Having just researched and written an article for Out In Jersey about the mysterious influx of anonymous major funding to anti-gay Family Policy Councils around the nation, I decided to explore the website of our local New Jersey band of true believers, The NJ Family Policy Council. This holy 0f holies, headed by a fat, smarmy little creep named Len Deo who has way-too-shiny hair and wears cheap suits, has been in the forefront of opposition to queer rights right from the start. Every legislative hearing here in Trenton on any bill having to do with LGBT issues sees Lenny and his little band, including such characters as Sharia, “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” Rien- a woman whose hairdresser is clearly either sociopathic or is deliberately doing her a disservice (in fact it has occurred to me that the dead haystack on top of her head may well be the work of a gay hairdresser getting in a little revenge on behalf of queers everywhere – if so, you go girl!) working the Statehouse corridors. Among my fondest memories is the day the NJ Supreme Court decision favoring same-sex marriage was announced and Lenny marched out of the Justice Building as if he was a state official, taking charge of the public microphone and podium that had been provided and attempting to make an announcement twisting the decision back -to-front to make it seem as if we had lost. Yours Truly was able to immediately start a shout-down, picked up by the wonderful students from The College of New Jersey who were there in force, that denied him the moment and prevented the media there present from recording a sound bite that would no doubt have been played on the evening news. Call me petty but it was a moment I enjoyed.
Reading through the NJFPC website, I discovered the reason why Lenny is such a dick. God told him to do this. The site makes it clear that there are “moral absolutes” in this universe, handed down by God and hence, unalterable. This is the foundation of everything the NJFPCers believe. From this flows their self-awarded mandate to re-structure society, by law, along the lines of Christian fundamentalism. What are these moral absolutes? They are selected notionally from the King James Bible and the various modern translations that have flowed from it. A proscription on eating shellfish is evidently not a moral absolute – nor is wearing a garment of mixed thread, even though Leviticus puts those matters on the same footing as same-sex relationships. How, then, do the folks of NJFPC know that same-sex relationships ARE an absolute moral no-no? We can only presume they have received a special memo from God telling them which of the proscribed activities listed in the Bible are to be taken seriously and which may be safely ignored. People who think (or claim) that God is giving them special instructions are either put in rubber rooms or they become evangelists or right-wing politicians – depending on how their PR is handled.
It is difficult for us to take such people seriously and therein is their true strength. In the U.S. today, these people are as serious as a heart attack. NJFPC has almost a million and a half dollars to devote to fighting our civil rights and even perhaps to roll back what we have already gained. They have a good friend in our present asshole of a governor and that’s an advantage they do not want to waste. We can assume a sizable part of the million and a half is going to anti-gay candidates for the legislature in the coming election. Our own state-wide organization, Garden State Equality, doesn’t have anything like that kind of money and in politics, money talks in a loud voice.
The poisonous acid of Christian fundamentalism is eating away at democracy everywhere in this country. A look at the present slate of contenders for the Republican nomination for President is truly scary. Mike Huckabee is one of the most chilling examples. In March he made a speech to a room full of fanatic Christian supporters calling for all citizens to be indoctrinated in revisionist “historian” David Barton’s imaginary, Christian-centered version of U.S. history “at gun point if necessary (applause) and I think our country would be better for it.” Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister. Now, I have nothing against Baptists except that when they do that full immersion baptism routine, they don’t hold them under long enough. However, Huckabee represents the world the people of the NJFPC wish to bring into being. It is a world where science, reason and facts are obsolete – a world in which reality is determined by the fantasies of “the chosen” and is imposed on the rest of us “at gun point.” It is a world in which “moral absolutes” take no account of differing opinions or beliefs – a world in which democracy exists in name only.
The right-wing embrace of David Barton is an excellent example of how little facts matter to these people. Barton has absolutely NO scholarly credentials whatever – no advanced degrees, no college or university position, no standing in the academic community at all. And yet he is touted as a “scholar” by Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Fox News and others. Does one have to have such credentials to be a serious scholar? Not necessarily. In the 18th Century, Edward Gibbon who likewise had no advanced degrees or university position, wrote what is possibly the greatest historical work of all time – The Decline And Fall of The Roman Empire. The difference is that Gibbon really was a scholar. His massive erudition is evident throughout his work and it has stood the test of time, endorsed by generations of scholars and academics. Barton however simply makes up his material as he goes along. His contention that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation and the separation of church and state is a liberal myth is so easily refutable by reference to documentation and original sources that it would be a joke if it wasn’t being accepted wholesale such as the NJFPC and tea party Republicans all over the country. we see again that facts don’t matter when stacked up against a really good fantasy.
These people are dangerous. Their mind-set is the same as the one that produced fascisim. In fact it was Dr. Gobbels who said “if you tell a big enough lie often enough, people will believe it.” This is a lesson our enemies have learned well. They may be funny-looking, unfashionable and creepy but they have a lot of money and a lot of support. The war is not only not over – it may have barely begun.