The American Taliban in Idaho

Matthew Shepard Observance Day speech at the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial

OPINION

Twelve years ago, a brutal murder ended the life of our young brother Matthew, but it did NOT kill his spirit which calls out to each of us to denounce those who promote violence against us as they hide behind an extremist ideology.

It is this extremist ideology that is at the very foundation of the violence that lead to the deaths of Matthew Shepard, Tyler Clementi, and so many others. For decades the American conservative movements’ fringe elements, have been sowing the seeds of hatred that have taken root in the right-wing media.

The soul intent of their daily barrage of messages is to vilify and dehumanize LGBT people in order justify their inhumanity toward us. Who are these extremists and where are they?

They are operating within the modern conservative movement. They are the promoters of an anti-gay industry described by Daily Kos founder, Marcos Moulitsas, as the American Taliban.

These American religious extremists share many similarities and tactics with the Afghan Taliban.

Moulitsas describes them this way:

“Their contempt for nontraditional lifestyles, their mania for militaristic solutions, their fascistic efforts to impose their narrow worldview on the rest of society,” and their disdain for, “woman’s rights, their outright hatred of gays, their aversion to science and modernity, and their staunch anti-intellectualism.”

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Idaho Values Alliance Re-Launch Draws Sparse Crowd and Offered Mixed Messages

COMMENTARY

Idaho Values Alliance President Gary L. Brown.

IVA President Gary L. Brown

Former abstinence educator and pastor of Coeur d’Alene’s NorthStar Church , Gary L. Brown, stood at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Friday and announced his new role as president of the Idaho Values Alliance.

IVA had been dormant since former polarizing Executive Director Bryan Fischer left Idaho to become a national figure with the American Family Association and is now famous for his anti-Muslim hate speech.

Brown addressed a small crowd of about 30-40 for Constitution Day about the country now being, “[E]mbroiled in a different kind of war [from the American revolution]. This is a war being fought on the battlefields of the hearts and the minds of every American and every Idahoan. This is a war that is not being fought with muskets and bayonets. The weapons of this war are ideas, principles and values.” Continue reading

Bryan Fischer Passes Idaho Values Alliance Torch to “Nation’s Abstinence Pastor”

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Sep. 15, 2010

All traces of Bryan Fischer have been wiped clean from the Idaho Values Alliance website in preparation for Friday’s re-launch of IVA under new president—and abstinence education consultant—Gary N. Brown.

On the website sourceministires.net, Brown wrote, “I am known across America as the nation’s Abstinence Pastor, impacting abstinence and marriage-education legislation and policy on every level of government. I have been able to gain the trust of senators and House members, alike.”

Brown told Citydesk he first met Fischer, who left IVA in 2009 for Mississippi-based American Family Association, when he moved to the Idaho panhandle from Atlanta two years ago. Brown left his position as pastor of Coeur d’Alene’s NorthStar Church after 10 months to helm the IVA, saying that he found work like that of IVA’s a better fit for him.

As head of IVA and during his time with AFA, Fischer has been a polarizing figure. Citydesk asked Brown if he shared Fisher’s stance on homosexuality and Islam.

“I am very well aware of some of Bryan Fischer’s positions on issues, and to be honest, I would rather not go there,” he said. “In the future we will have to address issues like that. I mean my goodness, it is a hot button topic … I don’t want any particular issue to take the headlines today.”
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Exporting Homophobia: American far-right conservative churches establish influence on anti-gay policy in Africa

UPDATE: May 7, 2011 Exporting Homophobia took 2nd place at the Idaho Press Club’s Best of 2010 banquet category: Weekly Print Media Watchdog / Investigative Report


What other’s are saying about Exporting Homophobia

“I was curious enough to do some research, and came across your excellent article. We’ve known for a long time about the U.S. Evangelical right exerting it’s influence in Africa…Thank you for shedding light on a truly troubling, frightening in fact, subject.”

Michelle Faul, Chief Africa Correspondent, Associated Press

“Some of Jody May-Chang’s story on homophobia in Uganda you’ve heard before. If you’ve read any of writer Jeff Sharlet’s work on The Family, or heard him on NPR’s Fresh Air, much of what you’ll read in “Exporting Homophobia” will not surprise you. This month, Sharlet is back on the airwaves and back on stands with a follow-up, and May-Chang interviewed him earlier this year as that work was just going public. It’s a dense read, but one I think is worthy of the page space and your time.”

