Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Rainbow of Bigotry or Lady Liberty Sings the Blues

Courtesy the New York Times.

Lady Liberty got an
"extreme makeover" by a Memphis megachurch. The attempt is another scary mixing of church and state. I could wax about the rise of the "Christianists" as Andrew Sullivan calls those who use religion for political ends, but I want to talk about the fact that the so-called Christianists are not as some would believe, a bunch of lilly-white nutcases. For example, World Overcomers Outreach Church, the folks behind this defiling of the Statue of Liberty is an African American congregation. The New York Times piece talks about the fact that the pastor, Alton R. Williams has taken out full pages ads condemning gay marriage. Indeed, if you look at their church website, you can sign a petition to support the Federal Marriage Amendment and you can call the church if you desire to "free" from homosexuality.

My observation is that many pro-gay people, especially on the left end of the spectrum, tend to ignore the fact that the anti-gay movement is not simply a bunch a white bigots singing a second verse of bigotry. Sometimes they say that anti-gay African Americans are duped by whites or that they are being used. The long and the short of it is this: 1)Blacks don't know any better; and 2) Because of our experience with racism, we are more sensitive to how gays are treated.

The fact is, blacks do know better. I grew up in the Black Church. I faced a lot of homophobia. I remember being teased in church. I remember hearing a pastor preach against gay marriage during a Christmas Eve Sermon. I also know that at my parent's church, the pastor (who was having an affair)objected to having a lesbian working with the church choir, even though the congregation loved her.

The fact is, African Americans are human beings. We are as capable as anyone else to love and hate people. The fact that we faced three centuries of discrimination doesn't necessarily mean that we are more loving towards others.

Maybe one of the biggest challenges right now is that the Black Church needs to face up to its own homophobia and the larger pro-gay forces need to stop prentending that we African Americans are the "noble savages" and realize that the anti-gay forces doesn't just include the likes of white preachers like James Dobson. Gay groups need to soundly condemn pastors like Apostle Williams as much as they do the Dobsons, Fawells and Robertsons of the world.

Hate can come in many colors.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.


Shay said...

While I agree with your position on gay marriage, I don't agree with your argument that those who oppose it are NECESSARILY operating from a position of "hate". There are many (if not most) black people who genuinely disagree with homosexuality and gay marriage, based on their religious views. I disagree with their position, but they have a right to their position just like I have a right to my position. Name calling will not get the job done here.

It also doesn't help matters that white gays arrogantly compare their situation to that of black Americans' history. If anything ticks off many black folks about the gay rights movement, it is that one (e.g., during dinner this past Father's Day, my uncle - who is socially conservative and opposes gay marriage - described how offended he was when such comparisons are made). There is work that gay activists must also do in order to bridge the gap.

P.S. if not for "Christianists" like Dr. King and Malcolm X - who used religion for political ends - where would black folks be? And there are black liberal religious figures - e.g., Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton - who fit the Christianist label. Does Andrew Sullivan condemn all these folks as well?

Shay said...

Oops on calling Malcolm X, who was Muslim, a "Christianist". However, religion was an important part of his identity and he used religion for political ends as well.

Tom Strong said...


Sullivan explained why King, and the civil rights movement as a whole, was not "Christianist" here.

There is a fine line between using Christianity as a prop for political gain, and using Christian language and values to build bridges between interest groups. But it's a distinct one.

Albany Lawyer said...

Found your blog on referral from your earlier "moderate republican" blog. Thought you might want to know about another moderate Republican blog. I also like your reference to the Statue of Liberty. I'm thinking about doing a satirical post recommending that we ship it back to France, since we obviously don't follow what the statue is about any more.

Paul Wartenberg said...

I'm a little terrified of what will happen if the Christianists get ahold of another secular image of American nationalism... um, if Mickey Mouse starts showing up with a thorny crown, or Coca-Cola advertises a new 'Communion Coke', run for it.

The Truffle said...

Every time I see that freaky statue of liberty, I am reminded of this.

I am sorry; I can't help it. Christian kitsch knows no bounds.