Category Archives: Truth* Academy

LaBarbera’s Truth* Academy Fails Spectacularly. AGAIN.

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Well, Truth* Academy 2011 is over.

I was outside protesting for part of both days in Dublin, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus), and I can tell you that based on the number of cars in the parking lot, attendance inside was abysmal.

Before we get to that, let’s start out with how much people were paying to get into Peter LaBarbera‘s Anti-Gay Circus. Originally, the general public cost was $75 by March 26/$99 thereafter. That discount rate was later extended to 12 hours before the start of the event.

Of course, all of that went out the window if you were a pastor or a student, in which case you paid only $25. It also went out the window if you were one of the host church’s members. Some blessed soul pointed this out after she saw it in the Discover Christian Church‘s March 16 newsletter:

Important Conference at DCC:

“The ‘Hate’ Labeling of Christians— Why it’s Happening and What We Can Do,” co-sponsored by Mission America (headed by Linda Harvey, DCC member and talk show host on WRFD AM). […] Cost is only $25 per person if you reserve by March 26!

So let’s try to figure how many people were willing to pay $25 for a two day conference with the Religious Right’s Finest. There weren’t any moles that we know of this year (there were at least six in 2010), so we’re going to have to work off of rough estimates and a bit of informed speculation instead of a direct head count.

There were 17 vehicles in the parking lot when I arrived on Friday as registration was set to open, and only a few more came in before we left at 3:00. On Saturday, I counted 25 vehicles before the Truth* Academy lunch break, so let’s fix the number of vehicles at 25 on both days.

At least two of those were the vehicles of police officers. At least three cars (I’m assuming they carpooled to and from the airport) were used to get the seven instructors around. Figure another three for non-attending church employees preparing for Sunday morning or there in case of an emergency at the event.

That leaves us with 17 vehicles for paying attendees. Assuming half of them arrived with two paying attendees, that would put paid attendance at an extremely generous estimation of 25, even with 75% discounts for local attendees and the prime audience, and a 25% discount for everybody else.

I’m not even sure it was that high, to be honest. When they took a break for “eat on your own” lunch on Saturday, most of the vehicles didn’t leave the parking lot, leaving me to wonder if they were unrelated to the event. Of the few that did leave, only one had more than one person in it. I suppose most people could have brown-bagged it, but I really doubt it.

Also, one who purported to know told me that the ratio of police officers to attendees was near 1:1. Even though there were three police cars, a K-9 unit, one van, and a paddy wagon, that still equals not many people. (The Dublin police were fantastic, by the way.)

Honest to God, I wonder if they even got into double digits.

Truth Academy 2011 Protest
Truth Academy 2011 Protest

Meanwhile, the LGBT community was working the sidewalk outside. GetEqual Ohio hadn’t planned on any action on Friday, but when local activist Gwen Andrix decided to go with her spouse, I agreed to join them, and GetEqual Ohio lead organizer Thomas Morgan made four.

We had quite a few more than four on Saturday. Some of the activists at Equality Ohio‘s CAUSE Conference took a break to come join us, bringing my count for the day to over 50 (plus five dogs).

We had lots of passing gawkers (yay!) and honkers (BIGGER YAY!), and five or six people stopped to ask what was going on (ZOMG YAY WITH BOLD FOR EFFECT!!!). One person came back to tell us how heartbroken (her word) she was over what the church was doing.

LaBarbera and crew never came out to greet us, but his cameraman made multiple trips outside to take our picture. He even recorded some video from across the street with a weird grin on his face the whole time.

Can’t wait to see what LaBarbera makes out of the footage. I wonder if he’ll have O Fortuna playing while I’m on screen. That’d be pretty cool.

If you look real close at the first picture up there, you can just barely see me on the left behind the man with two dogs. I was having a “spirited exchange” with the one person (khaki jacket) who came outside to hassle us. I can’t quite place him, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before, and he said he knows Matt Barber.

This guy…Ugh. One of those “I’ll just keep asking questions and hope you mess up” guys that ends every sentence with “…don’t you agree?” I think he was surprised to find someone who can debate scripture and knows that indulging in it for very long is pointless. He reminded me of an online troll.

