Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Influential Southern Baptist Pastor And Perry Supporter Claims Gays Brainwashing America

Pastor Robert Jeffress recently claimed that gay people are trying to brainwash Americans.

So being sympathetic human beings that others can laugh or sympathize with is actually a nefarious plot to brainwash people via desensitization? And telling the true story of a man who was fired for contracting HIV is somehow manipulative? Jeffress' paranoid idea of "jamming" is also rather silly. It's interesting how when it suits them anti-gay activists talk about what an astonishingly small minority gay people supposedly are, yet then they turn around and claim that we have somehow taken over the media and are forcing people to dislike them. The reality is that public opinions of queer people have been rapidly changing for over two decades and have now shifted in our favor. Gay people haven't forced anything on anyone, the public has simply begun to change their minds.

Of course anything Jeffress says about queer people ought to be taken with a grain of salt given some of his other comments...

The report Jeffress is referring to of course was not a study of married gay couples (marriage was not legalized in the nation until two years after the study ended). Jim Burroway breaks down the details over at Box Turtle Bulletin, but here's the point:
So, what do we have? We have a study population that was heavily weighted with HIV/AIDS patients, excluded monogamous participants, was predominantly urban, and consisted only of those under the age of thirty. While this population was good for the purposes of the study, it was in no way representative of Amsterdam’s gay men, let alone gay men anywhere else.
When an anti-gay pastor cites the Dutch study I always have to wonder if they are aware of the problems with generalizing from such a study. Are they simply unaware of any interpretation other than the one anti-gay activists have proffered (like, you know, that of the authors)? Or do they fully realize what they are doing and simply don't care. In my experience Southern Baptists tend to hold themselves to a higher moral and ethical standard, so I would certainly hope that Jeffress was not knowingly being deceptive when he made these comments.

And if his comments about gay people don't give you pause, have a look at what Jeffress believes about the Catholic Church.

And of course if Jeffress thinks gays and Catholics are Satanic, then Jews, Mormons and Muslims are are certainly on their way to eternal fire as well.

And last but not least, it would seem that Jeffress also believes the First Amendment only applies to Christians.
Since God is not an American, there is no reason to think He has a particular affinity for our ideas about the separation of church and state. Nevertheless, although the First Amendment guarantees the right of every American to worship however they choose, it does not require government to provide a stone monument to facilitate that worship - even if the same government provides a chapel for Christians. 
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, the founder of Harvard Law School, wrote in his highly regarded commentary on the Constitution: "The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less advance, Islam or Judaism or any other infidelity by prostrating Christianity but to exclude rivalry between Christian denominations."
I wonder of if Jeffress is aware of religious rights laws and policies that require the military to accommodate any and all reasonable religious requests. I'd have to imagine that designating a circle of stones on a hill as an area for pagans to worship is about as reasonable a request as could be made.

It saddens me that so many Christians have taken Jeffress' approach to heart, believing that being a Christian means restricting the rights of everyone who is not. While people like Jeffress may not be calling for traditional theocracy, they are clearly calling for the state to sponsor Christianity as a sort of official religion with special rights and privileges.

I know there are a lot of great, intelligent and spirit-filled people in the SBC. And even though many of them may take anti-gay positions, I'd like to think they can at least see the rest of this man's craziness for what it is.