Conservative Christian Reserves Right to Preach Gay Bashing
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Running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the American Family Association's Don Wildmon is out to prove that America's most high profile religious voices are as archaic, bigoted and dumbed-down as "the new atheists" preach they are.
Wildmon may as well be on tour with Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett.
As James Watkins at Think Christian points out, Wildmon recently sent an ominous warning to supporters that "A bill in Congress makes it a crime for pastors and churches to speak against homosexuality," claiming that the new Hate Crime bill, which extends protection to the LGBT community, actually threatens free speech.
Err, not exactly. What H.R. 1592 DOES say is that if you bash a gay or transgendered person -- that is, if you physically assault them -- you are subject to a particular kind of prosecution because of the nature of the crime. In fact, while it should say that when a religious figure's expressed antipathy toward anyone in the LGBT community (or Muslims or women or anyone) can be directly tied to a violent crime, they can be held accountable -- but it doesn't.
It just says that if you cause bodily harm you're in trouble. Who could oppose that?
So you're left to ask yourself: is Wildmon's reading comprehension so poor? Probably not... it's more likely that Wildmon knows exactly what the bill says. But, as the conservative religious movement requires a surfeit of both fear and cash, any opportunity to misrepresent a bill that exactly ten people will read as the approach of the forces of doom will be taken and exploited. Case in point.
But these shenanigans are nothing new for the man whose reputation was solidified by a high-profile row with Three's Company, and its immoral message. This stuff just writes itself.
So, Mr. Wildmon, you can still preach the gospel of hatred to your heart's content, you just can't physically assault people. In today's marketplace, even this is controversial. And you can practically feel the whoosh of Hitchens' anti-religion screed flying from the shelves...
On the other hand, at this weekend's Pride parade in Sacramento, A Church for All came out to neutralize conservative evangelical protesters, commenting that:
"We believe God is a diverse God. He can meet all of us," said congregation member Christine Campbell of North Highlands. "When Jesus said, 'Whosoever believes in me shall have eternal life,' he wasn't making any distinctions."
Campbell said churches should welcome all types of people in an atmosphere of inclusiveness.
"If it's so important for gays and lesbians to hear and honor the word of God," posed Campbell, "if you want them to hear that message, why keep them out of church? Why segregate?"
Evan Derkacz, a former AlterNet editor, is managing editor of the forthcoming web magazine on the intersection of religion and politics, Religion Dispatches.org.