televangelist, senior pastor of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, executive president of Leading the Way, signatory to the Manhattan Declaration and author of a number of angry but vapid books about e.g. the end times and the danger of Islam. Like most fundies, Youssef’s primary narrative lens is the imaginary persecution of Christians in the US. Now, Christians are admittedly not put in jail – persecution in the US is “subtler”, according to Youseff: Christians have to experience that people disagree with them, sometimes outspokenly (“the most venomous verbal attack”). And if “Christians speak out against Islamism or the celebration of homosexuality,” they will be criticized, and if their claims are sufficiently islamophobic or homophobic, they may even be given “labels such as ‘Islamophobe’ or ‘homophobe’ – words manufactured by two groups that would normally hate each other but join forces for the purpose of eliminating the true Christian point of view.” What Youssef does here is in fact rather illustrative, and a core element in constructing any paranoid persecution complex: because he is criticized from both Muslims and gay rights advocates, these two groups must (in Youssef’s mind) be united and organized, and share the common goal of eliminating Christianity.
Apparently environmentalists are also in on the plot. According to Youssef, people are opposed to domestic drilling for oil because they don’t love America and because environmentalism is a militant religion – apparently being concerned about the environment makes you a “fanatic religious” person “who worship Mother Earth”, and “as militant about their religion and protecting their goddess” as radical Islam. And since both Gaia worship and Islam are false religions, they are Satanic, and clearly part of a big, organized conspiracy.
Yeah, of course he is. According to Youssef, marriage equality destroys civilization and leads to hell. In particular, America is going to have “the same fate as that of Sodom and Gomorrah” because of “homosexual lobbyists,” for by legalizing same-sex marriage, America has relinquished their status as “the land of God’s blessing and protection”. Youssef is also shocked and outraged that people would consider implementing anti-discrimination measures law – that, as Youssef sees it, will threaten the employment and livelihood of anti-gay religious fundamentalists, and “to terminate someone’s employment and deprive them of their livelihood? That is something worthy of ISIS. Members of ISIS may chop off the heads of Christians, but to chop off someone’s voice or identity originates from the same desire for control through cruelty.” Amazingly enough, he actually doesn’t seem to see the double standard.
When the Episcopal Church’s adopted LGBT-inclusive policies, Youssef asserted that it would lead the church to ultimately embrace pedophilia and that it proves that the church is not Christian but Satanic (because “there are only two ways – God’s and Satan’s”). He also seems to believe that tolerance in general is Satanic, and followed up by calling on all true Christians to leave the Episcopal church (as well as the Presbyterian church, which also allows the ordination of gay or lesbian ministers) and “deliver these institutions to Satan”. Perhaps some would find it noteworthy to compare his diatribe against the Episcopal Church with his call, elsewhere, for “religious liberty” and greater respect for religious values, but the apparent conflict is entirely and completely unsurprising.
Diagnosis: You didn’t expect intellectual honesty or moral integrity from a deranged lunatic like Michael Youssef, did you? Youssef is a major and influential figure on the religious right, and exhibits all the dishonesty, rage, hatred, idiocy and conspiracy theories usually associated with that.