Becoming the Persecutors

The summer after my senior year in high school was my first summer in Phoenix. That summer, my church held an anti-gay workshop over a weekend led by Exodus International – the anti-gay ministry arm of Focus on the Family. During that workshop, gay rights activists held a protest on the sidewalk in front of my church. At the time, I was still in denial. I honestly believed I was straight. My friends and I all talked about how wrong this group was and how much we hoped they’d come in and listen, but we all agreed that as long as they were on public property they had a right to protest.

Most churches would agree with that. In fact, nearly all would in the same vain hope – that the protesters would hear what they’re teaching and have that come-to-Jesus moment that everyone in the church tries to drag everyone into. Turn the tables, though, and it’s a different story – gay leftists in this country cannot stand it when bible-thumping holy-rollers come into their territory and preach. They do it in significantly lower numbers, too, but none of that matters. In Philadelphia a few years ago, I had contact with one Christian activist group known as “Repent America” – borderline extremist, but at least their leader had a civil conversation with me, proving that he’s not a hatemonger – that was protesting outside the big gay pride festival. They were set upon by a literal mob and were told by police that they, not the real instigators, had to leave.

There was no conversation. All there was was anger, yelling, screaming, open hatred – all from a group that is supposed to be more tolerant than others.

I’ve seen the same thing in gay neighborhoods, including my hometown of Houston (Montrose) and my mother’s hometown, San Diego (Hillcrest). I’ve seen it outside Phoenix gay pride. The two biggest reasons that I stay away from gay pride festivals now are 1) the shock-factor attendees who like to prance around in their underwear or even topless (sorry, but seeing a transgendered woman walking around in a Utilikilt, topless, with electrical tape over “her” nipples just about scarred me for life), and 2) the vehemently anti-Christian attendees who threaten violence against the Christians standing outside to preach and hand out tracts.

I have said before that hypocrisy is an irritation that I do not suffer gladly. I have been a hypocrite before, and I was a complete idiot. I have also said before that I have no patience for gay leftists who claim the mantle of tolerant self-righteousness and yet cannot tolerate others. About one month ago, in Montrose – the gay neighborhood of Houston – two area preachers well-known for holding signs, preaching and blowing on a shofar (a ceremonial Jewish musical instrument made out of a ram’s horn) were accosted by police, manhandled, arrested and had their signs and shofar confiscated. This was after a previous encounter with police that was far less confrontational. I’m usually the first to stand up for the police, and the young officers who spoke with them the first time were very cordial, but the officers who came later were remarkably unprofessional.

This was AFTER a number of residents in the area complained that they shouldn’t be there because they weren’t wanted.

David Stokes and David Allen have been doing this for around two years and all of a sudden it has become an issue. Now, I can understand complaints about the shofar; that thing can be awfully loud and Houston does have noise ordinances as far as I know. First Amendment freedoms, however, cannot be infringed upon unless their words become threats, and they never have. I have relatives that live in Montrose and they don’t care for these two preachers. I heartily disagree with their message AND their method, but agree or disagree, I would still fight to my last breath for their right to stand on the corner of Westheimer and Montrose and speak their message. Defending their rights is no different than defending my own, and if I dared take their rights away, it would be the same as giving mine up.

Today the Harris County Attorney dropped all charges against the two preachers, citing a lack of evidence. The charges were displaying illegal signs and playing an illegal instrument. I’m not going to say that I hope they file a complaint against the police, because I can see arguments both ways, even though I disagree with the police in this case. I’m not going to say I welcome them back, because I do not agree with them. I AM going to say that the gay leftists and their supporters need to be as tolerant as they demand others be, or they become the persecutors they have long claimed Christians to be.