April 29, 2021

Fundamentalist Christians Are Hastening Their Extinction Through Anti-Gay Bigotry

gay couple

I've been thinking lately about the anti-gay bigotry to which so many evangelical fundamentalist Christians continue to cling despite changing values. It isn't going to happen overnight, but I suspect that this bigotry may prove to be one of the factors that contributes to their gradual extinction. Anti-gay bigotry hasn't made sense to our youth for some time. They have gay friends and recognize their humanity. They understand that sexual orientation is far more likely to be part of who someone is than something someone catches or something that needs to be "prayed away." They want little to do with a religion that preaches hate. At best, it is irrelevant; at worst, it is harmful.

So why hasn't evangelical fundamentalist Christianity abandoned anti-gay bigotry when it is so clearly costing them young followers? I'm not sure they can. They've trapped themselves to the point where there doesn't seem to be any way out other than the sort of unlikely reform that would require them to abandon biblical literalism (or embrace atheism). No matter what the science shows, they have to persist in their belief that people who are gay choose to be gay. Why? Consider the alternative. Accepting that people might be born gay would mean that their preferred god made them that way. Why would their god create something it considered an abomination? And so they remain stuck, committed to their hatred.

As you are well aware, most of these evangelical fundamentalist Christians attempt to escape what I have described by insisting that they aren't bigots and that they don't hate anybody. They claim to love those afflicted with "teh gay" and insist that they are trying to save them from their "lifestyle." Of course, this raises a fascinating question: if their actions are heroic, who exactly is the villain in this story? The answer would appear to be their preferred god since that appears to be the threat from which they are trying to save LGBT people.

But once again, almost nobody buys this. Most of the rest of us see it for what it is - a poorly concealed attempt to justify attitudes that would quickly be recognized as bigoted in any other context. We cannot stop them from trying to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to treat others poorly, but we can make it much harder for them to succeed in doing so.

It will be interesting to see whether evangelical fundamentalist Christians manage to rid themselves of this bigotry before it leads to their demise. Part of me hopes that they do not because I'd like to see them disappear sooner than later. Another part of me recognizes that this is a bit selfish in that their continued bigotry comes at a cost for LGBT persons and those of us who value them. While it would be nice if they'd fade away, I'm not crazy about the thought of them inflicting more pain on others as they do. And so, I'm left hoping both for a reduction in bigotry and in a continued erosion of religious belief.