Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to the New Dark Ages.

It was the Fall of 1977; hard to believe so much time has passed. But I remember the event well. I was working for a newspaper at the time and was sent to Indianapolis to cover a so-called “Right to Decency Rally” that was sponsored by members of the lunatic Religious Right. Rev. Greg Dixon, a bigoted fundamentalist of the worst kind, organized the rally. Keynote speakers were Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant.

The rally was called to push legislation that would allow the state of Indiana to arrest people for being gay and put them in prison. The bill in question specifically called for making homosexuality into a felony. And that means a serious offense against the law, even though no rights are violated.

Prior to the Rally the Falwellians rallied their troops of religious Neanderthals and had them march through the streets of Indianapolis. I marched with them, tape recorder in hand, and interviewed participants, writing notes and taking photographs. I remember one of the photos I took. It was a cherubic young girl, perhaps six-years-old at most. She was standing holding a sign calling for the execution of gay people. In fundamentalist circles they call that “family values.” I guess it is along the line of: “The family that preys together, stays together.”

That year California, and I guess much of the West, was in a drought. No surprises there. California and the West have experienced droughts for as long as history has been recorded. I mention this because of one couple I interviewed. The woman was standing there in her very long dress (anything above the knees was immodest to them). She had a Bible clutched in her hand and pressed up against her breast. Any one in public, with a Bible clutched in full view, is almost always bad news. And, in a sense, so was she. But she was far more amusing that deadly, though I have no doubt she would have happily joined in a stoning of a homosexual or, in times past, happily provided some wood to burn a witch or two.

I asked her why she was participating in this march. She explained that God hates homosexuals and God wants homosexuals punished. If man won’t punish homosexuals then God will punish man. In the deep theology of fundamentalism if you don’t hate the people they hates then their God will beat up your God and hurt you. She then went on to explain that the drought in California was the result of the state being more tolerant of homosexuals than other places in the country. Apparently the drought had nothing to do with the typical climate of the region; it is all based on the whims of her deity.

I asked her: “Are you saying that the presence of homosexuals causes droughts?”

Without hesitation she said: “Yes.”

I couldn’t resist a follow-up question. “Then, if a region is experiencing floods, would it be possible to stop the rain by busing in a lot of homosexuals?”

All right, I knew the question was absolutely ludicrous. Who in their right mind would think you could control the weather by moving gay people around the country? She paused momentarily and then said, “Yes, that would work.” To say the least, I was gobsmacked. I simply didn’t know how to respond to such explicit, utter and total stupidity. But, as I’ve said, when there is no reasonable explanation for what someone does or thinks, then there usually is an unreasonable explanation, and it is usually religious.

That was thirty years ago and society has evolved. But fundamentalist Christians don’t believe in evolution, so they stagnate.

Let us move to modern day Maine. By all standards Maine is relatively civilized place. Of course, there are still some mental antiques wandering around, stuck in some previous, dark age. One of them is Michael Heath, of an outfit called the Christian Civic League. As might be surmised Mr. Heath is a committed religionist who believes that supernatural powers are at work in the world. That would include, not just a deity, but devils and spirits—the sort of images that small children have about existence until they become more intelligent about the reality of life.

Heath is in a panic because Maine allows same-sex marriage. Add to that a spell of bad weather and you have 1977 all over again. In the jungles of the most primitive parts of the world there are people who blame every unfortunate turn of events on some scapegoat. They believe, that if you find the scapegoat, and if you kill it, or drive it out, then you will end the problems you experience. Mr. Heath is a mentally sophisticated as these savages.

In a newspaper column he laments the fact that Maine has had a rather wet summer. As he, rather badly, writes:
Our gardens droop low as if worn out and saddened. Bird and beast stay close to home, and when they do venture out, they too, seem peevish and sullen.

What is missing is the sun. God’s emblem of cheerfulness and benevolence.

Our crops are faring like our moods. The potato crop is blighted, and corn and fruit fields wither. In one historic building in Augusta, rain flood the basement…

And what is the cause of this rain:
…Maine voted in homosexual ‘marriage.’

In May, our elected officials overturned a law of nature, and in its place paid honor to evil and unnatural practices. Our leaders allowed a cloud of error to hide the light of reason, and then the rain began. How fitting that this eclipse of human reason is mirrored by the disappearance of the sun!
Heath admits” “Few people would be bold enough to suggest the cause of the endless rain and gloom, that the moral climate of Maine has caused the sun to hide its face in shame.” He is bold enough. It is raining too much in Maine because gay people were granted equal marriage rights.

Heath says that he doesn’t blame gay people per se, for the rain. “Far from it. The fault lies with a refractory governor and Legislature who imposed an immoral law on our people.” Instead he says the weather is lousy because the state gave gay people equal rights before the law. And he tells his readers, most of whom I suspect were rolling on the floor in hysterical laughter, that worse is to come: “America has seen nothing comparable to Stalin’s show trials… yet. But we are experiencing one long, interminable dark and dreary summer.”

So, even though three decades have passed, the morons that make up Christian fundamentalism have not improved one iota. Notice the conflict between these two cases. When there was too little rain in California, it was God withholding the life-giving rain to punish the sin of homosexuality—a punishment God ended shortly after when he allowed it to rain again, thus sending conflicting messages. Today, in Maine, there is too much rain. So another Village Idiot from Bibleland wanders out to blame the surplus of rain on homosexuality, or at least on the tolerance of homosexuality. Too much rain, blame the homosexuals. Too little rain, blame the homosexuals. Hell, all this time I thought we were supposed to blame global warming for all the unpleastantries of weather.

I don’t get this Christian deity at all. Am I to understand that he sends rain to punish homosexuality and he also withholds rain for the same reason? Jehovah appears a tad bit schizophrenic. He can’t make up his holy mind. Or, is does the impact homosexuals have on the weather different depending on the region in question? If gay marriage is ruining the summer in Maine thwn what happened to the summer in Iowa, which has gay marriage as well. Unfortunately for Mr. Heath the weather in Iowa as been pretty good, with it raining only 9 days out of the month, and three of those days with just trace amounts. There is enough rain to water the crops and enough sun to nourish them, all in all a pretty good balance.

Just think, for a second, how primitive the level of reasoning that is necessary for Heath to draw the conclusions that he does. One has to be practically lobotomized to think this way.

When the Catholics of the Dark Ages faced bad crops, or disease, they routinely blamed Jews and “witches” for the situation. But they were illiterate and uneducated, living in a world where the fundamentals of science had yet to be discovered. Mr. Heath has no such excuse. His ignorance is self-induced. It may well be that he is not a particularly bright man, after all the dumb of the world flock to fundamentalism pretty much the way flies flock to shit. But, neither is there a shortage of people who use religion to close down their critical thinking faculties.

To repeat: when there is no rational explanation for what people think or do, there is probably an irrational one. And when there is, the likelihood is that religion will be involved.

Photo: The grinning moron in the photo is Mr. Heath.

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