Over a number of days recently, I was engaged in an email debate with Erroll Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute based in Cape Town. The reason for the debate? Mr Naidoo is leading an attack on Cape Town Tourism over its support for the Mother City Queer Project, and the use of a catch-phrase advertising Cape Town as "the Gay Capital of South Africa". Some of us wanted to inform him that he was being an ass and making human rights abusers out of himself and all those who support his call to target entities which he frequently accuses of "promoting the homosexual agenda".
In the course of this debate, Mr Naidoo played the card which has become expected of him - that is, he pretends to be nothing more than a "concerned citizen", a "pastor" and "faithful Christian" who is nobly "standing" for "Christian biblical values" while "doing the Lord's work". He says he doesn't hate gay people, in fact he says he has a good relationship with one gay man who has been his barber for 30 years, and whom he invites to family celebrations. Right.
At the same time, he has been using his own religious views to fight against the equality and civil rights of our community since the early 1990's, and is probably the most outspoken and visceral opponent of our human and civil rights in South Africa. Well, aside from that other guy on Facebook last year who claimed to be calling for the return of the death penalty because he was a Christian and believed gay people should die for their "sin". Wow, seri-haas. Not exactly good PR material, that one.
Be that as it may, I have grown used to the periodic emails sent out by Erroll as the FPI, urging Christians to support his work in influencing government to pass laws, to turn theocratic and fundamentalist, to send emails notifying various companies of their intent to boycott them if they don't acquiesce to his ludicrous demands - and he is always "standing". What for? Surely those sexy legs of his are tired of standing by now? He is also perpetually asking people for money and favors to do it - because fighting against human rights and equality takes serious money, you know - and right now the world is in a recession and people would rather spend money on important stuff - like putting food on the table.
Erroll says he does the things he does in the name of the "biblical values" he claims to believe in and - er, stand for - which I can only surmise as meaning intolerance, hatred and everything opposite to what Christ is remembered for trying to teach fallible humankind.
Ok, so who is Erroll Naidoo? And why all the fuss? I'm glad you asked. So glad in fact, that I am going to post my email reply to him from Friday last week to help explain to you, as I did to him, who Erroll Naidoo is, and how I see him:
Mr Naidoo, you claim to not harbor any hatred for gay people. You say you have a gay friend who you invite to family celebrations. This sounds to me a lot like the old "I have a black friend, so I'm not a racist" excuse, or in this case, "I have a gay friend, so I couldn't possibly hate gay people" defense. Your online history tells a completely different story however.
You have been actively associated with anti-gay groups since the early 1990's, such as various affiliates of the "Christian Action Network" and "Marriage Alliance of SA" and SACLA to name but a few. You have been named in numerous Africa Christian Action newsletters as appearing for their group as a guest speaker at their events and as a so-called "expert" on homosexuality.
Your own FPI newsletters and articles in Joy! magazine have laid bare your hostility to our community. You have painted us adnauseum as a threat to Christianity, society, the so-called "traditional family" and of all things, civilization, which could be snuffed out in the blink of an eye due to other reasons entirely. You have asserted time and again that gay people are a "lifestyle" choice and not a valid identity group deserving of respect, dignity and equal treatment - but that your own identity group (fundamentalist Christians) is. You assert that gay people are sinful and dangerous simply for being who they are, and that it is not natural to be gay, but a "choice" and that gay people can somehow be made straight, regardless of the pain and suffering such fraudulent theories and those who employ them, cause.
You claim you never said you hate gay people, and yet you were quoted in an article from a Media24 newspaper ("Sondag") in November last year, as saying (translated from Afrikaans) "I hate gays. It runs against God’s wishes". If this is untrue then perhaps you should take this matter up with the "Sondag" staff. Be that as it may, your actions speak louder than words.
"...when homosexual activists attempt to hijack my city to promote their lifestyle, I am compelled to oppose it." - Your city? Hmm. Is it not as much their city as yours? The facts show that there is a large community of gay people residing in Cape Town, and the city is very tolerant of them - businesses welcome our money and our custom - why should people object? What harm does it do to anyone that it be called the gay capital of SA? It will only bring more money to Cape Town and South Africa and make "your" city more appealing to tourists. Who wants to live in a city that hates or rejects people? You might, but most other people wouldn't. Would you object if someone decided to market Cape Town as the "Christian Capital of SA"? What skin is it off your nose?
In a 2002 review of "the Pink Agenda" - a compilation of lies and propaganda and an incitement to hate gay people, written by Peter Hammond and Christine MCafferty of the ACDP, you said:
"“Somebody once said that tolerance is the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.I could not agree more. Having had the dubious honour of incurring the wrath of the homosexual lobby for merely questioning Cape Town Tourism’s right to promote the city as “the premier gay tourism destination”, I have come to the conclusion that never before in our nation’s history has it become so necessary to understand that the conflict between the Biblical Christian and the Secular Humanist worldviews is essentially a battle to shape the minds of society, and ultimately the moral climate of our future.
