A few days ago an old friend in Ohio told me how happy he was that (unlike me) he still lives in the USA. I told him I am happy he is happy. “Unlike you, over there in Europe,” he said, “we don’t have to worry about Muslim fanatics.” I told him I didn’t worry about them either but that if I were living in the States right now, especially with the selection of presidential candidates in full swing, I would be more concerned about Christian fanatics. Well that launched a heated discussion that I don’t care to narrate here…. (But we remain good friends.)
Case in point: The National Religious Liberties Conference, organized by conservative Christian radio pastor Kevin Swanson, was held this past week in Des Moines, Iowa. An array of far right activists were present, like representatives from Christian Patriarchy and Christian Reconstructionism.
Swanson strongly supports the hardline Christian Reconstructionist position that the death penalty for gay people is just. He said it’s ok to attend a gay couple’s wedding, only if one carries a sign telling them they should be put to death. Strange observations. Swanson gave an emotional cry about the United States, insisting “America needs to hear the message. We are messed up.” His examples: the Girl Scouts are dangerous, because their cookies “promote lesbianism.” Flooding and fires in Colorado were the result of “decadent homosexual activity” and women wearing pants; and of course hurricanes Sandy and Katrina were divine punishments of “pro-homosexual” cities. Referring to transgender people, and citing Deuteronomy 22:5, he called men wearing women’s clothing “an abomination.” Pastor Swanson also stressed that cannibalism and vampirism are increasingly acceptable. Was he speaking about contemporary America or his own Halloween fantasies?
Nevertheless, three GOP candidates – Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee – saw this National Religious Liberties Conference as a key opportunity to put their faith on display. (Other Republican candidates were invited but declined to attend.) “Christians are under physical assault all over the world and Christian values are under assault right here at home,” warned Bobby Jindal. “Four more years of these radical left policies, we won’t even recognize our country anymore.” Stressing that a U.S. President must fear God, Ted Cruz stressed “Any president who doesn’t begin everyday on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief.” Ok fine. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister noted for his evangelical views, told the just under two thousand conference participants that, thanks to President Obama, “Our religious liberties are under assault.”
These three presidential hopefuls (whose chances of making it to the White House, I think, rather slim) jumped at the chance to speak at Swanson’s two-day conference. Do they really resonate with many of Swanson’s extreme ideas and those of other conference speakers?
A selection — of other positions expressed at the conference:
The Rose Bowl parade would be much better with a float where gay people get stoned to death.
Natural disasters in Colorado were likely caused by gay people and women in pants.
The movie Frozen makes kids gay.
Gay people deserve the death penalty.
Gay people are like serial killers.
American Christian fundamentalist fanatics are scary people. So much of their rhetoric resonates with the National Socialism of the 1930s and 1940s over here in Europe. Televangelist Pat Robertson said last week that gay people in the United States should be forced to wear specially-colored clothing so that, in his words, “regular people would know that the person wearing the said color is a deviant sodomite and that they need to stay away from them at all cost, as well as keep their children away from their reach.”
Right now I think Christian fanatics are more of a threat to the USA than the Muslim variety…..
NB: Please note. I am not condemning conservative Christians. I am speaking-out against those who claim the name Christian but have absolutely no understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ!