Greater NW Pride: Blame the Pandemic on the Gays



Blame the Pandemic on the Gays

In surfing the mainstream media websites, Face Book page, and Instagram stories, along with listening, watching and reviewing National Public Radio (NPR) PBS News Hour, all who are covering the presence of and strategies for dealing with the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic, one of the old red herrings brought forth by certain so-called “evangelicals” (aka, extreme religious right/Christian fanatics) has come roaring back. It is the proposition that “homosexuals” and “lesbians” are responsible for the pandemic as part of God’s wrath upon a sinful nation. "Blame the Gays!" is the phrase du jour. While this is simply a diversionary tactic, meant to keep people from listening to the science of what is happening with this pandemic, nevertheless, it keeps popping up time and again. And, weirdly enough, the proposition and news that LGBTQ+ people in the States causes natural disasters and other national emergencies does seep into mainline Protestant denominations. I have to actually field such absurd and bizarre questions in United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations where I work more than once in the last few years. 
Religious hucksters like Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son), Jerry Falwell (Sr. and Jr.), Pat Robertson, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Ken Hamm (Kentucky’s builder of the Ark), all placed blame on LGBTQ+ in the US for the natural disasters of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  They all implied in various statements that being LGBTQ+ is a sin and is the determining variable that God uses to judge and bring forth biblical punishment to a nation in the form of a storm that ruins lives and property. 
In 1988, evangelical pastor of Virginia Pat Robertson failed to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Nevertheless, he did suggest that God would send hurricanes and a lightning storm upon Florida to destroy Disney World in retaliation for sponsoring “Gay Days” weekend. Or in 9-11-01, Robertson and Jerry Falwell both suggested that the attacks on New York City and Washington, DC was God’s wrath aimed at “pagans, abortionists, gays, lesbians, (and) the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Currently, there is a Rev. Ralph Drollinger who leads a Bible study sponsored by Vice President Mike Pence and his colleagues in the White House, who writes in his Bible study, “Is God Judging America Today?” that the Coronavirus COVID 19 is the result of “Fools,” “environmentalists,” “lesbians,” and “homosexuals.” The end result of the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic is that “godly men will rise up and take over universities, the media, and government." 
The study starts with the proposition: “Some leading evangelicals believe and teach that America is now experiencing God’s judgment…yes, America is experiencing the consequential wrath of God.”
In the Bible study itself he suggests that some of the “sins” of America is the “atrocities of Planned Parenthood,” “the religion of environmentalism,” and “proclivity towards lesbianism and homosexuality.” 
“Unfortunately, for the vast majority of faithful individuals in America, too many of the unfaithful have been allowed by the faithful to gain high positions of influence in our culture: high positions in our government, our education system, our media, and our entertainment industry. This is tragic, unfortunate, and costly.” 
“Beloved that needs to change—and that is something we can change with God’s help…if my calculations are correct, and I believe they are, there are more believers in Congress and the executive branch now than at any other time in modern American history! And they are beginning to reach a tipping point.”
It end with this encouragement: “May we work industriously at our own spiritual maturation, convert the lost who presently hold office, and continue to elect new, mature believers in order to sow godly policies that will manifest God’s consequential blessing for all for years to come.” 
This is the kind of hurtful rhetoric and the kind of spiteful arguments that I find in my work in churches today. And this rhetoric and the associated practices that are part and parcel of those who currently serve this nation in our government today, as well as our churches. In an article from Psychology Today, Dr. Joe Pierre explains that all of the above is called “teleological thinking—defined as the attribution of purpose linked to a final or end goal (that has a God-inspired end to it all, ala Dominionists)—that makes some of us more likely to believe in the idea that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ or in this case, that God feels the need to actively interceded in events from moment to moment, changing the path of hurricanes in response to prayers and in order to teach us a larger moral lesson.” Those who believe this also embrace conspiracy theories and creationism as well. While teleological explanations provide comfort for some compared to the scientific model of the universe, it also forwards the idea that God is a petty, cruel, and a spiteful God.
In this time of the Coronavirus and COVID 19 pandemic, perhaps it is best not to blame those of us who are LGBTQ+ or non-LGBTQ+ allies, along with environmentalists, and those who support Planned Parenthood. Maybe instead of trying to discern God’s wrath against the nations in the midst of this pandemic, it would be best to pray and work for the overall safety and security of all as we join in, as communities of faith, to protect and love one and all during this horrendous pandemic.

Seems like something that Jesus would ask of us, and do.
May it be so.

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!