Dr. Michael Brown, Charlotte’s leading anti-gay activist, debated Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Monday, Nov. 1, at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, N.C., south of Charlotte.
I attended, of course, and knew after watching a few videos of Brown and Boteach debate previously that this was going to be one hell of an interesting ride.
Neither man disappointed.
I don’t have time tonight to delve into the details or offer any extended thoughts. It’s late, I’m tired and hungry, and need to eat and go to bed. But, I will say that I was absolutely astonished and blown away by Rabbi Shmuley’s “calling out” of not only Dr. Brown but the entire Evangelical Christian movement on the debate topic: Is homosexuality America’s greatest moral crisis.
He said evangelicals are “obsessed” with homosexuality, and that their predisposition to focus on this issue and this issue alone was marginalizing them in the eyes of mainstream society; that evangelicals could have a real impact on the health and future of America and its families but would fail if they continue to make all religious people look crazy. Shmuley also asserted that Evangelicals are scapegoating American families’ ills on a gay “boogey man,” and are being hypocritical in their stand for “family values” in light of their seeming lack of care or concern for issues such as divorce, pornography, misogyny, promiscuity, teen sex and pregnancy and a host of other issues. By far, he said, heterosexuals have done more damage to the “traditional family” than anything gays could have done. Why aren’t evangelicals focusing on real issues? Why are they “fiddling while Rome burns,” he asked. Why are they ignoring their own problems and seeking only on one, small, insignificant issue?
His point was driven home when I got the opportunity to ask a question at the end of the debate. I didn’t have a question, actually. It was more of a favor. I asked Rabbi Shmuley (Dr. Brown eventually did the asking, only after being prompted to) if he’d ask the crowd of (I’m guessing) a couple hundred two questions.
1. By a show of hands, how many people in the room had contacted either their federal congressman or state representatives concerning a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage?
2. By another show of hands, how many people had also contacted either their federal congressmen or state representatives concerning divorce or other marital issues?
Can you guess the crowd’s answers? It shouldn’t be difficult.
To the first question, nearly half the room raised their hands. (A small minority that is not, Dr. Brown.) And, to the second question only a dozen or so people raised their hands.
Those results didn’t shock me, and served only to prove two of Rabbi Shmuley’s main points: Anti-gay Evangelical Christians are obsessed with scapegoating gays for their problems and hypocritical on the issues that matter most.
As I said, these are only the quickest of thoughts. I want some time to review my notes, listen to relevant portions of my audio and think through the debate. I promise I’ll be back with a more detailed commentary.
Until then, if you are a self-identified Evangelical Christian or one who views homosexuality as a sin, I challenge you to ask yourself the same two questions posed to Monday night’s crowd. If you aren’t an Evangelical Christian or view homosexuality as a sin, I challenge you to ask those same two questions of your friends who might be. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on saying the results you get, whether of yourself or others, are the same results from Monday’s debate.
Hypocrisy. That’s a doozy. Jesus wasn’t a fan of hypocrisy, ya know.