Thursday, May 9, 2013

Exposing Extremism: Illinois Family Institute

The Illinois Family Institute is a group I unfortunately am familiar with. As I mentioned in my last Undercover Agnostic update, from time to time, I'll see fliers in the church bulletin from this group, and some of their rhetoric is downright disgusting, especially when it comes to opposing gay rights.

One case in point is this opinion article on the coming out of NBA player Jason Collins, written by their writer Matt Barber, here's a few quotes, some may make you want to throw up:

So I guess you’ve heard. Fading, 34 year-old NBA free agent Jason Collins has been declared a hero for publicly announcing that he digs dudes. Well, it’s about time! Used to be all a guy had to do was die at Omaha Beach or some other such nonsense. The Imperialist USA is finally seeing some major progress. 
What callous soul wouldn’t be moved by this youngish man’s gallantry? Who wouldn’t shudder at his sacrifice?
He then precedes to mock Jason Collins and the media attention surrounding him even further:
With everything to lose and nothing to gain, Jason Collins, in one single, selfless act, has rushed forward to jump on that “homophobic” grenade of persecution each of his LGBT brethren, sistren and whatever-else-tren face daily. For every oppressed dude-digging-dude, chick-digging-chick or cross-dressing whatchahoozie, Jason Collins has “taken one for the home team.” 
Danger? Fear? Difficulty? One can only imagine. 
Have you ever tried to fend-off a herd of undulating, adulating media-types and Hollywood celebs? Me neither. Guy could get slobbered on – might even skin an elbow. 
It gets worse:

But, lest you worry about Jason Collins’ incredible act of courage going otherwise unlauded by this president and his mainstream media, I shall hasten to comfort you. For Mr. Obama also heaped spoonfuls of sparkly-sweet sugar upon Jason’s hate-tattered brow at a frenzied news conference. CBS News describes it thusly: “President Obama told reporters he ‘couldn’t be prouder’ of NBA player Jason Collins, who one day earlier announced he was gay. Mr. Obama said Collins is ‘a role model’ to be able to say, ‘I’m still 7-foot-tall and can bang with Shaq, and deliver a hard foul.’”
Um, right, exactly. If we can’t be proud of sodomy, what can we be proud of?
Seriously, I’d encourage the next pro athlete engaged in some other hitherto-considered-deviant-sexual-lifestyle to ride the wave. 
Who knows, in today’s ever-”progressive” culture, I could see President Obama awarding the Medal of Honor to the first polo player courageous enough to admit having a thing for his horse. 

Comparisons of homosexuality to bestiality are common in propaganda by the IFI, I remember shortly after a bill to legalize gay marriage passed the Illinois Senate, I found a flier in the church bulletin that told church members to ask members of the legislature what there was to stand in the way of polygamy and bestiality becoming legally recognized.

Their hostility isn't merely limited to the LGBT community, here's IFI writer Matt Barber again, in an article he titled "Pro-Choice Slave Masters Losing War":

The pro-aborts are losing. They know it, and they hate it. 
As reported in January: “CNN released the results of a new poll showing a majority of Americans want all or most abortions prohibited – a clear pro-life majority.”
Indeed, the winds of life are blowing free the foul stench of a pro-abortion culture of death.
To be sure, there can be none more oppressed than the tens of millions who, over four short decades, have been – and will continue to be – slaughtered within the safe haven of their own mothers’ wombs. 
With its 1973 Roe decision, the U.S. Supreme Court put the government’s official stamp of approval on mass murder. Since then, the battle lines have been drawn. This is war. They, “pro-choicers,” are the bad guys, while pro-lifers are the good guys. It really is that simple – that black and white. It’s good versus evil. 
He then goes on to compare pro-choice people to people who supported slavery:

Indeed, history has a way of repeating itself. The Roe decision was not the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has so disgraced our nation. Roe v. Wade represents the twin bookend to the Court’s shameful 1857 Dred Scott decision. 
In Dred Scott the Court absurdly held that African-American slaves, even if emancipated, were not fully persons and therefore could never be considered U.S. citizens. Likewise, Roe v. Wade ruled that children in gestation are not fully persons and are therefore not entitled to their most basic civil right: life. 
As with Dred Scott, Roe’s fate, I believe, is certain. It’s just a matter of time. History will eventually judge Roe v. Wade every bit as harshly as Dred Scott. 
Call yourself “pro-choice”? Shame on you. You’re no better than a modern-day slave master. Dump the garbage and join the right side of history. 
There’s plenty of room over here. 

