Revolution #51, June 18, 2006
On Bush’s Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage:
Biblical Morality, Slavery and Other Horrors
Some say that Bush’s attack on gay marriage is an attempt to rally his base for the mid-term elections. But Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment has a far more sinister and dark purpose: to push forward a plan to remake the country on a fascist basis for decades to come. This plan pivots on imposing a government based on a literalist interpretation of the Bible with “traditional values” and “traditional morality” in full effect. These “values” and “morality” are fundamentally rooted in slavery and the patriarchal domination of women—to say nothing of the near genocide against native peoples in the Americas and rivalry with and domination of other nations. All of this has been reinforced by a superstructure of white supremacy and male supremacy.
The proposed constitutional amendment which the Senate voted on this week reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and woman. Neither the Constitution, nor the constitution of any state shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
The claim that marriage is between a man and a woman, as President Bush has proclaimed in a previous public statement, is not supported by the bible, as anyone who has actually read the bible should know. In Genesis chapters 29 and 30 we learn that Jacob was married to both Rachael and Leah. Deuteronomy 21:10-17 also provides for a “man having more than one wife,” especially in the case of a “beautiful” captive woman whom a “man desires and wants to marry.” Also, in I and II Chronicles there is the story of David, the greatest king of all, who had hundreds of wives and concubines. So, we see, based on what is discussed here, the biblical justification for marriage as being only between a man and a woman is not supported by the Christian Bible. Furthermore, the Bible interpreted literally is a horror. This is ancient superstition which is being used in the service of a dangerous Christian fascist program.
The Bible upholds slavery, patriarchal oppression of women, the brutal conquest of one’s enemies and many, many more horrors. This is no surprise because the Bible itself was written in societies which existed some two to four thousand years ago in which there existed not only slavery and private property but also patriarchal family relations. The Bible itself was used to justify slavery and the brutal oppression of Black people in the U.S. under a system where human beings were literally “owned” and “bought and sold.” Under slavery, Black families were torn apart with family members being sold to different “owners.” Now there is a section of the ruling class—joined by Black ministers who have found common cause with them—which argues that the Bible is the avenue to strengthening the Black family by restoring Black males to their “rightful place” at the head of the Black family. Black and other oppressed masses don’t need a morality based on “males being the head of the family” and in that position dominating over women and children.
“Adam and Steve” and Archie Bunker
In reflecting on the proposed constitutional amendment in preparation for writing this article, I was reminded of a discussion with comrades and masses—including Willie “Mobile” Shaw—in Watts at the start of the Revolutionary Communist Tour. In batting around how we were going to take on religion on that tour, one comrade pointed out that there was a saying going around among the Black masses in particular that in the beginning god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
The reality is that there is no god, and the “in the beginning story” in Genesis is a creation myth familiar to other creation myths that existed in patriarchal societies thousands of years ago. Those myths reflected the times, and times have dramatically changed. People are being told to follow norms in the Bible that reflected the culture of societies thousands of years ago. Who needs this “Dark Ages” mentality imposed on them now?
It has been productive to dig a bit into the origin of the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” business. What has become clear since that discussion in Watts is that this “god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” line is reported to have originated with Archie Bunker, the backward and racist character in a 1970s TV sitcom. But in reality—and not in 1970s television sitcoms—the phrase “god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” appears to be a familiar statement in sermons delivered by some conservative Black ministers. Do we really want to be “modeling” and popularizing the ignorance and stupidity of a racist character in a 1970s sitcom? No we don’t need that.
Black Clergy Who Would Ride with the KKK
In 2004 and again in 2006 conservative Black clergy have organized in support of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. For example, in 2004, Rev. Gregory Daniels, a Black minister in Chicago, made the blatantly outrageous and reactionary statement that “If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them.”
A very sharp and necessary question arises in relation to Daniels’ statement: What is the KKK and what has been (and continues to be!) its social and historical role in US society? The KKK was formed in the South during and after Reconstruction and, from the beginning, its role has been to enforce the semi-feudal exploitation of Black people as peasants which existed in the South along with the white supremacist superstructure which was a reflection of the existing productive and social relations prevailing in South at the time and reinforced those relations. The KKK—both in and out of official police uniform—enforced those relations through brutally lynching Black people and burning them at stakes and otherwise terrorizing them. The book Without Sanctuary, which contains many photographs that have been displayed in museums, depicts the savage and brutal lynching and burnings of Black people at stakes at the hands of members of the KKK and other reactionary whites. History records the brutal lynching of thousands upon thousands of Black people in this country, including the savage and brutal murder of Emmet Till for supposedly whistling at a white woman. And the KKK is not a thing of the past but continues to play a role, together with scores of other white reactionary groups, as the unofficial enforces of the oppression of Black people—and other oppressed and progressive peoples—and of white supremacy.
