Thursday, November 19, 2009


This is how Bishop Harry Jackson [Pictured] spent his summer vacation: He hustled back and forth across the District rallying his faithful flock who oppose gay marriage. He leaned into microphones over at the Board of Elections and Ethics, quoting biblical verse, decrying those who would trumpet marriage between man and man, woman and woman.

He continued his protests when the leaves began to fall and the early darkness crawled across the sky. He heard amen this and amen that from the pulpit of his Beltsville church. They sent him out to spread their version of the Gospel, and off he went, hopscotching across the country. Sometimes crowds would gather around him like geese, in Denver, in Los Angeles, sometimes 10,000 at a time. He spoke to swelling groups of people who felt the same way he did about same-sex marriage: No, no, no.

He popped up on national talk shows. The conservative radio commentators ushered him into their studios.

[For the full article, see here.](Thanks to AmericaBlogGay.)

Bishop Harry Jackson is a man who, as an African American, has a legacy of grinding oppression and unimagined suffering relieved only by intensive civil rights agitation by those who endured what Martin Luther King called "a season of suffering." It was this "season of suffering" that enabled the Harry Jacksons of the world to have what credibility they enjoy, but by no means deserve to the degree that they seek to deny the same civil rights of which they were once deprived but that they now enjoy precisely because of that civil rights struggle.

Now, Harry Jackson, and those minority group members who agree with him regarding the minority group of LGBT people, is exhibiting what may be seen to be a version of what Vilfredo Pareto, a famous early twentieth century Sociologist called, "the circulation of elites," whereby a deprived group, once it gets some measure of power, then turns around and oppresses another minority group.

Jackson invokes the Bible and God to seek to justify his homophobia, his intense desire to prevent same-sex loving couples from benefitting from the institution of marriage, with all of the civil and sacramental rights that accrue to that institution. (In this connection, please read my October 21, 2009 post, The Danger of the Religious Right.)

The irony of a member of one minority group seeking to prevent full equality of another minority group, beyond invoking the Bible and God to justify that oppression, is seen when we read of many of the "justifications" used by professing "Christian" White Supremacists to maintain the institutions of Slavery, Segregation and Jim Crow laws that once were institutionalized in the U.S. Indeed, "...religious endorsement of Jim Crow went a long way to sanctifying segregation as a widespread social reality." (See here.)

It would be instructive for the Harry Jacksons of the religious world to learn from the following:

For centuries, Christian artwork had depicted Satan and his demons as black. In Christian literature, Satan was described as black, even specifically as an African, such as in Athanasius' Life of Saint Anthony and the medieval best-seller Voyage of Brendan. Not surprisingly, Christians decided that Africans and Indians were a lot closer to Satan than white-skinned Europeans and acted accordingly to protect themselves from the "pollution" of contact with dark-skinned peoples. Read historian Forrest G. Wood's The Arrogance of Faith for an in-depth exploration of the Christian origin of racism, slavery and segregation.

That's why defenders of slavery in the antebellum South repeatedly use the Bible and refer to Christian concepts in their arguments. Read The Ideology of Slavery, which reprints slavery defenses, edited by Drew Gilpin Faust, to see how devoutly Christian the defenders were. Defenders correctly note that the Bible repeatedly condones slavery, even commands it at times, and never condemns it. Even the Tenth Commandment condones slavery; so much for the Commandments as a source of moral virtue. Also read Proslavery, by Larry E. Tise, pages 116-120, for surveys showing the overwhelmingly Christian character of slavery defenses. In one survey of pro-slavery tracts, clergymen wrote more than half.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, it's no surprise that Sunday morning became the most segregated time of the week. Nor is it surprising that it was agnostics and atheists in various liberal movements who spoke out first against segregation and racism. That's one reason that white segregationists--clergy included--labeled the civil-rights workers "communists," a word they considered synonymous with atheism.

[For the full article, see here.]

Part of an Abstract of an article entitled, God, Preachers, And Segregation, reads as follows:

In 1965, transcripts were collected of 72 sermons on the issue of racial integration preached between 1955 and 1965. The sermons, all given by Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopal ministers in the southern United States, were examined to determine the position advocated by the minister. The sermons deemed segregationist were then analyzed for recurring strategies used to defend the segregation viewpoint. The major arguments of the segregationists may be summarized as follows: (1) segregation is the divine will of God as expressed in the Bible; (2) desegregation leads to mixed marriages, which are undesirable; (3) segregation is a universal law of nature...(5) the motives of those who support integration are improper; (6) segregation does not necessarily entail discrimination....

So, the irony of the homophobic pronouncements of the religious Harry Jacksons of the world is that those pronouncements virtually mimic much of the rhetoric of the White Supremacist clergy that was used against their ancestors, and that helped to provide "justification" for the institutions of slavery and segregation in society.

As I wrote in an article, It's Not About Issues:

...we have the irrational and surreal phenomenon where we have people aligning themselves with the Power Elite by directly working against their own interests, so that we see the spectacle of some African American clergy willing to align themselves with the KKK to oppose same-sex marriage, as seen by Rev. Gregory Daniels who is quoted as having said, "If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them."

The reactionary mind-set of the Power Elite has even infiltrated many other African American clergy and their gullible followers who should certainly know better, so that they perversely use the very same rhetoric, justifications for, and advocacy of, discrimination against LGBT people and their acquisition of full and equal civil rights that were once used against African Americans by the allies and members of the Power Elite, and they are now willfully blind to the fact that it was those "activist judges," "liberals," and courageous people, Black and White, which and whom they now roundly condemn, that made possible the end of slavery and segregation.

Unfortunately, appeals to rationality and to the essence of the Gospel message seems to have little, if any, influence on deeply prejudiced people, particularly if those people can get their fifteen minutes of fame, and acquire a great deal of power, prestige, and wealth by bearing false witness against Gay people, and preaching exclusionary rhetoric that appeals to people's prejudices and xenophobic feelings and unfounded fears.

It comes down to the fact that the rhetoric of the Harry Jacksons of the religious world are not merely bankrupt, but that there are all too many gullible people who take their rhetoric seriously, and thereby suppress and subvert the "season of suffering" that their ancestors endured; they also renounce the entire Gospel that they falsely say they preach, as well as they renounce the Prince of Peace, the very God, Whom they say they represent!
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