The former pastor of this “church” is dead, but the legacy lingers on. I see on my Facebook and Twitter updates numerous reports of people declaring that gays should be stoned, hung, burned, or otherwise murdered. I understand that such outrageous statements are intended to appeal to their hate-filled supporters and to generate controversy in the media (doesn’t the media live on controversy?) But I say the media coverage should not be a question of presenting opposing views on the issue of homosexuality. It is clearly an effort by these radicals to intimidate and encourage violence (even murder).
The Supreme Court has stated that yelling “fire” in a theater is not protected speech, and statements deliberately intended to incite violence are not either. A single incident of homophobia may not be criminally liable or subject to prosecution, but repeated public pronouncements are criminal and should be prosecuted. Some media consider them simply laughable. They are not funny; they are serious and dangerous, and the consequences can be life threatening or worse.
The LGBT media is perhaps the worst in repeating these gross indecencies by putting them in the “isn’t it awful” category, usually with the tag line to send money to counter these pronouncements. Jesse Helms used to be our biggest fund-raiser. But the effort to achieve notoriety and media attention would dissipate quickly if these crazies were simply ignored. Without an audience, who would care what they said or wrote?
I believe in reasoned debate and acknowledge many people have opposing views on this issue and that they are entitled to express their opinions and beliefs —provided that they use language that does not incite violence. Name calling on both sides generates more heat than light, and most public debates on the issue really are not discussions. These confrontations usually end up with people only yelling at each other.
Let’s face it; this is largely a generational issue. Most young people could care less. People who are fixed in their social norms, beliefs, and cultural background are reluctant or not able to change no matter how persuasive the debate. So let’s not prolong the debate; let’s just agree to disagree. We can’t even do that in the United Methodist Church. We’ve been haggling over it for 42 years and haven’t moved an inch. Time ultimately will resolve the issue of homophobia as socially acceptable. “Calling out” these people only provides them more noteriety, which is their primary objective.
The lunatic fringe on the right among so-called “Christians” isn’t that different than ISIS, who only claim to be God-fearing Muslims who are required to purge the world of infidels. Such people on the radical right give most Christians a bad reputation even if they don’t chop off people’s heads. But they at least indirectly incite violence and also drive people away from becoming Christians because of their climate of hate.
They deserve ignominious anonymity.