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International Hate Machine: Hutcherson, Lively and Ledyaev’s “Watchmen On the Walls”

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2007

Last July 1st, Satendar Singh, a 26-year-old Fijian of Indian descent was beaten to death at Lake Natoma near Sacramento by Russian-speaking immigrants two picnic tables away. They singled Singh out from among his party, saying “We just want your faggot friend.” He was bashed in the head and died the next day of a brain hemorrhage. Two men, Andrey Vusik, 29, and Aleksandr Shevchenko, 21 were charged with hate crimes in connection with Singh’s death. Vusik fled to Russian in July and is being sought by the FBI.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report has a very informative article by Casey Sanchez about the growing Russian, Ukrainian and Latvian immigrant communities in the Western U.S., and the increasingly violent threat they pose to gays and lesbians in the region.

A growing and ferocious anti-gay movement in the Sacramento Valley is centered among Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking immigrants. Many of them are members of an international extremist anti-gay movement whose adherents call themselves the Watchmen on the Walls. In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. In the Western U.S., the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking evangelicals from the former Soviet Union. Members are increasingly active in several cities long known as gay-friendly enclaves, including Sacramento, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

…Slavic anti-gay talk radio hosts and fundamentalist preachers routinely deliver hateful screeds on the airwaves and from the pulpit in their native tongue that, were they delivered in English, would be a source of nationwide controversy.

Ken Hutcherson, Scott Lively, and Latvian megachurch preacher Alexey Ledyaev

Kenneth Hutcherson, Scott Lively, and Latvian megachurch pastor Alexey Ledyaev.

These Slavic groups aren’t operating in a vacuum however. They are actively supported and encouraged by two key American anti-gay extremists, Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington and Scott Lively, author of the holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika. Together, they have formed an alliance called “Watchmen on the Walls” with Riga, Latvian pastor Aleksey Ledyaev.

That alliance operates not only among Slavic evangelical churches here in the U.S. but in Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia as well. Hutcherson and Lively traveled to Latvia last spring to speak at pastor Ledyaev’s New Generation Church in advance of that country’s contentious Pride celebrations. Lively told that audience:

God gave Kenneth Hutcherson and me to see that [New Generation pastor] Alexei [Ledyaev] is the very man God placed to direct this battle, and church should support him in all respects. We are going to help you consistently and effectively to fight those who violate Christ’s rights and target his ministers for their insults.

Lively’s book, The Pink Swastika, claims that Hitler was gay. He go further and claims that the Nazi Party, World War II and the Holocaust were the products of a vast gay conspiracy. That book as found an eager audience among a population that suffered horrendously from Nazi aggression during World War II. Casey Sanchez reports:

The Pink Swastika has become Lively’s passport to fame among anti-gay church leaders and their followers in Eastern Europe, as well as Russian-speaking anti-gay activists in America. Lively frequently speaks about the book and his broader anti-gay agenda in churches, police academies and television news studios throughout the former Soviet Union.

Lively credits the popularity of Russian-language translations of The Pink Swastika to the support of Pastor Alexey Ledyaev, the head of the New Generation Church, an evangelical Christian megachurch based in Riga, the capital city of Latvia. New Generation has more than 200 satellite churches spread throughout Eastern Europe, Argentina, Israel and the United States.

Sacramento, Calif., editor Vlad Kusakin; Vadim Privedenyuk, who runs an anti-gay church in Springfield, Mass.; Kenneth Hutcherson; and Alexey Ledyaev

Sacramento, Calif., editor Vlad Kusakin; Vadim Privedenyuk, who runs an anti-gay church in Springfield, Mass.; Kenneth Hutcherson; and Alexey Ledyaev.

Sanchez also reports on the standard rhetoric coming form Hutcherson, Lively and Ledyaev’s alliance. The rhetoric is chilling:

In a speech given after Riga’s first gay pride parade in 2005, Ledyaev told his international congregation: “Homosexuality is a … dangerous and contagious disease. The contagious should be isolated and treated. Otherwise, an epidemic will sweep through the entire community.”

Lively echoed his Latvian ally’s comparison of homosexuality to disease in a 2003 letter to the editor published in The Washington Times. “The homosexual movement in a society is analogous to the AIDS virus in the human body,” Lively wrote. “It is not benign but destructive; it thrives at the expense of the host, and you’re most likely to get it by saying yes to sodomy.”

