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No One Does Scandal like the Religious Right

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by Xan Holbrook

When Werner Herzog said that Los Angeles had the most substance out of any city on Earth, he talked of the mass of contradictions that comes in a city which “manufactures dreams.”

This sentiment, grand as it already is, hints at a larger truth (or series of truths) about America. It’s a place which believes anyone can achieve anything, yet has an incredibly imbalanced playing field. It’s a nation which won’t have a pair of breasts or an F-Bomb on cable television, even late at night, but spends more on pornography than it does on Hollywood blockbusters. Alcohol prohibited, automatic weapons not. A pious country, with protection of non-belief enshrined in its constitution.

These contradictions need to be embraced instead of shunned, for the liminal spaces between these tensions are what makes America…well…America. You can take my gun from my cold, dead hands, or who blew or were blown by those human seraphim the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and caribbean love.

Granted that, as David Sedaris notes, no patriot in any country yells “We’re Number 2!” …one should regard any country that aims for universal purity or virtue as its guiding principle with great suspicion, and keep your eye on the people who peddle such crap.

You might say duh, there’s one in the White House. But, lest we forget, that old bastard likes to portray himself as rough around the edges, instead of wallowing in waxy saintliness.

I mention saintliness now, as there is nothing quite like when one of the con artists who make their money out of the good intentions of America gets exposed for the arrogant fraud they in fact are. 

Like film, apple pie, and the star-spangled banner, the Televangelist is pure Americana. Not that Matthew 28:19 is lost on Christians around the world, but no one brings as much sizzle to the show as the denizens of the bible belt. As holistic and well-intentioned as this all is, it still plays host to some of the shadiest characters to have ever adorned themselves with the good book and play the hound of heaven. So, as these characters make their comeback and knock on the halls of power, prepare the block-wide cookout, because we’re going to do some roasting.

Crocodile Tears

The first of our insane bastards with -agga- in their names, Jimmy Lee Swaggart, a name so Southern you’d swear he was born at a sour mash still, ran his mouth for most of the 80s as the head of a Pentecostal denomination called the Assemblies of God.

It’s the 80s, Reagan’s sleepwalking his way across the world, and Bill Hicks has yet to sober up and enter super-saiyan mode. Let’s face it, shit’s bleak. He’s a celebrity, makes a shit load of money and, like anyone else with a ton of money and a God complex, he shagged his secretary.

Quel surprise, he got found out when said secretary bared all in Playboy. However, instead of an out of-court-settlement or a hush agreement, Swaggart confessed in front of his congregation in a manner that makes R Kelly’s outburst look practically statesmanlike.

Click Three Times

Senator Larry Craig’s downfall was the perfect punctuation to the end of the Bush administration. After a voting record just to the right of Atilla the Hun, he walked into Minneapolis St. Paul airport’s men’s room and did what many a red-blooded man has done in the same situation: Presumably chanting there’s no place like home, he clicked his heels three times and waved his hand under the partition. 

His arrest for soliciting sex was swift, and his public humiliation absolute. Most interesting of all was his denial of being gay, alongside his clearly raging-at-the-heavens wife. I say interesting, as Laud Humphrey’s seminal cottaging study Tearoom Trade bears out the phenomenon that many men who do such a thing do not identify as gay or bisexual, 28% being married on top of this.

Furthermore, Humphreys found many of these men compensated for these riskiest of blowjobs by public affirmations of hard right politics. He called this the Breastplate of Righteousness. And it could only get worse from Craig.

Just a Massage

No look at Middle America’s more hilarious instances of Schadenfreude would be complete without a good hard gut laugh at the second -agga- knobend on this list, the incandescently silly Ted Haggard.

A founder of New Life Church and Life-Giving Churches in Colorado, Haggard was a mobilizing figure in the Christian Right, addressing arena-fulls of people trying to stop the Gay Agenda. Christ knows how he could fail. He had a bat-eared, semiliterate, and credulous friend in the White House – and over 300 congregations of his church spouting the same message.

What could go wrong?

What indeed.

In 2006, male prostitute and masseur Mike Jones came forward with allegations of a three year long, meth-fueled series of sexual encounters with big Ted. Like me, he gained this employment through Craigslist (much obliged, Broke-Ass Stuart). Haggard, probably still high, admitted to meth possession and a hulking male caress, but denied the sex. The Right showed support, until a voicemail came out of Haggard asking Jones to bring him meth. He then voluntarily confessed to some ‘elders’ and then went on a retreat to ‘cure’ himself.

I prefer to leave the rest to my imagination…

In this election year, never forget what the red side of America stands for and who it has represented. People surprised at Trump’s record in public and private since standing for election need only look at the recent past to see the GOP’s affiliation with complete and utter nutters. The next time they make sinister rumblings towards hard-gotten freedoms, get the popcorn ready. 

I was just mowing the lawn when I found a curious herby plant growing, and decided to roll it into my cigarette…

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