What Goes Into Constitutions Stay There Forever
September 13th, 2011
That’s the argument Rep. Henry M. Michaux, Jr. (D) made to the North Carolina General Assembly yesterday before they voted to send a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage to the state Senate:
Don’t put this into a living document. The constitution is a living document. And if you think it’s hard to get something out of that living document, you take a look at the United States Constitution where it says that I am three-fifths of a person. Even though we have had amendments that come along to sort of change that, it still says it in that Constitution. And what you put in a constitution is there permanently. I know you all think you’ve got the votes to do it, but you need to think about what you’re doing and you need to think about the greater good of the people of this state.
Also, lawmakers who approve such an amendment will find their names forever attached to discrimination. Dan Savage has an example of a Presbyterian minister by the name of Thomas W. Miller, whose name is remembered for his religious-based opposition to efforts to prohibit deed restrictions and other forms of discrimination preventing African-Americans from buying or renting a home. I wonder what Miller’s grandchildren think about their grandpa’s legacy?
NC House Passes Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment
September 12th, 2011
After three hours of debate and without public notice or input, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a proposed constitutional amendment by a vote of 75-42. A three-fifths approval was needed to put the measure on the ballot. Eight Democrats joined Republicans in passing the measure. The proposed amendment would not only place a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but it would also bar civil unions and, possibly, domestic partner benefits. Some details from today’s decorous debate:
State Rep. Marcus Brandon (R-Guilford), the only openly gay state lawmaker, told his fellow lawmakers that people yelled “abomination” at him as he walked through the capitol building that afternoon, and said he was told he was “going to hell.”
State Rep. Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), a black lawmaker, had an exchange with (House Majority Leader Rep. Paul) Stam on the floor in which he pointed out that the U.S. constitution “still says I am three-fifths of a person.” Michaux said on the floor that he was attempting to highlight how hard it would be to remove the discriminatory language in the future.
At one point, state Rep. Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake) called out Stam for eating popcorn during the debate “while other’s rights are stripped away.”
The house voted to put the proposition on the ballot for a special election in May rather than holding the referendum during the Presidential election in November. Democrats feared that putting the vote on the November ballot would hurt President Barack Obama’s chances for carrying the state in 2012. Republicans agreed to move the date in order to increase Democratic support for the Amendment. However, with the May date coinciding with the Republican primary and with no Democratic presidential primary taking place, the earlier date is likely to significantly boost turnout for amendment supporters. Other observers also believe those same supporters would then boost the chances of socially-conservative candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Given the pressing crisis of massive numbers of same-sex couples battering county courthouses demanding marriage licenses, the Senate is expect to take the measure up very quickly, perhaps as early as Tuesday.
NC Anti-Gay Preacher Channels Hippie Chick from 1971
September 7th, 2011
North Carolina lawmakers held a press conference yesterday to promote a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that is expected to be introduced into the state legislature shortly. And in the latest installment of the battle of bad marriage metaphors, Rev. Johnny Hunter called same-sex marriage “immoral and unnatural” because only heterosexual acts can be “consummated.” Just goes to show his own ignorance when it comes to sexual matters. Anyway, Hunter then went on to use used a lock and key to try to make his case.
But unfortunately, when I heard about it, all I could think about was this:
(For you wippersnappers who don’t know what a roller skate key was for, Wikipedia explains: “The rollerskates in question would have been children’s quad skates, which were clamped to the soles of ordinary shoes. The clamps were tightened with a special ‘key’ that basically was a very simple socket wrench. The key was inevitably lost or misplaced, in which case a screwdriver or other tool usually could substitute though at some inconvenience.”)
The Daily Agenda for Thursday, September 1
September 1st, 2011
Civil Partnerships Go Into Effect: Liechtenstein. Last June, voters in the alpine principality between Switzerland and Austria voted overwhelmingly to allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The new law stops short of marriage equality — registered same-sex unions are still barred from adopting children and from access to reproductive services through the country’s health plan — but it does provide for inheritance, social security, pensions, immigration and naturalization, and tax law recognition for same-sex couples on par with married heterosexual couples. That law goes into effect beginning today.
Federal DADT Court Case Resumes: Pasadena, CA. Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans return to court today to present oral arguments in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell case before three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The argument is over whether the federal law banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military is (or was) unconstitutional. A lower court said it wasn’t, but the Justice Department appealed. DADT is slated to officially become history on September 20, and so you might wonder why they are still fighting in court. The problem is that while Congress has repealed the law, the repeal did not include an anti-discrimination provision preventing a future president from re-imposing the ban via Executive Order. And with most of the GOP line-up contending for the party’s nomination for 2012 promising to “repeal the repeal,” DADT’s demise may end up being a mere hiatus. Oral arguments begin this morning at 9:00 a.m. PDT at the 9th Circuit Court House in Pasadena.
TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
North Carolina Awake!: Gastonia, NC. The Liberty Counsel is continuing its series of “Awake!” conferences with a meeting this evening at Bethlehem Church in Gastonia, NC because, of course, “There’s a war waging:”
Christianity is under attack in our schools, workplaces, and governments. Silence is a decision to stand with the enemy. Inaction is a deathblow to the God-honoring principles our country was created to allow each citizen to enjoy.
Speaking at tonight’s conference will be Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver, along with Rick Green, who is a member of fake-historian David Barton’s WallBuilders. The North Carolina legislature is expected to take up a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in this session.
