Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Whatever Possessed Pat Robertson To Say Gays Are "Possessed"?*

From Crooks and Liars, I learned: "Today the 700 Club featured a segment on a man who tried to 'change' his sexuality by marrying a woman, but later ended up having extramarital affairs with men. The couple reconciled after his 'repentance' and deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle, and decided to stay together. "That type of conduct is wrong and it is time that in society we say certain things are wrong," [Rev. Pat] Robertson said. "He's obsessed, he has a compulsion," he added. "I think it is somehow related to demonic possession."

Martin Luther said that he chased away the Devil by farting in his face. If you want to read something completely loony, try The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for "Hammer of the Witches", or "Der Hexenhammer" in German). What a gas! These people actually believed that nocturnal emissions were the result of visitations by a succubus. Yes, and when I was in my first year in college an animal husbandry major pointed to my pimples, laughed uproarously, and said to anyone stupid enough to listen: "He's been beating his meat again!" Ignorance and stupidity, Schiller said, are invincible even to angels. I put it slightly differently. I say there is no point arguing with dogma.

But to believe in demonic possession in the 21st century is slightly anachronistic to say the least. Ironically, Robertson's supernatural explanation of homosexuality is even at odds with the "reparative therapy" crowd: mostly evangelical in mind-set, these folks refuse to believe that nature, not nurture, determines a person's sexual orientation, and why not? If it were otherwise, the so-called therapists (including Michelle Bachmann's husband Marcus) could not claim a person even needs the therapy. While almost all credentialed (and credible) scientists, from biologists to psychiatrists, accept sexual orientation as innate. Only mis- or uninformed people, or those who are willfully ignorant of the facts, can claim otherwise.

The bigots of all religious stripes also realize that either science or the Bible/Torah/Koran must be wrong. Both Genesis and Leviticus (not to mention the letters of Paul) should guide us in such matters or else we follow the scientific and psychiatric communities and see the Testaments as ancient ignorance and superstition, not as the presentists would have us believe: applicable to how we live today. And when you stop to think about it, the nurture argument goes to the heart of whether we even need religion anymore. Now that science has explained so much, why be fettered by a bunch of silly laws made all the more ridiculous by what we have learned of their times and what we have learned about DNA, neurobiology, and a good many other things.

Evangelical "theapists" believe that since God is omnipotent and good, he would not put queer folks on earth. But if God is omnipotent, why did He not simply prevent births of any potentially-queer people. And if he is omnipotent, and through their free will some disobeyed Him and sinned by becoming queer, why could God not have proved truly omnipotent and prevented people from making the wrong choice?

*Thanks to J. L. Mackie, one of my own pantheon of gods.

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