Religious right lashes out with virulently anti-gay infomercial

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday February 12, 2009

A bold forward attack against GLBT Americans has been launched by an anti-gay group that claims in a video that equality for gays and lesbians harms families and curtails religious freedom.

The video, called "Speechless: Silencing the Christians" is poised to air on a Grand Rapids, Michigan TV station as a paid program.

The one-hour production starts as a look at how a group of Christian demonstrators were arrested for, as they tell it, trying to "share the Gospel," but almost immediately focuses on gay and lesbian Americans' struggle for equality under the law.

Host Janet Parshall says to the camera, "The way Americans think about homosexuality has changed over the last two decades.

"And if you think that's an accident--think again."

Parshall goes on to claim that a homosexual "agenda," complete with "propaganda" designed to "manipulate" the media and the perceptions of viewers and readers, were laid out in a 1989 book called "After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's," by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen.

Airing of the video has twice been delayed at Grand Rapids TV station WOOD-TV. Originally scheduled for broadcast on Feb. 9, just before President Obama's press conference, the program was put off because, explained the station's program director Craig Cole in a Feb. 10 article that appeared in The Grand Rapids Press, subsequently posted at MLive.com, "We didn't feel that it was the appropriate place, leading into the presidential event."

The video, which warns of a "radical homosexual agenda," is the work of the American Family Association, and includes testimony from individuals who claim that they were once homosexual but were "cured" through prayer.

The AFA's Web site is filled with links to anti-gay and anti-Obama articles. The group has established a new site for the video, SilencingChristians.com, where the hour-long anti-gay video can be viewed.


The newspaper article cited a letter from the AFA that claims, "What people know [about the topics of homosexuality and the equal rights movement] is tainted by pro-homosexual propaganda."

Grand Rapids locals are split over the video. The article quoted the assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center at Grand Valley State University, Colette Beighley, as saying that scheduling the video for airtime constitutes "irresponsible programming."

Added Beighley, "I am just so disappointed that WOOD-TV would participate in something like this.

"If an organization came into Grand Rapids and wanted to air biased programming slamming the Asian community, West Michigan would send a message that that puts Asians brothers and sisters at risk."

Beighley went on, "Grand Rapids wants to be a cool city and one of the cornerstones of a cool city is diversity."

The AFA promises to "reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom" in the course of the video and to "alert viewers about what's at stake for the family" should full equality before the law be conferred upon GLBT Americans.

The video's delay from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11 was followed by a second delay, with the station's general manager saying that the anti-gay program "slipped through our filters" at first.

Added the general manager, Diane Kniowski,"We don't pre-judge people's ideas or opinions.

"However, we have restrictions on controversial programming and key time periods."

Said Kniowski, "If the show airs, we will have disclaimers at the beginning and end of the show stating that these are not the opinions or views of this station."

At the blog Pam's House Blend the program was called "slickly produced bile" in a Feb. 9 article.

"The premise is that Christians are under assault by homosexualists, enabled by state and local governments and schools, to force them to accept LGBTs as--gasp--human beings deserving of civil rights!" the article read.

Added the Pam's House Blend blog, "They are careful to mention 'former homosexuals' and those struggling with 'unwanted same-sex attraction' in order to soothe and absolve the target audience of 'Christians' that their motivations are rooted in compassion, not bigotry."

The article noted that the video praised Ford Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle, who offended gay Floridians by, among other things, referring to a scholarly library of GLBT material as pornography and lobbying for so-called "robo-toilets" with single-person occupancy because, Naugle claimed, public gay sex in traditional facilities was prevalent and a nuisance.

Local police contradicted that claim.

The Pam's House Blend article stated, "What's sickening about this crap is that you could wind the clock back and substitute 'interracial marriage' or 'integrating schools' as against their personal religious beliefs and hear the same sad arguments from the people interviewed in this video."

Continued the article, "The whole 'what about the children' hysteria was specifically cited when two people of different races wanted to marry.

"Discussions of 'preferential treatment' and 'forced hiring' of members of the oppressed group were cited as an assault on Christian beliefs back in the day as well. Do these people not read history books?"

A questionnaire at the SilencingChristians.com Web site asks viewers to answer a series of questions, all of which are phrased along similar lines: "Do you believe the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin?" "Should homosexuals be given the same special rights extended to African-Americans and other minorities?" "Do you agree that Christians should be arrested for speaking against homosexuality in public places?"

The Pam's House Blend article cited the anti-gay campaign in support of Proposition 8, which was narrowly approved by California voters last year and which rescinded marriage rights for gay and lesbian families.

Read the article, "Will the professional LGBT organizations leave this disinformation to be disseminated without effective counter-programming as pro-LGBT legislation moves forward on the Hill?"

The article added, "The AFA and groups like it are laying the groundwork for two reasons--solidifying their foot soldiers and to scare Christians who may be on the fence about extending civil rights to LGBTs.

"As they did for Prop 8, rest assured these fringe operatives of hate will execute effective calling/faxing campaigns to elected officials and members of Congress to snuff out advancement of civil rights.

"Will we be caught asleep at the wheel again?"

A letter from AFA president Tim Wildmon announced, "Local network television stations will soon begin airing a new television special produced by the American Family Association."

Continued Wildmon's letter, "Most Americas get their information about the homosexual movement from the secular news media and Hollywood, which not only support but promote the gay agenda.

"What people know is tainted by pro-homosexual propaganda."

The letter went on, "AFA now presents this one-hour special to reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation, and religious freedom."

The letter said that the paid program would "reveal the truth about" a variety of issued, including "The claim that homosexuals are born that way and cannot change," "The negative impact on children resulting from schools promoting the gay lifestyle," "Protected minority status for homosexuals," "Same-sex marriage," and "Legislative initiatives like Hate Crime and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act."

Wildmon's letter also said that the program would "Attack the major lies of militant gay activists head-on," "Alert viewers about what's at stake for the family if they get what they want," and "Present helpful information to stop the radical homosexual political agenda."

The letter then solicited donations:

"If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?"

The Grand Rapids Press article said that the current tentative air date for the paid program was Feb. 14 at 2:00 p.m., but that the AFA had not yet agreed to that spot.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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