Lily Tomlin: 1939. She began her comedy career as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s when she quickly landed a spot on NBC’s Laugh-In. Her many memorable characters quickly became the stuff of pop culture: Earnestine, the nasal, nosy, and obnoxious telephone operator who epitomized the bureaucratic condescension of the old Ma Bell monopoly (“We don’t care, we don’t have to…we’re the phone company.”); Edith Ann, the five year old girl sitting in an oversized rocker with her observations of the crazy crap the adults around her were pulling (and always ending her monologues with “…and that’s the truth. Phhhht!”); And Mrs. Judith Beasley, the prim and proper “tasteful lady.” In 1977, she became the first woman to appear solo on Broadway with Appearing Nitely, and in 1985, she starred in another one-woman Broadway show, The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, written by her long-time partner, writer-producer Jane Wagner. In 1980, Tomlin appeared in the hit movie Nine to Five, with Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Dabney Coleman, and she hit movie pay dirt again in All of Me with Steve Martin.
Tomlin and Wagner have been together since 1971, and while their relationship was never much of a secret, the press remained pretty mum. When Tomlin officially came out in 2001, it hardly seemed necessary. “Everybody in the industry was certainly aware of my sexuality and of Jane… In interviews I always reference Jane and talk about Jane, but they don’t always write about it.”
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
Michael Brown’s Field Report From Charlotte Pride
August 30th, 2011
How many other community groups feature prominent performances by drag queens at their events? Can you imagine crowds at an Hispanic Pride event, or Black Pride event, or Asian Pride event — just to name a few — being entertained by men wearing dresses (or less), hot pink wigs, and matching knee-high boots? And this is part of the LGBT’s strategy “to promote acceptance”? How telling. And how telling that, unmentioned by the Observer, there was a large truck stationed next to the festival offering “Free HIV Testing.” Yes, just another typical community event.
. . . It is also a bit disconcerting to watch young men greet each other with exclamations of “Hey girl!” before exchanging pecks on the cheek. (Does your average child find it confusing to hear men call each other “girls”?).
Alvin McEwen doubts Brown’s veracity:
Lastly that comment about young men greeting each other with exclamations of “Hey Girl” before kissing each other on the cheeks simply cannot be true. He forgot to mention that after we kiss each other on the cheek, we finger snap in Z-formations.
By the way, they had free HIV testing at the NAACP’s national convention last month in Los Angeles. “How telling,” as they say.
Do They Really Think This Will Work?
August 12th, 2011
It never ceases to amaze me how inept churches can be. Their “Great Commission,” according to the bible they claim to follow, is a simple one: bring in converts from all over the world. So how many gay people do you think will walk through the door after seeing a sign like this and say, “Gee, I never thought of it that way. Sign me up!”
No comments will be deleted. Instead they are a testimony against you recorded in heaven to be used in heaven. Have at it.
Suspect Blames Musinex in NC Hate Crime Murder
February 16th, 2011
The may be the “Twinkie defense” of 2010. Michael Anderson, 19, near Hickory, N.C., shot his roommate, Stephen Starr, 36, in the home they shared Monday. According to Catawba County sheriff Coy Reid, Anderson shot Starr “and took an ax to him” in “one of the nastiest crime scenes I’ve been to.” Reid also said that Anderson carved a word onto his body, and wrote words on him in pen. He wouldn’t say what was written, but said he believes the writings and carving happened after Starr was killed. At about the time of the murder, Anderson posted a message on facebook:
In all capital letters, Anderson posted: “God forgive me of my sins of which I have done plz let your holy name be with me as I go to the heavenly place they will not take me alive my killing starts tonight I kill one by one hopefully I kill more than one though you it seems that I would rather want to kill a lot more you know but oh well one will do I guess but if you get in my way you will be next.”
A short time later, Anderson posted “i finally cracked guys i really did it this time guys.”
Today, police released a recording of the 911 call Anderson made at the time of the murder, telling the operator, “I did some things to his body that you don’t want them to see. You’re not going to know who it is.” He blamed a combination of Mucinex and gay panic for the bloody murder:
“I Od’d on Mucinex DM. Dextromethorphan makes me feel a little weird and I took too many,” Anderson said.
About 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the call, the telecommunicator asks what sparked the attack. Anderson said it was because he was straight, and Starr was gay. According to him, the two met at a gay club. Anderson said he was straight, but went to the club to experiment.
“I met him and went to his house and he took me in and I turned straight again. And he wanted to touch me and stuff and I wouldn’t let him, and he kept trying. And I waited until he went to sleep and then I shot him three times. And I mutilated him very badly and I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Oh God, please help me.”
The earlier report however describes Anderson as Starr’s roommate, not a one-night-stand pick-up. The detailed directions Anderson gave to the 911 operator are telling:
Anderson sounds distraught in the call. However, he is able to give the telecommunicator exact directions to Starr’s house on Ruth Drive, describing where to turn, how the house looks and other details, including that the green truck parked in the driveway is a manual truck. He then adds one final one detail.
“There’s wood out there that I was chopping,” he said. “I’m sorry ma’am, but the ax is inside his stomach.”
How many one-night-stands do you think are willing help out with household chores?
NC Gay Couple’s Home Destroyed By Arsonist
February 7th, 2011
Fire investigators in Clayton, N.C. are investigating a fire that was set last Saturday that destroyed the home of a gay couple who had been victims of anti-gay harassment for more than a year. The couple were out of town when the fire was set, and was reported by a neighbor.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home. A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.
…”I felt sick to my stomach. I felt so sorry for the two gentlemen. They lost everything,” the couple’s friend and neighbor said. “We do believe that this is a hate crime.”
The Red Cross is supplying the couple with food, clothes and contacts for insurance. Clayton is located about 15 miles southeast of Raleigh.
