After a lone gunman opened fire at the headquarters Wednesday of the Family Research Council, 25 groups representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people signed a statement indicating they condemned the shooting and stood in solidarity with the Christian advocacy group.
The following day, FRC President Tony Perkins shattered this solidarity by accusing the Southern Poverty Law Center of sparking the shooter’s hatred.
“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said Thursday.
Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association expressed similar rhetoric.
“This near-tragic incident marks an alarming turn in our cultural battle over values. The left’s war on religion and Christianity has now gone from symbolic to literal.”
In a statement released Wednesday , Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the shooting “is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end.”
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the Family Research Council, the American Family Association and 11 other groups to a list of anti-gay hate groups that they monitor. (The National Organization for Marriage was already on this list.) During a conference call held when they announced the recent additions, SPLC President Richard Cohen and SPLC’s Intelligence Project Director Mark Potok said the designation doesn’t mean the groups engage in illegal activities or advocate violence, but that their ideology demonizes and spreads myths.
On the SPLC blog Thursday, Potok reiterated why his organization designated the FRC as a hate group because the Family Reseacrh Council “has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.”
John Becker, director of communications for Truth Wins Out, said such as designation is justified .
[Wednesday’s] senseless act of violence does not exonerate the Family Research Council and other anti-gay hate groups from the decades they’ve spent slandering, demonizing, and actively lying about the LGBT community. The Southern Poverty Law Center – a venerable civil rights organization that monitors and documents extremism across the country – rightfully labeled the Family Research Council an anti-gay hate group because of its extensive history of spreading malicious, hateful falsehoods about gay people. FRC is not a hate group because of its public policy views, as Mr. Perkins has alleged. It is a hate group because it earned that designation.
Along those lines, in lieu of calling for an outright ban on pro-family/anti-LGBT pundits, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) launched the Commentator Accountability Project.
The effort is “designed to shine a big, bright light on the extreme views of the vast majority of prominent anti-LGBT talkers,” wrote Aaron McQuade, GLAAD’s director of news and field media, in a guest column for Mediate. “Bizarre allusions to Nazi Germany. Frequent accusations of satanic influence. Apocalyptic predictions for a world in which LGBT citizens are treated equally. Vile claims that the AIDS epidemic is God’s judgment. Dehumanizing comparisons of loving same-sex relationships to crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, or ‘jumping off a 10-story building.’”
Perhaps now is the time to change the conversation from demonizing the other into exploring what we might have in common in our shared global humanity. Instead of hearing from the same Christian voices who keep singing the same old song, why not change the channel? For example, over at Believe Out Loud, an online network and advocacy movement, one can hear from a range of Christian voices who seek to explore what it truly means to live out the baptismal covenant to welcome all.