Friday, April 11, 2008
What I Have Been Reading...
I just got finished reading the most fascinating book -- Religion Gone Bad by Mel White. In short, this book discusses the way in which the fundamentalist evangelical movement in this country as it stands today, has hijacked Christianity and is a very real threat to gays everywhere. I would attempt to go into great detail, discussing each aspect of this book, but there is no way that I could do that that the author has not done so much more eloquently. So I will submit a short synopsis.
Dr. White states that the real problem lies with the "fundamentalist" Christians, but it would help to understand what a fundamentalist is to begin with. Simply stated, a fundamentalist is one that seeks to push a single didactic viewpoint on a pluralistic society. This single view being the innerrancy of the Bible - i.e. taking the Bible completely literally. The author takes pains to point out that fundamentalists do not make up all Christians. He states that within every denomination of Christianity today, even the ones primarily populated by fundamentalists, there exist those Christians who display and practically live out the love of Christ for others every day, and do not automatically condemn a person to hell on the basis of same-sex attraction.
The majority of the author's career as a writer has been spent ghost-writing for most of the big Christian players, so he has a unique platform in which to address these issues. He states that these people, these major Christian ministers, were at one time his friends and that they are certainly not hypocites when it comes to their hard nose stance against homosexuality. They really and truly believe that gays are the cause of everything wrong with our society today and the cause for a holy war and they see themselves as the warriors ready to do God's bidding. In fact, some of the major Christian ministers believe that 911 came about as the result of the homosexual lifestyle run amok. The author provides a fascinating history of fundamentalism primarily through brief introductions to the major fundamentalist players on the field today -- Jerry Falwell (who at the time of publication was still amongst the living),T. W. Chriswell, Pat Robertson, James Kennedy, Francis Shaeffer, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, whom I find to be the most particularly frightening. I found it most interesting that the one major Christian player that the author does not have a problem with is Billy Graham. He talks about how Graham loves homosexuals and how he refuses to speak for God on subjects like who is getting into heaven.
He speaks on subjects like "absolute values" and how fundamentalists have come to attack fellow Christians if their viewpoints are not aligned exactly with theirs -- in this case if a fellow Christian is "soft" on gays. He goes on to show how fundamentalism has worked its way into the political arena and how most of the players are attempting to make the US a "Christian" nation. According to White, the fundamentalist will not rest until the separation of church and state is done away with.
Coming from a strong fundamentalist background myself, I can honestly say that I have seen first-hand this happening in my church and in the churches I have attended in the past. Congregations are constantly preached to and bombarded about the evils of homosexuality. You know the saying...if you say it long enough, you will begin to believe it. Not only do people believe it, but I have found that the vast majority of church-goers (at least the ones I have come in contact with) are rarely thinking individuals. Most are perfectly happy being told what to believe without bothering to question it.
Also, I live in the South, where anti-gay sentiment is very prevalent. This book was not only eye-opening but frightening as well. I would encourage every gay American to read it as we are the ones who stand to loose what rights we already have not to mention the ones that we are still fighting for. If you are interested, it can easily be found on Amazon in the used section for a lot less than the retail price.