Homogenized religious dogma and political ideology: A toxic blend of vows and pledges

Part 1 of a three-part series

I’ve been studying and writing about gay and lesbian issues since 2003. What got me started was then Senator Rick Santorum’s comments in an AP interview in which he compared gay sex to bestiality (among other things). Those comments made him the poster-boy for malicious theopolitical rants, an image he reinforced when speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate during its debate of the Federal Marriage Amendment. With histrionic bravado Mr. Santorum proclaimed, “the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security—standing up and defending marriage?”

Santorum’s dogmatic views on gays and several other issues—in addition to his abrasive personality and “I know everything” attitude, plus his cyber school scandal—prompted Pennsylvania voters to kick him out of office. Apparently Mr. Santorum didn’t learn anything from his ignominious defeat and is still uttering the same nonsense in his run for the GOP presidential nomination:

Santorum: Perry Must Support Polygamy If He’s ‘Fine’ With New York’s Marriage Equality Law
By Igor Volsky on Jul 25, 2011

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R) lashed out against Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for suggesting that he was “fine” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex message, asking Perry—who is said to be considering his own run for the White House—if he would similarly endorse polygamy or laws against “heterosexual marriage” . . .

On the campaign trail, he has repeatedly argued that marriage equality would “destabilize” society, called for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and claimed that gay people don’t deserve the “privilege” of parenthood. Allowing gay people to marry is “going to have a devastating impact on our children, it’s going to have a devastating impact on families, and it’s going to have a profound impact on religious liberties,” he said during a campaign stop last month.

Religions have their place, as do politics. Problems arise when they’re mixed and used to play on people fears and promote social unrest and civil discrimination.

All of today’s major religions evolved a very long time ago by building upon or borrowing from older belief systems. (That’s evolution for you.) The three major Western religions are testimony to that, as is thoroughly researched and documented in Karen Armstrong’s 1993 A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (A transcript of an interview with Bill Moyers is available here.)

To be sure, they all contain some “truths,” but they also contain a lot of irrational, ill-informed nonsense that simply cannot be accepted as “truth” today. Unfortunately, the truths and the nonsense got blended and then codified as “the word of God” and sanctified as “dogma.” One undeniable truth is that the three major Western warrior sky-god religions, their scriptures and dogma were all created by men a very long time ago in response to social and cultural realities and a worldview that no longer exist.

In an October 10, 2004 article “Interpreting the Bible on Gay Unions” in The Detroit Free Press, Susan Ager quoted from an essay by Walter Wink, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, that appeared on the web site of Bridges-Across. In discussing Leviticus 20:13, “Wink explains that thousands of years ago, people thought men held the seed for life, that women only incubated those seeds into babies. Thus, spilling your seed with another man or alone was ‘tantamount to abortion or murder.’ Leaders frowned on that, too, as they worked hard to build up their struggling tribe” [italics added].

No knowledge of how conception or genetics really worked and a very secular prime directive: make more people to “build up their struggling tribe,” thereby extending its religion’s social control and political power through numbers.

A final comment by Dr. Wink must also be noted, especially by those devout Bible-believers who so object to gay people: “If Christians are to take this verse [Leviticus 20:13] literally, they would demand the execution of all homosexuals. Not only homosexual, but all men who have ever masturbated or otherwise spilled their seed” [italics added]. How many males of all ages—sons, brothers, cousins, friends, passing acquaintances and total strangers—would that condemn to death? What would be the effect on human population civilization? Interesting proposition, is it not?

If there were only a few “pure” males, they would have to impregnate many, many, many women to keep the population up and at least somewhat genetically diverse. Monogamous one-man-one-woman “marriage” would be distinctly counterproductive.

From their inception, the three major Western religions thrived on encouraging condemnation—and hatred—of others. Then as now, dogmatic religious zealots use fear-based religion and dogma to maintain control over people’s lives and thoughts and promote hatred of others. Those goals also underwrite the political agendas of some. Case in point, Bradlee Dean of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry and GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann. Mr. Dean used religion to proclaim killing gays is a moral act:

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit ministry that brings its hard rock gospel into public schools, has been deepening its long-running ties to the Republican Party of Minnesota. Long a cause célèbre for Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has twice lent her name to the group’s fundraising efforts, You Can Run (YCR) had a booth at the GOP convention in April, and the group’s frontman, Bradlee Dean, reports that gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer recently accepted an invitation to visit with him at Dean’s home. But recent controversial statements by Dean—that Muslim countries calling for the execution of gays and lesbians are “more moral than even the American Christians”—have drawn the ire of some both within and outside the party.

