Three Stooges of Christianity on an Anti-Gay Tirade
In a stunning display of idiocy, ignorance and incomprehensibility a pastoral trinity of Lyall Bethel, Allan Lee and Cedric Moss fired off a knee-jerk tirade cum letter to the editor generally confused about the facts on the matters on which they pontificated with smugness, sweated brow and frenzied abandon.
They were promiscuously responding to imagined threats that only through prejudicial and tortured thinking one, or in this case, the three of them divined in comments made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette. In light of their indiscriminate and poorly reasoned letter the pastoral posse had the temerity to label these comments as “seemingly arbitrary”.
The DPM’s thrust pertained to a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on a report of the Third Committee and supported by The Bahamas. If one only went by the pastors’ comments one might believe that the resolution was mainly about those supposedly evil gay people and their so-called militant agenda.
In point of fact the resolution in question is 65/208 and concerns extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of people around the world. Either the pastors woefully misunderstand or are shamefully ignorant of the contents and purpose of the resolution or they are morally blind, callous and indifferent to the same.
None of these conclusions are acceptable or becoming for religious ministers who boasted in their letter of “foresightedness” and have set themselves up as moral authorities and mini-inquisitors to help vet candidates for the House of Assembly. These are mostly men of blinkered vision, not moral foresight or clear vision.
At the last election they imperially issued questions based on their narrow agenda, mostly focused on personal moral behavior with scant regard for various issues of social justice or broader questions of public policy.
We are likely to have to endure more of the same at the next election from pastors whose theological and ethical depth and knowledge on how to apply such norms to issues in the public square and of the moral dimensions of public policy is shallow, wanting and amateurish.
For now, here in detail is the supposedly offensive part of the UN resolution which has pricked their consciences and once again excited their lurking passions about homosexuality. It is taken from section 6(b) of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on the report of the Third Committee (A/65/456/Add.2 Part II) 65/208. Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The prelude begins, “The General Assembly Urges all States” and follows on to 6(b):
“To ensure the effective protection of the right to life of all persons under their jurisdiction, to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including those targeted at specific groups of persons, such as racially motivated violence leading to the death of the victim, killings of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities or because of their sexual orientation, killings of persons affected by terrorism or hostage-taking or living under foreign occupation, killings of refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, street children or members of indigenous communities, killings of persons for reasons related to their activities as human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists or demonstrators, killings committed in the name of passion or in the name of honor, all killings committed for discriminatory reasons on any basis as well as all other cases where a person’s right to life has been violated, to bring those responsible to justice before a competent, independent and impartial judiciary at the national or, where appropriate, international level and to ensure that such killings, including those committed by security forces, police and law enforcement agents, paramilitary groups or private forces, are neither condoned nor sanctioned by State officials or personnel;”
Supposedly, for the pastors, this section would be fine if the reference to sexual orientation was removed. Following this illogic, everyone else in this section should have their lives protected and related killings investigated except gays and lesbians.
For context, we might recall how much and how devotedly Pastor Bethel has repeatedly said he loves gay people. Apparently, that love and Christian charity does not extend to them being protected from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions because of their sexual orientation.
In the minds and hearts of these pastors, gays and lesbians are asking for a special right in seeking to be named in protection from being murdered, brutalized and tortured by state officials or others. If this is the sort of Christian and moral universe the pastors inhabit, no wonder so many have come to view them as individuals who simply and purely hate gay people despite their claims of love.
So blinded are they by prejudice and hatred that they have morally and intellectually twisted the resolution into another opportunity and platform from which to attack gay people. If they pause long enough to remove the big 2×4 plank obstructing their moral vision on the resolution and before pressing the send button on another rabid public missive, they may see that the militant agenda under suspicion is their own. Unsurprisingly, their moral scotosis and intellectual shallowness continues to erode their dwindling credibility.
At the tragic heart of Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick, is a maniacal Captain Ahab obsessed with slaying a whale cum demon which, in his mind, is the epitome of evil. Sadly, we now have a Bahamian pastor who personifies Captain Ahab, hook, line and sinker.
Who does the captain’s cap fit, with matching moral straitjacket sequined with self-righteousness? Though self-styled as an Old Testament prophet issuing modern jeremiads, Pastor Lyall Bethel hath becometh Captain Ahab. Forgive the mixed maritime metaphor, but the pastor’s white whale is an international homosexual conspiracy with tentacles that are supposedly corrupting a naive Bahamas. But there he is standing in the breach with moral harpoons.
Melville writes of Ahab: “The White Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung.” As an aside, the fictional Ahab is clearly much deeper than many of his real-life incarnations.
Melville continues: “All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demons of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick.”
And, “He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.”
In the feverish hunt and targeting of gays and lesbians Pastor Captain Ahab and his current co-signatories and probably other crew members, had some other curious elements in their letter. They questioned on whose behalf the DPM spoke. He spoke as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas duly elected by the Bahamian people. The resolution was also supported by the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition.
Simply put, there was bipartisan support for a resolution seeking to protect numerous groups of people including, gays and lesbians, from extrajudicial and related killings.
The letter writers also asked whose view was expressed. They may be shocked to know that it is likely the view of the majority of Bahamians who support the same sentiments as the government and the opposition. It is decidedly not the myopic and hardly religious or Christian view of those who would exclude gays and lesbians from protection against extrajudicial killings because of their extremism and moral confusion advertised as moral clarity.
The pastors will find that most Bahamians abhor the idea of their gay sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and cousins, friends and colleagues and neighbors killed because of their sexual orientation. The name for this moral sentiment: Love. We are a more tolerant and less vicious society than many imagine, despite the bellicosity of a moral minority convinced that God and most of the public are cheering them on in their campaign of extremism and intolerance.
The general ignorance of the pastors on international law and various traditions of human rights was also on naked display along with their intellectual fatuousness and hypocrisy in their view that Bahamian sovereignty might be in jeopardy in the context of the resolution.
One should choose one’s words carefully, as these pastors typically become fantasists whenever they hear or see the words gay, lesbian or sexual orientation. They are expert at creating bogeymen on various matters about gays and lesbians, including in the context of their argument about sovereignty.
It was exactly Bahamian sovereignty that was exercised in support of the resolution. Unless, of course, the pastors believe that they are the ultimate judges and final arbiters of Bahamian sovereignty.
Sovereignty is a clear principle in international law and relations, though the concept is debated on various issues. But the evolution of the concept is moving in a clear direction on matters such as genocide, the transshipment of persons, drugs and arms, as well as extrajudicial killings, torture and related crimes.
If one falls for the narrow logic of the pastors, The Bahamas should not support resolutions upholding religious freedom and tolerance internationally, nor should the country have supported the fight against apartheid, as these would interfere with the sovereignty of other countries.
Still, in the end, it is about love, which one would be hard-pressed to find in the angry and maniacal letter by the pastors. If they cannot support the protection of gays and lesbians from being savagely killed, their moral world view and disdain of gays and lesbians is abundantly clear.
This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ or love. Instead, it is hatred masquerading as moral concern. It is they who may be in need of penance and repentance. The pastors and their rainbow of despisers should humble themselves and seek the forgiveness of gays and lesbians for their venom and inability to love these gay brothers and sisters. In turn, the latter should pray for their attackers who heartlessly condemn them to a lack of mercy and protection of their very lives.
Author of the ‘Front Porch’ column in The Nassau Guardian and contributor to the Bahama Pundit website.