WASHINGTON - October 12 - The religious right's upcoming "Liberty Sunday" is just another opportunity to attack gays and bash church-state separation, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) is sponsoring the Oct. 15 event, which it describes as an examination of how the gay-rights movement allegedly threatens religious liberty. The gathering will take place at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston and it will be simulcast to churches throughout the nation. (Ann Romney, wife of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has agreed to speak.)
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, noted that in September the FRC and allied groups held a "Values Voter Summit" in Washington that featured copious amounts of gay bashing and attacks on church-state separation. Lynn said he expects more of the same during "Liberty Sunday."
"This event is not about liberty," said Lynn. "The religious right's crusade is designed to curtail liberty, not expand it. It's sad to see an entire event built around fear-mongering and hatred -- especially in Christian churches.
"What's truly frightening is the extreme agenda of the religious right and its ongoing campaign to literally demonize an entire class of Americans," Lynn continued. "That is disgraceful."
Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister, pointed out that the FRC's "Values Voter Summit" featured much vicious rhetoric about gays. During one session, the Rev. Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, claimed that the Bible indicates that the Antichrist may be gay.
Speaking of the gay-rights movement, McKissic continued, "I believe it's from the pit of hell itself, that this movement is inspired, that it has a satanic anointing."
McKissic asserted that the push for gay rights is not like the drive for African-American civil rights, remarking, "The civil rights movement was inspired and given by the Holy Spirit, birthed in the church and bathed in prayer...But the gay rights movement, I believe, was birthed and inspired by the Antichrist."
Another speaker, the Rev. Wellington Boone, called gay people "sodomites" who, he said, "are really nasty about trying to stop us from taking away their perversion."
Boone, of Norcross, Ga., went on to refer to gay men as "faggots" and "sissies."
FRC President Tony Perkins and other religious right leaders insist that gay rights presents a threat to America's houses of worship, but AU's Lynn said this is nonsense.
"Perkins and his supporters love to frighten pastors with Halloween scare stories about how their churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages or admit gays as members," said Lynn. "All Americans know that the First Amendment protects against that ever happening. All congregations are guaranteed their free exercise of religion."