While the latest terrorist attacks in Paris weren’t directed toward gays, they were certainly aimed at societies that tolerate gays, as well as separation of church and state, and a whole host of other modern concepts and approaches.
After my first trip to the Middle East (Egypt in 1997), I asked myself, what’s up with homosexuality in this part of the world?
On the first night of my trip, I strolled down a major avenue toward the Nile with my straight German friend, Mike. As we walked toward the river, enjoying the night air and evening atmosphere, dozens of men whistled at us.
Of course, homosexuality was illegal at the time—and still is. And yet, I received far more invitations than I’ve received in gay neighborhoods in my hometown of Chicago.
Play hopscotch across the Middle East and you’ll discover similar laws. The less separation of church and state or the more fanatically religious the government and/or a country’s citizens, the greater the opposition to homosexuality.
And such laws have been considered or adopted by sub-Saharan countries, too. But these African measures aren’t homegrown. No, these are exports of American evangelicals who have turned from spreading the Good News about Jesus to advocating for the guillotining of gays, the lynching of lesbians.
What is it about gays that so unhinges religious conservatives? After all, it takes two to tango and religious zealots can always just say no (sorry, Nancy Reagan, I realize I’ve perverted your words.)
So why are religious extremists afraid of two consenting adults of the same sex getting it on?
I can’t answer that question and I’m sure they can’t either (not rationally, anyway).
But lest we in the West feel superior and more evolved, we best watch our flanks—and those dark corners of our countries inhabited by religious zealots. After all, in Israel orthodox Jews have recently attacked gays and Italy’s government, influenced by the Catholic church, is an outlier in Europe by not joining its peers in supporting gay marriage.
And here in the U.S., Red States and the Republican Party continue to scheme to overturn gay marriage and even gay rights. Recently, perhaps inspired by Uganda, ISIS and Saudi Arabia, some American evangelists have proposed putting gays to death.
On a more hopeful note, there are a growing number of religious moderates. Let’s hope—and pray—that whatever their religion, it is these moderates’ positions on gays, government and society that prevail.