Posts Tagged As: Alliance Defense Fund

Exodus Board Member Suing to Hold Church Services in Public Library

Timothy Kincaid

March 9th, 2008

burress.jpgPhil Burress is the president of Citizens for Community Values, an anti-gay advocacy group that is credited with spearheading the 2004 amendment that bans gay marriages in Ohio. He is also an officer on the Board of Directors of Exodus International.

Burress makes no pretenses that he is not an enemy of the lives, liberties and freedoms of gay people. In fact, his organization ranks as one of the most overtly homophobic groups of which I am aware. On his website’s position paper on homosexuality, he concludes:

At the outset of this paper we stated that the militant agenda of homosexual activists represents the single greatest threat to our Judeo-Christian family values, and to societal stability as a whole, of this generation. We hope that you understand our rationale for that statement and will join us in resisting, on every front, the organized effort to normalize homosexual behavior in our society.

Burress has long been viewed as a pain in the side of Cincinnati. After CCV was successful in getting the citizens of the city in 1993 to overturn anti-discrimination codes, the business community became annoyed. The city gained a reputation of being intolerant and homophobic, which reduced the pool of talented potential employees.

Indeed it was a coalition of business groups in that city that led to the successful vote in 2004 to overturn Burress’ meddling.

Now, according to Ohio.com, Burress continues his attack on the city and its residents**. CCV is suing a local public library because they do not allow religious services in their meeting rooms.

The canceled library meeting was part of a “Politics and the Pulpit” discussion planned by Citizens for Community Values. It was to include a discussion of politics and religion, as well as a “prayer petitioning God for guidance in the church’s proper role in the political process” and “singing praise and giving thanks to God,” according to the lawsuit.

Library officials said praying and singing are elements of a religious service, which is not allowed under library policy.

Naturally, CCV is being represented by Alliance Defense Fund, a ministry dedicated to using legal means to advantage conservative Christian groups over their secular neighbors. ADF is a ardent opponent to the separation of Church and State.

“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said Tim Chandler, an attorney with Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal group that joined the lawsuit.

“The government cannot treat people with nonreligious viewpoints more favorably than people with religious viewpoints,” Chandler said. “Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America.”

Perhaps I’m old fashioned. But my father and both of my brothers are ministers and at no point have they insisted that the residents provide free meeting places for their religious services. It takes a huge sense of entitlement to demand that government – be local or national – subsidize your religious endeavors.

Burress has no lack of sense of entitlement. Nor does he ever hesitate in his efforts to force his articles of faith on others, especially gay people.

Recently Exodus has declared that they have changed their efforts and will no longer focus on anti-gay public policy but will instead return to their original mission of ministering to those same-sex attracted persons who believe that homosexuality is contrary to a Biblical code of sexual ethics.

In August, 2007 after a lot of prayer, deliberation and listening to friends and critics alike — but mostly the Lord — we decided to back out of policy issues and our Director of Government Affairs took a position with another organization.

I believe strongly in all of the initiatives that we were involved in, but believe we must focus on our two greatest contributions: 1) helping the Church balance grace and truth where homosexuality is concerned and 2) connecting people who seek our help with a community of believers that can love them as they journey towards Christ.

While I disagree with Exodus’ version of “grace and truth where homosexuality is concerned”, I find that statement commendable.

But Exodus needs to back up its claim with action. It needs to sever from its midst those elements who do nothing but advocate discrimination against gay people and who serve no function but as political activists.

I contend that as long as Burress is on the Board of Directors of Exodus, they will continue to be viewed as an anti-gay political advocacy organization – and rightly so.

** UPDATE – Reader Stefano has corrected my faulty Ohio geography. The library is in a neighborhood in Columbus.

Anti-Gay Protesters Fined for Disturbance

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2008

sebastian.jpgDo you suppose St. Sebastian just told people he had been shot with arrows? Or perhaps St. Perpetua was exaggerating about that little lion problem. Well if today’s Christian martyrs are anything to go by, I’d be pretty suspicious.

Take, for example, the story of Julian Raven, Maurice Kienenberger, Gloria Raven and Walter Quick. These street preachers went to save souls at the Southern Tier Gay Pride Festival on June 23 of last year.

Here’s how WorldNetDaily tells the story

Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior.

And

“It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace,” Oster said of the case earlier. “From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places.”

But is that really what happened? Of course not.

