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In the wake of the recent Southern Poverty Law Center list of “new” hate groups – groups like the American Family Association and the Family Research Council – we’ve seen quite a backlash against the term “hate group.”  All of a sudden, lots of hateful bigots don’t want to be called hateful bigots.  Yeah, sure, they think homosexuality should be criminalized and gays should live fearful lives in their closets with no access to civil equality…but “hate”?  Nah, they “love” the homosexuals.  They love them enough to tell them they’re an abomination and a threat to the family.  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, ever so pissed about being called a hater, even demanded an apology from the SPLC for “smearing” his organization with a “slanderous attack.”

Family Research Council will continue to champion marriage and family as the foundation of our society and will not acquiesce to those seeking to silence the Judeo-Christian views held by millions of Americans.  We call on the Southern Poverty Law Center to apologize for this slanderous attack and attempted character assassination.

Perkins made this demand in spite of the mountains of evidence that hateful rhetoric regularly spews out of the Family Research Council.  Here are just a few samples, courtesy of AMERICAblog:

"There is a strong undercurrent of pedophilia in the homosexual subculture. Homosexual activists want to promote the flouting of traditional sexual prohibitions at the earliest possible age....they want to encourage a promiscuous society - and the best place to start is with a young and credulous captive audience in the public schools." - Robert Knight, Family Research Council, http://www.frc.org/...

"homosexuals are included in a list of sinners, who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom of God." - Family Research Council press release about Matt Shepard's funeral, on the day of the funeral, October 16, 1998, http://www.frc.org/... The release implied that a gay person who had not yet become, or tried to become, an "ex-gay" was "unrepentant."

"[Homosexuality] is the opposite of love for God. It is a rebellion against God and God's natural order, and embodies a deep-seated hatred against true religion." - THE ASSAULT ON CHRISTIANS BY THE MILITANT HOMOSEXUAL MOVEMENT, by Steven A. Schwalm, Family Research Council, http://www.frc.org/...

"homosexual behavior hurts people, families, and communities."- Robert Knight, March 1997 speech, http://www.frc.org/...

"That's what we're talking about whenever you're talking about gay rights. You're talking about giving somebody a gun to put at the head of anybody who disagrees with them, whether it's the Boy Scouts, whether it's a local dry-cleaning establishment or a giant corporation like Shell Oil." - Robert Knight, http://www.frc.org/...

It seems that Religious Right bigots want it both ways – they want to crusade against basic equality for LGBT people and use hateful rhetoric in the process, but they don’t want to be called on it.  And if they are called haters, they’ll cry “smear” and insist hate is not their message.

Well, not every Religious Right bigot.  You’re about to meet a hatemonger who doesn’t care much about public image (unlike Tony Perkins).  He doesn’t get caught up in this whole “love the sinner” aspect of the Religious Right.  In fact, he’s pretty enthusiastic about his hate.  And if you get a moment alone with him, he’ll gladly tell you that he not only hates gay people, but he wishes them all dead.

Steven Anderson is the pastor at Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.  And he’s no stranger to controversy.  He made his name as an anti-gay bigot a while back when he went on Sirius OutQ host Michelangelo Signorile’s program and said he wouldn’t condemn somebody for taking a machine gun and shooting down a crowd of gays and lesbians.  Then he called gay people child molesters and told Signorile (who is openly gay) that he thinks Signorile molests children…and that he hopes Signorile gets brain cancer.  No, seriously:

Signorile:  You want all gay people to be executed, correct?
Anderson:  That is correct.
Signorile:  Yes.  And that, you would like to see as the law of the land.  So, under the American law right now, if somebody were to go out with a machine gun and spray down a crowd of gay and lesbian people, would you think that was okay?
Anderson:  No, I would not think it’s okay because I believe in due process.
Signorile:  Would that person be a murderer?
Anderson:  I would not judge them as a murderer, no.
[…]
Anderson:  You know why homosexuals go to church, it’s because they probably just can get some access to children.  That’s probably why they even go to church.
Signorile:  Oh, that’s why they go to church?  Why, have you seen a lot of this?
Anderson:  Oh, yeah, I’ve seen homosexuals infiltrate church and molest kids in Sunday school.
Signorile:  You know, I’m gay, and I don’t molest any children.
Anderson:  Well, I’d say you’re lying.
Signorile:  Yeah, you think I must be molesting children, right?
Anderson:  Exactly, right.
Signorile:  Do you pray that I’ll die tonight?
Anderson:  If you’re a homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer like Ted Kennedy.

