“…the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”
—Justice Kennedy, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act
“I do not believe any of us is entitled to rearrange God’s divine order for the universe and its inhabitants.”
—Franklin Graham, son of Billy
When you think about it, it is a very strange notion that a third-grader would, of his own volition, go looking for Jesus. I mean, if it weren’t for adult interference, kids that age would be more interested in video games or picking their noses. But Frank Page had some help in finding Jesus. Here are the heroes, or culprits, depending on your point of view, behind his story:
Those rather harmless looking folks in the photo above, Raymond and Elsie Hampton, first brought Frank Page into contact with zealots who, through years of indoctrination, finally convinced a nine-year-old kid that he was a flawed human being beyond any earthly hope of redemption—in other words a “sinner”—and put Page on a leadership path within the Southern Baptist Convention, which after the Catholics, is the largest group of organized Christians in the country.
Here’s how the Baptist Press described Page’s conversion:
…as he listened to the pastor, he became more aware of his need for Christ.
“In one of those somewhat classic situations, during the invitation I went forward and I asked the pastor if he would help me come to know Christ,” Page said. “He prayed with me, and I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance and of begging God to come into my heart.
“Right there in front of the congregation there at Southside Baptist Church on that Sunday night I gave my life to Christ. I was baptized shortly thereafter, and then later my brother, my sisters, my mom and dad were as well.”
It often works that way. Some caring, or meddling, soul invites a kid to church and before you know it the whole family becomes zealots. Or, more often, parents drag their kids to church and make them zealots that way. Either method, bottom-up or top-down, is effective for spreading fundamentalism, and fear.
And if it ended there, if it ended with a bunch of people crowding churches on Sunday to hear about Jesus and to learn Iron Age theology, that would be one thing. Theoretically, not much social harm, and indeed some social good, might come from such gatherings, from such dedication to a higher purpose.
But in practice the Frank Pages do much damage to the notion of a civilized society because they are not just worried about the sweet by and by, not just concerned with the everlasting home of individual sinners. And the reason they are not is contained in that conversion story of the nine-year-old Page:
I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance and of begging God to come into my heart.
Confess, repent, and beg. It is a pattern that fundamentalists and evangelicals learn early on in church and one which they follow in the world at large, especially when it comes to certain social issues like abortion and homosexual rights. These folks feel compelled to work out their repentance and to satisfy an angry God by forcing the rest of us to bend our knees to their theology, to their view of what Franklin Graham called “God’s divine order for the universe and its inhabitants.“
That is what makes what these people do on Sunday, and beyond, so potentially damaging to the social fabric of our modern, secular Republic. They don’t want to just huddle together on Sunday and share stories, or fantasies, about Jesus. They don’t just want to meet and discuss how many angels can dance on Bill O’Reilly’s pin head.
They want to mold society into one that, by law, is bound to follow the ancient teachings of the Jesus they adore, at least the Jesus preached from the pulpits in the churches they populate, the Jesus who would outlaw abortion (though he never spoke a word about it) or outlaw gay marriage (though he didn’t say a word about homosexuality).
It’s no coincidence that just about a month after Barack Hussein Obama was reelected, Frank Page addressed his fellow churchmen with this:
I am asking all Southern Baptists to join me in a year of emphasis on prayer like none we’ve ever seen before.
Interestingly, Page admits that “for some time” God had burdened his heart “about prayer and spiritual awakening,” as far back as 2006. But for some strange reason, just after the 2012 election, Page felt it necessary to urge the Southern Baptists to join him,
in a year-long emphasis for calling to our Lord for His mercy, for His guidance and for His forgiveness.
Seeking God’s mercy and guidance and forgiveness, part of the pattern of fundamentalist thought both here and around the world, is how many American conservative Christians no doubt spent this Sunday, at least that part of the day spent listening to people like Dan Biser, a Southern Baptist pastor, who had urged fellow believers to make a point of begging God for forgiveness today:
For many followers of Christ, this Sunday, June 30, is their first gathering following the momentous historical announcement by the Supreme Court. The churches I serve have set aside this Sunday as A Day of Mourning and Prayer. I am calling our people to assemble with a solemn awareness of the state of our nation and the impact of these rulings upon us.
In the Old Testament, national and spiritual leaders often confessed the sins of the nation in their cries to the Lord. Sometimes they were in political positions to effect immediate change, such as Nehemiah’s prayer in his leadership role in post-exilic Jerusalem. But others cried out to God from an adversarial national setting, such as Elijah under Ahab’s wicked rule over the northern kingdom of Israel.
