Not Lou Sheldon’s favorite day

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2015

Lou SheldonAt some point in the late 80’s or early 90’s a friend and I ran into Steve Sheldon at a convention. “Hey” he said, “I’d like you to meet my father.”

By that time Lou Sheldon, the founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, was pretty much known for his obsessive opposition to homosexuality. Well, that and his lisp.

I was curious as to how Sheldon would interact, and I do have to say it was odd. He took one look at me and the young lady I was with and said, “Hello, nice to meet you, are you married?”

Before I could even get “ummmm, no” out of my mouth, Steve grabbed his father’s elbow and with “Dad, there are some people down here who want to meet you” they were gone.

That was during Sheldon’s heyday. He was on television and in the newspapers ranting about the evils of homosexuality and peddling fears about your children. He was in the offices of legislators demanding concessions and oppressions. Thousands of pastors across the nation looked to him for leadership and many thousands of voters looked to the TVC Voter Guide to direct them in electing representatives which would uphold their Judeo-Christian values.

Over the years Sheldon has faded from the scene. His daughter Andrea took over the TVC and the they – and it – have mostly disappeared from the political landscape.

But when I heard that a majority of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s presbyteries had affirmed marriage equality, I thought of Lou.

He became a Presbyterian minister in 1960, when most Christians – and society – thought of homosexuality as distasteful if not downright abhorrent. In 1980 when he founded TVC, his position was dominant in Christendom.

Now his own branch has rejected his understanding of faith and fidelity.

Sheldon caused so much pain and fostered so much hostility. His denunciations were vile, seldom based on even a kernel of truth, and espoused with such smugness and arrogance that it’s difficult to find any common humanity.

But here’s a man who struggled his whole life for what he believed only, in his twilight years to find everything he stood for rejected by those whom he thought he represented.

I can’t dredge up much sadness for Lou Sheldon on what much be a discouraging day. But I do have pity for the man.


March 17th, 2015

Good grief I had forgotten all about him. I didn’t even know he was still alive.


March 18th, 2015

Same here. I hadn’t even heard his name mentioned around the last two GOP conventions, so I assumed he was dead or in a nursing home…

Regan DuCasse

March 18th, 2015

My first thought was ‘he’s still breathing?!’
Right now, Matt Moore is posting a bunch of pages devoted to answering questions.
Not live questions, but questions he chose to answer.

He’s writing a book, on his experience as a gay man that’s now ‘holy’, is getting what he needs from God and Christ, and so should all the other gay folks if they want to have the BEST life there is!
I think to myself, THIS is what HIS life has come to?
He’s colluding with some virulently anti gay people, like Matt Barber. Barber cross posts Moore’s commentary.
Steve Deace had Moore on his radio show.

All this tells me, is that there is nothing new here. Nothing that isn’t totally predictable, expected and unoriginal.
And you see how the anti gay were all over the latest Dolce and Gabbana exposition.

If the only time certain people want to hear from gay folks, it’s only what they’ve already heard?
Which is what anti gay HETEROSEXUALS always say.
And yet, are calling it ‘The Truth’.

The only thing that sets us straight allies apart from the anti gay, and anti gay gays…
We’ve listened to, and believe the gay folks.
Not what heterosexuals are always trying to tell us about gay folks.

Ben in oakland

March 18th, 2015

Oh, how well I remember dear ol’ Lou.

There was an interview in the Chronicle (might have been the examiner, but it was 20 years ago) If I am recalling this properly, all of his opposition to gay people came not from his faith, but from a mysterious incident as a child when a “man” approached him, I think on a train.

Assuming it ever happened, it seemed in that article that THIS was the cause of his virulent homohatred. Perhaps it awakened something in dear ol’ Lou that he would have preferred to keep buried down deep.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

Priya Lynn

March 18th, 2015

Ahhhh, the sweet sweet schadenfreude.


March 18th, 2015

Serious question: How do you define “pity”?

