By Michael Brown
Within hours of the shooting of the security guard at the Family Research Council last Wednesday, more than 20 gay organizations issued a joint statement that they “utterly reject and condemn such violence.” This is highly commendable. Unfortunately, they did not utterly reject, condemn, or even acknowledge their potential role in helping to create the toxic environment that may have contributed to the shooting. Consider how shrill gay activist rhetoric has become.
In June, after Southern Baptists reaffirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman (for conservative Christians who base their faith on the Bible, a no brainer), gay icon Mel White branded them “holy terrorists,” ending his Huffington Post article with these words: “Please, for the sake of millions of our sisters and brothers who are victims of holy terrorism, resist!” What kind of actions could rhetoric like this produce?
To be sure, just a few lines earlier, White wrote, “If we resort to violence, we will lose the war,” but those words were drowned out by the passionate call to resist “holy terrorism” and by the reference to “holy terrorists.”
Interestingly, in 1995, White wrote his first book as a “gay Christian” with the irenic title Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America. In 2006, he published a much more aggressive volume, Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, which was then reissued in 2012 with the title Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality. So, while the position of conservative Christians has not changed (aside from being much more compassionate than it was 20 years ago), gay rhetoric condemning that position certainly has changed: By following the Scriptures, you are guilty of holy terrorism!
Day and night, LGBT people are told how much we hate and despise them, that Prop 8 in California was actually Prop Hate, that Chick-Fil-A serves “hate chicken” (this from the mayor of Washington, DC). Is it any surprise, then, that a number of churches were vandalized after the Prop 8 vote in 2008 or that a Chick-Fil-A store had the words “tastes like hate” scrawled on its walls? And given the view that failure to affirm homosexuality is an act of hate, is it any surprise that in April of this year, a church in Seattle had its windows smashed by a group called Angry Queers?
Wayne Besen, founding executive director of Truth Wins Out, was one of the signers of the joint LGBT statement condemning the FRC shooting on August 15th. One day later, he assured his readers that the FRC “loathes LGBT people with a special passion” and that the SPLC was “100% correct” in labeling the FRC a hate group, although “hate groups don’t deserve to be victims of hate crimes.” (My next article will focus on the deplorable irresponsibility and arrogance of the SPLC.)
Last year, at the gay pride event in Charlotte, about 400 Christians (including me) wore “God Has a Better Way” tee-shirts and handed out 2,500 bottles of water inscribed with “Jesus Loves You.” (For us, “the Jesus Revolution” means putting down swords of violence and hatred and picking up crosses of truth and love.)
In response, Besen wrote an article entitled, “Michael Brown Is an Anti-Gay Monster,” claiming that my “game is to try inciting followers to possible violence against LGBT people.” He stated, “I do strongly believe to my core that Brown’s ultimate goal is to create the conditions for a nasty physical clash,” claiming that, “The madman fully understands that he only has to create a hostile climate to inflame the most unstable of his thugs and they will eventually provoke the type of confrontation that this pathological monster deeply desires.”
What effect do such vitriolic, ugly, and hate-filled words have on an unstable gay reader? And how would that person recognize that there is not a grain of truth in Besen’s inflammatory words?
Not surprisingly, on the very web page featuring Besen’s excellent statement condemning the FRC shooting, he allowed comments like these to stand: “Have the hypocrites started their screams yet?” And, “You can only push people so far in oppression before they react. Shooting is NOT a way to dialogue. FRC will use this to beg and plead for more money to fight the ‘radical homosexual agenda.’ Thankfully the guard was only wounded, but the deeper wounding has been happening for over twenty years on the part of FRC.”
So, the shooter was guilty, but the FRC bears the greater guilt. As another commenter on the Truth Wins Out site opined, the shooting “was Lady Karma finally come a-calling on the FRC.”
Sadly, there are gay websites more extreme and inflammatory than Besen’s, and even those that are more restrained in their language continually fuel the fires of “hate,” as if any failure to affirm or celebrate homosexuality can be based on one thing alone: hatred of gays. (Question to gay readers: If you oppose plural marriage, does that mean you hate polygamists and polyamorists?)
I know this has worked well for gay PR, and I don’t doubt that many LGBT people believe the “hate” charge to be universally true, but it’s high time the gay activist rhetoric of hate be dropped before the atmosphere becomes even more toxic. Surely all of us who are spokesmen and leaders on both sides of the debate can step higher and maintain civility in the midst of our profound differences.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire, and his latest book is The Real Kosher Jesus.