Let’s start with this lede from a recent NBC News story:
ISIS has released images that appear to show gay men being hurled off buildings and then stoned to death, part of the militants’ self-professed mission to crack down on “sexual deviance.”
That unspeakable horror, committed by people whom President Obama suggested have a “twisted” interpretation of Islam, happened in a land far, far away from Missouri. But let’s look at an event that happened a lot closer, courtesy of a recent article in The Los Angeles Times:
In a move that shocked progressive advocates in Kansas, the state’s Republican governor on Tuesday issued an executive order to remove discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender state employees.
State employees in Kansas can now legally be fired, harassed or denied a job for being gay or transgender, critics said.
Now consider this lede from an article in The Washington Post posted just a few days ago:
The Republican campaign against gay rights continued last week, when Arkansas legislators passed a bill barring local governments from protecting gay people against discrimination.
Lest we Missourians think we are above our neighbors, we’re not. Our state does not have laws that protect people from employment discrimination or public accommodations discrimination that is based on sexual orientation. We have a constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. In so many ways, people who don’t have sex the way evangelicals and other Christians say they should have it are second and third class citizens.
So what is the link between hurling gay people off tall buildings and booting gay people off their jobs? It’s that whole cracking down on “sexual deviance” thing. One way to crack down on the deviance is to kill the deviants. Another is to deprive them of their constitutional rights.
Sure, the tactics used here in America to fight what conservative Christians—just like ISIS and other groups of zealots—call sexual deviance are much, much kinder than the methods used by fanatical psychopaths in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere. We can all see and appreciate the fact that reactionary fundamentalism here in America is expressed much differently than in places controlled by ISIS and other similar hate groups and death cults. Here it is expressed mainly through Republican legislators and governors. But make no mistake about it: we are talking about the oppression of people based on their sexual orientation. And we should admit that although the methods of oppression are thankfully different, the roots from which such oppression grows are remarkably the same.
ISIS is obviously making a show of killing homosexuals and has a “rationale” for doing so. As The Advocate puts it:
By “clamping down on sexual deviance,” ISIS says it will save the Muslim world from the “downward spiral” of morality that the West has allegedly suffered since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
When I was an evangelical I heard that same sentiment about the “downward spiral” of morality expressed countless times. Here is how the so-called Traditional Values Coalition puts it:
The Bible clearly condemns all sexual behaviors outside of marriage between one man and one woman. Homosexual behavior is explicitly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments as an abomination and a violation of God’s standards for sexuality. We oppose the normalization of sodomy as well as cross-dressing and other deviant sexual behaviors in our culture.
Often, our brand of religious reactionaries also tie such “normalization” to the ’60s. Here are a few excerpts from a Conservapedia article on “Moral decline“:
The decade of the 1960’s would begin the most dramatic moral change in America’s history…The rejection of Biblical and traditional sexual laws and promotion of sexual promiscuity and homosexuality would result in a greatly increased incidence of infectious diseases and premature death, with a half million of Americans dead because of AIDS.
You get the idea. Bad things happen when you don’t follow God’s way. In fact, that is the whole reason the infamous Westboro Baptist Church exists: to warn people of what will happen if they continue to accept or embrace Bible-condemned behavior. That particular group of haters says it will be at the Academy Awards in a few days:
WBC will picket the Oscars at Dolby Theater to remind this nation that God hates your idols! america [sic] has turned the Hollywood scene into one of her favorite idols. Shame on you! We will warn you to flee from the show business perversion machine that embraces sinful filth at every level including promoting such abominations as fag marriage. You play with fire when you allow such base men to lead you down the path of destruction, just as they did in the days of Noah…Instead of worshiping men, you should be spending your time and energy obeying your God! Cast down these idols and OBEY TODAY! Repent or Perish!
As I said, at least these American religious fanatics aren’t throwing the “fags” off buildings and pounding them with rocks if they survive the fall. But their theological justification for picketing the Oscars or discriminating against homosexuals in the workplace or refusing them the rite of matrimony is exactly the same.