The Fan Who Knew Too Much: An interview
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Your account of the black church charts a dramatic swing in attitudes and practices toward non-heterosexuals over the past 30 years. What do you think are some of the origins of this shift?
I connect the extreme homophobia in the black church of the last twenty-five to thirty years to the intrusion of particular right-wing elements within our culture. I don’t want to say these are exclusively white because unfortunately there is a long tradition of reactionary tendencies within the black church.
But there are a whole bunch of famous white evangelists, among them Kenneth Hagin and John Hagee, who are promulgating this “prosperity gospel.” “Name it and claim it,” which of course is extremely quietist politically, because essentially you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to organize. You certainly don’t have to think in large sociological categories. It’s all based pretty much on “what you tithe will be reflected in the Lord’s generosity.”
And always the two major themes of Pentecostals, and more particularly black Pentecostal churches (and the larger they are, the worse it gets) emphasize two themes: prosperity gospel and opposition to gay rights.