Guilty and unrepentantDecember 31, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
You know, there are some folks as would stab you in the back, and then complain that you got blood all over their nice clean knife. Here‘s Chuck Colson, weeks after Christians used Proposition 8 to violate the civil rights of gays, complaining about the same few, isolated incidents that their villainy provoked:
It began with shouts—foul and violent verbal attacks. Then the assaults became physical. Rioters threw hot coffee on people and began shoving them. One thug yanked a cross out of a woman’s arms and stomped on it. Another grabbed a woman’s Bible, struck her on the head with it, knocked her to the ground, and kicked her. Others engaged in sexual exhibitionism.
This was the vicious aftermath of the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex “marriage.” The attacks were perpetrated by homosexuals angry that voters had passed the measure. They directed the worst of their venom at Mormons, who played an active role in passing the law. It was thug politics at its worst—and believe me, I’ve seen the worst.
The nearest antecedent for the pronoun “it” is “the law,” i.e. Proposition 8, and I would have to agree that it is indeed thug politics at its worst—a bunch of Christians ganging up on an unpopular minority to impose cruel and inhuman punishments on them just because they don’t like them. But Chuck isn’t telling the whole story about the “attacks” this bigoted injustice provoked.
Where did this all take place? When did it occur? Nov. 14th, just 10 days after Prop. H8, a group of about a dozen Christian young people decided to descend on a street corner in a heavily gay neighborhood in San Francisco to sing hymns and worship the God Who, with their help, had just robbed gays of their right to choose their own spouses. It wasn’t enough, you see, to use the law against gays. They had to go right into the gays’ home neighborhoods and rub their faces in it.
You can watch a video of the confrontation here. The Christians are the ones hiding behind the police, looking scared. None of them, you will notice, are singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” or making any other confident boasts about how their faith protects them from their enemies. They look like they’re seriously worried they might end up meeting their Savior. Deep down, they know that “divine protection” only happens in the stories you tell from the pulpit.
And yet, for all the Christian’s fears and outrage, the response by the gays is remarkably self-restrained for the most part. They are loud, certainly, and they make it clear that their oppressors are not welcome in their neighborhood, and there might even have been an isolated incident or three where someone went a bit too far. But there are no burning cars, no bloodshed, no looting. Compared to the reaction when Rodney King’s civil rights were violated, the gays’ response is exemplary for its civilized and largely self-controlled reaction to such grave injustice.
Colson, of course, tries to make it sound like the gay reaction was all out of proportion to the wrong they suffered. (It was: it was far less than the offense that provoked it.) According to Colson, “It began with shouts—foul and violent verbal attacks.” Isn’t that clever? “Violent verbal attacks.” In other words, violent non-violent attacks. And what few incidents there were that actually did get physical were both isolated and relatively mild. In the six weeks since Prop H8 passed, Colson still only has those 3 examples: hot coffee was allegedly thrown, a cross stomped on, and a girl knocked down and kicked (and rescued, Colson fails to mention, by nearby gays, who apologized for the attacker’s behavior).
What we’ve got going on here is plain old ordinary guilt. Colson’s conscience won’t let him rest, because he knows that he and his fellow believers have been party to unprovoked cruelty and oppression of a minority that has done him no harm beyond merely existing, in defiance of his own prejudice and bigotry. So he tries to project his guilt onto them, to exaggerate their “provocation” in order to try and justify the belligerence of Prop H8, even though Prop H8 happened first.
And despite his guilt, he is still unrepentant, as were those “brave” Christian crusaders who tried to put de Jeebus on the Castro district just as though they’d done nothing wrong and had nothing to worry about.
When I watched the violence on television, memories came back of earlier generations of thugs: Bull Conner, who, with the help of brutal cops, used violence and intimidation to chase African Americans out of the public square. Or roving gangs of Nazi brownshirts who ruled the streets of Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Do opponents of Proposition 8 who attacked Mormons and their churches think they’re any better than Bull Conner, or nicer than Nazi thugs? I don’t.
Colson’s conscience is working against him in subtle ways. The Nazis rose to power the same way Prop H8 came to power: by democratic vote. And when the Nazis came to power, they passed laws against gays, just like Colson and his minions. Perhaps this fact is motivating Colson to continue his shameful confession.
When it became clear that Mormons were being singled out for punishment, religious leaders of every stripe, including me, signed our names to a full-page ad in the New York Times sponsored by the esteemed Becket Fund. It was titled “No Mob Veto.” The signatories included Nathan Diament, Alveda King, William Donahue, and Roger Scruton.
“Mob veto.” I like that. It’s hard to think of a phrase that better describes the act of a bunch of Christians getting together to use mob law to veto gay couple’s choice of life partner—which is none of Colson’s business anyway. If he’s really serious about ending the mob veto, he ought to work to repeal Prop H8. But he’s not, of course.
We also are committed to “exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason.”
I hope others will join us—especially those who claim to support civil rights. Will they condemn the attacks, will they remain silent, or—ugliest of all—will they excuse the violence?
There is no excuse for what Christians have done to gays, and to abuse the law to turn it into an instrument of oppression is itself an act of violence, a robbery of civil rights and an institution of persecution. You don’t get to claim to be the good guys when you’re acting out the bad guy’s script, Chuck. Gays, for the most part, have done nothing more than to expose and publicly shame those who are resorting to the rhetoric of anti-minority bigotry AND anti-minority activism and oppression. They gay example, with few exceptions, is one that Christians like Colson would have a hard time living up to.