Yesterday’s in-depth report on Charlotte-area anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown and his Monday radio show on anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda elicited a short response from the radio host and ministry school leader on Tuesday (emphasis added):

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…I noticed some tweets from one gay journalist who has constantly misrepresented my positions over the years. He was making reference to what I said on the radio show yesterday, different comments I made regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I haven’t released a full statement; there is much to say on it. There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done. There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian. But, in any case, no surprise to be misrepresented when things are taken in a non-contextual way. But, hey, I noticed this post brought me a smile last night from this journalist, “I’ve had it with the insanity of Dr. Michael Brown’s radical bigotry for tonight.” Well, God bless our friend and hopefully he’ll come to experience the truth and love of God.

Two things of note:

  1. Brown doesn’t specifically mention my report, only some tweets. It’s because he knows my report is the furthest thing from misrepresentation. Brown is fond of simply claiming that I and others “misrepresent” him. It’s his common, stock response when a critic points out his problematic or extremist views. I believe that any rational, thinking person can understand no misrepresentation exists when they hear you say there are “very strong reasons” for Uganda’s problems with “homosexual practice” and then hear me say that such a statement shows sympathy or a defense of the law.
  2.  Brown’s comments on-air on Monday, as quoted by me, speak for themselves. They are not out of context. I spent several hours listening and re-listening to Brown’s Monday broadcast to ensure the accuracy of quotes. Indeed, a great deal of my initial report are Brown’s very own words, not mine. You can listen to the whole radio show from Monday and then reference back to my report to decide for yourself.

And, the kicker…

Brown continues to show sympathetic views or a defense of Uganda’s law, even after repeated requests by me and others for him to repudiate the law and others like it, along with the violence now being sparked against LGBT people across the globe as a direct result of these types of laws.

Brown says, “There are things that I fully understand why they’ve done what they’ve done.” Then, he further states, “There are other measures that I think we would all call draconian.” Yet, no where in his Monday broadcast did Brown condemn or repudiate any portion of the currently-enacted law as being harsh, draconian, misguided or potentially harmful.

I’m not misrepresenting Brown. He is misrepresenting himself and his own words from his Monday broadcast.

As for the statement? Where is it? What takes so long? Is it really so difficult?

As I noted in yesterday’s conclusion:

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly — as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.

Update (Feb. 26, 2014): Brown responds briefly, continues sympathy for anti-LGBT criminalization in Uganda. Listen to the audio clip…

For several years now, the global community has been debating proposed — and now signed and enacted — legislation in Uganda that places harsh criminal sanctions on LGBT people, including, in its current enacted form, up to life imprisonment for LGBT people and up to seven or more years imprisonment for those who “aid and abet” homosexuality, including life in prison for any person who “purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex.”

A small portion of that debate has included Charlotte-area, anti-LGBT religious leader Dr. Michael L. Brown, who was first, perhaps, unwittingly tied to the controversy due to his close associations with conservative evangelical Lou Engle. Brown has worked closely with Engle in the past, inviting the religious leader to Charlotte for local Pride festivities. Engle, whose use of radically violent and militant religious rhetoric equally matches that of Brown’s, has been criticized for his involvement in and support of lobbying for Uganda’s anti-LGBT law.

Because of Brown’s ties to Engle, I reached out to Brown in 2009 for a statement on the then-proposed Uganda law, which included — unlike its current form — a death penalty for some homosexual offenses.

At the time, Brown stated:

“While I do not pretend to understand the dynamics of Ugandan culture and law, and while I share the government’s concerns with the goals of homosexual activism and the dangers of homosexual practice, I have very serious issues with the proposed law as currently constructed. I believe it has the potential to hurt far more people than it could possibly help, potentially inflicting great suffering on many.”

I remarked, at the time, that Brown’s statement fell “far short of a outright condemnation of the law.” It’s striking that he said he “share[d] the government’s concerns” over homosexuality and had only “very serious issues” with the law as “currently constructed.” Brown continued in ensuing years to give a more-than-sympathetic ear to those who would seek to criminalize LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere abroad, saying he was concerned about the death penalty but failing to raise any significant concern about the bill — or the resulting violence and witch hunts in Uganda — as a whole.

In 2010, a primary proponent of the Ugandan legislation, Uganda Pastor Martin Ssempa, appeared on Brown’s radio show. Brown’s associates at his Voice of Revolution blog challenged their followers to truly ask if Ssempa were, indeed, a “‘Liar’? ‘Cowardly’? ‘Compulsive liar’?” by listening to the show.

If Ssempa’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was made globally (in)famous for his “eat da poo poo” remarks as he lobbied for the extremist legislation.

It was precisely because of Brown’s past involvements that I reached out to him via email last week to ask for a new statement on the Ugandan legislation as it passed through that nation’s legislature and awaited President Yoweri Museveni’s signature. (I posted the same request on Facebook and tagged Brown, where he responded publicly, but never issued a statement directly responding to my request.)

Though Brown has yet to publicly issue an official statement — which he says might do at some point in the future — he did discuss the issue of anti-LGBT legislation in places like Uganda, Russia and India on his radio broadcast on Feb. 24. During the two-hour broadcast, Brown also discussed recent legislative proposals in U.S. states like Arizona and Kansas, but I’ll limit my commentary here to the global issues discussed on Monday.

Brown’s radio show ran nearly two hours. And, it included a great deal of commentary, much of it twisted and convoluted. It’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll try to do so diligently. That requires some level of in-depth conversation, hence the length of this blog post. I’m breaking it up into easily digestible sections in hopes that you’ll be able to more easily follow along.

The Game Plan

First, I’ll address Brown’s so-called “condemnation” of anti-LGBT violence. Brown is fond of claiming I misrepresent him, so it’s best to go ahead and address these issues first. To be fair, I have only once gone too far in my criticism — saying Brown was a “vocal supporter” of the Ugandan legislation — which I have acknowledged and retracted, and for which I apologized. But, after Monday’s radio broadcast, I’m beginning to think my apology and retraction were a bit premature.

Second, we’ll delve into other statements in support of and sympathetic to the Ugandan legislation made by Brown during his broadcast, parse them out and add in my own responses and commentary.

Lastly, we’ll end with Brown’s most forthright defense and justification of the Uganda law.

I’ve included approximate timestamps that mark the beginning of each quoted portion of the show. You can follow along by visiting to listen to or downloading Brown’s Feb 24 radio broadcast from his website.

‘I’d stand side by side with you against them’

Brown has often said something like, “I’d stand side by side with you against anyone who would cause you harm.” I believe that, in some weird, twisted way, he believes he harbors no ill will to LGBT people. I’ve said as much before, stating in my in-depth report on his violent, militant religious rhetoric that, “I do not believe Brown or most of his followers would ever act in any overt, physically violent manner.”