The best part was when I tried to extricate myself from the situation and he refused to stop. At one point I was literally counting to him the number of times I’d asked him to stop while he just kept talking over me. And when he finally stopped (eight requests, by the way) following me around, he cornered another group for a good 30-45 minutes.

Note to young activists: As I’ve said before, dealing with his type is futile. It’s a waste of your time and always ends the same way. This type of person has done considerable damage to our community, and you deserve better than to be disrespected in this way.

Other than that, we had a good two days on the sidewalk. The number of young activists on the scene was so encouraging, as was the response of the local community.

My favorite moment? This one, hands down:

Lauren Ramsey Running The Colors
Lauren Ramsey Running The Colors

(Photos courtesy Gwendolyn Andrix)

Peter LaBarbera: “Sexual Behavior” Includes Kissing

If I were a vain man, I’d think that Peter LaBarbera had read my last blog post.

A couple days ago I wrote about this offensive statement by Matt Barber:

Kids who are engaging in homosexual behavior often look inward and know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, is immoral, and so they become depressed and the instances of suicide can rise there as well.

I pointed out that Barber’s statement was offensive hogwash for several reasons, not the least of which is that many of the suicide victims who identified as (or were perceived as) LGBT weren’t sexually active, which is invariably what an anti-gay person means when they use the term “homosexual behavior.”

Fast forward to tonight, when I was surprised to find LaBarbera taking a break from his Truth* Academy duties to write this tweet [screencap]:

Good evening, its 4/1/11, & sexual behavior b/t men (including kissing) is still immoral & perverse – no matter what “Glee” advocates #tcot

Oh Pete. Pete, Pete, Pete. That dog just won’t hunt. The Bible doesn’t use the term “sexual behavior,” and even under your warped reading, it doesn’t say anything about not smooching. How silly of you.

And about The Kiss on Glee. I agree with LaBarbera that it’s a watershed moment, though it’s far from “tragic.”

For more on that, I’ll defer again to the always fabulous Tom and Lorenzo:

We thought THE KISS was also an adorable scene. We wondered if they were going to be able to make a romance seem believable (because it’s been totally one-sided up until now), but these two actors have a ton of chemistry. Totally, absolutely charming and just as with “Teenage Dream,” we hope a hundred thousand gay boys saw that last night and slept with a smile on their face, hoping for the best.

(I’ll post more about the Truth* Academy on Sunday. For now, let’s just say that turnout on day one was abysmal even though they tried to quietly pack the auditorium with cheap ticket locals.)

Matt Barber To Suicidal LGBT Kids: It’s God’s Job To Kill You


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A couple days ago, the fabulous Right Wing Watch reported that Truth* Academy Instructor Matt Barber said this on his radio show:

Kids who are engaging in homosexual behavior often look inward and know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, is immoral, and so they become depressed and the instances of suicide can rise there as well.

Of course, this angered anyone who has two brain cells to knock together, and now Barber’s back for a second round. Today, Right Wing Watch reported on a follow up interview he did with Truth* Academy’s Peter LaBarbera. As you might have guessed, Barber had no intention of backing down.

Matt Barber is totally not gay, you guys.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel

Right, as you know I’ve never been one to mince words or sugarcoat things. That’s how God hardwired me. I also shared my opinion that many of those caught-up in the homosexual lifestyle intuitively know that such conduct is sin – that it’s both immoral and unnatural behavior. Objective truth is objective truth. God has written His laws on the hearts of every man, woman and child. We’re all spiritual beings created in the image of our sovereign Lord. We are also all sinners. Scripture says that not one of us is righteous. When we sin, we create separation between ourselves and God.

God’s word also says that when we sin sexually, it’s particularly egregious because our bodies are the temple of Christ. This separation from God – a natural result of sexual sin – can lead to depression and even despair. It’s a no brainer. I pointed out that such despair and inner conflict can logically be one factor that might contribute to teen suicide. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to witness, but it’s a very painful reality.

Scripture warns that “the wages of sin is death.” Homosexual behavior is demonstrably destructive physically, emotionally and spiritually. The answer is never to take one’s own life. Life is God’s alone to give and to take away. The answer is to repent, make every effort to stop sinning and to find Life.

