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.

Scott Lively: The Apocalypse Is Coming

Yesterday, Right Wing Watch featured Scott Lively and Rick Wiles waxing apocalyptically on Wiles radio show.  The essence is that September 23, 2015 is a pivotal date. On that day, the Antichrist (said personification of evil is said to be the leader of the “largest superpower in the world”) will pardon all the world’s debts and be hailed as the “hero of the world.” From there, the Antichrist will bring in the Apocalypse.
Lively then praises Vladimir Putin for his efforts to stifle free speech and association in Russia. Lively believes homosexuality is a tool of the Antichrist and a part of the great demonic plot to launch the reign of the Antichrist.
Here is what I don’t get. If these guys believe the evidence points to a September 23, 2015 beginning of the end, then why do they think their efforts matter? If September 15, 2015 is an appointment on God’s calendar, then who or what could change that? As this website reminds, the New Testament makes it clear that only God knows when the The End Time cometh. If these guys think the fireworks begin on 9.15.15, then shouldn’t they just get out of the way?
There are other problems with their scenario. The description of the Antichrist sounds like either Obama or Xi Jinping. Although I lean toward Obama as Lively’s mystery AC, I wonder if Lively means Xi because China could forgive a lot of debt. I don’t know how Obama forgives debt since we owe so much.
In any case, with Lively all roads lead to Gay. Gays are the ruination of the world and for reasons not totally clear to me, nations of the world need to deprive certain citizens of their rights. As noted above, I am not sure how that is going to help since these guys have the times and the seasons all figured out. Maybe Lively thinks he can prevent the Apocalypse or push it back a little.
It is distressing to think that Lively’s single-minded efforts are driven by  eschatology gone awry.

Martin Ssempa is on Twitter

Might make this tweet into a badge or something. It would go nicely with my “Throckmorton is a snake” award given by Scott Lively.

Except there was no “falsified news.”
Rev. Ssempa had some nasty tactics to push Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill and all of that came to light. Quite a story really.
Guess I’ll follow Rev. Ssempa and see what he’s talking about these days.
UPDATE: I’ve been blocked…
 
 

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: An Update

There are several new items regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill that I want to summarize as the week closes. After a lengthy campaign at Change.org, Barclays bank issued a statement indicating that they are quietly lobbying the Ugandan government regarding the bill. Here is the brief statement:

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Statement

M2 Communications

“Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers. “Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.”

I have seen nothing from Citibank. The Change.org campaign has over 500,000 signatures at this point.

According to this AP article, David Bahati continues to keep his bill in the news.  Even though Parliament is stalled over oil and internal strife, Bahati is talking up what he claims are changes in the bill. After claims in May, 2011 about the removal of the death penalty were proven false, I won’t believe his current claims until I can check them with an official report. However, if the bill is amended by Parliament in accord with the AP article, the focus of the bill may shift slightly. According to Bahati, counseling for gays has been added. If this is true and is made to serve as an alternative to jail, then Scott Lively will likely take some credit for it. He has been promoting what amounts to coerced ex-gay counseling for gays since March, 2009. Despite the fact that even NARTH has condemned that proposal, Lively (lately joined by Bryan Fischer) continues to promote this idea. The AP article carried an encouraging sign. Apparently, at least one MP on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was willing to speak up for personal freedom:

One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself. “There was a dissenting voice in the committee,” Ayena said. “They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive.”

While MPs who think like this may not stop the bill, one hopes that behind the scenes there are those who are making attempts to keep the bill from the floor. Because of the recess called by the Speaker and the need to debate the oil bills, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill may not be considered before the December 15 Christmas break.

David Barton to Appear at Scott Lively’s Ministry in Springfield MA

On November 9, David Barton is slated to appear at Scott Lively’s Redemption Gate Ministry.

