Confessions of a recovering evangelical
The official Moral Majority organization wasn’t founded until 1979 (when I was 19 and only just barely still a teen), but it was merely a culmination of the efforts of several conservative Christian organizations which had been fighting against de-segregation, legalized birth control, interracial marriage, and the decriminalization of homosexuality since at least the late 1960s. The leader of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell, was a Baptist whose radio show (The Old-Time Gospel Hour beginning in 1956) was extremely popular with people who attended the churches in which I was raised, so I was very familiar with his work long before he launched the Moral Majority. I was intimately familiar with a lot of people who supported him.
So my reaction when I saw the headline, “GAMERS HAVE BECOME THE NEW RELIGIOUS RIGHT,” wasn’t surprise, but rather, “it took you long enough to notice!”…
Then I read the story, and found myself a bit disappointed. The writer is correct in his headline and his general thesis that GamerGaters are fighting a moral crusade against thought and inclusiveness, but he’s wrong about what the religious right was fighting, and therefore doesn’t realize that these gamers are not just kind of like the old Religious Right, or even merely mostly equivalent. They are the exact same phenomenon and the same people.
The author mistakenly defines the Religious Right as primarily fighting to keep murder and sex out of video games and popular culture. That’s an extremely narrow view of what was only a subset of the Moral Majority, their predecessors, and their successors. They were never as opposed to murder and violence in popular culture as they were to swear words and certain kinds of sexuality. One needs to look no further than their almost fetishistic worship of military service, or their idolatry of Ronald Reagan (who had no qualms selling missiles and nerve gas to Saddam Hussein even though he knew some of those weapons would be used against some of Saddam’s own people, including women and children).
Or take a look at the various “Christian” movie review sites’ commentaries on action movies. One of the original leaders of the Moral Majority is still the head of an organization that publishes “Christian” reviews of current popular movies. I remember a particularly memorable review of one of the Mission Impossible sequels: the movie only got four out of five stars from the site not because of all the people who were killed and blown up in the movie. No, it was downgraded because one of the good guys flipped off a bad guy just before killing him, and the token woman on the good guys’ side seduced a bad guy to get something the team needed. Automatic weapons and explosions and shooting people in the face? No big deal, but having a good guy flip the bird at someone, oh, that sends a message that being vulgar is heroic! And a woman choosing to use her sexuality? Horror!
The rank and file of the Religious Right has always been middle- and working-class white guys whose church attendance is spotty, who have no qualms drinking or leering at scantily-clad women on screen, and adore movies where he-men like Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal or Sylvester Stallone or Dwayne Johnson or Jason Stratham kick butt and get the girl. Guys like one of my cousins who hasn’t stepped inside a church in decades other than to attend funerals, but regularly shares anti-gay and racist memes on Facebook, regularly posts anti-abortion screeds, or reposts those tacky “reblog this if you love Jesus” memes. Back during the Reagan years, he and his buddies would nod and make agreeable noises when his mom or our grandmother would lament all the sex and violence in movies… while they watched every action movie that came along, commenting on how awesome a particular gun shot or explosion was and speculated about which actresses in the show gave the best oral sex.
Seeing that kind of hypocrisy day in and day out was only part of the reason I left the religion, but it was a significant one.
The rank and file of the Religious Right has never been opposed to sex or violence, they have only cared about who gets to do the violence, who is the victim of the violence, who gets to have sex, and who decides who has sex. As long as people like them are the ones doing the violence and getting the sex, they’re fine. It’s only when people of color, women, and others who aren’t straight white men have control over their own bodies that the rank and file get up in arms. Gamer Gaters, Sad Puppies, the Religious Right, and Men’s Rights Advocates aren’t just using the similar tactics to achieve their ends, they are all literally the same people.