The Marriage Equality Debate: We Need More Constitution And Less Leviticus
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 10:20:13 AM EST

It's almost Halloween, so I guess it's not surprising that some of the rhetoric by opponents of marriage equality is getting very scary.

Consider this gem by Pastor Robert J. Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md. Speaking of gay people, Anderson said: "Those who practice such things are deserving of death."

Maryland is one of four states that will vote on marriage equality next month. Anderson made the comments during a town hall meeting. He quoted from the Book of Romans and opined that if Maryland voters approve same-sex marriage "then we are approving those things that are worthy of death."

Not surprisingly, there was a strong reaction to this.

"Such rancid comments have absolutely no place in this debate," Sultan Shakir of Marylanders for Marriage Equality said in a media statement.

Anderson has posted a statement on his church's website insisting that he does not support acts of violence against gay people. I found it less than enlightening, especially this passage: "The statements in Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:32 (KJV) can stand for themselves. The Bible is very clear on the subject of homosexuality, and I do not need to apologize for God's word, but I do want to be perfectly clear that I am not promoting violence, bullying, or hatred toward homosexuals and neither is God."

So, passages in the Old and New Testaments calling for the death of gay people can "stand for themselves" - yet we're to believe that this fundamentalist doesn't intend to follow them? People like Anderson often assert that they want to build a "godly" or a "biblical" society. So which parts of the Bible does he plan to impose on us?

Christian Reconstructionists, the most extreme manifestation of the Religious Right, openly embrace theocracy and believe that America's legal code should be based on the Old Testament. They would mandate the death penalty not just for gays but for adulterers, blasphemers, practitioners of "witchcraft," worshippers of "false gods," fornicators and others.

The Reconstructionists are dangerous extremists, but at least they're honest enough to put their agenda right out there for all of us to see.

As a resident of Maryland, I have followed this debate very closely. It has at times driven me to despair. For example, readers of a weekly newspaper in my area have been arguing about what the Bible actually says about homosexuality.

One week a fundamentalist will insist that the Bible condemns it. The following week, someone else will write in to insist that those passages have been misinterpreted or wrenched from their historical context.

No one seems to grasp that all of this proof texting is irrelevant. It's precisely because people can't agree on the meaning of those biblical passages that we don't base public policy on the Bible or any other scripture. We look to another source as the platform for our rights: the Constitution.

I don't lay claim to be a biblical scholar, but I know that the Book of Leviticus was written a long time ago for a group of people who lived very differently than we do today.

Leviticus also bans mixing crops in one field, wearing clothes of more than one fiber and the consumption (indeed the very touching) of pigs, among other things. Most Christians today recognize that these laws as outdated and don't follow them.

But even if many Christians were following those laws - and some Reconstructionists claim to do so - that would be nothing but their personal choice. It is never the job of government to enforce religious law. Nothing could be more dangerous.

At the end of the day, I believe this is what opponents of marriage equality want: their faith's definition of marriage written into the civil law for all to follow.  Whether they cite Romans, Leviticus or papal decrees is irrelevant. They are seeking to base our laws, which believers of every stripe and non-believers must follow, on religious doctrines held by some.

That's a wedding of church and state, and I hope that voters in Maryland - and other states - understand what's at stake next month.

Has anyone wrote a letter to the editor stating what you just said... that because there is so much controversy over the meanings of the words, that they cannot be used as a basis for law?

That could be said regarding marriage itself, prayer in public places, and many other aspects of the battle in which we are involved.

That's a very powerful argument, and one I intend to start using.  (Thanks for pointing that out!)

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 11:55:00 AM EST

I'm not sure that I'd agree that Christian Reconstructionists are "the most extreme manifestation of the Religious Right" - The New Apostolic Reformation shares much of the Christian Reconstructionist agenda and has, in addition, its distinctive spiritual warfare/spiritual mapping ideological that can be used to demonize perceived opponents. I think even some of the CR crowd is now viewing C. Peter Wagner's emerging NAR with some alarm.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 03:42:49 PM EST
Actually Reconstructionists are as low as you can get. Dominionists simply add mystical non-sense to the poisoned brew.

I doubt that a Dominionist would execute you for gathering firewood on the Sabbath as a Reconstructionist would.

Reconstructionists do fear the Apostolic Reformation but only because they believe that they are rushing things so fast that they could (will) provoke a bloodbath.

