THE STRANGE BEDFELLOWSHIP OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT AND INIDIVDUAL-1'S HATE-FILLED RHETORIC
Sheparding, 46.5" x 36", Oil on Canvas, 1999, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust.**
Franklin Graham, that kid who grew up in Billy's shadow and is yearning for the same relevance, simultaneously invokes the Sermon on the Mount and the hate-filled rhetoric of Individual-1. Judging not that he be not judged, he recently took aim at Mayor Pete Buttigieg for discussing the immutable fact of his homosexuality (and fidelity to his husband) and his Christianity. The reverend credibly claims to have the inside track on the heart and mind of the Mayor as well as those of god. Just ask him. If Individual-1 had either or both, the most-holy reverend would know them as well. Somewhere in the Bible, while someone was marrying his sister and fu@king his concubines and slaves, and hers—all with the green light from god, god’s mouthpiece pronounced homosexuality both a choice and a sin. Somehow #DerangedDonald’s unapologetic, continuous violations of most of the line-items in the Decalogue escape god’s and the reverend’s notice.
PENCIVE TIMES: “LIBERTY, GUNS, BIBLE, TRUMP, BBQ. THAT’S MY KIND OF LGBTQ”
Huffington Post published a very personal essay by Noah Michelson: If We Want To Stop Queer Kids From Dying By Suicide, We Need To Start At The Top. The author said:
“Too many queer people have found themselves — and still find themselves — exactly where I was. Too many queer people have found a reason and a way to do what I didn’t do. And too many of them are children ― like 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, who died by suicide last week in Alabama after struggling with depression and dealing with homophobic bullying. . . .
“Despite ridiculous claims about President Donald Trump being the ‘most pro-LGBTQ president in history,’ his administration has worked tirelessly over the past two years to roll back protections for queer people while finding new ways to terrorize us. GLAAD notes that Trump’s administration has ‘unleashed more than 92 attacks against LGBTQ Americans in policy and rhetoric,’ from a ban on transgender military personnel, which went into effect earlier this month, to disbanding the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. . . .
“In some ways, even more horrifying is the cues these policymakers and their decisions send to people we call our neighbors, coworkers, classmates ― and even friends and family ― about acceptable behavior. . . . Take, for instance, how a sheriff’s deputy allegedly responded to Nigel Shelby’s death.
‘Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ. That’s my kind of LGBTQ,’ the deputy reportedly wrote on a local Alabama news outlet’s Facebook page, responding to a story about Shelby’s death, [proudly name-dropping Individual-1].’”
Before becoming Individual-1’s lap-dog, I-Will-Not-Lunch-With-A-Vagina-Pence distinguished himself in public life by marginalizing those whose lives and decisions were anathema to his Evangelical agenda. That ideological framework became his public agenda to make American straight, or closeted, again. Some could reasonably conclude that Individual-1 is less dangerous than Pence. #DerangedDonald’s "brilliant," "beautiful," "best" brain isn’t all that complicated. We all know Individual-1 is steeped in no ideology, he has none, except the deluded perception of his own greatness. That helps explain his refusal to acknowledge Russia's attack on our sovereignty which could formally delegitimize his presidency, his ongoing campaign-style rallies as substitutes for governance, and his obsession with margin-of-victory, millions of "illegals" making up for his resounding popular-vote defeat, his constant return to Electoral College numbers, inauguration crowd-size, hand-size . . . . Unless he fills that massive void with the praise and reinforcement of others, it remains empty except of hate and anger.
On October 6, 1998, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson beat, tortured and left for dead Matthew Shepard. That hate crime was only slightly more primitive than the religiously inspired program advocated by Pence to solve the serious social and moral scourge of homosexuality. The next year—and six years after my folks came out as the parents of a gay child to their gay son on his 22nd birthday—my father joined that cacophony with Sheparding, a haunting piece which I choose to believe comments on the horrific ignorance and over-againstness that define most hate groups, particularly the religiously inspired, some of which take the form of government bodies gerrymandered into power by a similarly inspired electorate. Should it surprise anyone that official marginalization does little to discourage and much to encourage unofficial physical, emotional and social violence against the marginalized?
Two years after Matthew Shepard’s murder Pence’s platform, under the heading "Strengthening the American Family," sought to defund AIDS/HIV research in favor of conversion (reparative) therapy, a practice already discredited worldwide by every legitimate psychological organization. Exposed as an utterly unethical, barbaric and dangerous pseudoscience, conversion therapy destroyed many individual lives. But it also inflicted considerable social harm by disseminating and advocating unscientific views about sexual orientation.
