God hates fags. Well, if he doesn't, his followers sure do. A phenomenon seems to be sweeping the Evangelical world at present. Actually, it has been going on for quite some time now. There is this mushy, lovey-dovey bromance going on between Protestant Fundamentalist Christians and Roman Catholics that leaves me scratching my head in amusement and bewilderment. What is this all about?
Well, there is an old and well-worn adage that has been attributed to just about every world leader since Joshua, Genghis Khan, and Joseph Stalin. It states simply: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Ever heard it? I'll bet you have, as it is frequently quoted when two warring parties bury the hatchet temporarily to make common cause against a mutual foe. Amazingly, two of the bitterest enemies – whose animosity goes back centuries – are in a current lovefest on a grand scale, each stroking the other with mock affection. But I can see the daggers beneath their lovely robes and expensive suits.
As I grew up in a secular home environment, religious prejudices and biases were more or less absent from my upbringing. Imagine my shock when blatant anti-Catholicism slapped me right in the face for the first time. I was in Belfast, Northern Ireland … during "the troubles.” Sitting quietly at tea with a Protestant family, I was overwhelmed with all the hateful speech and vitriol coming out of the mouths of these born-again, spirit-filled believers! I had mentioned that at the time there was a new religious movement in parts of southern Germany, which was being called the “Charismatic Catholic” phenomenon. Every day, Germans in Bavaria – the most Catholic part of Germany – were actually worshiping in a very Pentecostal style and even speaking in tongues!
“Tongues of the Devil!” they railed at me not unkindly, but with serious conviction. I was obviously being tricked – deceived by the ancient one, the author of lies, the serpent, the devil himself! Catholics are evil monsters from the very pits of hell, they informed me. Of course, I had learned that along the way in my Christian journey. I knew that they were lost souls – every one – doomed to frizzle and fry in the eternal lake of fire described in the Bible’s apocalyptic last chapter, the Revelation.
But should we war with them? As a spinoff of the “Make love, not war” hippy generation of the 1960s, came the rise of the “Jesus Movement” in the 1970s. I was caught up in that heady time of peace, salvation, and “Jesus loves you” on every tongue. Ah, so you're a Catholic, a Mormon, or a Jew – no big deal – Jesus loves you! Be like me; speak in tongues and be saved.
For quite a while, this “live and let live” philosophy sort of floated around the surface of the greater Christian pond. But, gradually, as parties like me went into Bible schools, seminaries, and independent spirit-led training establishments, we began the see the need to understand a bit more of what we actually believed, and to know what our message was (really). We all learned a new word: "doctrine."
As the hippies and the Jesus children grew a bit older – began breeding, and needing jobs and homes and cars to get to and from those homes and jobs – they started needing to find a more settled lifestyle. Running around the country in a VW van with flowers and crosses painted on the side was sure fun while it lasted, but reality had finally set in for most of the “Jesus Freaks.” Those days were over.
Seeing the need – a motley collection of divinely inspired “Christian teachers” arose to meet the need of their ever-expanding flocks of devotees. “Love everybody unconditionally” began to be tinged by reality. Some people who call themselves Christians are really not “true believers.” They are deceived. And just like the teeming masses who have never even heard the name of Christ, they are damned to burn in a Christless hell for all time and eternity. OMG, what is to be done?
Well, obviously somebody has to go out and tell them! And I was among those who were sent … to the “uttermost parts of the Earth.” I did not just go out half-cocked. I was carefully trained and schooled in the art of Evangelism and intercultural communication. I was taught the Bible, theology, and – above all – doctrine! I can say that when I arrived in the Philippines – a 98% Roman Catholic country – I had one mission: Save Catholics!
As a rip-roaring Protestant missionary at the time, I saw a very black-and-white world. There were the real born-again Fundamentalist Bible-believing Protestants, and the very lost, empty, hell-bound Catholics all over the world. My task – my mission – was to convert Catholics … turn them into Protestants and rescue them from an eternity of suffering and misery in the domain of Satan.
Then an interesting thing began happening around the world. A new movement began stirring, and it was not based on a choice, like religion, where one picks his or her religious direction, belief, or denomination. This was biological. ...What? A movement of people who are defined by who they are from birth, and not by culture, geography, politics, or religion? It had a name too: The Gay Movement.
Well, the righteous Protestant Christians, of whom I was one, went apoplectic. They ranted and raved, they huffed and puffed, snorted, and blew all over the place. Their response to this new movement was one of absolute hatred. Forget all that “love of Jesus” talk; this is war! Being a closet case at the time myself, I watched with both fascination and horror at the freak show that followed. The entire weight of the Evangelical world rose up against the uppity fags – and their little dogs too.
But what amazed me the most was to what lengths they would be willing to go in their war on the ungodly “sodomites.” Shockingly enough, their fear and loathing was so great that they actually began courting those unsaved Catholics to make common cause with them against the homosexual hoards, invading their suburban megachurch world. Catholics! Imagine that!
As I have watched this amazing scenario play out on Christian television, I am frequently rather amused as I see well-known Protestant televangelists hosting arm-in-arm Roman Catholic priests and laymen, as they all join in powerful prayer against the gay juggernaut arrayed against them. Of course, I still remember my doctrinal training well, and know that beneath the smiles and platitudes, they both hate each other as much as ever. Nothing has really changed since that encounter at the dinner table back in Belfast. The hate is mutual, but the hate for the common enemy is more bitter at present. So they smile and make common cause. The enemy of my enemy is my friend (for now).