Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Report From the Belly of the Beast

The May, 2005 issue of Harper's Magazine has a report titled "Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters by Chris Hedges. I have attended four NRB conventions and this is the report I filed for Frontiers Magazine in February, 2000.
Report From the Belly of the Beast

By Jerry Sloan

Fundamentalist Christian TV and radio broadcasters, evangelists, writers, publishers, producers, equipment suppliers and a growing cadre of internet and software providers gathered 5300 strong at the new Anaheim Convention Center beginning February 5, 2000, for four days of celebrating, dinners, awards and workshops which made up the 57th annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters. Religious broadcasting is big business. There are 1400 full-time and 283 part-time plus another 48 international and shortwave religious radio stations for a grand total of 1731. 980 are commercially operated stations. There are AM (811) and FM (892) radio stations - a growth of 25% during this decade - and 285 full and part-time TV stations - a decline of 16% during the decade.

The NRB claims 80,000,000 people listens to its programs each week.The NRB now has over 2000 members. It maintains national offices in the Washington D.C., suburb of Manassas VA., from where it lobbies the Federal Communications Commission and Congress on behalf of its members.The convention opened on Saturday evening with an awards ceremony highlighted by the prestigious Chairman’s Award which was something of a paradox as it was “for serving the Christian community in a distinguished and exemplary manner,” but it was given to a nonbeliever, homophobic talk radio host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who received a standing ovation. She acknowledged the award by saying she was “just a Jewish girl from the Bronx,” and that “we both serve the same God.”

Another award which one would think raises conflict-of-interest issues was given to Federal Communications Commission Chief of Media, Roy Stewart, the senior staff person who handles all broadcast matters. He accepted his award saying, “It is you who should be honored.”

FCC spokesperson David Sisk said the bureau had no policy about FCC employees receiving awards from those whom they regulate that everyone including the FCC commissioners receive awards all the time. Also honored as TV program of the year was Pat Robertson’s 700 Club.

On Sunday February 6, 2000 while the Mormons of California were fasting and praying for the passage of Prop 22, The Limit of Marriage Initiative, their Fundamentalist allies were gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center for the opening of the 155,000 square foot exhibition hall portion of the convention to see 278 exhibitors.

Among many exhibits were books and videos proclaiming Mormons a non-Christian cult.
Tennessee-based TV evangelist John Ankerberg was there at one of four book signing sites located in each corner of the hall to sign his new 735 page book titled “Encyclopedia of Cults and Religions,” in which he states, “Mormonism is not true Christianity and true Mormons cannot be considered Christians.”

The next book signing session featured author Ron Rhodes who targeted the other Prop 22 ally, the Roman Catholic Church, with his new book, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics.

The book signings changed about every 90 minutes while the exhibit hall was open.

A tour of the exhibition floor revealed many large glittery booths trying to entice the visitor to stop and talk about their product, cause or program. Prominent among the exhibits was Thomas Nelson Publishers the largest Bible publishers in the world, pushing their latest version of the King James Bible, the New King James Bible which translated one of the most used thump verses, 1 Cor. 6:9 as saying “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Apparently there is now a difference between a homosexual and a sodomite.

No where in the introduction is it mentioned that King James I was a homosexual.

Early Monday morning a public policy breakfast which was to feature a debate between Pat Robertson and columnist Cal Thomas was somewhat derailed when the Charismatic faith-healer failed to show because he was sick with the flu. Robertson who has claimed to turn hurricanes from his base of operations in Virginia Beach VA., - only to have them strike elsewhere - apparently did not get one of his many “words of knowledge” concerning someone being healed of the flu or if he did he didn’t claim it. Filling in for Robertson was Attorney Jay Sekulow who heads Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.

The point - counter point debate centered around Thomas’ book, which he co-authored with Rev. Ed Dobson, Not By Might, published last year which said that Christians should abandon trying to take over the political system and get back to preaching the Gospel and changing people’s lives.

Sekulow started the debate saying, “I don’t think it is time for disarmament by the Religious Right . . . We must be politically involved; it is not time to retreat . . . I don’t think there is anything wrong with motivating literally millions of people to call their Congressman, to talk with their legislatures to deal with these issues.”

Thomas, who for five years was a vice-president of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, discounting his experience with the Moral Majority, powerfully countered, “What has changed is my tactics and priorities. I am now convinced that government lacks the power to bring about the changes all of us wish to see.” Citing the prohibition and anti-tobacco movements he said, “Many have tried to reform culture from the top down believing that unrighteous behavior was a matter of poor leadership.”

Countering what is a popular theme among many evangelicals Thomas questioned the notion of America being founded as a Christian nation, “What does history really say about our roots? Were our Founders mostly saved men who were followers of Jesus Christ? A few were but many were deist, free thinkers and quite a few, including George Washington were Masons. Only 10 per cent of the populist attended church” at the time of the Revolution.” Quoting Cliff Bjork of Searching Together Ministries, he continued, “The expectations inherent in the political agendas being advanced today are totally without biblical justification.”

Thomas summed up by saying, “Something is out of balance. Too many of us give lip service to the Gospel while spending most of our energies on politics.”

