We’re coming up on a year of marriage equality.The world has changed. My world, has changed. Many people’s lives were changed. Those who are gay, their world changed for the better. Those who aren’t gay. Their lives didn’t change at all. Their marriages are still together – one would assume. Their families are still together- one would assume. All the chicken little sky’s a’ fallin’, rhetoric hasn’t come to pass. Much to the religious right’s chagrin. And recently, the Obama administration came out in support of the Transgender community – now that the eye of the religious right has moved from us and upon them. Mostly, with the same old recycled things that they once said – and to the most part- continue to say about gay people.
The lives of gay people and the transgendered community coming into their own, is symbolic. It’s symbolic of humanity stepping forward in one instance, and it’s symbolic of the hold of the religious right’s influence on this world – breaking apart and crumbling. And it isn’t going to go easily. Right now, 11 States (republican states I may add) are suing the Obama administration over the Federal Directive for Transgendered student’s bathroom use. Because of course they are. In the 1980’s the religious right and the conservative party entered into an unholy matrimony with one another – that not only was detrimental to the AFrican American population but also with anyone who found themselves in the category of ‘other’. And in this instance it is anyone ‘other’ than white, male, and straight. And there are still some religious strongholds.
Frank Schaffer, one of the founders of this religious movement as well as this wedding between the conservative base and fundamental evangelicals- has come out in full force against what he says he, ‘bitterly regrets’. I had recently read his book, “Why I am an Atheist who believes in God” and some of you here have seen him on Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal, helping her explain how this dastardly mix of fundamentalism and political ambition came to be. And I applaud him. He doesn’t mince words. He’s pretty blunt about who and what these people were and the damage that they’ve done to people who found themselves in the ‘other’ category.So often we hear on the news about Islamic fundamentalism. We saw it played out on September 11, 2001, we see it all the time on Fox News as they zero into the Middle EAst where fundamentalism has hijacked Islam. We saw it play out in London. And most recently at the Bataclan in Paris. And when we think of fundamentalism we think about these groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and we all sit in shocked silence at what it’s capable of. But we’ve not, until recently, started to look inward at a country whose been under the political sway of fundamentalism for the past thirty five – forty years. But we are beginning to. It’s beginning to happen as the rhetorical flourish of the far right becomes heightened, as they become more extreme in their actions, and as people like Frank Schaffer come forward to speak.You are going to learn or have learned some of the movers and shakers of this movement.
Just like Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Al Awlaki, etc and so forth names have been thrown out into the social consciousness or reintroduced into the social consciousness. Names like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones Sr., Oral Roberts, Jack Hyles, Lester Roloff ( Rebekah homes in Corpus Christi), Dr. David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association, Dr. Curtis Hudson (Sword of the Lord Publishers), Jack Patterson (New Bethany homes- a protege of Roloff) etc and so forth – men, who for the most part, created this political, familial, and social black hole of absolutism, rhetorical flourish, control, misogyny, and any and all forms of abuse that can be thought of. The past thirty five to forty years as been a new dark ages when one takes a long view at the falling backward of rights concerning ‘other’. Gay Marriage has only succeeded in pushing forward, as well, as trans issues because of the loosening of the hold of these men and men like them, over the body politic of this country. And over time, these names are going to come to light and historians are going to have to deal with them.But there are other stories to be heard. And not just from people like Frank Shaffer or those minorities (black, hispanic, gay, women) as a whole who’d been directly affected by this unholy union of power and religion, but you’re going to begin (hopefully) to start to hear from people who lived under the direct influence of these men. Whose lives were directly impacted by absolutism.
Now that Pope Francis, and even several secular scientists – have come forward calling fundamentalism a mental illness (and one they contend can be treated if not cured), the question now is what do you with those who had been inside families of these mentally ill people for extended lengths of time. Mostly, I’m talking about the children, the survivors, of these homes and indirectly- these men who practiced what they preached.A friend shared a blog post and a lot of other people have been circulating a blog post from some preacher admonishing these far right pastors for their behavior – and of course you’ve seen preachers show up to campuses, you’ve seen them outside of abortion clinics screaming at woman and workers, you’ve known they’ve sent amicus to the courts, and recently you saw a video where one walked through target with her bible screaming at the top of her lungs about transgendered bathrooms. But you’ve only caught a whiff of it. A hint of the sewage. Imagine being that woman’s children, imagine being the children of someone like Fred Phelps, imagine being directly involved with that amount of religious passionate fervor on a daily basis.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris gave a Ted Talk (follow here) recently about ACES – or Adverse Childhood Experiences (abuse :sexual, physical, mental, emotional, a mentally ill parent, etc) and essentially made it clear, that the higher your ACES score ( My score is an 8) – the higher your risk for chronic disease such as: Lung cancer, heart disease, chronic pulmonary lung disease, depression, and suicidality. “…With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent. “http://mbcc.mt.gov/…/Now%20that%20you’ve%20got%20your%20sco…Now when some people think about abuse they think about drug users, alcoholics, low income earners, sort of “those people” in “those areas” but the evidence doesn’t bear that out. Out of the 17,000 people tested they were all white, middle class – upper class, college educated people with health care through Kaiser- permanente.These children, these survivors, their lives are already statistically shortened. I think we need to start hearing from them. Because as this all starts to unravel, as the powers that be are forced apart from their religious donors and voting base – I think you’re going to find a terrible truth this country has been hiding for forty years. A lot of things have changed over the past year – and I think a lot of things are going to be changing from here on out.