10 June 2009

March Down Babylon (Part Three)

March Down Babylon

A Gay Pride Month Feature

Do y'all see what I'm getting at here? Faith-based aggression requires a faith-based defense strategy! We can't just show up at the church door and mount a loud demonstration. It's not enough! The Fundies will just call us godless heathen and play the victim card like they've done  countless times before. We've got to access people's spirituality! We've got to inspire the people. We've got to arouse them! We've got to pit the true God against the false god! In short, we've got to re-invent the protest action; and once we've re-invented it, I predict we'll start drawing supportive crowds. If the public knows you've got something compelling to offer, the public will turn out to experience it! Here's some cautionary advice, though, about how not to sabotage our own church demonstrations:

We should never come dressed in drag or outrageous costumes. A protest rally is not a Pride parade! Granted, some people think drag, fetish wear and partial nudity make a powerful political statement, but let's get real: that's not the only kind of statement it makes! If you want to be taken seriously by your enemies, it's inappropriate!  BTW, when I say "drag", by the way, I am not talking about the gender-appropriate clothing of Transsexual folk.

We should never come with signs and/or clothing emblazoned with profane or derogatory language. No banners that scream F*ggots Bash Back or We're Here, We're Queer, etcetera. Likewise, we shouldn't be out there yelling or singing profane words, or engaging in obscene behavior. Fundies would be expecting that kind of presentation, and they know how to effectively use it against us!

We should never engage preachers who insist on referring to us as "d*kes, "f*gs", "trannies" or "queers". In case you didn't know it, "ex-Gay" ministries teach that LGBT folk are queer! Regardless of what these words may mean to some of us, they connote abnormality to the Fundie crowd. If our counter-sermons only strengthen their prejudices, we'll have done nothing but waste our time! They'll never have any respect for us. We should also beware of Gay-affirming Fundamentalists (yes, they exist!) who believe Transgender expression is sinful. They don't actually use the slurs, but they preach them all the same!

We should never vandalize church property or engage in any kind of violent protest. I know how tempting it is to do so, especially when the pastors and congregations are viciously anti-Gay. Nevertheless, it's a temptation we must always resist!

We should never enter the churches we picket, not even if invited. Fundamentalist churches have been defiled by Satan! We'd strive to create sacred space outside of them.

We should never disparage religious faith, regardless of how we may feel about it as individuals. Denouncing faith is a losing proposition, not only in this country but in most other parts of the world!  Resist the temptation!  It bears noting that no legitimate religion on Earth espouses intolerance and hatred if properly taught. It's Fundie hatemongers that church protesters must target, not the doctrines they distort!

Counter-sermons could be one method of fighting back against anti-Gay preachers, but we can't forget that they don't just preach from the pulpit! They also access TV, radio, print publications and the Web. We can't any ignore any of the venues religious Right Wingers use to spread their poison!

A new national anti-defamation group must rise up to replace the ineffectual GLAAD! Its mission must be to monitor all religious hate speech in the media. Local branches would have the most important work to do: They'd keep track of regionally popular televangelists and religious pundits, record instances of hate speech, and publish regular reports in all the local Gay publications. Those reports would necessarily include the email addresses of TV stations, radio networks, newspapers and websites that have become vehicles for offensive speech, as well as contact information for their commercial sponsors!

Everybody would be obligated to email a complaint! It wouldn't have to be lengthy; just a sentence or two to make it clear that you won't tolerate slander! The Jewish community responds to anti-Semitism with the cry "never again", and we should echo that cry (after all, we were in the concentration camps, too)! We should never again allow lies to be disseminated about us without reacting in collective outrage! If you do nothing else, get into the habit of putting your anger at Bible bigots into words; believe me, it's both cathartic and empowering! There are additional methods we can use to strike back at religious hatemongers, but I'll leave those suggestions for others to make.

Recently in Washington, DC, a group called Clergy United for Marriage Equality made news. It held a press conference decrying efforts to ban same-gender marriage in the District. One of the group’s members, Rev. Louise Green, followed up with an op-ed piece for The Washington Blade. It’s fairly typical of the public statements we get from religious allies. She writes:

It is for religious leaders who honor loving same-sex couples to speak against the assertion that "faith" leads to only one conclusion . . . we affirm that our traditions and Scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present, and that our human capacity to love one another is a great gift. We say that the ability of two people to enter into a relationship and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift, holy and good . . . there will be heartfelt disagreement on this issue, and so we call on all people of DC . . . to engage in respectful and loving dialogue on marriage equality. As always, I am committed to such a conversation, and encourage colleagues on all sides to do the same . . . Clergy United for Marriage Equality asks for the right to perform (same-gender marriage) ceremonies within our own sense of religious integrity, ministering to those who seek our blessing. We want the District of Columbia to recognize our religious choice by offering civil sanction of same-sex unions. In this spirit, we raise our voices in the struggle for the right and freedom to marry.

I do appreciate this kind of advocacy; I'm sure most of us do. However, we need much stronger statements than this from our religious allies! They can't just say they disagree with their colleagues on the far Right Wing; they must denounce those colleagues in no uncertain terms. Fundamentalism is wrong! There can be no “religious choice” for disciples of Jesus Christ; there is only His Gospel! Why do Progressive clergy tolerate false prophecy in their denominations? Why do they value church unity over a Christian message that’s accurate and consistently inclusive?

If termites have invaded your home, does it make sense to accommodate them? Unless you root those termites out, your house will come crashing down around your ears! Fundamentalists have corrupted the foundations of God’s house! Liberationists ignore such corruption at risk of kindling the Lord’s divine wrath! For their own sake as well as ours, they must take up righteous arms against the Franklin Grahams of this world! False prophets savage the Savior’s doctrine, just like they savage His LGBT children. Marriage equality is neither the only issue here, nor the most important!

The church of Babylon has been waging all-out war on us for too long: War on our human dignity, our livelihoods, our Civil Liberties, our physical and mental health! We must make the walls of Babylon tumble to the ground, just like the walls of Jericho did. We must become like Christian soldiers, marching as to war! We’ve got to march down Babylon!

We’re not ready, though. We're demoralized, disorganized and weak! We need God’s commanding officers to guide us, arm us, and help us conquer our fear of toxic religion. Our movement cries out for the leadership of Gay-affirming clergy! I pray that they’re willing to give us their leadership. I also pray that we’ll have the good sense to follow it!

"March Down Babylon" 
was inspired by and is dedicated to Dr. Jerry Maneker.


  1. Don Charles, this is a timely article because it is what I've been doing for four years now. I'm out in public as a transgender woman. I refuse to hide who I am.

    I agree with you about the ways things need to change. I attended Brooklyn Pride yesterday in my home town. HRC and the ACLU were here. I refused to sign up with them. These are two organizations I have a huge beef with.

    I will be sharing with my bible study group on June 23rd about transgender and Christianity. It's the start of what I pray will be more opportunities to share my story with the public. I have no desire for fame or fortune, just to express the fact that we are God's children, too.

  2. Genevieve,

    That's the most important message you can disseminate. More people need to be do it. More people need to believe it.