Willie Aames, who has appeared in 14 TV series and six movies, the best known being Eight Is Enough, moderated a workshop, Raising the Standard of Christian TV and Radio. At age 41 the youthful looking Aames now conducts a children’s ministry and produces religious videos for children. He says he is the “one and only super hero in spandex, Bibleman.”

Another workshop, God, Mammon, and Evangelicals: A report from the American Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals outlined a study funded by a grant from the Lilly Foundation, “to study how evangelical Christians in North America spend money, think about money and raise money.”

The report said that in 1992 American evangelicals spent almost $1.9 billion on overseas work.
In 1998 about $2 billion was spent in Bible book stores; $5 billion on Christian elementary and secondary schools; $2.5 billion on Christian liberal schools; $ 750 million on Bible schools with Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute taking in $ 82 million or more than 10 % of the total; $230 million for seminaries: $450 million for camps and conference centers: and $625 million for urban rescue centers.

Also in 1998 specific organizations received: $2 billion for all the activities of the Salvation Army; $304 million for Worldvision; $241 million for Campus Crusade for Christ; $203 million for the Christian Broadcasting Network; $128 million for Feed the Children; $124 million for the Billy Graham Association; $117 million for the Promise Keepers; $ 109 million for Focus on the Family; $98 million for the Trinity Broadcasting Network; $85 million for Map International; $79 million for Young Life; $68 million for Oral Roberts Ministries.

The total that could be traced which was spent directly on politics by groups like the Christian Coalition, “such as the amount of the budget Focus on the Family says they spent on politics, although they may spend a little more than that,” Family Research Council, National Association of Evangelicals, Evangelicals for Social Action. The total found spent on politics was $160 million.
This figure is many times larger than all gay political contributions combined!

Back on the exhibition floor Lou Sheldon, California’s leading gay basher, could be seen moving about smoozing with exhibitors and visitors.

A stop at the Family Research Council booth the staff revealed that the FRC reads and clips articles from Frontiers. Their tables were loaded with numerous anti-gay books, position papers and pamphlets such as A Capitol Hill Report - In Defense of Marriage: Why Same-sex Unions Miss the Mark; How Domestic Partnerships and “Gay Marriage” Threaten the Family; and Homosexuality Is Not a Civil Right.

Robert Knight, FRC’s virulently anti-gay researcher and Janet Parshall, FRC’s official spokesperson spent time in the booth handing out FRC literature.

An Exodus International affiliate, He Intends Victory, located in Irvine, CA., passed out two books, An Ounce of Prevention: Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth and He Intends Victory. At an upcoming meeting in April the NRB is set to induct Amie Semple McPherson into its Hall of Fame. Sister Amie, as she was called, founded the Church of the Four Square was a very controversial woman preacher following WWW l who started one of the first radio stations in the country.

The NRB has apparently decided not to put stock in Sister Amie’s many marriages or the rumors of her many affairs with men including one where she disappeared for several weeks and reappeared with the claim she had been kidnapped and held in Mexico. Many believed she had run off with the engineer of her radio station who coincidentally did not report to work for the during the same time period. The NRB will meet next year in Dallas, Texas.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

What's The Plan??

