Patrick Henry College Professor Says ‘Homosexual Activists’ Were ‘Integral’ to Rise of Nazism

In a so-called Faith & Reason lecture delivered to the entire student body today, Patrick Henry College Professor Stephen Baskerville claimed that “homosexual activists” played an integral role in the rise of Nazism.

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I find it hard to understand how any academic could retain any shred of self-respect after implying that the Nazis and queer people were bosom buddies. This chart, for example, lays out the various triangular Nazi concentration camp badges that were used to categorize Jews, sexual offenders (which were primarily gay men), the Romani people, and those who were mentally ill, among many others.

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This quote was only one of many similarly inaccurate and deeply offensive statements delivered in the course of the lecture, the text of which is about 25 pages. Baskerville, who has made a career of railing against the “divorce regime” after a messy divorce in his own past, warned the student body against adopting a “theology of resentment.”

He also said that the AIDS epidemic has been exacerbated by “sexual ideologues, who sabotage effective campaigns for abstinence and fidelity in favor of ideologically inspired but useless condom distributions, resulting in further spread of the disease and millions of needless deaths.”

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Yes, you read that correctly. Distributing condoms spreads AIDS.

This sort of lying and misinformation is malicious and irresponsible. If someone chooses to be abstinent, that’s their business, but they shouldn’t be made to feel as though they invite death if they choose to be sexually active. In addition, calling safe sex campaigns a form of “sabotage” is ridiculous. The ability to know about and practice safe sex does not take away your ability to practice abstinence if you so choose. Instead, it provides you with more options.

Baskerville spews classic MRA and queer panic rhetoric for much of the lecture. He puts words like “rape” and domestic “violence” and “child abuse” in quotation marks, to suggest that straight cis men and fathers are being persecuted in a witch hunt full of supposedly false accusations.

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I’d like to say that I’m surprised that these sorts of comments are coming from a PHC leader, but I went to school there for four years. I heard rape victims referred to as manipulating liars, I was told that children’s rights was a ploy to take children away from their parents, and feminists were dismissed as ugly people who couldn’t get dates. So no, it doesn’t surprise me that a PHC professor would say these things, or that he would be met with thunderous applause.

But I do wish that Patrick Henry College valued reputable academic research and healthy discourse over demagoguery and targeted attacks. That Baskerville is even employed at PHC, given the poor quality of his research and rhetoric, let alone allowed to represent the college in a campus-wide lecture given to the entire student body, shows how little the school respects academic disciplines and its own students.

Welcoming Our New Readers

We’ve had quite a spike in reader traffic lately, so we thought our new readers might appreciate a quick tour of the site.

Queer at Patrick Henry College (also known as QueerPHC or QPHC) is a community of LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Patrick Henry College, a small private Christian fundamentalist college in Virginia. We exist to provide encouragement and a sense of solidarity to those LGBTQ students and alumni in the Patrick Henry College community.

This blog has already seen its share of controversy in its short lifetime. After we created QueerPHC, school chancellor Michael Farris threatened to sue us for copyright infringement. After some media attention and a call from an attorney acting on our behalf, he withdrew his threat. A few weeks later, President Graham Walker alluded to a possible LGBTQ conspiracy targeting Christian college and university campuses.

All three QueerPHC bloggers have attended PHC, and we know the isolation, shame, and fear often associated with being LGBTQ in the PHC environment. The prevailing voice in the PHC community is one of condemnation. But we don’t think you should have to be ashamed of who you are and the way you love. We don’t think you should be forced to choose between your faith and your sexual orientation or gender identity.

We saw the artificial boundary lines that had been set, and we decided to camp out here in the middle and chat with those who walked by. We’re building a community with other wanderers. We all have a story to tell, and we’re only just learning how to tell it.

We welcome all new readers. We moderate our comments, so please keep your comments civil. And if you have a guest post idea that is both relevant and affirming to LGBTQ students and alumni of Patrick Henry College, send it our way at queerphc@gmail.com.

We hope you’ll stay for awhile!

‘A Peculiar Synchrony of Message and Method and Timing’

I recently shared the full text of a letter that Dr. Graham Walker sent to Patrick Henry College Alumni about QueerPHC and the recent media attention. For the sake of brevity, I won’t quote the full text below. All text in italics is from Walker’s letter. Note: I use the term “homosexuality” because PHC rhetoric about LGBTQ issues is usually limited to the LG portion of the spectrum.

