The author writes as a representative of Western Pride NL.
Matt Barber’s “The Coming Christian Revolt,” a letter to the editor featured in the Newfoundland Herald, rallies Christians to resist LGBT rights as a part of a wider struggle against evil. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should not tolerate the Herald’s decision to publish this piece and, in doing so, effect harm and suffering for real people across the province.
The article in question uses militant language in calling Christians to fight secularism and homosexuality. Ignoring that a publication largely used as a television guide should perhaps avoid radical regressive politics, the article is entirely out of place. It addresses a debate plaguing American politics between supposed Christian rights and LGBTQ rights, and urges civil disobedience against the Obama administration over its social policy.
Canada is a country that values diversity and equality, and that has legislation in place to protect marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ community. I need not address the article’s rampant homophobia and ignorance: commentators and activists adequately refute such bigotry whenever a fundamentalist slams entire groups of people for merely existing. The more pressing question is why the Herald published a homophobic piece, especially when it is completely out of touch with the social, cultural and political sentiments of this province.
I am unsure what the Newfoundland Herald hoped to achieve in publishing this piece. But I refuse to believe that it can be called a “letter to the editor”. A Google search of its title and author provides a link to Barber’s fundamentalist Christian blog BarbWire.com. Editors could have copied and pasted the blog post into the Herald.
Also worth noting is the factoid positioned next to “The Coming Christian Revolt.” Under the heading “It’s a Fact!”, the Herald reports that St. John’s was one of Canada’s first cities to host a gay bar, and that the Hotel Newfoundland was noted by Time Magazine as a “great gay hangout.” Perhaps the magazine included the blurb to placate those offended by the article.
Why is any of this important? I’m not writing this response because I am offended and appalled; I’m writing because this letter will harm LGBTQ folk across Newfoundland and Labrador. We can talk theory, scripture, ethics, and philosophy for the rest of days. But what the Newfoundland Herald forgets are the actual lived experiences of the real human beings labelled “evil” in its pages and who are routinely harmed by social exclusion and homophobia.
For Herald editors and the article’s author, this is a game of politics. For everyone else, it is a matter of human lives.
To the editors of the Newfoundland Herald and those who enabled “The Coming Christian Revolt” to be published – I am saddened that you would portray the LGBTQ population as evil. Newfoundland and Labrador has strived to treat our community with the respect it deserves, and has protected its members with anti-discrimination legislation. In this context, it is troubling that you insult the intelligence of your readers ignoring your responsibility to the people of the province and by trying to erase your bigotry by pasting a little positive factoid in the corner of the page.
To those of you who are reading this response – please send the editors of the Newfoundland Herald a letter expressing your disappointment. We need to set a precedent that this sort of discourse is not acceptable in Newfoundland and Labrador. This article’s presence alongside television listings in family homes across the island indicates a problem. It characterizes the Newfoundland Herald as a platform for hate speech. It further stigmatizes a group of human beings that have lived their whole lives experiencing social stigma. And it opens the gates of public discourse for other fundamentalist thinkers to perpetuate this hate.
If Canada is a country of advocacy and equality, then it is our responsibility as Canadians to uphold those standards. If you wish to send a complaint to the Newfoundland Herald, e-mail to their editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t be hateful. I think we can use education as our weapon and avoid perpetuating politically driven bigoted rhetoric.