Christianism’s Newest Tools: Windmills

Every once in a while the legion of political Christianity’s footsoldiers must be replenished. Attrition due to death, education, economic advancement or just plain old getting tired of hating all the time, takes a toll. And, the never-ending need for profitable scapegoats demands the sowing of seeds of anti-LGBTI hate ever farther around the globe.

In August 2017 representatives of the US Southern Baptist Convention issued their “Nashville Statement” which was quickly signed by hundreds of leaders from all major protestant denominations, Roman and Orthodox Catholics.

The statement

  • Affirms that God designed marriage as a lifelong union between male and female, and that marriage “is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church”;
  • Denies that differences between men and women render the sexes “unequal in dignity or worth”;
  • Denies that LGBT identities are consistent with God’s purposes; and
  • Affirms that “Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure”.

Seems like the typical demands (except for that second part!) we have become used to hearing from America’s lingeringly-medieval patriarchy. These same demands have peeled off layer after layer of social outcasts to form electoral margins for supposedly-pious politicians since Reagan’s 1980 win.

While we’re used to this type of public proclamation in the US, the political interest groups who use retrograde religion to fill bank accounts at home have also worked in often-hidden ways to line their pockets at the expense of LGBTI persons abroad. Most notoriously, Uganda’s 2014 ‘Kill the Gays’ bill was the direct result of political meddling by American evangelicals. Russia’s 2015 ‘Gay Propaganda’ law was inspired by an alliance between the Russian Orthodox Church with the US-based World Congress of Families. The ongoing Indonesian clampdown on its LGBTI communities is powered by an odd hybrid of Islamic fundamentalism adopting the organizing and propaganda lessons of earlier Christian missionaries. And, last year’s election of neo-fascist Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil — presenting overt threats to the safety of LGBTI Brazilians — was the product of a 30-year campaign by US evangelical legal organizations to destroy the opposition Workers’ Party.

As illiberal and neo-fascist parties are gaining ground across Europe the work of international Christianism has surfaced in the Netherlands. In early January hundreds of right-wing political and church leaders signed a Dutch version of the Nashville Statement. The ensuing scapegoating of LGBTI people will empower retrograde social forces to align, fundraise, win elections and target the rights of people in the country that first legalized same-sex marriage.