Same Sex Marriage (SSM) is coming to California. It is not a maybe. It’s coming. It is simply a matter of when.
By some crazy happenstance here in the Golden State there is a two pronged attack to obtain the same sex marriage goal. This hasn't happened as the result of a planned, organized and rational “gay agenda.” It just happened.
The first prong has several cases winding their way through the courts where first, because of the triune combination of our strong state constitution with its laws against discrimination, second, other laws we have put on the books forbidding the state to discriminate against its citizens because of gender, and third, tons of court rulings against discriminations in any form, all of which means SSM will be affirmed.
The second prong is Assembly Member Mark Leno’s reintroduction of a law to allow SSM. It appears to have strong support in the legislature -- Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is a co-sponsor. It just might pass this session. The big question is whether the Arnold will sign it as he has made some nice Conan the Barbarian utterances indicating he just might do so.
This of course leads us to the BIG question. What are we going to do to stave off the inevitable ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to repeal either the court rulings or a signed law to forbid SSM and possibly even domestic partners?
Make no mistake. No matter how SSM comes about Randy Thomasson and the Campaign for California Families and his multi-millionaire sugar daddies like Howard Ahmanson,Jr., Edward G. Atsinger III, Rob Hurtt, Jr., Roland Hinz, Richard Riddle and possibly Congressman Darrel Issa will pour in whatever money is needed to try and pass a state constitutional amendment forbidding SSM.
Remember just four short years ago in 2000, Ahmanson, Atsinger and Hinz together handed over more than $ 750,000 to get the late and unlamented Pete Knight’s Prop 22 on the ballot. Ahmanson has not missed a chance to help fund an anti-gay initiative anywhere in California in the last 20 years.
Nor can we forget that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Roman Catholic Church will jump in with both feet to contribute big bucks to ban SSM and to bully their communicants to support a SSM ban as they did in their support for Prop 22.
Also in this mix of bible thumpers will be James Dobson and Focus on the Family allied with their former political front organization, the Capitol Resource Institute and their new front, the California Family Council.
SSM is coming to the state of Washington where there has been two favorable lower court rulings, both so brilliantly written affirming SSM that the Washington State Supreme Court will have no other choice but to uphold them and already, as outlined in a November 26, 2004 article in the New York Times the opponents, with help from the Ohio auteurs, are already holding meetings to start the initiative process to overturn any affirmative court rulings.
So we should be forewarned. We know what these guys are going to try to do and dollars to donuts they will succeed in getting an initiative on the ballot in California. They have mastered thei ability to get the fundamentalist faithful to sign petitions either by direct home mailings, downloading the petition on the internet or having them passed out and signed at church services.
Atsinger’s chain of 20 or so religious radio stations will be very effective in achieving the required number of signatures just as they were successful in helping to recall Gov. Gray Davis.
So this question goes to Mark Leno, the L/G legislative caucus, Equality California and its subsidiaries , the Stonewall Democrats, the Log Cabin Republicans and to the various SSM groups, what is the plan to defend SSM and when do we start putting it into action?
We need to emulate our past successful campaigns against Prop 6 in 1978 and Prop 64 in 1986 by planning early or we can repeat the fiasco of Prop 22 and do nothing until the signatures are gathered, the election is only a few weeks away, and run a weak, losing campaign.
We need to start NOW to organize. We need to be peppering the media with ads explaining what civil marriage really is and all the protections and privileges that go with it. We need to have strong position papers written by both theological and secular scholars explaining the meaning of marriage both biblically and secularly which can be published in op-ed pages of the state and national media.
This needs to be done starting two weeks ago.
Now is the time for local communities to organize. Now is the time to be gather our allies together. Now in the time to be forging alliances in the minority communities.
Rest assured, professional gay basher Lou Sheldon will trot out his gaggle of minority preachers proclaiming the Hispanic, Asian/Pacific, and African-American communities are opposed to same-sex marriage.
Members of Equality California and its subsidiaries, Stonewall Democrats and Log Cabin Republicans should be peppering their boards with calls for action NOW.
We should be demanding from the L/G legislative caucus their plan of action to successfully defend from the fundamentalist hordes any SSM law which might pass the legislature this year for this law will affect all of us whether we think we need it or not.

Matt Foreman. executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, summed up the campaign in Oregon where. of the eleven states that had constitutional amendments on the ballot in the November 2 election, Oregon had the narrowist margin of defeat, “In the end, however, I think time will turn out to be our principle deficiency. Put simply, our side needed more time. The campaign to defeat the amendment was not launched until July 29, leaving 101 days until November 2.”
To sum it up one more time -- “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Is It Militant for Gays to Want Rights?

Dear Friends,

I have enclosed a column written by Sacramento Bee Editor Ginger Rutland on 11/7/04 followed with an artcle which I wrote. While I generally agreed with Ms Rutland's reasons as to why John Kerry lost the election I found her comments about the gay communtiy rather caustic and unfounded so I wrote an op-ed piece refuting her allegations which is published in the Bee today.


Ginger Rutland: Moral majority - The Sacramento Bee
This story is taken from Forum at
Ginger Rutland: Moral majority -- Kerry ignored values, and it cost him
By Ginger Rutland -- Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, November 7, 2004

Ralph Nader may not have been a factor in the 2004 presidential election but Gavin Newsom was.

Last February, when the San Francisco mayor presided over a gay-marriage marathon on the steps of City Hall, he did more than almost anyone else to deliver the election to President Bush. Following Karl Rove's playbook to the letter, Newsom helped drive millions of evangelical Christians to the polls.In the face of the gay marriage controversy, John Kerry offered a carefully focus-grouped position: He was against gay marriage but he was also against a constitutional amendment to ban it. He was for civil union, whatever that is. But militant gays didn't want half answers. They wanted their status not just tolerated but celebrated.
You don't have to be a homophobic evangelical Christian to be troubled by the aggressive agenda pushed by some in the gay community.

Even tolerant, live-and-let-live parents residing in left-leaning precincts in midtownSacramento are troubled when their kids are offered class credit for marching in an AIDs parade that looks very much like a gay rights parade. They are dismayed when the Civil War is given short shrift in an American history class while the teacher devotes two weeks to a discussion of the Stonewall riots in New York that sparked the gay rights revolution.

I voted for Kerry and would do so again. But by failing to confront the moral values issue more forthrightly, he lost the presidency. I don't mean he should have denounced gays. I don't believe homosexuality is immoral. But he could have taken the opportunity to talk about promiscuity, about rampant sexual excess and its corrosive effects on society, whether gay or straight. He had ample opportunity.

In the midst of the campaign, Bill Cosby provided the perfect opening. When he criticized the violent, profanity-riddled lyrics of hip-hop music, it set off a fury in the white and black media. Tone-deaf and clueless, Kerry ignored it. He should have taken up Cosby's cause.

