Briefs and Updates: Uganda, Scott Lively, Mars Hill Church, IOTC and Steven Sotloff

I am not surprised that Uganda’s Parliament will again debate an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The world famous bill passed Parliament late last year and was signed by President Museveni earlier this year only to be thrown out by a Ugandan court due to a procedural problem during passage.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/F5Jll-VG0JA[/youtube]
Scott Lively says he’ll drop out of the MA governor’s race if his tea party opponent wins the GOP nomination. Reaction from the rest of MA? Crickets.
In light of Mark Driscoll’s 6 week break, September’s Mars Hill Church vision breakfast has been cancelled.
Instead of executive elder Dave Bruskas, Josh McPherson of Grace City Church in Wenatchee, WA will preach this Sunday at Mars Hill Church – Bellevue.
I note the following tweet and am working to confirm:


 
MD Del. Herb McMillan wants to make it very clear that he does not endorse Michael Peroutka for Anne Arundel County Council. If only GOP Attorney General candidate Jeffrey Pritzker would be as vocal. In light of Peroutka’s statement impying that Pritzker agreed with his views, I wrote Pritzker a couple of days ago for a clarification. So far no answer.
Join me in prayer for the family of Steven Sotloff.

Institute on the Constitution Pretends to Have an American Club at Calvin College

The Institute on the Constitution is a pro-Confederacy, Christian reconstructionist organization based in Pasadena, MD. Recently, they have promoted clubs in high schools and colleges called American Clubs. IOTC makes the ACs sound like an all-American enterprise but the presentations promote the merger of Christian reconstructionist religious views and civil government. Peroutka teaches that any law not in line with the Bible is not a real law. IOTC also promotes nullification which proposes that states and local jurisdictions can ignore federal laws if officials in the local jurisdictions believe the law to be unconstitutional. They are certainly entitled to their views and apparently these clubs have equal access, but parents should be aware of what the IOTC is bringing to school.
I don’t know how these clubs are being received in schools. There is one in Spanish River High School in FL. And Peroutka recently put pictures on his Facebook page of what he said was a high school in Hudsonville, MI. Other pictures of the same school room had a caption placing the school in nearby Grand Rapids.  While in Michigan, he also visited Calvin College and according to his Facebook page said an American Club had been established. However, according to Calvin College representatives, there is no approved American Club on campus. A group of students heard a talk but there is no officially recognized club at Calvin College.
That fact hasn’t stopped IOTC from using the picture of the Calvin College students as a promotional picture on their website for the American Clubs. See below:

Now compare this picture with the Facebook picture of the Calvin College group. They are the same.
In a way, it is fitting that IOTC is pretending that the Calvin group is a club. IOTC pretends to be a pro-American group when in fact Peroutka is a former board member of the League of the South, a group that advocates for the South to secede from the nation and set up a white Southern homeland. Senior instructor David Whitney at IOTC is the chaplain of the VA/MD branch of IOTC. Peroutka called the Confederate army the real American army in a op-ed on the IOTC website. Articles on the IOTC website justify discrimination and Southern slavery and attack Lincoln. As with the picture, there is a lot of pretending going on.
 
 

Who Will Replace Fred Phelps?