The Watchmen portray the battle against gay rights as nothing less than a biblical clash of civilizations. “The homosexual sexual ethic” and “family-based society” are at war, Lively proclaimed in his letter to The Washington Times. “One must prevail at the expense of the other.”

That sort of militant rhetoric is standard among Watchmen followers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Speaking to his American counterparts in a Watchmen video, a Latvian anti-gay activist intones: “Your generation beat the Nazis, and our country beat the Communists. Together we will defeat the homosexuals!”

This may explain why, when Lively and Ledyaev were contacted for comment on Singh’s death, they refused to condemn the murder.

The rhetoric emanating from this group is extremely dangerous and violent. It’s hard to imagine how people who consider themselves to be good and faithful Christians can continue to maintain any connections with the Watchmen.

But some not only nurture those connections, they value them tremendously. Kenneth Hutcherson was a featured speaker at last summer’s Exodus Freedom Conference. Exodus president Alan Chambers and vice-president Randy Thomas glowingly introduced “Hutch” as their person friend. And unlike any other speakers, Hutcherson spoke not just once, but twice in featured prime-time spots before the whole conference — once in the evening, and once again the following morning. And throughout his talks, he proclaimed his love for homosexuals and how precious they were in God’s sight — or at least the “strugglers” who were in the audience that night.

Hutcherson Speaking at the 2007 Exodus Freedom Conference

Kenneth Hutcherson, speaking at the 2007 Exodus Freedom Conference.

And yet when he’s away from Exodus International’s warm embrace, Hutcherson is actively collaborating with an international organization which is spreading a dangerously violent and deadly message throughout the world and here in America. If Alan Chambers really wants to talk about what an “evil agenda” looks like, he need look no further than his own stage.

See also:
From Novosibirsk To Lynnwood

Comments

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The Gay Curmudgeon
October 5th, 2007 | LINK

Great post on an important topic.

The conjunction of anti-gay violence and the Russian, Latvian and Ukranian communities with more established conservative churches here in the United States is one that needs to be watched diligently.

The Stranger in Seattle had some informative reporting on this subject here: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=20917
http://slog.thestranger.com/2006/10/russian_immigrants_t

I’ve posted on Hutcherson and Lively fairly extensively at my own blog as well.

~GC

marybethyl
October 9th, 2007 | LINK

They all seem to be suffering from the scourge of “gayface.”

Seamus Ruah
October 10th, 2007 | LINK

http://www.pinkpistols.org

“Armed Gays aren’t bashed”

Self-defense is an universal human right.

Randy
October 13th, 2007 | LINK

I didn’t give you permission to steal my picture of Hutch to use for your blog.

Randy
October 13th, 2007 | LINK

And in case you are wondering … it is this one … http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/…4_c1114fd49a_b.jpg

That is my picture and you lifted it off of my flickr account without permission and without proper credit.

Jim Burroway
October 14th, 2007 | LINK

Randy,

I’m sorry. When I wrote the post, I originally used a different photo. After I posted it, someone sent a much clearer and brighter picture. I neglected to ask where it came from, and so I had no idea it was yours.

I’ve removed your picture and replaced it with the one I had originally posted.

The Story So Far… » Blog Archive » Who Will Watch The Watchmen?
October 15th, 2007 | LINK

[…] international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen on the Walls will hold a conference in Lynnwood, Washington October 19 through 21. Unfortunately, the Lynnwood […]

Matt S
October 16th, 2007 | LINK

I contacted the convention center and they are holding there conferences Friday 6pm to 9pm Saturday from 11am to 9:30pm and Sunday from 6pm to 9pm. We are protesting Friday at 5pm and Sunday at 5pm. I am not sure who is protesting Saturday. I will be wearing a Pink Triangle on my arm representing the hatred they say we as gay men and woman caused the holocaust.

Please join us in peace, unity and equality for all.

Matt

SteveMD2
January 9th, 2008 | LINK

I’m not surprised by the Latvian connection. People who lived under communism for a couple generations got corrupted morally, mentally, and spiritually. And notice their hatred of Jews. Hitler didn’t teach these people anything, it appears.

