COMMENTARYFormer 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.”
Brown first introduced Ron Vieselmeyer as the author of the 1989 Idaho legislation that was, “instrumental in leading the state in requiring our public schools to teach the Constitution on this [Constitution] day.”
Openly anti-gay, Vieselmeyer is on the board of directors of Brown’s other organization Reach America, Inc. that promotes Brown as an abstinence education consultant.
During the 2005 same-sex marriage debate the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey reported Jan. 30, 2005, “Ron Vieselmeyer, a former lawmaker form Coeur d’Alene and family counselor, said he’s studied gays and lesbians. They are suicidal, guilt-ridden sex addicts from who the state must protect us, just as it defends us from terrorists, gangs and drunken drivers, he said.”
This is the man who Brown introduced Friday as his “mentor.”
Brown told me in a phone interview Wed., IVA had no immediate plans for lobbying the legislature that his focus would initially be on values education and what he calls a revival of Americanism.
When Hoffman took the microphone, he gave a different impression. “Having Idaho Values Alliance back in the scene working on public policy in the state and making our families stronger is absolutely huge and is critical and will have a huge impact come January when the legislature meets again.”Hoffman also said he was “excited to be partner” with the IVA.
In closing, Brown told the audience his agenda for IVA is to build a network of 11,000 Idahoans by Nov. 11, 2011 and announced three initiatives. The first is to resurrect the Black Robe Regime who according to Brown preached to, and recruited, people in the colonies to join the American Revolution.
“We’re asking pastors, priests and rabbis all to join together and take a stand now in join in this resurrection of the Black Robe Regimen with 111 pastors by 2011,” Brown said.Today the Black Robe Regiment is a Christian fringe organization that promotes, “Biblical responsibility to stand up for our Lord and Savior and to protect the freedoms and liberties granted to a moral people in the divinely inspired US Constitution,” and assert there is a, “false wall of separation of church and state.”
The BRR market themselves as victims claiming, “The church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists. Christ has been attacked on all fronts and challenged by the progressive courts and groups such as the ACLU.”
I think someone needs to tell the BRR that it is the ACLU that fights to protect THEIR freedom of speech, religion etc. I do not think they know that ACLU stands for American Civil Liberties Union! Perhaps someone should tell them.
Browns second IVA initiative is to, “Place the 10 Commandments, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the hands and the homes of every Idahoan.” Browns third initiative is to personally visit every community in Idaho by Nov. 11, 2011.
After his presentation was over, I asked Brown, who claims to want respectful open dialogue, if he would open the IVA blog up to comments, something his predecessor was criticized for not allowing. “Well,” he said, “we are right now examining exactly how we are going to handle those type of things, so let’s just leave it at that right now. I think we better wait for another time.”
In a phone interview with Brown a few days earlier, Brown told me he had relationships with members of Congress in Washington that would be beneficial to his work with the IVA but did not say who those members are.
I pressed Brown again on this question in person Friday and he responded, “I have been gone from DC for about two years so let’s talk about that another time.” Continuing to press him on public’s right to know who in Congress is supporting IVA, all Brown would say was, “I’ve got some calls into some offices to ask for permission to reveal their, I am just big into protocol. I’m not trying to hide anything again you’re not going to have any problems knowing who we associate with it’s just that when you talk about a congressional office that there is a decorum in Washington.”
Brown said he would follow-up with me when he is able to release the names of Congress members that be support him and IVA. “You will know who they are, said Brown, because they will be publicly supporting us.”
Brown is really good at kicking the can down the road, dodging fair questions that speak to the credibility of his statements. His less than artful style is hauntingly reminiscent of his predecessor. This “recasting” of the IVA into a revived organization with a new focus appears to be a surface only re-branding, a toned-down version of the same extreme religious right ideology wrapped up in the tea party’s flag.
Both of us knowing we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and agreeing to disagree, Brown was always pleasant respectful, and perhaps both of us overcompensating for our passion on these issues, shook hands several times.
I told Brown that my mother always said, “You are free to swing your arm all you want, until it hits my nose.” The history of the IVA’s propaganda an policies have been smacking the gay community in the nose since its inception. I told him I hoped things would be different. He did say he would be happy to meet with the gay community.
After failing miserably at holding Bryan Fischer accountable for his lies and bullying propaganda, Idaho media has a second chance to hold IVA’s feet to the fire in its next incarnation.