Pam Spaulding’s Encounter With NOM Volunteer
August 11th, 2010
Pam Spaulding attended the NOM rally in Raleigh, N.C., and she has posted extensive video at her web site. All of it is must see. Unfortunately, the absolute best part wasn’t caught on video. It’s where Pam and a colleague are confused with being NOM sympathizers:
Now what happened next was beyond surreal. This middle-aged woman with a floppy hat on and a clipboard in her hand, looking a bit wild-eyed, came over and asked us if we wanted to sign up for some “scientifically-based information on marriage.” Robyn and I looked at each other and knew exactly where this was going. I said:
Pam: Scientific information? What are you talking about?
Fundie: I’m with The Ruth Institute (a “project of the National Organization for Marriage) and I have literature I can share with you…
Pam: I’m sorry, I’m not interested…I’m married to a woman.
PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPEN. Clearly she thought I was straight and on her side.
Robyn: I am married to a woman as well.
PREGNANT PAUSE…FUNDIE JAW OPENING WIDER. Oh NOES, her Gaydar is broken for sure! A fly could have entered and buzzed around in her piehole. Finally she regains her composure and says…
Fundie: You’re marriage is not real. You’re not married in the state of NC.
Pam: No, you’re right. But when I go to visit my relatives in NY, I’m married. If I go to Iowa, I’m married, if I go to Massachusetts I’m married…
Fundie (interrupting, voice shaking): Your marriage is a legal fraud, that doesn’t matter, what matters is natural marriage.
Pam (interrupting): My marriage is not a fraud…and I don’t need your literature.
Fundie (turning and walking away, head exploding in anger): You’re being rude…
Pam: Hey you’re the one who came up to me first…(laughing).
Robyn and I laughed the entire ride back to work because this woman 1) pegged us both as straight and kindred spirits, 2) clearly hasn’t run into this “problem” before, and 3) had a meltdown that was priceless.
The Day After Election Day
November 4th, 2009
Feelings will be running raw this morning. Having yet another state placing a portion of its own citizenry in the second-class column is never easy to take. There will be plenty of time for post-mortems; I guess you could say I’ve already gotten a jump on mine before the campaign was over.
But I think it’s very important to keep in mind what Protect Maine Equality has been able to do. They have put together one of the most outstanding grass-roots efforts I’ve ever seen in a political campaign, and for that they’ve provided a road map for future campaigns to follow. Nobody has done a better job at motivating thousands of individuals to give of their time, and nobody has put together a better get-out-the-vote effort. The fact that the vote was this close is a testament to those great accomplishments.
Meanwhile, we have an important victory in Kalamazoo, where the religious right pulled out all the scare tactics at their disposal to try to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance. It didn’t work. The ordinance was upheld by 7,671 to 4,731 — 62% voted for equality in Kalamazoo, which is now the sixteenth city in Michigan with a non-discrimination ordinance.
Meanwhile, Washington’s Referendum 71 is holding on by a razor-thin margin. The Seattle Times says that it looks promising, since most of the outstanding votes are in areas where the measure was passing. Washingtonians vote by mail, and since the law requires that ballot be postmarked by election day, they will continue to trickle in during the days to come.
In Houston, openly lesbian mayoral candidate Annise Parker will go up against Gene Lock for a December 12 runoff. Openly gay Mark Kleinschmidt was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Charles Pugh garnered the highest number of Detroit city council votes among all the city-wide at-large candidates to become that city’s first gay city council president. And in New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia, legislative battles are heating up for marriage equality.
There are steps forward and steps back. The struggle isn’t over. We lost this one, but we pick ourselves up and go on to the next one. Our community has forged a unique strength that way, and we’ve learned to do this in ways we didn’t want to, whether it was to respond to Governmental censorship, employment bans, Anita Bryant, the AIDS crisis when nobody else could be bothered, or these state-by-state ballot initiatives. They do wear us down, but they don’t wear us out. We pick each other up, dust ourselves off, and we go on to the next battle. It’s what we do.
The Direct Approach
October 1st, 2009
Sometimes it seems that in the campaign battles over marriage equality, the people most ignored and downplayed are those most affected. Everyone talks about equality and decency and church and children but none of us on any side can seem to say, “hey, this is about these guys!”.
But a new campaign in Greensburo, North Carolina, is taking a direct approach. They are showing the faces of the folks who everyone else is not talking about.
Good for you, Triad Equality Alliance.
Of course, not everyone is happy about it. Check out the video at Fox 8.
College Student Receives Death Threats
September 22nd, 2009
It’s back to school time on college campuses across America. You know what that means — getting settled back into the dorm, spending more money on books than you ever thought possible, taking stock of your new professors, and of course, death threats:
Guilford College students will hold a meeting on Monday after someone sent a student two letters threatening his life and calling him derogatory names based on his sexual orientation.
The hate crimes happened in the Bryan Hall dormitory last week. On Monday, a student found a note on his door that had a death threat and called him a derogatory name. The note also said “nobody wants your kind on campus.”
On Thursday, someone dropped a rock with a letter attached in the same student’s window. The note used the same derogatory name and also said: “You don’t deserve life like the rest of the world. It’s bad enough with out all the gay crap pulling people down. It’s sick, unnatural, and death is almost too good for you. Almost.”
A vigil is planned at the Greensboro, N.C.-based college Wednesday evening.
500 Protest Charlotte Pride, Police Report No Problems
July 26th, 2009
An estimated 10,000 people turned out to celebrate Charlotte Pride yesterday, while an anti-gay protest organized by local evangelist Michael Brown and TheCall’s Lou Engle attracted about 500 participants. While the Charlotte Observer reports that the number of protesters this year was a significant over previous years, it appears to have fallen short of the thousand that the organizers had hoped for. Michael Brown insisted that his “lamb-like” protesters would remain across the street from the festival grounds, but several of his red-shirted sheep apparently were lost and were seen across the street mingling with Pride-goers spreading their anti-gay message. Charlotte police report no problems and no arrests.