But what is wrong with Hucherson – I’ll bet for sure that he is another of the Foley’s, Sen Craigs, Ted Haggards, the Spokane WA mayor, Minister Barnes, etc. He is either gay or bi, hates himself due to the conflict with his religion, and in what psychologists call projection, he rants out his self hatred on others, hoping both to hide who he is, and free himself from his own conflict. Sorry, Mr. Hucherson, it doesn’t work. Admit who you are, or just do us all a favor and send yourself to the Hell that surely awaits you. If I was in a more forgiving mood, I would say that we should pray that you look in the mirror at yourself, and ask what is it about your own manliness and sexuality, your fears that you aren’t really the macho you think you are, that has corrupted your very soul.

And for those reading this, note how some right wing christians have created the situation where people who are gay/bi and should be supporting gay equality become it’s biggest enemy. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.

And if anyone wonders what has given license to these maniacs, it is none other then the extreme right wing of the Republican party, under George Bush, who has murdered with his lies almost 4000 of our troops in Iraq, meanwhile due to the Iraq focus letting Bin Laden escape in Afghanistan. But Bush would do anything, including encourage Christian hatred and destroy America’s morality to keep and gain power for himself and his cronies, with their God of Greed. He is the root of so much of the new hatred we see within America. He will go down as our worst president ever, and I predict being a “Bush” will become one of the worst epithets that one can be called in our language. Poetic justice.

Jim Burroway
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

SteveMD,

Spealing of projections, this web site requires substantiation for allegations per our Comments Policy. Mere speculation doesn’t cut it.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

Well I don’t know if hutcherson is a self loathing gay but it certainly would be consistent with what is typically the case. In a study conducted by Prof. Henry E Adams of the University of Georgia and published in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, with the backing of the American Psychological Association it was demonstrated that 80% of homophobes are secretly aroused by gay sex.

Timothy Kincaid
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

Randi,

Your point is well taken but it should be stated that this sample was not in any way representative. The study did show that those who are homophobic are more physically responsive to homosexual visual stimulation than those that are not homophobic.

But there is an alternate possible explanation presented by Adams, et al. They caution that the response may be to anxiety or threat condition that resulted in physical reaction.

We do know that some instances of extreme homophobia are in response to the individual’s own same-sex attractions. We also know that in the past year there have been a number of individuals that have been in animosity to civil equality for gay persons who have been revealed to be secretly involved in same-sex sexual activity.

But at present we can apply neither a percetange nor make any presumption about the attractions of persons based on their hostility.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, Timothy, I’ve heard that theory before, that their arousal was due to anxiety. To the best of my knowledge there is no scientific evidence that erections are caused by anything other than sexual arousal. If you have such evidence, please present it.

What we do know is that in the vast majority, if not all, circumstances that erections are caused by sexual arousal. The idea that a significant number of this 80% who experienced erections were caused by something other than sexual arousal is doubtful, to vastly understate it.

Jim Burroway
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

The whole reason I began this web site is because I object to how science is often misused as a weapon rather than a source of knowledge.

I beleive the study you’re referring to us Adams, HE, Wright, LW, and Lohr, BA. “Is Homophobia Associated with Homosexual Arousal?” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105, no. 3, pp 440-445. By the way, the fact that the Journal is an APA publication does not mean that everything in it bears the APA’s endorsement.

I will let the authors speak for themselves, from their conclusions:

Another explanation of these data is found in Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck’s (1983) theory of the role of anxiety and attention in sexual responding. It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se. Whereas difficulties of objectively evaluating psychoanalytic hypotheses are well-documented, these approaches would predict that sexual arousal is an intrinsic response to homosexual stimuli, whereas Barlow’s (1986) theory would predict that sexual arousal to homosexual stimuli by homophobic individuals is a function of anxiety. These competing notions can and should be evaluated by future research.

In other words, the jury is very much out on the question.

So meanwhile, let’s keep the speculations on sexuality out of it for two reasons. One, I think we are all quite capable of speaking plainly abiyt who we are and I see absolutely no advantage whatsoever to this line of speculation. And two, I object to the idea that asserting that someone is gay, however closeted, is a suitable epithet.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

I note that the authors themselves claim that anxiety can cause erections but they fail to include any citation to back that up.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

The male readers can simply ask themselves how often they had erections due to anxiety versus sexual arousal. I would think very, very few men would say anxiety caused erections are experienced commonly, if at all.

