Conservative Christians are escalating their rhetoric against the LGBT rights movement as the Supreme Court appears set to weigh in on same-sex marriage at the end of this term.
According to Think Progress, one group of anti-LGBT rights crusaders is comparing their quest to deny same-sex couples equal protection under U.S. law to a failed plot to murder Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler during World War II, an effort that was led, in part, by pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Far-right Christian pastor Rick Scarborough was reportedly the first to compare himself and other anti-LGBT Christians to Bonhoeffer, saying that the U.S. is approaching a “Bonhoeffer moment” with regards to the rights of LGBT Americans.
“Because of the trends and cultural shifts that we have witnessed in culture over the past 40 years, we have all known that this day would likely come and Christians would be put at odds with the culture and the courts,” the pastor — a close supporter of recently announced Republican 2012 candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — reportedly said during a conference call with other evangelicals.
“I believe we are there. We are approaching a Bonhoeffer moment in America,” Scarborough said.
The meme was quickly parroted by other anti-LGBT crusaders like attorney Mat Staver of the Christian legal firm the Liberty Counsel, who said, “this is indeed a Bonhoeffer moment” later in the call.
In another conference call, Scarborough again invoked Bonhoeffer, saying that anti-LGBT activists must “fight until we die” to stop same-sex marriage from being universally recognized in the U.S. and for LGBT Americans to receive the same protections under the law as their heterosexual peers.
“We don’t capitulate, we fight until we die, we push back with all our might,” Scarborough said. “This is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment for every preacher in America. This is a moment where we find whether the Christians who claim to know Jesus really confess Christ, that is what we’re attempting to find out.”
Scarborough and his confederates have apparently decided that while the U.S. LGBT rights movement does not have a specific “Hitler,” the rise of equal rights and protections for LGBT citizens poses as great a threat to the world as the Nazi Party did when Hitler began his march across Europe.
Theological scholars point out, however, that Bonhoeffer was hardly an ideological match for today’s purblind, angry U.S. Christians.
Nancy Duff of Princeton Theological Seminary wrote of Bonhoeffer that you “can’t turn [Bonhoeffer] into an American evangelical…The same can be said for liberal Christians with his traditional theological language. Both sides have to look at the whole picture and be challenged by his work.”
Furthermore, wrote Think Progress’ Jack Jenkins, “there is one other thing conservatives who invoke Bonhoeffer seem either to have forgotten or simply choose to ignore: many scholars believe the famed theologian was gay. Although Bonhoeffer reportedly died a virgin (he was hanged before marrying his fiancé Maria von Wedemeyer), a recent biography entitled Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, argues that he experienced a same-sex attraction to Eberhard Bethge, one of his male students.”
Jenkins concluded, “no matter how you read his theology or history, the reality is that Bonhoeffer was killed while courageously standing up for the oppressed, which includes LGBT people — both during World War II and today. Christians who center their faith on anti-LGBT theology will likely to continue invoking his name for their causes, but the idea that Bonhoeffer, who repeatedly railed against the blindness of ‘bourgeois’ Christians, would consider their fight his own is dubious at best.”