The pictures are dark and ominous, the charges chilling: "There exists a network of extremists ... [who] spew venomous rhetoric, outrageous theories, and discredited science."
Just who are these evil people, and what are they doing?
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the world's largest gay-activist organization, this "network" consists of American, conservative Christian leaders "who are working tirelessly to undercut LGBT people around the world at every turn."
I have made it onto this list—unfortunately, only with a "dishonorable mention"—adding to my already impressive resume of being marked by groups like GLAAD, which seeks to censor opposing viewpoints through its Commentator Accountability Project (which is why I have renamed them the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Disagreement), and the SPLC, which not only seeks to malign conservative Christians but also has blood on its hands. (Criminology professor Mike Adams has rightly dubbed them the Intellectual Poverty Law Center, evidenced in part by the SPLC's placing me on their list of "30 New Activists for the Radical Right," along with neo-Nazis, white supremacists and New Black Panthers. See also here and here.)
Not to be outdone, the HRC's latest report, entitled, "The Export of Hate," contains written descriptions of this alleged network of extremists as well as black-and-white sketches (or white on black sketches), depicting us with inaccurate and scary images. (About the only thing they got right in my sketch, on p. 22 of their report, is that I'm a male with a mustache.)
Given the fact that the HRC has an annual budget of roughly $45 million, one would think they could hire an artist who could actually draw, which suggests that the menacing images of this so-called "network" of "extremists" who allegedly export a "vicious brand of bigotry" are intended to incite fear and loathing toward us.
Why not simply report the facts?
Could it be that the HRC is describing its own work with the title "The Export of Hate"? Could it be that the HRC is guilty of spewing "venomous rhetoric"?
Other gay publications, like the flagship Advocate.com, are repeating HRC's claims, announcing "America's globetrotting extremists exposed" and stating that "the Human Rights Campaign has taken off the gloves to expose American extremist organizations and individuals in a new report about the homophobic hatred they spread around the globe." Indeed, "'The Export of Hate' profiles America's worst globetrotting homophobic offenders [with] a rap-sheet style that also puts them 'on notice.'"
Well, I'm here to the put the HRC on notice: Your fear-mongering tactics will be exposed and, speaking for myself (but with confidence that my words apply to others), I will not bow down to your bullying tactics or your rap-sheet nonsense.
Here are some salient facts:
First, there is no "network." Virtually all of the individuals and organizations listed work independently, and a good number of us have never met or worked with most (or even all of) the others on the list. This means that the HRC chose the term "network" quite intentionally to give the impression of some type of worldwide collaboration, when no such thing exists. (Shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)
Second, the annual budgets cited in the report underscore the fear-mongering, hatred-inciting nature of the HRC's report, with chief offender Scott Lively's ministry listed with an annual income of $90,259, Peter LaBarbera's organization listed at $110,000 (surely way too high), and others listed at $54,494 and $26,569. Yet the HRC, which draws guest speakers like President Obama, Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder to its annual fund-raising events, states that their report outlines "some of the resources at [the] disposal of this "network." What resources!
As for the larger organizations, like the ADF (the Alliance Defending Freedom) and ACLJ (the American Center for Law and Justice), with budgets in the 10's of millions of dollars, the quotes associated with them can in no way be construed as a "vicious brand of bigotry." (For example, the ADF's Benjamin Bull is excoriated for stating that "HUMAN RIGHTS HAVE FREQUENTLY BEEN A RALLYING CRY FOR PEOPLE INTENT ON IMPOSING THEIR WORLDVIEW ON OTHERS"; their emphasis).
Third, the HRC report blatantly misrepresents the truth in claiming that all of us on their list are guilty of exporting hate. Since I can't speak for everyone in the report (nor would I agree with the approach of everyone in the report, although some on the list are respected friends and colleagues), I will speak for myself.
According to the HRC, "in March 2014 ... Michael Brown made the trip to Lima [Peru]. Brown ... addressed the Peruvian Congress on 'the consequences of redefining marriage' and warned lawmakers to learn from the 'mistakes we've made in America' by allowing civil unions or full marriage equality."
My talk, which was also aired on national TV, began with these words (displayed on PowerPoint slides, before being translated into Spanish): "My purpose is not to demonize those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, nor is this about inciting hatred against anyone.
"It is very possible that you have family members or friends of colleagues who identify as gay or lesbian, and they may be some of the finest people that you know.
"That is not the issue. The issue is what happens when you normalize homosexuality in a society? What happens when marriage is redefined? In which direction will the nation go?"
And I simply reported the facts in terms of American culture and education and the media and religious rights in light of LGBT advances.
How then could a speech that began with these words and maintained a tone of civility and grace throughout, earn me a spot in the "Exporting Hate" report? How does this amount to spewing "venomous rhetoric" and equate to a "vicious brand of bigotry"? How does this put me in the class of the "worst globetrotting homophobic offenders"? (Again, I only use myself as an example; others on the HRC's list have been just as egregiously mischaracterized.)
I was invited by a Peruvian congressman to deliver the speech to congressional members, university chancellors and others, and Peru, it must be remembered, is a conservative Catholic country that has placed pro-life values at the beginning of its constitution. (For the record, I had to supplement my airfare, and I received no money for making the trip.)
Yet today, in the hate-filled climate created by groups like the HRC, if you say that you don't believe it's best for a man to "marry" a man (or a woman another woman), you are attacked in the harshest and ugliest terms imaginable.
That is the small-mindedness of gay activism. It cannot recognize any possible moral or social or cultural or religious argument against redefining marriage. Those who reject same-sex "marriage" are simply haters and bigots of the worst order.
The Advocate cited Ty Cobb, the HRC Foundation's director of global engagement, who stated that, "Hate is not an American value, and we must expose and fight these individuals and their extremist allies." He continued, "This is a destructive group of activists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric, promoting laws that criminalize LGBT people, and seeking to restrict their speech and those who support them."
The truth be told, it is the HRC that is engaging in destructive activism by spreading misinformation and inciting fear, and it is the HRC that must be exposed.
Thankfully, they got one thing right in the report, stating that our "voices are being heard" and our "impact is being felt."
By God's grace, as we continue to speak the truth in love, the real bigots will be revealed.
Michael Brown is author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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