Yet, what most concerns me is the combination of Brown’s consistent advocacy against even the basic of LGBT protections or recognition and his overly consistent way of qualifying such seemingly supportive statements with accompanying conditional statements. It’s never “I’ll stand by you.” It’s always, “I’ll stand by you, if…” or “I’ll stand by you, but…”

If one is truly opposed to anti-LGBT violence and harm, there should never be an “if” or a “but.” It should just simply be, “I’ll stand by you.” If you want a qualifier, add this: “…because violence is always wrong.” That sort of qualifier rarely accompanies Brown’s statements. I don’t find this particular issue difficult to grasp. Here’s an example: “Dr. Brown, if anyone ever threatened to harm you, your church, your school or your congregants or students, I would be the first to stand up and condemn it. Violence is always wrong.” No ifs. No buts. No qualifiers. No need to bring up my sincere disagreements with the man. Just simply, “Violence is always wrong.” And, that’s no matter if it occurs in the U.S., in Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Spain, Timbuktu or Antarctica. “Violence is always wrong.” See how easy that is?

Brown offered only two examples — yes, only two remarks out of two hours worth of commentary and conversation — of this kind of seemingly gay-supportive rhetoric. I’ve emphasized Brown’s qualifiers.

‘Stand with you,’ (34:23)
Obviously I would stand with you against anything that would provoke violence and anger and hatred in society against someone that said they were same-sex attracted and if you had a crowd outburst like the horrible things in South Africa where they are going to rape a lesbian and think they are going to cure her of her homosexuality, these horrors, I’d stand side by side with you against them. But, can you see that a nation that wants to outlaw mini-skirts and suggestive music videos is going to have quite an issue, say, with homosexual activist curricula in children’s schools or redefining marriage? Does that seem that odd to you?

As noted, Brown can’t simply condemn the violence. He must add a qualifier. In this instance, Brown, as you’ll see later, attempts to justify the actions of the Ugandan legislature and president by pointing to other social “norms” in that nation. He just can’t simply bring himself to admit that state-sponsored, homophobic terrorism — just as state-sponsored, sexist terrorism does to women — is bring horrific mob violence and harm directly to the doorsteps and homes of LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere. Further, he links, as he is often wont to do, LGBT people to “indoctrination” of children. It’s an ugly, ugly lie predicated on the even uglier lie that gay men are pedophiles. And, this somehow excuses Uganda’s legislation? Give me a break.

Egged home (1:13:10)
Please hear me. Please hear me. If somebody in my neighborhood I knew was to be same-sex attracted or let’s say there were two men living together — they are not breaking the law, they are living together in my neighborhood — and somebody came by and egged their house or painted graffiti on it, I would try to be the first one there to make it clear that this is reprehensible, to speak out against it to help them clean up and to say that we are here to protect you so that no one can hurt you and attack you. At the same time, I would say that what you are doing is morally wrong and I would absolutely not fight for you to — quote — have the right to marry that person, but if there is hatred towards you or discrimination against you, of course, I would stand against that like I would for any other human being. You are fellow human being; you are created in the image of God just as much as I am. We are all fallen. We are all broken. We all need help. Jesus died for homosexual and heterosexual just the same. But, please hear me, you may live in a state where you say we are safe and secure because we already passed a constitutional amendment in our state saying marriage is the union of one woman and one man. No, no, no. There’s nothing secure. These rules are being challenged … as unconstitutional in state after state after state. Gay activists have made it clear … that within five years they would like to see every state in America recognize the union of two men or two women regardless of how the people voted.

Here again we find Brown condemning violence, but only so for his theoretical neighbors. He does not extend this to the mass mob violence experienced by LGBT people in places like Uganda or Russia or Nigeria. And, even so, he does it again with a qualifier; he would only help if he also had the opportunity to demean and judge his neighbors’ lives. What’s more is his seemingly contradictory statement; he’d stand up if there were “discrimination against you,” but two sentences later advocates discrimination against LGBT people. The words “inconsistent” and “insincere” aren’t descriptive enough for this kind of circular logic and double-speak. And, be sure to notice: Brown will stand up against someone egging or tagging a gay couple’s home. But, where is his condemnation of the front-page newspaper witch hunts in Uganda (including one on Tuesday, one day after Uganda’s bill became law)? Where is his condemnation of the horrifically violent rape, beating and murder of a Russian gay man or the countless other intimidations, violent harassment and abuse by far-right nationalist groups there? Where is his condemnation of the rounding up and mass incarceration of Nigerian gay men? On these real-life examples of bloodcurdling, horrific terror — in the same nations where he defends, justifies or excuses the enactment of harsh, anti-LGBT legislation — Brown is curiously and frustratingly — and tellingly — silent.

In one other instance, Brown condemned violence, but not toward LGBT people. And, once again, there was a qualifier. Nothing in Brown’s world can ever just simply be wrong. Despite his insistent belief of “universal moral truths,” he must always provide a qualifier distancing himself from direct condemnation of violence or horror. Again emphasized.

Level of shame (19:55)
There are many parts of the world where if a girl has sex outside wedlock, she could never marry after that. She would be shamed. There are parts of the world where the family would actually kill that person. Of course, that’s horrific. That’s utterly horrific and inexcusable on every level. I’m simply saying there’s that level of shame associated with, say, a teenage girl having sex, where it’s the norm in our culture, and we’re going to lecture the nations?

‘Culture’ an excuse to cause violence?

Brown’s comments in the “Level of Shame” quote above, and those below, help to paint a picture of Brown’s justification for not strongly condemning anti-LGBT laws and the violence that often results.

His argument is two-fold: First, he believes that “each culture is different” and cannot be judged in the same ways (again, despite his belief in “universal moral truths”). Second, Brown believes the U.S. has no moral standing on which to “lecture” other nations on issues of sexual morality.

He lays out his argument at the top of his show, asking, “Do we as Americans have a moral imperative to speak to other nations about morality? When can we speak and when are we just being hypocrites?

He then boasts of his Sunday-night dinner with far-right attorney Matt Barber — yes, the same Barber of Liberty University and Liberty Counsel who calls gay activists “a swarm of locusts,” says tolerance is a “cancer” and crudely defines gay love as “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’”

Yes, this is who Brown turns to for guidance, providing him with the second prong of his argument (6:07):

We were taking about a lot of gospel-related and culture-related issues last night and [Barber] mentioned an article he had written about sexual immorality being the chief export of America. I have to say as an American, in many ways I’m proud of my country … there have been many things about our country that have been wonderful and are wonderful and have helped the world … but on the flip side, you think of it and we are the world’s leader in exporting pornography and in quite a number of other social indicators we are really low on the moral level, in terms of single parent homes, in terms of teen pregnancy and teen drug use and, of course, with our gay activism. We’re proud of that. Many in our nation are proud of that and are speaking to other nations to get with it. Of course, it is shameful to see where we have gone. … It strikes me as quite hypocritical about morality when we lecture other nations about marriage and family and tell them to get their act together. To me, that is the height of hypocrisy.

Alright, I get it. We all get it. The U.S. isn’t perfect. On this much, we agree. Progressive activists have been clamoring for change for years. We want reform in the criminal justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline, for example. But, do you know what few things the U.S. does have, seemingly, more than other nations like Uganda, Nigeria, Russia and others? The right to life and dignity. The right to safety and security. The right to free speech and association. On these counts, we aren’t perfect. But, we’re a hell of a lot more secure than in places like Uganda, Nigeria or Russia, where now even the tiniest hint of homosexuality can result in mob violence, arrest, imprisonment or death.

But, oh no, we can’t judge! Brown says we have too much pornography, and because of that, we are simply unable to speak what Brown, I’d assume, would consider a “universal moral principle” — governments shouldn’t be in the business of jailing otherwise peaceable people or creating policies that inspire violence and terrorism against their citizens.

More examples of and commentary on Brown’s argument below…

Each culture is different (13:15)
Each culture is different and distinct. When you have a culture that is going as far as outlawing certain dress — a lot of this stuff is coming in from the West. A lot of this stuff is coming in from America. … Now, we are going to turn around and lecture these nations on what is right and what is wrong. To me, it’s the height of hypocrisy.

Three words: “universal moral principles.” Does that include Ugandan LGBT people’s right to life and security, Dr. Brown? He refuses to answer.

Universal moral principles? (16:17)
The first comments that I make when I’m asked about this nation, what about laws in that nation … is that each nation is distinct. In other words, we cannot look at another nation based on our culture. We can say there are universal moral principals we agree on. That would be true. … There are massive cultural differences. It is arrogant for us to just assume that across the board that we can tell other nations how they should live and what they should do and what they should not do.

Do massive cultural differences prevent us from saying that people should have the basic security of knowing they can live their life in peace, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender? Brown doesn’t seem to think so.

Porn and music (17:28)
And, again, with regard to Uganda and laws regarding homosexual practice, this is part of a wide-ranging series of laws that are banning different issues with pornography and even suggestive music videos.

Are you kidding me? (18:13)
All I am saying is this, very, very simply, is that you can’t even begin to understand the mindset of the people of Uganda in terms of homosexual practice until you look at the larger view of sexual morality in the culture. Think of this for a minute — a culture that says no to mini-skirts for women and they don’t want suggestive music videos on TV for kids and so on, that culture is going to say, ‘Oh, but if two men want to get married, that’s perfectly fine.’ Are you kidding me?

This issue isn’t about marriage. Brown consistently ties it to marriage. This issue is rather simple: LGBT people in Uganda, as in Nigeria and elsewhere, are asking for the simple right to safety and security. Brown must be deluded if he believes activists in Uganda have marriage at the top of their agenda.

Absolutely not (30:10)
…[D]oes America have the right to lecture other nations about sexual morality, about marriage, family? I say absolutely, certainly not.

Let’s play along here. For the sake of argument, let’s say that America has no “absolute” or “certain” right to “lecture” other nations on marriage, sexual morality or family. But, Brown is a religious leader. He biblical scholar. President of a theology school. He’s held himself up as a pastor. Can he not simply cite, “Thou shall not kill”? Can he not simply say, “Dear Ugandans, you are putting forth policies that are inspiring witch hunts and violence. Perhaps there is a better way.”? If the U.S. doesn’t have the “moral imperative” to speak, does a man of God? I’d say so, but Brown, through his silence, obviously disagrees.

Do not follow America (38:01)
There may be some politics reasons for it. As for Russia, I wouldn’t even begin to understand everything that is happening there. You have the high rates of alcoholism, the high rates of abortion … then you have the anti-gay propaganda issue … I do not understand everything that is happening in Russia or what is motivating Vladimir Putin. But, I will say this — I absolutely agree that if I could go to every nation in the world, I would say, ‘Do not follow American’s example in these ways.’

Yes, yes. Because the rape, maiming, brutalization, imprisonment and murder of LGBT people is so incredibly more worthy of global emulation, amarite?!

Uganda has ‘very strong reasons’ for law, and ‘rightly so’

Early in his show, and repeated elsewhere, Brown forcefully defended (or, justified, excused, etc.) Uganda’s adoption of its new Anti-Homosexuality Act. In doing so, he used several examples linking gay people to child predation,AIDS and death, and, once again, he relied on “cultural differences” as a defense of the law. He ends chastising America for its moral decline and saying Uganda “looks at the whole package” and, in his opinion, “rightly so.”

Very strong reasons (8:55)
Bear in mind, Uganda has many professing Christians. Bear in mind, Uganda practices polygamy. So, it’s a very different nation than America in terms of Christian perspective there. But, Uganda has some very strong reasons for having issues with homosexual practice. There is one day a year in Uganda which is a national holiday which remembers these young men who basically refused to comply with the king’s desires — you can fill in the blanks there. They were killed for it. They were martyred for their refusal to go along with the king’s sexual desires as young men and boys. That is celebrated in a national holiday remembering them for their courage and their Christian conviction, as I understand the story. Not only that, but Uganda has been terribly ravaged by AIDS. The decimation there — we’re just talking about in the heterosexual community — the decimation it has brought to some of these African nations who have had a good part of a generation wiped out. … They have had a decimating problem with AIDS. … But the rate of AIDS contagion among those practicing same-sex practices, men having relations with other men, is off the charts higher. Well, that’s another reason they do not want to see it encouraged in their country. … But, let’s just put it into context. I have not released an official statement about the bill. I’ve been asked to do so and I will at some point … Uganda has said we are against gay propaganda in the schools, against kids being indoctrinated into these things or being told this is normal and acceptable. We are against open homosexual practice, and you may have some laws that seem harsh and draconian, but it’s also part of African law and culture. … You’ve got to understand that in the context of Uganda, they are talking about outlawing mini-skirts because they find these things to be inapprorpriate. … That’s the culture we’re dealing with. We are talking about a culture where until recently adultery was illegal and fornication remains illegal. .. All they’re doing is having equivalence for homosexual relations.

Rightly so (37:04)
I have no idea what fuels the fire of the president of Uganda … but I do know that many of the people speaking into this situation are speaking based on moral issues, based on health issues. Again, we can’t relate, with all the horror we’ve had with AIDS … men and women, heterosexual and homosexual, we can’t relate to what’s happened in a country like Uganda and the devastation of this. And, when you have — the stats are somewhere about 10 times higher that men having sex with men being AIDS transmitters in Uganda — that’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how. … They look at the whole package of where we’re going, and I think rightly so.

So, there you have it: Brown’s defense, justification and excusing of Uganda’s anti-gay laws. Why? Because gays are causing higher “contagion.” (Yes, you read that right: “Contagion.”) Because Uganda doesn’t want children “indoctrinated.” Because of some big, bad pedophile king who lived more than a century ago and, Brown tells us, had sexual desires for “young men and boys.” (The king, Brown regrets to tell us, was 16-18 years old when the executions happened, primarily because of their conversion to Christianity, not necessarily sexuality.)  At the end of the day, Brown’s argument devolves into the same, tired and hateful rhetoric we’ve always heard from American evangelicals: Gays are sick. Gays are sinful. Gays are predators. And, as such, “That’s a behavior you’re going to discourage every way you know how.”

Brown says he’ll release an official statement. What’s the need? He spent two hours discussing these issues on record on his radio boradcast. I’ve listened to the whole broadcast several times — twice all the way through, and several more as I gathered these quotes. Brown’s views seem abundantly clear to me: Uganda’s law is justified “in the context of Uganda” — “universal moral principles” like life and safety be damned.

Yet, Brown and a guest on his show, Joseph La Rue of anti-LGBT legal outfit Alliance Defending Freedom, are more than willing to push for legislation here in the U.S. that protects their right to discriminate. In another segment of the show, which I’ve not delved into here, Brown and La Rue discuss the controversial Arizona legislation that would give anyone the right to refuse service to any other person based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

La Rue explains his reasoning for supporting the law, with which Brown agrees and praised La Rue for his “courageous stand.” La Rue remarks (1:04:37):

Since when is religious liberty about discrimination? Since when is wanting to defend religious liberty equal to bigotry? It’s just preposterous what’s being said. The bottom line is this: The government has no business, none whatsoever, telling its citizens what they can’t say or what they must say and the government must be stopped from punishing its citizens for their ideas and beliefs. We are seeing that happen right now in America, and the government must be stopped.

Yet, such guarantees of liberty, safety and security simply do not exist in Uganda, in Nigeria, in Russia and in the dozens of other countries where LGBT people are violently oppressed — including 10 nations where they may be sentenced to death. While Brown and people like La Rue fight in the U.S. for their right to discriminate, they stand united with governments like that in Uganda, where basic rights to life and safety are being stripped away — either directly by law or through mob violence inspired by state policies.

Why must those governments not be stopped? Where is the fiery condemnation there? Brown has none. Because Brown is all-too-sympathetic with a national and, indeed, worldwide movement, of which he is firmly part,  to silence and oppress LGBT people, even here in his home nation and in his home town.

I’ve asked Brown repeatedly —  as a man of God given a uniquely large and, indeed, international, platform and voice — to repudiate and condemn the Uganda law, as well as similar laws in places like Nigeria, Russia and India. I’ve asked him repeatedly to come out forthrightly and to strongly condemn the violence being perpetrated against LGBT people in nations like these. All he can offer are justifications based on “morality” and “health.” All he can offer are excuses about “cultural differences.” All he can point to are century-old tales of a supposedly deranged king.

Humans, indeed, have many cultural differences. But, as a man of God, Brown should understand that the rights to life, dignity and safety are among the “universal moral principles” to which he clings so dearly. Or not.

It’s not that difficult, Dr. Brown. I’ll write the statement for you, if you can honestly say you’d stand by it. But, at this point, I’m afraid that’s unlikely.

A counter-protester holds a sign near anti-gay protesters at Charlotte Pride, Aug. 24, 2013, Uptown Charlotte. Photo Credit: Matthew Cummings/StillOut Photography Club.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Michael Brown, a leading anti-LGBT activist and religious leader in Charlotte brought 40 of his ministry schools’ students and other friends to Charlotte Pride, the city’s annual LGBT Pride festival and parade, on whose board of directors I sit. While at the event, Brown’s students and others circulated the festival area, speaking to attendees and asking attendees to complete a survey entitled, “Are You Open Minded?”

I took offense to Brown’s outreach efforts this year, calling his tactics dishonest, underhanded and deceitful. I even appeared on Brown’s radio show on Sept. 3 to discuss my disagreements with his survey and tactics. I discuss more about that experience in my latest editorial in the current issue of QNotes, hitting newsstands and online today. In the editorial, I call Brown’s outreach efforts this year a “spectacular failure.” You can read more about why in the editorial.

Here, though, I’ll run through and answer the several questions Dr. Brown’s students posed to Charlotte Pride attendees. Brown and I had meant to answer a few of these questions together on his radio show. Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Here though, I hope I’ll be able to offer a more balanced view and some more informed answers and insight I thought was missing from Brown’s Aug. 26 radio discussion of the survey results.

First, all the questions (src):

  1. 1. Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?
    Yes No
    If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?)
    Yes No
  2. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?
    Yes No
    If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?
    If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?
  3. If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender?
    Yes No
    If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?
    Yes No
    If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?
  4. If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?
    Yes No
  5. Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?
    Yes No
  6. Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?
    Yes No
  7. How would you characterize yourself?
    Male Female Other
    Gay Straight Bi Trans Other

And my answers:

Do you agree with the statement “I have the right to marry the one I love”?

Yes.

If so, are there any exceptions? (Polyamory? Polygamy? Consensual adult incest [opposite sex? same-sex?]? Age of consent for marriage?) 

Yes. All people should be able to marry the person they love, but there are common-sense restrictions, mostly protecting possible victims from abuse. Such is the case with age of consent laws and laws forbidding incest. Family law, however, should also recognize that not all families are the same; families with multiple unmarried parenting partners deserve the same or similar protections for their and their children’s well-being that couples receive. Such families may, indeed, be polyamorous, but many others are commonplace, including single parents who depend upon relatives or friends for co-parenting. Marriage alone should not be the gateway through which we determine who is entitled to the legal and social means to protect their families and the interests of their children.

If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, should religious exemptions be allowed for those who do not want to participate?

A simple “yes”-or-“no” option to this question is misleading and doesn’t provide for a full context needed for an answer. Brown’s survey provided follow-up questions where this context can be explored. See below.

 If so, does that apply to churches? Businesses? Individuals?

CHURCHES: Religious exemptions regarding marriage and any other religious sacrament or rite are already woven into the fabric of U.S. law. This nation, unlike others (as is the case in England), has no established church body entangled with government, and, as such, no government agency or official can force a minister or person of faith to conduct any marriage. Any pastor or officiant has the right to refuse to perform, conduct or participate in a marriage ceremony. In fact, many pastors require couples to meet certain criteria (e.g., faith requirements, church membership, couples/pastoral counseling, etc.) before they will agree to perform the ceremony.

BUSINESSES: For the most part, statutory and case law on business discrimination is largely settled. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. Specifically, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides all people the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Elsewhere, the act states that all people are “entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin…” In many states, these laws have been extended beyond public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) to apply to all businesses operating in the public and to protect other characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity. In one particular New Mexico case, a photographer lost a lawsuit after she refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s wedding. Salon’s Mark Joseph Stern writes: “Legally, this ruling was correct; the photographer offered her skills solely as a business service, not as a form of personal expression. It’s the equivalent of a taxi refusing to pick up a gay couple, or a restaurant refusing to serve a gay family.” Courts have ruled that constitutional interests of fair treatment and equal access outweighs an individual right to discrimination. The reasons for such laws are clear: (1) Arbitrary discrimination, or discrimination for the sake of discrimination alone, does not represent a legitimate business interest, and (2) Government has a legitimate interest in proscribing arbitrary discrimination in the offering of goods and services, primarily in protection of free commerce and trade and the protection of individuals who may be adversely affected by mass discrimination. Can you imagine what the U.S. would look like today if private businesses had been able to continue refusing services to people of color? The same “religious liberty” arguments being used by opponents of LGBT equality today are eerily similar to many arguments used by racist business owners in the past. As the racist arguments of times past sound ridiculously hateful, silly and arbitrary today, so, too, will arguments in favor of anti-LGBT discrimination sound as equally hateful, silly and arbitrary in the years and decades to come.

[As an aside: Brown has asked if laws prohibiting discrimination by businesses would apply to a gay business owner who is asked to provide a service for an organization espousing beliefs with which she disagrees. The simple answer is yes. However, all business owners are free to refuse service for a variety of reasons which are not unlawful or arbitrary. Among those circumstances, one stands out: Businesses are free to refuse service when a customer may harass or intimidate employees or other customers. So, should a gay owner of a T-shirt business refuse service to a church which seeks to have T-shirts printed with the text of John 3:16? Most likely, no. But, should the gay owner be allowed to refuse service when the Scripture in question is calling for their death, such as Leviticus 20:13? Most definitely, yes.]

[Second aside: Many of the most recent cases regarding anti-gay business discrimination centers around marriage equality. Businesses have included wedding photographers, flower shops and bakeries. Each have claimed their religious belief that same-sex marriage is sinful prevents them from providing the service. I find such arguments from “Christian” business owners hypocritical unless they can also prove they have queried each and every past customer on their sexual practices and beliefs; for example, has the business owner provided a cake, photography or flowers for a couple who are not virgins and who have had sex before marriage, or have they provided services for a couple which intends to engage in an open, non-monogamous relationship after marrying? The only difference between these scenarios and the gay couple’s scenario is that the business owner is aware of the gay couple’s sexual orientation; the business owner may not have been aware of another couple’s actions, which they may believe to be “sin,” but they have still, even unwittingly, participated in a “celebration” of it. You might say that one can’t “unwittingly” or unintentionally be a hypocrite, and I’d agree. But, the fact that a business owner holds on to such cherished beliefs — so cherished that it prevents them from providing services to an entire class of people — and, yet, does nothing to see that such beliefs are not applied equally and fairly to all of their customers, is, without a doubt, hypocritical.]

INDIVIDUALS: Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. No law can force an individual to visit a particular retail establishment, stay at a particular hotel or eat at a particular restaurant. Similarly, no law can force an individual to join an organization. Constitutional rights to freedom of association and expression apply. This particular “individual harm” argument is a red herring.

If not, what should the penalty be (for churches, businesses, individuals)?

CHURCHES: Exemptions for religious institutions are already represented in most law. Next.

BUSINESSES: Most public accommodations and commercial non-discrimination laws and ordinances apply civil penalties to unlawful discriminatory practices. Civil penalties should be fair and equitable, as a faithful reliance on justice requires; it’s cliche, but it’s true: “The punishment should fit the crime.”

INDIVIDUALS: No issue here. Individuals are free to associate with whomever they wish. Next.

If someone is not happy with their gender, should they be allowed to pursue a change of gender? If they are not happy with their sexual orientation, should they be allowed to pursue a change of their sexual orientation?

Again, simple “yes”-or-“no” option for this pair of questions doesn’t give it full justice. But, simply and quickly, yes. See more below.

GENDER: Yes. The experiences of transgender and other gender-variant people are well-established medical, scientific and psychological phenomena. Book closed.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Yes, which, at first glance, may seem radical to some in the LGBT community. Though I do not personally believe sexual orientation is changeable (and most all legitimate medical, scientific and psychological literature agrees), I see no valid, legal reason to prohibit an individual from seeking to live life the way they see fit. It’s a complicated answer, I recognize. It also includes a great many questions on the veracity of claims made by “ex-gay” “therapists,” the efficacy of such “therapies” and the many ethical questions involved, especially among the many “ex-gay” therapists and groups which have been found to engage in unorthodox and potentially harmful therapeutic techniques, have failed to fully inform their clients of the body of medical and psychological research, literature and expectations on the topic, practice personal, religious intimidation and, at times, have been found to engage in sexual exploitation and abuse (here’s a good example).

If so, should they have to wait until they reach a certain age?

Again, “yes”-or-“no” won’t cut it. See below.

GENDER: Call me a radical if you wish, but I happen to believe that children are far smarter and have far more insight into their own personhood than adults often give them credit. This recent story about a young boy who personally enjoys more feminine clothing, toys and other items is a perfect example of a young person who knows his gender as he perceives it now but who is allowed by his parents to exhibit a perfectly healthy and, what should be, perfectly normal affinity for items not traditionally interpreted as “masculine.” Parents of children with gender-identity issues should consult with their physicians and with psychologists to determine the best course of action for their young people. I, for one, am not a medical expert, and, so, I won’t pretend to be. But, I’d imagine it’d be most healthy that gender affirmation surgery be considered in a young person’s later adolescent years, following puberty.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: As “ex-gay” “therapies” have been shown repeatedly to be potentially harmful and abusive to young people, and as the medical, scientific and psychological literature is clear that sexual orientation is a mostly-immutable characteristic, such “therapies” should not be open to minors. No parent should be allowed to forcefully change their child’s sexual orientation; these are decisions for an individual to make. I support laws that prohibit the use of “ex-gay” and “reparative” “therapies” on minors.

If you could snap your fingers and change your sexual orientation or gender, would you?

Absolutely not. I am who I am today because of the unique life experiences I have encountered, many of which would not have been without my identifying as gay. There was a time when I might have answered yes, especially when I was younger and subjected to near-daily and sometimes brutal verbal and physical harassment. It’s shameful that our culture bullies young people into hating who they are.

Is it bigoted to believe that homosexual practice is sin?

Very simply, yes.

Is it bigoted to say there is only one way to God?

Bigoted? Depends, I guess, on how you apply it. I believe I have chosen a path — the one, true path for me — that leads me to reconciliation with God. It should come as no surprise to any rational person that another’s journey toward and understanding of God may differ wildly from mine or any other person’s. Is that bigoted? No, I don’t think so. But, if you’re one who thinks you can speak for God and eternally condemn, carte blanche, an entire group of people simply because you personally disagree with them, yeah, that’s a little bit bigoted. If you use such a condemnatory personal belief to legislate against entire groups of people, well, yeah, that’s extremely bigoted, and nothing short of theocracy.

How would you characterize yourself?

Gay. Male.

Very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel from Charlotte up to Newton, N.C., for the protest of Providence Baptist Church (Maiden, N.C.) Pastor Charles Worley and to also report from the scene for QNotes

Over 1,000 gather in Newton to protest anti-gay preacher’s comments
Peaceful protest draws raucous counter protesters

Protesters and anti-LGBT counter protesters engaged in heated debate at Sunday’s event. Photo Credit: QNotes/Matt Comer.

Newton, N.C. — Over 1,000 people gathered in this small town about an hour outside Charlotte on Sunday to protest what they called messages of hate by Maiden, N.C. Pastor Charles Worley, whose comments at Providence Road Baptist Church during a sermon on May 13 made headlines last week.

Worley said he had “figured a way out – a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

“Build a great big, large fence — 50 or a 100 miles long — and put all the lesbians in there,” Worley told his congregants. “Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals — and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Comments from a 1978 sermon by Worley also raised eyebrows. Posted by the church, the old sermon included comments from Worley that “Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree!”

Organizers had told media they were expecting 2,000-5,000 protesters, which prompted them to move from their original protest location at Worley’s church to the Catawba County Government and Justice Center. Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told qnotes that he estimated attendance at anywhere from 1,400-1,600. He said every spot in the government center parking lot had at one time been filled. The lot holds 675 cars, Reid said, noting that many vehicles had come with at least two passengers.

Read the rest of the story and view photos and video at goqnotes.com…

Yet another update on the Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church, whose pastor, Charles “Concentration Camp” Worley, has come under scrutiny for his proposal to send LGBT people to Nazi-like concentration camps and his 1978 sermon blessing the hanging of gays.

A mutual friend on Facebook posted a screenshot of a review of the church he found on the church’s overview on Google. The review reads almost too outlandish to believe.

It it legit? Is it a satire? My first impression was the latter, but I’m concerned it could be real for several reasons.

I’ll explain. First, the review (my emphasis added):

TheRodofGod – today – 5 stars
I started attending this church a few months ago and believe me when I say it is absolutely a blessing. It is so nice to be among like minded individuals who praise the time honored traditions of racial and sexual purity. Pastor Worley speaks an abundance of truth and realizes the need for a final solution to our country’s troubled present. He preaches the truth that modern day Zionist media refuses to acknowledge. Providence isn’t some bobble-head ditto chamber either, we all agree that the good days are behind us and only torment await if we continue to travel the road we’re one. I will continue to pray for days when the racially impure do the menial tasks us deserving and god-chosen southerners are breaking our backs at. The dandies should stop choosing sin and the ladies would be much happier if they could just embrace their dependence on the masculine men in society.

Crazy, right? When I first read it, I thought so too. “There’s no way,” I told myself, “that anyone believes this.” And, the username — “TheRodofGod” — just has to be a joke. Plus, the user has only one activity on Google’s network — this one comment — according to the public profile.

Yet, stopping to consider the source, a church whose pastor has preached murder of LGBT people for at least 40 years, and one might be cautious before ignoring these new comments outright. 

Continue reading this post…

Pastor Charles 'Concentration Camp' Worley wants to 'get rid of all the lesbians and queers.'

This update on Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church Pastor Charles “Concentration Camp” Worley from GoodAsYou.org’s Jeremy Hooper, who found an old sermon archived at SermonAudio from Worley given on April 30, 1978, two years after he started preaching at the church.

Listen to the clip below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I’m God’s preacher. I just believe the book. We’re living in a day when, you know what, it saddens my heart to think that homosexuals can go around, bless God, and get the applause of a lot people, lesbians and all the rest of it. Bless God! Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree! Wouldn’t they?! Amen!

Hooper notes: “The truly remarkable thing? Of all of his old sermons, *this* is one that someone at his church felt worthy of posting to the Internet for posterity’s sake.”

See earlier posts:
Amendment One’s saving grace: Exposing religious violence against LGBT people
Matt on CBS Radio: No place for pastor’s words in civilized society

Today’s CBS News report on Maiden, N.C., Pastor Charles Worley, as broadcast at 1 p.m. as broadcast at CBS Radio online and syndicated nationally.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

See earlier post: “Amendment One’s saving grace: Exposing religious violence against LGBT people”

[Update (May 22, 2012, 2:03 p.m.): Hear the CBS News radio report with Matt’s remarks on Pastor Charles Worley’s comments.]

Just two weeks ago, voters in North Carolina approved 61 to 39 percent a discriminatory, anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples and threatening domestic partner protections for all couples.

The primary election came on the heels of a months-long campaign — proponents and opponents airing their positions on TV, radio, in newspaper ads, at community events and at doorsteps and on sidewalks across the state. The campaign was a torturous one, with dangerous, anti-LGBT rhetoric swirling around the state and stoking the fires of hate and bigotry.

Pastor Charles 'Concentration Camp' Worley wants to 'get rid of all the lesbians and queers.'

And, though the LGBT community and its allies lost their campaign at the ballot box, the campaigns on Amendment One might very well provide some bit of silver lining: Now, more than ever, the pure bigotry and hate of those who would seek to discriminate against LGBT people has been exposed.

First, it was Pleasant Garden Baptist Church Pastor Michael “Nuclear Holocaust” Barrett, who claimed in a sermon claimed that legalized marriage for same-sex couples will be like a “nuclear holocaust.”

Then, it was Fayetteville, N.C. Pastor Sean “Crack a Wrist” Harris, who in a sermon encouraged fathers to crack the “limp wrists” of their gay sons and “give ’em a good punch.”

Now, yet another Baptist pastor has been found speaking violence from the pulpit. In Maiden, N.C., Providence Road Baptist Church Pastor Charles Worley said he had “figured a way out – a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

Build a great big, large fence — 50 or a 100 miles long — and put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals — and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ’em. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.

The campaign over Amendment One — in which LGBT people were demonized, scapegoated and, ultimately, ostracized and legally cast aside — has emboldened those who would seek to use the holy name of God to perpetrate violence against us. And, because of those campaigns, such rhetoric is being exposed to the light, and that light will burn it out.

Religiously-motivated violence against LGBT people is nothing new. Desiring for the mass murder of all LGBT people, as shocking as it might sound to many even in our own community, is an old wish — one, as evidenced by Worley, that still exists today. I’ve known such a desire exists for a long time. As a child, my hometown pastor preached violence against LGBT people regularly. “Put all the queers on a ship,” he’d say, “Pluck a hole into the side of it and send it out to sea.” He used similar metaphors as Worley, wishing to pen in all “the queers” in two states until “they die out.” (See: “An awkward ‘homecoming'” and “An awkward ‘homecoming’ – Part Two”)

Dr. Michael Brown, one of Charlotte’s most radical anti-LGBT activists and known associate of those who encourage mass murder, has also similar violent metaphors, using inflammatory rhetoric that suggests a life-or-death struggle and conflict over gay and lesbian issues and people and calling his movement a “battle” and “holy war.” He once told me he abhorred such real violence and “would be the first” to step up to defend me or any person subject to violence. (See full special report, “On the edge: Religious militancy in the Queen City”)

Dr. Brown — and all those others who feign sympathy with LGBT people — here is your chance. Now is your time to stand up, cast aside your bigotry and hate and come to the aid of those people who are clearly under attack.

Charles Worley’s comments are shocking and terrifying. Calling for violence against and mass murder of minorities is inexcusable. My heart aches for any of the LGBT young people in Worley’s congregation forced to listen to this message of hate and violence. Physical, emotional, verbal and spiritual violence against any person has no place in civilized society. History has taught us that there can be a very thin line between religiously-inspired violent rhetoric and real calls to physical violence. This pastor and others propose sending LGBT people to Nazi-like concentration camps and doing real physical violence to us.

Worley owes no less than an immediate and forthright retraction of his comments and an apology to the LGBT community, and he should take steps to meet with LGBT community members to better understand and respect our human dignity.

Those who would continue to demean and threaten LGBT people should take a long, hard look at what they really believe, cast aside their hate and stand with LGBT people in our fight for the right to simply be, to be safe from harm and fear, to be recognized as full and equal members of society and law.

As for us LGBT folks, now is our time to stand up for ourselves. We’ve done it for months on end. Many of us have done it for our whole lives. But we cannot give up now. Now, more than ever, we must not let our momentum for change fade away. In nonviolence of thought, word and deed, we must stand up. We must seek equality. We must seek understanding, respect and reconciliation. We must work toward a greater world where all people — LGBT people and, yes, even folks like anti-gay pastors — are treated with equality and dignity, a world where no person is threatened with violence or death. A world where all God’s children can live in healthy, loving homes, families, churches, schools and communities.

This is our calling. This is our moment in time. This is our moral obligation. Will you stand up?

Protest: Providence Road Baptist ChurchRSVP on Facebook
Sunday, May 27 at 10:00am at 3283 Providence Mill Rd, Maiden, NC 28650

Frank Turek

WFAE 90.7 FM will host a public conversation and forum tonight on Amendment One. Entitled “Defining Marriage,” the radio station says it hopes to host a “very meaningful dialogue” on the proposed constitutional amendment that would strip marriage rights from same-sex couples and prohibit civil unions and domestic partnerships for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

That “meaningful dialogue,” bit? Likely not possible, especially since they’ve invited extremist and anti-gay bully Frank Turek to represent the anti-gay side of the debate.

Turek is associated with radicals like Charlotte street preacher and convicted stalker Flip Benham and Dr. Michael Brown, whose use of violent and militant religious rhetoric I’ve well-documented. In fact, my first introduction to Turek was during a forum sponsored by Brown back in 2007 (there’s an in-depth review and commentary of that event, as well).

Turek and Brown recently debated North Carolina philanthropist and activist Mitchell Gold on Brown’s radio show. I commented on the debate and documented some of the conversation, which left me with the distinct impression that Turek is more bully than academic.

It’s quite disappointing that WFAE would bring in such a radical voice to represent the opposing viewpoint. Couldn’t they find a more appropriate and respectful voice? In reality, perhaps not. How “appropriate” and “respectful” can pro-amendment voices be when each seem to be connected to people like Brown, genocide-enabling radicals like Lou Engle and hate group leaders and white supremacists like Tony Perkins?

Mitchell Gold

Michael Brown

Frank Turek

Update (Jan. 31, 2012, 2:08 p.m.): As promised yesterday and this morn, my reflections on the Brown/Turek/Gold debate below.

Regular readers of InterstateQ.com, followers of my work at my prior gig at QNotes and those involved in LGBT advocacy and community work in Charlotte know all too well who Michael Brown is. The leading anti-gay activist in the Charlotte area, Brown has taken on several LGBT groups in the Queen City and LGBT equality initiatives across the country. I’ve interacted with him from time to time, and in 2009 compiled a lengthy special report on his use of  militant religious rhetoric.

Last Wednesday, Faith in America founder and North Carolina furniture entrepreneur Mitchell Gold engaged both Brown and his associate Frank Turek in a conversation on religion and LGBT equality on Brown’s “Line of Fire” radio show.

I’m just now catching up on the show, as I was in Baltimore last week for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference.

So far, I’m not surprised. The same usual rhetoric, straw-man arguments and generalizations. Turek and Brown set the tone for the two hours from the get-go. Gold appears in the second hour to rebut some of their outlandish claims.

The nearly two-hour exchange on Wednesday can be listened to at Faith in America’s site.

Today, Michael Brown will host a question-and-answer show, partly discussing last week’s show. Gold’s Faith in America is encouraging people to call in and share their own views, offering affirming and compelling voices for equality.

From Faith in America:

You can help us speak to Brown’s audience. On Monday, January 31st, Michael Brown will continue the segment with calls from the audience. Since they were unable to execute that part of the show, given the heavy dialogue that occurred, they have decided to extend the segment. We encourage you to listen to the segment from yesterday and take a minute to call in on Monday … and be the voice of equality for their audience who otherwise does not hear our side on a daily basis. If you are unable to do so, you can also email the radio show at info@askdrbrown.org and share your thoughts. As always, we encourage you to visit our website for ways to be effective in your messaging.

You can listen to today’s Q&A show live, 2-4 p.m. Easter, online here. You can call into the show at 866-348 7884.

Be sure to stop back in on Tuesday morning for an update and some of my own takeaways from last week’s exchange and today’s Q&A show.

= = =

Update (Jan. 31, 2012, 2:08 p.m.): As I said yesterday, I had begun listening yesterday to Brown’s Jan. 25 show last week. I wasn’t surprised to hear Brown and Turek launch right into scare tactics. Why must LGBT people always be linked to HIV and AIDS?

Turek recounted:

I grew up next to a family and one of the young sons from this family got involved with homosexuality. He was the older brother of my best friend and he got involved in it and went into New York City and immersed himself in that lifestyle and we buried him at the age of 35, dead from AIDS. That was back in 1993 and I started seminary in 1993. I saw so many people seemed to just be misinformed on this issue. Christians who couldn’t articulate why homosexuality was a problem for people who engage in it, much less society.

I have no reason to doubt Turek’s personal story is true. The 1980s and early 1990s were a horrible time for LGBT people and, in particular, gay men. Many lost loved ones and friends. It’s telling, though, that Turek has somehow managed to take his one, personal experience with a gay man and generalize it to the entire gay community. What kind of leap in logic is that? One man dead = they must all be saved?

I don’t think so.

We all have personal experiences that shape our lives and our worldview, but, usually, people form more rational ideas as they explore and come to know others. Turek, it seems, has approached every LGBT person as sinful and sick, based entirely on his one life experience. It’s a shame he’s never gotten to know the many, many LGBT people who are living happy, healthy lives — people I’m sure could break his misinformed outlook if he’d give them a chance, approaching people with an open mind and open heart.

Brown and Turek spent the next good bit of the first hour discussing Turek’s dust up with Bank of America and Cisco. Turek had been a leadership coaching consultant with the Charlotte-based bank — that is, until a gay employee noticed Turek’s voluminous anti-LGBT advocacy and his book opposing same-sex marriage, “Correct, Not Politically Correct; How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.”

Brown and Turek chat:

Brown: It’s not even a book based on the bible says this, the bible says that…You write this book, the book gets out. You could write a book on Labrador retrievers mating school. You could write a book on how to play better cricket. People write books on everything. What does that have to do with Bank of America leadership talks?

Turek: It should having nothing to do with it. Others will say, “He’s a bigot. He’s a bigot because he doesn’t agree with us.” I always ask people who say you’re a bigot because you’re against homosexuality or same-sex marriage to define what you mean by bigotry. One guy said fear and intolerance. That isn’t bigotry. Bigotry is prejudging an issue having no evidence for it and even when you get new evidence you don’t change your mind, evidence that counters your views. That’s bigotry. It’s not bigotry to say a certain behavior is good or bad for society. That’s not bigotry; that’s commonsense wisdom if you’re right about the issue.

Turek should take his own advice and look at all the evidence around him. Sexual orientation isn’t a choice, isn’t unhealthy and isn’t sick or sinful. And, neither are LGBT people. What is unhealthy, sick and sinful are the ways in which LGBT people are treated each and every day by Turek, Brown and other people in their corner. Upholding discrimination against already-marginalized people is about as un-Christian as you can get.

Throughout the show, Turek and Brown ridicule LGBT people and their experiences with anti-LGBT discrimination.

At one point, Turek completely denies the existence and humanity of LGBT parents and families:

There’s no such thing. There’s no gay couple with a child. There may be two people, one of whom is the biological parent of the child. Let’s cut through all this and say what it is, okay? A gay couple who are looking after the child; one of them might be the biological parent, but they’re both not. I’m sorry. I had to say that.

Perhaps, Frank, this is just a perfect example of why Bank of America and Cisco wanted nothing to do with you. They didn’t discriminate against you because of your religious or political views, they wanted to cancel your contract because you’re disrespectful and dehumanizing. I’m guessing families with step-parents aren’t families in your eyes, either?

Later, Turek and Brown talk about the supposed long-term ill-effects of same-sex marriage, comparing them to the effects of no-fault divorce. Obviously, no-fault divorce mustn’t be that big of a deal. I’ve seen no mass effort to stop it. Instead, Turek, Brown and others are all foaming at the mouth to take away human and civil rights away from LGBT people. These issues aren’t about family; if they were, the religious right would be focusing on divorce, the one single family problem that causes more damage than almost any other internal family dynamic, save abuse or abandonment. Nope… they’d rather focus on the queers. Misguided much?

About the only bit of common sense I heard in the first hour came from Brown. Responding to a caller you said Christians should “love the sinner and hate the sin,” Brown said:

The thing that’s really important to be sensitized to is this: If we use the line, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and we say that to someone who identifies as gay or lesbian, what they hear is, “You hate me.” What they’d say is this is not what I do, this is who I am.

Unfortunately, as much as Brown is willing to acknowledge the reality of LGBT people’s experiences, he isn’t willing to accept them as truth. Brown talks so much about reaching out to LGBT people “with love and respect,” but the very manner in which Brown approaches LGBT people is offensive and hostile to open conversation and understanding. You can’t be understanding, loving, respectful or come to reconciliation when you, to your core, view your conversation partner as sick and sinful.

In the second hour of the Jan. 25 program, Brown and Turek welcomed on Faith in America’s Mitchell Gold. The group’s executive director, Brent Childers, was also present in the studio. Brown introduced Gold and spoke briefly about the book he edited, “Youth in Crisis: 40 Stories on Why Religion-Based Bigotry Against Gay People Must End Now,” and to which I contributed an essay on my upbringing as a gay teen in a conservative, fundamentalist, independent Baptist church in the south.

Gold spoke passionately about North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, correctly describing it as the radical, over-reaching piece of legislation it is. But, Gold hit on a stronger, more salient and human element of the upcoming amendment debate and vote.

Gold said:

What bothers me most about the amendment, and I believe it was County Commissioner [Bill James] in Charlotte who said that this amendment really says gay people aren’t welcome. For a 14-year-old kid trying to understand their sexuality, to have an amendment in the public discourse in this big public discussion to have people saying gays are sinners and an abomination, that they are not entitled, that it’s not God’s plan to have it this way. I know from doing this book that these are devastating things. This is why kids jump off bridges. This is why kids hang themselves.

Despite Gold’s sincere attempt at honest, heartfelt conversation, Brown and Turek quickly pounced, throwing out straw-man arguments and red herrings meant to distract from rather than contribute to healthy dialogue. And, though Gold was attempting to discuss the health and well-being of LGBT young people, care to guess which issues Brown preferred come to the fore? Yup, you got it: Polygamy, pederasty and the supposed “sick” nature of LGBT people and the insinuation that being gay itself was causing youth to kill themselves — not that anti-LGBT hostility and societal prejudice was the root cause of such tragedies.

Brown’s inaccuracies on suicide quickly led into a discussion on the American Psychiatric Association (APA), its removal of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973 and Brown’s far-right conspiracy theory that posits the belief that the APA is nothing more than a gay activist front group.

Brown and Turek attempted to use a 2001 study by Dr. Robert Spitzer, a retired psychologist who helped lead the 1973 push to de-list homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as proof of the APA’s “agenda,” saying that Spitzer’s work had proven that LGBT people can change their sexual orientation.

Of course, that’s all lies. Spitzer himself said such change is rare, and admonished anti-LGBT advocates for using his research to support discrimination.

In the last half-hour of the show, Brown once again threw in the polygamy red herring, then accusing Gold of being selfish and bigoted because he didn’t want to recognize marriages between multiple partners. It’s something far-right religious folks never seem to get: The issue isn’t about polygamy. The amendment won’t affect polygamists in mass. It will make LGBT people de jure second-class citizens.

In the last quarter of the show, I think I was nearly astonished as I’ve ever been listening to Brown. It’s no secret that I abhor his use of violent and militant religious rhetoric, but I was absolutely floored at the arrogance Brown displayed toward Gold:

Brown: I don’t know much about furniture business and it would be quite arrogant for me to come and lecture you about the furniture business…

Gold: Are you suggesting it is arrogant for me to come and talk to you about scripture?

Brown: I’m suggesting that you have as little basis for your viewpoint in terms of being a student of the scripture to lecture me about it or to tell me to keep my heart open as opposed to saying to me, “Hey, 40 years walking with the Lord…you have a right to your convictions.” No, ultimately you’re telling me my convictions are harmful to other people and therefore there’s something wrong with my views.”

Wow. Here I thought humility was supposed to be a Christian virtue?And, yes, Brown, you are wrong and your convictions and statements are causing harm.

As the show closed, it came full circle and right back to painting LGBT people as sick and unhealthy: Suicides, higher STD and HIV rates, higher cancer rates and so on and so on in LGBT people. Folks like Brown and Turek, so blinded by their own bigotry and prejudice, will never see their own role in the continued plight of LGBT youth and adults. Just as other marginalized communities have faced health inequities, so to do LGBT people. Societal prejudice and institutionalized discrimination, which Brown and Turek advocate, make such matters worse, not better.

The show wrapped with some of the silliest arguments the right has ever come up with for opposing same-sex marriage. Turek sounded almost child-like, reminiscent of a school-yard bully. Shame.

As for the Jan. 30 Q&A show, I don’t think I’ll write much. There isn’t much to say. Why argue with nonsense, right? You can listen to the Q&A show yourself here. Call-in shows always get off-the-wall, off-topic and crazy. I’ve about reached capacity in my ability to handle and digest pure ridiculousness in one day.