You might have seen the terrifying video of a NC pastor expressing his disgust of the LGBTQ community and his proposed solution to quarantine them behind an electric fence, drop some food over, and let them die out. You can read more or watch the video, though I warn you, it is hate speech, proclaimed from the pulpit.
I am left wondering though, is it really surprising? In the fight up to Amendment One, the discussion turned from the actual amendment and questions of equal protection to a vote for or against “gay marriage” and then, even more broadly, to a vote on whether homosexuality should be socially acceptable. The actual people whose lives would be negatively impacted were lost in the abstraction of a cultural war.
In the course of the arguments, we heard appeals to the “plain sense” of Scripture, the “orders of creation,” “natural law,” “human history,” and the “foundation of civilization.” With such solid support, the drastic consequences of the social acceptance of gay marriage (or homosexuality) meant: collapse into moral relativism, turning our back on God, violating nature, abandoning historical traditions, and ultimately undermining American or even all of human civilization.
The foundation and stability of human society were declared to be at stake. The pastor giving that hateful sermon was simply linking the abstract threat (“gay marriage”) to the concrete people (“lesbians and queers,” in the pastor’s words) and then suggesting that this threat–now an identifiable group of people–be removed.
The “electric fence” draws in associations with another “threat” to American life, undocumented immigrants. The idea that society will be saved through the self-annihilation of threatening “others” stretches from Kant (in regards to the Jews) to a current US military class on the war with Arab Muslims. The obvious absurdity of his statement–as if homosexuality were some kind of genetic disorder or cultural disease that would be cleansed from the social body through their isolation and subsequent death–only amplifies these deeply entrenched, genocidal logics of “the enemy.”
When you tell people that some group’s lifestyle threatens their whole way of life and is contrary to everything it means to be “properly human” (biologically, culturally, ethically, historically, spiritually), is it really shocking or surprising that some people take the next step and wish the world were rid of this group as well as their lifestyle? It is then only one more, small step to think that maybe they ought to do something to get rid of this threat.
The pastor’s statements are hateful, unchristian, and terrifying. But we cannot comfort ourselves by saying that they came out of nowhere or that they are the ramblings of some religious lunatic on the fringe. Sadly, neither is the case.