There was also the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction flap. Here, too, the cultural elite tittered and winked and droned on about hypocrisy. It showed that they were out of touch.
It wasn't the nanosecond glimpse of Jackson's breast that troubled so many Americans. The whole crotch-grabbing, sexually charged gyrations in that tasteless halftime show (not to mention the ceaseless Cialis commercials) at the Super Bowl, the most watched family show on television, horrified millions. I can just see Karl Rove licking his lips and rubbing his hands with glee. Again, a missed opportunity for Kerry.

I want to offer an illustrative anecdote here, and I plan to be explicit, so you might want to get the children out of the room. Channel surfing a week or so before the election, I landed on a rerun of "Sex in the City."

The nymphomaniac character in that series is having sex with a casual acquaintance. He's vigorously engaged; she's looking bored, her random thoughts, unheard by the man servicing her, provide the background audio.

Suddenly her voice stops, she smiles, lifts the blanket and announces aloud in delighted tones that her menstrual period has begun. The man on top of her screams. I didn't take notes so I'm not quoting precisely here, but he says something like, " "Oh no, not on my Italian silk sheets. They cost $2,000."You don't have to be a prude or an evangelical Christian to find that offensive. The crudeness stunned me.

"Sex in the City" is just one example of the soft pornography that litters our airwaves. Beer commercials are another. I've not studied the returns in Colorado, but I'm convinced that the Coors beer "twins" ads sunk Pete Coors' U.S. Senate bid.

It's not just white evangelicals who are alarmed by sexual excess. Most people of color - brown, Asian, Arab and those stalwarts of the Democratic party, my people, black Americans - are deeply conservative and troubled by a culture awash in violence and sex.

Much was made of the fact that President George W. Bush didn't meet with the congressional black caucus and genuflect before the nabobs of the NAACP. He till managed to double the number of black voters who supported him.Why? More than any other segment of the population, black Americans suffer the direct consequences of hedon ism, of casual sex, homosexual or heterosexual. In too many black neighborhoods, the rates of AIDs infection, unwed motherhood and absent fathers are at crisis levels.

African Americans understand better than most that these "Christian values" of abstinence and self control save lives and give their children the chance for a better future.

Still, one of the biggest, and for me, saddest, ironies of this elections is that Kerry was on the right side of the most important moral issue of the campaign: war. Yet he failed to talk about the war in moral terms. Kerry never said it is a sin to kill for oil. He never said it is a sin to profit from war.Instead he talked about strategy and tactics. Iraq, he said, was the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." He lamented the lost opportunity "at Tora Bora." He bemoaned the fact that "the president outsourced the war to Afghan warlords."

Kerry never talked about the president's disastrous domestic record in moral terms either. He should have. It is a sin that in the richest country in the word, children are homeless and hungry. It is a sin to deny health care to people or to despoil the earth.

I don't know why Kerry never did these things. I suspect it's cultural, that he is a hard-headed New Englander who has been schooled to keep his emotions to himself. His strict code, a code shared by the president's father, would not allow him to wear his religion or his morality on his sleeve.

I respect that. But that restraint comes with a price. In a contest over genuine morals, Kerry should have won handily over George W. Bush. Instead, he lost resoundingly.

I voted for John Kerry; I would vote for him again. I think he represents those values that reflect the true goodness of this country. To me, it's a tragedy he was not able to convey that simple but essential message to the American public.

About the writer: Reach Ginger Rutland at (916) 321-1917 or
This article is protected by copyright and should not be printed or distributed
for anything except personal use.
Copyright © The Sacramento Bee
Is it militant for gays to want rights? - The Sacramento Bee
This story is taken from Opinion at
Is it militant for gays to want rights?
By Jerry Sloan -- Special To The Bee
Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, November 14, 2004

In her column "Moral Majority" (Nov. 7), associate editor Ginger Rutland used some very loose facts and opinions regarding the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) communities that border on a vicious attack to arrive at her point as to why John Kerry and the Democrats lost the election.

First her use of the terms "militant" and "aggressive" is pejorative.

In the last 30 years or so, we have passed laws and had court decisions at both state and federal levels that have strengthened the fact that government will not discriminate against its citizens because of their gender. This has to include marriage.

Even though she qualifies it as "some" why does she label as "aggressive" or "militant" those people who want to claim their full rights of citizenship? Were the 4,000 couples standing in the rain in those long lines in San Francisco "militants"? In California until 1977, as noted in The Bee by Marjorie Lundstrom, same sex couples were entitled to apply for and receive a confidential marriage license. But in that year the legislature took that right away.

What is militant or aggressive about demanding that right be reinstated and Prop. 22 declared unconstitutional? In the 1960s if the question had been put on the ballot as to whether or not Negroes should be allowed to sit anywhere they wanted at the 5 and 10 lunch counter or sit anywhere they please on a bus, it would have been voted down six to one just as ban on same-sex marriage was affirmed by that figure on Election Day in Mississippi.

Dr. Martin Luther King did not crusade for half a loaf. He demanded full civil rights and equality for African-Americans and all citizens. Many at that time thought his demands and tactics were "militant" and "aggressive." Ms. Rutland's examples of an "aggressive agenda" are so weak they are an insult to one's intelligence. She should, as a trained reporter and editor, be ashamed to have cited them.