Jim Burroway
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

Randi, please re-read the quote. The authors cited “Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck’s (1983).”

And for further backup, I do know that one survey of 115 male victims of sexual assault, 20% admitted to both erection and ejaculation, a fact which complicated their ability to prosecute their assailants. It’s unknown how many others experienced this but didn’t report it:

Just under 20% of the men were stimulated by their assailant until they ejaculated. This is a particularly difficult issue for victims, especially when cases are brought before the courts. Although there is evidence that extreme anxiety may lead to erection and ejaculation (Bancroft, 1989), these events may be regarded as a form of consent by lawyers (Sarrell and Masters, 1982).

(King, M., Woollett. M. “Sexually Assaulted Males: 115 Men Consulting a Counseling Service” Archives of Sexual Behavior 26, no. 6. (1997): pp 579-588.)

I’ve read other reports of women who have experienced orgasm during rapes. Incidentally, I personally know one woman who was gang-raped and experienced orgasm during the ordeal. The shame of that experience only served to complicate her recovery.

But back to my first objection — Claiming that Hutcherson — or anyone else — is a closet case without specific evidence is a nonstarter in this forum. All of the studies in the world mean nothing when talking about a specific individual. If someone has evidence, bring it forward. If not, let it drop. Once and for all.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

Yes, Jim, I read it and re-read it. It refers to Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck’s theory. Theory, not evidence. As to your second post mentioning “evidence” (Bancroft 1989) I’d have to see exactly what evidence is being referred to before I’d accept that as evidence. I have also experienced an orgasm in an unpleasant sexual encounter but despite my being an unwilling participant I’d be a liar if I said there was no sexual arousal and I think the same would be the case with the victims of sexual assault.

If you ask the vast majority of men how many erections they’ve had as a result of anxiety versus how many they’ve had as a result of sexual arousal I’m sure you’d find that the vast majority, if not all, erections were due to arousal. Claims that erections were a result of anxiety during viewing sexual imagery are highly suspect, that they were due to arousal is much much less controversial.

Randi Schimnosky
January 10th, 2008 | LINK

No doubt Jim you’ve heard the statement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. My claim that erections are caused by arousal is not extraordinary. The claim that in a given situation the vast majority of erections are caused by ansxiety is the extraordinary claim – it is that claim for which one needs extraordianry evidence.

Jim Burroway
January 11th, 2008 | LINK

I’m aware of the statement. And speaking of extraordinary claims, you began with one. Yes, the claim that homophobes are almost all secretly gay is an extraordinary claim that has not been backed with extraordinary evidence.

I’ve read several scores of articles on the study of homophobia over the years, and I’m aware of only one that comes close to trying to make that extraordinary claim – Adams, et al. As far as I know, that study, which is based on a convenience sample and which has several weaknesses that the authors themselves cite (no standards for measuring homophobia, no standards for plethysmography, anxiety as a confounding factor), and which has not, to my knowledge, been duplicated.

That is an extraordinary claim backed by only one study. And those study authors did not treat anxiety as an extraordinary claim, for good reason. From Freund in the 1960’s to Bancroft to McConaghy and so many others who have worked in the field of plethysmography, they’ve noted the problems of trying to determine whether they were dealing with pure sexual arousal, anxiety, or a possible combination in some instances.

And as I said, sexual assault counselors across the country have also reported physiological resonses to extreme anxiety. The average erection under typical circumstances, sure, is almost always sexual arousal. But we’re not talking about typical circimstances. Don’t confuse the two.

You seem satisfied that your extraordinary claim can be backed by only one study and we should all accept it. But it seems that you would like me to fill this thread with examples to support my non-extraordinary claim. I provided two. You dismissed Barlow, Sakheim, and Beck’s paper as a theory, but it was a theory based on their own study, which they replicated again in 1987.

We have an entire ex-gay industry that is predicated on one or two small studies. You have based an accusation against one individual on one lone study. If you cannot see that you are doing the same thing as the ex-gay industry, then I can’t help you. But I can enforce our Comments policy, because that tactic is unacceptable no matter who’s doing it or why.

Truth Wins Out
February 13th, 2008 | LINK

[…] co-leader of the Slavic skinhead organization Watchmen on the Walls, which has been linked to violence against gays in eastern Europe and blamed, in part, for the […]

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