Written by Robert Sobel for The Examiner
One of the biggest divides in the United States is over religion and religious freedom. On one hand you have conservative Christians who are quick to point out that the “liberal media” and secular Americans are trying to strip away their right to believe in their religion. One the other hand, you have other Americans who want to be left alone to believe what they want without the fear of persecution from people of faith. The rest of America is also divided, ranging from “moderate” Christians to people of other faiths like Judaism, Islam, Hindus as well as people of no religious faith at all. What has made the news lately are radical extreme Christian pastors who have spoken their mind without any opposition from the conservative Christian right.
The month of May has proven to show the dark side of evangelical Christianity. CBS points out that this past week, North Carolina pastor, Charles Worley took to his church pew to preach extreme hatred for gay and lesbians Americans with the hope that they will all die out.
“Build a great big, large fence…100 miles long, put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food…Do the same thing with the queers and homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out and in a few years they will die out.”
According to a report from Think Progress, Worley has had a history of extreme rhetoric towards the LGBT community. In 1978, Worley was caught on tape stating that forty years prior, gays and lesbians would have been hung “from a white oak tree.” Also in North Carolina, Pastor Sean Harris was in the news in May when he advocated that parents beat their children if they suspect that they are gay.
“So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”
North Carolina also passed Amendment One earlier this month that not only bans same sex marriage in the state, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. The outrage and fear over gay and lesbians is becoming worse than the fear agenda that has been pushed towards Muslims since the horrible attacks on 9/11. The radical religious extremism goes farther than two preaches and the state of North Carolina.
This past May, Wagoner High School in Oklahoma showed a video to their students that compared having an abortion to Hitler, Nazis and the treatment on Jews during the Holocaust. The film was given to the school by some local parents, but after fellow students and parents expressed disgust over the video, the film was confiscated and the school apologized.
The battle over abortion has become a major issue in the political landscape and the anti-choice agenda has been pushed and funded by the extreme fundamentalist Christian movement. With high profile preachers like Pat Robertson of the 700 Club and anti-choice and anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council and NOM (National Organization for Marriage) pushing a certain agenda, the war against women and equality is at the forefront of American politics.
With these extreme groups and individuals making their opinions loud and clear, a certain question needs to be asked. Christians and other religious Americans who consider themselves “moderate,” are often too quiet when these extreme groups make the headlines with hate and intolerance. While there are often a small group of religious Americans voicing their opposition, not enough do so to make enough noise to change the direction of the issues.
The Republican party and their conservative Christian base don’t always speak as clearly as Pastor Harris and Worley, but their silence does just as much damage. It’s possible to hold a certain position in your political and religious ideology without damaging the lives of others. If the United States is going to move forward in a direction that includes equality for all Americans, people of faith need to speak up when clear ignorance, intolerance and bigotry are being unleashed right in front of their eyes.