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Posts for October, 2008

Media Coverage Of Love Won Out Protest In Colorado Springs

Daniel Gonzales

October 26th, 2008

The Colorado Springs Gazette ran an article which quotes three people involved in planning the counter protest, Nori Rost (local Unitarian pastor), Wes Mullins (local MCC pastor who is also an ex-gay survivor), and ends with a fabulous quote by yours truly:

But Daniel Gonzales has a different view. The 28-year-old Denver resident will be one of four panelists at the “Love Came Out” event, where he’ll talk about embracing his sexual orientation after years of trying to change it while attending faith-based reparative programs.

“It all boiled down to trying to make up excuses for what was causing my attractions and convincing myself that my attractions had some other meaning and ultimately could be ignored or pushed aside,” Gonzales said.

“If that sounds like a fancy way of saying ‘repression,'” he said, “that would be exactly right.”

I haven’t been able to find the local Fox affiliate’s coverage online but here’s NBC’s coverage (in case you want more of me):

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Colorado Springs Gazette Defends Paul Cameron

Jim Burroway

April 28th, 2008

Certified Cameronite AwardThis was shocking. Two weeks ago, the Colorado Springs Gazette defended Paul Cameron against the Southern Poverty Law Center’s naming his Family Research Institute a hate group:

The story about elevated hatred included a list of Colorado hate groups, as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center – a thoroughly discredited organization that labels organizations with opposing political philosophies as hate mongers.

The new Colorado list includes the Colorado Springs-based Family Research Institute. The conservative fundamentalist organization is headed by Paul Cameron, a psychologist and reviewer for the British Medical Journal, Psychological Reports and the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. The organization’s mission is “to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse.”

There’s no question about it: The Family Research Institute opposes homosexuality, and goes out of its way to discourage and besmirch it. It’s controversial, ideological, politically incorrect and unpopular. But is it a hate group, like the Ku Klux Klan or a Nazi skinhead club? Far from it.

Far from it? Really? Cameron has more in common with a Nazi skinhead club than the Gazette seems to realize. Perhaps the editors of the Gazette needs to look over his 1999 article in which he admires how Nazi Germany (and specifically Rudolph Höss) “handled homosexuals” in Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

Instead of casting aspersions against the Southern Poverty Law Center and coming to the defense of a man who proposes similar draconian “solutions” for homosexuality in this country, the Gazette ought to consider engaging in a practice we like to call journalism. A hate group like a Nazi skinhead club? It’s exactly like a Nazi skinhead club.

The editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette is the latest to join our growing list of Cameron supporters. And I’ll once again ask the question I ask everyone who joins the list: Do the Gazette’s editors agree with Cameron’s draconian agenda?

Hat tip: Mike Airhart.

Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

The more we learn about Matthew Murray, the gunman who killed four and wounded five more in Arveda and Colorado Springs yesterday, the more tragic the story becomes. The latest information suggests mental illness:

[Richard] Werner, of Balneario Camborius, Brazil, said he had a bunk near Murray’s and that Murray would roll around in bed and make noises.

“He would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m just talking to the voices,’ ” Werner said. “He’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Richard. You’re a nice guy. The voices like you.’ ”

…Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission, said Monday that Murray did not go on the mission he was training for in 2002 because managers thought that “issues relating to his health made it unsafe for him to do so.”

I’m no mental health professional, but this has a bit of déjà vu about it. My best friend since second grade slowly descended to schizophrenia during middle school and high school. I can’t even begin to describe how agonizing it was to see a bright young man slip into a hellish world the rest of us can’t enter — or would want to. He’s okay now, living in a group home and staying on his meds. It’s easy to feel sorry for him — I often do — but compared to so many others he’s relatively lucky.

There are so many victims all around in this sad episode in Colorado: those who were killed or wounded, those terrorized by the horror of what happened, their families and friends… and now this. Imagine, if you possibly can, the long, drawn-out nightmare that Matthew Murray’s family underwent. And yes, don’t forget Matthew himself.

See also:
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

Good Lord, what should we make of this? I received an FRC Action E-mail from Tony Perkins, as I often do. There’s an article praising Mike Huckabee, there’s another one chastising Congress, and then at the bottom, Perkins says this:

An Assault On Faith
It is hard not to draw a line between the hostility that is being fomented in our culture from some in the secular media toward Christians and evangelicals in particular and the acts of violence that took place in Colorado yesterday. But I will say no more for now other than that our friends at New Life Church and YWAM are in our thoughts and prayers.

It looks like Perkins has been chomping at the bit to pin the blame for the Colorado shootings on somebody he doesn’t like. When it comes to culture wars, nobody is safe, and no tragedy is off-limits for exploitation. Here he chose the old familiar bogeyman, “the secular media.” We’re lucky I guess. It could have just as easily been anyone else.

I’m not sure how Perkins found it so easy to “draw a line” between the secular media and Matthew Murray, the Christian-raised guy who actually did the shooting. Unlike the FRC, we won’t imagine any lines where none exist. (Update: The most direct line so far may be mental illness.) And we call on the Family “Research” Council to live up to its name and do a little research before releasing statements that are so patently moronic. Why, they’re beginning to sound like someone else we know…

Here is a screenshot of the E-mail. Click on it to see the full-size version.FRC Action E-mail

See also:
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

Colorado Gunman “Hated Christians”

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

The Denver Post is reporting that the gunman responsible for the shooting spree at the missionary training center in Arvata, Colorado and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs has been identified as 24-year-old Matthew Murray. He is the son of a prominent neurologist and researcher on multiple sclerosis.

Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were killed in Arvata, and two sisters, Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, were killed in Colorado Springs. Five others were wounded.

According to The Post, anonynous sources report that Murray targeted the facilities because he “hated Christians.” The Post also reports that Murray had worked for the missionary school three years ago but was kicked out. He was also apparently raised in a deeply religious family and was home-schooled for at least part of his childhood.

It’s hard to know what could have happened to turn this young man to such a violent end. While these background factors are likely to be cited as clues to the makeup of his psyche, I don’t think the answer is there. It takes an awful lot to build up this kind of rage. I personally know home-schooled kids, and I know deeply religious families. The temptation to point fingers of blame to any of those factors would be a deeply misplaced one.

As I said before, our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those who were killed and wounded, the families and  friends of the victims, and to their communities. I’d also like to extend the same for the family of Matthew Murray.

Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2007

Four shot, two died in Arvada, Colorado outside of Denver. Four more shot at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. We will update those two posts as more information become available. We don’t know if these two incidents are related, but I fear the worst.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured and killed, to their families and friends, and to the communities affected by this senseless and incomprehensible violence. And our prayers also go for the swift apprehension of all those responsible for these shootings.

See also:

Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony PerkinsPrayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

Four Shot At New Life Church

Daniel Gonzales

December 9th, 2007

As of this blog posting police were unsure if this shooting is related to an earlier shooting in Arvada (Denver). From CNN:

A gunman opened fire in the parking lot of a Colorado Springs church on Sunday, striking four people, the church’s pastor said.

A black-clad man armed with a rifle opened fire on worshippers inside a Colorado Springs, Colorado, megachurch Sunday afternoon, wounding several people, church and hospital officials reported.

The gunman was then shot to death, a minister said.

Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at New Life Church, said the attack took place after a late-morning service.

Amy Sufak, a spokeswoman for Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, told CNN that several victims were taken to the hospital.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Rick Myers would confirm no details of the incident, calling it a “very dynamic situation right now.”

Lt. Lari Sevene, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, said the attack took place shortly after 1 p.m. and said possibly two or three people were wounded. She could not confirm the death of the gunman and referred further questions to the Colorado Springs Police Department.

But Brendle told CNN the gunman was dead.

New Life Church was founded by Rev. Ted Haggard in 1984.

Update: Other reports suggest that a suspect has been detained. Another report says that one gunman was shot, and a second possible gunman and a car full of explosives was being sought. No confirmation yet from Colorado Springs police or the El Paso Sheriff’s office on any of these reports. Obviously things are rather chaotic right now.

Update: Fox31 in Denver reports that “Police have confirmed that the shooter was killed, though they are not saying whether he was shot by police or died of a self-inflicted gunshot.” No one else is picking up this report yet, so it’s unclear whether it’s been confirmed.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting that “Colorado Springs police Lt. Fletcher Howard said a suspect had been detained in the shootings at the New Life Church, but a church member who was locked down at the church Sunday afternoon said a security guard had shot and killed the gunman.”

Update: CNN and the Denver Post confirm that the gunman was shot dead by a security guard at New Life Church. Several “suspicious devices” were found at the church. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that a church member was also killed in the rampage in addition to the gunman, and four others were wounded. New Life had instituted unspecified security measures when they received word of the Arvada shooting.

See also:

Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

How Hate Crime Laws Can Protect Everyone

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2006

It appears that a hate crime may have been committed in Colorado Springs Tuesday night.

You may remember a few months back when the Gill Foundation kicked off an ad campaign featuring a dog trying to “moo” as a humorous illustration that being gay is not the result of a choice. Focus on the Family countered with a “No Moo Lies” campaign. Christina and Brandon Sewall of Briargate, CO., participated by placing “No moo lies” signs in their yard.

Since then vandals have damaged or stolen the signs, to which the Sewalls responded by just putting even more signs in their yard. They also started running a video security camera overnight. Tuesday evening, someone was caught on tape piling the signs, trash, and patio furniture onto the Sewall’s front lawn and setting it on fire.

The investigation is continuing. If it turns out that whoever did this was motivated by bias against the Sewall’s position against homosexuality, it may fall under Colorado’s hate crime laws protecting its citizens against bias crimes based on sexual orientation.

You read that right. You see, lost behind all of the rhetoric of “special rights”, it turns out that hate crime laws which include sexual orientation really do protect everyone. According to the FBI’s most recent hate crime report, there were thirty-three anti-heterosexual hate crime incidents affecting thirty-six victims in 2004. And I noted in our report, Federal Hate Crime Statistics: Why the Numbers Don’t Add Up, there are many reasons to believe that this is an undercount. In fact, the undercount may be quite substantial since most people assume that hate crime laws only protect the minority.

I don’t know the specifics of Colorado’s hate crime law, nor do we know what the outcome of the investigation will wind up being. But it may well be ironic that a law that has been vigorously opposed by Focus on the Family for “promoting the homosexual lifestyle” may, in fact, serve to protect a participant in a Focus on the Family action.

And while it would be ironic, it would nevertheless be appropriate, depending on what the investigation finds. Because it turns out that anybody can be a victim of hate. And everyone deserves the protection of hate crime laws.

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