Right Wing Evangelical Christianity has a lot to answer for.
Accountability is not one of religion's strong suits: witness the reaction of the Family Research Council to Dan Savage's charge:
On Mike Huckabee's program:
Mike Huckabee: "I found Dan
Savage to be unnecessarily rude, vile, and angry. Just angry. He was not a
happy person and he just takes out his venom on other people, but he's gone to
a level I've never seen."
Perkins responded, "As my teenagers would say, he has some issues. He is a man with some real deep-seated issues " and Dan Savage is nowhere near, he's a hundred and eighty degrees from the positions that we have taken. It's wrong and I will tell you this, we are pursuing everything possible to deal with him because he is out of control."
Note that Perkins did not answer to the
responsibility the FRC has in teen suicides.
Refusal of culpability always leads to further investigation, and even though the Christian Right counters such investigation with cries of "PERSECUTION!", investigation is indeed necessary: a grain of truth can be supplanted in everyone's mind and counter-actions must be taken.
Walking Backward: A Much Wider Sphere Of Hate And Destruction
Going back to the origins of demonizing gays and lesbians is, to some, like going back to the Stone Age in America's Evangelical vs LGBT culture war, but it must be done to give scope to the current battle. Perkins' demonizing is following a tradition laid down by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms. So to get a clearer perspective it may be necessary to walk backwards - to a time even before the Age of AIDS.
In November of 2010, The Family Research Council was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The reason: disseminating false information about gays and lesbians in order to create animosity towards a specific group. Tony Perkins, of course, hit the ceiling, but he had good company: the evangelical American Family Association was also named a hate group. One strong reason for this: the rhetoric of the AFA's Director Of Issues Analysis (whatever that means), Bryan Fischer*. Fischer's celebrity stems from the fact that he has denigrated not only gays, but Muslims, feminists and African-Americans.
In 1992, the Family Research Council came out with a video, the Gay Agenda in which was cited the discredited research of Paul Cameron. This video was widely distributed among evangelical church groups and conservative organizations. In that same year, minister-turned politician Mike Huckabee came out with the statement: "I feel [homosexuality] is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk." He also suggested that AIDS patients should be "isolated from the general population."**
From 1982 onward, the most favorite culture war battle cry was 'AIDS is a gay plague." The demonizing that resulted from groups like the Southern Baptist Convention is still far-reaching:
From OPEdNew s ( Demonizing America - Part 2: "Kill Them All! God Will Take Care Of His Kind!"):
Probably the most obvious (and the most vicious) holdout as far as demonizing PWAs is concerned is the powerful Southern Baptist Convention. Almost thirty years after the start of the epidemic, the SBC still cannot point to the sponsorship of any faith-based agency dealing with AIDS ...in this country. ...Today, they still follow Jesse Helms dictum that helping AIDS victims in Africa was fine because they were "all heterosexuals" while all AIDS victims in America were perverted sodomites.
(Of note: Tony Perkins is Southern Baptist and carries on its traditions extremely well. In 1991, Mr. Perkins was cited during a political campaign for failing to report that he had knowingly purchased the mailing list of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.)
In 1980, the Traditional Values Coalition was formed by Rev. Lou Sheldon as a bulwark against what it deemed a "deviant lifestyle."*** And although discrimination against homosexuals had long been in place by the evangelical community, the formation of the Coalition marked the first organized attempt to demonize a group.
The number of fatalities resulting from the demonizing of people like Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council is impossible to calculate: to count the number of pulpits, televangelists, hate groups and hell houses that have caused people to be kicked out of their homes while they were sick and dying, that have caused adult and teen suicides, that have caused people to be bashed and killed, is incalculable. It is unknowable, because the nature of demonizing is too insidious to calculate.
And this is what Tony Perkins and his ilk count on: without direct cause and effect, the Family Research Council will continue to going skipping merrily down Unaccountable Lane.
* Wikipedia: " In August, 2012, AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer compared the children of gay parents to slaves, tweeting that "we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households".