Thursday, October 30, 2008

History Will Frown on West Michigan Bigots

An article in Monday's Grand Rapids Press outlined the hundreds of thousands of dollars being donated by local doctrinaires to oppose gay marriage proposals in Florida and California. According to the article, Rich DeVos has donated $100,000 to support a ban on gay marriage that will appear on the ballot in Florida. Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, Betsy DeVos' mother, has donated $450,000 to support a gay marriage ban in California. It's sad to see so much zealous bigotry in one family.

This is why, in our opinion, the Republican Party is on the wane. They thrive on anti-gay bigotry. This site has been accused of having a conservative bias, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. We are solidly libertarian. We believe that government should stay out of the marriage issue in general. However, since government does recognize marriages and confers special rights on those who are married, we believe that marriage should be inclusive. Gay people shouldn't have any different right to get married to the person they love than a non-gay person. Unless and until the Republican Party gets on board with equal rights for gays, they will have a hard time gaining majorities again in the United States. It's just a simple case of freedom and civil rights.

The point of this article is not the Republican Party, however. We wanted to point out how many people (including the donors mentioned above) use the Bible to support their bigotry. We believe that the DeVoses of the world will fade into history and be remembered as those people who opposed equal rights. The Bible has been used many times in the past to justify bigotry and hatred.

Thanks to the fantastic Google Books service, we can search old books for the people who debated in favor of slavery and against women's suffrage. We look at these arguments today as curiosities, but at the time, they were extremely influential.

For instance, one book from 1852, called Bible Defense of Slavery lays out a biblical justification of slavery. This book purportedly traces the origin of the "negro race" to Ham, Noah's son, who Noah cursed for looking at him naked while he was sleeping in a drunken stupor (See pages 90-91).

Another, from 1861, called Slavery Sanctioned by the Bible, examines both Old Testament and New Testament arguments in favor of slavery. For instance:
As a starting point I cite the Apostle's code of reciprocal duties for masters and slaves as we may fairly call it which is found in chapter sixth of Ephesians:

5 Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in singleness of your heart as unto Christ

6 No with eye service as men pleasers but as servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart

7 With good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth the same shall he receive of the Lord whether he be bond or free

9 And ye masters do the same things unto them forbearing threatening knowing that your master also is in heaven neither is there any respect of person with him.

An 1869 book, called Women's Suffrage - a Reform Against Nature, makes the argument that women should not be able to vote because, basically, it's against nature (sound familiar?):
As "the head of every man is Christ," so "the head of the woman is the man;" as "he is the image and reflected glory of God," so "the woman is the glory of the man." "For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." "The woman is to learn in silence with all subjection not to teach nor to usurp authority over the man but to be in silence."

What's the point of this demonstration? the Bible has been and is used to justify all sorts of cruel, oppressive, and bigoted behavior. But what these people forget is probably one of the most important passages of the New Testament - "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you," Jesus said, "do ye even so to them…"

It's easy to dismiss those who argue against equal treatment, but there are real consqeuences. We've seen a recent videotaped beating of a student who was speaking out against bigotry. Students are bullied and verbally and physically abused because they are gay. Suicide is the number one cause of death amongst gay teens. Yeah, right. It's a choice.


  1. Excellend post, it pin points a significant reason why I left Grand Rapids and why I may leave Michigan in the future. Bigotry is alive an well and its sad that otherwise decent people use religion on a regular basis to justify intollerance. I made it out of Grand Rapids alive as a gay teen, sadly some won't be as lucky.

  2. Superb article and excellent analysis. I couldn't agree more.

    John McCain is currently suffering precisely because of the GOP's decision to pander to the bigoted fringe.

    One wonders if the two of them considered the impact this is going to have on Dick DeVos' likely upcoming gubernatorial run.