Hopefully, he won’t be replaced but there are those who come close.
By now, most people know that the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, died earlier this month (March 19). Phelps was the personification of hatred toward gay people along with the church which was mostly his family members. I am sure others have speculated about who could replace Phelps so this might not break much new ground. However, I thought of this list while reading about Martin Ssempa’s march to celebrate the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.
Most people, me included, do not want to see a replacement for Phelps. It is tragic to be known for one’s hatred and such a stance is surely a misrepresentation of Christianity. But there are those who seem to want the position. I’ll start with the reason this post even came to mind.
Martin Ssempa: Today, Ssempa is leading a march in Uganda to celebrate the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill late last year.  A person who would celebrate a law that makes life in prison a possibility for simple affection between two consenting adults has to be on the short list for a Phelps replacement. Once known primarily for his work in Uganda against HIV/AIDS, now he is known world wide as one of the most vocal and absurd anti-gay crusaders. His pornography shows in Kampala and hateful rhetoric rival Phelps for showmanship and degradation. Ssempa seems to revel in his status as an anti-gay icon in Uganda and in the United States. In fact, he is on the list while bill sponsor David Bahati is not, because Ssempa has cultivated his image in the U.S.
Paul Cameron: Paul Cameron has been discredited widely but still finds his way to the media, recently telling a talk show host that he would be open to the death penalty for sexually active gays. In the past, he has suggested that the Nazis methods of handling gays might also have merit. Cameron has for years called for criminalization of homosexuality and has produced mountains of junk studies to attempt to vindicate his views.
Scott Lively: Many might place Lively at the top of the list because he is widely believed to be the force behind the Uganda bill and the tightening of laws in the Soviet bloc nations. He favors laws which limit free speech on homosexuality but doesn’t favor the death penalty as did Ssempa before the law was amended. He says he favors rehabilitation and has often cited NARTH as a favored organization. Where he rivals Phelps is with his historical fiction book, The Pink Swastika, which essentially lays blame for the Holocaust on homosexuality.
James David Manning: Like many people who yell fire in a crowded room, this New York City preacher posted provocative rhetoric and then said he didn’t mean anything hateful. Manning posted “Jesus would stone homos” on his church sign and then said later he is not a hater. We’ll have to see if he escalates his rhetoric once the attention dies down.
Christian Reconstructionists: Many adherents of Christian reconstructionism (like this supporter of Ron Paul)  think gays along with disobedient children and adulterers should be stoned.  I am not sure any one of these fellows is going to rise up to the status of Phelps but their belief in their view of Mosaic law could be a foundation for such a move.
Some might object to my omission of Bryan Fischer. Fischer gets a dishonorable mention because he parrots some of Lively’s and Cameron’s views but doesn’t seem to want to kill gays. Criminalize same-sex relationships yes, but not kill them.
I hope it is clear that the focus here is not disagreement over biblical interpretation or moral objection to same-sex behavior, but rather the obsessive effort to demonize an entire group of people. Certainly, Ssempa, Cameron, Lively and Manning have demonstrated the latter. We don’t yet know the full consequences of their work.
Update on Ssempa’s march: At least three dudes showed up.

League Of The South Fears Average Southern Whites Might Be Offended By Neo-Nazi Ties

In a post on the League of the South Facebook group (also on their public page), it was disclosed that recent League of the South award winner Matthew Heimbach has been banned from the upcoming League protest of “demographic displacement” in Murfreesboro, TN. Heimbach’s offense is that he consorts with neo-Nazis and plans to speak at a National Socialist meeting.
Explaining the action, League president Michael Hill said
LeagueAverageWhites
Three observations come to mind.
One, I can’t tell if this a pragmatic move for public relations, or if Hill really believes national socialism is incompatible with Southern nationalism. In any case, it seems clear that Hill sees problems with continued association with Heimbach. The League normally decries charges that involve guilt by association. Influential League member and organizer of the TN protest Brad Griffin (aka Hunter Wallace) chided those who get caught in the “associations game.” Now the League has found a reason to do the same thing.
Two, I wonder if Michael Hill will now stop appearing on neo-Nazi radio shows. Twice recently, once in August and then again in September, Hill appeared on the American Nationalist Network radio show. When you click through the American Nationalist Network link on blogtalk radio, you come to unashamed white supremacist, Hitler worship. For instance, check out this disgusting little gem of wisdom from der Fuhrer on the Facebook page of the organization Michael Hill dignified with an interview.
The ANN tweeted about Hill’s appearance back in August. No seig heiling but Hill was fine with being associated with the ANN.

Seems like Hill shouldn’t go to the TN rally either. Probably they should just cancel it.
My third observation involves Michael Hill’s statement that the League of the South seeks to rally average Southern whites. Can it be any clearer that skin color and region are the main issues of interest for the League? The target audience is marked by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. If League of the South board member Michael Peroutka is serious with his recent video invoking Martin Luther King, then shouldn’t he publicly condemn his own League of the South for targeting people based on skin color?
 