Listen to more of the interview:

There’s a crash course in Faithful Word Baptist Church’s doctrine.  The church is just one of 18 groups recently designated by the SPCL as “hate groups.”  When the news of the designation broke, the local ABC affiliate decided to confront Anderson and ask him what he thought about the “honor” bestowed on his church.  As it turned out, he hadn’t even heard about the SPLC announcement (or that’s what he claimed).  But, while other organizations rebuked the term “hate group,” Anderson was quick to embrace it.

Do I hate?  Absolutely…I do hate homosexuals, and if hating homosexuals makes our church a hate group, then that’s what we are.

The reporter asked him if he minded being called the leader of a hate group, at which point Anderson compared himself to Jesus (who strangely had nothing at all to say about homosexuality):

No, I don’t, because they called Jesus “Beelzebub” and crucified him and killed him, so I guess they’re always gonna hate Christians.

When asked if he believed gay people should die, Anderson said, “Should I be a Baptist pastor if I don’t believe what the Bible says?  Would you really respect me as a Baptist pastor?”  Holding a Bible up, he went on to say that “if parts of this book offend the Southern Poverty Law Center, then they can just label this a hate book.”

But don’t worry, Anderson says he doesn’t promote violence in his church:

I’ve never promoted violence, and I’ve never laid hands on a soul in my life.  I’ve never hurt anybody.  It’s just my opinions that are somehow deemed so dangerous.

Watch the interview for yourself:

Well, he’s right about that last part – I do deem his “opinions” dangerous.  Because while he might not pick up a baseball bat and beat the life out of a gay person, some people do, and when they listen to a fuck like Steven Anderson they get all the justification they need.  It’s not “murder” – God himself wants those gay people to die.  So while Anderson might see the murder of a gay person and say, “Tsk tsk, that’s wrong,” he really sees it as more along the lines of a speeding ticket.  Certainly not as the brutal taking of another person’s life.  And in Anderson’s eyes, the murderer – while technically in violation of the law – is just doing what God himself calls for.  So yes, Steven Anderson does promote violence.

And this, make no mistake about it, is what lies at the Religious Right’s core.  Some may view Anderson as a fringe extremist in the same category as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.  But the real difference between Steven Anderson and Tony Perkins, or Donald Wildmon, or Pete LaBarbera, or any other anti-gay evangelical is that Anderson doesn’t care about his public image.  They may try to paint it as a fight against same-sex marriage or against what they see as “special protections” (we gays call it civil equality), but those are just distractions.  It’s not a war against what they call the “homosexual agenda,” it’s a war against the homosexual.  Are Anderson’s views really all that extreme?  When you call for a literal interpretation of Leviticus, as all on the Religious Right do, why should anybody believe that those on the Religious Right don’t hate and want to kill gay people?

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir.  It’s pretty obvious that the groups that have fought against gay equality are indeed hate groups.  And it’s pretty easy to see that Steven Anderson’s viewpoint isn’t that “out there” in the context of the Religious Right.  Yet these people – Tony Perkins especially – are given airtime on mainstream news networks time and time again.  I said it in another diary, and I’ll say it again:  This has to stop.  When these haters are given a platform on a supposedly legitimate news network and treated as if their views – views that are not just anti-gay rights, but anti-gay person, to the core – are also legitimate, the seeds for anti-gay violence are sewn.  It’s not just about respect for gay people – it’s about preventing more hate crimes, more murders, and more suicides.  It’s about changing society.  And that won’t happen until these hate groups are recognized by civil society as hate groups.  Not groups expressing another "opinion," not groups possessing a different "viewpoint" - hate groups.  Hate groups are responsible for violence and death, and they should not be heard or viewed as legitimate.  Period.

Originally posted to Chrislove on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 03:18 PM PST.

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