Blustering boycotts: The business of theopolitics
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jan 21, 2006, 20:22

Both mainstream and gay media widely reported that on January 19 Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the east Seattle suburb of Redmond, which is also home to Microsoft, was going to call for a national boycott of the corporate giant on a Focus on the Family (FOF) radio broadcast. The reason: Microsoft -- along with Boeing and representatives of Corbis, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan -- had signed a letter supporting pending legislation in Washington state that would prohibit discrimination.

According to Andrew Garber�s January 12 article in the Seattle Times, �The letter supports House Bill 2661, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. �It remains legal in 38 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation,� the letter, dated Jan. 10, states. �This is not only bad for business, it is bad for America.��

The Christian media -- in the form of Focus on the Family�s �CitizenLink� -- had given Hutcherson credit for being instrumental in defeating similar anti-discrimination legislation last year: �Legislation fails in the Washington Legislature thanks, in part, to efforts by a Seattle-area pastor [Hutcherson] who stood up for truth -- and stood face-to-face with a corporate giant [Microsoft].�

On January 20, I scoured the Christian, gay and mainstream media for stories about Hutcherson�s announcement on the FOF broadcast. Nothing. Nada. Nothing on the websites of Antioch Bible Church or Focus on the Family either. So I called the church (on my cell phone) at 9:24am PST to ask if the announcement of the boycott had been made. The person I spoke with said she didn�t have that information, but took my name and home phone number and said she�d pass them and my question along to the pastor�s assistant.

Ten minutes later, at 10:34am MST, I called Focus on the Family�s 800 number, again using my cell phone. After giving my name, business address and cell phone number, I was transferred to someone who said the media representation of the boycott announcement on the FOF radio network was inaccurate and that Pastor Hutcherson would be talking with the press to correct the error. The pleasant women with whom I was speaking said, �Of course we stand with Pastor Hutcherson on his opposition to this bill.� When I told her I was writing an article about boycotts and wanted to make sure I had the information she�d just given me correct -- and started reading my notes to her -- she interrupted and told me I�d have to speak to someone in the media division. I was transferred.

�Cathy� would not confirm or deny anything I had just been told, saying only that FOF was referring all questions about the boycott to Pastor Hutcherson�s office because that was �his issue.� Yes, I agreed, �but Focus on the Family was named in all the media reports. You can tell me nothing?� Cathy simply repeated that all questions were being referred to Pastor Hutcherson�s office.

Something was definitely not adding up. By the end of the day -- 5pm PST, 8pm EST -- I had not received a call from Pastor Hutcherson�s assistant. Actually, I never expected one. Anti-gay bigotry and discrimination had already lost:

Gay Civil Rights Bill Passes Washington House

by Newscenter Staff

Posted: January 20, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Olympia Washington) Legislation banning discrimination against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered in jobs and housing was passed in the state House on Friday. The measure was approved on a 60-37 vote. . . . The no votes came mainly from Republicans. . . .

The bill now moves to the Senate where it was defeated last year by one vote. (story) Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane), a supporter of the measure, said the upper chamber will act on the bill quickly.

It is expected the legislation will pass the Senate this time. The senator who cast the deciding vote now says he will support the measure. (story) . . . Last year�s defeat of the measure was blamed on Microsoft which originally supported the bill but reversed its stand after threats from a local evangelist [Ken Hutcherson] to call a national boycott of the computer giant. . . . Meanwhile the state�s Supreme Court is considering a challenge to knock down the state�s ban against same-sex marriage. A decision is expected at any time.

Chuck Currie, a United Church of Christ seminarian, was fairly accurate when he said �Ken Hutcherson might be taking the lyrics to Onward Christians Soldiers a little too seriously.� But the words �might be� need to be replaced with �is,� and �a little too seriously� needs to be replaced by �literally� for complete accuracy. The answer to a question Mr. Currie posed -- �Is Hutcherson planning on calling for a Christian jihad?� -- is a resounding �yes,� and those unholy soldiers of the Christian Right are marching off to war against gay and lesbian Americans striving for civil equality, equal treatment and the basic respect Jesus preached all people deserved. The United Church of Christ�s television ad made that point. It�s especially poignant in light of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention�s executive board�s recent unanimous vote to disaffiliate a church for welcoming gays and lesbians.

One has to wonder why anti-gay Hutcherson didn�t team up with the king of the Christian Right�s homophobic boycotts, Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, instead of (allegedly) claiming he�d make his boycott announcement on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast. Perhaps Hutcherson�s bigotry and megalomania are just more akin to Dobson�s and FOF�s.

Robert L. Jamieson, Jr., Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist, noted thatHutcherson is Dobson�s Mini-me and just as overzealous.� Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Hutcherson is a �Dobson wannabe� and is using his overzealousness to gain favor. Perhaps Dobson, who avidly supports all things Bush -- even the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court -- didn�t want to burn the Bush, whose second largest contributor was none other than Microsoft. Or perhaps FOF didn�t want to get burned: �James Dobson�s Focus on the Family website is running on [a] Windows Server and always has been, according to Netcraft.�

Focus on the Family is the anti-gay, theocratic, multi-media empire run by James Dobson who�s been dubbed the Christian Right�s �king maker� -- a picture�s worth a thousands words -- and who many, like Brian Elroy McKinley, believe has set himself up as THE moral authority in America:

Move over George Washington. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, wants to take your place as father of our country. But rather than being a true father -- one who helps us mature into individuals -- he is little more than another Pharisee, setting himself up as a religiously-based political dictator bent on getting us to support his personal view of legislated morality.

And what�s even worse, Dobson goes to great length to use Scripture to support his view, and yet according to Time magazine he doesn�t even have any formal theological training. In short, Dobson, using his position as a radio psychologist, has set himself up as our moral authority and asks us all to blindly follow.

But don�t take my word for it. The following are quotes from Dobson and from other media reporting about Dobson�s activities. . . .

Mr. McKinley�s compilation of Dobson�s words and deeds is extensive, but for present purposes a simple example will do. On October 22, 2004, while addressing a crowd supporting same-sex marriage bans, James Dobson claimed that the gay and lesbian Americans fighting so hard for the civil right to embrace the civil institution of marriage �want to destroy the institution of marriage.� According to Dr. Dobson, allowing loving, monogamous same-sex couples to wed would not only �destroy marriage. It will destroy the earth.�

Dobson was full of the same fanatical, irrational, homophobic rhetoric at Justice Sunday III. Gil Alexander-Moegerie�s book, James Dobson�s War on America, exposed the truth about Dobson and his organization. Excerpts from two reviews of the book explain. The first is from Publishers Weekly:

In this often strident expose of James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, an ultraconservative Christian organization, former Focus vice-president Alexander-Moegerle issues a call to all politically concerned Americans to beware of Dobson�s political agenda. . . . Alexander-Moegerle relies on his more than 15 years of close contact with Dobson to paint a portrait of Dobson as an autocratic manager hungry for political power and recognition. According to the author, Dobson's Nazarene belief that he is sinless and morally perfect results in Dobson�s stance that he is morally superior to others, even his employees. Such a stance, combined with Dobson�s apparent sexism, racism and homophobia, and his ability to lobby Capitol Hill with �500,000 to 1 million phone calls and letters within hours,� according to Alexander-Moegerle, seem to make Dobson a tremendous political threat to the pluralism and diversity of political views in America. . . . Alexander-Moegerle brings into the open some serious questions about Dobson and Focus on the Family that merit response.

The second excerpt is from Mike Tribby�s Booklist review:

Evangelical Christian psychologist James Dobson�s strategy for combating contemporary cultural rot involves melding ultraconservative politics, tight corporate control of his Focus on the Family organization, and a personal understanding of God�s word and marketing the antirot prescriptions he comes up with via the conservative Christian media. Curiously, the proceeds from many if not all of his cures seem to line Dobson�s personal and corporate pockets [and have since prompted calls for an IRS investigation]. So former true-believer Alexander-Moegerle contends as he exposes the creature behind Dobson�s smiling, fatherly persona and his questionable personal management style; from searching employees� offices to blackballing fellow authors with his publisher, Dobson is a Christian corporate octopus. As intriguing as Alexander-Moegerle�s chilling depiction of how media soul-saving and moral crusading works is the bizarre credulity of Dobson�s flock. . . . [link added]

In her June 3, 2005 article �Efforts of �anti-gay industry� chronicled in new report: Civil rights group targets religious conservatives,� Dyana Bagby summarized the Southern Poverty Law Center�s report and the Intelligence Report�s 23-page expos� that documented how the holier-than-thou leaders of the Christian Right were using homophobia not only to enhance their own political power through bigotry and hate, but also to fill their coffers. Further documentation of that claim came in a Denver Post article by Eric Gorski, entitled �Focus is on politics of nonprofits: The fundraising success of a new James Dobson group spurs debate on the rules.� An Associated Press story also reported on the profitability of Focus on the Family�s Focus Action organization.

Not to be outdone in homophobia, theocratic politics, or blustering boycott rhetoric, a group formed by Alan Keyes in 2004, Renew America, is currently calling for a national boycott of NBC and some of its advertisers over the airing of the series �The Book of Daniel.� You remember Alan Keyes: the rabid homophobe whose run for the U.S. Senate resulted in one of the most humiliating defeats in American political history.

In their own �about us� words, �Renew America is a grassroots organization that supports the �Declarationist� ideals of Alan Keyes.� The first three principles of Keyes� �Declarationist ideals� encapsulate the others:

All men are created equal. Hence they have equal natural rights as a gift of the Creator.

Our duty to seek and follow the will of the Creator is prior to all government. Accordingly, so is the liberty of religious conscience.

The authority of the Creator as prior to all civil society and human authority must be respected for liberty to endure.

Note the not so subtle �All men are created equal.� Whatever their sexual orientation, women are not �equal.� But they have company. Mr. Keyes� �all men� excludes gay men who, in his declarationist view, are definitely not �equal� citizens either.

In his 1996 presidential campaign Mr. Keyes said, �If we accept the homosexual agenda, which seeks recognition for homosexual marriages, we will be destroying the integrity of the marriage-based family.� In his 2000 run, Keyes said that granting gay Americans the right to a civil union meant �you�ve legitimized pedophilia.� And in his disastrous campaign for the senate in 2004, Keyes said that homosexuality is �selfish hedonism.� When asked if he considered Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, a �selfish hedonist� Keyes replied, �Of course she is. That goes by definition. Of course she is.�

Mr. Keyes� daughter, Maya Marcel-Keyes, is lesbian. As a recent article noted, Keyes believes she is also a �selfish hedonist.� He�s been estranged from his daughter ever since she came out last Valentine�s Day at a demonstration in support of gay marriage in Maryland.� [link added] So much for �family values� and valuing one�s family.

Mr. Keyes� views on a woman�s right to choose are typically theocratic: �I will do everything in my power to overthrow Roe vs. Wade and get us back where we belong in the acknowledgment of God.� But his views on birth control are theocratic �thinking� at its most dangerous. They package women�s rights and gay rights into �a thing� to be fought against ad majorem gloriam Dei. The title of a May 14, 2005, article written by the �Renew America staff� and posted on their website made the point: �Keyes: abortion and same-sex marriage are logical outgrowths of �contraception mentality.� At issue is the divinely-appointed role of sexual relations.� All the italics are theirs.

Another Keyes update:

Last year at a Christian rally in St Augustine, Florida, Keyes declared that heterosexual couples who choose not to have children do not hurt the institution, but a gay union would annihilate it. �Marriage exists in order to respect, recognize and enforce obligations that arise from the fact of procreation,� Keyes said in his keynote address at �ProFamily Rally 2005.� (story)

Don�t look for logic or rationality in Keyes� statements. Doing so could seriously hurt your brain. But you might want to have a look at Bob Hall�s recent article: �Wisconsin resident and former Massachusetts lawmaker Bob Hall is a conservative Republican who wants everyone to know that the only people who threaten traditional marriage are straight couples.�

Keyes� anti-gay, pro-hate irrationality and Hutcherson�s anti-gay, pro-discrimination bravado are more akin to Grant Storms� �thinking� that, inevitably, led him to call for lethal action against gays.

Storms is pastor of the Reformer Ministries in Marrero, Louisiana. He was one of the speakers at the 2003 �International Conference on Homo-Fascism� held in Milwaukee. The title of the conference speaks for itself and those who attended. But what they didn�t know was that Action Wisconsin obtained an audio recording of the conference and publicized remarks that the group said incited violence and hatred. In his speech, Storms said gay rights� opponents should �start taking it to the streets.� He mimicked gunfire: �Boom, boom, boom, boom. There�s twenty! Ca-ching,� according to a transcript. [link added]

Pastor Storms claimed in a lawsuit that Action Wisconsin defamed him by saying remarks he made at the conference advocated the murder of gays. But Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Patricia McMahon strongly disagreed. She ruled that not only were Action Wisconsin�s interpretations of the remarks reasonable, but that the lawsuit itself lacked merit from the time it was filed in February 2004. The judge �blasted Storms� lawyer, James Donohoo of Milwaukee, saying he should have known the complaint was a waste of time." Action Wisconsin was awarded $87,000 in attorneys� fees.

But Pastor Storms wasn�t done making a fool of himself. He said the claim that he was advocating the murder of gays was �ludicrous and ridiculous� and called the judge �liberal� and �insane.� Still ranting and vowing to appeal the decision, Storms proclaimed, �We�ll win this case and we�ll win the cultural war. We have God on our side.�

That�s the same �God� Jerry Falwell so often claims to speak for: �AIDS is not just God�s punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.� He later promised to tone down his hate-filled rhetoric, but did anyone really believe he would? Did anyone really believe Falwell�s apology for blaming the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on gays? Did anyone really believe Pat Robertson�s apology for advocating the assassination of the Venezuelan president, his apology to Israel or his apology to Ariel Sharon�s son for saying the Israeli�s Prime Minister devastating stroke was divine retribution for �dividing God�s land�?

How could anyone with a functioning brain, any sense of equality and fair-play, or a true sense of spirituality, believe any of the hate-mongering rhetoric coming from dogmatic theocrats such as Hutcherson, Dobson, Keyes, Storms, Falwell, and Robertson? Although not known primarily for instituting boycotts, such a list of homophobic theocrats would be incomplete without the name �Louis P. Sheldon� who, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, argued against giving aid to the surviving members of gay and lesbian partnerships, many of whom had children. The founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition also has suggested rounding up all gays and HIV+ people and putting them in �cities of refuge� (aka concentration camps).

Bluntly put, the goal of the Christian Right is the propagation of their own Evil Empire. And as we all know �evil empires� inevitably fall, consumed by their own malignant hate.

NB: There was nothing in the media -- or on the Antioch Bible Church�s or Focus on the Family�s websites -- on January 21about Hutcherson�s Microsoft boycott, or lack thereof.

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