  1. If realization of “sexual sin” (which doesn’t include being gay, in the opinion of many) were a major cause of suicide, rates of LGBT people would be the same as non-LGBT people. It’s not. LGBT youth are three to seven times (depending on environment) more likely to die by suicide.

    UPDATE 04/01/2011: Newer studies show even more alarming statistics. LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers (Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey, 2007). LGBT youth from rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than other LGBT youth (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009).
  2. What Barber means by “destructive physically” is undoubtedly diseases such as HIV/AIDS. As I and many others have said before, gays having sex doesn’t cause HIV/AIDS, nor does gays having sex innately spread the disease. What spreads HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, both in gay and straight communities, is unprotected sex.

    It’s no shock that this is a bigger problem in the gay community. Sex education in schools is federally limited to abstinence-until-marriage, leaving gay boys and girls completely in the dark to a much greater degree than straight boys and girls. Homophobia and stigma related to being gay have also been shown to put LGBTs at greater risk than their straight peers.
  3. We have to remember that when Barber and company use the terms “homosexual lifestyle” and “homosexual behavior,” they mean sex. Carl Hoover wasn’t having sex before he completed suicide. Jaheem Hererra wasn’t having sex before he completed suicide. Eric Mohat wasn’t having sex before he completed suicide. Stuart Matis wasn’t having sex before he completed suicide. Neither, for all we know, were Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, or Raymond Storm Chase. It’s not about sex.
  4. Considerable research has been done on the higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among LGBT people. None of it points to God or “sin” on the part of an LGBT person. All of it points to the rhetoric of hate like Matt Barber’s. All of it.

Then there’s the part that incenses me the most, as a gay man and even more so as a Christian. It’s the part that led to the title of this post.

Scripture warns that “the wages of sin is death.” Homosexual behavior is demonstrably destructive physically, emotionally and spiritually. The answer is never to take one’s own life. Life is God’s alone to give and to take away.

Don’t rush by that statement. Don’t skim it. This is important. Really dig into it and see the visceral, vengeful hatred coming from this Religious Right leader.

In this context, what Barber is saying is not that gay kids shouldn’t commit suicide because God loves them and doesn’t want them to die. What he’s saying is that gay kids shouldn’t commit suicide because it’s God’s job to kill them.

And kill them God will, to hear Barber talk about it. He’s recently argued that gays having sex should be criminal, that it should be punishable by imprisonment, and that it should be considered domestic terrorism.

None of these are hyperbole on my part; that’s just what he said. He’s also made it clear that he sees HIV/AIDS as a just sentence for being gay.

I could give a whole angry screed on how Matt Barber is wrong and how what he’s doing is connected to the deaths of LGBT people. I could, but Julia Sugarbaker did it for me 24 years ago when a fictional character said almost exactly what he said this week.

[full episode here]

Only two days left till the Truth* Academy. Matt Barber will be there to spread his vitriol in the House of God. If you’re in Ohio or surrounding states, I hope you’ll join me in protesting what he and his compatriots do to our community and our kids.

Truth* Academy: Putting It All Together

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We have less than a week before hate group Americans For Truth brings their second Truth* Academy to Columbus, Ohio. Now that we have detailed backgrounds for each of the anti-gay industry representatives, I thought it might be helpful to bring their distilled messages together in one post to see how each instructor’s message will work with the others to create an over-arching theme.

To be honest, I was a little surprised at how well they dovetail into each other.

  • Robert Gagnon reduces being gay to “you’re doing sex wrong.”
  • Rena Lindevaldsen says that the United States government shouldn’t have the power to decide whether people have sex unless those people are gay, in which case the government must imprison them.
  • Greg Quinlan is just glad he isn’t “a flaming faggot” (his term) and says that people have the right not to have gay sex…but they don’t have the right to have gay sex. Because gay people have AIDS.
  • Peter LaBarbera uses long-disproven rhetoric disguised as research to demonize LGBT people as mentally ill sexual predator “fascists.”
  • Linda Harvey says that LGBT teachers will molest children, and that gays in the military want to bring the nation down. Also, she says HIV/AIDS and other diseases are part and parcel of gay sex.
  • Matt Barber agrees with them that gays are sexual predators, but he says we want to molest soldiers. He also calls gays “fascists,” not unlike friend Scott Lively does when he claims that gays are responsible for genocide in Nazi Germany and Rwanda.
  • David Kupelian wraps it all up by declaring (falsely) that Christians in America are being persecuted and thrown in jail for not liking gay people very much.