It seems that many of [the journalists reporting on QueerPHC] can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality. But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution.  Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.

Yes, thanks to the PHC Handbook, we’re well aware of where PHC stands as an institution. However, apart from such documentation (and the many, many verbal statements that PHC leaders have made about sexuality), the college’s position on homosexuality would be far less clear.

Walker and other PHC leaders would like to reduce the conflict about homosexuality to a fight between Christians and non-Christians, in which the non-Christians support “deviant lifestyles” and the harried Christians attempt to defend traditional marriage against the onslaught of abuse, divorce, adultery, marital rape — oh, I’m sorry, against the onslaught of the homosexual agenda.

The homosexual agenda.

Unfortunately, liberal Christians and queer Christians complicate matters.

Failing that, Walker attempts to explain this conflict as a struggle between those who take the Bible seriously, and those who don’t. In this mindset, taking the Bible seriously means believing in the inerrancy of the Bible, and believing in the inerrancy of the Bible leads to an immediate and obvious condemnation of homosexuality, also translated as “all that weird butt sex stuff.”

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that taking the Bible seriously means believing in its inerrancy. Plenty of Christians wouldn’t equate the two, but we’ll leave them out of this round. However, even after we’ve excised this portion of the Body of Christ, we still have a deeply divided group.

Pro-LGBTQ Christians who still believe in an inerrant Bible believe that culture and context are important to understanding the Bible’s “clobber” verses about homosexuality, and usually believe that those verses actually refer to temple prostitution or pederasty or (in the case of Sodom) gang rape. PHC leaders commonly use the rhetorical tactic of claiming that the anti-LGBTQ side is the only side that takes the Bible seriously, and that the Bible’s position against homosexuality is self-evident. As a queer Christian, I don’t believe the Bible is the sole property of anti-LGBTQ fundamentalists. I take it seriously, too! I just interpret those verses differently.

As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines.  Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now.  There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy.  All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.

When I first read this paragraph, I burst out laughing. “A peculiar synchrony”? What are we, the League of Extraordinary Queer Pajama Bloggers? (We’re printing the T-shirts now!) QueerPHC was not part of some vast queer conspiracy. We started the blog on our own, hoping only to encourage the LGBTQ students and alumni of PHC. Now we’re in contact with leaders of LGBTQ groups at other Christian colleges and universities. The support and encouragement we receive is phenomenal.

If there is any synchrony, it’s because many LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Christian colleges and universities realize that the time to speak out is now. We’re not conspiring; we’re organizing!

I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.  

The threat of a lawsuit, the denial of our existence, the accusation that LGBTQ students or alumni are liars because they signed an honor code — none of this is newsworthy in Walker’s eyes. This is erasure. Walker doesn’t think the school’s treatment of LGBTQ students and alumni matters.

But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles.  I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies.  I think of them as potential friends.

I’m just gonna leave this here.

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We’re Back!

Sorry to disappear on you for awhile. After the lawsuit threat and the ensuing round of media about the blog, the three of us decided to take an emotional health break to enjoy the holidays.

But we’re back! And we have a lot to catch up on. For example, a few weeks ago, the BBC interviewed us, and they also interviewed Michael Farris.

“There’s no doubt that people are in patterns of living and patterns of thinking that is generally described as a homosexual orientation,” Farris said. “There’s no doubt that some students will come through here that are tempted in that direction. But you can’t tell the truth in the admissions process, and can’t tell the truth relative to the student covenant and the statement of faith that we require of all students, and also believe that homosexuality is anything other than a sin.”

Listen to the rest of it here. We’ll be posting the full transcript and a response later.

And in the December update of the alumni newsletter, PHC President Graham Walker wrote this:

Dear PHC Alumni,

It’s always interesting and sometimes disturbing when your alma mater is much in the news.  What with articles in the Loudoun Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post, all characterized by a generally hostile tone, it’s hard not to be a little concerned.

It seems that many of the writers can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality.  But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution.  Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.

As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines.  Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now.  There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy.  All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.

I’m keeping in touch with your incoming Alumni Association President, Daniel Noa, to keep him informed and get his advice.  I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.  But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles.  I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies.  I think of them as potential friends.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Graham Walker
President, Patrick Henry College

In related news, Patrick Henry College’s Marvin Olasky recently interviewed Dr. Rosaria Butterfield, a pastor’s wife and Purcellville resident who identifies as a former lesbian. The interview is part of Olasky’s Newsmakers Interview Series. David Weintraub at Equality Loudoun had a few good thoughts to share about orientation and individual choices in light of Butterfield’s interview.

