Former American Family Association Attorney Says The Christian Right Is Paranoid And Perverse
How Homosexuality Ruined The “Religious Right”
By Joseph R. Murray, II
Longshoreman Eric Hoffer recognized that many great American movements were borne of a noble cause, grew up to be a lucrative business, and ended up becoming a racket. Such is the dangerous Catch-22 of public interest politics and such is the tale of America’s Christian Right lobby.
When students of political science study the demise of the Christian Right years from now, the focus will most assuredly be on gay rights.
After the Christian Right tapped out the pro-life issue, the captains of Christian industry needed a new sales pitch to keep the coffers filled. These folks thought they saw the light in 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.
This decision was a god-send for a Christian right that was always giddy to portray the judiciary as an unelected, out-of-touch super-legislature that imposed its minority will on the majority of the people.
Shortly after Massachusetts made history, all eyes turned to then-San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to permit same-sex couples to say “I do.”
I was on the front lines working with the American Family Association as a staff attorney when Newsom made history in the City by the Bay after he gave clerks the green light to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The Christian right was drooling with delight thinking the maverick mayor had gone off the proverbial cliff. History, however, would show it was the Christian Right that joined Thelma and Louise in the backseat of their convertible.
As a staff attorney, I was able to see firsthand how the Religious Right operated. I first worked with AFA after I was selected to be in the inaugural class of the then Alliance Defense Fund’s Blackstone Fellowship. The Fellowship was designed to select the best and brightest budding Christian lawyers to train them to fight the culture war in courtrooms across America.
Such training did not prepare me for the reality of how the Evangelical “Christian” political machine operated, especially when the battle over marriage erupted.
At the time Newsom and Massachusetts opened a new front in the culture war, polls suggested that opposition to gay rights, especially marriage rights, was a winning issue for the Christian machine. While “Will and Grace” entertained the nation, the concept of marriage equality still generated a lukewarm response.
Moreover, the Christian Right had invested heavily in a propaganda machine that specialized in promulgating unjust stereotypes. Instead of letting the flock see gay couples as the neighbors next door, the Christian Right made it a point to portray all gays with the wildest pictures they could find from the Castro.
It was a brilliant strategy, for if groups like AFA could scare the faithful with pictures that portrayed the gay community in the worst light, it could frame the debate as one of deviancy versus decency. There were two problems with this strategy, though:
First, in order for the campaign to succeed the Right had to forsake the very Christian principles it claimed to be protecting. In typical fashion, a few Ben Franklins made it much easier for them to put profit over principle.
Second, the strategy would only work if the Christian Right could force gays, as well as those Christians that supported them, into the closet. It was the second problem that would result in the demise of the Christian right.
Aside from the hypocritical tactics of these right-wing groups, competition and distrust erupted among the various groups themselves. Though they claimed to be united for a single cause, they often had internal disputes and rivalries, and rather than rally behind winnable legal cases being litigated by their peers, these groups often focused instead on outdoing each other.
Why? Because high profile cases meant high-volume dollars. It was morality driven by money...¨ please read it all: