Christian Groups Monitor Gay Blogs for Threats Against Churches

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday November 6, 2008

Taking their legal victories against gay and lesbian families from injury and into insult, anti-gay Christian groups are now claiming that gay bloggers, frustrated at the revocation of their rights under law in several state ballot initiatives, are advocating violence against Christians.

Matt Barber of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel seized onto comments posted at GLBT Web publications in the wake of California voters snatching marriage rights from the hands of gay and lesbian families on Nov. 5.

The ballot initiative, known as Proposition 8, drew tens of millions of dollars from around the country, at least $22 million of which was contributed by members of the Mormon faith, whose church leadership issued instructions for Mormons to commit financial and other resources to the passage of Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 rewrites the California constitution in a manner that outlaws marriage for gay and lesbian families.

Other anti-family ballot initiatives passed in Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas.

A wave of angry commentary on GLBT Web sites was predictable; indeed, given often-threatening anti-gay comments posted at right-wing Web outlets, such postings could only be seen as fitting the current climate.

Such harsh talk has long been part of the American cultural dialogue. Anti-abortion advocates have gone so far as to post the names and addresses of doctors that provide abortion services; anti-abortion leaders have made mention of abortion providers being assassinated, while in the same breath distancing themselves from any actual call for violence.

Angry rhetoric on LGBT Web sites was to be anticipated, therefore, and it seems that a PR-conscious religious right did anticipate such comments, and moved to follow up the results of Election Day, which rescinded family rights for gays and lesbians in several states, with what may constitute an attempt to curtail freedom of expression for gays and lesbians.

Barber issued a news release, cited at various right-wing Christian sites and GLBT sites alike, in which he claimed that gays were actively advocating that hate crimes targeting Christians be carried out.

Striking an incredulous tone, the news release declared that "several self identified homosexuals on a number of homosexual blogs are advocating violence against Christians and other supporters of traditional marriage."

The release went on, "Additionally, some homosexuals are calling for church burnings in response to yesterday's three state referenda in defense of natural marriage."

The release then cherry-picked from various comments posted to GLBT Web sites such as Queerty and JoeMyGod.

One posting at Queerty called for readers to burn Mormon temples, with the blogger writing, "Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT."

Responded Queerty, "No, don't."

Added Queerty, "First and foremost, violence solves nothing and obviously we don't condone such thinking.

"Second, if people actually started attacking churches, it would do the gay rights movement a great disservice.

"We're sure there are other ways to fight for our rights, like public protests, lawyers and other perfectly legal venues," Queerty continued.

The religious right suggested that such expressions of anger be criminally prosecuted and tutted the gay community for asking for "tolerance," only to post such commentary when their rights were taken from them by legal maneuvers and the use of the popular vote.

No such calls from the religious right for criminal prosecution have been noted in instances where right-wing bloggers suggested physical violence should be visited upon gays and lesbians.

The release also culled carefully excerpted text from blogger postings at JoeMyGod, including a comment that encouraged readers to "Burn their f-ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers."

JoeMyGod responded by warning readers that, "The Christianists are monitoring this and other LGBT blogs and calling for the criminal prosecution of those calling for violent revenge against the religious right in the wake of yesterday's vote on Proposition 8."

Added JoeMyGod, "Please refrain from any possibly actionable calls to violence against our foul enemies and their property.

"There have been over 1000 comments today already, but I will go slog through them and remove any comments that might cause you legal repercussions, as remote as that prospect probably may be."

At the right-wing religious site WorldNetDaily, a Nov. 5 article based on the release reveled in the claims made by Barber, who stated in the release that, "The homosexual lobby is always calling for 'tolerance' and 'diversity' and playing the role of victim.

"They claim to deplore violence and 'hate.' Here we have homosexuals inciting, and directly threatening, violence against Christians."

Added Barber, "This is not free speech; these are 'hate crimes' under the existing definition.

"Imagine if Christian websites were advocating such violence against homosexuals. There'd be outrage, and rightfully so. It'd be national front-page news.

"Federal authorities should immediately investigate these threats and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law."

Given that federal authorities have not, to date, launched any extensive investigations of Christian and conservative Web sites for similar user-posted language against gays, that outcome seems unlikely.

In the release, Barber also encouraged GLBT leaders to encourage that threatening language not be employed by angry gays whose rights have been curtailed.

With Queerty and JoeMyGod having done so, it remains to be seen whether the Liberty Council and other right-wing Christian organizations will issue a similar call for civility to members of their own ranks.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.