Still the Safest Excuse for Bigotry and Hatred.

I think I need to start a separate page consisting of a list of all of the pastors in the country who have called for some kind of discrimination or violence against gays and lesbians, all the while hiding behind religion like the cowards and bullies they truly are.  It’s the only institution left in our society that is both archaic and backward enough to consist of capital punishment for homosexuals – yet held in such high regard by our society to “excuse” the rantings of the people crazy enough to take its mandates seriously.

Take, for example, the latest in a long line of “men of God” … this time it’s Pastor Charles L. Worley from North Carolina’s Providence Road Baptist Church.  (Credit to ThinkProgress for the transcript):

“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Worley suggests in the clip, reportedly filmed on May 13.

He continues: “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

He also said that if he’s asked who he’ll vote for, he’ll reply, “I’m not going to vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover!” Many of the congregants cheer and reply, “Amen.”

Worley added, “It makes me pukin’ sick to think about — I don’t even whether or not to say this in the pulpit — can you imagine kissing some man?”

Can you imagine believing so strongly in the infallibility of a Bronze Age book written 2000 years ago that you’re willing to forsake all reason and basic human decency to to instead call for a repeat of recent history with the systematic extermination of an entire group of people purely on the basis that you think they’re icky??

I can’t.

Can you imagine being so devoid of the ability to put two coherent thoughts together that you can’t wrap your head around the fact that homosexuals are born from heterosexual couples, and will never “die out” because that’s not how it works?

I can’t.

Can you imagine coming up with a societal institution that manages to somehow excuse all manner of bigotry, ignorance, hatred, and otherwise antisocial behavior, and not only gain approval from your peers but collect money to indefinitely further your cause in the process?

Oh hell yes.  I can see that happening all too easily.  What I can also see is the fact that he himself isn’t what scares me the most.  There are always going to be crackpots who spout this kind of ignorance from the pulpit and call it “God’s Word”.  It’s the people sitting in the pews eagerly shouting “Amen” and clapping during his screed.  When the above video went viral, one of his supporters went public to defend him:

Geneva Sims said she’s been listening to Worley preach the Gospel since the 1970s.  She wasn’t surprised by the 71-year-old pastor’s now infamous sermon.  In fact, she supports him and his message.

“He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food,” said Sims.  “The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s word.” 

Providence Road Baptist Church member Stacey Pritchard agreed.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be scared straight,” she explained.  “He is trying to save those people from Hell.” 

I said it a few days about about the Muslims who rioted over the burning of the Koran, and I’ll say it about these two and their interpretation of the bible and Christianity:  if your religion calls for putting to death a group of people who are doing no harm to anyone just because a 2,000 year old book says an imaginary being says so, then your religion is stupid and has no place in civilized society.

I don’t have much use for the idea of religious “tolerance” in the sense that I don’t see any need to respect someone’s beliefs in the supernatural as being somehow worthy of reverence or immune to critical analysis.  However, seeing how the overwhelming majority of people hold such beliefs in one form or another, yet generally keep to themselves about it, I let it go. Believe what you will as long as I’m not required to do the same.

On the other hand, I have no tolerance for people like Pastor Worley and his followers.  If he were preaching God’s Word, he’d have to condemn a great deal of other things of which his followers might be guilty … like divorce, adultery, eating shellfish, wearing mixed fibers, wearing tattoos, facial hair, and so on.  Worley, like so many others these days, has latched on to one singular prohibition in the bible and is acting like it’s the only topic therein.

Which is kind of funny … since it seems that the bible isn’t really condemning homosexuality at all.  A while back I wrote an entry about an analysis done by Rev. Mark Sandlin about the “clobber verses” of the bible.  Well, a few days ago I received a comment from a fellow blogger, who writes and speaks specifically about this issue.  I must also add that his writing is far more thorough in analysis, research, and depth than my daily feedbag, so I highly recommend going over there and doing some reading.

It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of the post above and since I happen to speak and write on this topic, I thought you might find some of these posts of particular interest and relevance. I would particularly recommend the following:

“Genesis 19: What Were the Real Sins of Sodom?”
“Leviticus 18: What Was the Abomination?”
“Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”
“Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch”
“Genesis 1: Turning the Creation Story into an Anti-Gay Treatise”
“Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality”
“Exegesis: Not For the Faint in Heart”

I read through a few of these, but I’ll just take an excerpt from the second on in the list, “Leviticus 18”:

Chapter 17 through 26 of Leviticus is referred to as “The Holiness Code”.  It is designed to provide a standard of behavior and way of living that will distinguish the Israelites from the Canaanites whose land they have now been given by God.

[…] the Canaanites burned their children alive in honor to their pagan gods, they practiced snake worship, they performed sexual intercourse with animals, and a host of other gross and detestable practices. […] As Bible commentaries reveal, Canaanite culture also depended on pagan cult prostitution as a way of promoting fertility.

Now, looking at Leviticus once again …

Leviticus 18:21-23

21  Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22  Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.
23 Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

[…] we begin to see that the Holiness Code of Leviticus prohibits these acts for RELIGIOUS reasons, not MORAL ones.  The concern is to keep Israel distinct from their idolatrous neighbors.   God’s covenant with his people required that the Israelites serve no other god but Yahweh.

Context is everything.  Again, this is a brief snippet and I urge you to go to the source, but this kind of analysis of the true historical and biblical context of the prohibition against “homosexuality”  shows it’s nothing more than a religious mandate to avoid the fertility rites of the Canaanites in order to maintain their identity as a people.

Someone might want to tell the good pastor … but I doubt he’ll care one way or the other.

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This entry was posted in Profiles in Fundamentalism, Religion and Public Life, Religion in the News, Society Marches On and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Still the Safest Excuse for Bigotry and Hatred.

  1. Richard says:

    Thanks for the links! I’m always keen to see new Biblical scholarship, since I often learn so much history in the process and come to understand our cultural forebears (and the literary relics they left us) that much better. It’s just as cool to look at the amazing diversity of what people believed way back when and how they practiced as it is to see how off-the-wall people are being these days. Whether right or wrong, nobody could accuse our species of being uncreative. 🙂

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