The New York Daily News and the Miami New Times are reporting that Southern Baptist minister George Alan Rekers hired a male whore from Rentboy.com to accompany him on a 10-day European vacation. Rekers is the co-founder, with James Dobson, of the ultra-right wing Family Research Council, and a tireless campaigner against gay rights and equality.
Rekers has acknowledged both the financial arrangement and the fact of the 10-day vacation trip with the rentboy. This presents a sort of new Southern Baptist take on the Commandment that “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass.”
In fairness to Rekers, it should be pointed out that he says he hired the rentboy just to carry his bags. (His teabags?) Rekers wants to have it both ways. On one hand, he wants to say he just wanted a luggage carrier. On the other, he wants to parade himself to other gay men as someone so well hung that when he travels, he needs someone along to carry his sack.
It’s easy to ridicule Rekers and Ted Haggard and David Drier and Mark Foley and Larry Craig, and Ken Mehlman and Harriet Myers and all the other Republicans and evangelicals who live lives of hypocricy, while raking in huge bucks for preaching hate and divisiveness. But too much joking may distract from the reality that the exposure of such hypocricy should be teaching us.
Rekers is a preacher who rakes in tens of millions of dollars every year. Yet he risked throwing his position away for a few days of hot sex with a young boy. Larry Craig sacrificed all the corporate lobbying money and perks a Senator can get for the possibility of a sexual quicky, with a middle-aged cop, in a public bathroom. Ted Haggard gave up millions in income and television star fame for sex with another man. What’s the common theme here? SEX.
None of these men could control their sexual desires, even though lack of control risked their careers and incomes. Eliot Spitzer couldn’t control his desires. Mark Sanford lost control internationally, while praying for strength (or potency?). And John Edwards traded his chance at the White House for a roll in the hay. Mormon demi-god Warren Jeffs is now in prison for sexually abusing young children. How many ministers and priests have been unable to control their sexual desires, even after committing their lives to God?
Sex and the power it exerts on us is universal. The earliest statuary discovered from the earliest human societies focuses on sex. The Bible chronicles who is sleeping with whom. And groups like the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Moral Majority all preach that people should focus more attention on other peoples’ sex lives than on any other social issues.
This isn’t a gay/straight issue or a Christian/non-Christian issue. This is about power, money, and insecurity. Consider the Muslim world. The corporate media hounds us with horror stories about how Iran or the Taliban abuse women. They make women wear burqas and avoid mixing with men. But our great and good ally, Saudi Arabia, stones women to death for the crime of being victims of rape. And leading clerics are calling for the death penalty for women who mingle with men in public areas, or attend classes at the new King Saud University.
Our own Southern Baptists ruled, just a decade ago, that women are biologically inferior to men and must subordinate themselves in every instance to men. It is a central tenet of the Mormon Church that any man can become a god if he has sex with enough women and accumulates enough wealth. To avoid the crisis that the Catholic Church finds itself in, some evangelical churches have joined the Southern Baptists in holding that sexual abuse by ministers should not be reported to the central church, but should be considered only a local issue, to be kept quiet locally.
People love to watch nature shows in which animals fight, sometimes to the death, over breeding rights. Animals risk health and life for the chance at sex. And so do people – its nature. And it’s not only men. The Republican official who planned a junket to a lesbian bondage club, paid for with Republican Party funds. was Allison Meyers – also now out of a job, thanks to her lust for lesbian sex. Or is the party just blaming her because she is a woman?
The way we deal with our difficulties of controlling our sexual desires is equally universal. In every society, men who can’t control themselves blame women. The Muslim explanation for enforcing burqas and restrictions on all sorts of activities is that women are so sexually overpowering that Muslim men can’t control themselves and will be driven to all manner of sexual distraction and misconduct if they are exposed to women. The mullahs are clear about this problem – it isn’t the fault of the men but of the women who distract them.
The fundamentalist Christian churches take the same position. When women are attacked, the first question is always, “Did she encourage the attack?” “How was she dressed?” “How did she act?” ” What did she do to provoke the attack?” Evangelicals and other for-profit religionists want to bans dancing, evil music, revealing clothes and make up. These are things that women use to drive men wild.
Is it possible that the real fear of gay men is that, unlike the rest of us, they seem able to resist the temptations posed by all those dangerous, demanding women? No wonder they’re so arty and creative – think of all the time they have, free from the need to fend off the attraction of women.
Whatever its cause, power seekers latch on to sex as a device for distracting attention from other issues and for controlling public behavior. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries where wealthy elites keep the great majority of people subjugated under oppressive laws and barely functioning school systems, Mullahs proclaiming their view of God’s will are paid to preach that women should not be educated, allowed to drive, practice medicine or nursing, or do anything to improve social conditions, even while the male population may be distracted or decimated by war.
Here in the U.S.A., corporations pay televangelists and right-wingers like George Rekers hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep public focus on sex and away from pollution, workplace safety, political bribery, and other things that make corporations profitable.
Remember the civil rights movement? Remember how J. Edgar Hoover (a homosexual right-wing hero) used all of his resources to try to create stories about sexual misconduct by Martin Luther King and others? His hope (and his sponsors’ hopes) were that the public could be distracted from concerns about civil rights by salacious stories about sex behind the marches.
And with the anti-war movement, when students joined together to protest, the “liberal media” was quick to focus on any excesses of the Summer of Love, Woodstock, communes, “radicals” planning demonstrations in between bouts of licentiousness. Strange how little press is given to the misogyny of our Saudi friends, whose government is propped up by our tax dollars. .
Now, corporate-funded massive television ministries broadcast a drumbeat of sex stories and sexual outrage. Now the corporate machine is in control – of everything but its worker’s sexual needs. Thus the recent hypocricies revealed by ministers Ted Haggard and George Rekers. How thoroughly the machine controls the messages it wants preached, we see in its press release from Monday, May 10. Black employee Michael Steele was sent to make a public pronouncement that the U.S. Constitution had been perfect when written, and to condemn Thurgood Marshall for praising the 13th Amendment and other changes to that perfect document.
A black man condemning the end of slavery, just for a paycheck. Is that any different from James Dobson partnering with a homosexual to fight against gay rights, just to make a buck (or $100 million)? Or from Sarah Palin praising churches that preach women’s inferiority, also to get on the gravy train? Each of us has those barely controlled sexual desires. But we need to understand that corporations pay Steele, Dobson, Palin, and others so much money precisely because keeping us focused on our sexual fears and insecurities, and away from the other things they do, is so profitable for them.