This is the message they spread. All of these speakers make their living in the anti-gay industry and will gasp in shocked amazement if you point out their handcrafted environment that promotes hatred and violence against LGBT people.

The Truth* Academy will be held on April 1-2, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Protest details at this link. Please join us.

LaBarbera and company are definitely fringe figures. But their message is dangerous, and it must be countered with actual truth.

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Peter LaBarbera

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On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Peter LaBarbera is absolutely NOT a Big Flaming Homosexual and certainly does NOT have a desperately unrequited crush on Joe Jervis. I don't know why you would even suggest such an outrageous notion.
Peter LaBarbera of AFTAH
(A Hate Group)

Peter LaBarbera will be giving a speech at the Truth* Academy in Columbus, but more importantly he’s the ringleader of this circus. He’ll certainly set the tone for the two half-days, so let’s look at his tone. But where in the world should we begin?

Do we start with how he defaced Good As You proprietor Jeremy Hooper’s wedding photo?

Do we start with the Box Turtle Bulletin’s LaBarbera Award, given for the “most outrageous, offensive, malevolent, crazy, or excessive statement or claim”?

Do we go back to 2009 and see how LaBarbera was so extreme and so hateful that the anti-gay forces gathered there asked him not to come, and when he came anyway, they denounced him before his press conference was even over?

How about we start with an interview LaBarbera did in July 2010 with radio host David Pakman. About six minutes into part one, LaBarbera starts scolding Pakman because the show‘s producer didn’t tell him that Pakman isn’t anti-gay. It’s a really weird interview, and LaBarbera lets his hood slip a bit.

One interesting tidbit that I was surprised Pakman got out of LaBarbera is that he really thinks that anal sex between consenting adults should be illegal in the United States. More on that in another post.

(Here’s a follow up interview the tragically heterosexual cutie pie David Pakman did with Truth Wins Out‘s Wayne Besen, who LaBarbera mentioned in part one.)

Then there’s Peter LaBarbera’s unabashed devotion to the work of Paul Cameron.

For those who don’t know, Cameron is chairman of the Family Research Institute, an SPLC-certified hate group like LaBarbera’s AFTAH. (Birds of a feather and all that.)

In 1983, Cameron put forth a booklet that soundly vilified gay people. For example, the lines about gay men having 100+ sex partners a year and a life span of 42 years come from Cameron. He’s behind the gerbil thing too.

Cameron’s claims have long since been disproved. Read more about that in this exhaustive 12-part series by Box Turtle Bulletin’s Jim Burroway. Importantly, Cameron’s research methods (such as they are) were revealed and soundly denounced by anyone with a passing knowledge of statistical methodology.

He was drummed out of the American Psychological Association the same year he brought his claims, in 1984 by the Nebraska Psychological Association, and in 1986 by the American Sociological Association. Even still, Cameron’s claims are a major source of material for anti-gay hate groups today.

Fast forward to 2010, when researcher Walter R. Shumm, an associate of Paul Cameron, claimed to have duplicated some of Cameron’s findings. While their claim that LGBT families are more likely to produce LGBT kids is patently ridiculous to reasonable people, it does perpetuate the deeply held right wing belief that gay people are predators and steal your children at night.

And for that reason, Peter LaBarbera and other hate group leaders got all tingly when they read the news.

It came as no surprise when we found out that Shumm had reused Cameron’s preposterously unscientific methods to reproduce Cameron’s findings, as detailed here, again by Box Turtle Bulletin.

Shumm’s results, in other words, are nonsense.

But that didn’t stop Peter LaBarbera from hailing Shumm’s work in a radio interview and deriding reasonable people for not accepting it at face value.

This just confirms what we already knew: Truth is irrelevant in Peter LaBarbera’s world. All that matters to Peter LaBarbera is the validation of his hatred of LGBT people.

