The Overhauling of the Straight Presbyterian Church in America?

A published strategy from 1987 for making homosexuality acceptable among mainstream Americans.

“When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers. First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency….“At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights-long after other gay ads have become commonplace-it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified…”

 

In November of 1987 Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen[i] wrote an article titled “The Overhauling of Straight America,” explaining their strategy for making homosexuality acceptable among mainstream Americans. Their plan was brilliant and an overwhelming success.[ii] Here are some of the highlights of their strategy in their own words. You can find the full article here

Step One: “Desensitization”

“At least in the beginning, we are seeking public desensitization and nothing more. We do not need and cannot expect a full ‘appreciation’ or ‘understanding’ of homosexuality from the average American. You can forget about trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won.”

“The way to benumb raw sensitivities about homosexuality is to have a lot of people talk a great deal about the subject in a neutral or supportive way… Even rancorous debates between opponents and defenders serve the purpose of desensitization so long as ‘respectable’ gays are front and center to make their own pitch. The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome.”

“In the early stages…the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself…The imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible. First let the camel get his nose inside the tent–only later his unsightly derriere!”

Step Two: “Dealing with True Believers”

“When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers. First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency. Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology.”

Step Three: “Portray Gays as Victims not Challengers”

“In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector… First, the mainstream should be told that gays are victims of fate, in the sense that most never had a choice to accept or reject their sexual preference. The message must read: “As far as gays can tell, they were born gay, just as you were born heterosexual or white or black or bright or athletic…”

“The second message would portray gays as victims of society. The straight majority does not recognize the suffering it brings to the lives of gays and must be shown… portray gays as innocent and vulnerable, victimized and misunderstood, surprisingly numerous yet not menacing.”

“Few straight women, and even fewer straight men, will want to defend homosexuality boldly as such…Our campaign should not demand direct support for homosexual practices, should instead take anti-discrimination as its theme.”

Step Four: “Make Gays Look Good”

“In order to make a Gay Victim sympathetic to straights you have to portray him as Everyman… the campaign should paint gays as superior pillars of society. Yes, yes, we know–this trick is so old it creaks. Other minorities use it all the time in ads that announce proudly, ‘Did you know that this Great Man (or Woman) was _________?’”

“To make gays seem less mysterious, present a series of short spots featuring the boy-or girl-next-door, fresh and appealing, or warm and lovable grandma grandpa types. Seated in homey surroundings…Their families are very important to them, and are supportive of them… As far as they can remember they have always been gay, and were probably born gay; they certainly never decided on a preference one way or the other (stressing that gays are doing what is natural for them, and are not being willfully contrary).”

Step Five: “Make Opponents Look Bad”

“At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights-long after other gay ads have become commonplace-it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified… The public should be shown images of ranting homophobes whose secondary traits and beliefs disgust middle America. These images might include: the Ku Klux Klan demanding that gays be burned alive or castrated; bigoted southern ministers drooling with hysterical hatred.”

If you have been awake at all for the past 30 years, you should recognize hundreds of ways this strategy has been implemented in America. The campaign has been wildly successful, and Americans and the Church have been duped!

Any resemblance between this strategy and current activities in the Presbyterian Church in America may or may not be purely coincidental.

Steven Warhurst is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Westminster PCA in Kingsport, Tenn.


[i] Hunter Madsen used the pen name Erastes Pill. The word Erastes refers to an adult man in Ancient Greece who courted or was in a pederastic relationship with an adolescent boy.

[ii] The original article appeared in Guide Magazine. A few years later its authors expanded it into a book: Marshall Kirk, Hunter Madsen: “After the Ball — How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 1990s”. (Plume, 1990), ISBN: 0452264987.