Editors' Note: Guest blogger Warren J. Blumenfeld is a professor in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
How's it going? By the way, can I call you Frank?
So Frank, I read your March 2014 column in Decision Magazine, the organ of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (named in honor of your father). In your column you took U.S. President Barack Obama to task while praising Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for its stand against homosexuality and "homosexual propaganda":
"It's obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God's teaching. Isn't it sad, though, that America's own morality has fallen so far that on this issue -- protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda -- Russia's standard is higher than our own?
"In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues....[H]e has taken a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda."
As you know Frank, you are referring to last June, when the Russian Parliament passed and President Putin signed what has come to be known as the "Anti-Homosexual Propaganda Law" outlawing "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors. Among its provisions, the law forbids LGBT Pride marches, positive media depictions of same-sex relationships, public displays of same-sex affection, and discussion of LGBT people and issues in the schools. It carries a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for individuals and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for media outlets.
Frank, you think Putin is great? Well, I could direct you to other Russian leaders who would literally blow your socks off!
Going back to the early 17th century, you would get a real kick out of Czar Alexis Mikhailovich who made it routine to round up males and females accused of homosexuality and burn them to a crisp. Hey, he needed kindling to keep the palace at a reasonable room temperature.
Czar Peter the Great (at what?) continued the crackdown by banning homosexual relations in the Russian military, and he criminalized sexual relations between males in the larger Russian society.
I'm sure, Frank, you were extremely upset to learn that following the Russian Revolution of 1917, leaders jettisoned the former anti-homosexual laws in Russia. Openly gay and lesbian people even served in Vladimir Lenin's government. But fret not, Frank: when Joseph Stalin took control, he recriminalized homosexuality with eight years imprisonment or exile to Siberia.
Untold numbers never returned since Uncle Joe had them killed.
Frank, if your socks have not already been blown from your toasty toes, you may be pleased to know that Russia is not the only place in the world that currently protects its youth from the evils of love and relations between people of the same sex. You might even consider moving to the country of Uganda, whose righteous parliament passed and president signed a law criminalizing homosexual relations with up to life imprisonment.
You probably like this new twist: the law even doles out punishments to friends and relatives of suspected homosexuals if they fail to turn them in to authorities. As you can imagine, the Uganda "homosexual agenda" has been exiled.
But Frank, you don't even have to go overseas to find supportive role models since we have so many here at home in the U. S. of A. For example, during a 2012 sermon, Rev. Charles L. Worley of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina argued for the building of a large fence some 150 miles long to place inside "lesbians" in one section and "queers and homosexuals" in another section.
"And have that fence electrified 'til they can't get out," he said. "Feed 'em. And you know what, in a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce."
The Sunday following Worley's sermon going viral on YouTube, his congregation gave him a standing ovation in support for his directives.
And Rev. Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church of Fayetteville, North Carolina had the young people's needs in mind when he loudly and vehemently lectured during a Sunday sermon in April 2012 that parents must enforce strict gender-role behaviors on their children. "Dads," Harris commanded, "the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and you crack that wrist. Man up! Give him a good punch."
He directed fathers to say to their sons: "You're not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male." He also instructed that parents should "squash" girlish behavior "like a cockroach." He warned that "the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly."
And to parents directing their daughters, Harris shouted and flailed:
"And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her in, and you say, oh, no. oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you're going to act like a girl, and walk like a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you're going to be beautiful. You're going to be attractive. You're going to dress yourself up!"
Frank, I'm sure you are grieving over the death last week of your buddy, Rev. Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. As you know, he and his followers traveled around the country protesting funerals of fallen soldiers (most of whom are apparently heterosexual) claiming that these deaths are God's punishment against a country that tolerates homosexuality.
Phelps is also (in)famous for his 1998 protest of the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a college student from the University of Wyoming in Laramie murdered in a brutal homophobic assault.
On his website, godhatesfags.com, Phelps linked his own version of homophobia with anti-Semitism. Phelps and company directed their protests a few summers back in my then-home state of Iowa against "...the Jews...[who] arrested, falsely accused, prosecuted and then sentenced [Jesus] to death..." and because "God hates Iowa" for being "the first to begin giving $ to little [homosexual] perverts for no other reason than they brag about being little perverts."
So as you can appreciate, Frank, you have plenty of people to admire. Don't worry, since marriage for same-sex couples remains illegal in 33 U.S. states and most countries throughout the planet, and anti-gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender attitudes and statutes are alive and well in our country and abroad.
Oh, Frank, you have much to be thankful for.