The following is reprinted with permission
from Wayne Besen and
Truth Wins Out.
Mainstream Christians Must Stand Up to the
Posted by Wayne Besen
August, fundamentalist preacher Dr. Michael Brown
organized a regimen of red shirted
Bible-thumpers to infiltrate Charlotte’s gay pride event. Hundreds of
zealots confronted and harassed festival attendees with their arrogant
slogan “God Has A Better Way.”
hatred and religious bigotry was appalling, but not surprising. What truly
bothers me, however, was the lack of mainstream Christians standing up and
speaking out against such fanatical behavior. Virtually every time I write
about the Religious Right I’m reminded by the faithful that “not all
Christians are like that.”
course, this is true and some of the most dedicated activists I have worked
with are people of faith. Last week, in fact, I teamed up with Resurrection
Metropolitan Community Church to host a week of educational seminars
designed to counter an “ex-gay” conference in Houston.
the number of mainstream Christians fighting the hate campaigns of the
Religious Right is disappointing. With thousands of churches, millions of
members and a vested interest in fighting back against religious extremism,
they have consistently underachieved and failed to reach their potential.
would it look like if mainstream churches fought back against the Religious
two hundred of Dr. Brown’s “Red Shirts” smugly descending on innocent
families at Charlotte Pride. Out of nowhere, five hundred mainstream, mostly
heterosexual Christians appear and surround the theocratic thugs with blue
shirts that read: God’s Better Way – Love & Acceptance.”
despicable bullies would likely have no idea how to react in such a
situation where Christians were calling them “unchristian.” Instead of the
expected rush of self-righteous glory, I could see these folks slinking off,
dazed and ashamed.
course, this is just a pipe dream. I’ve organized or attended dozens of
protests over the past decade. Time and again, I’m disillusioned by the lack
of support from liberal and mainstream Christian organizations. It seems
they are either afraid to offend their most conservative members or they are
mired in passivity that allows extremists to define their faith.
lack of coherent opposition has led to a dire situation where Religious
Right backed presidential candidates are vying to eliminate or reduce social
safety nets, persecute immigrants, undermine working people, shred the
middle class, turn the poor into destitute beggars, and roll back minority
reluctance to stand up and speak out has created a hazardous vacuum where
only the shrill and unreasonable voices of fundamentalism are heard. Instead
of the dialogue that many progressives of faith claim to desire, this
perceived weakness creates a lopsided right wing monologue, which is having
a deleterious effect on our nation and the world.
time to stand up, speak out, and give voice to our values. If not now, when?
Are we going to wait until it is too late and we have lost our country?
four recent examples of the Religious Right flexing its political muscle:
Gov. Rick Perry held a stadium prayer rally in Houston that preceded his
announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. The event was
hosted by the American Family Association, a Southern Poverty Law
Center-certified hate group. Included among the speakers were many radical
clerics from the theocratic New Apostolic Reformation. Also known as the
Seven Mountains Movement, this group of extremists wants to turn America
into a fundamentalist Christian nation. Their aim is to take over the
following seven spheres of society that they refer to as mountains:
Religion, Media, Government, Family, Education, Business, Arts &
American Family Association is organizing Pastor Policy briefings in
presidential battlegrounds. In these events, candidates prostrate themselves
at the feet of conservative pastors in Iowa and elsewhere, pledging to enact
their agenda if elected.
Former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed is making a comeback with a
new organization he founded, the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “Our goal
is to build a file of 29 million conservative voters,” Reed told the New
York Times. “We’ll e-mail them, we’ll call them, we’ll knock on their
doors and, if necessary, we’ll drive them to the polls.”
Extreme right wing organizations have been recruiting candidates in the GOP
primaries to sign pledges that lock them into inflexible positions, even at
the expense of the nation.
critical that people realize that these zealots have a radically different
vision of this country than most Americans. If their power keeps increasing,
they will be able to drastically reshape this country. There would be a
tremendous loss of freedom, liberty and justice, while bigotry, intolerance
and religious conformity would become the law of the land.
Religious Right can organize and mobilize to stand up for its beliefs in
such a robust manner, why can’t the Religious Left? We desperately need to
answer this question before Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin
defile America – and permanently define Christianity.
Copyright 2011 Truth Wins Out. All Rights reserved.
Wayne Besen is the Founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out and
author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the
Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003). In 2006, Besen was recognized in the Advocate
Magazine’s “People of the Year” issue. In 2009, he was named in Instinct
Magazine as a “Leading Man”. In 2010, Besen was awarded the “Visionary
Award” at the Out Music Awards for organizing the American Prayer Hour, an
event which shined a spotlight on the role American evangelicals played in
the introduction of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He is best known for
stepping outside of academic and media settings to prove that ex-gays are
not who they purport to be. Besen has an unprecedented record of exposing
ex-gay ministries as a hoax.
Truth Wins Out Blog;
Date: September 19, 2011 Section: Weekly Column