Dominionists' timeline to takeover can be measured in years while Reconstructionists think in terms of decades - a slower, more measured conquest.

by Villabolo on Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 07:36:12 PM EST
Around here, the reconstructionists aren't nearly as bad as the NAR, and from my point of view the difference is "With tongues and miracles" vs "Without".  The "with" bunch have added in some new twists that ARE really new (early Christians and the Jews of Jesus' time didn't have the mapping/geographic information systems concept that we have today, for instance).  The "without" bunch are more interested in legislating away freedom rather than just taking it.  End goals - identical.

Both are deadly dangerous, and both would kill for doing things they don't agree with, if they could get away with it.  Both are willing to use violence and have been known to do so.

The reconstructionists around here, according to conversations I've had with friends, are a bit less likely to, for instance, declare kitties to be "The Devil's Pet" - like the local Assemblies has done (from reports) and rumor says has been preached in many of the more NAR-leaning churches.  They may not like cats, but from what I've heard (over the years), they're far less likely to preach against them (and stir up violence against cats and kittens).

That's just one example.  

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:21:23 AM EST

"Both are willing to use violence and have been known to do so."

I'm collecting information on the whole Theocratic movement. Could you give me some examples of their use of violence in the US?

by Villabolo on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 06:28:43 PM EST
There have been several examples mentioned here on T2A and on other anti-dominionist and walkaway blogs.

I've mentioned Darla Kay Wynne and David Mullins a few times.  Darla went through far worse than we did, and that because she requested that they use non-sectarian prayers at her town's meetings (she was lucky in that the "Good Christians" went too far and left lots of evidence of their wrongdoing and that it wasn't "an accident or act of God").  David Mullins - they poisoned his dog because of his opposition to the takeover of the Air Force Academy (luckily the vet was able to keep the dog alive).

I've also mentioned what they've done to us - threatened my parents and ordered them to "SHUT HIM UP!" (and four days later someone torched my electronics workshop), poisoned some of our kitties, spraypainted racist hate graffiti in front of our mailbox, stalked us, internet stalked me, harassed us, and when we asked for help - ignored or dismissed as "kids playing pranks" by the police and fire department.  

All of those incidents were in response to letters to the editor opposing their goals.  We learned about the threats to my parents (plus that I'd been preached against by name in at least some of the local megachurches) a little over a week after I'd written a letter to the editor opposing creationism and supporting teaching evolution in the schools - and a few days after that woke to my shop (and all my electronic equipment and parts and inventions and radios) going up in flames.  When we sat down and figured out when our kitties had been poisoned, invariably it happened within a few days after a letter had been published.  The graffiti was about two weeks after another letter.  Some of the other (lesser) incidents were in response to refusing to go along with proselytizers and running them off our property.  We've also caught people sneaking onto our property with oil-covered hands (supposedly to leave tracts on our cars), and I was internet stalked for several months because I said (on a now-defunct progressive Christian blog) that one could be Christian and accept that evolution is fact.  There have been other suspicious things, but since I can't tie them to a specific "Good Christian" or as a response to a letter I'd written (or some other activity that would piss off the local "Good Christians"), I won't mention them.

I've heard a lot more incidents from other people, but most of those were either on more private walkaway blogs or in person - and I'm not really at liberty to share their stories (without their permission).  Stories of churches organizing and taking children away from pagan or LGBT parents, and so on... from the people they did it to.  Threats, including death threats (which I've received because of my political activities and statements).  Beatings.  Stalking.  Getting people fired.  Helping dominionist parents steal away children from non-dominionist and then hide the parents and the children (while trying to smear the custodial parent).  There have been so many examples that I can't keep track of them.

I'd suggest you ask at places like Dark Christianity, Ex-Pentecostals, and blogs like that.  Also contact Leah Burton and Dogemperor.  Plus, go back through posts on this blog.  I know that others have mentioned things - like a Jewish family being run out of town because their son officially objected to proselytizing attempts and bullying (because of his not being "Good Christian").

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 11:06:33 AM EST

Hell hath no fury like a cat owner defending favorite pet cats.

I am sorry about your own kitties, ArchaeoBob.

by NancyP on Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 12:43:02 PM EST

I consider it a miracle that I'm still in some ways Christian, with the anguish those "Good Christians" put us through.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 06:52:54 PM EST

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