Rachel Daigle, Editor-in-Chief Boise Weekly

Exporting Homophobia: American far-right conservative churches establish influence on anti-gay policy in Africa — Gay Ugandans face daily fear for their lives

By Jody May-Chang ©2010
NEWS FEATURE STORY Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Sept. 08, 2010

Boise Weekly Feature Story Exporting Homophobia Jody May-ChangPeter Yiga is a Ugandan born-again Christian with a degree in computer engineering. He is the father of a young child and is also a known gay activist in a country that is on a witch hunt.

In February, Yiga attended a human rights conference in the capital city of Kampala.

“I saw a member of parliament who attended, talking very bitter and vowing to kill everyone–including their sons and daughters–if they were proved homosexuals,” he told BW by Internet video conference from Uganda.

Yiga described how he and his friends are psychologically tortured and forced to endure daily warnings and promises of being hunted down and killed.

“The church and other leaders have done a lot to brainwash people, and all the community now is readily spitting fire against homosexuality. They are planning to kill or panga [machete] us. We have been running from house to house because when a neighborhood learns about your orientation, then you should expect mob justice anytime,” he said.

Although homosexuality has been illegal in Uganda since the colonial era, there has been an unprecedented escalation of hatred fueled by Uganda’s pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. If passed in its present form, the wide-ranging legislation calls for the death penalty for gays and lesbians who engage in sex and are HIV positive, have committed the offense of homosexuality more than once, have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a sexual encounter or one partner has a disability. For other, less “aggravated” offenses, they face life in prison.

We CAN have it all, same-gender marriage & religious freedom

Marriage Equality CoexistNo matter what side you are on in the debate over same-gender marriage, there is a simple path for everyone to get what they want, full civil rights for same gender couples AND protection of the institution of marriage. How? The conversation should never include religion period!

As citizens of this country, we are Americans first. As a democracy, we are governed first and foremost by our Constitution. In that document is the protection for religious freedom AND equal protection under the law.

Although many Americans are Christian, not everyone is! We are Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics, Spiritualists, Atheists, Humanists and everything in-between. Within each of these belief systems are conservative, moderate and liberal factions.

How then as a free democracy can we possibly think we can solve any social or political issue when religion is part of the discussion? It’s worse than trying to herd cats.

Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the national Interfaith Alliance, put it very simply, “In a democracy, the Constitution trumps all.”

If you want a theocracy, get an island and start one. If you value REAL freedom and Democracy, let’s separate the legal contract, rights and responsibilities of what we now universally call marriage from religion entirely for EVERYONE.

The solution is civil unions for all and marriage only for religious groups. ALL religious organizations will have an exemption and don’t have to ‘marry’ anyone they don’t want to. However, anyone can become Civilly United.

That’s the easy part.

Each side must to give something up. ALL Americans have to give up the term “marriage” and ALL Religions have to give up preventing LGBT people from obtaining full rights and responsibilities that now come with heterosexual marriage in all states and federally.

That’s the hard part.

Bryan Fischer’s Lively Connection – The death penalty for homosexuals

By Jody May-Chang ©2009

During Bryan Fischer’s self-righteous reign of terror in Idaho, he literally made a career out of issuing outrageously pious and ungodly statements aimed at dehumanizing and vilifying lesbian, gay and transgender people. He managed to do so with such skill that his propaganda was rarely, if at all, questioned by reporters covering him.

Scott-Lively-Pink-Swastika-Bryan-Fischer

One of his most abhorrent deeds has been Fischer’s shameless promotion and support for Scott Lively, in his May 14, 2008 post The truth about homosexuality and the Nazi Party” he abundantly quotes and summarizes Lively’s anti-gay Nazi propaganda book “The Pink Swastika”. Lively’s book, and Fischer by extension, among other things, blame homosexuals for starting the Nazi party.

Fischer Writes:

  • “In fact, the Nazi Party began in a gay bar in Munich.”
  • “Most of Hitler’s closets aids were homosexuals or sexual deviants.”
  • “Heinrich Himmler, second in powered only to Hitler, was publicly opposed to homosexuality but may have been a closet homosexual himself, Himmler was deeply immersed in the occult.”
  • “May of the guards and administrators responsible for concentration camp horrors were themselves homosexuals.”
  • “The ‘Butch’ homosexual guards and capos were capable of unrestrained cruelty, sadism and savagery. A guard at Auschwitz, for instance, strangled crushed and gnawed to death as many as 100 boys and young men a day while raping them at his leisure.”
  • “Some parts of the American Nazi movement are explicitly homosexual.”
  • “What’s the point here?” Fischer asks, “Simply that there is another side to the constant refrain from homosexual activists who frequently mention the Nazi persecution of homosexuals and in doing so imply Christian who opposed the normalization of homosexuality Are in effect crypto-Nazis.”

