Last edited: February 14, 2005

"Preachers In Glass Churches Shouldnt Cast Stones"

Testimony of Craig Howell, Citizen,
in support of the D.C. Criminal Code Right to Privacy Amendment
Act of 1993

January 29, 1993

Members of the Council and fellow citizens:

My name is Craig Howell. I am a native Washingtonian, currently living in the Dupont Circle area. I have lived in the Washington area virtually all my life. I have been a gay activist in the District for the past 20 years. Today, I am speaking for myself.

Sodomy laws are a barbarous relic of an ancient and unholy alliance between church and state. They were originally imposed, and have been defended down to this day, on sectarian and dogmatic grounds unrelated to any legitimate secular purpose. To adapt a phrase often heard in connection with the Casper Weinberger case, this law rests upon the criminalization of religious differences.

It is no accident of sloppy drafting that the Districts sodomy law, like most others that still blight our land, outlaws private consensual sexual acts not only for homosexuals but also for unmarried heterosexuals and even for married couples. Sodomy laws were deliberately designed that way because they were based on a specific religious dogma that had to be enforced by the state against everyone: namely, the dogma that all sexual acts must be procreative.

This belief is every bit as narrow, religious, and sectarian as a belief in a triune god or a belief in the infallibility of the pope. Indeed, for centuries the church used the state to impose every syllable of its every creed on every citizen. But while the use of coercive power to stifle dissent on issues of religious faith has gone out of fashion in this country (at least temporarily), the use of government to impose sectarian viewpoints on issues of religious morality is still too much with us.

Today and on future occasions, many priests and ministers will rant and rail against repeal of the Districts obnoxious sodomy law. To them I say: Preachers in glass churches shouldnt cast stones. You want to talk about your "traditional values?" Well, then, let's just look back into history and see what your "values" have "traditionally" been.

I would remind the Catholic hierarchy and their servants, who now so glibly compare themselves to the Abolitionists of the 19th Century, that their church was a bulwark of opposition to abolition and emancipation right through the entire Civil War. American slaves were not freed by the theologians of Rome but by the soldiers of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg. So, to the Catholic Church's apologists I say: If you could be so wrong about slavery for 1865 years, how can you be so smug about your judgment upon lesbians and gay men? I would remind the clergy associated with the Southern Baptists that your branch split from northern Baptists over this same issue of slavery, which your spiritual founding fathers praised as a gift from god. To them I say: should you not call yourselves the Slavery Baptist Church?

I would remind these and other Protestants of the shameful record of segregation that dominated in some congregations up until the very recent past; I would remind them that no lynch mob in the South would be complete without the prayerful participation from the local minister; I would remind them about the ministers who led the fight to uphold segregation in public schools and public accommodations.

I would remind Catholics and Protestants alike that Christian anti-Semitism was tolerated if not actively promoted until the horrors of the Holocaust exploded onto the conscience of the world.

Racism. Anti-Semitism. Sexism. Censorship. Persecution.

These are the so-called "traditional values" whose spirit lives ruthlessly on in todays homophobes.

The religious intolerance embedded in the District's sodomy law must be emphatically rejected. Totalitarian theocrats are ripping the world apart—the Pat Robertsons in Northern Ireland, the Pat Buchanans in Poland, the Lou Sheldons in India, the Jerry Falwells in Iran, Pakistan, and the Sudan. Their power lust can not be appeased but must be resisted.

The true objectives of the totalitarian theocrats are becoming clearer with each day.

  • In Poland, the Catholic Church has rammed through legislation ordering the media to show "respect for the Christian system of values." As reported in the January 1993 issue of the fine journal Church & State, "Polish journalists say the bill is a church-sponsored effort to squelch media criticism of growing Catholic power." Say—wouldn't that be a swell way to get rid of those pesky stories about evangelistsfinancial shenanigans and about priests molesting children?
  • A report in the December 1992 issue of Right-Wing Watch published by People for the American Way reveals that in November, Operation Rescue picketed outside a Des Moines synagogue to urge worshipers to "leave your religion" and "go to the true religion." Remember who else combined opposition to abortion, homophobia, and anti-Semitism?
  • Church & State reports that the latest book by Christian Reconstructionist Gary North, entitled The Dominion Covenant, openly argues that it is perfectly all right for Christians (or at least his kind of Christians) to lie to non-Christians and to "the representatives of a doomed, degenerate culture." Whoops! There goes another one of those inconvenient Commandments!
  • Richard John Neuhaus; former Lutheran pastor recently turned Catholic Cardinal Wannabee, has declared that atheists should be stripped of all political rights—even as some of his colleagues proclaim that Christians and Jews who uphold separation of church and state are "practical atheists." So much for those nuisances of open elections and free speech!

Just Say No to the theocrats; repeal the D.C. sodomy law now!

Thank you.

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