By Darrell Lucus | 30 August 2017
These days, one of the sure things when a disaster strikes is that religious right leaders will open their mouths, stick in their feet, and jam them in deep. Hurricane Harvey was no exception.
On Monday, for instance, forced-birth activist Abby Johnson danced a jig when the back end of Harvey downed a tree in Austin, forcing a nearby abortion clinic to close. Never mind that people living in nearby houses couldn’t get out. All that mattered was that an abortion clinic had been shut down.
In the last two days, we’ve seen a more typical response from fundies to natural disasters–they happened because abortion and gay rights enraged the Almighty. This is a similar line to what they took in May 2015, when they were quick to blame “witchcraft and sodomy” for a devastating flood.
On Tuesday, Rick Wiles mused that Houston’s gay-friendly atmosphere caused God to open the floodgates. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
About 24 minutes into Tuesday’s show, Wiles and his colleagues wondered why Harvey initially turned from its projected landfall on Corpus Christi and instead churned toward Houston.
Wiles had an idea. He mused that the “proud city” of Houston was answering for “its allegiance, its dedication, its devotion to the homosexual/lesbian agenda.” He reminded his listeners that Houston once had an openly lesbian mayor, Annise Parker. He slammed her successor, current mayor Sylvester Turner, as “a pro-homosexual mayor” who is continuing Parker’s agenda.
Wiles then recalled how in 2015, city officials tried to force a number of pastors who opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance to turn over their sermons. The ordinance forbade discrimination based on sexual orientation, and city officials wanted to subpoena the sermons to find any mention of the ordinance. Admittedly, this was a dangerously overbroad move, and it may very well have contributed to the ordinance being repealed in a November 2015 referendum. However, Wiles said, that hasn’t changed Houston’s standing as one of the “top-tier, most gay-friendly cities in America.”
From where Wiles is sitting, Houston is paying a stiff price. He asked co-hosts Zach Drew, Ed Szall and Doc Burkhart, “How’s it working out for them right now?” Burkhart replied, “Not so well.”
Later, Wiles ticked off a number of stories detailing LGBT-friendly measures in Houston–such as Turner forming an LGBT advisory board, and Turner and Parker posing for pictures with drag queens. As he saw it, the bill is coming due.
“I’m looking at this, and I’m saying–here’s a city that has boasted of its LGBT devotion, its affinity for the sexual perversion movement in America. They’re underwater.”
About three minutes into the show, Daubenmire warned Houston, “We got a problem here.” What was the problem? He believed it was in two parts.
“Could some of the problems be the result of the judgment of God coming your way because of the slaughter of unborn children? You had a lesbian mayor who wanted to look at the prayers of pastors in their churches. It’s debaucherous.”
Daubenmire recalled how Katrina plowed into New Orleans, repeating a common line from fundies back then–it was punishment for the “voodoo” and “the darkness” that has long held sway there. He then falsely claimed that Katrina then blasted Houston in the same manner that Harvey blasted the city 12 years later. In truth, Katrina never even came close to the city. But such little things as facts haven’t stopped Daubenmire before, and they didn’t stop him now.
“Water is a sign of judgment and cleansing. At this time, is now not the time for the voice of the church to rise up and declare, ‘Let’s stop killing the babies!’”
Well, that’s interesting. To hear Wiles and Daubenmire talk, God must have caused developers to plow over the wetlands and prairies outside Houston over the last four decades. In so doing, they eroded Houston’s natural defenses against heavy rains and flooding. From the looks of it, this is why Houston has had six “hundred-year storms” since 1989, and three in the last three years. That water literally had nowhere to go, so it took the path of least resistance.
But then again, such little details as science never got in the way of a good old-fashioned campaign of hate and bigotry. The only surprise is that this bilge didn’t happen sooner.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
A 2000 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Darrell Lucus is a senior writer at Liberal America. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.
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