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2015


Merrium Webster online defines pity as “sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy”.

And I guess that works for how I feel about Lou. I’m not sorry he lost. I’m not sorry that his views were repudiated by Presbyterians.

But I recognize that he is likely distressed about the situation and I don’t want anyone to be in distress and can feel sympathy for him as a fellow human being. I can empathize with the feeling, if not with his motivations.

Priya Lynn

March 18th, 2015

I can’t understand how anyone can feel sympathetic towards a person who’s upset his evil-doing is being undone.


March 18th, 2015

PL, I’m inclined more towards indifference to this person, mostly because I don’t know who he is. That said, he isn’t some Snidely Whiplash who knows he is doing bad things, a two-dimensional caricature of human scum. He is, in fact, a human being. And while his work may be coming undone, this particular article hints at a much more frightening reality. It is one thing to have all your work to come to naught. It is quite another for your one refuge from all the troubles of this world to simultaneously abandon you. This man and his ilk are losing their political ground. And now, they are losing even the spiritual grounds they thought were permanent safe havens against “the devil’s work.” From a human perspective, it is pitiable indeed.

Although, I find saddest of all that someone would stake all their life and faith on one perspective of an infinite God. They have lost it all, AND they ought to have known better. They can only blame themselves.

Priya Lynn

March 18th, 2015

Safe haven is redundant. A haven by definition is safe. Saying safe haven is like saying wet water.

And that he doesn’t know he is doing bad things doesn’t in anyway make me feel sympathetic towards him or able to understand how anyone else would who opposes what he’s been doing. Merely being a human being doesn’t entitle a person to consideration beyond their bad behavior.

Priya Lynn

March 18th, 2015

Anyone that doesn’t know its wrong to oppose gay marriage is unforgivably ignorant about moral concerns.

William Fisher

March 19th, 2015

No, Lou Sheldon wasn’t aware that he was doing bad things. He fully believed in the rightness of everything that he was doing and did it ruthlessly. That was what made him such a menace.

« Les hommes ne font jamais le mal si complètement et joyeusement que lorsqu’ils le font pour des raisons religieuses. » (Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious reasons.) – Blaise Pascal


March 19th, 2015

PL, there was no need to be pedantic. “Safe haven” is a common figure of speech. So your argument is not served by focusing on it, unless you are trying to make a personal attack.

That said, I accept that we have differing perspectives on what is acceptable and forgivable ignorance, and on the value of human life beyond whatever wickedness they have perpetrated. There are some values that don’t matter much beyond academic circles. This is such a case. I merely wished to offer an alternative to your own perspective. I’m sorry you didn’t find it enlightening, but that doesn’t make it any less real or valuable.

Priya Lynn

March 19th, 2015

Nothing personal about it, doesn’t matter who says it I point out the error just the same. It may be a common figure of speech, but its still wrong. Lots of people say “nucular” instead of nuclear as well, doesn’t make it any less dumb.

Merely claiming that perspective of yours is real and valuable doesn’t make it so.


March 22nd, 2015

@Kincaid 3/18:


I had seen the same definitions and couldn’t connect them to my feelings about persons such as Sheldon.

And I still can’t.

It’s the question of empathy, out of which pity apparently proceeds. I can’t muster that empathy.

We all deploy emotional response in personal ways, so I don’t mean to argue with you. If you experience empathy for Sheldon’s distress—even knowing the sordid reasons for his distress—I believe you and have no questions.

For myself, empathy is blocked due to the pure venom from which Sheldon crafted so much of his life’s work.

I’m not among those who believe that Sheldon “didn’t know” what he was doing. He surely did know; from thin air and out of whole cloth he consciously invented poisonous falsehoods intended only to maim and to demonize.

I say that he knew what he was doing because the falsehoods he invented are not even marginally connected to fact—they are purely imaginary. They are not accidental, their fabrication requires deliberate thought.

So, I don’t know how to find empathy with this man and his distress. I guess the best I can do is indifference.

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