Be sure that you are fully informed about the threat we face as humanism encroaches on areas of life we once considered sacred and safe. This book gives a comprehensive and startling insight into the insidious and often depraved world of homosexual activity. It lifts the lid on the covert operations of the homosexual lobby, the havoc it has wreaked internationally and its nefarious agenda for South Africa. Let this book equip and encourage you to stand strong for Biblical morality and righteous living.”
- Errol Naidoo"
It seems that, like the Pink Loerie, you have been after the blood of Cape Town Tourism for quite some time now too. It also seems clear by your own words, that you do not care for tolerance, nor have you for some time. You have no tolerance for diversity, and you seem to view everything as a "war" or an attack on your faith.
Your mentors, the Family Research Council in the USA, whom you visit every year for more "inspiration" on transforming South Africa into a theocratic state have been declared a known hate group, did you know that? Why? Because like the CAN and its affiliates here, they have been using the material of Paul Cameron, the fraudulent researcher who manufactured reams of "studies" and distorted the research of others to demonize gay people since the early 1980's. Did you know Cameron drew on Nazi pseudo-science to do it? Did you know that Cameron is one of the major sources for material referred to in the "Pink Agenda" - and "the Homosexual Agenda", the book that inspired it? Did you know that Cameron also recommended to President Reagan that gay people in the USA be exterminated to curb the AIDS epidemic? Yes, I can see why his material is still in use by extremist religious right hate groups today.
If you do not hate gay people, as you claim, then you certainly have been associating with precisely the wrong crowd, Mr Naidoo - because those folks certainly have not been working so hard to destroy our lives out of "Christian" love and charity.
"I have never in my life required Christians or anyone else to persecute and demonstrate hateful acts against other people. " - What about all your email campaigns to foster intolerance and hostility towards our community and our continued equality? Such as your current CTT campaign, and your campaign against the Pink Loerie? I think urging other people to join you in them would fit the bill.
"Homosexuals claim they are born that way and cannot change. However, there is plenty of evidence to refute this. " People's inborn sexuality and gender identity is as natural as eye color or race. Evidence to refute this? There is none. Not one iota, except the distorted work of people like Paul Cameron and his ilk, who are not credible sources. And neither are Masters & Johnsson's so-called "study" upon which the entire facetious "ex-gay" industry you appear to have so much faith in, was built. But check out the following in the meantime:
Still think being gay is "unnatural"? Oh yes, that's right - humans aren't animals - I suppose we're plants.
"I have personally met many former homosexuals in South Africa and in the US who are living normal lives today as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ. I know you will scoff at this - but it’s true." - You may have met them, and heard what they told you, but have you seen into their hearts? Being someone who has walked that path, I know it's not possible to change - only to lie. These people are broken and lying to themselves and others, they spend their lives denying the truth and lying. And when they can't lie anymore and face the truth, they either turn their backs on the lies to face the hatred leveled at them, or they kill themselves - leaving reason for people to claim that being gay is "a suicidal lifestyle choice" - and making the "ex-gay" movement into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Convenient.
"I know God loves every homosexual." - Then why don't you, Mr Naidoo? Do you think every gay person out there who hears you condemn their existence in God's name and reads of your deeds against them in the name of Christ can believe that? Or do you think they will believe that God hates them, and descend into a pattern of self-destruction? I know many who have done so. And the fault for that lies at the door of those who do not show love to us, but instead a hateful face and paint God as an ogre.
"He condemns their sin but loves the person." - How can you separate a person from what he is? Can you be separated from being straight? Being gay is not a sin. You have misunderstood your own religion.
"That is my philosophy because I am a follower of Jesus Christ." - How can you believe those words when you look at all the other things you say and do? Do you think Jesus Christ would incite people to hatred and hostile actions? Would he persecute? Did he ever? Or did he bring peace and love?
"I don’t know the circumstances of your life but I do know you can change." - The first half of your statement is true, Mr Naidoo - you don't know the circumstances of my life - or the lives of any of us. The truth is that a gay person would be no less gay if they called themselves straight or "cured" or got married and spawned a dozen kids to satisfy you and the heterosexist, bigoted world we live in - but she or he would still be a liar for doing so. I don't need to change.
I'm happy with who I am - it is you who wants me to change because you aren't happy with who I am. I don't have to make you happy - but I need to be concerned with my own happiness.
"I preach, teach and promote God’s Word without fear or favour. I preach against all forms of evil because it destroys society." - You do more than preach, Mr Naidoo - you conspire and you actively work against our human rights, and you conveniently paint people you don't agree with as "evil" and a "threat" in order to excuse your actions, despite your lack of concrete proof that we are either.
"Without fear or favor"? Christ showed both - in abundance. Who are you to be perfect? ;)
"However, there are no political movements I am aware of that attempt to legitimise adultery, fornication, lying, drunkenness and theft. These people usually admit their sin. However, homosexuals don’t. They have created a worldwide movement to promote and legitimise their sin." - Funny how you seem to reduce our state of being to "sin" along with things that are obviously harmful and destructive, when we cause no harm by being who we are. How can you equate love with these things? Or do you think that sex, lies, drunkenness, fornication and adultery is what gay people are about?
