Monday, July 10, 2006
by Wayne Besen
In an effort to ban same-sex marriage, white evangelical leaders have entered into a sordid marriage
of convenience with a few likeminded black preachers. This unholy alliance is not a beacon of true diversity, but rather a diversity of ways to attack people who are different or hold divergent beliefs. In a perverse way, these ministers have advanced equality in that they have proven, if nothing else, that hate can be colorblind.
Just last week, for example, a leading anti-gay
black preacher and ally of Jeb Bush, Rev. O'Neal Dozier, spewed bigoted remarks about Muslims on a right wing radio show
. He explained that he was leading the charge to block an Islamic Center from being built in a Fort Lauderdale suburb because "Islam is a dangerous religion."
Instead of apologizing for his remarks, Dozier threw gasoline on the fire in an interview with The Miami Herald
. The preacher explained in no uncertain terms that Islam was a synonym for Osama.
"We don't want our area to be a breeding ground for terrorists," Dozier said.
Dozier sounds an awful lot like former segregationist Rev. Jerry Falwell, who in 2002 told 60 Minutes, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist."
This week, Dozier will be leading a protest at a Pompano Beach Commission meeting to lobby against plans to build the new mosque. He has assembled a number of conservative preachers who seemingly believe that only their brand of Christianity should be allowed a home in South Florida.Of course, these preachers won't flat out say they are against constitutionally protected freedom of religion, expression, association and speech.
So, Dozier's partner in crime, Rev. Alonzo C. Neal of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, explained that Muslims were not the problem - it was their behavior.
"It's not their religion," said Neal, "it's their track record."
Is it just me or is this language eerily similar to the "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric used against gays? Funny, but I don't remember mainstream Muslims causing mayhem in Florida.
However, I do remember busybody fundamentalist Christians harassing women outside the state's abortion clinics. I do seem to recall neo-Puritans terrorizing judges and family members during the disgraceful Terri Schiavo debacle. It seems these preachers should worry about the track records of their evangelical friends before they point the finger at Muslims.
Furthermore, it is amusing to see the contorted attempts at tolerance by these "men of God." Dozier and Neal have unending love for gays that don't act gay and Muslims that don't act Muslim. It is remarkably generous of them to love and accept all who act and believe exactly as they do.
The Dozier incident is reminiscent of 1998 when the extreme right teamed up
with the late football star and preacher Reggie White
to bash gays. In a speech to the Wisconsin State Legislature, White proclaimed that Asians can turn a TV into a watch, blacks excel at celebration and dance, Latinos can fit 20 or 30 people into one house, and whites are great with money.
And more recently, one of the nation's leading African American "ex-gay" preachers, D.L. Foster, disgraced himself by attacking me for my Jewish faith and drove home his point by drawing a Hitler mustache on my picture.
It is worth noting that there is a rift in the GLBT community on how to handle attacks by African American preachers working in cahoots with the religious right. One side of the argument, articulated by writer Chelsea Jennings
in The Washington Blade, says that it is counterproductive to compare ourselves to the civil rights movement. The polar opposite view comes from the group Faith in America
, which claims that today's "religion based-bigotry" against gay people is a direct descendent from the civil rights era and should be confronted head-on.
I happen to agree with Faith in America. It is no coincidence that racists of yesteryear, such as Falwell, are today's leading anti-gay opponents. They are eager to gain black support to justify their latest pet prejudice. And, no one has convinced me that there is a marked difference between racism, religious persecution, sexism and homophobia.
While each has its unique characteristics, they are all equally unjust. The unholy alliance is having a measure of success. When the New York Court of Appeals ruled against same-sex marriage last week, Judge Robert S. Smith
said comparing racism to homophobia was a false analogy.
Thankfully, preachers such as Dozier, Neal and Foster are making it easy to connect the dots and show that haters rarely confine their prejudices to one group. Instead of giving cover, this new marriage of malignance is uncovering the right wing's true narrow minded agenda - in black and white.