I have had this persistent, gnawing feeling for a long time that a large part of the growing and rightful societal acceptance of homosexuality came from right-wing “Christians” attempting to jam too many people back into closets. As activist Ash Beckham says, “Closets are not a good place to live.” However, when homophobic Christians, in our pluralistic democracy, decided to force their social rules upon people who did not share their beliefs, there was hell to pay for our democracy.
It is understandable that fewer people, today, would be able to go along with a hyper-heterosexual (macho) lifestyle in an over-crowded, polluted, security-state, dehumanized world. Paradoxically, the right-wing shift of our country has facilitated the very conditions that make heterosexuality less compelling. Rampant corporate exploitation and greed have damaged our middle class and diminished the meaningfulness of our lives. There are millions of recent students in debt, millions of all ages without jobs or health insurance, and it is clear that homosexuality and abortion are not our nation's biggest problems.
The unnecessary "crises" have helped fragment and polarize our nation, fueling the emergence of crypto-racism and undermining our social safety net. The additional stress and battle have had biological effects, furthering the fear and insecurity of many millions of Americans. As we all recognize, people who are stressed, threatened and/or angry are not as capable of staying calm and within their credit and calorie limits. In an economy has been damaged by uncontrolled greed, the Christian right has responded to homosexuality and abortion.
So, what about this alliance between neoconservatives and the Christian Right? If postmodern life is a social darwinist competition of all against all, as the corporatized Christo-capitalist right believes, why bring more children into the world? Just to fight Muslims? Just to confront China? Just to avenge 9/11? Just to follow an obscure mandate (be fruitful and multiply) from a document that was written for a time long past?
I don’t think this is where our nation’s values are today. Instead, we have a saying, “be careful what you wish for.” Think through the consequences of your actions. There are reasons for the separation of Church and State. The Christian Right, through its fervor, has undone its own agenda, rather than furthered it. When it targets an enemy, a majority flocks to defend that enemy. There is a pattern, and it is fueled by Christian anger, not Christian love.
It probably makes biological sense that heterosexual attraction and male sperm counts are on the decline. Studies of other species have generally concluded that serious stress and overcrowding undermine heterosexuality. The Christian Right could be helping defuse insecurity rather than increase it. We just aren’t meant to live highly stressed, multi-tasking lives under the thumbs of zealots. To further dehumanize gays, liberals, democrats, Muslims or any other group is hardly what was needed today.
From where I stand, the combined neoconservative and fundamentalist Christian right-wing insurgency has damaged our democracy and demonized gay people and the government. This massive distraction has actually paved the way for corporate rule, often identified as fascism. So, what has the Christian component gained from its alliance with neoconservatives? Rather than setting limits on homosexuality, the right-wing agenda has created a movement for gay marriage. It has succeeded in rolling back the civil rights of individuals, promoting global climate change and the destruction of “creation,” and shredding the social safety net, all in the name of Jesus. Really, things have gotten out of hand. Right-wing Christians may eventually wake up to recognize that the one with whom they have partnered in the Republican party is not exactly Jesus.
As imperfect humans, like the rest of us, most of those swept up in the anti-gay hysteria of the new millennium will not accept responsibility for what their extremism has wrought. In their hysteria, they have made necessary our society’s emergency recognition of legal rights for gay people and non-heterosexual marriage. To be sure, this is a positive legacy, although the opposite of what they intended.
What is frightening is that the religious right has helped turn our society into a racist, war-mongering, environment-destroying police state, not so different from the Roman Empire that Jesus tried to humanize. While we were struggling with political attempts of the Christian Right to impose their values related to abortion and homosexuality on the United States of America, our country fell deeper into the control of wealthy elites who are not loyal to America, nor to Jesus, but only to their own interests, their own empires.
To be sure, the hysteria was carried by a minority of Christians and perhaps a minority of conservatives. Yet, the majority failed to stand up quickly to stop them. The current Pope has stood against the witch hunting hysteria that has gripped so many people self-identifying as Christian. Yet, the alliance between Catholics and Protestants is a tenuous one and the Christian Right is not likely to relent in its obsessions regarding abortion and homosexuality.
The teachings of Jesus are easily over-looked by slick, well-spoken pundits and politicians. Now that we are rolling back the homophobia, we need to work on the racism and elitism that have gripped this body politic. We will spend generations cleaning up the mess that has been left behind by the anti-gay hysteria. However, in response to the hysteria, America has awoken to protect our GLBT brothers and sisters, much like Jesus’ own ministry to the poor, the downtrodden, the disabled and the outcast. His teachings and those of all other religious and wisdom traditions, including the golden rule, seem actually to remain alive and well in America. The real enemy we all have today is greed. Our culture has depended upon our religions to keep greed under control, but there always seem to be zealots who prefer controlling women and sex. Funny, huh?