26 November 2003

Piety's Ruse: Invoking Sanctity to Label Different as Second Class

Bush's statement in defense of marriage is worded in regression. It is masked in such words as 'sacred institution' and 'sanctity,' evoking not just tradition, or constitutional tradition, but fundamentalist Christian tradition. It is a reach for the spiritual, the 'inviolable.' But it is a deceptive reach, because the sentiment behind it is anything but Christian. The strategy has a familiar ring.

'I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ,' Frederick Douglass wrote in his biography. 'I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.' It is Douglass' words that come to mind when the likes of Bush marshal what passes for Christian tradition in defense of what a just law could never uphold. 'Indeed,' Douglass went on, after describing how Christianity was misused to defend slavery, 'I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in. I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.'

Bush's promise to bar gay marriage in the name of sanctity and sacredness is one of our day's 'boldest of all frauds,' one of our day's horrible inconsistencies. Maybe it's unfair to single out Bush. The Democratic presidential contenders are his back-up singers on this one, their tap-dance around gay marriage and for 'civil unions' being a doctrine of separate-but-equal for gays. But the coming debate will pit Marshall's opinion against Bush's 43 words. Bush, the 43rd president, may add numerology to his pomp and show. He'll need to. He doesn't stand a chance on more rational grounds.

Australians are a less religiose people. That is probably why the Man of Steel found it necessary to add science's ruse - the pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo of saying that gay marriage threatens the survival of the species.

I keep trying to tell the pink velicraptors who live across the street that dinosaurs would still rule the world if they hadn't gone in for gay marriage.

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