Duck Commander, Fundamentalism, and the Missionary Position

dynasty-fundieAn unfortunate effect that plays out whenever a Southern White person like Phil Robertson is exposed for unchecked bigotry (as in Robertson’s GQ interview), is that Northern progressives write off the racism, homophobia and internalized classism as being a natural occurrence of White Southerners. This kind of regionalism is not just classist itself (often coinciding with words like “white trash”) and regionalist (shouldn’t we be better than the whole “throw them all into the sea” rhetoric by now, as if Southern progressives weren’t working hard to make life better), but it also robs Southerners of their own agency and excuses their behavior. Robertson has a Master’s in Education, yet how many people accused him of being an uneducated rube? And while his Southerness and whiteness play a part in his ideology (in no small part because of the enduring mythos of the Civil War on poor Southern whites – a result of the continual class war by Southern elites), I have found his particular brand of insulated bigotry popular within much of Fundamentalist and conservative Evangelical Churches – which helps to explain conservative Christians’ embrace of the show and the cast pre- and post- GQ interview fall-out.

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists have been Duck Dynasty’s biggest promoters before the story broke and have provided the backbone of Robertson’s defense since. To them, the show is unabashedly Christian and the views of Phil Robertson undeniably Biblical* This helps to explain the political policies and social actions of much of the Religious Right.

Duck Commander’s views on homosexuality, Jim Crow, health insurance and the supremacy of Christianity despite (and maybe because of) its legacies of slavery and genocide are nothing new, neither to him nor to the established roots from which it comes, a politically and socially conservative Christianity that favors Whites, males, and the rich. This recently surfaced sermon that Robertson delivered a couple of years ago is something of the likes I’ve heard in various forms in Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches. We can see the direct connections with Fundamentalist pastor and author Douglas Wilson, a Rape Apologist, Slavery Apologist, and severe Homophobe went out of his way to proclaim Phil Richardson to be a prophet of God, proclaiming God’s holy message that there is only one sex part to each human being (I sh*t you not; it’s pretty messed up throughout).

While these problematic areas were not directly linked in Duck Dynasty, looking back there have been indications in the focus and humor of the show. The show is driven completely by the men of the family. The women are ignored and portrayed as nagging when they do appear – though praised. Much of the humor of the show is derived from this form of “soft patriarchy.” This is the idea that men are the only worthy leaders in the household and church (the two most important institutions) and that women should be passive, protected, and shielded. This is a de facto view in the Fundamentalist and conservative Evangelical churches which prize rigid hierarchical structures like gender roles and, well, Jim Crow. Let’s call this perspective The Missionary Position. Man-on-top. No imagination, sexual or relational. No consideration of others but the filling of their roles.

Let’s take a look at what Fundamentalists dub Robertson’s prophetic message and how it connects with Fundamentalist Christianity:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer.

It’s pretty common to hear incredulity and the most outlandish shock accompanying the very thought of gay sex in Fundamentalist churches. Fundamentalists can’t seem to wrap their heads around male-on-male sex, let alone the fact that women can also have sex with other women. It’s also common in Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches to refer to “homosexual behavior” – again, privileging what to them is an odd and unnatural form of sex, a non Missionary Position, over actual people with their own sexual preferences. It’s not uncommon for – in the course of an hour-long sermon – to hear quite a few words about how gross, unnatural, and ungodly the gays are and to conflate homosexuality (there are no bisexuals and rarely transsexuals even register as human beings) with bestiality and pedophilia as if these are somehow actually linked. (For a counter to this type of reading, I will suggest my friend

All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.

Umm… Muslims honor Jesus as a great prophet. And churches were key to Nazi prevalence in Europe. Several of my friends are Christian communists. And while the Japanese empire bombed a military base in the Pacific, it was “Christian” America that nuclear bombed Japanese cities. But you know who specifically used the bible to justify horrible brutality and murder? Slavery and Jim Crow-era Southern US elites and the culture they pushed. Speaking of which:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

Probably one of the most insidious forms of racism is not this token that black people are monsters, but that they have no agency; that they enjoyed being harshly treated; that they do not have the same capacity for misery or hurt that white people do. This Zip-A-Dee-Do-Da form of revisionist racism is Slavery Apologism and is very strong in US Christian Fundamentalism. Biblical literalism as it’s understood in the US derives out of this need to read the bible in such a manner that justified slavery and endorses the subjection of human races and women to straight, cis, white Christian men.

Temporary is all you’re going to get with any kind of health care, except the health care I’m telling you about. That’s eternal health care, and it’s free. … I’ve opted to go with eternal health care instead of blowing money on these insurance schemes.

But what kind of solution does it offer? It’s not a solution for anybody with real world problems in the real world. Half of Jesus’ ministry was spent healing poor people. But that kind of meant upturning the “natural order of events.” Which is another way of saying, he was going against the grain of hierarchical theology that Duck Commander Robertson teaches.

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*Being a biblical Christian myself, I take an exception to the notion that homophobia, racism, patriarchy and classism are in any form Jesus Things. But I will cover the theological implications of this in more depth later on my blog, Leftcheek.

jasdye

When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!

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  • Jim Bean

    Anti-gay sentiment didn’t begin when reference to it was put in the bible. It was put in the bible because the sentiment was common for many centuries prior. It is a sentiment that you could say was developed by early atheists. Blaming the bible for it is like blaming the civil war on a book about the civil war written after the civil war.

  • Pipercat

    Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen has injected himself into the fray by, “calling out Robertson.” What a perfect example of something going from the sublime to the ridiculous….

  • Sorry but its true

    Being gay is a fetish and a sickness of the mind. It’s not as bad as being a murderer or a child molester but it’s the result of a crossed wire in the brain all the same.

    • charleo1

      Sorry, but it’s not true. Being Gay is more similar to freckles, than a fetish. What’s not as bad as being a murderer, or child molester, but is wrong all the same. Is your lack of knowledge, that leads you to draw conclusions about people you obviously don’t know enough about to judge. And, if your religion leads you to those conclusions, you should know, you are basing them on faith, and not fact. Being different is not the same as being wrong. And they don’t seek your approval. Only those Civil Rights enjoyed by other law abiding, tax paying citizens. However, just so you know, A sexual fetish is a preference, within the more foundational attraction to others of either the opposite, or same gender, or both genders. And, since that attraction is not a learned, but inherent trait, medical science has concluded, based on an enormous amount of study. Being Gay, is not an illness, or perversion. It is not associated with any mental disorder, or psychosis. It is also not a condition brought on, or caused by any childhood trauma. Or the results of the child being victimized, or any external situation. Children raised by two parents of the same gender are no more likely to be Gay, than the odds in the general population. In fact, the vast majorities of Gays are the product of heterosexual parents. And, it has been established the percentage of homosexuals, versus heterosexuals, has remained constant at, or near the 10% level as early into the human past, as is possible to know. Still, there are those who are not interested in the truth. But would rather keep themselves in the dark, so as to be what they are generally. Studies have shown people that tend to judge people on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, religion, the amount of money they have. Will also hold people different than themselves, to impossible standards. And accept as the truth all
      such disparagements, irrespective of facts. That people who view the World in these terms, will by and large refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence that people are Gay, in the same way they are not, from conception.

    • SLP

      Please show links to your assertion. Or is this simply a manifestation of what you have been taught to believe?

    • Graham Shevlin

      I wonder why you felt it necessary to use the emotive words “murderer” and “child molester” in this bizarre comment. The tone of this comment suggests a deep hostility to gay people and an emotional need to treat them as sick and defective.