I wouldn’t own up to enjoying Broadway plays, Cher, Madonna, or Judy Garland if I lived in North Carolina. (Actually, out of the four, I’m pretty keen on Broadway plays, myself.) I certainly wouldn’t admit to enjoying Will and Grace or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
The past few weeks have been a heyday for the anti-gay in that state. First it was Pastor Ron Baity who suggested that laws criminalizing homosexuality when our nation was founded should still be in force – and enforced. Then Pastor Tim Rabon explained how allowing homosexuals to be married would lead to laws that permitted bestiality. Not to be outdone, Pastor Sean Harris instructed any father who saw his son with a ‘limp wrist’ should, as he put it, ‘crack that wrist’. In another sermon, he seemed to think a punch in the face would be effective as well.
This week we have the Rev. Charles Worley, who wants a piece of the anti-gay action too, suggesting that gays and lesbians be placed in what sounds like concentration camps surrounded by electric fences. If you haven’t seen this snippet of his ‘sermon’, have a look.
These four men (I want to call them the Four Horsemen of the No-cock-or-lisp - is that too irreverent?) are only saying what many in their churches already think – that homosexuality is a sin against God. And, I suppose, they have a right to say that – but not a right to suggest beating and imprisoning people who don’t conform to their religious beliefs.
I said once before that the gay marriage issue was not one that I felt strongly about one way or another; but every time a Charles Worley speaks, I tend to become more in favor of letting people do what they want as long as they’re not bothering anyone else. I don’t think guys like Harris and Worley should win the day.
But I don’t have to be in support of gay marriage or alternative lifestyles in general to be offended by Mr. Worley; he offends me on a number of levels.
I’m offended by his obvious pride in his good-old-boy brand of ignorance. He’s not ‘against’ homosexuality, he’s ‘agin’ it. Now he certainly knows how to pronounce the word correctly – perhaps in his day, a North Carolina school teacher cracked his wrist for mispronunciations such as these, or at least made him stand in a corner. I attended public schools in the South, and I can assure you that English teachers there, like anywhere else, teach people what’s correct and what isn’t. But Mr. Worley is making a statement with this kind of speech. He’s identifying himself with the anti-education strain that threads its way through religious circles. To sound educated is to be suspect in his group – everyone knows that real knowledge comes from God. You may think I’m making to big of a deal out of this, but I’ve lived in the South, and I grew up in Southern Pentecostal churches. And I know preachers who pander to the uneducated when they know better.
I’m offended that he called the President of the United States a ‘baby-killer’. Where’s the proof of this? I know he’s referring to the abortion issue, but there’s no logic to follow here. When did President Obama – his wife or previous girlfriends – ever have an abortion? I thought to be guilty of something, there had to be some evidence of a willful act. (Don’t get me started about children being killed by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – if you want to call a POTUS a baby-killer for initiating military conflicts – well, you’d have to put a lot of names on that list.) Wouldn’t you have to somehow personally be involved in aborting a fetus before you can be called a baby-killer?
Are we talking the sin of omission here? Because the President doesn’t overturn Roe v Wade, he’s guilty by omission – that must be the point. But if that were true, then we’d all be guilty of infanticide. If you have never been a war protester, you would be, by proxy, a baby-killer. If you have never sent Sally Struthers a check to feed those poor kids on the late night TV ads, you are a baby-killer by omission.
I’m offended that he calls the President a ‘homosexual lover’ – whatever that is. President Obama has made it clear that he has struggled with the idea of gay marriage, torn between the teaching of his Christian upbringing and his belief in the rights of the individual. To attempt to slander a person because they are working through a complex issue is insulting; because he doesn’t agree with Mr. Worley’s narrow-minded point of view, he’s subjected to taunting epithets.
I’m offended that Mr. Worley gets to promote his political views – whom he thinks we should vote for, what legislation we should oppose – yet continues to enjoy his tax-exempt status. If he uses his pulpit as the mouthpiece of a specific political group, his church should pay tax. I’m beginning to think that all churches should be taxed on any non-charitable income.
I’m offended from a Christian point of view that Mr. Worley offers no scriptural references to support his doctrine. If he really follows the Bible and believes it is God’s word, why doesn’t he share with us what the Bible has to say about homosexuality? In truth, because it doesn’t say very much. In the few places where it does condemn homosexuality, it also says a lot of other things that most Christians just wouldn’t agree with, like bans on eating all shellfish or killing children by stoning when they disrespect their parents. It’s difficult as a pastor to open up the book of Leviticus and tell people to follow this scripture to the letter – but don’t pay any attention to those other verses in the same book. Wouldn’t want to look hypocritical.
One reader took offense when I said I hadn’t heard a sermon on gluttony in a long time – and it was obvious that churchfolk were struggling with this sin at least as much as they were with latent homosexual feelings. Mr. Worley and the other pastors may or may not be struggling with the fear of their own homosexual tendencies – a la Ted Haggard – but it’s not too hard to see the results of over-eating. I read today that one-third of American are obese – including homeless people! Wouldn’t anti-gluttony make for a good sermon as well? Or how about one of the six other deadly sin? Why is it that fat, lazy, vain-glorious people (all three in the deadly category) want to point a finger at others who are struggling with only one deadly sin, lust, if that?
I’m offended that Mr. Worley and others get to preach in the luxurious surroundings I see on the video, subsidized by you and I, while the buildings in which we hope to educate the next generation of Americans are falling apart. He gets a cathedral from which to spew his nonsense for a few hours a week, while elementary school teachers toil away 50-60 hours a week in rundown buildings.
Finally, I’m offended by the lack of Christian love. What ever happened to ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’. Would Mr. Worley suggest than any other kind of sinner be put behind electrified wire and allowed to die out? Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer – yet many conservatives hoped he might be the next president. Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin – seriously, concentration camps? And aren’t we supposed to pray for our political leaders instead of calling them names?
Homophobia isn’t the only problem with North Carolina’s brand of Christianity.