Entertainment » Culture

Exposing the Gay Agenda?

by Scott Stiffler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Mar 9, 2009

Do you believe that churches and religious organizations should be forced to hire homosexuals? Do you agree that Christians should be arrested for speaking against homosexuality in public places? Should children in public schools be taught homosexuality is normal, acceptable, and equal to the traditional marriage of a man and a woman?

No, it's not some spooky-assed Christian variation of a Jeff Foxworthy "You Might be a Redneck If. . ." comedic routine. In fact, it might be amusing if it weren't taken from the pages of an actual website.

The website? SilencingChristians.com.

The people behind the website? The American Family Association, self-anointed watchmen of all things liberal and gay.

The origin of these cleverly phrased but ultimately deceptive questions? A survey designed to fire up the AFA's target audience - who, one presumes, has just watched Speechless: Silencing the Christians. The hour-long documentary style film purports to reveal how the mainstream media and Hollywood are conspiring with those dreaded LGBTs to bitchslap all things Christian. The homosexual agenda, they warn, seeks nothing less than to criminalize free speech as practiced by traditional family-oriented Christians.

Follow the Money

By the film’s end (depending upon your disposition), you’ll either be a fired up Christian soldier ready to man the front lines of the culture war by making a tidy donation to the AFA. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have renewed dedication to living life as a man who likes to get it on with other men (a mortal sin which, try as they may, retains its patina of naughtiness and fun no matter how much it’s portrayed as a shortcut to the flaming lakes of Hades!). Either way, it’s worth watching - if only to be aware of the arguments and techniques being used as fundraising-oriented weapons against the LGBT community.

But what’s so bad about a little film that plays "hide the facts" while casting the first stones of sin upon homosexuals? EDGE asked a panel of more moderate academics and religious types.

The answer: "Plenty."

But first, a disclaimer: Many, many, many attempts were made to secure the participation of both the American Family Association as well as the film’s host, Janet Parshall, (her website).Although Edge was able to speak rather cordially with the AFA’s Cindy Roberts (Director of Media & Public Relations), she was ultimately unable to get anyone to speak with us. Repeated calls to Parshall’s booking agent/lawyer/husband went repeatedly unreturned.

The AFA uses homosexuality as a reliable, effective fishing lure for donations, notes Rev. Jim Merritt, Marriage Equality Coordinator for the Global Justice Team of the Metropolitan Community Churches. Invoking the word regardless of context is, says Merritt, "a huge fundraising mechanism; one of the issues that stir up their constituency." After valiantly viewing all sixty minutes of "Speechless: Silencing the Christians," Merritt noticed there was "a place to register. It’s the first thing at bottom, a Donate button. Even at the end of the movie, there’s a clear message about how imperative it is to donate money."

For those who’ve been keeping tabs on the AFA, finger pointing and fundraising are familiar techniques. Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator and Presiding Bishop of Metropolitan Community Churches, points out that the AFA "has been a longtime purveyor of both misinformation as psychology and theology as it pertains to LGBTs." The cumulative effect of their efforts (at least on their constituency) has "greatly contributed to homophobia and the body of misinformation which continues to get circulated about same sex marriage and reparative therapy. They are using bogus science to prop up their point of view."

But why is hating on the gays so good for business?

"There is this odd projection that goes on among groups like this." observes Wilson. "It’s the way they raise money. People project a lot of their anxiety about sexuality onto gays and lesbians." Staring at a projection of your own anxieties, she says, distracts one from the unpleasant business of facing one’s own transgressions and shortcomings. Want to be a champion of the family unit? "Look at the heterosexual divorce rate." recommends Wilson. But where’s the fun in that?

The Big Lie

Kenneth Sherill, a professor of political science at Hunter College, is another brave veteran viewer of "Speechless." His assessment? "It’s the kind of thing that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud." Producer Dan Scalf and editor Scott Zachry have manipulated facts and footage to promote the AFA’s intellectual agenda - not at all unlike how Goebbels and the Nazi party used film as a stealthy tool of propaganda.

The film, says Sherrill, "uses distortion and truth fragments -- where they tell you part of something or re-route the material that would enable you not to be scared." Merritt cites the film’s best example of this technique in its use of the Philadelphia 11.

Not too proud to name themselves in a manner that references those 60s liberals, "The Chicago Seven," members of the "Philadelphia 11" were arrested on October 10, 2004 when they were arrested and jailed overnight for ignoring orders to move as they conducted a highly vocal protest during the city’s OutFest event.

Although the AFA’s online survey coyly asks us if we "agree that Christians should be arrested for speaking against homosexuality in public places?," it fails to mention the specifics of this incident - or the fact that charges were ultimately dropped against the protesters. For a full account of the "facts" from a conservative Christian website as well as the HRC, PhillyVictory.php and hrc.org/issues/4856.htm.

As for the incident’s use in the film as an example of Christians being muzzled by the powerful homosexual lobby, Merritt notes that the protesters were hardly the shrinking violets they portray themselves as - there only to bring scripture and witnessing to the gays.

Merritt: "The film shows you the Philadelphia 11, then the survey asks do you believe Christians should be arrested for speaking against homosexuality. In fact, they were arrested for trying to incite a riot. I’ve been to Pride events all over the country where they scream and yell and get in people’s face and it ends up with people being angry and aggressive on both sides. I am a Christian, and I don’t want to be arrested for speaking the truth; but I also want to be smart about it and do it in ways that are not going to incite violence on either side."

The film certainly scores sympathy points when it trots out two elderly women who were part of the Philadelphia 11. One notes "We hadn’t done anything wrong. I was handcuffed and accompanied the other people into the paddy wagon." The other sadly confronts the fact that she’s just been charged with "Three felonies? I just couldn’t imagine; just for trying to share the gospels."

