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Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 7, 2006
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When Sally Williams asked her son, Matthew, why he had killed "the two homos," his answer was recorded by prison officials: "I had to obey God's law rather than man's law. I didn't want to do this. I felt I was supposed to...I have followed a higher law...I see a lot of parallels between this and a lot of other incidents in the Old Testament...They threw our Savior in jail...Our forefathers have been in prison a lot. Prophets...Christ...My brother and I are incarcerated for our work in cleansing a sick society...I just plan to defend myself from the Scriptures."
On Sunday morning, November 17, 2002, while still awaiting trial, Matthew Williams, who once vowed to become "a Christian martyr," wedged himself between the toilet and the far wall of his cell, slashed open his femoral arteries, his arms and his neck with a razor and bled to death. On March 3, 2003, Tyler Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder. Facing a life in prison, Tyler apologized to the families and friends of the gay couple he had murdered. "I have repented to the Lamb of God for attempting to take His place of leadership in dealing with the world's evils and in not patiently waiting for His timing."
Compared to the horror of Matthew Sheperd's execution felt by millions around the world, few people even noticed the life and death of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder let alone the suicide of Matthew Williams or Tyler William's sentence to life in prison. And yet this untold story of four wasted lives is just one more smoking gun found at the scene of another crime caused directly by fundamentalist Christian leaders whose obsessive anti-homosexual campaign leads to tragic consequences they will not admit.
Go back a few paragraphs and re-read the words Matthew Williams used to defend his heinous crime. This Bible-based fear and loathing of homosexuals was shaped in William's mind—just as it is being shaped in the minds of tens of millions of Americans—by the anti-homosexual teachings of the radio and television fundavangelists, the Southern Baptists, Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints (Mormons), fundamentalist leaders in every Protestant denomination and priests, bishops, and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, especially Benedict XVI, whose antigay obsession has led to the current inquisition against innocent gay priests and seminarians. To young Williams, if homosexuals are such a "threat to the family, to the church and to the nation," it only seemed natural to eliminate that threat.
At his trial, Williams made the connection between the fundamentalist Christian teachers and preachers who had influenced his life to the murder of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder. "You obey a government of man until there is a conflict," he explained. "Then you obey a higher law. So many people claim to be Christians," Williams added, "They complain about all these things their religion says are a sin, but they're not willing to do anything about it. They don't have the guts."
How long will it take for gay-bashing fundamentalists, Protestant and Catholic alike, to realize that their anti-homosexual campaign leads directly to suffering and death? At the trial of the men who killed his brother, Mark Matson, who holds a doctorate in New Testament studies and teaches at a Christian college, admitted to a reporter that "Gary saw the danger of the religious right." Apparently, it was the one thing the two brothers disagreed on. "It is ironic to me," Dr. Matson admits, "that his reaction was correct. For him Christianity or at least a perverse segment of it was dangerous."
It took the torture and murder of his brother for Mark Matson to realize that "a perverse segment" of Christianity is dangerous. What will it take for the rest of us to realize that fundamentalist Christianity, that "perverse segment" of the Christian church, is a threat—not just to lesbian and gay Americans but to all Americans who refuse to support their so called "absolute values" or join them in making this "a Christian nation"?
Fundamentalism, like a mutating virus, infects and sickens Christianity—especially evangelical Christianity—on a regular basis and the plague that follows infects and sickens the nation as well. Contaminated evangelical preachers and famous evangelical "personalities" are particularly contagious, especially those with powerful media ministries. Professional clergy and committed lay leaders who have also been infected by fundamentalism seem helpless in recognizing the symptoms let alone in treating the disease.
Curing those who exhibit signs of the virus, stopping the plague and preventing its immediate reoccurrence will not be easy. Whether or not the 'body of Christ'—let alone our American democracy—survives this illness, develops at least a temporary immunity, and grows strong and healthy again is a decision every one of us must make...on a daily basis. We can watch in silence as fundamentalist Christianity reshapes church and state in their own idolatrous image or we can choose to resist guided by the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance. I hope I can persuade you in Religion Gone Bad that we must resist before the fundamentalists do what they have promised, turn the world's oldest democracy into a theocracy ruled entirely by "righteous men."
I also hope I can persuade you that the struggle for "gay rights" is the next stage in the broader struggle for civil rights in this country. Consciously or unconsciously, fundamentalist Christians are using their anti-homosexual campaign to test how much intolerance the American people will tolerate. The intolerance must end. By working to achieve liberty and justice for gay and lesbian Americans, we are actually working to achieve liberty and justice for all Americans. This is the time to rediscover our own progressive moral values, reclaim the spiritual high ground, and resist those who demean and dehumanize any of God's children. This is not just a struggle to win civil rights for gay Americans. It is a struggle against fundamentalist Christianity (to use their words) "for the heart and soul of the nation." It is a struggle we dare not lose.
