The Antigay Agenda: Orthodox Vision and the Christian Right

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Overview

Gay rights are a volatile political issue in the U.S. today. For some, gay rights are the culmination of a fiercely waged campaign for full citizenship. For others, notably the Christian Right, the extension of rights to lesbians and gay men symbolizes the moral excesses of a culture out of control. For both proponents and opponents, gay rights is an issue that is not only close to hearts, but also reflective of the individual and collective soul. The Antigay Agenda is a shrewd, lucid analysis of the mobilization...
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The Antigay Agenda: Orthodox Vision and the Christian Right

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Overview

Gay rights are a volatile political issue in the U.S. today. For some, gay rights are the culmination of a fiercely waged campaign for full citizenship. For others, notably the Christian Right, the extension of rights to lesbians and gay men symbolizes the moral excesses of a culture out of control. For both proponents and opponents, gay rights is an issue that is not only close to hearts, but also reflective of the individual and collective soul. The Antigay Agenda is a shrewd, lucid analysis of the mobilization of the Christian Right against homosexuality. Didi Herman probes the values, beliefs, and rhetoric of the chief opponents of gay rights -- the organizations of the Christian Right. Tracing the emergence of their antigay agenda, Herman explores how and why the Christian Right made antigay activity a top priority, and how it both extends and departs from their past politics. Combining the insights of sociology, legal studies, political science, history, and literary criticism, Herman examines the Christian Right's representations of male homosexuality and lesbianism. She exposes the movement's ambivalence toward rights discourse on homosexuality, gender, and race. Finally, Herman reveals how the Christian Right balances its antistate rhetoric with its ambitions for religious rule by examining Colorado's statewide repeal of local gay rights legislation through Amendment 2. Herman agrees that the Christian Right demonizes homosexuals, just as it has Jews and communists. But she does not stereotype its members as simply bigots and fundamentalists. Instead, she draws on extensive research, including interviews with leading conservative Christians, to depict a rational political movement torn apart by tensions and contradictions.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael Joseph Gross
The Antigay Agenda. . .represents public intellectualism at its best. . . .More than a political playbook; in a broader sense, it offers to help progressives understand their enemies. -- Boston Phoenix Literary Section
Kirkus Reviews
Herman (Law/Keele University, England) offers a thorough critique of the positions taken by American conservative Protestantism since the '50s on the issue of gay rights. Over the past 40 years, homosexuality's legal status in the U.S. has passed from decriminalization to highly contentious demands for equality, such as spousal rights and other forms of social entitlement based on heterosexual partnership. Herman has long been a promoter of this development, and she now turns her attention to the thinking and aims of the Christian Right's opposing stance. In an area where name-calling is rife, she maintains a careful, scholarly approach and succeeds in bringing out some of the positive values and vision of her opponents. She defines the Christian Right as mainly white evangelical Protestants, whose Utopian brand of Christianity focuses on the Second Coming of Christ at the culmination of a fearful battle between the forces of good and evil. In this scenario, gay rights legislation, like international communism, takes on an apocalyptic significance and must be resisted by the Elect. Herman's work is well researched and draws heavily on the journal Christianity Today as a contemporary chronicle of Christian Right attitudes. She is good at teasing out well-known tensions, e.g., between the views of government as having a minimal role and as the theocratic enforcer of morals. But Herman also shows that Christian Right thinking has varied over the decades, and she outlines tensions within the Christian Right about how to define homosexuality (lifestyle choice or immutable trait) and the implications of that for the antigay rights battle. A special chapter is devoted to the unsuccessful 199192Colorado battle against gay-rights legislation. Deserves to be read by both sides in this passionate controversy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226327655
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 Devil Discourse and the Shifting Construction of Homosexuality in Christianity Today 25
3 Representing Homosexuality and Its Agenda 60
4 No Lesbians, Gay Lesbians, Feminist Lesbians 92
5 (Il)legitimate Minorities: The Construction of Rights-(Un)deserving Subjects 111
6 The Christian Right versus Gay Rights in Colorado, 1992-1996 137
7 Regulation, Restoration, Reconstruction: Conservative Christianity and the State 170
Afterword: Thoughts on Backlash and Utopia 194
Notes 201
References 222
Index 237
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