Perhaps this boost to Lively’s credibility comes as a pay back for Lively’s conspiracy theory about why The Jefferson Lies was attacked by so many Christian historians prior to being pulled off the shelves by publisher Thomas Nelson. In August, Lively linked my blog posts debunking The Pink Swastika in 2009 to my recent book with Michael Coulter (Getting Jefferson Right) debunking Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies. Since everything has to do with homosexuality for Lively, he opined that our book fact-checking Barton’s book was written because David Barton is anti-gay. Barton ran with that idea by tweeting the article to his followers, and having Lively on his Wallbuilders show.

The whole conspiracy idea (and it is a false one – we wrote the book about The Jefferson Lies because it had just come out and because Barton made/makes many false claims) was used by Barton to deflect the substantial criticisms we made in Getting Jefferson Right. Neither Lively nor Barton have responded directly to the evidence we presented about their various claims.* Instead, their tactic has been to launch ad hominem attacks against me and others. The primary strategy of both Lively and Barton has been to invent a narrative where I am a liberal who has somehow persuaded scores of conservative people to write critically about these two men. Barton’s right hand man, Rick Green, compared me and others conservative Christian scholars to Adolf Hitler and Saul Alinsky because we pointed out blatant errors of fact in David Barton’s work.

Perhaps I should not be surprised but I am disappointed that very few people called Barton and Lively out on this obvious effort to change the subject. Many other conservatives came out with critiques of The Jefferson Lies (e.g., Breakpoint, American Vision) The main organizer of the effort to bring Barton to accountability was Jay Richards, a conservative Catholic and Fellow at the Discovery Institute who has co-authored a book with James Robison, another conservative author and minister. Richards asked 10 conservative Christian scholars to read our book and Barton’s book and issue a report. They did and in every case, the scholars found that Barton was incorrect on many of his key claims. About Barton’s books and videos, Richards said they contain”embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.” Michael Coulter and I still don’t know who all of those scholars are.

Appearing at Lively’s ministry is not likely to hurt Barton’s reputation but it is stunning that a Christian leader of Barton’s stature would do so. Lively’s work has been rejected and removed from websites of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Exodus International and Campus Crusade for Christ, among others. None of those groups are liberal.

In 2009, Lively told a Ugandan audience that homosexuals were likely involved in carrying out the Rwandan holocaust and that homosexuals prey on children. Although he told Current TV’s Marianna Van Zeller that he did not favor the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda, he said favored a state run ex-gay therapy program as an option to punishment. However, if the death penalty would be removed he would favor the Ugandans maintaining criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior. His interview with Current TV makes this clear:

Lively’s thrust and work are at odds with Barton’s benefactor Glenn Beck. Beck told Bill O’Reilly that he didn’t think the gay issues should be high up on the list of conservative worries.

This is about the same position I have. Beck quotes Thomas Jefferson saying, if it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg, why should I be concerned. I am a theological conservative who believes discrimination against individuals is wrong, even if they are gay or their moral views are different from mine. I think evangelicals are have spent too much time and money fighting the culture war when they should be worried more about reaching people with the essential message of the church.

However, when I articulate such views, I am a leftist, Alinskyite, Hitlerian elitist. When Beck does; well, he is Glenn Beck.

 

*Barton has responded to some of our criticisms but he has framed the arguments in friendly venues (e.g., Glenn Beck Show). For instance, he acknowledged on the Beck show that he left out part of the 1782 Virginia law allowing for manumission of slaves but he never said why he did it and has not provided any evidence that other laws in Virginia prevented manumission. He said he would but he has not. His responses to critics has been to dismiss them as liberals or limit his responses to parts of the criticism he wants to address. For the most part, Christian leaders are letting him get away with that.

Scott Lively’s defense of Holocaust revision

Scott Lively has a new blog. His first post of substance is a defense of his revision of events surrounding the Nazi’s treatment of gays during WWII.

There isn’t much new there or of any real defense. He essentially says he’s right with no response to the claims raised against him. His defense boils down to this:

7. The Pink Swastika has not been “discredited” except by homosexualist reviewers, most of whom have failed to disclose their ideological conflict of interest. The few non-homosexual critics of the book have no expertise in the history of the “gay” movement and are thus not qualified to render judgment.

