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American Family Association Columnist Has a Change of Heart

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2007

Pam Spaulding has published an amazing interview with Joe Murray, a former columnist and staff attorney for the American Family Association. Pam had written about some of his anti-gay columns before. That’s why she was very surprised to read a column in which Joe Murray attacked the AFA’s “borderline bigoted” behavior and condemned the manner in which the AFA supported General John Pace’s remarks that “homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral.”

Pam was very impressed with Joe Murray’s column. She contacted him and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview. He agreed, and that interview is now online. Here are some highlights.

On Murray’s evolution in his opinion on homosexuality:

After adopting the AFA party line for some time, something in the back of my head kept tearing away at my conscience. How could AFA, an earthly organization, declare the divine intention of the God and condemn the souls of homosexuals? How was it that men could make the declaration of who was getting into Heaven and who was getting the one-way ticket to Hades?

I thought who are these people to say who is getting into Heaven and who is not? I thought of the story of Joan of Arc, who, when she was being burnt at the stake, was ask the question of whether she would go to Heaven.

Her response? “If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.” In other words, it is God, not man, who decides who gets to pass through the gates of Heaven. So, how could groups like AFA even hint that gays were doomed to hell? This smacked of the politics of man, not the divine mercy of God.

On why he wrote some of the things he did:

…I have always been concerned about the values coming out of the Castro District. I see the hatred some of these people have towards my Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and I just took their anger as proof that some folks on the Christian right were accurate in their depiction of the “homosexual agenda.” I failed to investigate the matter and just adopted the party line — this was a monumental error on my part.

It was not until I began to look closer at the issue that I came to realize that: (a) not all of the gay community is represented by those marching in the streets of San Francisco and (b) those in the streets had a right to be angry, for they have been told for years that they were immoral, sinful and shameful. How horrible must it be to be condemned due to a trait you had no control over. I thought, hell, I would be angry, too. Even further, when I looked at society, I found that most of our societal institutions worked against the gay community.

On the AFA’s obsession with homosexuality:

As for the fixation with the “homosexual agenda,” you are right — it is a significant part of the ministry’s drive. I am not able to judge the hearts of other men, so I cannot speak to whether they truly believe that homosexuals are out to “convert” the children of America or they are merely using this issue as a method of fundraising. Either scenario, though, is disturbing.

And I while say, it is my own personal view that at least some inside AFA find the obsession with this issue uncanny. AFA needs to open its eyes to the idea that gays are not the enemy. I did.

On why the AFA do what they do:

… I am equally confused with AFA’s actions. AFA preaches the Gospels, but uses broad stereotypes to pigeonhole an entire community of individuals. I will not tell you what is in the hearts of these people, but I will look at the evidence.

If AFA believes they are trying to help people, they are sorely misguided. As stated by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching.”

On the evangelical church’s reaction to Ted Haggard:

As for me, it always amazes me how quickly some Christians turn on one another. The Haggard story is one of sadness, for it tells the tale of a man who has been so indoctrinated with hate and fear, that he has been fighting something he cannot fight. He is denying his very identity. I only hope that Haggard’s story humanizes the treatment of gays inside the church and causes people to reevaluate their position, but I am doubtful about this.

On anticipating the anti-gay lobby’s tactics in the near future:

My best guess is that AFA, and groups like them, will try to paint the gay rights movement as a radical fringe that is poisoning the cultural well and seeking to impose their will on a defenseless America. In other words, fear will be the main motivating force.

I am sure that pictures of half naked gay men will make their way into action alerts, as well as concerns over homosexual indoctrination in the school house. Hate crimes will be an issue and many will try to scare preachers into believing that the passage of the hate crime bill will penalize the Sunday morning sermons. This is shameful.

This is an amazingly candid interview. Pam is soliciting questions in her comments for a possible Part Two. Go over there and read the entire interview for yourself. It’s a rare and informative glimpse into one of the more powerful anti-gay lobbying groups in America.



March 28th, 2007 | LINK

Thank you for cutting up my food for thought

David M
March 28th, 2007 | LINK

Hi Mr. Burroway,

I think you accidentally put APA in place of AFA before introducing the third Joe Murray excerpt.

Jim Burroway
March 28th, 2007 | LINK

Um yeah. You’re right. It’s fixed now.


Timothy Kincaid
March 28th, 2007 | LINK

Thanks for spreading the news about this interview.

I think this is but one example of what I see as a growing trend among serious devout thoughtful conservative Christians who are beginning to question the motives of the anti-gay activist and then untimately the underlying religious interpretations.

In a strange way, it is the very extremist nature of their attacks that is resulting in a new understanding of Scripture.

March 28th, 2007 | LINK

love pam.
love you too.

Tor Billgren
March 29th, 2007 | LINK

Only the moderates can influence the fanatics, as Amos Oz puts it in his little book about how to cure fanatics.

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