Almost everyone reading this knows L. A. Marzulli as the Nephilim conspiracy theorist who travels the world making evangelical DVDs about a lost race of Bible giants. Most also know that he does so in service of a radical conservative agenda, and that Marzulli is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. It makes sense. Like Trump, Marzulli lives in his own fantasy world of “alternative facts,” and like Trump he has difficulty getting past issues long after they have become moot. Yesterday Marzulli used his online Nephilim TV show, Politics, Prophecy & the Supernatural Report to revisit an obsession he has been harboring since last fall: Hillary Clinton’s long-ago claim that many Trump supporters were “a basket of deplorables.” Marzulli devoted half of the show to one specific issue, namely that he is homophobic. His self-refuting response must be seen to be believed. Let’s take a look (transcript below) and then break it down.
Under the Obama Administration, the White House was lit up with rainbow colors, when the Supreme Court, by judicial fiat, by the way, decided that gay marriage would become the law of the land. That’s called judicial fiat. That’s no… That’s not a democratic process. Congress had nothing to do with it. The American people had nothing to do with it. Nine Supreme Court Justices just get together and go, “Well, we’ll just change the history of the last two thousand years of Western culture and we’ll just say gay marriage is OK.” Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. So anyone who goes against that, according to Miss (sic) Clinton, anyone who would say anything against that is somehow homophobic. Hmm. Anyone who goes against the transgender bathroom policies set by Barack Hussein Obama is somehow homophobic.
The first thing that stands out is that Marzulli has conflated a number of different issues under the rubric of homosexuality, including gay marriage, transgender rights, and somehow also abortion. At each stage, Marzulli frames his argument in terms of his own personal discomfort with penises. He is terrified of them. He hates seeing them, he hates thinking about them, and he hates the idea that other men’s penises possess phallic power that is not controlled by his God. Notice that in each case, he assumes that perverse and perverted males, operating on animal lust, are violating the sanctity of virginal girls, stripping from them their womanhood and even convincing them to chop off their breasts and become men. This is the language of moral panic, but it is hardly a reasoned argument.
More telling still is Marzulli’s insistence that he is not homophobic simply because he would allow gay people to exist. He believes that gays should be denied marriage rights, denied equality under the law, and should subjected to whatever punishment and humiliation the majority deems fit, but so long as he does not call for outright genocide (unlike his close colleague Steve Quayle, who has all but done so), he isn’t being homophobic. Yet with every word he is literally expressing his fear of gays, the actual definition of homophobia.
Marzulli’s arguments make use of so-called “alternative facts.” The first is the propaganda claim the churches are by definition opposed to gay rights. This is not the case. Churches that accept and welcome LGBTQ individuals can be found among the Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Methodist, and Mennonite (!) denominations. Beyond Christianity, Unitarian Universalists and Reform Judaism are similarly welcoming. Many perform gay marriages in the name of the very Christ Marzulli holds for his own God. It is simply not true that Christians are by definition opposed to gay rights and to gay marriage.
He is also dead wrong that the Declaration of Independence is a Christian document and therefore evidence against accepting gay rights. The Declaration makes no mention of homosexuality, though if one wishes to be snarky about it, perhaps the “pursuit of happiness” would cover that. More importantly, it is not a Christian document. It speaks of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” but these words came from Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, and referred to the concept of natural law. Here is where things get tricky. Natural law is notoriously hard to define. The laws of nature, in theory, are universal, so by studying human nature, philosophers believed, they could determine those laws that were natural and universal. This is related to, but not identical with, the idea of natural rights. And all of this suffers complication from the fact that few behaviors are truly universal. Homosexuality occurs in all times and places, and therefore would seem to be universal and therefore a natural right on such grounds.
But few philosophers until the modern era would have allowed such obvious logic, particularly since the claim to natural law based on direct observation would also naturalize obviously universal but unwelcome behaviors. Instead, natural law philosophy has tried to move from describing what is to imposing meaning through alleging what ought to be. In other words, even if you are following nature, you can still be doing it wrong if powerful people disagree. The tradition has been to assume that the presumed function of a sexual organ dictates its normative operation; in other words, if a penis can be used for sexual reproduction in the state of nature, then it ought to be used for it—and nothing more. This was Thomas Aquinas’ argument, for example, though the fact that tongues can be used to eat and to speak suggests that alleging a single correct purpose is a flawed argument for “natural.”
A subtler view, one Marzulli seems to echo, comes from Australian lawyer John Finnis, who argued in a 1995 essay in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy that natural law allows suppression of gay rights to protect children from inferior marriages that lack some mystical level of divine “communion” and because gay sex can’t produce perfect marital pleasure, in essence, due to the fact that the partners do not orgasm simultaneously. I assume most female readers are laughing heavily at that claim. (Finnis used more formal language, but it was his intended meaning.) In all cases, however, the grounding is a fear that individuals might be secretly experiencing pleasure without the consent or authority of the state or church, a supposedly “universal” fear that the Greeks and Romans would have laughed into its grave.
Ultimately, such arguments dress up in fancy language and flawed claims to “naturalness” an underlying bedrock issue: control. And here Marzulli’s own desire for control shows through. Notice the way that he frames the issue of homosexuality by mixing it up with transgenderism, transgender bathroom rights, and even abortion. In every case, the bedrock problem is the same: individuals who do not conform to Marzulli’s image of the straight, white male ideal want to exercises control over their own bodies and their own lives, and in each case Marzulli wants to tell them that they are wrong to do so because it moves the locus of control from sources of received authority that privilege him toward the individual. If individuals are free to have sex with whom they want, to embrace the gender identity that fits them, to choose which bathroom to use, or even to decide when and whether they give birth, then they are free. And free from the church and the state and the angry guardians of virtue who don’t want others to be free. There are, of course, legitimate and even logical arguments to be made against gay marriage, transgender bathrooms, and especially abortion, but when presented collectively and absent reason, we can only conclude that fear of losing control underlies the claim, not a serious consideration of facts, evidence, and logic.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Marzulli, who praises the Declaration of Independence, cares nothing for its promise of freedom. “What about my core values?” Marzulli asks. He answered his own question when he noted how few gay people there are in America, and how he has gone his entire life knowing gay people only from what he saw in “clips” on TV. Recognizing the rights of others does not curtail those of anyone else. Gay marriage does not force Marzulli to marry a man. It will not make his children gay. Interracial marriage, imposed by the same “judicial fiat” as gay marriage, did not require Marzulli to marry a black woman. Marzulli can happily live his life without ever attending a gay wedding, cruise, or parade. But his vision of America would deny rights to all who are different from him. That does take away rights, which is why his view and vision are wrong.
When Marzulli and Steve Quayle endorsed each other’s work and teamed up to raised money together in Peru, did he stop to think about Quayle’s arguments, which he has himself echoed, that the Nephilim were gay cannibals who introduced homosexuality into the human gene pool? Quayle wants these gay Nephilim descendants wiped out, citing God’s endorsement of genocide as precedent. What would Marzulli do? We have an answer to that: Five years ago, when Marzulli wasn’t yet the Trump-worshipping extremist he is today, he said that gay people shouldn’t be imprisoned or killed. Instead, they should be converted to heterosexuality through the power of prayer, because, as he said still earlier, homosexuality isn’t “real” but rather is a Satanic “sexual addiction” caused by demonic possession. And since we know that demons are actually the spirits of the Nephilim who died in the Flood, I guess Marzulli and Quayle aren’t that far apart. Marzulli simply believes gays are possessed by Nephilim, while Quayle claims that they are physically Nephilim.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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