Message to Anti-Gay Pastors: Double Down

Double down and be very afraid. That was the message to pastors during a conference call today by an attorney from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the right-wing outfit of attorneys that represented Protect Marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court over California’s Proposition 8.

The conference call, held by Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a program created by Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, Calif., featured ADF attorney Joe La Rue outlining the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and returning the Prop 8 case to California.

The call, ostensibly, was about the next steps that ADF would be taking in California to again ban marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Steps, which, La Rue admitted are hard to determine—they are still “studying” the issue to figure out what they can do.

In the meantime, La Rue told pastors, they should double down on their anti-gay preaching… while they can.

“The Word of God says that Christ died for homosexual people and we have got to preach that,” La Rue said with passion in his voice.

“They are sinners who can be saved. We need to preach that you, too, can be born again. We also need to preach what God’s word says about homosexual behavior. It is a sin. It is immoral. It violates God’s will and it is a counterfeit of marriage. Remember, marriage is a picture of the mystery of Christ in the church which is why Satan wants to destroy it.”

After preaching the gospel of doubling down on their anti-gay rhetoric, he turned to fearmongering, telling pastors that LGBT activists don’t really want marriage equality at all.

“What our opponents are after is a world in which every authority or every institution that opposes them bows to them,” said La Rue.

Funny, that’s what I thought the religious right was after.

But, wait, there’s more.

“When they achieve same sex marriage the next step will be to achieve a state where no church can refuse to host a same-sex marriage and no pastor can refuse to perform one,” LaRue said.  

Which completely ignores the law in California, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown just last year that “reaffirms the freedom of clergy to make faith-based decisions regarding which marriages they solemnize and clarifies that those decisions have no bearing on tax-exempt status.”

But, let us never let the facts get in the way of a good, fear-inducing, screed.

Indeed, what this conference call reveals is that the religious right is running out of time to prevent full inclusion of LGBT people in society, and they realize their legal options to prevent LGBT people from gaining their full rights are truly quite limited.

It’s never pretty to watch anyone going through death throes as they cling to long-held beliefs that have been proven to be at odds with the march of history toward equality and justice.  

However, La Rue did make one salient point that those of us continuing the fight for full equality for LGBT people would do well to remember. In vacating the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Proposition 8, the Supreme Court struck down that court’s ruling that when you give a class of people a right, you cannot turn around and take it away.

“What that means is that if the Christian people in New York state or in one of the other states that recognize same-sex marriage realize they don’t want it anymore, they can change their law,” La Rue said.

That’s a very good point. As we celebrate the victories from the Supreme Court this past week, we also must remember that all progress is subject to regress. We can never rest on our laurels and must be vigilant to defend the progress we’ve made. Which means those of us in support of marriage equality must also double down, despite our fears. 

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)