Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This is a provocative article that I urge you to read.

It begins as follows:

Grandchildren are prone to think of the lives of their grandparents as ancient history, a collection of sentimental anecdotes of no use in deciding what slogan to put on your tee-shirt. But history is history, it's our history, and before we argue about the way things should be it's wise to understand the way things were and how we got to where we are now. After watching elected representatives of Alabama and South Carolina badger an Hispanic woman who has more gumption, class, and intelligence in one of her little fingers than they have in their whole heads, I started thinking about Harvey Cushing, the great neurosurgeon at Harvard who did so much to poison us with his bigotry and racism, it's a wonder we're still here.

My good friend, Don Charles, called this article to my attention, and I wrote him the following response in this slightly edited email:

The author states, "We have so much diversity in America, it can hardly be cataloged. And yet of all advanced countries in the world, we excel in tribal hatreds that apparently seep everywhere in the American psyche."

"Tribal hatreds" seeped into the American psyche largely because of perverted "Christianity," and unbridled capitalism that is extolled as a virtue by Social Darwinism (Survival of the fittest.) that has taken root in this country and in almost every American's psyche!

When we have professing Christians arguing against universal health care; clergy preaching hate and discrimination against LGBT people; capitalists who profit from socialism when it suits their greedy interests, yet condemn socialism when there is an attempt to use it to help the poor (As we see in reference to universal health care.), we can see that the rot within America, and the typical American's psyche, is less "personal" than it is "structural," aided and abetted by many clergy and by politicians who are in the pockets of those capitalists, and rely on them to keep their careers and that money rolling in.

The power structure has a vested interest in having people think in "personal" rather than in "structural" terms! So, for example, we are told that voting is essential to having a democracy, rather than highlighting, questioning, and changing the very nature of the existing political process in America where we now have a series of pathetic choices from which to select, so that many of us choose who we consider to be the lesser of two evils, rather than confidently choosing someone of whom we can be justifiably proud and who we feel can best fulfill the high office for which he or she is seeking election.

Moreover, many clergy and other professing Christians have also internalized the perceived virtue of Social Darwinism to the degree that they have aligned themselves with reactionary politics that are symmetrical with capitalist interests and, therefore, they see no inconsistency between the Gospel of Christ and their extolling as virtues: Americanism, jingoism, capitalism, and militarism.

This perversion of Christianity has enabled them to feel no guilt when they demonize others and when they advocate principles and actions that are explicitly contrary to Jesus' teachings!

Whether or not "we excel in tribal hatreds" compared with the rest of the world, I do not know. When we see such institutional and personal hatreds toward LGBT people, or even those perceived to be LGBT, in Jamaica, it is hard to quantify evil and fathom the roots of such evil, regardless of where it exists.

However, we can see that in both the United States as in Jamaica, perverted Christianity is seen as a root cause, if not the major root cause, of this evil and its perpetuation!

The following excerpt, although directed to Jamaica, could just as easily be attributed to religious conditions in most of the institutionalized Church in the United States:

Many in this highly Christian nation perceive homosexuality as a sin, and insist violence against gays is blown out of proportion by gay activists. Some say Jamaica tolerates homosexuality as long as it is not advertised - a tropical version of former President Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the U.S. military.

Jamaica's most prominent evangelical pastor, Bishop Herro Blair, said he sympathizes with those who face intolerance, but that homosexuals themselves are actually behind most of the attacks reported against them.

"Among themselves, homosexuals are extremely jealous," said Blair during a recent interview. "But some of them do cause a reaction by their own behaviors, for, in many people's opinions, homosexuality is distasteful."

Other church leaders have accused gays of flaunting their behavior to "recruit" youngsters, or called for them to undergo "redemptive work" to break free of their sexual orientation.

[For the full article, see here.]

Sound familiar?

Christians who are Christians in fact must stand up and confront the perversion of Christianity visited upon the larger society by ignorant and/or mendacious clergy and their followers, resulting in (among other things) the sinful treatment of LGBT people; bearing false witness against them; defaming them; denying them full and equal civil rights; providing phony "religious" justifications for consigning them to pariah status within any society by downright lies and biblical distortions!

Failure to do so has been, and continues to be, a tragic indictment of the state of most of the institutional Church and its representatives and functionaries!

Jesus has His own indictment of the professing Christian legalists who seek to place yokes of bondage onto others, those who would in any way harm, or in any way be complicit in doing harm, to any of His children, be they Gay or Straight:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity…. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:27-28,33)
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genevieve said...

jesus' words to the the Pharisees are some of the most powerful words ever spoken. What He said then rings true to day.

As far as the other things mentioned in the article, it may take me a lifetime to comment on them. But that for another post.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi genevieve: You're welcome to comment at any time. Best wishes, Jerry.

Mark Zamen said...

This is a superb article; accurate, well reasoned, compassionate, and forcefully expressed. It is a sad fact that a large segment of society, both in the U.S. and abroad, still regards gay men and women (among various minorities) as second-class citizens - or worse. This is especially true within the ranks of the religious right and those influenecd by it. Their views do indeed constitute a "perversion of Christianity." That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others, including fellow Mormons). More information on the book is available at

Mark Zamen, author

Jerry Maneker said...

Thank you so much, Mark, for your very kind words to me. They mean a great deal!

Also, I'm delighted that you have written a book detailing the struggles of your Gay friend. Personalizing the horrific results of homophobia, putting a human face on the sufferings due to the irrationality and sin of homophobia, is very much needed. Best wishes, Jerry.