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Rev. Mel White Headshot

President Obama Says 'No' to Holy Terrorism

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When President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, he gave our nation a far greater gift than marriage equality for millions of gay and lesbian couples. He spent a lot of time "evolving" on the issue, but in the end the President showed us that he would not give way to terrorists, even those "holy terrorists" on the Christian right who threatened God's wrath upon this nation if gays and lesbians were given the rights and protections of marriage.

Fundamentalists, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jew, use violence or the threat of violence to intimidate and coerce, especially for political purposes. Christian terrorists may not strap on bombs or toss hand grenades or spray a sidewalk café with automatic weapons. Instead, they promise that their God will do the dirty work for them.

We should not be surprised that holy terrorists use the threat of God's wrath to accomplish their political goals when they use the threat of God's wrath to intimidate or coerce their own children. In spite of all the psychological, scientific, historic, and even biblical evidence to the contrary, Christian pastors, priests, and parents still warn their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children that God doesn't love them as they are and that if they accept their sexual orientation as good, right, and blessed, God will abandon them to hell.

Playing the "wrath of God" card is not new to American politics. Recent surveys make it clear that the Tea Party movement is simply the old Christian right in disguise. More than half the Tea Party members surveyed believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, that America is a Christian nation, and that public officials should pay more attention to (the Christian) religion. Sixty-three percent believe that abortion should not be legal. Eighty-two percent oppose same-sex marriage. I do not hate my sisters and brothers on the Christian right, but I do fear their growing political power.

Republican candidates for president tripped all over themselves trying to win the hearts and minds of the new/old Christian right. Governor Romney continues to pander and placate. It is no longer just "the economy, stupid." In this election year, democracy is still threatened by theocracy. The Constitution is still threatened by biblical law. And holy terrorists are still using the threat of God's wrath to superimpose their beliefs on the rest of us. Gay Americans should celebrate all the advances being made toward full equality, but we must not forget that the civil and religious rights we have gained are easily reversed if the holy terrorists have their way.

According to the Baltimore Sun, at a hearing on Maryland's proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at American University, was requested to testify. At the end of his testimony, Republican senator Nancy Jacobs said, "As I read Biblical principles, marriage was intended, ordained, and started by God. That is my belief." Raskin replied, "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible," eliciting applause from some people in the room.

Unfortunately, too many Americans are not applauding. The Tea Party mentality supports Senator Jacobs when she suggests that the "laws of God" are the ultimate authority over laws and protections based on the U.S. Constitution. The campaign to amend the North Carolina State Constitution was led almost entirely by holy terrorists misusing the Bible to turn ancient superstition and modern ignorance into law.

But I celebrate the fact that for whatever personal and political reasons, our president's support for marriage equality reaffirms his belief that we are not a Christian nation, that in this democracy the Constitution trumps biblical law, and that over the long haul our president will not be held hostage by holy terrorists warning the nation of "God's wrath."