If she is referring to the annual AIDS march it should be no surprise that it would resemble a gay rights parade since from its beginning it was organized by the GLBT communities. If parents object to their children participating in it, they should have made more inquiries about it and excused their child.

How many parents objected? One or 30? And the cite of the teacher spending two weeks on the Stonewall Riots, if indeed it actually happened, is an isolated incident and certainly is not part of any "aggressive agenda pushed by some in the gay community." While Ms. Rutland magnanimously says she doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin, she is obviously "troubled" by the fact that GLBT people are demanding their rights and demanding them now.

She should read the poem "Democracy" by African-American poet Langston Hughes which I cite in part in closing.

"I tire so of hearing people say, Let things take their course.
"Tomorrow is another day.
"I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
"I cannot live on tomorrow's bread."

About the writer: Jerry Sloan is president emeritus of the Lambda Community Fund and co-founder of the Lambda Freedom Fair and Project Tocsin. Reach him at
This article is protected by copyright and should not be printed or distributed for anything except personal use. Copyright © The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Modern Money Changers In The Temple

by Jerry Sloancopyright, 1994, Revised July, 1995 - all rights reserved

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple Courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the Temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
. . . . . The Gospel According to Saint John 2:13-16, New International Version
$ Money Makes the World Go Round $
For 70 years radio and TV evangelist have been peddling any thing from water claimed to be from the river Jordan which they brought back with them on their latest trip to the Holy Land, to cheap cloth swatches which could be used as prayer cloths.
Gullible people have taken them up on their offers by the hundreds of thousands. So, is it little wonder many Sacramento churches have book stores right off the Sanctuary?
Such commercial enterprises can be found in the Capital Christian Center, the Arcade Baptist Church, or in the case of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, it used to be out in the church courtyard, (which is actually where the money changers were located) selling books, and audio/video tapes, supposedly to enhance one's spiritual awareness or all kinds of bric-a-brac from praying hands salt and pepper shakers to jewelry which is supposed to enhance one's testimony to the world of unbelievers?
While such items are tangible, they differ little from the intangible indulgences which were sold in the Middle Ages by the Holy Roman Catholic Church for the forgiveness of sins and other lifestyle variances.
During the fall of 1994, Sacramento was treated to four events which were attended by Project Tocsin that dramatically illustrate the reason Jesus became so irate at the practice of commercial business being carried on in the House of God.
$ Harvesting A Green Crop in Sacramento $
The first event was admission free. It was the Harvest Crusade conducted at Arco Arena by Riverside CA, Calvary Chapel megachurch pastor Greg Laurie whom the Sacramento Bee, for some inexplicable reason, puffed up as the next Billy Graham.
The faithful, as they walked up to the entrance of the arena, were greeted by a large booth selling Harvest Crusade T-shirts and other faith-enhancing paraphernalia such as buttons, key chains and fanny packs.
Inside more crusade staff were found hawking books, videos and audio tapes.
A brisk business was done in both sales areas.
$ Even Puritans Need Money $
The second event also was an admission free conference on Reformed Theology at the Covenant Reformed Church which featured the renowned "Father of Christian Reconstructionism" and Chalcedon, Inc., president, the Rev. Dr. R.J. Rushdooney and the Rev. Dr. Charles MacIllheny of San Francisco, author of When the Wicked Cease the City.
The meeting was moderated by Covenant Reform member Wayne Johnson, a Chalcedon board member and well known Republican political campaign consultant.
Also featured was another Covenant Reform member, John Stoos, at the time, Executive Director of the Gun Owners of California and Republican campaign consultant.
It was attended by about 300 people. The church has a small vestibule but one corner was set up with three large tables piled high with books for sale. Many of the books were written by Rushdooney and MacIllheny on theological subjects. Others were about the "theological" subjects of economics and firearms. The book tables did a brisk business.
$ There’s Money In Them Thar’ Fossils $
The third event was a day and a half seminar on Biblical creationism conducted by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) of Santee CA at the Arcade Baptist Church located in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael. The seminar cost $20 for single admission, $ 35 for couples and $ 10 for seniors and students.
About 800 people were in attendance (the auditorium seats 1700). At an average of $15 a head, the door brought in about $12,000. Walking from the parking lot across a large plaza, immediately upon entering the church cashiers demanded the admission fee. There was no registration form to sign. Just put down the money and take a packet which contained information about the work of ICR and the seminar schedule. When I took two packets (I had paid for two senior citizen admissions) I was told that the other person could share with me.
Apparently, the money changer made the heterosexist supposition I was paying for my wife since I had said "she" would arrive later.
Once past the admission table and into the huge church vestibule, one was overwhelmed by a dozen tables, each stacked with two feet or more of books and videos. Many books were in cellophane wrapped packets priced from $50 to $125. A packet of 13 videos was priced $175. A combination of the video packet and two book packets could be obtained for $250.
Again, A very brisk business was conducted as cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and American Express were deemed to be acceptable mediums of exchange. One of the most popular books sold was authored by featured speaker Herb Titus, Esq., who, until he was fired in 1993, was the founder and Dean of the School of Law at TV evangelist Pat Robertson's Regent University.
