Religious extremists a one-trick pony

By |2006-03-16T09:00:00-05:00March 16th, 2006|Uncategorized|

Religious extremists may pose the greatest threat to civil rights in the United States since the Red Scares of the 1950s. And while they try to restrict the rights of all Americans, nowhere have they been more successful than in their efforts to make civil life miserable for LGBTs.
However, something tells us here at BTL that the so-called Religious Right may have reached its undeserved peak.
Why is that, you ask?
Because religious extremists are a one-trick pony.
And that one trick has become boring, indeed.
Let’s take a look at their track record. The right’s “boycott of the month” against American corporations has been almost universally unsuccessful. So what are they doing? That’s right – the American Family Association has called for another boycott, this one against Ford Motor Co. Again. Read all about it in this issue.
And, of course, we have the most honest anti-LGBT bigot of them all, Fred Phelps. This week we report that Phelps’ group was in Michigan, once again protesting the funeral of an American soldier killed in Iraq.
Now, all Phelps’ group has managed to do is to get laws passed against protesting at funerals – oh, and help LGBT organizations raise a lot of money, by taking pledges for every minute that their small group appears at a protest. They’ve also probably done more to cast the entire anti-LGBT right in their true colors before the eyes of fair-minded people than any number of heart-warming stories about LGBT families.
But has Phelps changed his tactics? Of course not. To which we collectively must say, “Thanks, Rev. Phelps, for all you’ve done for us.”
The AFA and the Westboro Baptist Church aren’t the only right-wing groups whose tricks have gone stale. Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts, alarmed that children might face the agony of loving, stable, same-sex parents rather than the joy of remaining in foster care or an orphanage, have decided that their social service organization will stop placing children for adoption rather than comply with Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law.
Thus, the “Gays are BAD!” one-trick pony that the Catholic Church’s hierarchy has been riding into the ground for decades is still running – all over children.
Now, let’s contrast the “Right’s” record, which by now has worn through its groove and is attacking the turntable it sits on, with the creativity of the LGBT community and our allies.
On page 11 we tell you about Triangle Foundation’s annual ComedyFest, the largest comedy event in Michigan. Because laughter is the shortest route to salvation from fundamentalism, as well as being the best revenge. On page 9 we revisit the Equality Riders, who have taken a page from the best of the Civil Rights movement and are using it to speak truth to the hypocrisy that stands for Christianity and public policy at some of the nation’s Christian universities and at our military academies. PFLAG is holding a state meeting soon to come up with even more creative ways of getting the pro-equality message across. Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center is featuring young artists in its Pittman-Puckett art gallery, and the Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project is doing so well that it’s moving into new, larger quarters in Ann Arbor’s Braun Court.
On the national front, the First Amendment Center has brokered a truce between GLSEN and a group of Christian educators. The result? Guidelines to encourage respect for everyone’s rights in our nation’s schools.
As for Phelps’ appearance in Michigan, they were greeted by a group of freedom and American-loving motorcycle riders, civic groups and LGBTs, all opposed to their message of hatred. There’s nothing like an appearance by the Westboro group to bring people together who wouldn’t normally meet, now is there?
The community of fair-minded people, LGBT and straight alike, is not only far larger than the community of extremists who seek to oppress us. We are also more creative, more flexible, more willing to work across traditional boundaries and more adaptable to the times. Oh – and we’re also on the side of both justice and history. And together we will put that poor, tired right-wing pony out to pasture.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.