The protest organizers, who dubbed their effort as “God Has A Better Way,” released a statement last night with a long list of well-worn grievances, and declaring that the push for equality “stops here in Charlotte.” At least one longtime Pride participant decided to turn that message around:
“Each year, we have groups come to our pride celebrations trying to demonstrate their message of love, saying there’s a better way or we need to change who we are, and so this year I thought, what if we go to them? I think it’s time to flip the script, so to speak,” Monica Simpson said.
In the midst of the sea of red shirts stood Simpson, a yearly pride participant.
“It allowed me to see how much work still needs to be done on this earth as we really talk about the dream that God has for us to live as one and realize we are all connected as one,” she said.
Michael Brown Responds
July 23rd, 2009
Timothy Kincaid and I have exchanged several emails with Michael Brown since publishing my article, “Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride” on Monday. It’s been a cordial exchange; his opening line gave me a good glimpse of his humor: “A colleague just pointed out your new article to me, and obviously, we’re in two completely different worlds here.” Of the many things in which Dr. Brown and I disagree, obviously that much is something I can say “Amen” to.
Dr. Brown took the time to write several very lengthy emails. Unfortunately, his first emails to me bounced because because my inbox was full. And once I cleared that logjam out, the rest of his emails came while I was working on my day job, I confess that my responses were considerably shorter and incomplete, probably coming off as terse. So for that, I’ll begin by publicly apologizing for that.
He had several bones to pick with me, and I concede that a few of those points are legitimate, and so I’ve made some modifications to the original article. I’ll point those out as we come to them. On some of the other points he raised, I’m not so sure I agree with him and I’ll discuss those as well. That said, let’s dive in.
First, Dr. Brown wanted to address my concerns about what I believe to be his violent rhetoric:
As for my use of “revolutionary” or “violent” language, perhaps my recent article will be of help. I’m simply following on the heels of Christian tradition and the New Testament – and always with absolutely clarity and full qualification of my points. (For example, if you recall my “revolution” message at the Exodus conference, when I quoted Elaine Brown, I spoke of her organization as being a negative example that we did not want to emulate – because of their violence – stating only that she exemplified the way revolutionaries think, and that mentality was in harmony with Jesus’ words that, “if you find your life, you lose it; if you lose it for me and the gospel, you find it.”). Jesus is our example – He laid down His life and renounced violence – and we seek to follow in His footsteps.”
True, he did say that. After having reviewed his talk again, I agreed that including the additional information about what he said would provide a more complete context. I added the following portion in italics to that paragraph:
Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).
Brown then corrected me on my earlier statement when I wrote that, “One of the participants at the Toronto Blessing was Steve Hill.”
“Also, just for the record, Steve Hill never attended the Toronto Blessing, and to give you perspective, the great bulk of the scandalous articles of the PNJ (scandalous in terms of their journalism) came out in Nov. 1997; the revival continued well into 2000. At the time the articles were written, our school had 510 students. From fall 1998 until 2000, we had well over 1,000. We only grew and increased after the articles came out, one reason being that most of the people who knew us in the city knew the reports were false.”
My source for that information wasn’t the Pensacola News-Journal, but another conservative Pentecostal web site that was critical of the Brownsville revival. It turns out that the source I used for that wasn’t accurate, and I apologize for the error. Hill’s involvement with the Toronto Blessing was a bit more indirect. Therefore, I’ve deleted that sentence in Monday’s post and replaced it with this:
The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” And that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton.
More generally, Brown was critical of our links to the Pensacola News-Journal for some of the criticisms of the Brownsville Revival:
For the sake of Christian integrity, however, I should point out that your characterizations of the Brownsville Revival are as false and misleading as the quotes you lift from the thoroughly discredited stories from the Pensacola News Journal (interestingly, that infamous series of articles was sandwiched between years of glowing coverage about the revival in the PNJ which preceded those articles and then no more negative reports in the years that followed the reports). There are thousands of hours of footage of the meetings available for all to see and hear, none of which concur with the ridiculous reports of the critics, while the fruit of wonderfully changed lives (to this day) remains as a witness to what Jesus did in those meetings.
As for the PNJ’s journalistic integrity, I will leave that for you to decide as to whom you’d prefer to believe. It does strike me as a count in the PNJ’s favor that they wrote both positive and negative articles, which leads me to believe they were capable of covering the Brownsville Revival with a measure of impartiality. Dr. Brown obviously disagrees, and strongly so. So I guess we’re at something of a stalemate there for the time being. Dr. Brown however did recommend a book by Steve Rabey titled Revival in Brownsville: Pensacola, Pentecostalism, and the Power of American Revivalism, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers (the Bible publishing people).
Brown believes that by quoting from Matt Comer’s article in InterstateQ, I mischaracterized his 2005 action against Charlotte Pride:
I’m not sure how to correct the completely false, anonymous report about our involvement in Charlotte Pride, 2005, other than to point out that it’s fascinating that these charges just surface now, for the first time, four years later. Unfortunately, it presents a 100% false picture of our involvement that day – shall I direct to you some of the 100+ people who were there that day to speak with them for yourself? – and the report is as ludicrous as claiming that we raided a gay bar and hit people over the head with Bibles. It is not who we are anymore than you and Timothy are secretly running a branch of the gay Taliban.
In a second email, he strongly emphasized this:
Under no circumstances did any of our people do such a thing. Under no circumstances did they communicate with the children who were there, and under no circumstances did they tell them that their parents were sinners going to hell, and under no circumstances did they harass people.
