Mel White is no stranger to Christianity or to the Religious Right. He spent decades both preaching and in writing the stories of Religious Right leaders. While he did that, he fought the voice inside him that told him he was gay.
When he finally could deny it no longer, and came out as a gay man, most or nearly most all of those who had been his friends, his co-religionists, abandoned him. He became one of “them” those who were “loved as sinners while his ‘sin’ was hated.”
He has written a truly remarkable book about how the Religious Right has made war upon the gay and lesbian community. He documents in detail how they have set out to not just destroy the gay community, but to work tirelessly to deny them the rights granted to the heterosexual world.
I’ve read a river of books and articles on fundamentalism. I know how dangerous it is. What amazes us all who understand the fundamentalist mentality, is that they do not see that they are no different from Islamist Jihadists or other extremists in Judaism or in other faith. It is a methodology of reading a religious text in a manner that agrees with your own needs. It is fundamentally out of line with the true import of those texts. It supplies the “evidence” needed to attack the “enemy” with all manner of violence if necessary.
Mel White opens the dark cavern of fundamentalist thinking and plotting to the open air for all to see. They, in their misplaced righteousness have destroyed and continue to destroy the lives of good men and women and teens across the country with their language of “other”.
They have completely replaced the Gospel of love and justice preached by Jesus, and replaced it with any angry violent God who will strike down the homosexual for his/her abomination. All based on seven or eight verses from the bible which are twisted and taken out of context to say what they want it to say. They are inerrant literalists when convenient, while ignoring hundreds of verses that teach love, mercy, tolerance, acceptance, service and forgiveness.
Mel White and people like him have every reason to hate those who oppress and viciously attack them unceasingly. These folks have made it their goal to eradicate them if possible or at least run them to ground and silence them. They tell all manner of lie and innuendo in service of their goal.
Yet White argues in the manner of Gandhi and King that outloving one’s enemies is the only way. He champions the active use of passive resistance as the means to claim their rightful place in the American drama.
I have only two criticisms. I found the chapter on the resemblance of anti-gay activism to anti-Semitic Nazism to be over done. While there are parallels, we are all I think put off by these kind of comparisons, particularly when we are faced with a Political Right today who uses this focus continually regarding the President. Sadly the Left has been seduced as well into making the same types of comparison vis-a-vis the Right’s actions regarding women’s reproductive rights, and voter suppression. The analogy to Nazism is has simply been done to death, and most often improperly.
Secondly, Mr. White refers to the biblical story of the centurion whose servant Jesus healed. Apparently the relationship was not one of master and slave according to Mr. White, but of two gay men. I have found nothing in my fairly extensive study of this the New Testament that justifies this apparent leap of logic. A weak argument is no argument at all. I think the point was well made without trying to include that stretch. As Mr. White rightly points out, homosexuality, as we understand it today, was a concept fairly unknown to that time. There was no word for it, the term homosexuality not being coined until the 18th century as I believe.
But these two minor criticisms take away nothing from the overall value and power of the book. Those who are progressives need to read it to be better armed to help in this so important fight for the rights of our gay brothers and sisters. Those in the LGBTQ community, can always benefit from more information and the underpinnings of why the way of King and Gandhi are the method mostly likely win the day.
It’s a well documented book. It is worth your reading.
**This book was sent to me free of charge for the purposes of review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone. There is no other agreement between myself and the author or publisher.
- Mel White’s “Holy Terror” (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)