The gay push for same-sex marriage and Bush II’s opposition to it and his call for a constitutional ban to prevent the sullying of what he considers sacred have stirred to a frenetic froth religious fundamentalists of every creed from snake-handlers to less fanatical faiths. Homosexuals wishing to enter into a union with state recognition and church sanction have exercised the religious establishment like nothing else since prayer was taken out of schools and the Ten Commandments out of court.

Listen to Rev. Steve Gaines of the First Baptist Church of Gardendale, Ala. After comparing doctors who perform abortions to the terrorists who decapitated American hostage Nicholas Berg in Iraq, he continues in a frenzy: “Abortion is murder. Abortion is a sin. Abortion is an abomination in eyes of a holy God…. I submit to you today, ladies and gentlemen, that in God’s eyes abortion is nothing short of child sacrifice.”

Then having mesmerized the congregation and possibly God Himself, he, doffing the mantle of Christian charity without which one is nothing , thundered: “God characterized homosexuality as an abomination in Leviticus 18, and He sandwiched it right between adultery, child sacrifice and having sex with an animal.”

The righteous preacher, after characterizing doctors as terrorists, women who have abortions as murderers and killers of infants, and gays as no better than practitioners of bestiality, reminds the congregation that they reclaimed the Southern Baptist denomination from moderate and liberal theologians 25 years ago, and Southern Baptists should “now lead the way… for God’s people in this country to take back our nation from militant gay activists.”

How can civilized, educated people not only listen to such nonsense but believe it? Abortion is not murder. Just as bombing to death Iraqi children, women and the aged or anyone else in range is not murder for the reason that the law says it isn’t. So for the same reason having an abortion is not murder. It’s legal. It would be interesting to know what God thinks about the slaughter of Iraqis. Since the preacher seems to know what’s on God’s mind, I would be interested to know how God differentiates between killing by abortion and killing by bombs people we don’t like.

If one reads Leviticus in full he reads that which makes sense like taking care of the poor but mostly he reads that which is silly like not eating fish that have no scales and he reads that which is barbarous like the killing of children who disobey their parents or the killing of those who work on the Sabbath or worship another god. Do any Baptists work on the Sabbath? Further, it’s inconceivable that anyone can read that portion of Leviticus 26 titled “Penalties for Disobedience” and believe that the horrors Jehovah threatens His people with if they disobey are God’s words.

Moreover, anyone who has troubled himself to read the history of the Hebrew Bible knows that it is not the words of God but the words of Hebrews who attribute the words to God for obvious reasons; that is, for the same reason that Preacher Gaines avows that abortion is murder in the eyes of a holy God and that homosexuals are an abomination in the eyes of God. The fact is that Preacher Gaines is a homophobe just as the writer of Leviticus was a homophobe, both of whom claim that God is a homophobe for obvious purposes. What sex is God? I challenge Preacher Gaines or any preacher or priest to convince any reasonable person that he has evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that God is a male who is basically a redneck and a homophobe. Or that there is a God, for that matter, of any sex.

Preacher Gaines believes that his congregation and all conservative Baptists are “God’s People.” How frightening an allegation! Does he realizes that Muslim suicide-bombers believe that they are God’s people; that Catholics in Northern Ireland believe that they are God’s people and the Protestants there believe that they are God’s people. It must be obvious to everyone who is literate that the Jews in Israel believe that God deeded them the holy land forever and that they are God’s people above all other people and that the Muslims believe that their God deeded the same land to them. How can God be a politician allocating land to His chosen, when He is the Father of all the peoples of the earth and dispenses his grace and bounty with equity to all so preach the preachers?

Gaines declares that abortion “is nothing short of child sacrifice.” I assume he is aware of and agrees with the plan of evangelist Franklin Graham, Billy’s son. Graham called on attendees at the Baptist meeting to place child evangelists in public schools: “I want to see a child, at least one child, in every public school in America who is trained as a witness for Jesus Christ.” Graham vowed to train children over the internet and issue them cards as “certified evangelists.”

I don’t want Franklin Graham or Billy Graham teaching or training my child. I would consider what they teach him a form of child abuse and sacrifice. To teach a child the theology that they preach, to brain wash a child with fundamentalist religiosity, is to stunt a mind, sometimes permanently, which I consider the same as sacrificing a child’s mind. Particularly for one to do it for the purpose of having the child to believe as the one who commits the sacrificing. Children should be educated not indoctrinated, taught to think and question, not fed dogma and faith to the exclusion of all else. It is a killing act to fill a mind with faith that turns to fanatical dogma.

It sickens my soul to read the preachments of Gaines and Graham and all those who preach the same message. But the worst and most maddening aspect of their message is that they presume without the slightest hesitation, nay, with the utmost certainty, that what they believe is what God believes. This is the mind set of the Taliban and of fundamentalist Muslims. And it is the mind set of Medieval theologians who had in those days the power to ferret out homosexuals and abortionists and heretics for the purpose of torture and auto da fe. The church has lost that power. I thank Jefferson and Madison and others for its loss and for the 1st Amendment.

That Bush II thinks he is doing God’s will and that God chose him to carry out His plan for America is the kind of mind set that should frighten every citizen. That Bush II probably agrees with Gaines and Graham is disheartening and distressing.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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