It’s blizzarding here in Boston today and I’m stuck at home, in a house creaking with snowy wind gusts, with this lovely view, watching YouTube videos while eating leftover king cake. My boyfriend is barely awake because Bostonians seem to love sleeping in on snow days. But I’ve been up for hours, finding myself wondering whether a breakfast beer would be appropriate around 9. Now considering back home in New Orleans it is Lundi Gras and beer or a bloody Mary would be totally expected, here it just doesn’t seem like it meshes with the environment. Boston is a place where people get nighttime trashed (“holding your liquor” not seeming as so very important in the grand scheme of things in this city) but drinking before noon isn’t a normal activity. Puritan values are the bones of this place, fleshed out by the Irish, but today the area I live in is mostly Chinese. Point is that things change but the past remains an undercurrent, noticeable to those who notice. So I want to talk about those Puritan values, or their modern reincarnation at least, the distinct stink they have to those raised in such fundamentalist environments, and how it is my dream that we move on from them, recover from the damage they did, and go have a beer and some Chinese food in a place where women were once tortured and executed as witches, but not forget what was done to them or why.
But something has been happening this presidential election that upsets me. Outright triggers me really. And no, it isn’t Donald Trump. See, Trump is a fascist (according to the dictionary definition of fascist, not just the insult). As I am a woman who has Mexican and Muslim friends, and who recognizes that if Trump had just invested his Daddy’s inheritance money in a pretty standard stock market portfolio and not done anything else that he’d have more than twice as much wealth as he has today, suffice it to say I am horrified by his message and his continued candidacy for multiple reasons. But the candidates that most upset me feel a little closer to home, because they are. Fact is the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy world has aims on the presidency and has for some time, and they aren’t too far away from it at the moment.
Now sure that sounds like a conspiracy theory, or the plot of a James Bond movie or something, but often truth is stranger than fiction, and so it is in this instance. Still, in even talking about it today I feel a bit like Cassandra, forecasting impending calamities and having nobody listen. Cassandra’s curse would be the worst curse, really. But I’m no oracle or prophet and I’m not forecasting any known future, just information about past and present on a few things I unfortunately have personal experience with. And so now I’d like to talk about Ted Cruz. Not his face, or the fact that his eyes and smile look smarmy and disturbing, but that he is smarmy and disturbing. And you can judge his smarminess from his actions and all the birds of a feather he flocks with, not his grimaces. And there’s also Mike Huckabee, who has been too busy hugging Kim Davis on stage to mount a real campaign this election cycle, and Bobby Jindal, who thankfully is no longer the governor of my home state or holding any other political office. So I’ll mostly focus on Ted Cruz.
So now it’s time to watch a video. Apparently this weekend while I was having a little Mardi Gras party with some friends, baking a king cake and celebrating the new and very cute apartment my boyfriend and I got together, these presidential candidates were having a party of their own, hosted by “Pastor” Kevin Swanson.
The theme of their party? Them and 1,700 guests enthusing about the topic of how disgusting gay people are and how it’s up to bible believers to repudiate them and that it really is biblical to kill them, given several cherry-picked verses. Special moments included Kevin Swanson railing on about Harry Potter and the animated movie “How To Train Your Dragon,” condemning birth control and most divorces, saying Colorado might be worse than Communist China and North Korea due to two gay men kissing on the front page of a newspaper, claiming there may be a direct connection between gay people and bad weather, and talking about how he’d protest a gay wedding if any of his sons had one by wearing sackcloth and ashes and smearing poo on himself and his surroundings.
Here’s the video, give it a shot. See how much I’m not exaggerating.
So in addition to ascertaining that pastor Swanson is a wannabe gay-murdering poo bandit who watches children’s movies in order to judge them (along with his many other highly undesirable attributes), we also found out that at least one of the main presidential contenders was so moved, either by this show of faith or the prospect of right wing political support and campaign dollars from the audience, that he then stood at the podium and swore to get on his knees for God everyday and opined that anybody who was president must.
Now I don’t know about you, but if you are a devout Christian, truly believing in regular prayer and reflection while leading a country, I would think that first off, it is a personal rather than political conviction, but if you make the personal political, that by attending this sort of event, and then staying the whole way through, and then openly affirming your worship of the same God as Kevin Swanson means you think you and Kevin Swanson are indeed worshipping the same God.
And I am very afraid of Kevin Swanson’s God. It is the God I narrowly escaped having land me in a trailer in south Louisiana with a half a dozen kids and a bad husband. It is the God that said it was ok to beat me if I said I didn’t want to do what my Daddy said to do. It is the God who said women must marry and submit to their husbands, having as many children as that might bring, and it almost always brings more than you can realistically take care of. I know, I was one of those kids in a family like that myself.
Now who or what is Kevin Swanson’s god? Well, I don’t know. I can’t know what Kevin Swanson might listening to, aside from his own sense of disgust and the sound of his own voice, but I can say with certainty that it isn’t an interpretation of Christianity that says God is love. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that Kevin Swanson belongs to the “God hates evil and I am his warrior” school of thought. And it stands to reason that Kevin Swanson thinks God likes him as he is, approves of his behavior, or else he’d not stand at that podium (and every other one he can get ahold of) and talk about these things, but rather say he was sorry and how he was trying to change. And if God is love, and Kevin Swanson is preaching hate, then what might Kevin Swanson be worshipping when disgust and anger pervade a rigid sense of authority is his emotions and messages? There are many other options.
