Terrance Heath

Reparative Therapy for Racism?

Filed By Terrance Heath | July 06, 2007 4:07 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Media
Tags: Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women for America, ex-gay, racism, Stephen Bennett

I don't know if there is such a thing as "reparative therapy" for racism, but if there is then "ex-gay" spokesman Stephen Bennett may want to sign up after his latest slip. Good As You has the skinny, including an audio link, but basically during a chat with a Concerned Women for America interviewer Bennett commented on the experience of Charlene Cothran (publisher of Venus magazine, named for her former partner, and formerly targeted at the black gay community) whose newly "ex-gay" (and newly awash in funding for her struggling magazine) but who identifies as "celibate" instead of heterosexual), Bennett made a telling little error.

He meant to say that "looking over the masses of GAY American people" she felt dirty. What came out was more like "looking over the mass of BLACK American people" she felt dirty.

Well.

Good As You notes that Bennett seems to have had brushes with white supremacists in the past. But in light of his remarks, I think it's worthwhile to revisit an earlier post of mine that relates to this.

Bennett's regrettable slip of the tongue isn't the first time the "ex-gay" movement has "stepped in it" regarding race. Last fall, Ex-Gay Watch did a fantastic job of covering a justification of slavery posted on NARTH's website.

With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman.

And the Southern Poverty Law Center noted that "ex-gay" leaders, and the political organizations that support them failed to condemn the remarks justifying slavery. Not only that, but the author of the article proceeded to dig himself deeper when they gave him a chance to speak for himself.

NARTH is a coalition of psychologists who believe it's possible to "cure" homosexuality, a position rejected by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. The controversy over Schoenewolf's apology for slavery has battered the so-called "ex-gay" movement with accusations of racial bigotry for the first time. The movement's leaders and their close allies at Christian Right powerhouses like Focus on the Family have failed to condemn Schoenwolf's inflammatory arguments.

...Schoenewolf, a psychotherapist who lives in New York City, is director of The Living Center, an online therapy center for people in the arts. He has authored 14 books, among them The Art of Hating, in which he writes, "Many people talk about hate, but few know how to hate well."

When interviewed last week for this article, Schoenewolf stood by his comments on the intellectual inferiority of civil rights movement supporters. "The civil rights movement has from the beginning and today seen itself as good and others are evil, like slaveowners are evil," he said.

During the interview, Schoenewolf lambasted civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights. "All such movements are destructive," he said. He also claimed the American Psychological Association, of which he is a member, "has been taken over by extremist gays."

It was back in January of this year that I posted about the the racist roots of some conservative religious organizations, which go all the way back to the founders of the Christian Reconstructionist movement.

But let me get back to the question that comes to mind upon realizing how few "Christian Right Powerhouses" have spoken out against various statements like Hargrove's, or anyone Republican's for that matter, regarding slavery, civil rights, etc. Why? Why haven't they spoken out against concepts that, probably, the overwhelming majority of self-identified Christians in America would find morally offensive and indefensible, like slavery or segregation?

They can't. It's inherent in the particular brand of Christianity that groups like Concerned Women for America (run by Berverly LaHaye, wife of apocalyptic author Tim LaHaye) and Focus on the Family subscribe to more or less openly, and that's detailed in books like Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and a few others I've read. Call it Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism, the basic idea is that the country should be run according to their literal interpretation of the Bible.

We're talking about the founder of a movement who had some interesting things to say about slavery and about Black people in general.

A contrary development is increasingly in evidence in the Western world, and especially in the United States, i.e., the development by systematic indoctrination of a bad conscience. The political cultivation of guilt is a central means to power, for guilty men are slaves; their conscience is in bondage, and hence they are easily made objects of control. Guilt is thus systematically taught for purposes of control. Several instances can be cited readily. For example, the white man is being systematically indoctrinated into believing that he is guilty of enslaving and abusing the Negro. Granted that some Negroes were mistreated as slaves, the fact still remains that nowhere in all history or in the world today has the Negro been better off. The life expectancy of the Negro increased when he was transported to America. He was not taken from freedom into slavery, but from a vicious slavery to degenerate chiefs to a generally benevolent slavery in the United States. [emphasis added]

...The 'civil rights' revolutionary groups are a case in point. Their goal is not equality but power. The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of magic are control and power. . . Voodoo or magic was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive." (p. 61) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law]

Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion and morality. Every attempt to destroy this principle is an effort to reduce society to its lowest common denominator. Toleration is the excuse under which this levelling is undertaken, but the concept of toleration conceals a radical intolerance. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed. [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 294]

Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence . . . The law is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. (pp. 286, 251) [R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law] [emphasis added]

Now Bennett didn't say all of this, but his remarks are just one more added to the pile that's already stacked up quite high. And while he may or may not subscribe to Christian Reconstructionism, the support that he and other "ex-gay" spokepersons and organizations receive from groups like the LaHaye run Concerned Women for America, where Bennett was interviewed when he made is slip o' the lip, shouldn't be ignored.

Nor should the ties these groups have to a political/religious movement in whose founder held racist views, or the fact that none of these organizations have denounced those views or more recent and similar statements by members of their movement be forgotten either. Like I said earlier:

They, the "Christian Right Powerhouses" can't denounce statements like Hargrove's or anyone else's precisely because either those statements aren't that far from what they privately believe, or because to denounce them would mean having to renounce the statements of a founder of their movement. Or they'd have to do some serious contortions to reinterpret them, and these folks are all about literalism.

And they won't denounce Bennett's remarks either, but will probably excuse them instead.

The rest of us can make up our own minds about what he said vs. what he "meant" to say, in the context of all the above.

Crossposted from The Republic of T.


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Great first post on our humble home, Terrance.

Logic like that is all too familiar to me, what with a dad who was born and bred to white sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta of the 20's and 30's. He was a great man in many ways, but his racial notions were mind-boggling.

I've seen statistics indicating that, to the dismay of their elders, the new generation of evangelicals aren't so... fixated on race or sexuality but rather on more global concerns.

Here's hoping that dinosaurs like Bennett and Schoenwolf will be left in the dust of history.