A bevy of rightwing Christian conservatives met at The Awakening conference at Liberty University this past weekend to map out their war on this teeny-tiny minority that apparently has the power to subvert all of Christendom. (The religious right has been touting a new report that they believe says only 1.7 percent of the population is gay or lesbian.)
The first order of business was decided to stop painting the LGBT community as so darn happy — so the word “gay” is out. Instead, the new in-words to describe the community are such unwieldy and bumpersticker unfriendly phrases as “same-sex attraction,” “same-sex intercourse,” “sodomy,” and “unnatural vice.” (Didn’t Don Johnson star in that?)
The dark horse in the new name calling sweepstakes is my favorite one, though: “anti-Christian.” All those pro-gay straight Christians are really going to be shocked to learn that their support of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters puts them at odds with — well, wait, no they won’t be shocked at all. Not any more shocked than I am that this crowd denies the existence of the many gay and lesbian Christians who go to church each Sunday (and perhaps on Wednesdays and whenever the church is open).
The good news here is that “gay” is apparently no longer a strong enough slur that a completely new frame is having to be set for the debate. But “unnatural vice” just doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue like “gay.” In addition, “unnatural vice” would seem to be too broad a category. I know plenty of straight people who have some “unnatural vices” of their own, like, perhaps, calling long meetings to plan out how best to demonize other human beings. Remember, it was Paul who told the Ephesians to put away all “bitterness and wrath and anger and slander” and to be “tenderhearted” with others (Ephesians 4:31-32).
No matter, because that massive 1.7 percent of the population is going to be the ruination of a religious right’s person to be a homophobe.
“What are going to be the rights of we homophobes?” asked one audience member — who tried to make it clear she was being sarcastic, but that really is the heart of the matter for anti-gay Christians. They are truly afraid that teeny minority of people may take away their right to tell gays and lesbians that God will send them to hell for all eternity — out of love, mind you.
But, then again, anti-gay Evangelicals have a right to be afraid.
After all, researchers say the actual number of Evangelicals may well be “as small as 7 percent of the total adult population.” Which means Evangelicals know just how effective a small number of people can be at taking away the rights of other people. They just want to be the only minority with the power to do that.