But the one thing I know about Kevin Swanson’s god is that it resembles Kevin Swanson and it is at least partially responsible for the abuse of homeschooled children across this country and especially in Colorado, and it rarely if ever responds to anything with love or empathy. It is certainly not a God I’d want anyone, especially the president of the United States, praying to or seeking guidance from.
And because Ted Cruz did not repudiate this message, or this version of God, instead tacitly reaffirmed it, we now know that Ted Cruz would, at the very least, have no problem with hateful anti-gay poo bandit messages being said in front of him if he were to reach the Oval Office. And I say that as best case scenario. I think you can come up with your own worst case scenarios and the most likely scenarios. And I’ve been doing that myself and that’s why at mid morning I was thinking I might need a beer. Or maybe a call to my counselor. That might be better.
She’s out on maternity leave, but is a lovely and understanding lady who I suspect is occasionally flummoxed by how to say things like “it’s understandable that you are getting flashbacks, nightmares, and feelings of hypervigilence when several men belonging to the cultish group that abused you are running for president of the United States, supporting and being supported by a man who knew about your abuse and responded by making fun of you, calling you names, and saying it was your fault.” Because yes, it is this same Kevin Swanson who, upon finding out Homeschoolers Anonymous and CRHE existed and there were a lot of abuse stories, took to his radio show to rail about the “homeschool apostates.” Kathryn Joyce then turned it into the title of her story about us for American Prospect, where I and a bunch of others were interviewed about our abusive homeschooling experiences in the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movement. Kevin Swanson’s response to the story was to go on a tirade against Kathryn Joyce, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (an example I’d used of media we were told was demonic), and then make veiled crude humor jokes about me not being taught what oral sex was, and say I was at fault because I should have taught myself math and been an obedient daughter.
Somehow this man still runs the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) convention, and now he’s having presidential candidates allow him to vet them at events he puts on. And I am supposed to get my symptoms under control, try to have a normal life, while the shit that left me with PTSD is inching it’s way toward the presidency?
I just don’t think it’s possible. I came out of this background, escaped the life I knew and hated and was told I must live, so that I could be worldly in the cosmopolitan and adventure sense, and now find myself watching the most powerful country in the world have this cultish movement influence our national and international politics, putting us all at risk, and me at risk again.
How do you heal and move on when that is happening? What do you do? And if you say “please don’t vote for Ted Cruz, as he is scary and wants a Christian version of Iran in the United States,” how do you not sound like you are the crazy person? Because it just feels nuts, all of it, in a skin-crawly kind of way.
I mean, this stuff would be laughable or a goofy sort of insane if it wasn’t all real and causing genuine harm. Evil can be both banal and humorous, and dismissing it as “crazy talk” also dismisses the many years of planning and the fact that they’ve had several candidates in all the recent presidential elections and many more that have actually been elected in the lower and mid levels of politics. Seriously, I wish I had a map of it to show you.
And yet we are having most people respond to it like it is so far off in crazy land that it is not real, and that is part of the pain and fear us survivors and other people who know it is real feel. Because all the perpetrator requires is that the bystanders do nothing. And people will do nothing if they don’t take a threat serious, and Ted Cruz is the leading Republican presidential contender, for now. He very well may become the nominee for the party and end up in a runoff election.
If these guys get in the White House they will do their darnedest to turn this nation into a full-on theocracy. Swanson wasn’t kidding when he said Jesus is king of the president. And if you mistook what he meant by that, I suggest you dig a little deeper into the Dominionist theology these guys espouse. Like all fundamentalists, they lay it out clearly so you too can fall in love with the authority structure and convert like they did. What he means is a physical state of being, not just an emotional or spiritual one.
If their dream for America were to come true, how would I spend future blizzards? Well, it would be a lot like my childhood, except a bit worse. Disobedient children could be killed with impunity (right now it’s at least seen as wrong and possibly landing you a jail sentence). All marriages would involve betrothal or at least courtship and be more about the transfer of the daughter to the husband than any semblance of young love. Sex would be something that was only for husbands and done only to wives, for the purposes of procreation (unless you were a Christian patriarchy leader, interested in abusing your nanny or a slew of secretaries). Divorce would never be allowed to happen unless somebody cheated. We wouldn’t have any Mardi Gras cake or costumes or music (that’s “celebrating the sins of the flesh”), I couldn’t be living with my boyfriend (“fornication, living in sin”), or even marrying him (due to my “illegitimate divorce”). I couldn’t be planning to see the movie “Deadpool” next weekend with some friends (because it was not created to “glorify God.”) I couldn’t pay my own bills, because there wouldn’t be a job for me to go back to on Tuesday (“women being keepers of the home”), or a birth control prescription to refill when the snow stops, so I can decide when/if to have babies (because “the lord opens and closes the womb”). So after all that hard work I did to leave Quiverfull, to build my life as something else, it would come find me again and despite me getting a masters degree and a divorce and living 1,500 miles from where I was born, it would still have me get stuck with too many kids and a bad relationship. Because being in the kitchen, breeding like a rabbit, and under male authority is the only option for women in the Quiverfull movement.
So yeah, please don’t vote for Ted Cruz or anybody else associated with Quiverfull or Dominionism or fundamentalist homeschooling or anyone who has expressed any sort of support for the Convention of the States. And now that I’ve made my case for this, I just feel tired, and sad I needed to say it, that it’s even an option at all. I think I might go spend the rest of this snowy day curled up with some chamomile tea and a good book. Perhaps try to tackle reading the “Handmaid’s Tale” again.
Oh wait, I don’t need to. I already know the arc to that story.