Top Customer Reviews
Most well-known for his "coming out" story, Stranger at the Gate (1998), White has the deep insider knowledge of the Christian right-wing that makes his own stories insightful, even crucial, reads for the rest of us. As a former ghostwriter for some of the biggest names in Christian bigotry today, and as someone who remains in touch with the thinking and feeling of the usual culprits behind Republican Party Christianity, his warnings and analyses provide a sobering look into the totalitarian goals of the radical right-wing.
Close followers of the right-wing won't be surprised by his sense of alarm. They'll find new evidence to back up their concern here.
Those who still think that these authoritarians should be valued for their sincerity, made objects of laughter on Comedy Central, pitied for how persecuted they feel, or enabled by the usual liberal attempts to "understand" them better, will need this wake-up slap. The only danger is that these people won't want to face Mel White's sobering analysis head on.
Though the book has broader implications for all progressive Americans, White intends to persuade his readers that "the struggle for `gay rights' is the next stage in the broader struggle for civil rights" as well as other progressive struggles in this country.
"Consciously or unconsciously, fundamentalist Christians are using their anti-homosexual campaign," he writes, "to test how much intolerance the American people will tolerate. . . .Read more ›
Thank you, Reverend White for what you've done.
But, on the other hand, I could relate to the guy on a personal level too. We non-believers have been in the closet with the gays for a lot of years too. People look at us like we are some kind of freak, when we say we have no religion. Either that or try and convert us. They can't fathom any normal person not believing in Christianity. They imagine we live desolate/immoral/ miserable/chaotic lives without their God. They cannot imagine any of us being remotely happy. But, we non-believers are really tired and fed up with Fundamentalist Christian's shoving their religion down our throats. It's like the old saying goes 'know your enemy' and I think this type of Christian has become the enemy of all who believe in democracy. The fact remains, when one minorities civil rights are in jeopardy, all American's civil rights are in jeopardy. That type of person eventually gets around to you sooner or later.
In being a member of American's United for a Separation of Church and State I have always had a keen interest in anything involving the Separation of Church and State. I have read Barry Lynn's book 'Piety and Politics' which was in this vein and extremely good.Read more ›
The author is a gay Christian minister who was uniquely privileged as a ghost writer for the heavy hitters on the extreme right from Jerry Falwell to Pat Robertson, work done prior to his realizing he was gay.
The author provides a useful distinction, one I often forget, between fundamentalists who are driven by fear and focused on imposing their strict version of faith on others, and evangelicals who are more reasonable and tolerant.
This book is richer in historical content than Lynns, and for that reason alone should be considered a "must read" along with Lynns' book. In addition to history the author describes a broad concern over two Americas emergent, one fundamentalist and one normal. The author takes care to discuss how Bible-based fear and loathing come from the fundamentalists, themselves, not from the Bible.
The author ends the book compassionately and intelligently. I am beginning to see a convergence between the literature on Collective Intelligence, and the literature on non-violent resistance as well as secession from the Union. I see a real possibility of the USA breaking up into at least four pieces (see my review of Joel Garreau's ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quality book in fine condition delivered in a timely way. Thanks.Published 13 months ago by thomas e.
Mel White is a national treasure. His life story is amazing and this book comes out of his career as a ghost writer for the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson before he came... Read morePublished 20 months ago by James D. Held
Mel White is a really good and readable author. I really wish I had read this book during the 1990's and early 2000's when the events chronicled in the book were taking place. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Cajunsmama
Parts of White's book are excellent. He introduces the cast of fundamentalist characters for liberals who can't distinguish Graham from Falwell from Kennedy, and later in the book... Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by J. Avory Faucette
In regards to Mel White's claims to know Christianity "from the inside" and to have "preached" the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have one verse:
They went out from us, but... Read more
James Melville White (born 1940) is an American clergyman and author, who ghostwrote speeches and books for televangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Read morePublished on April 17, 2012 by Steven H Propp
I search for some discussion here about the thinking that is behind the political stance. The same instinct that finds a friend or an enemy always seems to be a factor. Read morePublished on May 9, 2010 by Timothy B. Holt
After decades of diatribe Mel White still doeen't get it. He sees evangelical Christians as his enemies and doesn't realize they hate the sin but love the sinner. Read morePublished on September 29, 2009 by Michael M. Curtis
I guess I should have known it would be political. But somehow I thought being by Mel White, whose first book "Stranger At the Gate" was super, it was disappointing.Published on July 30, 2009 by Edwin Jackson