Saturday, October 22, 2011

Throwing Bricks: A Christian School Hosting AFTAH and Scott Lively Vandalized

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that on October 15th, a Christian school scheduled to host an appearance by anti-gay activist Scott Lively was vandalized. Early that Saturday, someone threw bags of bricks through the windows and glass door panels of Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, IL. The bags reportedly contained messages such as "Shut Down Lively" and "Quit the Homophobic S___."

AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera reportedly called the vandalism a hate crime. Someone using the pseudonym "Pissed" posted a statement at Chicago Indymedia claiming responsibility for the vandalism, writing that the incident was meant to demonstrate the consequences of homophobia.

Lively, author of the anti-gay book The Pink Swastika and a nominee for Human Rights Watch's Homophobia Hall of Shame, was scheduled to speak that weekend at a banquet for Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). The Gay Liberation Network, which organized a protest of the banquet, said in an online statement that it did not know who perpetrated the vandalism.

Several LGBT rights advocates have voiced opinions about the incident.

First, in an October 17th post at SPLC Hatewatch, Leah Nelson argued that the vandalism would only strengthen homophobic sentiments among anti-gay activists, writing that "[w]hoever committed this crime has only strengthened the absurd argument, promulgated by many anti-gay activists ... that LGBT people want to take over America and persecute Christians."

Next, in an October 19th post at Box Turtle Bulletin, Timothy Kincaid speculated that the incident might have been a hoax, but adding that it is entirely possible that the vandalism was real. Kincaid argued that some of the language used in the "Pissed" post at Chicago Indymedia does not sound like language used by LGBT activists.

In an October 17th post at Truth Wins Out, Evan Hurst argued that Lively's homophobic rhetoric is far more dangerous that bricks thrown through a window. However, he also wrote, "Whoever did this, you're not helping," noting that the incident has led to far more media coverage of the AFTAH banquet than it would have received otherwise.

On the other hand, Religious Right voices have also weighed in on the incident. Martha Kleder of Concerned Women for America conducted an interview with AFTAH's Peter LaBarbera and Pastor Calvin Lindstrom of the Church of Christian Liberty. At the 7:10 mark, Lindstrom said he sees this issue as "a direct threat on the law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, at least in terms of ... what is at stake." At the 4:55 mark, LaBarbera talked at length about the vandalism and what it says about the "radical homosexual lobby."
KLEDER: How common is this as far as a reaction  to not just to the AFA annual banquet, but any kind of speaking engagement by former homosexuals or those who speak Biblical truth on the issue of homosexuality?

LABARBERA: ... We know that the left talks about what? The climate of hate. Remember? According to the left's thesis, and especially the radical homosexual lobby, Christians, even well-meaning Christians speaking Gospel truth about homosexuality -- that this is a sin, not an identity, that it's a changeable behavior that can be overcome, as we've seen thousands of men and women overcome this sin in their lives -- they say by speaking those truths, which of course they don't acknowledge as true, we are creating a climate of hate which has led to all these horrific actions, these poor suicides by so-called gay youth, and we never bought that philosophy. But now here in this case, you have a radical organization called the Gay Liberation Network, and I'm not saying they are responsible for this attack, but in the lead-up to this event, they lied about Scott Lively. They said that he favors violence against homosexuals. He supports it in Uganda where he spoke and did some teachings. And they said that I condoned, by giving Scott Lively the Americans for Truth Truth Teller Award, which we do to one stellar truth-teller, pro-family activist every year, they said that we were honoring somebody who condones violence toward homosexuality. So they slandered me and Americans for Truth as well. Now, in the climate of hate created by these far-left lies, some nut job came over and threw bricks through the school, the Christian school. And so the very thing they accuse us of I believe they have done here.
At FRCBlog, Peter Sprigg discussed the Christian Liberty Academy incident alongside the vandalism of the GLBT Center at North Carolina State University. While Sprigg wrote that the Family Research Council condemned both the attacks, he chided the SPLC for supposedly blaming the victims of the Christian Liberty Academy vandalism. He claimed that neither incident qualified as a hate crime meriting federal investigation, adding that the FRC opposes the concept of hate crimes entirely. While Sprigg acknowledge the existence of "anti-gay hate," he also argued that "peaceful opposition to demands for official affirmation of homosexual conduct" does not constitute hate.

In a commentary at RenewAmerica, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association listed the incident among "homofascist hate crimes," asserting that "homosexual activists" are the true bigots. Fischer insisted that America will have to choose between religious liberty and homosexuality, framing the two as incompatible.

I can't speculate on whether the vandalism was genuine or a hoax, since I don't have enough information. If it turns out to be a hoax meant to sully the image of LGBT rights supporters, I will be disgusted. On the other hand, if the incident turns out to be a genuine vandalism committed by someone with a grudge against Lively and AFTAH, I'll be disgusted for a different reason.

Vandalism is not constructive; it's juvenile. Vandalism will do nothing to help the LGBT cause, but it will reinforce ugly stereotypes about the LGBT community in the minds of anti-gay activists (and observers). To boot, damaging someone's property is unethical, and in the struggle for LGBT equality, it is crucial that advocates maintain the moral high ground. This struggle will be won by changing laws, policies, and minds, not by breaking windows.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Lez Get Real: Christian School Vandalized Ahead Of Fundraiser For Hate Leader Lively

Box Turtle Bulletin: LaBarbera calls (possible) vandalism a “hate crime”

Warren Throckmorton: Things get ugly in Illinois

Towleroad: Scott Lively, Activist with Links to Uganda Anti-Gay Violence, Receives "American Truth Teller" Award

Huffington Post: Anti-LGBT Hate Group's Event Draws Protest, Vandalism In Suburban Chicago


  1. "This struggle will be won by changing laws, policies, and minds, not by breaking windows."

    Amen. This incident seems completely out of synch with the moral high ground usually taken by LGBT activists. Like you said Ahab, we don't have enough information to draw any conclusions just yet; and there is no doubt anger against the anti-gay agenda of the RR, both understandable and justifiable.

    Nonetheless, given the fact that violence and vandalism are both uncharacteristic of the LGBT movement, I won't be surprised if we discover this is a hoax.

  2. Cognitive Dissenter - I too am bothered by the fact that this vandalism is so out-of-character for LGBT activists. There might be substance to the claims that it's a hoax, OR it could be the work of a lone vandal with a grudge.


All comments are subject to moderation. Threatening, violent, or bigoted comments will not be published.