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June 15, 2005

"THE NEW BLACKLIST" CONTINUES TO MAKE WAVES

Ever since I published my article last week on "The New Blacklist: CorporateFred_phelps_1  America Caves In To the Christers," I've been deluged by an avalanche of hate-mail, inspired by ultra-right and Christer websites who picked up on my article and denounced it. Here is one such typical e-mail, from someone signing themselves "Billy Budd" (a curious pseudonym for my gay-hating correspondent, by the way, given Melville's well-known homosexuality, an orientation also inferred for Budd in Melville's novel of that name):

"Hey Ireland, Wake up and smell the AZT.  If you break the laws of nature, then nature will punish you--as has happened with AIDS, not to mention hepatitis A, B and C, syphilis and a variety of other diseases dominant in the fag "community." Nature is fighting back against perversion. The rectum is no a sexual organ, check an anatomy book. (And, of course, the innocent suffer with the guilty, as is always the case--witness Africa, and AIDS-ravaged babies, and age-ravaged spouses.) As for "Christers" protesting against pro-sodomy companies, I guess you don't believe in free speech? The right to assembly? Only some people can express an opinion? Only pro-sodomy, filth-eating speech? Why do you think Sodom and Gamorrah were destroyed?  Their sins, which polluted and corrupted their own bodies and souls, brought their self-destruction and nature herself vented her wrath. TheImages_5  wages of sin is death. Look around. The sodomites are dying. And they drag the innocent with them. Stop sinning. Obey God. (signed) Billy."

Now, I'm apparently to be the subject of a "series" by Rev. Mark Roberts, pastor of the Irvine (California) Presbyterian Church, who has published the first installment of this series promising to dissect me on his blog. He seems to find it damning that I have a couple of atheist blogs and websites recommended on DIRELAND.
Just so there can be no confusion, I have never made any secret of the fact that I'm a life-long atheist, and proudly so. In this I considerTom_paine  Voltaire myself an intellectual descendant of Voltaire (left), Tom Paine (right), the 17th century French atheist priest Jean Meslier, and the many among the Founding Fathers of the United States who were atheists, agnostics, and/or opposed to organized religion. (I harvested some quotes from Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and others among our country's founders denouncing politicized religion for a piece I wrote during the presidential campaign on "Election Year Theocracy." )
A lot of the hate-mail I've been getting objects to my use of the word "Christers," and so, apparently, does Rev. Roberts. The word Mencken_1 "Christer" is, as far as I know, of my own coinage. (The flexibility and capacity for growth of the Anglo-Saxon tongue is one of its musical delights, and -- like Mencken (left), Twain, and Ambrose Bierce -- I have often fashioned new words out of old ones for purposes of analysis or humor during a journalistic and column-writing career that has now (I shudder to think) spanned three decades and two Continents. I came up with the word "Christer" to distinguish those Protestant fundamentalists and ultramontane Catholics whose politicized version of Christianity impels them to seek to impose their views on others through public policy and the State -- as opposed to ordinary believers who understand their faith as a private and personal matter, not a fulcrum for censorship of those who think or act differently. I have many friends who are believers who appreciate this vocable, as it helps distinguish them as Christians from the fundamentalist extremists it is meant to refer to.
Rev_bill_banuchi_1 One example of the kind of Christer I detest is Rev. Bill Banuchi (left, with his wife), executive director of the New York Christian Coalition, who now wants gays to be "labeled." According to a report from 365.gay.com, Rev. Banuchi told the Mid Hudson  News: ""We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span....children are being zealously evangelized by radical homosexuals."
This sort of rhetoric is a throwback to the blood libel of all gays as child molesters perpetuated by Anita Bryant (below right) and her "Save the Children" crusade in the late '70s. That these old canards are Anita_bryant_1 surfacing with such vehemence once again is proof that many in America have learned nothing in three decades, that the culture war against the gay civil rights movement continues to grow in strength as we win more and more recognition of our equality before the law. And it is the obscurantists I call the Christers who are leading this culture war.
As for me, I prefer Meslier (below), who -- in his magnificent "Mon Book_cover_meslier Testament," rediscovered and posthumously published by Voltaire -- wrote: ""The real original sin of men is to be born in poverty, in misery, in dependence and tyranny of the mighty one. We must do everything to free them from this disgusting and damned sin." And that is one sentiment to which I will say, "Amen!"(A portion of Meslier's "Mon Testament" is available, in English, on-line by clicking here).

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Posted by: diller | Aug 5, 2007 4:37:09 AM

Mark D. Roberts is my ex-husband. Don't worry about him. He's been homophobic since young adulthood, and in large part because of my experience of being married to him, I'm no longer a Christian. I've also been active in feminist and pro-gay, pro-marriage equality organizations because my marriage showed me first-hand how damaging evangelical Christianity can be for God's creatures who happen to diverge from the patriarchal paradigm that Roberts lives by and preaches. His website put me onto your blog, a service that I'm grateful for as I now read you every day!

Posted by: Nancy Dart | Jun 21, 2006 3:38:25 AM

Mark D. Roberts is my ex-husband. Don't worry about him. He's been homophobic since young adulthood, and in large part because of my experience of being married to him, I'm no longer a Christian. I've also been active in feminist and pro-gay, pro-marriage equality organizations because my marriage showed me first-hand how damaging evangelical Christianity can be for God's creatures who happen to diverge from the patriarchal paradigm that Roberts lives by and preaches. His website put me onto your blog, a service that I'm grateful for as I now read you every day!

Posted by: Nancy Dart | Jun 21, 2006 3:33:39 AM

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