Kind of makes the April Fool’s Day scheduling of LaBarbera’s Truth* Academy especially appropriate, don’t you think?

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: David Kupelian

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On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

David Kupelian of World Net Daily
David Kupelian of World Net Daily

David Kupelian, vice president and managing editor of World Net Daily, is billed as the Truth* Academy’s keynote speaker. He will be giving two speeches, Christian Persecution in America and the Role of the Left and Propaganda or Journalism? The Role of the Media in Undermining Christianity.

Kupelian is certainly a big draw, what with his role at World Net Daily, so let’s look at WND first. It’s a conservative website that pretends to be a news service. These days it’s best known for being Birther Central, so much so that they have a mile-long Birther archive page.

Refuting Birther nonsense is pretty far outside this blog’s purpose, so head over to internet pal Loren’s blog Barackryphal for a first rate demolition of the claims of WND and other Birther luminaries. This post is a pretty good example of Loren’s thoroughness.

Now let’s look at words that are directly attributed to David Kupelian. We’ll start with his August 2010 article called Why conservatives are abandoning the ‘gay’ issue. It’s just chock full of links, which I love because it gives people a chance to see for themselves. For example, there’s this paragraph about the Matthew Shepard Act:

Why are sincere Bible-believing Christians being persecuted, fined and sometimes incarcerated, just for holding to the clear teachings of their religion, which unambiguously condemns homosexuality as a serious sin?

Usually, most people would skim over that link and assume it led to credible evidence of the author’s claim, but in this case I know that the claim is bunk. Over 500 days have passed since the Matthew Shepard Act was signed into law, and it has not led to even one person being persecuted, fined, or incarcerated for “holding to the clear teachings of their religion.” Not even one.

So what does Kupelian’s link connect to? An April 2009 fear-mongering article warning that persecution, fining, and incarceration would happen if the hate crimes act passed. Which, again, it hasn’t.

In other words, The keynote speaker at the Truth* Academy was lying, leading the reader to believe something that is plainly and provably false.

Six weeks later, Kupelian did an interview on Mark Gillar‘s TEA Party Power Hour. It’s an excruciating hour-long interview. Pace yourself or you’ll go mental.

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/10-9-2010-tea-party-david-kupelian.mp3″ text=”David Kupelian on TEA Party Power Hour”]

A few notes in case you didn’t make it through: At 10:52, Kupelian calls President Obama “well-spoken.” Then at 33:30:

The president is mentally ill. This is not saying ‘Is he narcissistic?’ Everybody knows he’s a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental disorder. It’s in the diagnostic and statistic manual. It’s got a very bad and severe symptom picture. It’s very much like being a sociopath or psychopath, although it’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s very similar.

So, you know, there’s what he thinks of the president.

Oh but there’s more, including bits about how awesome things were sixty years ago in the 1950s (22:30) and how the Tea Party reminds Kupelian of those days (30:10), how “The Left” mocks “everything normal” (15:10), and his adult children are normal and don’t have tattoos and are virgins because they didn’t go to the public schools (39:30), which were “taken over by atheistic progressives more than a hundred years ago” (38:32).

Quite the revealing interview, though probably not in the way he intended.

One more item to close it out: Kupelian’s claim in his bio that he’s an “award-winning journalist” has been bugging me. After searching for three days, the only award I’ve turned up is a third place, $4,000 award given by something called The Amy Foundation in 2006. He got it for using a Bible verse in one of his articles.

I guess technically that qualifies him as “award-winning,” but is that the only award to his name? If that’s all it takes, I should add the award I won in sixth grade (Spelling Bee, Second Place) to my About page.

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Rena Lindevaldsen

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On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Rena Lindevaldsen is not a lesbian. Pinky swear.
Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty Counsel
Rena Lindevaldsen, attorney with Liberty Counsel and professor at Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University, will be giving a talk at the Truth* Academy called “Marriage and Family in the Crosshairs,” the same title it had last year. If you’re a second time student, be ready for a rerun.

In January, Rena Lindevaldsen started a blog sensitively titled Only One Mommy, in an apparent attempt to become better known as the attorney who helped “ex-lesbian” Lisa Miller kidnap her eight-year-old daughter Isabella in late 2009 so her former partner, with whom she had the child, couldn’t have court-ordered visitation with their child.

