Category Archives: Religion

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead…

Falwell Jerry Falwell is dead.

This is the definition of "schadenfreude."

This was the man who blamed gay people for 9/11, blurred the line between church and state, and brought us all the mythical and hypocritical "Moral Majority." It’s hard not to feel good about this. This was a man who accused Tinky Winky of being gay. He was a spiteful, evil, bloated, dangerous windbag in the odious tradition of Elmer Gantry.

My condolences to all the gay families he has slandered. To all the children who go unadopted because of his bigotry and ignorance.

Send flowers to all the taxpayers who have had to repeatedly waste monies that could be spent on education, health, infrastructure, but instead were spent on hateful and spiteful state ballot initiatives depriving gay people of civil rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

My heart goes out to the thousands and thousands of people who have had their science education and general intellectual fitness hobbled by his fundamentalist mythologies and tooth fairy Jesus stories.

We are lead in prayer by Kurt Vonnegut, in the voice of his character, The Reverend C. Horner Redwine, from Sirens of Titan:

"Oh Lord Most High, Creator of the Cosmos, Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves, Inhaler and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum, Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Millennia — what could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better?     Nothing.  What could we do or say that could possibly interest Thee?    Nothing.  Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last.  No longer can a fool point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, ‘Somebody up there likes me.’  And no longer can a tyrant say, ‘God wants this or that to happen, and anyone who doesn’t help this or that to happen is against God.’  O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it, and the claptrap that has so often enslaved us or driven us into the madhouse lies slain!" Sirens of Titan

Contributions in memory of his destructive and hateful life can be made to White Crane Institute.

SF Gate columnist, Mark Morford, wisely allows the man to hoist himself by his own petard, but in closing, we would like to cite President Jimmy Carter: "In a very Christian way, as far as I’m concerned, he can go to hell!"

Denial and Despair

Back in November when the story about Ted Haggard hit the airwaves I wrote here on the Gay Wisdom Blog that I thought he had a lot of thinking to do (see: and the charlatans continue…).  This week Ted Haggard said, or rather one of the four ministers who have overseen his intensive ex-gay religious therapy said, that Haggard is now 100% straight.  But all to what end?  He’s lost his church, his position as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, he’s leaving Colorado Springs, the only thing remaining is the relationship with his wife.  Given the huge breach of trust from having an extra-marital affair, with another man, while possibly experimenting with highly addictive drugs, his marriage is probably not the calmest harbor in his storm, but it’s the last external thing to cling to.  If he did lose his marriage as well in this situation he would have been left with absolutely nothing but himself and his feelings of guilt and shame and failure, and that’s a terribly dark road to walk.  Unfortunately for him he’s taken the route of denying his sexual feelings in an attempt to try to cling to a "normal life," and we’ve all seen how well denial plays out in one’s life.

I’m not apologizing for Ted Haggard.  No.  I’m extraordinarily sad for him.  I can’t imagine the scope of what he’s going through as a result of his outing.  On the scale of life traumas this is a huge hit.  But at least he’s still alive.

The same can not be said for Rev. Brent Dugan. Dugan was a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh who recently committed suicide from the fear of being outed on the KDKA-TV news.  This local news channel began running commercial promos saying that they were going to expose his "illicit behavior."  Dugan saw these promos and fled, and while the news station was back-pedaling he took his own life.  Dugan was 60 years old, single, and having a discreet relationship with another man.  He left copious notes for everyone he was leaving behind expressing his "profound sorrow and sadness, and sense of solemn grief and embarrassment, about what he thought would come to be known about his personal life."

I keep coming back to "Why?"  Why on earth would Dugan take his life?  Why on earth would Ted Haggard try to go through ex-gay "therapy?"  Maybe it’s that they have their lives, they have their secrets and they’ve lived with them for so long that they can’t imagine their lives laid open.  Maybe it’s that they have their preconceived notions of gay life and they can’t deal with the shame of how they believe "us," "the other," "not them" to be, though they themselves feel the same feelings.  Maybe it’s because they have their religious beliefs that tell them how sinful it is to be a homosexual and they can’t defy their God.  I could go on coming up with reasons, trying to understand, but to me it makes no sense.  It’s as if we live in different worlds. 

But our worlds are not different, it’s just our choices.  I went through crises of faith and sexual identity, and I’m sure most all of us have, and maybe continue to do so.  In our own way we’ve made our choices about living in the open, staying the closet, repressing or expressing our sexual nature.  I’ve come a long way from suicide and religious intolerance; others, like these men, are not so lucky.  But I believe the world is changing for the better.  Before our very eyes we see the changes. From welcoming and affirming congregations, to religiously affiliated gay marriage ceremonies, to commercial appeals for religious tolerance; the religious landscape, though battle scarred is very much changing.  There will always be voices of intolerance, but I believe that those voices are diminishing.  People change, and to me it seems we’re changing for the better.  Hopefully, in time, people like these men will not have live in denial and despair, but can come forward, serve their congregations faithfully, openly and in peace.

So may it be.

And the charlatans continue…

The focus of my re:Sources guide for this latest issue of White Crane was on religious hypocrisy. We don’t have to look very far to see that it’s still going on, because it’s been all over the news of late.

Last week Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and leader of the Colorado based New Life Church, was called out on his relationship with another man. Haggard has been a vocal supporter of Colorado’s anti-gay marriage amendment, which goes to a statewide vote tomorrow, November 7th.

There are so many layers to this story, not just Haggard’s adultery with a 49 year old male escort, but also what seems to be a possible crystal meth habit as well. I see this whole package as an prime example of the soul-crushing power of religiously based homophobia.

This one man rose to power holding this secret, and using his own internal pain directed his anger back against the gay community. In his own attempts to understand himself he turned to illicit relationships for cash, he fell into one of the most dangerously addictive drugs available (and one that is running rampant through the gay community), and he just kept on lying about it. Denying who he was led to this amazing fall from grace.

And let’s be honest, this is a big problem for the evangelical movement. Their constant repression of homosexuals leads to exactly this kind of situation; someone in the closet who rises to a position of power only to be outed and fall. The sadder thing is that Ted Haggard is just one of the most visible victims of evangelical homophobia. There are many other people, children and adults, who are twisted up inside because of this hate.

I know. I was one of them once.

I was lucky in that my family allowed me to come and go from religious beliefs as I saw fit. But I wanted to believe that I could be "good." And I tried, and I suffered because of it. I left when I decided that any God who made me this way and also wanted me to suffer because of it was no God I wanted to have in my life.

Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome or masochism, but I don’t understand why people would want to be subjected to that kind of emotional and psychological torture. Maybe it’s lust for power, or a desire for personal control. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Whatever the reason, the effects are obvious; lying, denying, self-loathing, and abusive and addictive behavior.

What will happen to Ted Haggard? This must be an extremely difficult time for him. What will he do with his life now that he’s no longer in his position of power? Will he look at himself for the person he is, and re-evaluate his relationship with God? He’s got a lot of explaining to do, and he’s got to start with himself.