From the dramatic testimony of sympathetic souls, to the music and editing, Sherill observes the skilled way the AFA has contextualized the debate "in the guise of a documentary or news show. That gives it this aura of authoritativeness and professionalism when it’s basically an infomercial." The key to propaganda, he notes, "is to repeat a message so that it not only becomes believable. Because you’ve heard it so many times, you shut out any competing messages. If you say something often enough, people will believe it’s true no matter how fantastical it is. It’s presenting hysteria in this guise of mild mannered, cool professionalism and it’s made for the gullible."

The Gay Agenda

Want to play a drinking game that will have you loopy within the film’s first five minutes? Then by all means, down a shot every time you hear the phrase "homosexual agenda" or a reference to what the AFA credits as that dark movement’s ultimate handbook.

"After the Ball," published by Doubleday in 1989, was authored by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. According to the film, these "two homosexual activists" used the book to lay out "powerful and sophisticated propaganda techniques to manipulate people into accepting the homosexual lifestyle." As the film would have us believe, the book is used to this day as a blueprint for adopting sly public relations and advertising techniques in the service of advancing the homosexual lifestyle. "Speechless" narrator Janet Parshall often makes this accusation while failing to acknowledge the irony that the very film she’s in is following the book’s strategies - without the ugly consequence of being seen as advancing the "Christian agenda."

As for co-author Madsen, he blogged on the topic: "the religious right have been treating us like the Elders of Zion ever since the book first came out, which is preposterous. While the book was widely read I see no evidence that the book itself serves as any kind of reference for the movement today. Our work seems to have had little actual influence. To keep insisting that it did is yet another sign, as if we needed any more, that agitators on the right, while professing their commitment to truth, lack fundamental intellectual integrity. "

Impact and Action

If the fact that this film is out there in the Internet ether working its propaganda magic upon deep pocketed conservative Christians has you all in a tizzy, then the words of a Christian film reviewer might calm you down; at least enough to get your shopping done.

Greg Wright, Managing Editor of hollywoodjesus.com, says the film is something he’s heard the odd reference to, "but it’s not something people are paying a lot of attention to in the broader Christian community. My dad’s really on top of what happens with the AFA and when anything gains traction there, he’s at the forefront of forwarding contacts and info to me, and on this one he hasn’t. My guess is it’s not gaining the kind of attention that other AFA major issues have." Wright, who describes himself as circulating "more on the periphery of the Christian Community" says he’s "Not tied into that stuff. But when something gets a big buzz, it circulates out of the periphery and we get wind of it." Thankfully, news of "Speechless" has yet to drift into his general field of awareness.

An interesting footnote to the broadcast of the hour-long special on stations throughout the country beginning last month came when a Michigan station, WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids, Michigan, decided not to broadcast it after protests from the HRC. But, true to form, the American Family Association of Michigan, immediately claimed the canceling was part of that omnipotent gay media conspiracy when it was revealed that Trevor Thomas, the deputy communications director for the HRC in Washington, D.C., once worked in WOOD-TV’s newsroom. "Gary Glenn, president of AFA-Michigan, said in a statement to WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski that he originally suspected the cancellation was merely a matter of political correctness, but now wonders how deeply the connection runs between Thomas and the station," reads a press release from the AFA of Michigan.

"That new information," Glenn continued, "leads us to question whether the real story is that WOOD-TV management was unduly influenced by or even acted in collusion with a former high-level staffer who you allowed to openly campaign for homosexual activists’ political agenda while with the station and who now promotes that agenda full-time nationwide."

As for what "mainstream" Christians and gays can do, Merritt recommends we all "follow their example, regarding the film’s wedge issues such as same sex marriage, public education, protest and reparative therapy. "Stand up and speak up. Call our members of congress and senators and get involved. I’m going to send a link to my friends, because I think it’s important for us to realize that the radical Christian agenda is so anti homosexual. We have to be as involved in political processes as they are, and their suggestions are good for us, too."

Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His show, "Sammy’s at The Palace. . .at Don’t Tell Mama"---a spoof of Liza Minnelli’s 2008 NYC performance at The Palace Theatre, recently had a NYC run. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.


  • , 2009-03-10 10:57:43

    Like most zealots, the author inflates criticism of the radical homosexualist agenda as "hating on the gays." The whine is getting tiresome and its overuse robs it of power. What happens when somebody REALLY hates on the gays such as Fred Phelps. Equating opposition to the most radical elemtns of the agenda with that ilk is crying wolf, and by now all the hate directed on places like Edge to whole churches is going to backfire at some point, big time. As the California Supreme Court is is no way going to invalidate Prop 8, it will have to be put to the voters again. How far y’all think you’re going to get when you’ve declared war on at least half the American population. Good freakin’ luck with that.

  • GuyDads, 2009-03-10 17:12:31

    The religious and social conservatives have been calling gay rights and same-sex marriage a cultural war for years. We can no longer remain quiet or placid. "I swore to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim; silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." --Elie Wiesel

  • , 2009-03-10 19:58:54

    Oh, lord. And no human beings on earth endure such suffering as whining American homosexuals. Oh, the humanity. The humanity. The agonies of the Holocaust, of the Rwandan genocide, are as nothing compared to the terrible humiliations of America’s oppressed homosexuals. (sob)

  • phifties, 2009-03-16 12:44:54

    Dear Anonymous, Why do you keep posting in secret? Obviously your hiding something! Come out Come out whoever you are!

  • , 2009-03-27 15:52:10

    phifties: Anonymous is a typical wing nut coward.

  • , 2009-03-27 15:53:14

    Where does one list their name on this thread?

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