Indeed, the IFI can be rather vicious to it's critics, recently, IFI writer Laura Higgins contacted the school district where "Friendly Atheist" writer Hemant Metha works as a math teacher, and tried to get him fired because of his beliefs, and criticisms of the Illinois Family Institute. Thankfully, her e-mail campaign to administrators and school board members failed miserably.

She is also fond of comparing her opponents to horrible people from the past, but instead of comparing them to people who supported slavery, like Matt Barber did in the above example, she once compared churches she thought that weren't opposing gay marriage actively enough to churches who didn't stand up to the Nazi regime:

If the teaching pastors in every theologically orthodox church had been proclaiming that homosexual acts are abhorrent to God and that such a thing as “homosexual marriage” cannot exist, and if our pastors had been teaching their members how to understand the images and ideas they encounter, and if they had been teaching by example what Christians should be doing, I don’t think we’d be here today. 
Most churches today bear a striking resemblance to the German Evangelical Church during Hitler’s reign of terror, but we have even less reason for our cowardice since we don’t yet face imprisonment. The German Evangelical Church acted in ways virtually all Christians now view as ignoble, selfish, and cowardly. Some pastors argued that a “‘more reasonable tone would be more honoring to those with different views.’” One bishop told Martin Niemoller that those pastors who refused to join the resistance were “‘trying to bring peace to the church’” rather than “‘seem like . . . troublemakers.’” In response, Niemoller asked “‘What does it matter how we look in Germany compared with how we look in Heaven?’”

What I found interesting was a quote in the beginning of the article:
We are losing our youth on the issue of homosexuality, which will ultimately erode their respect for the authority of Scripture on other issues and accelerate the erosion of sexual morality, family integrity, children’s rights, parental rights, speech rights, and religious liberty as they become our culture-makers.
Though she comes to the wrong conclusions on just about everything, including what acceptance of the gay rights movement will lead to, and her insistence that the church double down on opposition to it, she is right in one respect, as the text in bold shows. The evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity that is common in the US today is leading younger generations away from Christianity altogether. Hostility towards LGBT people is leading young people to leave churches in large numbers.

This issue is causing them to lose respect for the Bible, because once they finally get out and experience the real world for the first time, and start to get to know gay people, they begin to realize that they are not the evil people that the Bible says that they are, and that fundamentalism teaches them that they are. It begins to shake the very foundations of their faith.

Then once, they do start digging more into the Bible they see that the Bible opposes homosexuality, they begin to find out that there are some things that the Bible approved of that are rather disturbing, such as the Bible's support for slavery ("Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything that you do"), and misogyny (women should submit to their husbands, and should not speak while in church). That's just the New Testament, the Old Testament is far worse, with commands that women should have to marry their rapists (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), and many more atrocious passages.

If someone was raised believing that the the Bible is without error, and the word of God, then that means that God did indeed approve of such things. Taking this approach to interpreting the Bible is downright self-destructive to fundamentalism.

 If fundamentalists weren't so dogmatic about the Bible being 100% the word of god, then maybe they could give a way out, and say that God didn't order that, it was the people from those cultures, who believed that god approved of it. Sticking to the idea of the Bible being the literal word of God creates a sticky situation here. So, by all means, Laura Higgins, and Matt Barber, keep pushing opposition to homosexuality, not only is your rhetoric make the opposition to LGBT rights look bad, but it's leading people out of fundamentalism. In  a roundabout way, your rhetoric is actually doing some good for this world.


  1. I'm totally sharing this piece in my next "commentary tidbits" post.

    :: runs off with link ::

    1. (Runs after him to get link back) lol

      Thanks, I've had a readership slump lately, this could help.

  2. Damn. I was going to post something almost exactly like this. Living in the Chicago area I have to deal with these idiots too.

    Ok. I'll link up.

    1. Thanks!

      Maybe the IFI is smarter than we give them credit for, basing their organization outside of Chicago, instead of setting up camp in Springfield. After all, most statewide politicians seem to think that Chicago is actually our capital. ;)


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