Weekend Roundup – Tanks, Government Lies, Anti-Gay Pride, Christian Persecution, Government Shut Down

These are some items of interest that I either didn’t get to or need no additional noise from me.
David Barton: Tanks A Lot – David Barton told his Wallbuilders audience that private citizens should be allowed to have whatever weapons the government has – tanks, fighter jets, whatever. Just like the founders had.
How Do You Know When The Government Is Lying? – That’s the burning question Michael Peroutka asks on his IOTC website. He claims that the government and the media conspire together ” to endanger you, impoverish you or otherwise to harm you.” I also learned that the media hyped up the dangers of Swine Flu in 2009 to “provide cover” for the government to meddle in health care.
Scott Lively and Bryan Fischer Celebrate Anti-Gay Pride –  At 10:25, Lively calls his indirect influence on Russia’s anti-gay law “one of the proudest achievements of my career.” Guess it is all downhill from there.
Christians are under attack all over the world and the Church seems silent – Kirsten Powers’ thought provoking editorial provoked me. I will return to this issue next week. My initial view is that most Christians in the pew are praying but don’t know what else to do. Our evangelical leaders are consumed with Values Voting and Culture Warring and Taking The Country Back.
Oh, and the government might shut down…

Cincinnati Area Pastors Call On NRB To Sever Connection To League Of The South Board Member

Some Cincinnati area ministers are calling on the National Religious Broadcasters’ Network to drop ties to the Institute on the Constitution & League of the South. The group is troubled by Institute on the Constitution teacher Michael Peroutka’s course on the Constitution which has been shown on the NRB Network weekly since July. They point out Peroutka’s long time membership in the League and the fact that he is a newly elected board member of the organization. The Institute was behind the course on the Constitution which was canceled by the Springboro, Ohio school board and the conference which Family Research Council VP Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin exited earlier this year. More about the League of the South/Institute on the Constitution can be found here
Here is the press release in full:
PRESS RELEASE
Evangelical pastors unite to hold National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) accountable for its airing of Michael Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution.
* * * * * * * * *
For more information contact: Rev. Chris Beard or Rabbi Michael Wolf.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Cincinnati Area Pastors is a multi-ethnic group of evangelical leaders, committed to creating and preserving unity in the Body of Christ. It has come to our attention that NRB airs, and endorses, a program by Michael Peroutka:Institute on the Constitution. Mr. Peroutka is an unashamed board member of the League of the South, and has pledged his business and family resources to that effort. League of the South is a neo-Confederate movement endorsing secession from the current government, and a return to the Confederate Constitution of 1861. League of the South’s main goal is to see the South become a separate nation led only by whites. Its leader, Michael Hill, applauds slavery, as well as Jim Crow; and is vehemently against multiculturalism and diversity.
Our commitment to unity makes it impossible for us to overlook this promotion by the NRB. As leaders, we must hold NRB responsible for the divisive ideology it has espoused through connection with Mr. Peroutka. Our specific issues with the NRB are as follows:

  • We contend that one cannot separate Michael Peroutka from his alliance to League of the South.
  • We contend that by endorsing Michael Peroutka, NRB also endorses secessionism and extreme anti-American government sentiments.
  • We contend that NRB is responsible for giving Mr. Peroutka an enormous platform of influence and sway within the Body of Christ.
  • We contend that NRB is also promoting the racial divide within the Body of Christ, by promoting someone who idealizes the Confederate Constitution.
  • We contend that NRB has left its guiding principle and “holy obligation to boldly and creatively proclaim a Christ-centered Gospel, rather than a ‘man-centered’ message.” A company cannot promote pro-slavery documents, and still proclaim a Christ-centered Gospel.
  • We contend that NRB cannot promote a man who is against multiculturalism, without promoting the division of the Body of Christ along color and ethnic lines.