Last year, Fischer wrote these things to promote and encourage attendance for the “Shake the Nation” religious hate fest held here in Idaho. Why is it necessary to revisit this? Well, for two very important reasons.

First of all, Bryan Fischer’s blossoming national fame has its roots in here thanks to the Idaho media which gave him free reign to make outrageous statements while never holding him accountable. The Idaho media gave Fischer ink and face-time on camera without so much as a single hard question.

The Idaho media’s kid glove treatment of Fischer has allowed him to attain his long sought after status as a national celebrity. His most recent claim to fame is his anti-Muslim racism, which is a huge embarrassment to fair minded Idahoans.

The second, and most troubling reason that revisiting this relevant, is because of Bryan Fischer’s connection and support of Scott Lively who now is an evangelical celebrity who promotes the notion that you can “pray the gay away” Fischer’s cronies are “credited to have inspired” Bill No. 18, The Anti-Homosexual Bill of 2009 in Uganda.

This bill, which is very likely to become law, will impose harsh sentences upon those who are gay, suspected of being gay or offer protection to those who support gay people. These so-called gay offenses include:

  • Commits the offense of Homosexuality, Life in prison
  • Aggravated Homosexuality, Death
  • Attempting to commit Homosexuality, 7 years in prison
  • Attempt to commit Aggravated Homosexuality, Life in prison
  • A person who funds or sponsors homosexuality, min 5 – max 7 years in prison
  • Know someone is gay and do not report them within 24 hours, 3 years in prison
  • Extradite citizens back to Uganda from anywhere in the world for prosecution if suspected of committing any of the above crimes.

Scott-Lively-UgandaLast spring, Scott Lively, who is now the president of “Defend the Family,” went to Uganda with Don Schmierer of “Exodus International” and Caleb Lee Brundidge of “The International Healing Foundation” to conduct an anti-homosexual seminar.

Lively is quoted by LifeSiteNews.com saying that his trip to Uganda was “with the purpose of getting them to liberalize the law making it more oriented toward therapy” and says the current bill “went too far.”

Lively is a fraud who is now trying to distance himself from his own propaganda, but what is very clear here is that he is deeply rooted in a longtime campaign of contempt against homosexuals. Lively, like Fischer, is a bold-faced liar and a propagandist. He admitted going to Uganda to testify in favor of this immoral legislation. In his own words, his reason was because of, “a lot of external interference from European and American gay activists attempting to do in Uganda what they’ve done around the world “homosexualize that society,” and “the many male homosexuals coming into the country and abusing boys who are on the streets.”

Fischer shamelessly promoted Scott Lively by encouraging the public to listen to this man’s hate speech. At the time Lively came to Idaho Fischer said that his merchant of hate will, “address some of the lessons we must learn from Nazi Germany and its disastrous embrace of homosexuality.”

Fischer posted a “Shake the Nation” event on his website to promote the conference which he later deleted, but not before I had a chance to PDF that post. You will note that “Shake the Nation” was organized by Fisher’s good friend Tom Munds who appears to have thought twice about stepping into Fischer odorous shoes.

A good friend once told me, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you what you are.” Bryan Fischer aligns himself with hate mongers then tries to rewrite history by deleting it from is his website. The Idaho news media had an opportunity to shed some light on Bryan Fischer, but instead of defending the public’s right to know about this miserable fraud, they ran to him as if he was the official spokesman of the Christian community.

The Idaho news media shares some responsibility in failing to examine Fischer’s record and giving him the keys to the newsroom to spread his propaganda.

Now the world is hearing about Scott Lively and the Ugandan Bill No. 18 that calls for throwing gays in prison and executing them. The rightwing echo chamber screams about so-called “death panels” well, this is what they really look like thanks to the unchallenged rants of a con-men like Bryan Fischer and his cronies.