From his own perspective, Lively has no “ideological conflict of interest” which of course is contradicted by the body of his work. And, despite lacking the training he demands of others, he feels qualified to render his judgment.

Of course, his defense is self-serving. A gay person is just as capable of rendering the facts correctly as he is. Ideology matters but he is just as biased as any gay reviewer. And regarding his non-gay critics (e.g,, me), they are just as qualified to read and report what they read as he is.

Lively’s blanket dismissal of his critics obscures the fact that trained historians have dismissed Lively’s theories as inconsistent with the total picture. As I documented here in 2009, trained non-gay, even Christian, historians have considered The Pink Swastika and criticized Lively’s methods and his conclusions. Perhaps Lively will use his blog to actually respond to those critics, but I doubt it.

In light of the fact that he will not respond to the substantial and scholarly criticisms of The Pink Swastika, no one should take him up on his offer to debate. The ball is already in his court.

For more on The Pink Swastika, click the link.

For coverage of Scott Lively’s visit this weekend to an Oklahoma church, see this story.

Statement: Exodus International has no involvement in Scott Lively’s Oklahoma City event

Because Draper Park Christian Church has a history of involvement with Exodus International ministries (e.g., First Stone Ministries in OK), I asked Exodus President, Alan Chambers, for a comment about the upcoming series of talks at Draper Park by Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively.

Chambers quickly sent the following reply:

We have learned that Scott Lively is slated to speak on April 27-29 at Draper Park Christian Church, a location where Exodus International held a regional conference in 2009. We want to say clearly and without question that Exodus International has no connection to this event. Furthermore, due to our vast differences with Mr. Lively’s viewpoints, including his stance on the criminalization of homosexuality, we will not participate in, support or promote any event involving Mr. Lively.

Lively often says his opposition derives from gay fascism; however, I don’t believe anyone could say that Exodus is such an organization. The opposition to Holocaust revisionism is not a gay vs. straight issue, it is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. Mr. Lively is not being opposed because he is preaching the evangelical gospel; he is opposed because he promotes a revision in the historical record regarding the Holocaust and for his support of criminalization  of homosexual behavior. These are not gospel issues, but rather positions which are unpopular among those or many religious views.

The Pink Swastika and Holocaust revision

Inexplicably, Scott Lively, co-author of The Pink Swastika, has been invited to speak at an evangelical church this coming weekend in Oklahoma City. Draper Park Christian Church plans to have him in for three days of meetings.

Evangelical organizations Exodus International (scroll down) and Campus Crusade removed links to Lively’s article on the Pink Swastika in 2009. Even NARTH removed the article.

During the summer of 2009, with the help of historian J.D. Wyneken, I reviewed the claims of Lively and his co-author Abrams made in the Pink Swastika (click the link to read those posts).

With the Oklahoma appearance coming up, I reviewed those posts and here want to point out two which demonstrate Lively’s selective approach to the Holocaust. Unless something changes, Draper Park’s families will be exposed to Holocaust revisionism for three days.

The first is my post on how Lively and Abrams used Gunter Grau’s book The Hidden Holocaust. In this post, I point out how Lively and Abrams read all the way through Grau’s section on how the Nazi’s treated gays to pick out a segment more friendly to their position. No real historian does that. Real historians report what happened in toto. Grau reports the horrible treatment many gays received and Lively and Abrams do not.

The second is Lively and Abram’s treatment of German Nobel Prize winning author, Thomas Mann. Mann never came out as homosexual but disclosed same sex fantasies in his diaries which were barely hidden in some of his literature. Because of Mann’s interest in Nietzsche, Lively and Abrams view Mann as a contributor to the National Socialism, albeit indirectly. Although no one knows whether or not Nietzsche was gay, Lively assumes he was and because Nietzsche’s sister used some of his later writings (probably under the influence of mental illness) to praise National Socialism, Mann, the same-sex- attracted-married-to-a-woman man, is an indirect contributor to Nazism because he wrote favorably of Nietzsche. Pretzel logic much?

