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Gay Activist Claims He’s Only Met One Honest Person from the Religious Right

Fred Phelps, the key person behind the popularisation of the infamous phrase “God hates fags”, has died. Noted gay activist Wayne Besen has responded to the news, by posting the following on facebook –

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Fred Phelps was particularly blunt in expressing his understanding of what God thinks of homosexuality, and was arguably guilty of cherry picking by focusing on Scriptures such as Leviticus 20:23 to justify his belief that God might hate some people. Phelps was likely a product of his time, when it was common to assume that homosexual attractions were a choice that could be switched off at will. Like many others of his era, Phelps likely read this understanding into Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 6, where it’s easy to get the impression that homosexuals can simply choose to not be homosexuals, and perhaps just turn into heterosexuals. If someone told him that homosexual orientation is generally immutable, it’s easy to imagine that Phelps would have likely dismissed such a statement as being activist rhetoric rather than truth. Phelps likely perceived himself to be a brave warrior for God, preaching the Bible to the broader culture who increasingly strongly rejected its tenets – especially regarding sexual sin. Although most believe he erred massively by turning from the Biblical injunction to love your neighbour, Phelps would likely claim that encouraging people to live in harmony with God’s will, is ultimately the most loving thing you can do for them, and that blunt language was an efficient marketing tool to promote that – as evidenced by the vast media attention he gained. He seems to have been very sincere in his beliefs, putting more ‘moderate’ conservative Christians to shame by standing firm on unpopular Biblical positions such as rejecting divorce, while many others who call themselves Christians, have not.

But this blog post was not supposed to be all about Fred Phelps. What I find interesting about Besen’s comment is that he promotes the conspiracy theory against the religious right. This is not entirely unusual for gay activists, but is more remarkable when coming from someone as prominent in the field, as Besen. And perhaps even more noteworthy is Besen’s claim that he has only met one honest person from the religious right. Phelps seems to have dismissed claims from homosexuals, as being rhetoric rather than fact, but now Besen is doing the same thing in assessing the religious right. What does his claim of only having met one honest person from the religious right, mean? There are various possibilities, I suppose –

  • Besen is given to exaggeration, and this is just another example of it
  • Besen has hardly met anyone from the religious right (unlikely)
  • Besen has not yet been able to understand the perspective of the religious right, and so he misunderstands
  • Besen doesnt want to understand the perspective of the religious right, and so he misunderstands

Are there other ways to interpret that sentence? What are your thoughts?

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