As we pray, let us acknowledge that every act of sin legalized and embraced by our culture is a provocation of the Lord God and His holiness and righteousness as declared in His Holy Word.
Let us acknowledge that, though the Lord God is kind, patient and longsuffering, He has never (and will not) grant His continued blessings on any nation or people that chooses sin over our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In other words, if Christians aren’t busy confessing, repenting, and begging this Sunday, the loving Almighty Savior is gonna get real mad over the fact that the homosexual folks He created can now enjoy all the blessings of liberty, and tax breaks, that the federal government can give them. Yes, that’s enough to piss off the King of the Universe, who, if He is to be pissed off at anyone, should be pissed off at Himself, since, presumably, He is the one Who created folks with a fondness for same-sex matrimony.
Most right-wing Christians believe—at least the ones I am familiar with—that there is a conspiracy behind extending equal protection under the law to what conservative Bible-believers call sodomites. An article on CBN.com, quoting the authors of The Homosexual Agenda, claims that some gay-friendly people are,
using tactics on ‘straight’ America that are remarkably similar to the brainwashing methods of Mao Tse-Tung’s Communist Chinese — mixed with Madison Avenue’s most persuasive selling techniques.
Yes, it is ironic that conservative Christians, who recruit and indoctrinate kids, who feed them full of scary stories of hell and everlasting punishment, who then bid them to come forth to the altar and “wash” their sins away, yes, it is ironic that those folks would dare to say that attempts to gain equal rights under the law for homosexuals smell of Mao’s “brainwashing methods.”
Besides the irony, there is the politics of the matter. The recent Supreme Court decision to stop discriminating against a class of Americans who the Bible finds detestable and worthy of death poses a problem for the Republican Party. As David Brody, the chief political correspondent (!) for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (Robertson, predictably, compares DOMA decision to Sodom and Gomorrah), put it,
Republican politicians are going to be faced with a political dilemma. The Brody File calls it a, “Judeo-Christian Backbone Moment.” Will they run away from the issue of traditional marriage or embrace it? Polls suggest more Americans (especially younger voters) are accepting of gay marriage so does that mean these “pro-family” politicians will modify their views? Does it mean they will change their views (Hello Rob Portman)? Or will they simply stop defending traditional marriage and run away from it like the plague? After all, unless they live in a super secure congressional district or a very conservative state, they may believe that one of the options above may keep them afloat politically. The American people are about to find out who the pretenders are. Will these GOP Congressman choose political survival or Judeo-Christian Statesmanship?
At least one GOP Congressman, from my old home state of Kansas, is taking up the fight—uh, crusade—to rid the country of equal protection under the law for sodomites. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the nearly-unpopulated parts of Kansas—more than half of the state geographically—has introduced yet another Federal Marriage Amendment as a way to alter the Constitution so that it will conform to what he believes is God’s Law.
As RightWingWatch reported, the congressman appeared on a right-wing radio show hosted by Steve Deace and,
Huelskamp accused the justices of trying to “rewrite the Constitution” and of attacking Jesus Christ himself. “The idea that Jesus Christ himself was degrading and demeaning is what they’ve come down to,” he said.
The congressman agreed with Deace’s charge that the left “has every intention of turning government against the church.” He added that progressive are bent on “ramming their views down the throats of Americans.”
Again, how ironic that a man who, according to his own bio, had “the essentials” of his Catholic faith “instilled” in him “at an early age,” would claim that those who seek equal protection under the law are “ramming their views down the throats of Americans.”
It may be that the issue of homosexual marriage weakens the bond between conservative Christians and the Republican Party, which would not only be good for the party but good for the country. Or it may be that the GOP doubles down on attempts to put the sodomites back in their rightful place, a move that would further alienate the party from young people and others who no longer view homosexuals as sinners worthy of death and additional tax liability.
Whatever happens with the politics, we do know that there are many, many Christians out there who think God is busy figuring out ways to execute judgment on the nation for embracing equality before the law. And apparently he is starting with, of all places, Colorado Springs. Who could have guessed that?
“God,” as William Cowper told us, “moves in a mysterious way.” And if, after all the confessing and repenting and begging that is undoubtedly going on this Sunday in reactionary churches around America, if God doesn’t kill us all, then I, for one, will see that as a sign that Cowper was right:
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.