To a significant segment of the religious right, pop superstar Katy Perry is a traitor. For those who don’t know, Perry grew up in a very strict Pentecostal background; she only got turned on to secular music when her friends slipped it into her house. It’s part of the reason why a lot of fundie heads exploded during the 2016 campaign, in which she was one of Hillary Clinton’s loudest supporters. Well, we recently got another example of how deep the hate runs toward Perry. One of the religious right’s loudest activists told Perry that her support for gay rights is evidence that she needs to have the devil cast out of her.
Last month, Perry was one of the keynote speakers at a Human Rights Campaign gala in Los Angeles. Watch here.
Perry received a National Equality Award that night for her longstanding support of the LGBT community. She openly wondered how she could reconcile what she was today with her upbringing as “a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps.” She was taught that “homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination.'” For most of her teen years, she “prayed the gay away” when she wondered about her own sexuality. But her singing career allowed her to meet people “outside my bubble”–including gays and lesbians who were “nothing like what I had been taught to fear.”
That didn’t sit too well with religious right activist Gordon Klingenschmitt. You may know Klingenschmitt–or “Dr. Chaps,” as he calls himself–as the former Navy chaplain who became a religious right darling for protesting naval regulations on prayer. He appeared in uniform at a 2006 protest supporting his cause, and was court-martialed for it. Since his retirement, he has become known for spewing rants on his YouTube channel that are off-the-scale crazy, even by religious right standards. Among other things, he boasted about how he cast the “spirit of lesbianism” out of a young sailor, claimed that Muslims are praying to the devil, and suggested that only the saved are worthy of equal treatment.
This context is necessary to understand Klingenschmitt’s reaction to Perry’s appearance. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Klingenschmitt wagged his finger at Perry for forgetting one lesson at her youth camps–“God made them male and female.” He mused that if Perry had really been sincere in her prayers, she would have “prayed against sin and the devil” and asked Jesus into her heart.
He then read 1 John 3:8-10 to Perry, telling her, “She who sins is of the devil. You are ruled by Satan.” In other words–Perry didn’t embrace gay rights because she stepped out of the bubble. No, no–the devil was playing with her mind.
Not content with one spiritual kick to the head, Dr. Chaps delivered another.
“Katy Perry, you don’t just need more of your Jesus camps, more of the Bible, more of what your parents told you. You need to get the devil out of you.”
He then prayed that God would remove Perry’s sins from her and that she would “stop promoting sin to young people.”
So Dr. Chaps thinks that having your perspective broadened is a sign that “you need to get the devil out of you”? Well, if that’s the case, he better get started casting out demons, because he’s going to be awfully busy. A significant portion of evangelicals–especially those from my generation on down–have figured out that social issues aren’t the be-all and end-all to everything. Inevitably, it comes once they step out of the bubble of Christian school or Christian-oriented homeschooling curricula, Christian radio stations, and filtered Internet service–much like Perry did.
My girlfriend is a good example. For most of her adult years, she voted exclusively on social issues–which meant during most elections, she walked into the booth, pulled the straight-ticket Republican lever, and walked out. However, soon after she took a job teaching high school English at a high school about an hour east of Charlotte, one of her colleagues encouraged her to look beyond abortion and gay rights. She did–and realized just how hurtful a lot of Republican policies were, particularly where labor was concerned. She changed her registration to independent and voted for Obama–twice. By the time we met about two years ago, she was a Bernie Sanders supporter. By Dr. Chaps’ standard, she’s long overdue for an exorcism.
Ironically, by Dr. Chaps’ standard, Perry’s father, Keith Hudson, needs a demon cast out of him as well. If you check out his pictures on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll notice that Keith sports an earring–which used to be taken as a sign that a man was gay. But then again, such things as consistency never got in the way of a campaign of hate.
(featured image courtesy Voice of America, part of public domain)