NOTE: This post contains strong language.
As mentioned in a prior post, Oath Keepers and ATLAH pastor James David Manning held an Independence Day gathering at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Racial Reconciliation and Healing event included speeches and a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Videos of the event are now available on YouTube, and make for amusing and disturbing viewing. Even though racial harmony was the event's theme, speakers went off on tangents about unrelated pet issues. Oath Keepers speakers painted the government in ominous colors, while Manning spewed his usual vitriol about LGBTQ people.
As a funny side note, James Manning was not happy with his accommodations in Gettysburg. In a July 8th video entitled "Super 8 Motel in Gettysburg Is a Flea Bag", Manning had nothing but criticism for Gettysburg's Super 8 hotel, where his group reserved twenty-five rooms. He described the hotel as as a "dive" with smelly rooms and "arrogant staff" who treated his group "like dogs". Manning urged listeners to launch a national campaign against Super 8 until something was done about the Gettysburg Super 8 manager, Brian. At the 7:22 mark, he had this to say.
"I want you to unite with me. I plan to hold a rally out in--a prayer meeting out in front of the Super 8 Hotel in Bronx, New York on Southern Boulevard, [the] one near Yankee Stadium. We're going to announce the date that we will be out there, demanding that Brian be removed from the Super 8 Motel there in Gettysburg for treating us, a busload of Christians, people who bring over four-hundred people into Gettysburg every year, as if we were dirt. They were very vicious about their pricing, they were arrogant about their pricing, they were arrogant about their accommodations, their food service was unsanitized. They were very mean-spirited."Funny, how a preacher renown for his mean-spirited words takes offense when mean-spirited behavior is directed at him, I thought.
The Independence Day event featured messages of racial equality mingled with warnings about "exploitation of race". For example, the Oath Keepers website posted a transcript of Lyle Rapacki's speech, in which he stressed that all people are of "one blood" under God.
"Whether some like this truth or not, or want to believe or not, the Lord God created mankind upon the earth, and a black person or yellow person, is a part of the exact “race” that the white person is; THE HUMAN RACE. Since the Lord God created mankind, no person or people is “inferior” or “superior” based on their skin color, their language, or their geographical location on the earth. While it is true there is a division by skin color, language, and geographical location, these divisions were set into place by the Lord Himself. God’s Word explicitly states; we are all “of one blood” (Acts 17:26)."Rapacki's speech also featured warnings about alleged "diabolical schemes" involving "exploitation of race" in the U.S., a country "divorced from God".
"One year ago today, Pastor James David Manning brought many of us to these hallowed grounds to begin a dialogue promoting healing and restoration between people of all color but of only one race – the Human Race! Pastor Manning asked us to come and start the process for reconciliation. Little did he know the riots of Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; New York City were waiting to ignite! Little did he know exploitation of race would be employed as a political means to excite disruption to this country already under the diabolical schemes of transformation and change into a country divorced from God and the principles written in His Word that helped shaped the foundation of this nation!"Oath Keepers founder Steve Rhodes also argued that the powers that be are scheming to divide the country along racial and economic lines at the 1:37 mark of this video. (See above)
"Right now, there is a very well-orchestrated attempt to divide this country along racial lines, along socio-economic lines, divide the police from the people, divide the military from the people, divide you in any way possible to get you fighting each other. So what we have to do is realize we're being manipulated and fight back against that manipulation and stand together, united."His speech quickly turned into a jeremiad against the government. Rhodes criticized the U.S. executive branch for allegedly claiming too much power, first under President George W. Bush, then under President Obama. At the 8:02 mark, he claimed that our "totalitarian" government is overseeing an unaccountable "national security state".
"Each one of you now is subject to a claimed illegitimate power that's every bit as totalitarian as anything that Josef Stalin or Adolph Hitler claimed the power to do. Life and death over you. There is a secret kill list of people they will kill, and Americans may or may not be on it, have been on it in the past, that still exists to this day. That is where our country is ... What they're doing is they are creating East Germany right here, and it is over all of you. It's over every one of you. A national security state of unaccountable shadow governments that are hidden in secrecy. NSA, CIA, operating here at home, the FBI."What any of this had to do with racial reconciliation in America was beyond me.
ATLAH congregant Rhonda Herrington delivered a speech on Jesus' inevitable victory over a "sodomite world", which Right Wing Watch captured and shared. Cries of "Devils, go to hell where you belong!" and "Sodomites, go to hell!" rang out from the audience. When Manning arrived at the podium, he egged on the attendees' homophobia.
"Stand up and say sodomites, go to hell," Manning urged his audience.
"Sodomites, go to hell!" the audience shouted.
In another Right Wing Watch video, Manning oozed homophobia, defending his hatred as a righteous expression of "the word of God".
"The other day before leaving here, we had on our announcement board that all fags, all lesbos, all fag churches that burn in lust for human waste will burn in hell as human waste. [Applause] Two women--a family walked by of women and looked and said, 'Ain't that a shame. A church making such a statement. How awful that is. That's not God. That's not love," they said ... You need to understand that where we are at present in America and the church,people don't believe the word of God anymore. They walked away from it. But I do, and we're going to keep on preaching and teaching that fags, lesbos, sodomites and all other hell-raisers are going directly to hell, and I pray that God will let me sit some place where I can send them to hell."The irony of all this made me chuckle. At an event ostensibly about unity, Manning urged hatred and division. At a gathering meant to cultivate harmony, Oath Keepers representatives encouraged fear and us-versus-them thinking. While the event gave lip service to racial reconciliation, it encouraged other types of bigotry, namely homophobia. What reconciliation or harmony can be realized by people whose worldviews leave little room for it?