This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness. Many of you are familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.
I’m going to have a rant here because there’s a huge raft of homophobia that I’m constantly seeing that I am beyond sick of. It’s a form of apologism that constantly denies and excuses homophobia – the idea that Christian homophobia only exists in fringe churches.
I am tired of the “fundamentalist” derailment/deception/apologism I am seeing . I am tired of people pretending that homophobia in Christianity only exists on the fringes. I am tired of people using these words and phrases to pretend that the hatred only lies on the extreme edge. I am tired of people pretending that “mainstream” Christianity, “real” Christianity is homophobia free.
The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the vast majority of Protestant denominations and most certainly the Church of England are homophobic. Does “fundamentalist” now include the vast majority of Christianity?
To characterise homophobia as a problem that is limited to “fundamentalist” “right wing” or “extreme” churches is to completely ignore and dismiss homophobia as is practiced by the world’s largest Christian denominations – and the world’s largest religions for that matter. The problem isn’t the Westboro Baptist Church – people know them, hate them and treat them with the contempt they deserve. The problem is the Catholic church whose rhetoric is scarcely less hateful (if, in fact, it is less hateful at all – the Pope has just declared us a threat to the future of humanity. Seriously) the problem is the Anglican church which is a major force against our every attempt at equality in the UK and world wide has its fingers deeply in the GBLT genocide. The problem is religious charities like the Salvation Army are continually expected to fulfill the gaps of our endlessly waning social services while at the same time being massive forces of bigotry.
By denying that these mainstream churches are homophobic, you are saying that their policies are ok, not bigoted. So fighting against our right to exist, fighting to keep us criminalised (arrested, imprisoned, tortured and murdered) is not homophobic. Fighting against discrimination laws, against our right to be treated as full citizens is not homophobic. Fighting against hate speech and hate crime laws, against our right not to be abused, is not homophobic.
It’s all homophobic. And it’s all supported by mainstream Christian churches. And when you deny that these churches are homophobic, you deny their actions are homophobic. You support and justify homophobia.
I’m sick of the distractions. I’m sick of people excusing homophobia by constantly using these buzz words – “fundamentalist” “right wing” “extreme” “so-called Christians” – to deflect and distract attention so they can pretend that it is a fringe issue. Meanwhile the homophobic churches they empower continue to try to ruin our lives.
And yes, they empower. The Pope has a special seat at the UN. When he shows up in a country there are crowds hailing him. Word leaders listen to him. This is a man whose rhetoric is scarcely that much more moderate than Fred Phelps or Stephen Green. If he weren’t who he was, he wouldn’t even be allowed in this country for the hate speech he espouses. The bigotry of his church is used to fight our rights across most of the globe and we are demonised by this church constantly. Whenever I do a bad news round up? The Catholic church will be there, holding the flames of hatred high.
And why? Why does this man have this much power? Why does this man have the ability to spread such evil unchecked and unchallenged? Because there are 1.18 billion Catholics in the world. Those 1.18 billion people Catholics give him that power. Without those 1.18 billion Catholics he is just a hateful man with odd taste in clothes. Just as the huge number of Anglicans in the UK are the reason why we still have bishops in the House of Lords and the bigoted Anglican church still has so much influence to push homophobia.
And, I can see it now “I want to change it from within” well, I doubt that will happen, I really do – but assuming for a second you really are – how does anyone expect to change these homophobic churches if you don’t even acknowledge their homophobia? If you’re constantly distracting to the “so-called Christians” if you dismiss the homophobes as “fundamentalist” if you wave the Westboro Baptist church as the example of Christian bigotry then how are you going to really fight and challenge the homophobia of your own church? How do you combat what you refuse to see and what you fiercely try to stop the rest of us seeing?
And I’m not saying you should leave your churches now or you’re a bigot. I say that your membership of these churches supports and empowers homophobia, but there are likely other reasons why those churches are important to you that outweigh that in your eyes – and I’m not going to dismiss them. But nor should we ignore that these churches are homophobic and it is empowering homophobia – and the constant pushing of “fundamentalist” and “extreme” and “so-called Christian” will not fix that – it defends the homophobia, it distracts from it and, in doing so, it empowers it. In short, pretending mainstream Christianity doesn’t have a major homophobia problem acts to create and support yet more homophobia. It’s further empowerment and justification of homophobia and yet another way religion is a weapon against us.
So, you want to change your churches? You really want to combat homophobia? Drop the “fundamentalist.” Shelve the “so-called” Christian. Stop pretending only the fringe churches are bigoted, stop excusing and justifying the bigotry of the mainstream church. You don’t fight bigotry by fighting to protect it or by raising straw men to attack. And while I’m all for throwing rocks at the Westboro’s, oh yes I am, perhaps you need to cast an eye on your own pulpits and ask how different they are.