How's it going? By the way, can I call you Frank?
So, Frank, I read your March 2014 column in Decision Magazine, the organ of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is named in honor of your father. In your column you took President Barack Obama to task while praising Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for standing against homosexuality and "homosexual propaganda":
It's obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God's teaching. ...
Isn't it sad, though, that America's own morality has fallen so far that on this issue -- protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda -- Russia's standard is higher than our own?
In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.
As you know, Frank, you are referring to events of last June, when the Russian parliament passed, and President Putin signed, what has come to be known as the Russian LGBT propaganda law, which outlaws spreading "propaganda" in support of "non-traditional sexual relations" to minors. Among its provisions, the law forbids LGBT pride marches, positive media depictions of same-sex relationships, public displays of same-sex affection, and discussions of homosexuality in schools. It carries a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for individuals, and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for media outlets.
Frank, you think Putin is great? Well, I could direct you to other anti-gay Russian leaders who would blow your socks off!
Going back to the early 17th century, you might get a real kick out of Czar Alexis Mikhailovich, who made it routine to round up males and females accused of homosexuality and burn them to a crisp. Hey, he needed kindling to keep the palace at a reasonable temperature!
Czar Peter the Great (at what?) continued the crackdown by banning homosexual relations in the Russian military and criminalizing sexual relations between males in Russian society at large.
Frank, I'm sure you would be extremely upset to learn that following the 1917 Russian Revolution, leaders jettisoned the old anti-homosexuality laws. Openly gay and lesbian people even served in Vladimir Lenin's government. But fret not, Frank, for when Joseph Stalin took control, he recriminalized homosexuality with stated penalties of up to eight years in prison or exile to Siberia. Actually, untold numbers never returned, because Uncle Joe had them killed.
Frank, if your socks have not already been blown from your toasty toes, you may be pleased to know that Russia is not the only place in the world that currently protects its youth from the evils of love and relations between people of the same sex. You might even consider moving to the country of Uganda, whose righteous parliament passed on Dec. 20, 2013, and whose president, Yoweri Museveni, signed into law in February, a bill criminalizing homosexual relations with penalties of up to life in prison. You probably like this new twist: The law even doles out punishments to friends and relatives of suspected gays and lesbians if they fail to turn them in to authorities. As you can imagine, the Ugandan "homosexual agenda" has been exiled.
But Frank, you don't even have to go over the oceans and the seas to find supportive role models, since we have so many here at home in the U.S. of A. For example, Rev. Charles L. Worley of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C, argued in a 2012 sermon for the building of a large fence some 150 miles long to enclose lesbians in one section and "queers and homosexuals" in another. "And have that fence electrified till they can't get out," he continued. "Feed 'em. And you know what? In a few years they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce." The Sunday following Worley's sermon going viral on YouTube, his congregation gave him a standing ovation in support of his directives.
And Rev. Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church of Fayetteville, N.C., had the young people's needs in mind when he loudly and vehemently lectured, during an April 29, 2012, sermon, that parents' duty before God is to enforce strict adherence to gender roles in their children. "Dads," Harris commanded, "the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there, and you crack that wrist. Man up! Give him a good punch." He directed fathers to say to their sons, "You're not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male, and you are going to be a male." He also instructed that parents should be "squashing that like a cockroach." He warned that "the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly."
And for parents of daughters, Harris shouted and flailed, "[W]hen your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her in, and you say, 'Oh, no. Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you're going to act like a girl, and walk like a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you're going to be beautiful. You're going to be attractive. You're going to dress yourself up!'"
Oh, Frank, I imagine you are grieving over the death of your buddy, Rev. Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. As you know, he and his followers traveled around the country protesting at the funerals of fallen soldiers (most of whom were apparently heterosexual), claiming that these deaths are God's punishment for a country that tolerates homosexuality. Phelps is also infamous for his 1998 protest at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a college student from the University of Wyoming in Laramie who died after a brutal homophobic assault.
On their website, godhatesfags.com, the Westboro Baptist Church linked their own version of homophobia with anti-Jewish oppression. A few summers back, in my home state of Iowa, Phelps and company protested against "the Jews ... [who] arrested, falsely accused, prosecuted and then sentenced [Jesus] to death," and against the state of Iowa itself because "God hates Iowa" for being "the first to begin giving $ to little [homosexual] perverts for no other reason than they brag about being little perverts."
So as you can appreciate, Frank, you have plenty of anti-gay people besides Putin to admire. And don't worry: Marriage for same-sex couples remains illegal in 33 U.S. states and most countries across the planet, and anti-LGBT attitudes and statutes are alive and well in our country and abroad.
Oh, Frank, you have much to be thankful for.
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