Religious Right Types Blame LGBT People for Harvey's Destruction

Kevin Swanson and Rick Wiles

It was probably inevitable — some Christian right extremists are blaming LGBT people for the destruction brought to Houston and its environs by Hurricane Harvey.

“Jesus sends the message home, unless Americans repent, unless Houston repents, unless New Orleans repents, they will all likewise perish,” anti-LGBT minister Kevin Swanson said on his radio program today, in a clip provided by Right Wing Watch. “That is the message that the Lord Jesus Christ is sending home right now to America.”

Swanson, who preaches that the Bible calls for death to LGBT people (although, he says, they should get a chance to repent), said the sins of Houston include having “a very, very aggressively pro-homosexual mayor” (Sylvester Turner, successor to Annise Parker) and “persecuting pastors and churches,” a reference to the city’s delivery of subpoenas (later withdrawn) to some pastors when it was building a defense in a complicated lawsuit involving the now-repealed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

He said the storm is also punishment for Texas failing to pass its “bathroom bill,” which would have restricted transgender people’s access to public restrooms and other facilities in schools and certain other government buildings.

Swanson described the bill by saying it “would have prevented cross-dressing men from using the women’s restrooms,” and said lawmakers let it die because “they wanted to encourage the abomination of men attempting to dress like women and women attempting to dress like men.”

In discussing New Orleans, he invoked the popular Southern Decadence festival, taking place Labor Day weekend; anti-LGBT types have frequently claimed it makes the city a target for natural disasters, such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Swanson called Southern Decadence “the largest sexual perversion event in the country” and asked, “Is anybody paying attention in New Orleans?” Actually, it looks like Louisiana will avoid the worst of Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression.

Still, Swanson warned, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish. And repairing your houses in Houston after a hurricane is useless if you’re just going to go to hell.”

Swanson follows Rick Wiles, a so-called Christian radio host who made similar arguments about Houston on his Tru News program earlier this week, notes Right Wing Watch. “Here’s a city that has boasted of its LGBT devotion, its affinity for the sexual perversion movement in America,” Wiles said. “They’re underwater.”

Wiles, like Swanson, has a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric. He has speculated that the Ebola virus “could solve America’s problems” by wiping out LGBT people, and said marriage equality could lead God to punish the nation with a nuclear strike or perhaps a “fireball from space.”

Swanson is cozy with some allegedly mainstream Republican politicians; presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal attended a political conference he hosted in Iowa in 2015. A spokesman for Cruz (who stayed in the campaign longer than the others) eventually said it was a mistake for the pol to attend.

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