Red Meat

Deviancy! Immorality! Racism! If you read enough of the papers—not to mention the bloggers– this is what one might think the Episcopal Church stands for. Have you heard? The Episcopal Church is swinging the door open to deviants! Also, six Anglican bishops want Canadian Anglicans want to approve immorality so they won’t be distracted from global warming. And don’t forget, when the Executive Council disagrees with African Archbishops, it’s racism.

Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative columnist, Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and a popular public speaker for conservative causes, whose reputation as a race-baiter was established by his book, The End of Racism, trains his animus on gays, lesbians and the Episcopal Church in his most recent blog entry. Under the heading “Attention Social Deviants! The Episcopal Church Wants You,” D’Souza likens the Church’s acceptance of gays and lesbians to the acceptance of child molesters and serial killers.

“–Convicts Who Have Been Found Guilty of Violent Crimes (more marginalized now than ever before)

“–Child Molesters (marginalized even within the prison population!)

“–Serial Killers (admired in the movies, but otherwise very marginalized since at least the days of Jack the Ripper)

“–Pedophiles (so marginalized that even gays keep their distance, and all for holding that there’s nothing magical about being “of age”)

“–Polygamists (marginalized for holding the view, “Why Stop at Two?”)

“–Skinheads (more marginalized today than the groups they seek to marginalize)

“This is hardly a complete list, and I’m sure I’ll be hearing shortly from nudists, swingers, wife-swappers, Nazis, and other groups I’ve left off my list.”

So, in one swipe D’Souza includes a faithfully partnered gay man with child molesters and serial killers. Does this make any sense at all? Only if one’s goal is to stir up rage. Keep in mind that D’Souza’s career has been financed since his college days by the same foundations that keep the Institute on Religion and Democracy in business. Not only does this kind of thing make happy people who agree with D’Souza, he knows that it will illicit rage from some quarters of the people he opposes.

D’Souza is certainly not alone in this approach.

Washington Times columnist Mark Steyn claims that the plea of six Anglican bishops to this weeks General Synod to allow for some provision to bless same-sex couples is another fashionable stand along with their concerns for Global Warming, both of which lead to global moral depravity.

And just last week, Chris Sugden of the Anglican Maintream says disagreeing with certain African Archbishops is racist. It was all well and good, he tells us, for the 1998 Lambeth Conference to condemn genocide in Rwanda, but now the tables are turned when it comes to the ordination of openly gay bishops, Americans should be quiet and listen. “Now,” Sugden says, “something that was regarded as acceptable when dealing with Africans is not acceptable to the Americans. It sniffs of racism.”

To make this analysis work, one must equate the deaths of 800,000 Rwandans in the late 1990’s—and what this horror did to the Church and the people of Rwanda– to the ordination of one man in 2003 in New Hampshire.

By themselves, these statements seem irrational. Most faithful Episcopalians ignore them, perhaps with a sigh and a roll of the eyes. Small shots across the bow don’t stop the vast majority of the faithful from going about the business of living faithfully. But taken together, these statements are ‘red meat’ for a loyal base—many of whom are not even Episcopalian—in a nasty war of words. And when ideas don’t work, exaggeration, smear and outright lies will.

And the worst part is this: most of the time it’s not about the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion per se. For most of these writers, it about using the Church as a symbol of all that is wrong with the world from their point of view. Which sure beats writing about what’s right.

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