Anti-Choice Groups Condone 'Biblically Justified' Violence Against Gays, Women

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RH Reality Check

Anti-Choice Groups Condone 'Biblically Justified' Violence Against Gays, Women

by
Wendy Norris

(photo by Flickr user DaveFayram)

Army of God adherent and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Neil Horsley
is under arrest for a series of bizarre diatribes against pop star
Elton John. Gay rights activists are also demanding an
investigation into perceived death threats directed at a gay New York
travel agent on a website bearing an eerie similarity to Horsley's
infamous "Nuremberg Files." Kenyan abortion providers are named on the
site under "not-wanted" banners sporting animated illustrations of
dripping blood.

Horsley's most recent legal problems though stem from a rant-filled
protest staged outside the singer's Atlanta high-rise condominium where
he hoisted a sign proclaiming "Elton John must die. Hebrews 9:27."

The openly gay pop star apparently angered Horsley after telling
Parade magazine in a Feb. 17 interview:

I think Jesus was a compassionate,
super-intelligent gay man
who understood human problems. On
the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to
be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try
being a gay woman in the Middle East -- you're as good as dead.

Later, in the video posted Feb. 28 on YouTube, Horsley was joined
streetside by Jonathan O'Toole, a long-time associate in the Army of
God, an organized confederation of militant anti-abortion activists
around the nation. Horsley and his Georgia-based cell are fairly unique
within the terrorist group for incorporating anti-gay threats into their
grisly anti-choice activities.

Horsley was arrested March 10 by the Atlanta Police Department's
fugitive squad and the U.S. Marshal Service. The putative candidate of
the Creator's Rights Party has been charged with "terroristic
threats, criminal defamation and using the Internet to disseminate
threats
," according
to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bond was set at $40,000 on all
three charges. Should Horsley make bond Magistrate Judge James
Altman ordered the notorious anti-abortion activist to reside with his
son, Nathanael, who is serving as his father's lawyer, and to maintain a
household telephone land-line.

It's unknown if Horsley currently remains in the Fulton County
slammer but he's long been a fixture in the federal court circuit.  In
1999, Horsley unsuccessfully sued Gloria Feldt and Kim Gandy,
then-presidents of Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for
Women, respectively, for libel, assault and slander. He demanded a
whopping $107 million judgment. A similar suit against TV talk show host
Gerald Rivera was also dismissed.

Along with other Army of God members, Horsley was the subject of a
2003 court injunction granted to a Buffalo women's clinic after a
protester invasion blockaded its entrance. In 2002, Horsley was ordered
by a federal appeals court to take down the "Nuremberg Files" website, a
thinly-veiled hit list of 12 abortion providers containing personal
information, maps and photographs of family members. To encourage
further violence, Horsley marked the images of those who had been killed
or maimed by fellow extremists in a macabre death tally. Active links
to the "Nuremberg Files" remain on Horsley's other website, Christian
Gallery, which is replete with gory photographs, graphic illustrations
of sex acts, fiery Biblical justifications for murder and his
secessionist platform for the State of Georgia.

Project SEE, the group's newest Internet threat, borrows heavily from
that not-so-disbanded site. One page contains photos of and calls for
information about 26 women's health care providers in the African nation
of Kenya accusing them of participating in an international abortion
conspiracy.  Kenyan laws restrict abortion care only to prevent maternal
death. Like the previous U.S. website, the "not wanted" posters are
simply designed to inflame political tensions between health care
providers and fundamentalist vigilante groups.

Also featured on the site is a threat directed specifically at
Kenneth Hieber, the owner of Gay2Afrika, Inc., a New York-based firm
that organizes excursions for gay and lesbian travelers. An English
language "not wanted" poster bears Hieber's image and a homosexual slur.
The Swahili version contains a crude depiction of anal sex. The website
lists his address, phone number and email. It also claims the firm is
promoting gay sexual tourism, a claim Hieber vigorously denies.

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Kenya and subject to long
prison terms. Recent news reports document a steep increase
in anti-gay violence
near the capital city of Mombasa.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center
, Hieber contacted the
New York City Police Dept. but "they did not believe the Web site
constituted a direct threat."

The hate crimes watchdog group also notes:

Meanwhile, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign,
the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and other human
rights and faith-based groups are discussing how to challenge the Web
site without further endangering the leaders in Africa who are being
targeted by it.

Hieber lodged an abuse complaint with GoDaddy.com, the Internet host
for Project SEE. However, the firm refuses to remove the site because it
claims while the content could be perceived as obscene it is not
illegal. The individuals involved in Horsley's latest terrorist effort
should give the GoDaddy legal department plenty of room to pause over
the group's violent history.

The local Kenyan supporters are affiliated with The Ark of Kenya, a
militant fundamentalist Christian group led by Pastor Peter Bushnell.

O'Toole who also appeared in the Elton John protest video, is
reportedly married to Esther Njenga, a Kenyan woman he met while
scouting the western African nation for the new Army of God outpost. The
site notes that O'Toole is the site editor.

Rev. Michael Bray is also listed as contact for the group and posted
an endorsement of Horsley's new Christian mission. Bray, a founding
member of the Army of God, was convicted in 1984 and was sentenced to
six years in federal prison for a series of bombings at abortion clinics
in the mid-Atlantic states and the Washington, DC, offices of the
American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation.

All of the men have signed a letter condoning the vigilante-style
execution of abortion providers as Biblically justified. The Army of God
is linked to dozens of murders, assaults, bombings, arsons and clinic
blockades throughout the U.S. over the last two decades.

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