The Rachel Maddow Show – Uganda Be Kidding Me – December 2, 2009

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“The Crisis No One Talks About”
Idaho Keynote Address by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Welton Gaddy Interfaith Alliance Boise IdahoImagine for a moment a tall, well dressed, gray haired man who is also a minister with a thick southern accent. You might already have some preconceived ideas of what this man is about. You might also be in for a big surprise.

“Support for same-gender marriage comes down not to a question of what it means to be a good Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or Muslim, but what does it mean to be a good American.”

That is most certainly not the average southern Baptist minister, that is Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the national Interfaith Alliance, a man that perhaps, on the outside, may seem to fit a number of stereotypes but as soon as he opens his mouth you will find a savvy and progressive political mind. And, with just a small peek behind the well tailored suit and crisp starched white shirt, is a heart big enough for the world.

With his strong Louisiana southern drawl, Gaddy makes politics sound like poetry and the fight for religious freedom and civil rights the mandate our time and essential for saving our democracy.

“Early on the evening of this past October 28th at the White House, I shook President Obama’s hand,” says Gaddy, “We shared a smile as I thanked him for signing a meaningful piece of expansive hate crimes legislation. But it took so long, too long because prejudice biased untruths and mean spirited partisanship. As the President walked away, I held Judy Shepard, Mathew Shepard’s mother, in a long tearful embrace in which words were not necessary to lament how long it had taken to secure a comprehensive hate crimes bill how much hurt had lined the pilgrimage but how in perseverance across more than a decade we finally could celebrate reaching a goal that we had been striving for, for over a decade.”

Welton Gaddy Interfaith Alliance Boise IdahoAs a deeply religious man, Gaddy is on a relentless campaign for not only ensuring religious freedom; he is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity and founding intentions of our Constitution. A staunch advocate for the separation of Church and State, Gaddy believes we can have it all, and that includes same-gender marriage!

Gaddy is a man who, above all, wants to maintain the integrity of religion and government. He is emphatic that in order to do that, we must keep them separated. This is a man who embodies the very balance we long for in this highly charged politically partisan and religiously divided time in our country. Gaddy just might be one of the most progressive influential role models of our time. He is certainly one of the greatest allies of LGBT civil rights.

On November 17th Boise was graced with the sharp mind and quick wit of Rev. Dr. C. Gaddy as the keynote speaker for the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho’s annual meeting and dinner. Gaddy spoke to a very diverse gathering of about 80 at the Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, on the status of the National Interfaith Alliance and our nation.

“I’m an 88 year old Jew and I have never heard any Christian minister ever talk like you,” says Joe, a man in the audience. “Amen,” says another.

This is just a small hint of the impact Gaddy can have on a room. Listening to Gaddy’s address, “The Crisis No One Talks About,” I hope you can feel at least some of the inspiration and hope that filled the room that night.

Gaddy is introduced by Interfaith Alliance Chair, Ed Keener. Rabbi Daniel Fink offers a blessing following Gaddy’s address after which there is a question and answer period with the audience.

If you would like to hear more from Welton Gaddy about Religion and Politics and how that has affected LGBT issues then listen to my full hour interview with Dr. Gaddy.

A Conversation with Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Interfaith Alliances Air America State of Belief Host Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy with Jody May-ChangThis morning I had the distinct honor and pleasure to sit down for an entire hour and talk with the president of the National Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy.

Dr. Gaddy is quite an accomplished religious and political leader. He has authored 20 books and just last year published the powerful and poignant paper, “Same-Gender Marriage & Religious Freedom, A Call to Quite Conversations And Public Debate”

The reverend is an active practicing Baptist minister from Louisiana and the host of State of Belief, a weekly talk show on Air America Radio, and a frequent guest on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show.

“..the old cliche was, hate the sin love the sinner You’re not condemning homosexuality, you’re condemning a person!”

The reverend was called by the Obama transition team to advise the incoming president on issues related to religion and politics. Dr Gaddy played a key roll in working to get the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crimes bill passed and was in the oval office with Judy Sheppard when President Obama singed this historic legislation into law.

Our conversation focuses on the collision of religion and politics and how that has affected the national conversation on same-gender marriage. We talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints involvement in anti-gay ballot initiatives across the country, and what needs to happen to achieve true equality. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Pam Baldwin for arranging this wonderful opportunity.

Stay tuned for more from Dr. Gaddy! As I See It… will soon post his keynote address to the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho’s annual meeting and dinner.