Home / News / Chicken scratch — It's not about hating Christians or their political views, but funding propaganda that demonizes gays and lesbians
Chicken scratch — It's not about hating Christians or their political views, but funding propaganda that demonizes gays and lesbians

Chicken scratch — It's not about hating Christians or their political views, but funding propaganda that demonizes gays and lesbians

Page 83 of Bruce Bagemihl's 1999 book, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, lists chickens as just one of many species that exhibit gay behavior.

But most people these days are interested in Christian-fried chicken, not homosexual poultry.

When Chick fil-A CEO Dan Cathy admitted on July 16 to the Baptist Press that he was "guilty as charged" in his stance against same sex marriage, a media firestorm of biblical proportions erupted.  Cathy also declared, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."

The Jim Henson Company, which provided some toys for the chicken restaurant's kids' meals, said that it was going to stop doing business with the restaurant. In questionable moves, officials with Boston and Chicago voiced opinions that they would block Chick fil-A restaurants from opening in their districts. A National Gay Day at Chick fil-A was formed to draw protesters to the restaurants on August 1.  There have been calls for boycotts of the restaurant chain.

Outraged, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said he was "incensed" at the way Chick-fil-A was treated and launched a nationwide "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" for August 1, urging people to visit the restaurant that day.

Intolerance of Propaganda, Not Christians.

The "protest Chick fil-A movement" has been characterized as "radical homosexuals" being intolerant of Christian values.

According to the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, "The real haters are homosexuals. The real venom is coming from those that support the homosexual agenda, either homosexual activists, homosexuals, or those that support the homosexual agenda. They are the real haters. There is a heterophobic hatred, there is a Christophobic hatred that is just seething, there's a dark, venomous, demonic hatred that is in the homosexual community."

To deem supporters of gay rights as hateful toward Christianity is remarkably sweeping, particularly since not all Christian denominations condemn homosexuality.

As Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters points out, the real reason for criticism of Chick fil-A is its support of organizations that spread false propaganda:

In 2010, Chick-Fil-A donated nearly $2 million to groups who make it their mission to attack the gay community through lies and distortions. These groups push several false notions from homosexuality is connected to pedophilia to the idea that gays can change their orientation – an idea frowned on by the legitimate scientific community.

Groups such as the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Concerned Women for America, the National Organization for Marriage and others identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate groups for peddling false and misleading propaganda about the LGBT community (not for their Biblical stances) have made it their business to lobby against gays, whether over marriage, civil unions, service in the military, or hate crime protection. Generally, the groups boycotting Chick fil-A do not want their money supporting those causes.

The following is a collage of statements made by the Family Research Council, a beneficiary of millions of Chick fil-A dollars:


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In the above video, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, is shown making one claim after another about the LGBT community.  Perkins alleged that Judge Vaughn Walker, the district court judge hearing the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the citizen initiative that reversed marriage equality in California, was biased in his ruling against Prop 8 because he was gay and ignored the evidence. David Boies, one of the lead attorneys challenging the proposition, told Face the Nation and Perkins,

Well, it's easy to sit around and debate and throw around opinions, appeal to people's fear and prejudice, cite studies that either don't exist or don't say what you say they they do. In a court of law, you've got to come in and you've got to support those opinions. You've got to stand up under oath and cross examination. And what we saw at trial was that it's very easy for the people who want to deprive gay and lesbian citizens the right to vote [sic - marry], to make all sorts of statements in campaign literature or in debates where they can't be cross examined, but when they come into court and they have to support those opinions and they have to defend those opinions under oath and cross examination, those opinions just melt away. And that's what happened here. There simply wasn't any evidence. There weren't any of those studies. There weren't any empirical studies. That's just made up. That's junk science. And it's easy to say that on television, but the witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court, you can't do that. And that's what we proved. We put fear and prejudice on trial and fear and prejudice lost.

Peter Sprigg, also of the Family Research Council, is shown in the above video, saying that homosexual behavior should be criminalized.

CBS News reports, "The conservative Family Research Council sent its supporters an email on Friday, signed by its evangelical leader Tony Perkins, lamenting that Chick-fil-A's 'simple affirmation of biblical truth has sent homosexual activists into a frenzy' and asking supporters to support the restaurant."

Writing for the American Family Association's filtered news service, One News Now, conservative commentator Star Parker questioned whether it was "un-American" to be Christian and declared, "The current hate campaign being waged by homosexual activists against fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, because of the firm's Christian values, may well turn out to be a bridge too far. The effort may prove to be a setback for homosexual activism.  The vile attacks on the firm and its owners, the Cathy family, should make clear, finally, that the "gay rights" movement is not about refining and advancing American freedom, but about rewriting American values and advancing, not freedom, but the homosexual political agenda."