Although he denies it, Titus takes a Christian Reconstructionist view of the law which he explained in a new book selling for $ 40 a pop. It sold like hot cakes from a table which at the start of the conference had four stacks over two feet tall containing over 100 copies. When the conference was over there was none.
Project Tocsin estimates the conference grossed as much as $40,000 in merchandise sale which combined with the admission fee, the conference probably grossed in the vicinity of $ 50,000 or $ 60,000. That's a lot of money changing in the Temple!
$ Fleecing the Flock $
The fourth event was a two day, three meeting, admission free crusade with preferential seating provided for "faith partners", conducted by Orlando FL based, controversial TV evangelist, Benny Hinn at Arco Arena where more than a score of tables stacked with merchandise lined the lobby hall. Project Tocsin attended the Friday morning 10:00 A.M. meeting (remember that time) along with about 8000 other people. Also attending were some of Sacramento's most prominent Pentecostal preachers including the Rev. Dr. Glenn Cole of Capital Christian Center, Rev. LeRoy LeBeck of Trinity Church, Rev. Phillip Trudeau of Calvary Christian Center, Concord’s Christian TV Station Channel 43 host Rev. Ron Haus.
Hinn made another pitch for the audio/video tapes, books and other merchandise on sale at each of the four entrances of the arena. When he was through making his verbal pitch for each item, he literally pitched of one each into the audience. Shouts of, "Over here!" came from all corners of the auditorium. He gave some to staff members who then ran down the isles of the floor of the area throwing them into the audience.
All of this took about twenty minutes. Then a few minutes later, Hinn made a thirty minute pitch for people to become monthly "Faith Partners," by telling them all the things his ministry was supposedly doing and all the important people he was supposedly to be meeting, including but not limited to, Asser Arafat, King Hussin of Jordan's brother who was to sponsor a Hinn crusade in Arman, and the President of Zambia. He finally asked audience members to come forward for him to pray over. Hundreds of new "partners" filled the isles and the area in front of the platform. They were given pledge forms, a short prayer and returned to their seats.
A little more music/yak. Then, time to take up the offering. Again, a sustained plea for money which took about twenty minutes. Finally, Hinn preached about a thirty minute message about "The Anointing." As he was about to give the alter call he launched into another thirty minute sermon outlining the book of Acts. He then called people to come forward for him to pray for them that they would receive, "The Anointing."
The crowd pressed forward up on the platform. To those lucky enough to make in on the platform, Hinn waved his hand and shouted "Receive!" at them. Most fell over and "catchers" immediately picked them up to shuffle them off the platform. Some appeared to be disorientated and wobbly. Several times Hinn called certain people back and repeated the process. Three were allowed to lay on the platform, twitching, as he stepped over them.
$ Did His Watch Stop ??? $
Finally, Hinn made one last pitch to ask the faithful to stop at the merchandise tables. The service was officially over at 2:00 p.m. having lasted three hours and forty-five minutes. Well over one third of the time or an hour and fifteen minutes was spent pitching merchandising and taking offerings.
Perhaps the most interesting item offered for sale was a three hour video featuring the late Katherine Kuhlman, with whom Hinn apprenticed, priced at $ 64 each sold by Rev. Ralph Wilkerson, (also on the platform) pastor of Melodyland Church (located across the street from Disneyland) in Anaheim CA.
ARCO Arena has a convenient Automated Teller Machine to dispense needed cash. There was a long steady line of people punching Personal Identification Numbers to get it. This added to the brisk sales being conducted at all of the tables.
And, as the money changers in the Temple courtyard accepted coins from all over the world, the modern money changers in the ARCO Arena accepted all mediums of exchange.
In January, 1993, Project Tocsin attended Rev. D. James Kennedy's Reclaiming America Conference held in the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale FL.
Merchandise of all kinds was for sale all over the church lobbies and halls. One group selling merchandise seemed to have no problem with the fact they were on church property but they didn’t want to handle any money on Sunday because it was the Lord’s Day ... “May we bill you or do you have a credit Card?”
$ HEL - LOOO?? $
What is unclear to even the least sophisticated Bible reader about the anger Jesus exhibited at this abominable practice taking place in God’s House?
What is it these so-called Bible believers fail to understand?
Perhaps that question is best answered with another question posed by the prophet Isaiah who asks, "Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger?" (Isa. 42:19)
$ Awake O Thou That Sleepest!! $
The abominable practice of merchandising money changing in the Temple is but one of many examples of Fundamentalist Christians, who purport to believe the Bible from cover to cover to be the infallible Word of the Living God, arbitrarily picking and choosing the Scriptures they wish to consider, obey and apply to their everyday lives - or worst yet, impose on the lives of others.
Yet, Christian Reconstructionists and groups such as the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and millions of Fundamentalist Christians who support these groups have undertaken a campaign of mixing religion and the politics of Christian Nationalism in the hope that Americans of all backgrounds and belief systems will someday live in a country governed by Biblical Law regardless of how the individual citizen feels about the Bible or religion.
The American people must wake up and understand the agenda which these purveyors of "traditional values" are perpetrating on us or else these modern money changers in the Temple, and even worse, these deaf and blind servants of the Lord will tear apart our society and our beloved country.

