By Alan Bean
The old protection racket has been featured in hundreds of gangster movies. “Nice business you got here,” the mafia drone tells the owner of the corner grocery, “it’d be a real shame if something terrible were to happen to it.”
Message: “Pay us $250 a month or we will ensure that something terrible does happen.”
The evangelical protection racket works on the same crude principle . Orthodox racketeers condemn the sin of homosexuality from the rooftops. But they understand that the orthodox message is a bit too close to the Fred Phelps franchise for some evangelicals. Some prominent evangelicals may know GLBT people too well to buy the demonizing chatter. In fact, there are leading evangelicals with gay children. Left to themselves, these leaders might send mixed messages and confuse the faithful, so a way must be found to silence them.
To make a protection racket work you must be willing to follow through. The slightest deviation from the party line must be punished swiftly and without remorse. If the corner grocer refuses to pay up he gets a rock through the window and a follow-up visit.
If a pastor, Christian author, or parachurch ministry (say, World Vision) has the temerity to hint that gay or lesbian people might be children of God in good standing, something really terrible will happen.
World Vision is a ministry of compassion that gives desperately poor children and their families food, shelter, and a path out of poverty and oppression. On Monday their president announced that the US side of the organization would henceforth be hiring qualified gay and lesbian applicants living in committed relationships. World Vision wasn’t endorsing gay marriage or signing off on “the gay lifestyle”; they just said the ban on hiring would be lifted because the standing policy was creating pain within parts of World Vision’s diverse constituency. (more…)