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Dr. Joe Wenke Headshot

An Abominable Abomination

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"Abomination" is my favorite word in the entire Bible. I'm pretty much a Bible expert. I know all the words in the Bible, at least as it's been translated into English, and I can tell you that "abomination" is the best one. The authors of Leviticus and Deuteronomy use it better than any of the other Old Testament authors. If you want to say that God, the Creator of the Universe, actually wrote the Bible, then I would say that Leviticus and Deuteronomy are where he strutted his best stuff when it came to expressing condemnation and disgust through the use of various Hebrew words translated into English as "abomination."

In Leviticus 18:22 we learn that "you should not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." In Leviticus 20:13 we learn the punishment for both parties who have engaged in this abomination. We are told that "they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them." In Deuteronomy 22:5 we read that "a woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." Clearly, men shall not wear thongs, and women are forbidden to don pantsuits. However, it is not clear if unisex athletic wear is included in this prohibition.

You've got to be kidding! Yes, I am. It's detestable that people use the Bible to justify their own hatred against gay and transgender people. Actually, it's an abomination. Do the authors of the Bible condemn homosexuality? Of course they do. What in the world would you expect from people who lived a couple of thousand years ago in a primitive, prescientific culture with no concept of tolerance or diversity? Come to think of it, that description actually fits a whole lot of people living right now in various outposts of ignorance and intolerance in this great land of ours. Once again, if you truly believe that the Creator of the Universe authored the Bible, then I say, "Fine." But understand this: Just because God is a bigot doesn't make it right. It just makes God a bad god. In fact, if God is a bigot, that's the biggest abomination of all.

So I'm happy that I was able to use my favorite biblical word, and use it quite appropriately, but it's kind of frustrating that we don't really get to use that word very often. I mean, the word is just so sweeping and dramatic. In fairness, it can be used only if the level of bigotry and hatred rise to truly apocalyptic proportions. ("Apocalyptic!" Now that's another one of my favorite biblical words.)

Well, I am here to report that I have found one case in which the use of the word "abomination" is entirely appropriate. It accurately describes a level of bigotry, hatred and, dare I say, ignorance that stands apart. Who am I talking about? Well, it is none other than the Family Research Council. FRC is a tax-exempt abomination. There, I said it, and it just feels so damn good to speak the truth!

Now, that's not how FRC describes itself. You see, they have a finely honed sense of humor. They say that they are "a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, non-profit, educational organization that does not support, endorse or oppose candidates." How Orwellian of them! In reality, FRC is an advocacy group that supports extreme right-wing anti-LGBT Republican candidates and causes.

The president of this abomination is Tony Perkins. Not the Tony Perkins from Psycho. He's dead. This Tony Perkins shows up all the time on cable TV, not just on Fox News but on CNN and MSNBC as well. For example, according to Equality Matters, during the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he appeared 56 times on these networks, including 24 times on MSNBC. In all cases he's presented as a legitimate spokesman for traditional Christian family values rather than as a purveyor of Bible-based hatred and bigotry against LGBT people. Here's an example of what Perkins typically has to say about LGBT people. In a piece called "Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality," he states that "homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence."

On multiple occasions Perkins has supported Uganda's "kill the gays" bill, and FRC lobbied the U.S. Congress against condemning the Ugandan law. Perkins has also aligned himself in the past with white-supremacist organizations. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has designated FRC as a hate group:

In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins against Mary Landrieu, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide their link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity."

I'm opposed to any form of censorship and believe that all points of view need to be considered and debated, but it's wrong for cable news organizations to present hatred and bigotry as legitimate points of view. For example, in the 1960s it would have been an abomination if Meet the Press, in a segment discussing civil rights, had presented Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert M. Shelton, the Grand Wizard of United Klans of America, together and implied that both men held equally legitimate points of view. It is an abomination now when CNN and MSNBC provide a platform for Tony Perkins and FRC. (Forget Fox; they agree with Perkins.)

All of us who support freedom and equality need to speak out on the issue of legitimizing hatred and bigotry. They are unfortunately part of our national discourse, but they need to be called out for what they are, and that is an abomination.