I’m not sure how anyone can vouch for all 100-plus people at an event like that, particularly with the assurance of “under no circumstances.” It may well have been that they were instructed that “under no circumstances” were they to speak with children or harass people, but I can’t see how anyone could make such a guarantee. I also suspect that a Pride-goer’s idea of harassment is likely very different from Dr. Brown’s under these circumstances. I also see that Dr. Brown has been exchanging similar emails with Ali Davis at 365gay.com. She notes that an article in the Charlotte Observer at the time also reported “some tense interactions, and notes one named source who says she was told she was going to hell.”
But that led to, I think, his main problem with the piece: our expressed concern that by having 1,000 people to confront (or surround in prayer or witness to or whatever anyone might want to call it) those who plan on attending Charlotte Pride.
As to your concerns about violence breaking out at our event on July 25th, there’s no more chance of that than there is a chance of it happening at a Sunday morning church service where we worship and pray together, although the spate of recent articles predicting this very thing makes me wonder if some will be disappointed when the Jesus-focused, Lamb-like nature of the participants is manifest for the whole world to see.
Dr. Brown gave his assurances in another email to Timothy Kincaid that for this year, the red-shirted participants will remain across the street from the the Pride festivities and will not interfere with those who want to attend:
Our red-shirted participants will NOT be trying to intercept people going into the event. If folks want to talk with us, we’d be delighted to do so, but our red-shirted folks (whom we can clearly identify and hold to our terms of commitment) will not be trying to intercept anyone. We will have a sufficient presence in prayer just by being there.
I hope he’s right. Believe me, I do hope he’s right and he will be able to hold his thousand or more red-shirted folks to their “lamb-like” commitments. And I take him at his word that he will do everything he can to make sure that happens. A thousand people though, that’s a lot to keep track of. And besides that, a crowd of a thousand people is an intimidating presence, no matter their intentions.
Think of it: What if we were to gather a thousand red-shirted LGBT activists — and let’s face it, they would be activists because ordinary people are rarely motivated to mount such an action — and have them gather at a park where a church picnic or festival was taking place, promising them that if they do this, that the religious right would meet its “high water mark” and that it all “stops there”? For good measure, we’ll go to a city that is “takeable” and promise to attack the “demonic spirit” that rules their ideology. Okay, we don’t speak in terns of demonic spirits, but you get the picture.
Wouldn’t the people attending that church picnic or festival have every right to be concerned? More significantly, wouldn’t they have every right to take the action as a serious and deeply held affront? I can just hear Focus On the Family now.
Brown and Engle characterize this publicly as an evangelical outreach effort. If that is their intention, then they may well rejoice if one or a few out of the crowd decides to “find God.” But for every one they do manage to reach by some great miracle, they will likely push countless others much, much further away. Surely, they must understand the consequences of that. That’s why I find it hard to believe that the intent is to convert. If it is, then Dr. Brown and Mr. Engle have hopelessly unrealistic expectations for what they hope to accomplish.
But I don’t think that’s what they really want to accomplish. It’s something very different, as reinforced by this press release issued just moments ago:
According to Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Charlotte-based Coalition of Conscience and the organizer of the event, “Nothing like this has ever been done in conjunction with a gay pride event in any city before, and those who join together on this day will be part of history in the making.”
Brown’s event is being actively supported by Lou Engle, national director of TheCall to Action. Engle, who advocates bringing about cultural change through prayer and fasting, believes that the “God Has a Better Way” rally could be a national flash point, with the goal that homosexual activism “stops here.”
Speaking of Lou Engle, Dr. Brown didn’t like how his friend was quoted in the SPLC article as saying, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!” Dr. Brown wanted me to understand that there’s really no such thing as a Joel’s Army — which is true insofar as I understand that it’s not an organization but a movement. But most importantly, he wanted me to understand that Engle wasn’t speaking literally but in metaphor:
I urge you to listen to Lou’s words in the context of his entire message; it is next to impossible to hear him speak and to take away any message other than our call to prayer and fasting. It would be like telling a rowing crew, “We’re going to fly down this river!” and think that they would take this to mean that they are supposed to become birds!
I understand metaphor. I also believe I can understand context. But I also understand that sometimes context is in the eye of the beholder as well as the speaker. So let’s try this: look at this video of Lou Engle and tell me what you think:
Rampant rape and molestation. Your children won’t be safe. Our whole culture will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. We’re in a Joel 2 moment. A Jezebel-Elijah showdown. This is survival of nations. Tremble you kings!
How much of all that is metaphor? Or is this guy, who is one half of God Has A Better Way, someone we should be concerned about?
Wouldn’t those Christians in my hypothetical park be equally concerned and insulted if they saw rhetoric like that coming from a leader of those red-shirted LGBT activists?
You bet they would, and rightfully so.
Anti-Gay Extremists Predict “Flash Point” for Charlotte Pride
July 20th, 2009
Charlotte (N.C.) Pride this year falls on July 25. In response, two prominent Pentecostal evangelists plan to confront Pride attendees by surrounding the park with more than 1,000 “worshipers, intercessors, musicians, soul-winners, walkers, talkers, and believers of every age, color, and size” there to “stand together as a prophetic witness to our society.” One of the organizers of the anti-gay confrontation predicts that the day will represent a “flash point” in turning back the so-called “homosexual agenda.” Local LGBT advocates fear that the presence of such a large amp-ed up contingent of anti-gay extremists at the properly-permitted celebration could become a flash point of a very different kind.
In 2006, Charlotte-based pastor Michael Brown organized a group of red-shirted students to surround Charlotte Pride. Volunteers describe that encounter as frightening, intimidating, and an act that instilled terror in some who attended:
“The whole experience was horrible,” [one volunteer] told InterstateQ.com, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “I saw a lot of people trying to get away from the red-shirted people, and they just wouldn’t leave people alone.”
