If this provocative title and content of this blog post offends you, I won’t be offended if you ‘unfollow’ and ‘unfriend’ me. I would only be sorry that you have such a small mind and myopic view of the world. I’m the ‘T’ in LGBTQ, and it has gotten scary out there.
There is an orchestrated right-wing attack being launched against us at the federal, state and local government levels, in concert with conservative evangelical churches and Christian organizations. There is no separation of church and state in what’s happening. Allow me to provide some background and context for how this current horror unfolded.
Conservative Christianity first became politicized under the leadership of Jerry Falwell Sr. and the so-called “Moral Majority,” which was founded in 1979 and dissolved in the late 1980’s to be replaced by similar conservative Christian organizations, including the Christian Coalition, American Values PAC and the Family Research Council being among the most prominent.
The “Moral Majority’s” purpose was to deliver a conservative Christian voting block to the Republican Party, provide Falwell with a bigger stage for his ego, and to demonize the Democratic Party and progressive ideals.
Currently, the unholy alliance between these organizations and Republicans is obnoxious, divisive and grabbing lots of media attention. Only, the attention they’re grabbing is mostly negative except for conservative hate radio and news outlets such as the “unfair and unbalanced” Fox News.
Jerry Falwell Sr. is deceased, and his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., inherited the throne. The romance between Falwell Jr. and Trump began in 2012 when Trump gave a convocation speech at Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. They stayed in touch and Falwell Jr. often visited Trump on trips to New York City.
Trump would later offer Falwell Jr. a cabinet position as Director of the Department of Education, but Falwell turned down the offer citing Family reasons and that he had a university to run. This close personal bond had been critical for Trump’s Republican primary victory. An insider confirms this.
In a January 2016 Daily Beast article, former senior vice president of Liberty University, Johnnie Moore, opined that, “I do absolutely think Falwell and Liberty are responsible for the rapid increase in evangelical support for Trump and the decline in support for Cruz,” Moore said. “‘The Falwell’ and ‘Liberty’ brand remain absolutely unmatched in this country among conservative evangelicals.” Note his interesting choice of the word ‘brand’. As if this were currency to be bargained for within the right-wing religio-political cabal.
There’s a bit of irony here that Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University as their champion. Without Falwell, Cruz wins and Trump doesn’t get his party’s nomination.
The quid pro quo between Trump and conservative evangelical leaders happened in a closed door meeting with 400 socially conservative evangelical leaders in New York City in June 2016. The devil’s bargain was a promise of support for a promise to deliver their agenda.
The event organizer was Bill Dallas, president of United in Purpose, whose stated mission is “to change American culture based on Judeo-Christian principles.” Those would be conservative, fundamentalist principles, which do not represent all of Christianity.
So what do we have here? Hypocritical evangelical leaders overlooking Trump’s questionable morals, having been accused of sexual molestation by 12 women, caught on tape crudely bragging about it, infidelity and shady business deals. The depth of their hypocrisy was displayed when it became public that Trump reportedly paid off a porn star just before the presidential election to keep their affair quiet.
Trump having shown with his executive orders that he would indeed deliver on their agenda, received their “forgiveness” without rebuke from any corner of conservative evangelicalism. I watched Franklin Graham in an interview on CNN tap dance around questions about their silence and stance on Trump’s latest moral scandal. His glib answer was that “we didn’t elect a pastor in chief.” As long as he is holding up his end of the bargain, they will continue to have his back. I ask you, is this true Christianity?
These same conservative evangelical leaders issued a direct attack on the LGBTQ community in the so-called “Nashville Statement,” showing their hand that this is an agenda item on Trump’s “to-do” list. The Nashville Statement, released by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on August 29 2017, says that only heterosexuality is permissible, calls people born with intersex conditions “disordered,” derides transgender identities as “transgenderism” and makes clear that anyone who is an LGBT person is immoral. The statement was signed by 150 of Trump’s conservative evangelical supporters.
The mayor of Nashville quickly denounced the statement in a press release saying that it “does not represent the inclusive values of the city and people of Nashville.” On August 30, the organization Christians United reacted swiftly and issued its own statement denouncing the conservative evangelical attack, which included the theological basis for their position. Over one thousand Christian leaders around the world signed the statement.
It reads in part, “We affirm that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that the great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities is a perfect reflection of the magnitude of God’s creative work. We deny any teaching that suggests God’s creative intent is limited to a gender binary or that God’s desire for human romantic relationships is only to be expressed in heterosexual relationships between one man and one woman.”
Returning to our nation’s Capital, one of Trump’s earliest attempts to deliver on the agenda was a ban on transgender men and women in the military. He issued an executive order to that effect, to which his beloved Generals objected and refused to carry out. Transgender men and women can join the military and those already in active duty continue to serve their country.
In mid-December of this year, Trump continued to keep his promise by issuing an executive order censoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using the words ‘transgender’, ‘diversity’, ‘science-based’, ‘evidence-based’, and ‘fetus’.
On January 18 of this year, the Trump administration announced the creation of a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” Division within the Department of Health and Human Services. This new division will ensure that any healthcare provider, including nurses and assistants, can refuse to treat homosexuals and transgender persons on the grounds of their religious beliefs.
At the state level, bills have been introduced in many states denying same-sex marriage and the adoption of a child by same-sex couples. This is in conflict with the law of the land upheld by the Supreme Court in a decision on June 26, 2015. A bill was just introduced in my home state, South Carolina, which would deny same-sex marriage and essentially calls it a joke.
Six South Carolina legislators introduced the bill to the House that would amend the definition of what constitutes marriage. The “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act” was introduced February 15 and would draw a line between what its sponsors deem is “marriage” and what is considered “parody marriage.” According to the bill, “‘parody marriage’ means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman. ‘Marriage’ means a union of one man and one woman.”
According to published reports, some legislators have stated that the bill won’t even make it out of committee, citing higher priorities already on their plate and that the bill is going nowhere. Federal laws have supremacy over state laws, showing these lawmakers’ ignorance, and making this effort a total farce and waste state’s taxpayer’s money.
Good luck bucking the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the court considered whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to license two people of the same sex to marry. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5 to 4 majority, said that marriage is a fundamental right that all couples are entitled to under the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution, which provides for equal protection to all citizens under the law. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family […] They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The [US] Constitution grants them that right.” Justice Kennedy said.
I don’t know whether I should be more angry or sad over the sordid state of affairs brought about by the quid pro quo between the Trump administration and conservative evangelical leaders.
As a true Christian, it’s hard but I’m trying not to return hate with hate. Fortunately there are many inclusive and affirming churches where LGBTQ people can be safe and practice their Christian faith without rejection. My faith is very important to me, and I thank God I found one of these churches.
To me, the living Gospel message as taught by Jesus, is unconditional love, inclusion, and giving care to the marginalized and “least of these.” He said that he was bringing in a new covenant, and that no person can be the judge of another person. This is only God’s domain.
It may take generations to root out bigotry from some small-minded quarters of Christianity, but it’s worth the effort to begin making that change from within right now. It’s happening. I’m involved.