Friday, May 02, 2008

Scapegoating gays and lesbians

According to reliable reports, the Chicago church of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright welcomes gay and lesbian parishioners. It is therefore somewhat unfortunate that Clyde Haberman in today's NY Times should link Wright's references to disaster to the notorious homophobic remarks of several rightwing pastors.

Pat Robertson remarked that 9/11 came about as a result of America's tolerance of "abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians." His remarks were echoed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who has since been called to his maker.

Rev. John C. Hagee is a controversial televangelist who regards the Catholic church as the "Great Whore of Babylon." These comments have caused John McCain, whom Hagee supports, some discomfort. Apparently, though, the Senator from Arizona is not having any trouble with Hagee's claim that God sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans to punish the city for hosting a thriving gay and lesbian culture.

To be sure this kind of scapegoating has been noted before. What all the commentators leave out, however, is the fact that the argument goes all the way back to the emperor Justinian (527-565), who held that tolerance of same-sex behavior caused God to visit earthquakes on his realm. Stop the behavior, he believed, and the earthquakes would cease.

In a general sense these views reflect the Biblical pattern of the Prophet Jonah, who was thrown overboard to avoid shipwreck. More specific to homosexuality are the repeated denunciations in the Hebrew Bible of the male sacred prostitution of the kedeshim, an activity that was thought to incur Yahweh's displeasure. (I am aware that a recent revisionist school claims that the kedeshim did not engage in sex; I find this assertion unconvincing.)


Post a Comment

<< Home