There’s more to say on that sad and complex case, but I couldn’t possibly do better than the fantastic Box Turtle Bulletin and Right Wing Watch. Please see both those links and read up.

The Miller case is what Lindevaldsen is best known for these days, but let’s take a look at some of her other claims to fame.

A few days before last year’s Truth* Academy, Peter LaBarbera (who we’ll get to in another post) sat down and talked to Lindevaldsen about their shared beliefs. The audio is below if you want to hear the whole thing. It’s 47 minutes long, and it’s a fair bet that her talk will hit the same points as the radio interview.

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/7-31-10-rena-lindevaldsen.mp3″ text=”Peter LaBarbera with Rena Lindevaldsen”]

Keep in mind that all the instructors at this year’s Truth* Academy are Biblical Literalist/Evangelicals (last year they had a Jewish speaker). For them, in practice, basic intellectual activities of thinking, interpretation, and context discernment are (selectively) irrelevant while reading the Bible.

For example, here’s Lindevaldsen on Christians who believe that being gay isn’t horrible (19:00 – 19:24):

If you proclaim to be a Christian and you believe and state that God’s word is Truth, you don’t have a choice. You don’t have the right to alter God’s standards and alter God’s word. And so we’re spending more time up front to instruct this generation because they have been brainwashed for so long. So it’s taking more time, but they’re turning around because they understand that it’s not up to them. Either they’re going to follow God or not follow God.

Of course, I don’t know anyone who is trying to “alter God’s standards and alter God’s word” by saying that it’s okay to live with integrity by being gay instead of living in denial and self-hatred. The people I know understand that some rules in the Bible are irrelevant now, if they were relevant at one time. For example, I don’t think a person is spitting in the face of God by not following Deuteronomy 22:8, which clearly states in unambiguous language that a railing must be built around the roof of one’s house. It was a good rule in its day, but applying it literally today is utterly meaningless.

Likewise, disregarding a rule from an ancient culture that had a mistaken understanding about the biology of procreation does not necessarily mean that one is not following God. We know now how babies are made, and that knowledge makes the literal application of the rule irrelevant.

(And if I did think that God’s Design for home construction was a railing around the roof, I certainly wouldn’t be demanding that my city government adopt that requirement in its building codes. There are Muslims, Catholics, Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Mormons, non-Evangelical Protestants, and a whole passel of other groups of Americans whose religious or irreligious traditions don’t recognize Deuteronomy 22:8 as ultimately important, and as an American I understand that our government does not and should not codify one group’s rules over another’s.)

ANYWAY.

This is one of the toughest problems working with the views of someone like Lindevaldsen. She starts with the presumption that everybody must always agree with her view of the Bible, and if they don’t they’re either “brainwashed” or treasonous. Before you can even get to the basics of an issue, such as marriage equality or parental rights, you have to discover and counter the inarticulated error that she made at the very first step.

Looking further into Lindevaldsen’s past, she seems to have had a hand on the losing side of Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that decriminalized gay sex (Yes, that happened only eight years ago.), or at least her name appears in the decision.

According to a report by someone who was at last year’s Truth* Academy:

In her view, the last U.S. Supreme Court case which correctly described marriage was Murphy v. Ramsey, a case on polygamy decided 125 years ago. Decrying Lawrence v. Texas, which protected citizen privacy from anti-sodomy laws, Prof. Lindevaldsen admitted that she didn’t want “the government peeking into my bedroom.” However, privacy in this case should be sacrificed because “laws normalize conduct.”

In other words, she thinks it’s bad for the government to violate the privacy of straight people, but violating that same privacy of gays is okay because, you know, they deserve to have their rights violated because gay people having sex is gross.

But she says she really loves us. Can’t you just feel it?

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Matt Barber

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On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Matt Barber is totally not gay, you guys.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel
Matt Barber is director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel, an arm of Jerry Falwell‘s Liberty University. His session at the Truth* Academy is called “Sexual Anarchy in the Military: The Implications for Christian Faith and National Security.” If you’ve been paying attention to the anti-gay industry for the last few years, you know who he is. If not, read on and be as sickened as the rest of us.