Here’s what WCAX reported the “silent walkers” as doing:

Wearing red T-shirts with the slogans “Liberated from Sin” and “By the Blood of Jesus,” they were arrested for lying down in front of the stage after police ordered them to stay in a corner of the park.

Hmmmm

They were allowed to be at the gay festival to tell the participants that they were sinners. They just couldn’t block the event. And they were fined a whopping $100 for trying to do so.

Gee, maybe we can get the Catholic Church to toss out all those old boring saints. Their troubles are nothing compared to these poor poor street preachers who weren’t allowed to disrupt a gay event.

Oh, and naturally they are appealing and are being defended by the Alliance Defense Fund.

Photographer Challenged for Denying Services to Lesbian Couple

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2008

According to various anti-gay media including the Washington Times, Elaine Huguenin, a photographer in Albuquerque was brought before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission due to her denial of services to a lesbian couple. She is defended by Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay legal ministry.

When Elaine Huguenin of Albuquerque, N.M., declined in September 2006 an e-mail request from a lesbian couple to photograph their ceremony, one of the lesbians responded by lodging a human rights complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Division, the state agency charged with enforcing state anti-discrimination laws and sending cases to the commission to be adjudicated.

Because anti-gay media is notoriously prone to “error”, I am hesitant to assume that the facts are as stated in the Times, LifeSite, or the other propaganda arms of the anti-gay industry.

However, according to Francie D. Cordova, New Mexico Labor Relations Division Director, here are the bare facts of the case:

A Hearing Office conducted an administrative hearing whereby both the photographer and the complaining party were represented by attorneys. What occurred was a due process hearing and not an interrogation. The case was based on a denial of public accommodation. The Commission has not yet considered the case as the hearing officer has not rendered a recommendation.

I am not privy to any behind-the-scenes communication that led to the complaint. So we do not know what was said by Mrs. Huguenin or by Vanessa Willock, the complaintant.

But this case bothers me.

On one hand, I don’t think that denying services to individuals based on characteristics such as race, gender, orientation, or religion are admirable or have any basis in Christian faith (the reason purported to be behind Huguenin’s denial of service). I do believe that gay persons should be protected from discrimination in the public square.

One should not have the privelege – or so I believe – to bar the door of a restaurant, a barber shop, a grocery store, or a lunch counter due to bigotry or bias.

On the other hand, the type of services provided by Elane Photography require the personal services of Elaine Huguenin herself, at a specified time and place, participating in a ceremony that Ms. Huguenin finds offensive. This is not simply providing services to a gay person, among many persons, but rather it is imposing on Huguenin a level of discomfort that seems an autocratic interference in private business rather than a protection of gay citizens.

And I find the story to be a sad reflection on our society.

Elaine’s photography is, to my untrained eye, quite good. I can see why Ms. Willock would select her for the ceremony.

But what troubles me is that Christianity, as a whole, has become so hostile to gay people that it seems reasonable that faith would be given as a reason for not providing services. Would divorce, pre-marital sex, incompatible faith-affiliations, or a lack of religious adherence be any cause for denying service by Elane Photography? I very much doubt it.

And I am also troubled by an attitude that is inflexible of the sensitivities of others. Would it have been so difficult for Ms. Willock to choose someone else and let Huguenin and her biases alone? Does every slight require punishment?

I will be following this story and will report when more is known.

Anti-Gay T-Shirt Wars

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2008

tshirt_02.jpg
The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal arm of the social conservative movement. They are also the founders and promoters of the Day of Truth, an effort on school campuses to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda”. The DOT grew out of efforts to oppose the Day of Silence, a program by gay students and their friends and allies to bring attention to how heterosexism and homophobia silence the voices of the LGBT minority.

The Day of Truth walks a careful line. While they talk about “tolerance for opposing viewpoints” (their anti-gay viewpoints, primarily) and claim that there is “freedom to change”, they stop short of outright attacks on gay students.

But this is not because they want to avoid such attacks. Indeed, the Alliance Defense Fund would like little more than to teach hostility to homosexuality and silence anyone who disagrees. But school boards have restricted the ability of anti-gay students to publicly condemn their fellow students.

ADF is not happy.

They sued.

The best known of these cases is that of Tyler Chase Harper. Young Mr. Harper wore a T-Shirt to his school in the Poway Unified School District in response to the 2004 Day of Silence. His eloquent message was Homosexuality Is Shameful, Romans 1:27″. That didn’t get Harper enough attention, so the next day he ratcheted up his message to “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned.”

