February 2010 Church & State | People & Events

The Bible demands the execution of gay people, a Religious Right activist has asserted.

Joel McDurmon, director of research for American Vision (AV), a Georgia-based Religious Right group, made the claim in a recent essay on AV’s Web site.

American Vision is aligned with the Christian Reconstructionist movement, a Religious Right faction that openly seeks to replace America’s constitutional democracy with a government built around an ultra-fundamentalist reading of the Bible.

McDurmon was spurred to write the essay, titled “A Perfect Hatred,” after a situation in Uganda began attracting headlines in the American media. The Ugandan parliament is considering legislation that would apply the death penalty and other draconian punishments for homosexuality.

A number of prominent evangelicals, including the Rev. Rick Warren, have condemned the measure. But McDurmon argues that the opponents are wrong, and he condemns anyone who shirks from imposing “biblical law.”

Writes McDurmon, “The truth is, hate is an inescapable concept in every society….The problem is that in modern society, we have let the liberals and heathen define the values for us. Instead of gathering our standards of what is to be loved and what is to be ‘hated’ from God’s word, we are supposed to accept the shouts of shame from liberals – shouts which derive directly from their rejection of God’s word and replacing of God’s standards with their own value system.”

Continues McDurmon, “The evangelical mantra has always been ‘hate the sin but love the sinner,’ which is good pastoral advice to a large degree, but even this piece of folk-wisdom falls short of the biblical standard. God and His spokesmen reveal a clear role for hate of both sin (Ps. 97:10; 101:3; 119:104, 113, 128, 163; 139:21, 22) and the sinners themselves (Ps. 5:5; 11:5; 26:5; 31:6; Mal. 1:1–3; Rom. 9:13) in some circumstances.”

In McDurmon’s view, the Bible speaks clearly on homosexuality.

“God has revealed that specific sins are also civil crimes…. God also reveals specific punishments for specific civil crimes,” he writes. “He revealed that some civil crimes require restitution, a few require the death penalty. Where God says a civil crime deserves the death penalty, I propose that we keep in step with the first greatest commandment and recognize His total sovereignty in heart, soul, strength, and mind.

“Now, it just so happens that God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty,” McDurmon continues.

In AV’s view, homosexuality is just one among many crimes that merit the death penalty. Christian Reconstructionists call for the death penalty for as many as 20 offenses, including adultery, homosexuality, fornication, witchcraft, incorrigible juvenile delinquency and spreading false religions.

One prominent Christian Reconstructionist leader, Gary North, has even made the case that stoning is the biblically preferred means of execution.

Despite its extreme views, AV has made inroads in the Religious Right. AV has held its “worldview super conference” at Ridgecrest, a facility affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (the nation’s largest Protestant denomination). And the AV conferences have been cosponsored by the likes of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Home School Legal Defense Fund, Liberty University School of Law and World magazine. The Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition has urged his flock to attend as well. The group is planning another “super conference” this year.

In March, three Religious Right activists traveled to Uganda and gave a series of lectures on homosexuality. The three, Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, asserted that gays seek to destroy the traditional family. The audience was also told that gays prey on boys and that gays can be “cured” of homosexuality. Not long after their visit, Ugandan lawmakers began pushing the anti-homosexual bill.

The status of the Ugandan measure remained uncertain as this issue of Church & State went to press. With international pressure mounting, President Yoweri Museveni began talking about softening the measure. He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have all contacted him to express concern about the proposed legislation.

“It’s a foreign policy issue, and we must handle it in a way that does not compromise our principles but also takes into account our foreign policy interests,” Museveni said.