Barber writes for several far-right websites, most notably World Net Daily, the birther site that also publishes articles by Truth* Academy instructor Linda Harvey. Here’s a snip from one of his articles published last December:

Sometimes the most effective way to deal with a bully is to simply pop him in the chops. While it may not shut him up entirely, it usually gives him pause before he resumes flapping his toxic jaws. It also has the effect of showing the other kids in the schoolyard that they have nothing to fear. Though the bully struts about projecting the tough-guy image, he’s typically the most insecure pansy on the block.

[…]

It’s little wonder they’ve resorted to childish name calling.

I thought it might be interesting to see how Barber stands up to his own description of a bully. Let’s look at some of Barber’s more recent tweets from his personal account (I’ve removed hashtags, but they are otherwise unedited) to see how un-self-aware he is.

(By the way, Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters deals with this full article in this post.)

!!!WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AHEAD!!!

That’s just a sampling from six weeks of tweets, and I didn’t include any of his Birther or anti-Muslim nonsense, either.

Then there’s the non-Twitter stuff. I’ll only give you two, but there are plenty more where these came from.

In an article published December 15, 2009, Barber defined homosexuality as: “One man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.'”

And before that, in 2009 Barber told a room full of anti-gays to focus on the “ick” factor (he took his own advice above), and said that “Christ wasn’t about being nice.”

You can imagine the sort of rhetoric Matt Barber will bring to the supposedly Christian-principled Truth* Academy.

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Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Robert Gagnon

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On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at the Presbyterian and very conservative Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has called his session at Truth* Academy “Christian Theology and Homosexuality: Why God Has Not Changed His Mind.”

Gagnon has written books and articles that are daunting in length (the man needs an editor, that’s for sure), but when you really dig deep, everything he writes comes from viewing the Bible through one interpretive lens: Boys rule and girls drool.

Gagnon often goes back to the creation story in Genesis 2: 18-24 to prove this point, extrapolating that masculine and feminine traits and roles are viewed by God as unwaveringly distinct. Men are awesome because they were created first, and women were just (yes, just) created to help men. What they don’t tell you is that if you read Genesis 2 closely, people with vaginas were pretty much a last ditch effort after Adam rejected all the animals.

There’s a problem with this line of thinking, though. The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is a myth. It’s a nice myth, as creation myths go, but that’s all it is, and it’s written from a staunchly patriarchal world view. (And I say that as a Christian.)

Extrapolating further, Gagnon drew a stunning and absurd conclusion in 2008 in an article directed at Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin. He said… Well, I’ll let Kincaid tell you.

You may have heard of Matthew 7:1-6. You may even have thought it was about acceptance and tolerance and withholding judgment of others. Well not according to Gagnon:

Jesus’ saying about not giving what is “holy” to the “dogs” (Matt 7:6), an apparent allusion to Deuteronomic law (Deut 23:17-18) and texts in 1-2 Kings that indict the qedeshim, self-designated “holy ones” identified as “dogs” for their attempt to erase their masculinity by serving as the passive-receptive partners in man-male intercourse.

I kid you not! Robert Gagnon believes the text on not judging is really a condemnation of bottom boys.

But I guess the good news is that Jesus loves tops.

Again, this all comes through an interpretive lens that demands that stereotypical masculinity be more highly valued than stereotypical femininity and that falsely equates masculinity with dominance during sex.

Gagnon also makes the common mistake of treating homosexuality as a specific physical act rather than a trait that includes psychological, physiological, romantic, and spiritual elements. By reducing it to “You’re doing sex wrong,” Gagnon effectively devalues and dismisses the witness of gay people, leading his audience to view us as broken creatures bent on self-destruction.

If you’re interested in a more complete refutation of Dr. Gagnon’s theories, Jack Bartlett Rogers, Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has a pretty good one in his book Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Chapter 5, “What The Bible Says And Doesn’t Say About Homosexuality,” beginning at page 77 (second edition).

Unfortunately, Dr. Gagnon doesn’t limit his faulty logic to his church. On September 7, 2004, Dr. Gagnon wrote the following in an article (it’s really more of a press release) on the dangers of a hate crime law that would protect LGBT people:

A “hate crime” bill does not reduce violent crime. It rather establishes homosexual and bisexual behavior as valued practices that society wants to promote. It opens up the possibility of criminal prosecution of persons who speak out publicly against the harmful effects of promoting homosexual practice.