Double Standards.

According to the Christian right, it seems that boycotting companies that fund anti-gay causes is intolerant, demonic, and suppressing freedom.  The rules appear to be different for conservative Christians.  Religious right groups have recently boycotted and/or started letter writing campaigns to companies that are gay-friendly, such as General Mills (for "mocking God with homosexual sin"), Home Depot, Office Depot, Oreo Cookies (Kraft), the Girls Scouts, Starbucks, Archie Comics, McDonalds, Old Navy, JC Penney, and Wal-Mart.  Tony Perkins criticized the Girl Scouts for hiring LGBT staff members because "the progressive agenda behind this liberal indoctrination, they are going to where the kids are. They’re not having kids so they want to make sure they can get our kids, and they are going to these organizations."  There was even talk by the American Family Association about boycotting Google, but only Janet Porter of Faith2Action seems to be the one carrying it out. Porter writes, "While it may be next to impossible to avoid all of the social media that Google owns, this is one more good reason to have your e-mail and conduct your searches with someone else!"


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Said one of the Christian groups urging boycotts,

Christians believe homosexual sin is an "abomination" to God and "against nature" as Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1 say. Unrepentant sexual sins prevent one from going to Heaven (1Corinthians 6:9-11).

Why would Starbucks, Nike and Amazon promote what God says He judges nations for? Christians don't want God to judge the USA (2Peter 2:6, 2Chronicles 19:2).

The most important question is do we love God? Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him with God's marriage (John 14:21).

The Deadly Consequences of Extremism.

Chick fil-A has quietly given money to groups like the Family Research Council and is opposed to marriage equality.  In America, it and its owners have every right to do so.  And people have every right to decide not to dine there.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Wendy Powell notes, "Chick-fil-A didn't hang out a shingle announcing the views of the CEO; there was no denial of service to anyone; no hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation. Most people go there for chicken, no lesson in morality or religion, nothing more."

The problem is the huge emotional reactions to public statements, particularly when society is crackling with fumes of religious fundamentalism eager to boycott and even kill.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), in its "Dump Starbucks" campaign launched because NOM "will not tolerate" Starbucks' stance for marriage equality in Washington state, made a point of saying that not only would it  place anti-Starbucks ads throughout the United States, but it was also going to place ads throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  Why fan the flames in the Middle East, which is notorious for killing gays and lesbians? In the following video, a young man gives a heart wrenching testimony of how his gay brother was tortured and killed for being gay — just one of hundreds routinely murdered for their homosexuality.


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There have been recent public calls by Christian extremists for the death and/or incarceration of gays and lesbians in the U.S.

The People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch reports that last week, pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson of Generations with Vision "longed for a time when Christians 'brought the death penalty upon homosexuality' and 'for about 1,500 years that form of life had pretty much been eliminated except here and there.'"

Pastor Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist Church in Kansas suggested in May that the government should kill homosexuals because God commands it and he's not ashamed to say it.


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Also in May, Pastor Charles Worley, of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, said that gays and lesbians needed to be tossed in a type of concentration camp, with an electrified fence so that they cannot get out. He said they could get fed, but in time, would die out because they cannot reproduce.

This type of rhetoric is nothing new in the U.S. "culture wars."  But it is also rigorously promoted outside of the country.

In Political Resource Associates (PRA)' press release published last week, titled "Groundbreaking PRA Investigation Exposes Influence of U.S. Religious Conservatives in Promoting Homophobia in Africa — U.S. Christian Right also mobilizes African clerics in U.S. 'culture war' over ordination of LGBT clergy," PRA writes:

Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) has discovered.

Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, PRA Project Director, exposes the U.S. Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles. U.S. social conservatives, who are in the minority in mainline churches, depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions as their growing numbers makes African Christians more influential globally.

The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.

These partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches' recognition of the full equality of LGBT people, in part due to liberals’ sensitivity to the charge of colonialism. However, as Kaoma argues, it is U.S. conservatives who are imposing their own concerns about homosexuality on Africa.   Further, although U.S. conservatives have organized African religious leaders as a visible force opposing LGBT equality, it would be wrong to conclude that all of Africa stands with these clerics and their U.S. patrons.

