On the morning of March 8 in Sioux Center, Iowa, two buses parked outside a hotel were found covered with anti-gay slurs, along with a hate-filled message on a piece of cardboard reading: “God does not love feary fags.”
The buses were transporting some 50 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, along with supporters, on the start of a two-month trip to 32 Christian colleges with policies that discriminate against those who are not heterosexuals. The Equality Ride, as it is known, organized by Soulforce, had first traveled to Sioux Center to visit Dordt College, a school that counts “sexual activity with someone of the same gender” as possible grounds for “an employee’s discharge or a student’s dismissal.”
The harassment is not new. …
Gays and lesbians still within the church, seeking desperately to deny their sexuality and remain in the Christian collective, often suffer severe depression and blows to their self-esteem. The U.S. surgeon general’s office has published data indicating that those who are young and gay are two to three times more likely to commit suicide. Those who conform, no matter what the personal cost, will find acceptance. Those who remain militant, who stand up for another way of being, must be silenced. The methods that will finally sever them and their supporters from a Christian America are often left unmentioned, but the rhetoric makes clear that there will not be a place for them. Gays and lesbians, like other enemies of Christ, are not fully human. They are “unnatural.” And preachers in the movement argue that if America does not act soon to eradicate homosexual behavior, God will punish the nation.
These attacks mask a sinister agenda that has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with power. The radical Christian right — the most dangerous mass movement in American history — has built a binary worldview of command and submission wherein male leaders, who cannot be questioned and claim to speak for God, are in control and all others must follow. Any lifestyle outside the traditional model of male and female is a threat to this hierarchical male power structure. Women who do not depend on men for their identity and their sexuality, who live outside a male power relationship, challenge this pervasive cult of masculinity, as do men who find tenderness and love with other men as equals. The lifestyle of gays and lesbians is intolerable to the Christian right because its existence is a threat to the movement’s chain of command, one they insist was ordained by God.
This hypermasculinity, which crushes the independence and self-expression of women, is a way for men in the movement to compensate for the curtailing of their own independence, their blind obedience to church authorities and the calls for sexual restraint. The images of Jesus often show him with thick muscles, clutching a sword. Christian men are portrayed as powerful warriors. Jesus’ stoic endurance of the brutal whippings in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” presages the brutal, masculine world of this ideology, a world that knows little of tenderness, personal freedom, nurturing and even pleasure. Jerry Falwell, in a New Yorker interview, said Christ was not a gentle-looking, willowy man: “Christ was a man with muscles,” he insisted. Falwell and Gibson see real men, godly men, as powerful, able to endure physical pain and suffering without complaint. Jesus, like God, has to be a real man, a man who dominates through force. The language of the movement is filled with metaphors about the use of excessive force and violence against God’s enemies.
The unspoken truth is that Christian men are required to have a personal, loving relationship with a male deity and surrender their will to a male-dominated authoritarian church. The submission to church authority is a potent form of emasculation. It entails a surrendering of conscience and personal control and deadens emotions and feelings. Glorified acts of force and violence against outsiders, against nonbelievers, compensate for this unquestioning submission. The domination that men are encouraged to practice in the home over women and children becomes a reflection of the domination they are taught to endure outside the home.
Read the article:
For the Christian Right, Gay-Hating Is Just the Start
by Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 19, 2007