The volunteer describes several people, visibly shaken and emotionally distraught, who came to her for assistance. “I had people coming up to me in tears asking, ‘Please do something about these people,’” she said.
Many of those who complained, the volunteer said, were parents and children who were confronted by the members of Brown’s counter-demonstration. “They were going after the children of gay and lesbian parents. They were after the little kids, telling them that their mommies and daddies were going to hell and were sinners.”
Now Brown is at it again, except this time he is joining forces with Lou Engle of The Call. This year’s anti-gay rally, called “God Has A Better Way,” intends to surround the Pride festival not with a hundred volunteers, but a thousand. Local Pride organizers, who have obtained proper permits to hold the celebration in downtown Charlotte, are worried.
There’s reason for concern. Brown and Engle are both known for their fiery rhetoric filled with militant imagery of warfare against dark and evil forces. Acting on what he calls a “prophetic word,” Engle chose Charlotte “to raise up a contending house of prayer, that contends not with people, but with spiritual principalities and powers” He intends for this action to “be the high watermark, so to speak, of the homosexual agenda. It stops here.”
Brown predicts that the event will be “history in the making.” Whatever their predictions, it doesn’t take a prophet to know that tensions will be high in Charlotte next weekend if these men have their way.
“Whether By Life Or By Death!”
I first encountered Michael Brown’s life-and-death rhetoric when I attended his lecture at a plenary session of the Exodus Freedom Conference in Irvine, California in 2007. I had attended the conference to get a first-hand look at the pre-eminent annual gathering of people who were “struggling with their homosexuality” and were trying to change. The struggle was a personal struggle against forces which would tempt them from their chosen path of pursuing heterosexuality. Those forces, of course, were often described in evil undertones, but the speakers rarely used that word or characterization directly.
Brown wasn’t nearly that coy. He was there to exhort the crowd to fight against “a pitched attack from hell,” but the attack he was talking about wasn’t an attack on an individual’s sense of sexual righteousness. Instead, Brown was talking about an evil attack on the moral fabric of the culture at large. To counter that attack, his talk centered on developing a “revolutionary mentality,” which he summed up as, “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.”
Citing such revolutionaries as Elaine Brown of the Black Panthers (“Even the notion of dying for something bigger than you was far more powerful than living out a life of quiet desperation.”), he said “the key to overcoming the forces of hell” was the willingness to embrace martyrdom. While he said that the Elaine Brown’s quote represented a negative example, he also said that for Christians it was compatible with Luke 17:33 (“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”).
Now, it’s important to note that he didn’t use the word of “martyrdom” anywhere in his talk that I can recall. But it certainly describes what he was talking. Take, for instance, his quoting of James B. Taylor: “The world may frown — Satan may rage — but go on! Live for God. May I die in the field of battle.” Or when Brown recounted a tale of another dedicated Christian who was being held up at gunpoint by a robber demanding “your money or your life.” According to Brown, the Christian exclaimed “You’re going to send me to meet Jesus?” and began rejoicing, prompting the robber to flee. Brown also claimed that his own life was in danger because of his confrontations against the LGBT community. All of this to drive home the message that a Christian should value the cause more than his own life:
Listen, God promises us long life and health as blessings in Scripture, and he wants to bless many with families and kids and grandkids and all that. That’s wonderful. But we should have this warrior mentality. Come on, we’ve been addressed as warriors. We should have this revolutionary mentality that says the purpose of my life is to glorify God. And I would rather die glorifying God than live to be ninety and not make an impact.
He then closed that plenary session with a prayer:
I ask you (Jesus) to hold back nothing from me. Here I am. Change me. Fill me. Use me. Send me out to be a world changer to glorify Jesus, to be a holy revolutionary whether by life or by death!
Since Brown’s talk at that Exodus Freedom conference in 2007, he has become a regular speaker at the Love Won Out conference put on jointly by Exodus International and Focus On the Family.
Lou Engle and The Call
Lou Engle also echoes Brown’s embrace of martyrdom. Engle, whose own ministry is known as “The Call,” is closely aligned with a militant Christian Dominionist movement known as Joel’s Army. Casey Sanchez describes the relationship this way:
As even his critics note, Engle is a sweet, humble and gentle man whose persona is difficult to reconcile with his belief in an end-time army of invincible young Christian warriors. Yet while Engle is careful to avoid deploying explicit Joel’s Army rhetoric at high-profile events like The Call, when he’s speaking in smaller hyper-charismatic circles to avowed Joel’s Army followers, he can venture into bloodlust.
This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.
“I believe we’re headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground,” said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.
“There’s an Elijah generation that’s going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion,” Engle continued. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire.”
Joel’s Army began in the 1940’s, and was based on the preaching of Assembly of God pastor William Branham. The Assemblies of God has banned Joel’s army as a heretical cult and disavows all association with the movement.
Lou Engle and the Kansas City Prophets
In order to understand where Brown and Engle are coming from with their calls to martyrdom, it’s important to understand where their theology comes from. And to do that, we need to rewind a bit, back to the early 1980’s with a group known as the The Kansas City Prophets. Chief among them was “Prophet” Bob Jones (unrelated to Bob Jones of Bob Jones University fame) who claimed to receive prophecies through visions and dreams. Lou Engle would become one of Prophet Jones’ devoted acolytes.
Among the hallmarks of the Kansas City Prophets were calls for long periods of fasting and prayer, a feature that Engle has made a centerpiece for The Call. In 1983, Jones called for a 21-day fast to usher “a massive move of God.” He also predicted that a drought would consume Kansas City in confirmation of his prophecy from June until August 23. Jones and his followers blithely overlooked the 6.5 inches of rain that fell in June (making that June wetter than average) and another inch or so that fell in July. But the traces of rain that fell around August 23 was enough to confirm his prophetic powers among his followers.
