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The wrongs of the Christian Right

Monday, March 26 2007 @ 11:52 PM CDT

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When hurting people is “righteous”
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Many of the names and organizations of those who advocate denying gay and lesbian Americans equal civil rights and basic human dignity are well known. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, James Dobson on Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association: their words and activities give new meaning to the words “bigotry” and “hate.”

But the leader of the Pennsylvania affiliate of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association may outdo even her patriarchal mentors. Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, castigates not only gays and lesbians, but anyone who believes in the equality of all citizens, and then makes wild, unhinged assertions based on her jaundiced views. Her latest over-the-edge comment was prompted by the president of California University of Pennsylvania lamenting the fact that schools in the state system of higher education do not provide domestic partner benefits:

“For them to say a college has to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples is an insult to those who hold traditional values,” Gramley exclaims; [sic] “because what the university is saying is that only homosexuals, or those who believe homosexuals should get these benefits, are qualified to teach at these schools. That’s the message they’re sending.”


Don’t look for logic or any semblance of reasoning in Gramley’s conclusion. Doing so could seriously hurt your brain. Appropriately though, the article venting Gramley’s diatribe appeared in the new and expanded incarnation of Agape Press (the propaganda organ of Wildmon’s AFA) and was prefaced with a most telling image:

Gramley and her AFA-PA, like Wildmon and his AFA, are opposed to civil equality. Can there be any clearer statement of their bigotry?

Gramley has called for overt discrimination before. The AFA-PA president previously suggested that universities not hire professors who are gay or lesbian. Not surprisingly, her message was carried by Wildmon’s Agape Press under the headline “Penn. Activist Cites Statistics, Arrest in Suggesting Ban on Homosexual Profs.”

The occasion for Ms. Gramley’s “suggestion” was the arrest of University of Pennsylvania professor Lawrence Scott Ward for possession of child pornography. No one sanctions child pornography, but condemning it was not what Gramley was doing. She was stereotyping and condemning all gay Americans, a common tactic employed by AFA-PA and similar organizations that use fear and bogus stereotypes to promote discrimination. (See “America’s New McCarthyism: Homosexual Stereotypes, Myths, and the Politics of Fear,” Popular Culture Review, 16:2 [August 2005], 83-115.)

Perhaps Ms. Gramley might want to take note of the five colleges and universities affiliated with the Baptist State Convention -- Campbell University, Chowan University, Gardner-Webb University, Mars Hill College, and Wingate University -- that are preparing to disaffiliate. Why? Because of the convention’s anti-gay stance and the fact that its “restrictive rules . . . are preventing them from attracting the best students and faculty.”

Higher education was not AFA-PA’s only target. Ms. Gramley sent a letter to Ambridge Area School District’s Senior High School principal Alan Fritz urging him not to participate in diversity workshops offered by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network.

GLSEN’s “stated goals include working to end discrimination and harassment against homosexuals.” That description of GLSEN’s supposedly nefarious purpose comes from the Agape Press story about Ms. Gramley’s “objection” to the workshops. Clearly, feeling safe is a prerequisite to students’ ability to learn in the classroom. Why would Gramley and the AFA-PA object to that obvious truth?

Hate blinds one to the obvious. Ms. Gramley makes that abundantly clear. And the “biblical worldview” advocated by some fundamentalist preachers blinds them to common decency and basic human rights.

Rev. Mark H. Creech is the executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He believes “universal healthcare . . . is another example of America’s departure from its strong Judeo-Christian roots.” Moreover, Rev. Creech believes universal healthcare would “perpetuate or construct dependence or reward sloth . . . while those who are indolent prosper.” Appropriately, Creech’s article was republished by American Family News Network after its initial run on WorldNetDaily. (ConWebWatch exposed WND’s slanted and plagiarized stories and stacked commentary page several years ago, as well as its founder, editor and CEO’s “agenda.”)

Aside from the fact that “Rev.” Creech is comfortable with -- and encourages -- the needless suffering of men, women and children in the name of his perverted version of Christianity, and aside from the fact that Jesus spoke of helping the needy and the poor, not stomping on them when they’re down, Creech’s schadenfreude remarks are blatantly insulting to millions of hard-working Americans.

Many of those Americans are called the “working poor.” They often work two jobs while simultaneously raising a family, but since their employers keep them on “part-time” status, they don’t qualify for healthcare benefits. How dare Creech call these parents slothful and indolent?

There’s another group of incredibly hard-working citizens that Creech deems slothful, indolent and unworthy of basic healthcare coverage. They’re America’s future leaders: today’s college students.

This is one of many, many similar messages I -- and professors nationwide -- receive from our students every semester: “I’ve been very sick this semester and I can’t go to the doctor because I don’t have health insurance. It’s too expensive. . . . I have two jobs and I’ve been pushing myself to the limit just to make it by financially. . . .”

Does Rev. Creech believe this student and the tens of thousands like her are slothful? Indolent? And just for the record, this student’s cumulative grade point average is near 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

Will there be abuses in universal healthcare? Of course. There are abuses now. Doctors and hospitals billing for services never rendered. Pharmaceutical companies gouging senior citizens on prescription drug costs while the Bush administration thwarts every effort to lower prices or allow citizens to buy their prescription drugs from neighboring countries that care more about their citizens than corporate profits.

But to argue against every citizen’s right to basic healthcare is as twisted and malevolent as Gramley’s argument against gays and lesbians being employed. In the hands self-righteous fanatics, “religion” in America has become the means to hurt people . . . and feel good about doing so.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

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