“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America,” Dean said on YCR’s May 15 radio show on AM 1280 the Patriot. “This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.”

“If America won’t enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that,” Dean continued. “That is what you are seeing in America.”

“The bottom line is this . . . they [homosexuals] play the victim when they are, in fact, the predator,” Dean said, before going on to make a claim that has no basis in fact: “On average, they molest 117 people before they’re found out. How many kids have been destroyed, how many adults have been destroyed because of crimes against nature?”

And what did Mrs. Bachmann have to say about this “ministry” and its overt hate-mongering, seeming call for violence “in the name of God,” and blatant lying about the “average gay” (whatever that is) molesting 117 people before they’re found out? Huffington Post documented her position:

WASHINGTON—If you thought evangelical preaching needed longer hair, tattoos, nu-metal drumming, and a ton of hate speech directed at gays, then Bradlee Dean is your guy.

He’s very much Rep. Michele Bachmann’s guy. Bachmann, whose district covers Dean’s suburban Minnesota headquarters, didn’t just endorse Dean, but has prayed for him and his ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, in a clip highlighted recently by City Pages.

“Would you keep them from evil?” Bachmann prays. “Would you keep them from pain?” Finally she begs the Almighty to “pour a triple blessing on this ministry” and expand it ten-fold.

Mrs. Bachmann was, of course, the first to sign “The Marriage Vow—A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family.” (Not surprisingly, Rick Santorum also signed and is “courting” Bob Vander Plaats, author of “The Marriage Vow.”) And Mrs. Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, does run dog-and-pony show clinics where one can “pray the gay away.” Such “reparative,” “conversion,”—“ex-gay” therapies—have been denounced as ineffective and harmful by every legitimate, science-based, professional medical association in America.

According to the American Psychological Association, no scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of therapies that attempt to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals. According to the American Medical Association, “There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” and the AMA “does not recommend aversion therapy for gay men and lesbians.”

The American Psychological Association has stated that “Groups who try to change the sexual orientation of people through so-called conversion therapy are misguided and run the risk of causing a great deal of psychological harm to those they say they are trying to help.” The American Psychiatric Association concurs: “gay men and lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation positively are better adjusted than those who have not done so.” And according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”

All forms of “ex-gay” therapies were publicly decried in 1999 as unethical by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. For more on the “ex-gay” ruse (and the Bachmann clinics) see Truth Wins Out and by all means check out this study:

Pat Robertson’s Regent University: Ex-Gays Can Act The Part, But Orientation Doesn’t Change
By Zack Ford on Jul 21, 2011

Revelations that Marcus Bachmann’s clinics administer ex-gay therapy have thrust the “controversial” treatment into the media spotlight. There is no controversy among scientists, however, who continue to agree that the therapy is not effective and should not be recommended because it can be harmful. A new study from a surprising source confirms this reality; researchers at Pat Robertson’s Regent University found that “ex-gays” in opposite-sex marriages continued to have a same-sex orientation.

The study (PDF) looked at “mixed-orientation” marriages in which at least one member of the couple is not heterosexual. . . .

Bradlee Dean, meanwhile, has filed a law suit:

Bradlee Dean’s Ample Antigay Comments
By Andrew Harmon

The Minnesota preacher who filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit Wednesday against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Minnesota Independent reporter Andy Birkey has a long track record of broadcasting antigay comments, Think Progress LGBT’s Zack Ford writes. 
 You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International’s Bradlee Dean claims that Maddow and Birkey maliciously took some of his comments out of context while ignoring a ministry disclaimer condemning calls to execute gay people—this to achieve both journalists’ end-goal, according to the complaint, of “significantly [harming] the ‘big political prize’ which they loathe, Christian conservative presidential candidate Michele Bachmann,” who has “twice lent her name to [the ministry’s] fundraising efforts.”

But Ford posted an extensive history of Dean’s support for prosecution and incarceration of gay people, as well as assertions that a “homosexual agenda” is infiltrating the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota [“Bradlee Dean Never Calls For The Persecution Of Gays, Except All The Time,” posted July 27, 2011]. . . .

But back to Bob Vander Plaats’ theopolitical oath of allegiance to ignorance and bigotry in Part 2 . . .

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