The Religious Right is Wrong, The Ethics of Religion and the Gay Community
Dr. F. Lee Barham
Publisher: Bridgeview Press (September 16, 2013)
OK, it is important for me to tell you right off the bat that the man who wrote this book is a Christian. Not a member of the religious right nor any sort of fundamentalist, but if you are an atheist, an agnostic, Jewish or Muslim or any number of other persuasions you may not find this book all that compelling. It might interest you as being full of pretty convincing arguments in case you get into it with a born again Christian, and it won’t cost you a penny, so what the heck? Buy it.
Dr. Barham makes lots of simple and some not so simple points that utterly refute what the Religious Right have to say about GLB people. You notice I did not add the T because this book is not about transgender people at all. That’s fine. We can write a separate book if need be. He makes lots of convincing arguments, the first of which has to do with the reason the Religious Right has taken on the GLB community at all. The fact that there are not very many communists left for them to yell at or be paranoid about is that reason. They lost the Red Menace so they had to take on a Lavender One, or rainbow if you prefer. That ultimately is all you need to know, because the arguments they all give for why they hate GLB people are nonsense. Even if you believe in the Bible, the fact of the matter is that it does not say gays are evil and bad and it does say a whole lot more about everyone else. I had this debate a couple years ago with my next door neighbors and all I can say is I wish I had read this book before that… I would have had an answer to everything these Box of Rocks idiots said. The point is, however, that they would not have heard a word of it. They believe what they want to believe, and don’t confuse them with the facts.
So here are some of the other points Dr. Barham makes about why the Religious Right is wrong:
1. The Bible itself is no authority on Christian belief. The present constitution of the Bible did not even get decided on until the fourth century A.D. Even if you like the version the Emperor Constantine liked, you have to choose a translation, since, contrary to what Michelle Bachman seems to believe, it was not written in English but had to be translated. There are quite a few translations and in every case the agenda of the translator comes through. My absolute favorite is how, when the New Living Bible was produced they changed the two men who kissed to reconcile their differences to just shaking hands. Every other translation stuck to kissed. It is well know, I might add, that when King James I of England had his version of the Bible done he was nutso about witches and changed the Hebrew word for “poisoner” to “witch”, which had plenty of repercussions.
2. The few passages where homosexuals are mentioned are flawed in translation as well. There is some question about what the old Hebrew or Greek words meant, since there seems to be some indication that only homosexual acts as part of Canaanite pagan rituals is intended by what is written in the Bible -- the Jews were lots more paranoid about the Gentiles than the generally unknown homosexual. In any case, there is nothing whatever in the Bible about lesbians. Or, as in the case of the angels who visited Lot in Sodom, if you actually read the story you may, as Dr. Barham does, decide it was some other issue God was mad about, or you might just be disgusted at the fact that Lot sends his two virgin daughters out to be raped by the mob, and, for that matter, that God chooses to nuke a couple cities just because the people who lived there were not observant Jews but pagans.
3. If you believe the Religious Right when they insist that marriage should be between one man and one woman, you won’t find examples thereof in the Bible. Adam and Eve never married. The rest of the luminaries in the Bible had more than one wife at a time and often numerous concubines. The women were not considered full humans, had no say in their marriage, nor in how they got the babies they had, and what would happen to them if their husbands ditched them or died. Citing modern statistics Barham points out that the record of marriages to divorce is heavily leaning to the latter and that this goes double it seems with the Religious Right. Dr. Barham loves to point out how Bob Barr, the fellow who pushed for the Defense of Marriage Act could easily have been asked which of his three marriages he planned to fight for the sanctity of.
Where the book goes astray is when Dr. Barham talks about eunuchs – why? – and starts positing that everyone from David and Ruth to Jesus and Paul were all likely gay. That may be but I don’t think so, and frankly the fact that they were mostly fictional is more compelling to me.
The book is long, but you probably don’t have to read every word like I did, since you aren’t reading the book in a form accessible to the blind.
The arguments themselves are clearly made and irrefutable, for the most part, and full of examples and references. I think this book could have used professional editorial advice, but that’s how it goes. It doesn’t appear to have been. Sadly the Religious Right will just say “Don’t’ bother me with the facts” but I suppose some fairly liberal doubting Thomases might be swayed. I’m a nonbeliever so I am just grateful to have specific answers to my neighbor’s taunts. Though he and his wife just laughed at the ones I did make.