Central PA's LGBT News Source


Is there an American Taliban?

Nov/Dec 2017


By Frank Pizzoli

Like the graphic proclaims: Need for Allah’s Law, Not Man Made Law. The claim calls for the installation of Sharia Law into a nation’s civil and judicial affairs. If taken, this step removes the separation of Church and State. That’s not something that can happen in the United States.

Or could it?

With announcement last month of the Trump-Pence administration’s rule changes on how the Federal government should handle LGBT issues, it’s not a hair-on-fire homosexual question to ask: Is there an American Taliban?

Is there a particular brand of organized Christian leaders, churches, and think tanks that resemble the Taliban?

Anticipating hair-on-fire dramatic reactions from those who disagree, I’m not claiming the AT is armed and actively killing LGBT people or rounding them up, like in Azerbaijan (See Political Round Up, page X). Still, we have our share of attention-seeking professional Christians who glory in their Lord and and political power. (Like most people with power. That’s why Lord Acton said: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Personally, I think excessive religiosity is a form of mental illness dressed in theological drag.
I don’t seek out or trust excessively religious folks. They can always throw you under a bus for their God, same as they can always find ways to, oh, you know – lie, cheat, steal – for their God.

Take the example of PA Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, a longtime supporter of anti-abortion legislation, who will not seek re-election next year following revelations he had pressured the woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to have an abortion. As a Congressman, Murphy’s been anti-choice and anti-LGBT all the way. But apparently not opposed to Abortion for me, not for you. Was he honest in his public life about his positions on abortion?

How is Murphy different than the man in the graphic asking that Allah’s Law be followed? How are the promoters of Christian ideals within and on the periphery of the Trump Administration different from the men in the image?

Then we have Vice President Mike Pence.

He’s a self-described "Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” When in Congress Pence was a prominent conservative figure in battles over marriage equality and equal rights in the last decade.

On LGBT civil rights, Pence’s positions are -

- gay couples signal 'societal collapse'
- being gay a choice
- his keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of "God's idea."
- opposed a law prohibiting discrimination against gay people in the workplace
- opposed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
- He rejected the Obama administration directive on transgender bathrooms

In October, Trump-Pence Administration rules changes indicates that LGBT people and women will be at risk in some of the following ways, according to the Human Rights Campaign:

- A federal contractor could refuse to provide services to LGBT people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts
- Organizations that had previously been prohibited from requiring all of their employees from following the tenets of the organization’s faith could now possibly discriminate against LGBT people in the provision of benefits and overall employment status
- Agencies receiving federal funding, and even their individual staff members, could refuse to provide services to LGBT children in crisis, or to place adoptive or foster children with a same-sex couple or transgender couple simply because of who they are
“Many right-wing Christians have convinced themselves that he (Trump) is a leader in the tradition of Cyrus the Great or King David who, while being deeply flawed, can be used as an instrument of God’s will,” writes Salon political writer Chauncey Devega. “Christian evangelicals’ rejection of empirical reality and their habituation into believing the absurd and the fantastical mates perfectly with the zealotry of the broader American right, which views politics as a form of religious fundamentalism.”

Are we there yet? Is America turning into a Theocracy like the Muslim nations it opposes?

“Trump is a Trojan horse for a cabal of vicious zealots who have long craved an extremist Christian theocracy, and Pence is one of its most prized warriors,” Jeremy Scahill wrote right after the 2016 election in an article for The Intercept entitled “Mike Pence Will Be The Most Powerful Christian Supremacist in U.S. History.”

“Pence has been a reliable stalwart throughout his public life in the cause of Christian jihad — never wavering in his commitment to America-First militarism, criminalizing abortion, and utter hatred for gay people (unless they go into conversion therapy “to change their sexual behavior,” which Pence has suggested the government pay for),” Scahill writes.

Christian jihad?

Are we there yet, at least at the regulatory and legislative level?

Pennsylvania has same-sex marriage not because an enlightened General Assembly took action to provide that basic civil right to LGBT people. They had to follow the US Supreme court decision by not enforcing a law passed in 1996 as a trade-off for budget goodies. Pennsylvania still has no basic civil rights protections for gay folks. Will an LGBT civil rights protection bill be again traded off or watered down to meaningless as a way to cobble together yet another state budget as phantasmagorical as some Christian explanations of our origins?

What’s it going to take? What’s going to happen next in Pennsylvania and the nation?