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On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Why would anybody accuse 13 Christian organizations, including the American Family Association and Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, of practicing “hate?”

Why would anybody apply intense pressure this weekend until TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie apologized publicly for having anything to do with Focus on the Family?

What’s going on?

Could the intent be to smear and silence some of the most effective Christian ministries in America? To blacken their names because they have dared to speak out in the political battle over same-sex marriage?

When a smear campaign against the Family Research Council began last year, it was immediately denounced by Speaker of the House John Boehner and 150 other national leaders, including 24 members of Congress.

Those denouncing the smear against FRC included former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former Secretary of Education and bestselling author William Bennett, Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson, chief executive officer of Concerned Women for America Penny Nance, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association and Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Richard Land.

That time the smear was led by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which for years has pursued anti-discrimination cases. It received considerable well-deserved publicity for suing the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.

However, the SPLC in recent years has taken up the same-sex marriage cause and the battle against “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military.

In late December 2010, the center advised the national press to shun 13 Christian groups because they were hate groups. Among the groups smeared were the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition. The smaller groups included Abiding Truth Ministries of Springfield, Massachusetts; the Chalcedon Foundation of Vallecito, California; and the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, Arizona.

Family Research Council President Perkins called the SPLC’s accusations “a desperate attempt for attention by a dwindling national liberal base losing its relevance.”

“It’s further evidence that the left is losing and that they’re out of ideas,” Perkins said. “They tried to do the same thing with the ‘tea party’ movement, they tried to characterize them as hate groups. They can’t win, so they engage in character assassination.”

Disagreeing with somebody does not make them a “hate group.”

About 150 public officials and pro-family leaders not only denounced the attempted blacklisting, but publicly supported the targeted groups in full-page ads in several national venues. The ads said they “stand in solidarity” with the slandered organizations, which “are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family.”

Attempting to smear Christian organizations which dare to speak out against same-sex marriage “is intolerance pure and simple,” the ad said. “Elements of the radical left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures and the courts. Our debates can and must remain civil – but they must never be suppressed through personal assaults that aim only to malign an opponent’s character.”

But that’s exactly what happened in this last weekend’s campaign to get TOMS Shoes’ founder to back away from working with Focus on the Family. And the success in getting TOMS Shoes to denounce Focus on the Family in a detailed public statement is particularly worrisome.

What kind of society shouts down opponents? What kind of groups have employed these tactics throughout history?

Today in Europe and a number of other countries, any criticism of homosexuality is automatically deemed “hate speech,” thus prohibiting any debate of the issue. That is the goal for America with these campaigns — both the Southern Poverty Law Center’s denunciation of the 13 ministries and the intense pressure to blacken Focus on the Family’s reputation.

On a single issue — to normalize homosexuality — nothing is sacred, not even decades of remarkable work by such groups as the Family Research Center and the American Family Association.

This is a very slippery slope.

In Canada, a Christian television show was reinstated in December 2010 after being taken off the air in response to the host’s comments about homosexuality. Although Word TV is back on the air, the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council is now prescreening and censoring its content.

“We spoke against a new proposed sex education curriculum that would teach gender identity, six genders, and sexual orientation to our children,” explained Dr. Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College and host of the show.

McVety also spoke against a $400,000 Canadian government grant for a homosexual pride parade, which the government ultimately withdrew because of nudity and other illegal behavior.

The CBSC afforded McVety no hearing, ruling that he had breached the code of ethics. In reference to his comments criticizing the parade, the council ruled that the preacher used the term “sex parade” in a derogatory way during a sermon.

During a sermon?

The Canadian government is now in the business of policing what is said in pulpits?

“The criminal code says the people in the parade should be prosecuted,” notes McVety. “But somehow, I am the one prosecuted for speaking against this.”

McVety was told if he commits further “offenses,” he will be permanently taken off the air in Canada.

He must censor himself or else.

Is that what we want for America? No debate? Arrest or banning for anybody who speaks out?

McVety plans to continue fighting the censorship. He warns that the same situation is coming to the United States, unless the public announces that enough is enough.

Is such a scenario ridiculous? It just couldn’t happen in America?

In 2004, a Swedish court sentenced a Pentecostal pastor to prison after finding him guilty of offending homosexuals. Speaking in the pulpit at his church in the east coast town of Borgholm, Ake Green described homosexuality as “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumor in the body of society.” He called homosexuals “perverts, whose sexual drive the devil has used as his strongest weapon against God.”

During legal proceedings, the public prosecutor, Kjell Yngvesson, said that Green’s “collecting Bible verses on this topic as he does makes this hate speech.”

Reading the Bible is hate speech?

The pastor said he wanted to make clear the biblical view on homosexuality, not to express disrespect.

Soren Andersson, president of a Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, said religious freedom is no excuse to offend people.

Well, tell that to preachers for the last 2,000 years.

It’s pretty difficult to preach against sin without offending the offenders.

 

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