By establishing the valued character of “sexual orientation” diversity, it provides a legal stepping stone for other homosex-promoting legislation (including workplace and school promotion of homosexual practice, civil unions, gay marriage), further threatening the civil liberties of any opposed to homosexual propaganda and indoctrination. It also ignores the fact that orientations toward sex with children and with multiple sex partners are “sexual orientations.”

His whole statement is hogwash, though I do think it would be awesome if being gay were more highly valued in society. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the most absurd lie in that last sentence I quoted. It jumped out at me because we’ve heard it before, most memorably in 2009 when Representatives Steve King and Louis Gohmert floated it in Congress.

But again, it’s a lie. The federal law that governs such things makes it clear as day when it says, “As used in this section, the term ‘sexual orientation’ means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.”

It really bothers me when someone who claims to be a scholar lies so easily.

truth-academy

Truth* Academy Instructor Series: Greg Quinlan

truth-academy

On April 1-2, 2011, Mission America and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) will be cosponsoring the second Truth* Academy in Columbus, Ohio. I thought it might be helpful to see what tone and substance attendees can expect from each of the instructors before the conference begins. You can find all of my Truth* Academy posts at this link.

Greg Quinlan of PFOX
Greg Quinlan of PFOX
Greg Quinlan’s presentation at Truth* Academy is called “Leaving homosexuality behind, and the LGBT strategy to undermine the ex-homosexual message.” It seems that he’s their “ex-gay” guru this year, as he was in 2010.

Since his role as president of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays) lends a certain weight to his words, it’s important to know what he says in that capacity. His appearance at the first Truth* Academy seven months ago is partially captured online thanks to Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out.

Here’s what Besen had to say about his it Quinlan year: “The presentation was packed with misinformation, crude stereotypes and a healthy dose of gay bashing. Quinlan punctuated his sermon by claiming he wasn’t a limp wristed, flaming faggot, even while shining oh-so brightly onstage.”

“I wasn’t your flaming faggot, you know. I can say that because I’ve been there and done that. You know, the ones whose wrists are so limp that when the wind blows they slap themselves in the face. I wasn’t one of them.” (8:00—8:13)

Dealing with “ex-gay” folks can be frustrating. Even the term suggests that you can choose the gender of the people you’re attracted to, but of course that’s a lie. When you talk to them, most ex-gay industry leaders eventually concede that you can only decide not to have sex or whatever else they define as “The Homosexual Lifestyle.”

Of course, that makes you a celibate person, not a not-gay person.

And I’m okay with that. It’s totally within a person’s rights to be celibate. I’m even okay with Greg telling people that they should be celibate for whatever reason, as long as he’s honest.

The problem is that Greg doesn’t stop there, and he isn’t honest. Just last Friday he took to the Maryland House of Delegates to testify against the marriage law that has already passed in the Senate, even though PFOX’s website clearly states in unambiguous language that “PFOX is not an anti-gay organization.”

Greg goes on about self-determination and how you can become not-gay if you just try hard enough, but I just don’t understand what in the world that has to do with the law. The law before the Maryland House of Delegates doesn’t say that everybody has to get gay-married or that nobody is allowed to be celibate. It just says that lesbian and gay people can get married if they want and receive the benefits and responsibilities afforded to straight married couples.

Besides which, what of the self-determination of people who don’t want to be ex-gay? Are our rights forfeit because he disagrees with our decision?

Maybe he’s afraid that people won’t want to join his group if the stigma starts to dissipate. That’s money right out of his pocket, after all.

More than anything, Greg strikes me as a loose cannon. He hasn’t learned the simple strategy of “say what you mean to say and STOP.” In the Maryland video, he finishes by insulting the delegates that he just got done trying to convince, and throughout the video you can see that whenever he looks away from his script his words get sharper, less “kinder, gentler,” and more offensive.

Certainly his “I wasn’t your flaming faggot” at last year’s Truth* Academy wasn’t written down on a piece of paper.

To be honest, I almost can’t wait to see what he comes up with this year.

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