Repent-or-Perish signThe news out of Iowa these days isn’t good. There’s the salmonella-tainted eggs, which have hit a second producer in that state (WebCite cached article), of course. That’s been news for the last few days. The other Iowa news you likely have not heard about, is the religiofascist bellyaching that’s been going on there, over gays. This story is taking on a life of its own … sad to say.

It all started with a Republican legislative candidate’s idiotic rant about AIDS being God’s retribution against gays, as reported by the Iowa Independent (cached):

When the Bible says homosexuals should be “put to death; their blood shall be upon them,” the blood is really AIDS. Or so says Jeremy Walters, Republican legislative hopeful, in a series of posts on his Facebook. …

Facebook Rant of Jeremy Walters, GOP candidate for Iowa's 67th state House district

Walters uses the old Leviticus 20:13 to support his claim. Evangelicals love to trot out this and other verses as “proof” that God has condemned gays. What they forget is that other Leviticus passages also forbid a great many other things, including the eating of pork (Lev 11:7-8) and shellfish (Lev 11:10-12). Yes folks, that means no shrimp scampi or baby-back ribs for good, dutiful Christians!

As adamant as Walters is about this matter, it hasn’t previously been a cornerstone of his campaign:

On his campaign website, Walters makes no mention of same-sex marriage or gay rights at all, focusing instead on economic issues like property taxes, the estate tax and the state budget, as well as gun rights and education.

To its credit, the Iowa Republican Party has disavowed Walters’s words, again as reported by the Iowa Independent (cached):

Statements by a Republican candidate for the Iowa House that AIDS is punishment for the sin of homosexuality have been officially denounced by Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn. …

“Mr. Walters’ comments are inappropriate and in no way represent the beliefs of the Republican Party of Iowa,” Strawn said in a statement to The Iowa Independent. “HIV/AIDS does not discriminate and our hearts and prayers go out to any Iowa family facing this disease.”

That, at least, is pretty clear and unequivocal. This same story, however, reveals that Walters plans not to back down on his claim:

Walters told The Des Moines Register that he has no plans to remove the posting from his Facebook page, saying it’s only offensive to gay rights advocates, “because they know it’s the truth. Truth does hurt.”

Nonetheless, Walters’s remarks on gays and AIDS have been removed.

Even with the state Republican party clearly weighing against Walters, however, the matter still will not die. A radio host has angrily called bullshit on Strawn’s claim that “AIDS does not discriminate” … again reported by the Iowa Independent (cached):

The gay rights movement has worked hard to convince society that AIDS does not discriminate, but that is a lie, conservative radio host Jan Mickelson said on his WHO-AM show Thursday. …

“For the chairman of the Republican Party to say, ‘AIDS doesn’t discriminate,’ well of course it does,” Mickelson said. “It discriminates against people who engage in stupid behavior.”

“Lung disease doesn’t discriminate, but it’s probably a good idea to stop smoking,” he said. …

Mickelson said it all comes down to God’s law, or natural law, which “also applies to sexual disorders.”

Mickelson’s lung-disease scenario doesn’t quite work as well as he probably thinks it does; there are people who’ve been afflicted by lung disease, caused by environmental factors outside their control. Musician Warren Zevon, for example, died of a form of lung cancer which is triggered by asbestos; as near as anyone can figure, his exposure came during childhood, from his family’s carpet business (asbestos was a component of some carpet fibers until just a few decades ago). He didn’t ask to get lung cancer, and my guess is that no one knew his exposure to carpet fibers would cause it. So Zevon’s cancer cannot be called any kind of natural consequence of willful, “stupid behavior.”

At any rate, Mickelson may have realized he was stepping into a steaming load of manure of his own making, because his remarks after that point are almost incomprehensible:

So, does God punish homosexuality? Does he punish sodomy? Well, no, he doesn’t get off his throne and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get that guy.’ Well not directly,” he said. “Most of God’s laws, which another way of saying God’s law would be natural law, that is, law that is consistent with the nature of the universe because it was built in such a way, most of God’s laws are self enforcing. God doesn’t have to do anything. So if you skydive without a parachute, does God punish people who do that? No, but one of his inventions does. Gravity. If you skydive without a parachute, you’re going to die. Should you blame God for that?”

Mickelson kept spewing gibberish, even after callers challenged him on various points around this topic; read the article if you wish to see the depths of stupidity and inanity he stooped to in order to hold onto his religiously-motivated bigotry.

Folks, this is just another sterling example of “the Religion of Love” in action.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Marshall Astor.

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