Statements like the one attributed to Rev. Daniels is indefensible and reactionary. Daniels is part of a growing schism within Black churches and among Black clergy—a schism in which we find on the one hand a significant and growing number of Black ministers peddling this kind of reactionary nonsense among the Black masses in service, whether consciously or unconsciously, of a Christian fascist agenda and program. On the other side of the equation, we find a growing number of Black clergy who are speaking up and speaking out against those who would find common cause with a section of the rulers who have a dark and sinister program, which includes a genocidal element in the case of Blacks and others who refuse to go along with the program and “stay in their place.”
Black ministers are being courted by Christian fascists, and a section of Black clergy have hitched their sails to the program and message of these Christian fascists. For example, Rev. Herbert Lusk—former football player and pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in North Philadelphia—was recently appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Lusk has no HIV-related experience, according to reports. Lusk distinguished himself through a statement that he made on Justice Sunday III at his church, which was organized by, among others, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family: “I want to say, first of all, be careful how you fool with the church. You mess around with the church, something stirs up inside of me! You be careful because the church has surviving power. My friends, you know this and know this well. Don’t fool with the church because the church has buried many a critic, and all the critics that we have not buried, we’re making funeral arrangements for them!” Sounds like a statement made by someone about to launch a Christian Crusade. And Black ministers like Lusk are indeed on a crusade to contribute as much as possible to the establishment of a theocracy in this country.
“Male Role Model” Bullshit and Revolutionary Role Models
While listening to a radio program about bisexuality (on the “down low”) among Blacks which was hosted by Michael Baisden— who has a nationally syndicated radio program and who took a good stand on the immigration struggle—it was apparent what the Bible says about homosexuality being “an abomination” is having a very negative and deadly impact among Blacks. As was pointed out by callers on that Michael Baisden show, given the social stigma associated with homosexuality and bisexuality among Blacks, backed up and bolstered by the Bible, Black men who are into the “down low” are hiding their sexual preferences in many cases from their spouses, and what is particularly significant is that the AIDS rate among Black women in particular is extremely high. As I listened to that radio show, I was filled with rage at what I was hearing about the tremendous harm that Bible was doing in this case: the Bible itself, especially as it is interpreted literally, is an “abomination” and a horror.
In reading statements in the newspaper and on the Internet by some of the fundamentalist Black clergy who are organizing against gay marriage, you will often hear arguments about how homosexuality is destroying the Black family and undermining Black manhood. These are arguments for male supremacy and for patriarchy. And they are hypocritical to boot. A pamphlet put out by the Revolutionary Communist Party cuts right to the core of the argument about the breakdown of the Black family: “One more ‘theory’—one more way of covering up for the system and blaming Black people for their own oppression—that we will cut into right here is the claim that the real problem is the breakdown of the Black family and the lack of ‘male role models’ for Black male youth in particular… This ‘theory’ covers up the fact that the ‘traditional family’ is itself an institution of oppression. It is an expression of the fact that society is divided into masters and slaves, and that division into master and slave is built into the ‘traditional family’ itself, where the man is to be the master, lording it over his wife (and children)…Along with all this has gone the idea that A MAN IS STRONG while a woman is weak. This is bullshit. It comes from the enemy—from those who run systems based on enslaving and exploiting. It should be put with the rest of the bullshit from systems like this… And we cannot let our enemy tell us what ‘role models’ we should follow. Youth of today, Black youth and youth in general, don’t need male ‘role models.’ They need revolutionary ‘role models’—women and men. (“Cold Truth, Liberating Truth: How the System has Always Oppressed Black People, and How All Oppression Can Finally Be Ended,” online at revcom.us/coldtruth/index.htm)
The woman question itself is an ace in the hole for our revolution—both now and in the future socialist society where the woman question will be one of the “unresolved contradictions” driving forward the revolution.
Black Ministers Speaking Out Against Attacks On Gays
The New York Times reported in February 2004 that Genevieve Wood of the reactionary Family Research Council made an impassioned plea to Black evangelical ministers and lay people that they must speak out against advocates of gay marriage. In its coverage of the speaking event, the New York Times wrote: “‘They are wrapping themselves in the flag of civil rights,’ says Ms. Wood, who is white, as visitors from across the country shook their heads in dismay. ‘I can make arguments against that. But not nearly like you all can.’” It is clear that the Christian fascists are doing everything that they can to woo Black ministers—and through them the Black masses—to the Christian fascist program in whole or in part. But this program is not in the interest of the masses of Black people in this country. This is not the polarization that revolutionary communists and radical and progressive people of all nationalities want and need; this polarization must be radically and dramatically recast in favor of revolution.
Black ministers who are not down with the Christian fascist program have been speaking out against attacks on gays and against a constitutional amendment in opposition to gay marriage. In fact there is a deep rift developing within Black churches and among Black clergy. For example, in an important summit last January, more than 200 ministers and gay right activists met in Atlanta at First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta. Keynote speeches were given by Rev. Al Sharpton and Bishop Yvette Flunder of the City of Refugees Church in San Francisco. This was a very important development which needs to be built on and spread widely. (See “Black Church Summit Takes Stand Against Anti-Gay Discrimination,” Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, for coverage of this landmark summit in Atlanta.)
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