On the second day, school administrators told him that he could not wear a message that was overtly hostile to other students and asked him to remove the statement – which had been added to his plain black T-Shirt with masking tape. Harper refuse and, with the help of ADF, sued his school. (One can’t help but wonder what Harper would have worn the next day if this message did not get his desired result).

The judge found that Harper did not have a case. ADF appealed.

In 2006, a three judge appeals panel found that “the school is permitted to prohibit Harper’s conduct…if it can demonstrate that the restriction was necessary to prevent either the violation of the rights of other students or substantial disruption of school activities.” But they did not rule on the case itself.

In August 2006, the Ninth Circuit appeals court denied en banc review (review by all of the judges). This time the decision was in more direct language.

“Hate speech, whether in the form of a burning cross, or in the form of a call for genocide, or in the form of a tee shirt misusing biblical text to hold gay students to scorn, need not under Supreme Court decisions be given the full protection of the First Amendment in the context of the school environment, where administrators have a duty to protect students from physical or psychological harms.”

In their quest to equate the statement “treat all students with fairness” to “condemn some students based on one’s own religious beliefs”, ADF continued with their lawsuit to overturn restrictions on hostile messages in an environment in which attendance is compulsory. But by the time that the case made its way to the US Supreme Court, Chase Harper graduated and the decision was moot.

However Chase Harper’s little sister Kelsie discovered that she too had a burning drive to condemn her fellow students and the lawsuit was transferred to her.

ADF asked the judge to reconsider his ruling throwing out the case. U.S. District Judge John Houston issued his ruling today. Not surprisingly, he hadn’t changed his mind.

He wrote that a school “interest in protecting homosexual students from harassment is a legitimate pedagogical concern that allows a school to restrict speech expressing damaging statements about sexual orientation and limiting students to expressing their views in a positive manner.”

Interestingly, the ADL is supported by that organization most hated by social conservatives, the American Civil Liberties Union.

David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said the case is troubling. The ACLU filed a brief in support of Harper’s speech rights – siding with the religious groups that they are often at odds with.

“This theory is a novel and extreme expansion of a school’s rights to limit speech,” Blair-Loy said. Schools potentially could ban any speech they say is “psychologically damaging.”

“And let’s face it: What about high school is not psychologically damaging?” Blair-Loy said. “This student wore a T-shirt that expressed an idea. It’s an idea we don’t agree with at the ACLU, but that is the essence of free speech. It’s not just for ideas you like.”

In the midst of this battle in the Great American Culture War Against Gay People, I think something is being forgotten by both sides. Any ruling that allows social conservatives to attack gay people… also allows other students to attack religion.

If messages are allowed that condemn homosexuality on religious terms, then would not messages that condemn religion on terms of orientation be allowed? Surely they could not disallow “Christianity is a Hateful Religion and those who follow it are Homophobes and Bigots”.

And is it then a far reach from “Homosexuality Is Shameful” to “Catholicism is Idolatry” or “Speaking in Tongues is Satanic”? Would Jews be accused of “killing our Savior”? Would a school with a small Muslim minority be force to subject those students to T-Shirts attacking their faith?

This is not without precedent. In 1984 religious activists pushed the Equal Access Act through Congress so as to allow Bible Clubs on school campuses. It said that if a school allows ANY non-curricular organizations to meet, it has to all ALL non-curricular organizations to meet. This is the piece of legislation that protects Gay-Straight Alliances from being banned by homophobic school administrations – a consequence that Bible Club backers did not intend.

I doubt that ADF or those who support them have thought about the eventual results of their efforts. But, then again, this is a great fund raiser for ADF and I doubt they much care. After all, an anti-Christian T-shirt on some campus would give them another lawsuit for which to request funds and issue press releases.

“How Can Lies Be Truth? – Second Edition”

Video exploring the ex-gay promoting "Day of Truth" is re-released with prologue covering changes since video was originally released.

Daniel Gonzales

November 6th, 2007

Since I first created a youtube film examining the “Day of Truth” a great deal has changed at Love In Action and a great deal has not changed at Exodus International and at the Alliance Defense Fund. Since my video is one of the few internet resources available on the “Day of Truth” I have decided to updated it by adding a prologue explaining developments since it was originally released.

I present “How Can Lies Be Truth? – Second Edition”

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