The only argument you have on your side against our right to love whom we will, is your own personal interpretation of your religion. There are plenty of ministers who view us differently and show us the love Christ would, without trying to wreck our lives out of blind zealotry.
This is not a theocracy, Mr Naidoo, not yet anyway - and according to the law of the land, we are all supposed to be equal, regardless of religious preference. That means applying religion to determine prejudice and unfair discrimination of other people is against the law.
We run the gauntlet of so much hate and prejudice, and yet we stubbornly seem to stick to a "lifestyle" choice which to your mind we could abandon as easily as changing shoes - why do you think that is?
I'm sure you wouldn't like someone to make choices for who you are allowed to love based on some other religion? Try walking in our shoes for a while.
"This is the movement I oppose not because I hate people but because I am convinced the social acceptance of this behaviour will have disastrous consequences for society." - Funny, but in the past 40 years since the movement for our human and civil rights emerged, and we began to taste equality and fair treatment in places around the world - and have been accepted and treated like human beings instead of being hunted like animals, have any of your fears come to fruition? Has civilization collapsed? Has the divorce rate increased since gay people were allowed to marry? Has your church been forced to conduct gay weddings? Have your congregations begun marrying sheep? Has your church been outlawed? Have men, women and children been molested in public restrooms by "perverts in dresses"? Is freedom of religion under threat? Have your "home schools" been outlawed? Do you have to lock up your sons or daughters for fear that we will "recruit" them? LOL. You are a man who cries "wolf", Mr Naidoo - at the expense of my civil and human rights.
"I once witnessed a “gay” pride parade in Knysna. It was the most disturbing and depraved spectacle I have ever been exposed to. Am I a bigot and homophobe because I am repulsed by this kind of behaviour?" - Mr Naidoo, I was at the Pink Loerie in Knysna. All I can say is that if you hold by this statement, then you must live within a cloister or retreat, and can't be used to anything - because you really are exaggerating.
No, you're not a bigot or a homophobe for being repulsed - you're a bigot and a homophobe for trying to ban the event and prevent other people who want to be there from participating - and others from enjoying the spectacle, as they obviously do. It's a mardi gras, Mr Naidoo. They happen all over the world and nobody is ever hurt or traumatized or killed because they are allowed - except where people throw missiles and commit violence against the participants.
On the subject of public displays, I wonder if you care to know how unhappy I am about the "sanctity life sunday" marches held annually in Cape Town? Imagine my revulsion seeing people claiming to be Christian (as I used to be) out in droves, marching with fascist looking flags and banners, all white, with little blue crosses on them, and displaying slogans in public that among other things, target people like me? It causes me to fear religious fundamentalism, Christian extremism and social intolerance. And yet, has anyone ever tried to ban these events? If being "repulsed" were grounds for that, then surely you see what I mean? Its a big world, Mr Naidoo - and it would be very dull indeed if we were all the same. A little tolerance goes a long way in making the world a better place for everyone.
"When I tell adulterers, liars, drunks etc their lifestyle is condemned by God none of them accuse me of hating them." - Perhaps, but you don't campaign against them. Yet you campaign against us.
"this does not prevent me from promoting Biblical truth." - Is the pornography bill you are seeking to pass through Parliament by means of extending your influence over MP's and politicians - and which can be (and most likely will be) abused to slip censorship into the media and communications networks part of "promoting biblical truth"?
I don't care for porn, Mr Naidoo - but I do object to people setting up laws and deciding for me what I may or may not have access to - such laws are wide open to abuse.
What about your campaign against prostitution? By all means, prevent it, or close down the ancillary crimes that are associated with it - but how about providing some workable alternatives for those so desperate and destitute to resort to this as a means of self-sustainment? It's not much use making it impossible for these people to earn a living and then to sit down and congratulate yourself for closing the noose on prostitution while desperate people and their dependents starve because of it.
"My standing for Biblical truth in society may appear like persecution to you." - Your actions feel very much like persecution to me. Saying something is true, and trying to make everyone live by your version of the truth are different matters entirely.
"When I condemn men who abuse women and children, they don’t accuse me of persecution. When I speak out against fathers who don’t take care of their families or gambling bosses that exploit the poor, I am not accused of persecution. Why is that?"- Because in the above cases, harm is done by one to another, without consent - and this is the definition of abuse. In these cases there are perpetrators and victims, with real harm done. By contrast, in your campaigning against the gay community, you are attacking people who do no harm, engage in loving relationships or consensual agreements - and there are no perpetrators or victims. How can you even confuse the two?
Instead of "promoting biblical truth" and trying to "prove how right you are" or how hard you have been studying, Mr Naidoo, you would better expend your efforts promoting the all-encompassing love of Christ and proving the only thing that would make your faith - and your whole life's work worthwhile - love.
For without love, are we not lifeless, clanging cymbals?