In the United States, Kaoma focuses on “renewal” groups in The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church USA, and Presbyterian Church USA; U.S conservative evangelicals; and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a neoconservative think tank that for decades has sought to undermine Protestant denominations' tradition of progressive social justice work.

In Africa, Kaoma investigates ties U.S. conservatives have established with religious leaders in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya and the impact of homophobia exported from the United States to these Anglophone countries.

As Kaoma argues, the U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.

"We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks challenged U.S. evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening them with death. The scapegoating must stop."

While the American side of the story is known to LGBT activists and their allies witnessing struggles over LGBT clergy within Protestant denominations in the United States, what’s been missing is the effect of the Right’s proxy wars on Africa itself. Kaoma’s report finally brings this larger, truly global picture into focus.

“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword.   “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.”

Leaders within mainline Protestant denominations hailed the report.

"The exploitation of African Christians by right-wing organizations in the United States is reprehensible. Where were these individuals and organizations and their leaders during the struggles against colonialism and apartheid? They certainly were not standing in solidarity with the people of Africa. Today, they use a variety of corrupt practices and methods in a vain attempt to turn back the tide of history. This report reveals the truth about what is going on and should be required reading for American church leaders," said Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church.

For his 16-month investigation, Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia, traveled in the United States and Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, attended the notorious antigay conference of Uganda’s Family Life Network in March, and documented concerns among the region’s clergy that U.S. conservatives are contributing to corruption among bishops with their lax requirements for donated funds.

Although written primarily for a U.S. audience, Globalizing the Culture Wars is certain to cause a stir in English-speaking Africa, where conservative U.S. evangelicals have for too long escaped the close scrutiny of African social justice activists and movements.

Kapya Kaoma

Project Director Kapya Kaoma is an Anglican priest from Zambia now leading churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. A doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Theology, he has studied in evangelical schools in Zambia and the United Kingdom. From 1998 to 2001, he served as dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Mutare, Zimbabwe and lecturer at Africa University, where he coauthored a text in ethics, Unity in Diversity. From 2001 to 2002, he was academic dean of St. John’s Anglican Seminary in Kitwe, Zambia, where he launched its women’s studies and church school training programs. An active campaigner for women’s reproductive rights, Kaoma is a passionate activist for social witness in the world.

Extremism Begets Extremism.

Gays and lesbians account for only about 2-4 percent of the population, yet if the Christian right is to be taken seriously, they are more powerful than the military's most potent and advanced weaponry.  The religious right has blamed gays and lesbians for floods, fires and tornadoes.  They've been blamed for this year's drought across America and the nation's economic woes.   They've been blamed for bird deaths in Arkansas.  They are accused of being pedophiles bent on recruiting and "indoctrinating" children. They've been blamed for the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001.  They've been accused of being the Nazis responsible for the Holocaust.  They've been characterized as a national security threat.  And if they continue with their "homosexual agenda"of "destroying families," they will ultimately cause the destruction of America.

Given these ongoing characterizations and propaganda, it's no wonder the LGBT community and its supporters are getting weary of the rhetoric — and the Chick fil-A announcement may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  For a time, Chick fill-A's Facebook page went completely out of control when it was filled with vitriolic comments.  There was a backlash of criticism in articles unleashed on the Internet.  Calls to deny business permits by leftist politicians legitimately fanned the flames of "loss of religious liberty" concerns.

Conclusion.

Christians — even the ones who dislike gay marriage — are not all hate-filled homophobes and liars.  Gays and lesbians are not out to destroy Christianity.

David Blankenhorn, who was called by the Prop. 8 Proponents as their star witness against marriage for gay and lesbian couples, is a thoughtful, honest man who is brave enough to look at both sides of the issue.  Last June, he opined,

…I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.

Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.”

The Dalai Lama of Tibet, in his musings about compassion and happiness, wrote,

Even when we engage in ordinary conversation in everyday life, if someone speaks with human feeling we enjoy listening, and respond accordingly; the whole conversation becomes interesting, however unimportant the topic may be. On the other hand, if a person speaks coldly or harshly, we feel uneasy and wish for a quick end to the interaction. From the least to the most important event, the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.

Recently I met a group of scientists in America who said that the rate of mental illness in their country was quite high-around twelve percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion that the main cause of depression was not a lack of material necessities but a deprivation of the affection of the others.

True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.

Will there ever be an end to the false claims, finger pointing and hate?  Perhaps if we all follow the words of a famous Biblical character named Jesus who didn't talk about homosexuals, but who is quoted in Luke 6:31 as saying, "Do to others as you would have them do to you," the madness will stop.

 

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
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