Pence’s 2000 website said:
"Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."
As a Congressman arguing against marriage equality, Pence claimed being gay was a choice. "[S]ocietal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family." Allowing marriage equality to members of the LGBT community would, in his view, lead to disastrous societal outcomes. That is his deeply held religious belief.
Additional indicia from Pence’s history that portend disastrously for America with this hate-based regime include his:
• Opposition to reproductive rights, including federal funding for abortions only when the pregnancies resulted from the “forcible” kind of rape
• Opposition to transgender rights
• Opposition to repealing don’t ask don’t tell
• Opposition to legislation prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace
• Signing legislation allowing Indiana businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community veiled by their personal religious beliefs
Christ Ministering to the Homosexuals in Salt Lake City, Watercolor, 51" x 43", 1996, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust.**
Under a United States Supreme Court decision, Senator Orrin Hatch’s Equal Access Act to protect the religious liberties of public school children had the unintended consequence of protecting gay school children. One high ranking Utah State Senator saw this for what it really was: moral decay sweeping across the country, “orchestrated by adult homosexual organizations. . . . Since they can’t reproduce, they have basically said, `We will seduce and sodomize your children.’” Enthusiasts of right wing Eagle Forum had little difficulty persuading Utah’s 1996 legislature to exercise its Mormon priesthood authority by passing legislation banning gay clubs in public schools. The secretive process by which that bill became law was the subject of Christ Ministering to the Homosexuals in Salt Lake City. Please take a moment to study the painting. For a brief history of the related issues, see the link below. As a cooperating attorney with the ACLU, I had the good fortune to work with my friend Stephen C. Clark on the second “East High Gay Club" case in persuading a federal judge who had considerable constitutional insight to, shall we say, convince the Salt Lake City School Board it must do the right thing, even if for the wrong reasons:
On April 3, 2019, god, who reveals his eternal truths through his modern-day prophet, seer and revelator—the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church”), fka the Mormon Church—vacated and reversed his position from three and a half years ago. That November 15, 2015 pronouncement declared same-sex married couples “apostates” of the LDS Church and barred their children from what the LDS Church teaches are “blessings of the priesthood,” including baptism, a prerequisite to entry into god’s highest glory. God must not have foreseen the widespread outrage and fallout his 2015 revelation would have, including protests, mass resignations of church memberships (even by non-“apostates”), increased tension and turmoil between and among family and church members, depression and suicides. I am genuinely delighted for those who have chosen to be and remain invested in what I consider to be the whims of bigoted, backward thinkers. I eagerly anticipate what god’s eternal truth will be on LGBTQ issues when he calls home the current Mormon prophet, seer and revelator and a new one takes over.
'Trauma is a slow burn': Mormons seek healing as church eases anti-LGBT policy https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/06/trauma-is-a-slow-burn-mormons-seek-healing-as-church-eases-anti-lgbt-policy?CMP=ShareiOSAppOther
My brother’s private barter with god didn’t work—he returned from his Mormon mission just as gay as he’d left. Recognizing the truth in this truth, my parents engaged in an advanced form of self-directed conversion therapy, not calculated to change their son but to exorcise from themselves the received homophobia fueled by procreation theocracy and sectarian over-againstness. They, not their son, would become the converted. Richard and Renee renounced ex-gay Mormon ministries. They vowed their son mustn't be encouraged to identify as or be converted to un-gay. As mentioned in a prior post, Renee compartmentalized sexual orientation from the other Mormon abominations. Indeed, she and my father provided a well-intended but imperfect sanctuary through Family Fellowship for Mormon members of the LGBT community. Renee passed away two years ago having "endured to the end" convinced the Mormon Church got everything right except one. In contrast, Richard was more broadly destabilized by the religious and social hostilities surrounding his son’s gayness. He entered a period defined largely by that disorientation. Don’t misunderstand: when he passed on Christmas day 2013, he remained in the faith, albeit somewhat wiser. Richard's first of many pieces from that period:
In Search of the H Gene, Watercolor, 48" X 36", 1994, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
In Search of the H Gene was included in “Watercolor Now,” the 1993 Fourth Biennial Exhibit of the Watercolor USA Honor Society in Salt Lake City, an exhibition at the Salt Lake Art Center. Given some of Richard’s writings on the subject, I believe the painting is a visual expression of the beginning of his mourning process, his deconstruction and efforts to rebuild those portions of his belief system he came to understand were deeply flawed.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**Richard’s list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers