Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, a twenty-something married couple, live in New Mexico and run a small photography business called ‘Elaine.’ So why is it that two young Christian photographers have been compared to people refusing services to African-Americans in the 1950s?
The trouble began when Elaine, rather cordially, refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Shortly after, she received an e-mail from the New Mexico Human Rights commission telling her to find an attorney. One of the women involved in the civil ceremony, Vanessa Willock, had lodged a complaint against the young couple claiming they were discriminating against same-sex couples.
The Huguenins contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, an organisation set up to “to aggressively defend religious liberty by empowering [their] allies, recognizing that together, we can accomplish far more than we can alone.” ADF argue that it is a violation of the First Amendment to force Elaine to use her creative ability for something that goes against her conscience and told the Huguenins it would be bad stewardship of their company to back down or settle.
“If I’m being asked to tell the story of something that goes against my belief system,” explains Elaine, “there’s no way I can do that in good conscience.”
In a further twist, the Human Rights commission of New Mexico unanimously ruled against Elaine and her husband and requested they pay all of Willock’s legal costs and submit to requests by same-sex couples in the future. This created a media storm. The judgement is being appealed against and the jury is still out.
The question is raised, “What is freedom?”
Contact Alliance Defense Fund by calling (800) TELL-ADF (835-5233), faxing (480) 444-0025, writing 15100 N. 90th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85260, or logging on to www.alliancedefensefund.org
On the night of October 13th, 2008, an event was held at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina entitled “The Intersection of Sexuality and Faith.” The documentary For the Bible Tells Me So was shown, followed by audience interaction with seven panelists representing various Christian viewpoints on how faith and homosexuality relate to one another. 155 people attended the event at Sykes Auditorium, with the majority of the audience consisting of college students and the remainder made up of interested community members and local activists.
For the Bible Tells Me So
The night started with a showing of the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So directed by Daniel G. Karslake. Stylistically, the film was a straightforward documentary with very little shock value and rather tame dialogue, but its potential to propagate the activist homosexual agenda it presents should not be underestimated. In fact, it may be that run-of-the-mill style that is its greatest asset. As Mel White, leader of Soul Force, recounted in the film, being normal may be the key to changing the world:
When I was on Larry King Live, somebody called in and said, ‘What do you guys do in bed?’ Larry hung up on him and said, ‘that’s none of your business.’ And I said, ‘We’ve been together in the same bed for 24 years – we’re like everybody else, we sleep in bed. And King said: ‘Once they find out you’re as boring as we are, it’s all over.’
Christians that oppose homosexuality are throughout the film given the feel of being “fringe”, while the pro-homosexuality crowd is consistently shown to be the mainstream. Rather than shocking you with radical new ideas, the film leads you down a road that makes you feel as though nobody with a heart and half a brain could ever disagree with its thesis. Wild images of in-your-face gay pride events are nowhere to be found in this film. What’s portrayed is a kinder, gentler homosexuality that surely any modern person would agree with.
The film tells the story of various Christian families and how they reacted to the news that their children were gay, or as the film’s website describes it: “Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child.” Interspersed throughout the film are interviews with Jewish and Christian religious authorities sharing their two cents on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, and even a short cartoon starring a character named Christian. Below is the actual cartoon from the movie. Take a look and prepare to be “enlightened” (the cartoon is worth exposing point by point, but we’ll save that for a later VOR article):
The film contained plenty of radical redefinitions of religious ideas, such as what Leviticus 20:18 REALLY meant (it was about the need for expanding Israel’s population), why Sodom was REALLY destroyed (they weren’t hospitable enough), as well as what God REALLY thinks about divorce and adultery. Consider the words of Dick Gephardt’s daughter, who decided while married to her husband that “If I want to be happy, it’s going to mean losing my family… and that’s the decision I’m going to have to make.” Also consider how Bishop Gene Robinson is portrayed in the film. Not long after Bishop Robinson recounts how he divorced his wife so that she could find a heterosexual man and he can find a homosexual man, an act which he believed was in a strange way “living up” to his marriage vows, an interviewee proclaims that “Gene Robinson is the embodiment of the love of God.” One wonders how they came to their conclusions on what the Christian God really wants when it was the historical Jesus of Nazereth who proclaimed “I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The queerest thing about the movie, however, had very little to do with sexuality or marriage. The thing that really stood out was the fact that James Dobson of Focus on the Family is clearly portrayed as the villain in the film. Now every good story needs a bad guy, but James Dobson? During the pinnacle of the movie, a protest at Focus on the Family’s headquarters, one protester declares “James Dobson began as a wonderful family counselor. Now he has become a danger to himself and to others.” A danger to himself and to others? Brings up images of someone in a padded cell with a straightjacket on, doesn’t it? So what was Dr. Dobson’s great crime? According to the film it was encouraging parents of gay children to hope for and seek change in their child’s sexuality. An issue worth discussing further? Sure. Warrant for portraying someone alongside images of Hitler and the KKK? Hardly. Whether or not it was fair to demonize Dobson as the film did, the tactic seemed to work with the audience in Sykes Auditorium, as the sound of people crying with Kleenex firmly in hand could be clearly heard during the showdown between police and a gay activist’s family outside of Dobson’s headquarters in Colorado.
The Panel Discussion
With the audience thoroughly primed with sympathy for the movie and the homosexual cause it champions, the panel discussion formed at the front of the room. The participants were:
Opening remarks were allowed to all, with Pastor Deal, Rev. Ayers, “Roberta” (quotation marks used because she was a transgender man dressed as a woman), and Rev. Houchins praising the film and telling their own stories of acceptance of homosexuality, or in Ms. Houchins case, of being a lesbian. Dr. Brown, Pastor Stevens, and Pastor Radney expressed in their remarks compassion for the homosexual community, but concern over the agenda and theology the film presented. Dr. Brown gave the clearest rebuke of the film, exposing the film’s agenda and its effect on the audience by stating:
As far as accuracy, it was no more accurate than a KKK report on Barack Obama, okay? Sitting here watching it, I felt like I was a Jew watching Nazi propaganda, watching people shaped and molded by massive untruths. I mean, the guy talked about fifth grade Bible reading, it would be nice if they got to Kindergarten level.
What happened was a shifting in many of your hearts, towards hatred, towards bigotry, towards intolerance, towards smashing the Bible, towards smashing people that follow Jesus.
With the opening remarks complete and the atmosphere of the room noticeably different, various questions from the audience were asked of the panel dealing with homosexuality and faith. The key question of the night came when the panel was asked “Is it okay to pick and choose what we believe in the Bible?” To which Rev. Ayers responded with the statement “it’s impossible to believe all the Bible,” and Pastor Stevens said with reference to the Bible that “either we grasp it and embrace it as an authority, or we just kind of put it on the shelf like any other fairy tale with a bunch of warm and fuzzy Bible characters.”
Following this was a response by Pastor Deal that sparked a heated exchange between himself, Dr. Brown, and Rev. Ayers. Deal declared that “the Bible knows absolutely nothing about same-sex committed relationships,” and after referencing the Church’s persecution of Galileo due to his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun, said “when knowledge changes, we change.” Rev. Ayers added with reference to the Bible that “I want you to read it and look at all the horrific texts, the, in my opinion, un-Christian things going in it, there is some horrible stuff going on in the text.” This was followed by Dr. Brown who rebutted Deal’s assertions by saying that “scripture explicitly speaks about men having sex with men,” noting that the Greco-Roman world was familiar with long-term homosexual relationships, and that the Galileo episode as related by Deal was greatly exaggerated. While Brown spoke, Deal voiced opposition and shook his head in disagreement. Dr. Brown ended by looking at the audience and declaring:
People up here are going to tell you what’s good and bad about the Bible, which means… who needs the Bible? Use a phone book and make up your own mind, because the scripture has no voice or authority anymore, that’s what these fellows are leaving you with, that’s the problem.
Before the night was out, another interesting set of circumstances arose in which Matt Comer, Editor of Q-Notes, an LGBT news source, stood up in the crowd and told his story of growing up gay and Baptist in Winston-Salem, recounting an event of particular importance that happened to him: “I went to Calvary Baptist Church one time, and was chased down the hall and people threw rocks at me because I’m gay.” Yes, that is the same Calvary Baptist Church that panelist Derek Radney is a pastor of, and yes, that is the same Matt Comer that published an article in Q-Notes that contained the adjacent picture of Dr. Brown’s head pasted on what appears to be a machine-gun toting Muslim terrorists’ body.
In response to Mr. Comer’s statements, both Brown and Radney voiced opposition to violence and hatred towards the homosexual community, with Brown calling for an end to hatred from the homosexual community towards conservative Christians and the ex-gay community. Dr. Brown also pointed out that when he allowed him to share his story at a 2007 FIRE Church event, Matt met with nothing but love from the church community. Matt acknowledged this, but pointed out that it was the only time he had experienced love at a conservative church such as FIRE. Dr. Brown proceeded to challenge this double standard, since Matt went on to print the inflammatory article mentioned previously, which showed little fairness to Brown.
Queens University should be applauded for holding this film showing followed by a panel discussion, and they should in particular be applauded for inviting those that disagree with the film’s viewpoint to take part. One wonders why it was so difficult for Mr. Karslake to find anybody of the caliber of Dr. Brown, Pastor Stevens, or Pastor Radney to have any significant screen time in his movie to provide a clear voice from the other side of the issue, when it seemed so easy for Queens to arrange!
In the midst of strong delusion, Dr. Brown was able to provide a clear prophetic voice that exposed the lies put forth by the activist homosexual community for what they are. Let’s pray for him as he continues in that which God has called him to, and let’s inform ourselves that we might be able to be a light in darkness concerning these issues as well. Two resources to consider are the Can You Be Gay and Christian? lecture series, and the Homosexuality, the Church, and Society lecture series.