Religious Bullshit In Newark

25 01 2010

We are deeply imbued in our culture, with the idea that everyone’s religious beliefs, short of human sacrifice, must be accorded a full and equal measure of respect. From a governmental point of view, that may be true. We must never allow the government to favor a particular religion or attempt to define religious truth. However, that does not mean we as individuals can not frankly and clearly point out dangerous lunacy when we see it. We may not agree with this or that Christian denomination for example, but civilized discourse requires us to respect the fact that Christianity in one form or another is embraced by millions of good people, is a tradition over two thousand years old and is a core element of Western civilization. On the other hand, Scientology is utter nonsense, invented by a second-rate science fiction writer and propounding ideas quite literally on the level of wearing tinfoil hats to avoid “alien” transmissions. Further, it enforces a discipline and a rapacious extortion upon its followers that would have impressed the Gestapo. The fact that a nit-wit such as John Travolta believes in it should be sufficient evidence of its worthlessness. Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though more widespread, are likewise home-grown cults propounding notions ranging from the merely silly to the truly bizarre. By and large, these concatations of lunacy only damage the moon calfs who are ignorant or desperate enough to embrace them. They merit criticism. One can even argue that intelligent people have a moral duty to mock such nonsense in order to open the eyes of those who might stray into the traps of these cults. Still, ultimately, if witless fools want to believe such cults in order to invest their pathetic lives with some shreds of imagined meaning, so be it. It’s a free country (sort of.) While we certainly must respect the right of people to believe whatever they want to, it does not follow that the beliefs themselves must be respected.

When these cults reach out to attack us, the rules change dramatically. We have already seen how the Mormons became the biggest single factor in the Prop 8 fight in california. Shamelessly betraying their tax exempt status, the Mormon Church dumped a fortune and countless man hours into engineering our defeat. When we fought back. demonstrating outside their temples and taking them to court, they whined piteously about freedom of religion. Bullshit. No free pass. Throw rocks at us and we will throw them back regardless of whether your windows are clear glass or stained glass.

Now, in Newark a far uglier form of religious antipathy to gays has arisen and is organizing in the streets. Under the benign name “Pray For Newark,” some fundamentalist nut-jobs are rallying the theologically simple-minded to “pray the demons out of Newark” street by street. Without bothering to explore the mentality of people who expound ideas that have been discredited since the Middle Ages – simplistic notions that troubles including sickness, urban decay, drug addiction and AIDS are caused by the machinations of demons, we might just shrug and say “whatever.”  That would be a mistake, leaving us unaware of the fact that there is a far darker side to this particular manifestation of mass hysteria.

Pray For Newark was founded by Lloyd Turner. Turner lives in the Newark area but his movement is far from a merely local tent meeting. In October, 2008, Turner was in Argentina to speak at a conferance of the International Transformation Network (ITN). That seems to place Turner in league with ITN CEO Ed Silvoso, whose 2007 book Transformation states that homosexuality is caused by demon possession and that HIV/AIDS can be cured by faith healing and prayer. Turner is joined in the Newark effort by Rev. Bernard Wilks, head of Dominion Fellowship Ministries. Wilks’ newsletters have stressed the need for business, government and education to be taken over by born-again Christians. Even more ominous, Wilks has repeatedly called for “enemy classification.” Obviously, we demon-possessed gays would be high on that list…and then what?

Wilks and Turner are active leaders in the ITN movement which has been playing a leading role in Uganda’s present effort to pass legislation that would condemn gays to  life in prison or death by hanging. ITN has promoted this as “a shining example of Transformation.” The “transformation” of Uganda into a puritanical, fundamentalist theocracy clothed in the deceptive shreds of democratic institutions is ITN’s greatest triumph to date and is viewed by ITN as a laboratory experiment to be replicated everywhere they can get a foothold. Newark’s educational and economic depression combined with its propensity for mixing hand clapping, store front religion  in the practice of which, noise is more important than thought (usually run as profitable businesses by the so-called “pastors”) with politics makes it a fertile field indeed for ITN’s invasion of the U.S.

Most disturbing of all is ITN’s policy of working closely with – “transforming”- local police departments at the outset of their campaigns. While the over-all educational level of the police has improved greatly during the last couple of decades, let’s face it – most cops are neither scholars nor theologians. Few are equiped to dissect the spurious, repressive, anti-democratic agenda ITN and it’s front organizations such as Pray for Newark are promulgating. Though clothed in such seemingly laudable goals as driving out crime and drugs, let us be under no illusions as to the targets of these preachers; we are. The results of their vicious propaganda will inevitably be more gay kids bashed and beaten – perhaps even killed as has happened too many times already in Newark. The brave spirit of Sakia Gunn looks on this rising evil and weeps. Wilks and Turner need to be confronted, exposed and stopped.

Monitor the Out In Jersey website. An investigative report on the Newark situation is now underway and will be posted upon completion. Give us a week or so and we’ll tell you a lot more.

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3 responses

25 01 2010
perrybrass

God—Jezus-F-CHRIST! This is totally, terrifying scary (and ugly). And it reminds me too much of the plotline of my novel 2006 “The Substance of God,” in which I talk about the rise and prominence of “Christian businessmen” and what they want to do to the world. The funny thing is that there are places where the Christian businessmen and the Moslem fundamentalists do meet (and even merge!) and gay-hating, loathing, bashing, and killing is one of these points. This is a return to the worst of the Middle Ages, and we’re having it now—but then perhaps a new Dark Age is around the corner. Thanks for giving us the “straight dope,” Toby. I shudder thinking about this one.

25 01 2010
Gary Paul Wright

Thanks for the heads-up, Toby. While I believe there is more of a modicum of “degrees of separation” from the anti-gay movement in Uganda, as well as in many sub-Saharan nations, and everyday Newarkers, the distance might not be as far as we think. I invite Newarkers who are LGBTQ to get involved. That’s exactly why we have an LGBTQ Commission, so that we don’t fade into the background. Please let it be known that I’m at your service, and if people want to help, please contact me.

2 06 2010

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