The strange moves don’t stop there. Mann, who we know was not completely straight, was an ardent enemy of Hitler and the Nazis. He recorded messages beamed in by Allied forces to the German people, urging them to resist Hitler and promising that help was on the way. Summarizing the post, I wrote in 2009:

First, it is worth noting how Lively and Abrams’ devotion to their thesis leads them to treat Thomas Mann. Apparently the primary reason he is mentioned at all is to make a stronger case that Nietzsche was homosexual. Mann was a great writer, one of the best fiction writers in modern history. He was a resolute opponent of Hitler and the Nazis. He left his homeland in service of his convictions and used his fame and gifts to try to bring down Hitler. In The Pink Swastika, his personal life is disparaged and he is discounted as an apologist for Nietzsche and thus an unwitting contributor to Nazism.

Lively and Abrams thesis collapses into absurdity when one considers the vigor of Mann’s opposition to Hitler’s fascism. People of all orientations and worldviews supported and opposed Hitler. The Nazis used anyone, gay or straight, religious or not, to get to power. And once they attained power, they systematically crushed opposition both gay and straight, religious and not.

The revisionist cannot rest on one or two revisions. He must continue until the revisions lead to absurd twists and turns. In the case of Mann, it is the same-sex attracted man who actively combats the Nazis. This glaring contradiction, along with so many others, must be either avoided or explained away.

Revising the Holocaust is not the same thing as denying it, but it is morally objectionable. Revising the causes and course of the Nazi evil does a disservice to an accurate view of human nature. Lively locates this evil in a variation of sexual attraction, thereby exonerating others. Such revision is a massive exercise in deception.

In 1961, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram began his famous experiment on obedience to authority figures. Much to the astonishment of his peers, Milgram found that 65% of his sample consented to supply what participants perceived to be dangerous shocks to another person in obedience to an experimenter. This and other studies provide ample evidence that many of us, straight and gay, are capable of terrible evil under certain conditions. Revisionism takes our eyes off of this ball, and reassures the self-serving urges in us that we would never do something like that. Only those other people (insert the group you dislike) could do that.

Thus, such faulty revisionism also leads to stigma directed at the scapegoated group. As we have seen through history, ancient and recent, stigmatizing people based on their group affiliations or innate characteristics has led to the most awful atrocities.

When will we learn?

 

 

 

Oklahoma City Church to host Scott Lively

As unbelievable as that sounds, Draper Park Christian Church is hosting Scott Lively for a weekend of seminars April 27-29, 2012.

On the church Facebook page, they prep their congregants with an article from MassResistance.

Upcoming DPCC keynote speaker featured in this article…thanks Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries. Church, the Lord said “Be alert and ready for service!”. This Christian lawyer Dr. Lively needs our fervent, effectual, righteous prayers.

It is not clear what the role of Stephen Black and First Stone Ministries is. If that Exodus affiliate has anything to do with this appearance, they would be flying directly in the face of the policy of the national Exodus ministry, who denounced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as well as Lively’s role in Uganda. They also removed Lively’s article about the Pink Swastika from their website.

I want to believe that the Draper Park people don’t understand what they are getting into. They read information from MassResistance calling Lively a martyr, but they will not hear Lively’s real message until he is inside their doors.

Most likely, he will tell them that the Holocaust was animated by homosexuals and gays want to recruit their children. He may tell them that he doesn’t support forced therapy, but he won’t tell them what would happen to gays who refuse state-sponsored ex-gay therapy. He might tell them that he didn’t support the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill but he might not be as candid as he was with Mariana Van Zeller here:

 

He might tell the church what he thinks causes homosexuality, as he did below to the Ugandans in 2009, but he probably won’t tell them that both Exodus and NARTH have removed his articles from their websites.

I know there other Christians of conservative theology who are grieved by this.  It is sad when Christians are tricked into thinking they are fighting evil when instead they mislead and misrepresent. Mr. Lively, as a Holocaust revisionist, should not have a platform in a Christian venue.

For more on the distortions and misleading presentation that is the Pink Swatiska, see this link.