. Galli opines, fundagelicals can totally reach out once again to their onetime victims. In quite possibly the least self-aware assertion I’ve ever seen out of a fundagelical Christian today, he writes, “Up to this point, we’ve been seen as a threat to their political agenda.”

He’s wrong, though. Dead wrong. Totally wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

His tribemates are a threat to LGBTQ people’s families and their kids and their safety and their ability to do business and their rights as American citizens and their marriages and their mental health and yes, often to their very lives.

Bigots like him are not “seen as a threat.” They actually are a threat. SCOTUS has nullified some of that threat, but there’s still a lot of threatening going on, and it’s all on their part.

There never would have been a political fight if he and his tribe had not made it a political fight.

The “agenda” is actually theirs, not anybody else’s. The only “agenda” LGBTQ people had was to be treated like equal citizens with rights. They don’t care what religious bigots do on their own time; they just want to be treated civilly and fairly and with dignity–all things Christian zealots refused to do.

And we know that Christian bigots only tried to make it a political fight when they realized they were losing the cultural fight that they themselves had started, so they needed some way to force others to comply with their nasty whims, indulge their repellent control-lust over others, and let them claw back a little of the dominance they’d lost. 

Worse, we know that if legal protections for LGBTQ people were withdrawn, Christian bigots sure wouldn’t be talking about “reaching out” to anyone or “rethinking” anything they were doing.

I almost spluttered when I read him saying, “It may not be long before we see more willingness [on the part of LGBTQ people and allies, I assume; it’s not clear who he means] to engage us as fellow human beings.” Really? You mean like fundagelicals engaged LGBTQ folks as fellow human beings all these years? Like that kind of engaging with people as fellow human beings? What universe do you suppose Mr. Galli inhabits? Clearly it is not reality-land’s universe. He concedes that this new era of sharing and engaging and willingness only comes about as his tribe has had its hand definitively batted away from LGBTQ people’s civil rights. Some (not all, thankfully) of his tribe might have successfully convinced themselves and a few others that fundagelicals were always about civil rights for black people–what one commenter amusingly called “Selective Bible Belt Amnesia”, but they’re not going to have that same success with pretending they were all about equal marriage in an internet-connected modern world.

The best thing Mark Galli can hope for is that LGBTQ people and their allies are way more humane, moral, and forgiving than his tribe has been.

It is not hard to speculate about whether or not Mr. Galli’s post would have spooned out these ridiculously self-serving delusions had his side won that court battle. It might have contained many of the same pious, sanctimonious blatherings about engaging with LGBTQ people, but I can see already the notes of noblesse oblige it would have contained, the smarmy declarations of loving one’s neighbor–using, of course, the fundagelical redefinition of love his tribe favors, which allows them to treat their neighbors like dogshit in the name of “Jesus” and then to castigate their victims for not appreciating these tender gestures of holy affection.

We’re good now, right? Right? Guys? All water under the bridge now, right? Can we let bygones be bygones? Huh? Please?

The problem is, I don’t think the hard-corest of hardcore Christian bigots really accept the SCOTUS decision as the end to the war on LGBTQ people. Mr. Galli might be ready to figure out how to navigate a world where his side’s been delivered a huge setback, but most of his tribe isn’t yet.

The Texas Attorney General, who thinks that being made to live in a world where equal marriage exists constitutes “abuse” of his religious sensibilities, is already agitating for fundagelicals to ignore the ruling. Nobody’s asking for Ken Paxton’s personal opinion or input into other people’s private lives, and that may well be the problem here for him. His side’s actual abuse of actual LGBTQ people doesn’t even seem to occur to Mr. Paxton, but just knowing that gay people exist and can’t be harassed and persecuted by him anymore constitutes “abuse” in his crazy bizarro world. Not having the legal right to abuse other people is abuse to him.

How loving he sounds; it’s like he doesn’t even realize that this kind of hate speech is exactly why his religion is falling apart around his ears.

They lost, and they hate knowing they lost.

All they can do is spin-doctor the rubble and wreckage into something they can use to keep warm at night in their increasingly-abandoned hovels churches.

At least they’ve still got the other hill to die on, reproductive rights, and by golly they are charging right up that hill as we speak.

I wonder what these Christians are going to do once the rest of society definitively rejects their control of women’s bodies in the same exact way that we rejected their control of LGBTQ people’s rights, and for the same reasons. I truly believe that day is coming. Right-wing Christianity is faltering. It might not be faltering as hard as mainline and liberal Christianity is faltering, but the religion as a whole is buckling at the knees–and largely because they have decided that these culture wars of theirs are more important to them than doing what their Savior supposedly directly told them to do, even though these culture wars involve them doing plenty of stuff that he supposedly directly told them not to do lest they land in the very Hell they predict for the rest of us. If they don’t figure out that truth post-haste, then their religion will fall into complete irrelevance and it will happen sooner than anybody thought possible.

Humanity wins either way.

Take heart, friends.

The day is coming when nobody will give two shits about what gives religious zealots the vapors. And the religious zealots themselves have ensured–and are ensuring even now–that this day is coming.

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