You can watch the full interview here. We are mulling over our response now.

Our Criticism of Your Bigotry Does Not Count as Oppression

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A straight person or a white person or an able-bodied person or a cisgender person or a man says that gay people or people of color or disabled people or trans* people or women are the true oppressors, because somehow

  • a gay person reacting angrily to homophobia
  • or a person of color reacting angrily to racism
  • or a disabled person reacting angrily to ableism
  • or a trans* person reacting angrily to transphobia
  • or a woman reacting angrily to sexism

is, first of all, a problem, and second of all, a problem that is equal to or greater than homophobia, racism, ableism, transphobia or sexism.

The main complaint of these privileged persons seems to be some variation of “We can’t criticize them without getting in trouble!” or “They’re taking away our freedom of speech.”

The latest iteration I’ve seen is a quote attributed to Voltaire currently circulating on Facebook in the form of meme-style text on a sketch of a giant hand crushing a tiny crowd of tiny people. The quote says, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

I agree with this sentiment, but I was disappointed by the comments on one of these Voltaire quotes. Apparently, some of my fellow PHC family members believe that, according to this standard, women, people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ people “rule over” them.

I sincerely hope that these comments were not meant seriously, though even as a “joke,” they are not funny.

If these commenters are correct, then black lesbians with disabilities should hold more clout in this country, proportionally, than any other demographic.

Of course, that isn’t true. And neither is the implied statement that men or white people or able-bodied people or straight people are not allowed to criticize women, black people, disabled people, and LGBTQ people.

These commenters think that an angry response to oppression counts as actual oppression.

If you make a negative comment about gay people, and someone tells you that you are being hateful or inaccurate or ignorant or oppressive, you aren’t being oppressed. You aren’t being deprived of your freedom of speech. The other party is merely using their freedom of speech to respond to you.

If you are a straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender man, you possess immense privilege. There’s nothing wrong with being straight or white or able-bodied or cisgender or a man, and the vast majority of the world will happily affirm you in your identity as all of these things. But there is something wrong with feeling entitled to your privilege, as if you deserve  special treatment because you are any or all of these identities. And when someone who is not straight or not white or not able-bodied or not cisgender or not a man complains about the inequality in society, you are a jerk if you claim that that person complaining about inequality is the one perpetuating it.

You have the right to squander your freedom of speech on hateful, inaccurate, ignorant, oppressive statements. And we have the right to call you on your bullshit. It’s how free speech works.

Welcome to America.

There’s No Such Thing

This was a phrase I had heard a couple of times in my youth. But by the time I was ready to finally put some kind of label on my sexual personhood, I went with it anyway. Bisexual. There, I said it. I had heard people from both sides of the coin say that bisexuality just doesn’t exist–you have to go “one way or the other.” Interesting, I always thought, especially since LGBTQ/I advocates have been trying to deconstruct the binary conception of gender for a long time. But I digress . . .

Click here to continue reading!

QPHC

Welcome to the QPHC WordPress blog. If you’re wondering and haven’t guessed yet, QPHC stands for Queer Patrick Henry College.

This is a collaborative blog produced by several Patrick Henry College (PHC) students, current and former. We, being a group of people, do have varying opinions and beliefs, but one thing we do share in common is our desire to help and encourage other Patrick Henry College students, current and former, in any way that we can.

As of the start of this blog we are all anonymous contributors to this community, some for personal reasons, some for family/friend reasons, some for professional reasons, and some for multiple of those.

Patrick Henry College maintains a requirement of non-advocacy for enrolled students in regards to LGBTQ issues, but those issues are near and dear to many of us. Thus, this blog has been created as a way for us to express our opinions and thoughts on LGBTQ related topics.

Over time we hope to have posts ranging from general social commentary to specific news related commentary to book reviews to personal testimony and encouragement.

Patrick Henry College does not offer courses in Queer Studies, Sex Ed, or Gender Equality. However, these are issues that are of pressing importance in our culture today and are of importance to us personally. We hope to use this blog to provide information on those topics that are taboo at PHC.

If any of our readers have questions or are interested in contributing to this blog please feel free to contact us at queerphc@gmail.com

And be sure to check out our Tumblr Blog at qphc.tumblr.com and our Twitter at twitter.com/queerphc

-queerphc