Refute Column by Ginger Rutland in Sacramento Bee

In her column “Moral Majority” (Sacramento Bee 11/7/04) editor Ginger Rutland used some very loose facts and opinions regarding the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) communities that borders on a vicious attack to arrive at her point as to why John Kerry and the Democrats lost the election.

First her use of the terms “militant” and “aggressive” is pejorative.

In the last thirty years or so we have passed laws and had court decisions at both state and federal levels which have strengthened the fact that government will not discriminate against its citizens because of their gender. This has to include marriage.

Even though she qualifies it as “some” why does she label as “aggressive” or “militant” those people who want to claim their full rights of citizenship?

Were the 4000 couples standing in the rain in those long lines in San Francisco “militants?”

In California until 1977, as noted in the Bee by Marjorie Lunstrom, same sex couples were entitled to apply for and receive a confidential marriage license but in that year the legislature took that right away.

What is militant or aggressive about demanding that right be reinstated and Prop 22 be declared unconstitutional?

In the 1960s if the question had been put on the ballot as to whether or not Negroes should be allowed to sit anywhere they wanted at the 5 and 10 lunch counter or sit anywhere they please on a bus it would have been voted down six to one just as ban on same sex marriage was affirmed by that figure on election day in Mississippi.

Dr. Martin Luther King did not crusade for half a loaf. He demanded full civil rights and equality for African-Americans and all citizens. Many at that time thought his demands and tactics were “militant” and “aggressive.”

Ms. Rutland’s examples of an “aggressive agenda” are so weak they are an insult to one’s intelligence. She should, as a trained reporter and editor, be ashamed to have cited them.

If she is referring to the annual AIDS march it should be no surprise that it would resemble a gay rights parade since from its beginning it was organized by the glbt communities. If parents object to their children participating in it they should have made more inquiries about it and excused their child.

How many parents objected? One or thirty?
And the cite of the teacher spending two weeks on the Stonewall Riots, if indeed it actually happened, is an isolated incident and certainly is not part of ANY “aggressive agenda pushed by some in the gay community.”

While Ms. Rutland magnanimously says she doesn’t believe homosexuality is a sin she is obviously “troubled” by the fact that GLBT people are demanding their rights and demanding them now.

She should read the poem Democracy by African-American poet Langston Hughes which I cite in part in closing.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Monday, July 12, 2004

An Oral Contract Is Not Always A Blow Job

Time Flies When You’re Havin’ Fun Because An Oral Contract Is Not Always a Blow Job

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 is the 20th anniversary of my confrontation with my Baptist Bible College schoolmate Jerry Falwell on the local Channel 3 KCRA-TV live audience show, Look Who’s Talking.”

In 1984, July 13 was on Friday.

The show had invited Falwell, who was in San Francisco the week prior to the 1984 Democratic National Convention, to harass the Democrats and the fairies of San Francisco. Falwell was in the height of his Moral Majority days.

The producer, whom I knew, and knew that I had gone to school with Falwell, invited me to be in the audience and me gave me a bunch of tickets for my friends.

I took my late mother whom Falwell knew well as he and I drove every weekend of the ‘55/‘56 school year from Springfield, MO, to Kansas City where we worked in local churches on the weekends.

Falwell spent many Sunday dinners with his feet under our table and really loved my mother’s chocolate meringue pie. She often baked two, one for dinner and one for us to take back to school. Since we usually drove back late at night the pie often had a hard time making it to Springfield. It certainly didn’t last long after we got back to the dorm.

At the time of these weekly excursions I was 18 and Falwell was 22.

As it turned out on the day of the broadcast there were about 100 people in the audience and I was assigned an isle seat. When host Jim Finnerty came around to me Falwell acknowledged me and said, “I remember you well.”

We exchanged some minor personal banter and I started to ask him about a quote he had made about the “gay church” the Metropolitan Community Churches with which I had formerly been affiliated.

Now the quote was published early in the year in the Advocate as there were two Presbyterian college professors in Lynchburg who were taping everything thing Falwell said in his public services and they had sent it in to the Advocate.

It was a statement, which I thought he had probably uttered in a Wednesday night prayer meeting.

You can imagine my surprise when I heard it on a Sunday broadcast of his Old Time Gospel Hour.

I didn’t have a VCR or even a tape recorder so I rushed out and bought a tape recorder so I could record the statement on one of his two later Sacramento broadcasts of the same sermon.

Here is what Falwell said:


As I tried to get the quote out Falwell kept interrupting me and said what I was saying was “an absolute lie”

As I proceeded he became very agitated and kept denying he had said these terrible things about his fellow believers and he really lost it when I said had a tape of him saying these things.

At this point Falwell’s face was flushed and he was extremely agitated and he jumped to his feet and offered me $ 5000 to produce the tape.