In 1991, Jones was removed from a ministry known as the Vineyard for sexual misconduct, where he allegedly used his “prophetic gift” to fondle women in the church. But that scandal didn’t discredit Jones’ “prophetic gifts” in the eyes of his acolyte, Lou Engle, who made it his mission to fulfill a 1993 prophecy by his mentor:
In 1993, Bob Jones prophesied, “The Houston Oilers would move to Nashville, and Nashville would build God a stadium. And 100,000 people, particularly youth, would gather for a great mobilization of the army of God.” With this prophecy in effect, I was praying about holding The Call in Titan Stadium in Nashville on 07-07-07.
Engle’s earlier incarnation of The Call had become relatively inactive by about 2002, but Engle relaunched it in 2006 with the help of Kansas-City based International House of Prayer to fulfill Jones’ 1993 prophecy. The International House of Prayer is led by Mike Bickle, another of the Kansas City Prophets, who is also listed as The Call’s vice president on their 2009 IRS 990 form. Three other former Kansas City Prophets, Stacey Campbell, Jim Goll, and Dutch Sheets, also sit on The Call’s board of directors, as does Bishop Harry Jackson of Washington, D.C. (or perhaps not of Washington, D.C., but that’s a completely different story.)
I’ve been corresponding to one young man who attended the relaunched The Call event in Nashville in 2007. Tyler (his last name is being withheld) remembers that day vividly — July 7, 2007 (07/07/07 was their “Holy Date”) — and wrote:
I went to Nashville and the day was a whole day of fasting and prayer to “turn the nation back to God.” Their tactics include, in my opinion, a lot of manipulation using emotionally-driven songs, yelling, dancing, and the like to get individuals charged up.
Tyler eventually left the group and came out as gay. But he found that leaving the group was difficult:
I just know that I was pretty “stuck” in that organization and by the time I left I felt like I was getting away from some hardcore brainwashing. It is tough because everyone involved is extremely friendly (they would definitely not pass as members of the Fred Phelps crew…they are too kind). Those involved tend to be young, 20-somethings, who all have a hip and fresh look about them (the Urban Outfitters or American Apparel kind of person). They seem to be open and accepting.
It was difficult for me to leave the group and this movement because I did find such a home there and developed such great friendships. I just couldn’t remain part of something that was so certain that who I am is wrong and I must change.
Since that Nashville gathering, The Call has sponsored additional gatherings in Cincinnati, Ohio; Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, all in 2008. The San Diego event was called specifically to rally for the passage of California’s Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage.
The “Toronto Blessing,” Brownsville Revival, and Michael Brown
Prophet Jones also claims to have predicted the so-called “Toronto Blessing” revival of 1994, which was billed as a spontaneous and historic multi-year outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a congregation at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. Jones supposedly predicted the Toronto Blessing in 1984, exactly ten years earlier. But others see evidence of more direct involvement of the Kansas City Prophets in the Toronto Blessing aside from mere prophecy.
At any rate, the Toronto Blessing was immediately controversial, not only due to the theologies presented there which many mainstream Pentecostals believed were unbiblical, but also due to the odd ecstasies the Toronto Blessing became known for. Mainstream Pentecostal practices place an emphasis on a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, which can be manifested by such signs as speaking in tongues, dancing and being “slain in the Spirit.” To the uninitiated, these can be quite off-putting, but Pentecostal theologians point to scripture to defend certain specific ecstatic experiences.
But nothing prepared them for some of the new behaviors shown at the Toronto Blessing. That revival introduced some new and novel ecstasies never seen before, including uncontrollable “holy laughter;” barking, braying, and making other animal noises; being “drunk” in the spirit, and many other odd behaviors that many mainstream Pentecostals found both disturbing and unbiblical.
The Toronto Blessing spawned several other revivals, one notable one being a revival in the United Kingdom at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. In fact, it was the British press which dubbed the revival “The Toronto Blessing.” Abd that’s where an American Assemblies of God evangelist by the name of Steve Hill reportedly received “The Blessing” at Brompton. He moved to Pensacola, Florida, where he joined up with John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God. Kilpatrick’s wife had also attended a Toronto Blessing service along with several members of their congregation, so Kilpatrick was already familiar with the famous revival that was garnering a great deal of attention throughout the Charismatic Christian world. Together, Hill and Kilpatrick orchestrated a similar revival of their own in Pensacola, which came to be known as the Brownsville Revival or the Pensacola Outpouring. That revival would continue for at least the next five years. Hill and Kilpatrick were able to recreate the Toronto Blessing quite well — right down to the “holy laughter” and being “drunk in the spirit,” to the horror of other more tranditional-minded Pentecostal pastors and adherents:
“Yet in this Brownsville assembly there is not only violent shaking, but also shrieking and hyena-like laughter. And this is called ‘holy.’
“Another aspect of this so-called “revival,” “outpouring of God,” and “flow of the Spirit” is getting “drunk in the Spirit.” Pastor Kilpatrick of Brownsville admitted that he has been so “drunk in the Spirit” that he actually struck his youth pastor’s car with his own. He said that while driving he had hit many garbage cans sitting at the curb on several occasions, because he was so “drunk.” He added that his wife has been so drunk she couldn’t cook. Sometimes his drunken stupors are so severe that he has to be taken from the service in a wheel-chair, Kilpatrick reported.
That revival eventually died down amid financial scandals, tax evasion, fictitious biographies, theological squabbles with fellow pentecostal pastors, false claims of converting prominent public figures, hoax “cures,” failed prayers to raise the dead, crackdowns on dissenters, and accusations of turning away people in need. But among the many enduring products of the Brownsville Revival was none other than Michael Brown himself.
