Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homophobia and Stonewall Now!

UPDATE: The Stonewall Now! website is no longer up.

At the website for Lou Engle's TheCall ministry, a menu called "A Million Voices" lists various projects that TheCall supports: Justice House of Prayer, the Luke 18 Project, Bound4Life, 818 The Sign, and so forth. I noticed a new ministry that I'd never heard of before -- Stonewall Now! -- and by the title alone, I suspected that it had something to do with LGBT issues. I was right.

Stonewall Now!, a ministry based in Grandview, MO, describes itself as a prayer movement calling for repentance over homosexuality. Its threefold action plan -- repentance, release, and resistance -- calls Christians to repent for "broken marriages, moral compromise, and cowardly tolerance of iniquity" so that they can spiritually combat homosexuality in society. The website sports photos of solemn teens and young adults with "HOLY" written on their foreheads, suggesting that Stonewall Now! may be a youth-oriented ministry.

The Repentance section of the website tells believers that they have sinned, and that the starting point for  erecting "walls of intercession that restrain demonic agendas and the humanistic ideologies set to destroy the moral fiber of our society" must be personal repentance. By framing the LGBT movement as demonic, the website precludes any meaningful dialogue with the LGBT movement or adoption of inclusive attitudes toward LGBT people.

In language reminiscent of Christian "ex-gay" programs, Stonewall Now! prays for the salvation and "release" of gays and lesbians from their homosexuality. The Release section claims that in 1989, a prophetic father had a vision of 100,000 homosexuals finding salvation and deliverance. Not only does this statement imply that homosexuality is somehow incompatible with Christian faith, but it also suggests that homosexuality is supposedly a form of spiritual bondage from which LGBT people need to be delivered. The idea that LGBT people could possibly be spiritually whole individuals who live healthy, fulfilling lives is not considered.

Finally, Stonewall Now! urges prayer for the purpose of restraining the supposed evil "spiritual powers" behind the "radical homosexual agenda." The Resistance section of the website describes the founder's call to create a prayer movement to combat the "forces and ideologies" of the "homosexual agenda," which it claims are hostile to Christianity. (LGBT Christians and open-and-affirming congregations would likely disagree with this statement!) Just as the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City marked the birth of the gay rights movement in the U.S., the founder claims that the Spirit of the Lord wanted him to raise up a "stonewall of intercession." As a side note, the fact that the founder favorably describes The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today by Alan Sears reveals much about the mindset behind the ministry.

If the fact that this homophobic ministry named itself after a pivotal event in LGBT history wasn't tasteless enough, Stonewall Now! calls believers to "Get In the Closet" when they pray for homosexuals. The website explains that the Bible teaches believers to pray silently in their inner rooms, according to Matthew 6:6, and thus an inner room can be likened to a closet (!?). When they pray, believers are to "petition the Lord on behalf of those family members or close friends who need freedom from a lifestyle of homosexuality."

As a final disturbing touch, the "Get Informed" section of the website features links to several "ex-gay" programs, including Exodus International and Desert Streams. Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family and the Family Resource Council (recently declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) are also listed.

I'm don't know where to begin. What is more disturbing? The fact that Stonewall Now! claims that demonic forces are behind some heinous gay agenda? The fact that it claims to care about LGBT people while simultaneously demonizing the LGBT rights movement? The fact that its language -- from naming itself after a pivotal gay uprising to calling its prayer initiative "Get In the Closet" -- shows profound disrespect for the LGBT community? Or the fact that it depicts homosexuality as a form of bondage to escape from, as its support of "ex-gay" programs and its prayer initiative demonstrate?

In a time of homophobic bullying, LGBT youth suicides, hate crimes, and discrimination, more homophobia is NOT what society needs. Groups such as Stonewall Now! serve as a reminder that efforts in the name of acceptance, inclusion, and justice for LGBT people are needed now more than ever.

The Stonewall Now! website is located at www[dot]stonewallnow[dot]com. For additional commentary, visit these links.

Skeptic Dave: Kill Gays, God Is Cool with It

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