Friday, May 12, 2006

Every Movement Needs an Enemy

I was listening to Fresh Air (with Terry Gross) yesterday while driving around charging my car battery (another story) . Terry's guest was Michelle Goldberg, who has written a book called Kingdom Coming--The Rise of Christian Nationalism. It was a fascinating interview; you can listen by clicking the title above. Once you get to that page, just click on the "Listen" icon.

Goldberg's book explores the concerted effort on the part of the Christian Right to become a force in American political life. Actually, "become a force" isn't quite right--where the movement is most organized, the goal is domination. Some have said that quite openly. It's pretty scary.

Eventually, of course, the conversation rolled around to the very large anti-gay plank in the Right's platform, and Terry asked why gay and lesbian people have become such a visible target of this movement. Michelle Goldberg explained that the right has formed alliances with many of its former adversaries (African-American evangelicals, Jews). Then she said "Every movement needs an enemy."

So we are the convenient enemy of the Religious Right. And that's working out rather well for them. It certainly helped reelect our esteemed president, especially in states like Ohio and Missouri which had gay marriage initiatives on their ballots.

I got to thinking about this idea that gay and lesbian people are a good enemy for the religious right. If we're going to serve in this capacity, explained Goldberg, it is important that gay and lesbian people be seen as the enemy of all that is beloved of the Christian Right. So gay people are painted as not just wanting "special rights" like health insurance, the right to visit a loved one in the hospital, and legal recognition of our relationships. According to people like D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell, we're trying to destroy the institution of marriage. (You know, the one we keep begging crumbs from--logic is much less important than fierce rhetoric here.) And we are absolutely anti-Christian. We're behind the War on Christmas and the War on Christians. (We're only nominally responsible for the War on Terror, thankfully.)

Anyway, here's the part I think is really interesting. My premise, if you will. No wonder conservatives in the church get so unbelievably bent about gay people in the church. It wrecks the fundaments of the gays-are-out-to-destroy-Christianity argument (which is deliciously compelling) if we are trying to worship and (egads!) get ordained.

No wonder they are so mad. These crazy queers who insist on staying in the church are just ruining their social studies project.

That makes my day. Perhaps I am actually twisted.

No comments: