Ever heard of this song?
Apparently, it’s a popular Christian tune based on 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
I suppose that it’s a nice enough sentiment, if you can overlook the bizarre eshatology of the early church. Here is another popular sentiment:
Apparently, there is a far-right-wing campaign to impeach President Obama. Having spend too much time around extreme conservative groups like OCPAC, this does not surprise me in the least. (One of these days I’m going to have to make an effort to read up on their list of grievances.) What did surprise me, though, was the discovery of these two messages boldly juxtaposed on the highway:
Ok, so this guy is presumably devoutly Christian (hence the first message) and quite enthusiastically anti-Obama (hence the second message) but it’s the third message that really took me by surprise. Even here in Oklahoma, I’m unused to seeing this sort of virulent homophobia expressed so openly.
Upon further reflection, though, I really should not have been all that surprised. Only a small handful of U.S. States (Wyoming, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi) have done less than Oklahoma to protect gays and lesbians against employment discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation:
Map of cities and counties in the United States that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinancesState, county, or city protects sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinanceState, county, or city protects sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinanceState, county, or city protects sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment1State, county, or city protects sexual orientation in public employmentState, county, or city does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment
This is excerpted from the relevant wiki, of course, and the map visually overstates what we have done here, because the employment protections that have been passed only apply to municipal employees within the cities of Tulsa and OKC. The sentiment on the bumper of that SUV may not be widely shared, but it is not yet so unpopular that voters and their representatives have successfully mobilised against it at the state level.
I’m guessing most people would assume that the “Fire Queers” sentiment is more closely tied to the right-wing “Impeach Obama” sentiment than it is to the quote from the Bible, but I would argue that this is probably not so. Notice the general shape of the gray areas in the above map, where no legal protections are offered to gays and lesbians, and compare that shape to the Pew Forum map showing where Scripture is taken most literally, which I reproduced last week in this post. There are a few exceptions, such as public employment protection in Kansas, but generally speaking, gays and lesbians are vastly more likely to be legally protected against employment discrimination in the parts of the nation where measured levels of scriptural literalism fall below 30%.
National socio-political trends aside, the stark contrast that we feel between “Love Never Fails” and “Fire Queers” is difficult to explain without reference to the corpus of epistles from the apostle Paul, which contains both lofty passages about the value of Christian love and scathing denunciations of homosexuality. It is this consummately Pauline schizophrenia, praising love and charity with the same pen that unabashedly pours forth hatred upon gays and lesbians, which afflicts America today and Oklahoma far more than most.