Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dispatches from the Holy War: Winning

We could debate the accuracy of the second half of this church sign, floating around the Internet last week. But the first half is certainly true --- "thanks be to God," as some say.

But Franklin Graham, running around now saying that Americans "turned our backs on God" by re-electing Barack Obama, seems to have missed the point. Our folly will bring God's judgment and ultimate destruction, Billy's little boy says.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, after after acknowledging that all those anti-Obama petitions by the National Day of Prayer task force went unacknowledge, lamented that God said "no" and declared, we're living in "a time of judgment."

From John Hagee, Texas megachurch preacher, "God will hold America responsible" for electing Obama, casting marriage equality votes in four states, etc., etc.

Sour grapes, sure. But across America, Evangelical preachers are licking their chops now --- waiting for the smiting to begin.

On the other hand, some would argue that God said "yes" on Election Day. Golly, the Big Guy's a queer Democrat, too.


But back to that sign and the possibility LGBT voters actually did tip the election in favor of progress. The Williams Institute's Gary Gates concluded last week that there's a degree of accuracy in this contention.

Five percent of the U.S. electorate identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, he concluded; and LGBT voters supported Barack Obama by a margin of 76 percent to 22 (yes, Virginia, there are gay Republicans),  figures based on exit polling.

That, Gates says, conceivably could have made the difference for the Democrat ticket in states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado.

And, we're members of all those other swing constituiencies, too --- African-American, Hispanic, Single Women, Asian-American and Jewish. God's great rainbow coalition. Franklin Graham's worst nightmare.


The great tipping point toward LGBT equality emerged during the term of a gentle and unassuming Christian soldier named V. Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. Consecrated as bishop during November of 2003, he's now preparing to retire.

Susan Russell, a California-based Episcopal priest and LGBT activist, attended both the 2003 ordination and the 2012 celebration of his accomplishments upon retirement, then wrote about both for Huffington Post, "And Here's to You, Bishop Robinson."

"What the Diocese of New Hampshire did on June 7, 2003, when they elected V. Gene Robinson as their ninth bishop -- and what the Episcopal Church did in consecrating him -- was create a crack in systemic homophobia that let the light in: the light of equality, justice and compassion that shone far beyond our little corner of Christianity in some powerful and prophetic ways."

A documentary about Robinson entitled "Love Free or Die" aired recently on the PBS program, "Independent Lens." It will remain available to view on the PBS Web site only until Nov. 19. Hurry.

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