The ‘fundamental’ issues at hand

When those on the religious right attack, their hatred is born of fear and frustration. But we have to remember not to react in kind

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

This weekend I watched some clips of right-wing evangelicals on YouTube. Aside from raising my blood pressure a few notches, it gave me an insight into the reason these folks are so angry — and more specifically, why they are so angry at LGBT people.

Imagine you are a fundamentalist. That means you say you believe that everything in the Bible is literally true — the great flood, Jonah and the big fish, Noah and the ark, Adam and Eve, all the miracles, etc.

It sounds comforting at first, to believe in a world where everything is in God’s control and our fates are decided. But if everything in the Bible is “literally” true, then we are stuck with a paradox: The God who Jesus depicts as loving and filled with grace, becomes an almost psychopathic killer if all the stories of the Old Testament are true.

Suddenly you are standing on shaky ground.

Furthermore, to really believe the literal interpretation of the Bible, you have to live in a cognitive dissonance, where in your daily life you confront a reality that does not match what you read in the “literal” Bible.

That takes a lot of work to keep things straight and to keep reality from seeping in to what you say you believe.

I think this is why fundamentalists as a group always seem so angry. They are exhausted and frustrated.

Imagine how difficult it would be to read a story about God creating the world in six days while at the same time seeing scientific evidence that creation took billions of years.

You begin denying science and slide down the slope into creating justification for why there are creatures like dinosaurs which never are described in the Bible. You come up with things like, “The fossils were put on Earth to test our faith.”

Frustrating, isn’t it?

What’s more you begin to suspect that the real problem is that some people, yourself not included, are making God mad, and if the Old Testament is to be taken literally, you don’t want to do that!

Who are these people? Well, they are anyone different from you, obviously, and LGBT people fall smack in the middle of that group.

It really is little wonder we as LGBTs are being scapegoated by these fundamentalist folk. They are seeking a way to explain away the problems of their world, and since we are so obviously different from them, we must be the problem.

That’s why they are so adamant about “defending marriage.” If we LGBT people start getting married and have our relationships accepted as
mainstream, it chips away not at their heterosexual marriages, but at their lock on being favored by God.

Remember: They believe only a small group of righteous people will be saved when the grand finale comes. In the mind of these people there has to be a group who is “worthy” and a group who is “unworthy.” If we start paring down the qualifications of what makes a person worthy, it lessens their chances of being in that group.

Now before you go wondering if I am some kind of atheist heathen, I assure you I am not. I consider myself a follower of the teachings of Jesus, and that makes me a Christian. And that’s the real point of this whole discussion.

As a gay man who is Christian, I am a double threat to the fundamentalist right-wing. I am stripping away another of their “get into heaven free” cards, and this makes them even more angry.

My problem as a Christian is remembering Jesus’ most important teaching — that whole “love thy neighbor” thing. It’s really hard to do when your neighbor would just as soon see you disappear.

But the alternative is to live with the same anger and frustration as the fundamentalists, and that just doesn’t seem to be a very good alternative.

So what I have resolved to do is this: The next time I am angered by someone thumping their Bible on TV and ranting about the “evil homosexuals” who are leading the country to ruin, I will see through their hatred and recognize the scared and vulnerable person underneath who is fighting against the wind of justice.

I will try to remember that their struggle is ultimately futile. I will try to find some love in my heart for them.

Then, I will promptly get online and donate money to a worthy cause that works for real justice for LGBT people and make that donation in their name. Kind of poetic justice isn’t it?

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at http://DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.

—  John Wright