Michael Brown and the Brownsville Revival
It’s unclear how Michael Brown became involved with the Brownsville Revival, but we do know that he arrived in Pensacola in 1996 and quickly became a part of the Brownsville inner circle. According to the Pensacola New Journal, some who knew him say he waited for more than a decade for just such a major, long-running revival. Several people say he commanded a major role behind the scenes as the “brains” of the operation.
His official role with the Brownsville Revival centered on his founding of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in 1996. While at the helm, he reportedly engaged in crackdowns against dissent. The wife of a former employee says Brown threatened her family’s livelihood in order to force her to recant what Brown regarded as criticism of the revival. Others described him as a man “consumed by the desire to be in control.” Brown denied that, saying that because he had “strong moral convictions and have often taken clear stands on controversial issues,” it was “no surprise that some of those who differ with me might mistake confidence for arrogance.”
Brown’s position in the Brownsville Revival proved lucrative. By 1998, he was reportedly building a home valued at $727,360 on 11 acres of land purchased for $165,000. (Brown disputed the figures.) Brown was fired from the school in 2000 for failure to agree on an “acceptable means of accountability” within the Assemblies of God. (Brown was not a member of the denomination and was therefore outside its lines of accountability.) He moved to Charlotte where he founded the FIRE School of Ministry, which appears to be a North Carolina recreation of Brown’s former school in Florida. FIRE is an acronym for “Fellowship for International Revival and Evangelism.”
Brown was joined in his new venture by several other BRSM faculty members and staff: Robert Gladstone, Josh Peters, Steve Alt, Scott Volk, S.J. Hill, and Tobi A. Peters. Five other FIRE faculty and staff members are BRSM graduates. Gladstone now serves as FIRE’s director. Brown himself reconciled with the Brownsville group in 2003.
A “Flash Point”
So as we can see, there is a direct line of theological and ministerial development from the Kansas City Prophets and Lou Engle, to the Toronto Blessing, and from there to the Brownsville Revival and Michael Brown. That line has become a complete circle, with Engle and Brown uniting for a showdown in Charlotte.
To prepare for this event, Engle and Brown have called for yet another 21-day fast in the days leading up to Charlotte Pride. And when Engle calls for a fast, he clearly intends something big. InterstateQ has posted audio of Lou Engle as he talked about an earlier fateful 21-day fast at a post-9/11 gathering of The Call in Boston:
It’s time for the church to gain air supremacy again. When 9-11 happened, we were in the midst of a 21 day fast. The planes flew out of Boston … I didn’t know what was coming down that day, but I wrote a devotional for that day it was this: We have lost air supremacy in America. I said the prophetic movie for this year is “Pearl Harbor,” when they said, “They’re building bombs, we’re building refrigerators. We don’t even know there is a war going on.” I think something far worse than Islam is coming to America in the homosexual agenda. Islam is something that comes from without. When we begin to change the very foundational laws of creation … we begin to literally destruct inwardly as a people.
And so it should come as no surprise that Lou Engle would call for a 21-day fast now for Charlotte. Engle said this about the latest fast in an interview posted on Brown’s web site:
I believe with the 21 day fast, that we’re calling, that breakthroughs could take place, in the community, people getting saved on that day, a divine favor shift in the high places of the government could take place, because in 21 days of fasting and prayer, because as you know with Daniel, everything shifted over the king of Persia, an archangel now had influence over the king of Persia, rather than the demonic prince of Persia. Why can’t we believe for the same kind of shifts to take place in this season of time? So I think the 25th is a flash point, at the ending of 21 days.
And what might that flash point be? We don’t know. In the interview posted on Michael Brown’s web site, Engle and Brown believe that it will be a rising up of a new movement to put a halt to LGBT advocacy efforts. But Lou Engle’s earlier description, from his talk in Boston, cannot be dismissed:
Addressing a post-9/11 TheCall gathering in Boston, whose participants phoned Engle to say they were afraid of attending, Engle said he replied, “Since when can Muslims die better than Christians? … Esther said, ‘If I die, I die.’”
In his message to FIRE Church, Engle said Christians needed to make “peace through war,” saying, “Revelation demands participation … Sometimes we use prophecies as toys instead of bombs to make war with in the Spirit.”
Describing his prayers to root out the “homosexual Jezebel spirit” in California, Engle said he prayed everyday with a “focused, laser beam.”
“There’s power in that kind of prayer,” Engle exclaimed. “That’s a prayer,” he said, making machine gun sounds and adding, “Shoot everything!”
Engle said, “If I die, I die” and “Shoot everything!” Compare that with Brown’s “Life as it is is not worth living, but the cause is worth dying for.” It’s no wonder these two found each other. In fact, Engle says he contacted Brown because he received a “prophetic word.” From the Kansas City Prophets, to the Toronto Blessing, to the Brownsville Revival, there is a consistent thread that runs through them.
We don’t believe that these leaders intend for any violence to take place at the Charlotte Pride festival. But we do know that they believe they are on a prophetic mission to confront the forces of evil, and that is the message they intend to share with their mob of 1,000 highly emotional protesters.
In a movement that places such value in the Word, there is little difference between word and deed. And that’s particularly true when the word is presented as prophecy. Engle says his prophecy is that the “homosexual agenda” will reach its high-water mark in Charlotte, and that because of their efforts, “it stops here.” Those hoped-for thousand will have fasted and prayed, and they will have heard the exhortations to value death more than life. Brown and Engle are playing with a very dangerous mix of emotion and religious fervor. Under those conditions, just about anything might happen.