I did not have the tape as I had lent to someone and could not get it back from them in time for the broadcast but I did take the tape to the KCRA studios on Wednesday, July 18, along with an audio tape produced by the Old Time Gospel Hour.

The reporters played the tape and the interviewed me for the evening news and all agreed I had had quoted him accurately.

To me Falwell’s vehement denials of these quotes showed a gigantic flaw in his character. While I did get one word wrong as I said quoted him as saying there would be “rejoicing in heaven when they annihilated” when actually he used the words “celebration in heaven.”

Now he could have claimed the statement and corrected my one word faux pas but he chose do what so many Fundamentalist do often as the Sadducees and Pharisees before them did and that is to argue over jots and tittles. (For those of you who are not bible scholars, jots and tittles are accent marks in the Jewish writings and the placement of them may change the meaning of the word.)

Falwell has a history of denying things if he was not quoted exactly word for word.

Falwell, in his agitation and pride, stumbled over his jots and tittles and offered me $ 5000 not really believing I would follow through and produce the tape.

At least three times Falwell said I was lying so it was a matter of personal honor for me to produce the tape and show that he was the one lying the $ 5000 would just be icing on the cake.

After the KCRA interview I went to see Rosemary Metrailer, a very good attorney I knew, who happened to be a lesbian and asked her to write Falwell to send the $ 5000 by return mail as he could find his statement on his Old Time Gospel Hour tape # 592.

Falwell had his attorney write us a letter basically saying it would be a cold day in you know where before he gave me $ 5000.

On Friday, November 30, 1984, Falwell was scheduled to be in Sacramento on a fundraising tour so Rosie drew up papers to sue Falwell for “breach of an oral contract” and filed the papers in the Municipal Court a couple of hours before the estimated time of arrival of his private jet in Sacramento.

All of the local visual and print media were there to cover his arrival and appearance at the Convention Center.

Rosie and I were there and much of the media were curious as to why we were there and as the plane touched down they were handed a press release stating we were there to serve him with papers for a law suit.

My friend Doug Mitten served the papers on Falwell who directed him to give them to an assistant.

The news of the lawsuit made national headlines and news of the suit popped up over the next 26 months as it made its snail pace progress through the courts.

One reason the case took so long was after the Municipal Court judge ruled in my favor Falwell appealed the ruling to the Sacramento Appeals Court on the grounds that the judge who heard the case was Jewish and had “a natural prejudice” against him.

In July, 1986, when the case was heard before three appeals court judges I was taken back by the judges very harsh attitude toward Falwell’s attorney, Weldon Reeves, and at the same time their light manner about the whole case. One could almost see them having themselves under their robes.

The judges also awarded me an additional $ 2875 as a sanction for wasting the court’s time with a “frivolous” law suit.

It still took until September before Falwell finally paid up and I received a check for $ 8982.90.

He wanted to impose an agreement on my part that I would not call a press conference and “gloat” about winning the law suit.

While he had no right to make such a condition as he had been ordered by two, “count’m” two, courts and four, count’m, four, judges to pay me. I was tired and I told Rosie to let him put anything on the back of the check wished, “My mother will call a press conference and say, ‘Hey, look what my kid has done!’”

The winning of this case had national implications for the glbt communities across the country as in June the infamous “Hardwick v Bowers” case had been ruled on by the 9 Supreme and they upheld sodomy laws which meant government at all levels could still interfere with the private sex lives of its citizens. It gave us a little sunshine that a major homohater had had to pay for his venom.

I had people tell me they had heard about the lawsuit in news broadcast as they were traveling in Europe and Australia.

After I finally cashed the check I took a portion of the money and gave it to the Lambda Community Center, which opened in August of 1986, and we used the money to buy some much-needed equipment.

The founding of the Lambda Center is another story, which I will post soon in another blog.

Falwell has not tamed down in the last 20 years, if anything, he has become more volatile in his opposition to civil rights for us glbt folks.

He has jumped full force into the “gay marriage” issue and is firmly supporting an amendment to the Constitution that would only allow marriage between a man and a woman to recognized in the United States.

I am happy to be, as far as I know, the only person to have proven Jerry Falwell a liar in two, “count’m, two, courts and before four, count’m, four, judges.

This 20th anniversary brings back a flood of good memories. the Lambda Community Center is still on 20th and L serving the needs of the Sacramento glbt communities. It now has a vision to move and expand to meet the growing demand for its services.

In the last 18 years countless men, women and young people have availed themselves of it services and left feeling better about themselves.

Out of the center’s programs has grown the Lambda Players which bring glbt culture and much joy to our community. The Center helped the Sacramento Men’s chorus get off the ground and become an outstanding cultural anchor for us.

Without Jerry Falwell the Lambda Community Center and all of these other fantastic benefits would have never become a reality.

Anniversaries do bring warm memories.

You can visit my web page and see some of the court documents and news articles go to

click on the Sloan/Falwell Law Suit link

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Announcing Project Tocsin Web Log

Stay current with Project Tocsin's "Activities of the Right-Wing" updates or send comments to jerry with this web BLOG.