The Cincinnati Area Pastors contacted Frank Wright, CEO and president of NRB, three weeks ago with our concerns. Mr. Wright acknowledged receipt of our concerns, and has chosen to take no action against Michael Peroutka.
Therefore, we are urging all pastors, and their congregations, to take action with us in an email/letter writing campaign or by signing our petition (https://www.change.org/petitions/national-religious-broadcasters-drop-institute-on-the-constitution). NRB leadership will either have to decry the ideology Michael Peroutka/League of the South espouses, and, distance itself from that connection; or, NRB will have to acknowledge that it embraces the ideologies of Michael Peroutka/League of the South, and we will then distance ourselves from all things NRB (memberships, products, etc.). Please write and ask that NRB distance itself from Institute on the Constitution.
Email:
Frank Wright at info@nrb.org
Troy A. Miller at info@nrbnetwork.tv
Write:
National Religious Broadcasters, Frank Wright, President
9510 Technology Drive
Manassas, VA 20110 or Call: (703) 330-7000
For more information contact: Rev. Chris Beard or Rabbi Michael Wolf.
Website: http://www.change.org/organizations/cincinnatiareapastors

Based on Biased Reading of New Mortality Study, Paul Cameron Gives Sen. Portman Parenting Advice

In this month’s edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology, Morten Frisch and Jacob Simonsen reported a new study of mortality in Denmark. Paul Cameron wasted little time trotting out the study to give Senator Rob Portman advice on how to parent his gay son – tell him to get married to a woman. Apparently, any woman will do. After all, in the words of the song, what’s love got to do with it?
Cameron says he even went to Ohio to deliver his advice:

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 24, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Dr. Paul Cameron, the first scientist to document the harms of secondhand smoke, went to Ohio’s capital to call upon U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to reconsider his recently announced support for gay marriage. “Sen. Portman, gay marriage is hazardous to one’s health. For the sake of the son you love, urge him to marry a woman.”

Cameron did say at least one thing that was true in his presser:

Cameron said, “Bad science is bipartisan…”

Proven by Cameron’s own press release, bad science is indeed everywhere.  And bad advice. One of the findings of the Frisch and Simonsen study is that mortality for same-sex married men is better than “unmarried, divorced and widowed men.” It is also important to note that the mortality rates for gay married men have improved since Frisch’s last study. Cameron doesn’t tell you that.
Cameron and Frisch tangled on this blog back in 2007 and 2008. Cameron made his mortality claims in a “study” presented before the Eastern Psychological Association and Frisch responded to him as a part of a nine-part series I did on gay mortality claims. Frisch’s first study on gay mortality was done in part to address Cameron’s spurious claims.
To understand more about Paul Cameron and his feelings about gays, read part 9 of the series. Disturbingly enlightening.
I have asked Morten for additional reactions and will have more reflections on the study in a coming post.

Human Rights group sues Scott Lively over persecution of gays in Uganda

Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda over Lively’s activities in fostering persecution against gays.

You can find the filing and more background at CCR’s website.

CCR is basing the suit on accusations of violating the Alien Tort Statute (28 USC 1350) which states in sum: “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

The filing makes a strong case that Lively’s work in Uganda has systematically, since 2002, led to persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. Lively, according to this New York Times article, thinks the suit is ridiculous, adding, “I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue. There’s actually no grounds for litigation on this.”

This will be an interesting case to watch. I can imagine other suits based on advocacy of persecution of other minorities, e.g., religious minorities, coming forward if this is successful. For instance, if there are people in the U.S. who support or work with foreign entities to limit religious freedom in other nations, perhaps religious minorities would bring suit here.

Petition targets Citibank’s and Barclays’ Ugandan operations; calls for banks to condemn anti-gay bill

At Change.org, Citibank customer Collin Burton posted a petition aimed at Citibank and Barclays banks. Both banks have significant operations in Uganda. From the petition:

With the “Kill the Gays” bill looming in Uganda’s parliament, Citibank and Barclays have unique and necessary voices that could help stop this bill in its tracks. Their presence in Uganda is significant, and their voices in opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could have a profound impact in keeping LGBT people safe in Uganda.

Ask Citibank and Barclays to publicly condemn Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, and send a loud message to Ugandan legislators that criminalizing homosexuality with lifetime prison sentences and the death penalty won’t be supported by major international businesses.

I wondered when this might happen. Western companies doing business in Uganda will have a hard time helping their GLBT employees feel safe in an environment where the government can break up peaceful meetings and jail employees for private conduct. Western customers of those companies might want to direct their funds elsewhere here if there is no voice of concern or outrage.