For Immediate Release
Los Angeles Movie Premiere Canceled After Religious Right Filmmaker’s Anti-Gay Past Is Exposed by Americans United
Christian Action Network President Lies to News Media About Group’s Controversial Fund-Raising Letters
WASHINGTON - The Los Angeles premiere of a Religious Right group's film has been
canceled after Americans United for Separation of Church and State
exposed the organization's track record of virulently anti-gay rhetoric.
Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, had been scheduled
to attend the premiere of "Islam Rising: Geert Wilders' Warning to the
West," a film produced by the Christian Action Network (CAN). He
canceled after learning about CAN's record of anti-gay extremism.
Other supporters of the May 1 event have dropped out as well, leading to the premiere's cancellation.
Wilders, who frequently works to convince gay rights groups in the
Netherlands about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, cut his ties
with CAN after a Dutch newspaper reported on the organization's history
of harsh anti-gay activism.
The newspaper, De Pers, contacted Americans United yesterday for
information about the Virginia-based CAN. Americans United provided
copies of several CAN fund-raising letters from the 1990s and early
In one of the letters,
CAN President Martin Mawyer attacked comedian Ellen DeGeneres, saying
she had "DUMPED HER FILTHY LESBIAN LIFESTYLE IN THE CENTER OF YOUR
LIVING ROOM" and referred to her as a "SODOMITE."
In another letter, Mawyer blasted a gay-themed event at Disney
World, labeling it "disgusting" and "vile." In yet another, he attacked
gays for adopting children and becoming foster parents, calling it
"absolutely sick, demented and perverted!"
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said
the incident should be a lesson to politicians in the United States and
"We've warned political leaders for years not to work with extreme
Religious Right organizations," Lynn said. "These groups have a radical
track record, and sooner or later things will blow up in your face.
"The Christian Action Network is a low-rent outfit with a plain
history of extremism and bigotry," Lynn continued. "I don't know why
anyone would want to be associated with it."
Contacted by De Pers, Mawyer at first tried to deny that CAN had
issued the letter about DeGeneres, even though it bears his signature.
He called it an internet hoax. But AU provided De Pers with a copy of
the letter as well as several other anti-gay CAN letters signed by
After that, Mawyer, a former protégé of the late TV preacher Jerry
Falwell, stopped talking to the newspaper. (In recent years, CAN has
switched its emphasis from gay bashing to attacks on Islam.)
AU's Lynn called Mawyer's lies reprehensible.
"Mawyer claims to run a Christian organization," said Lynn, himself
an ordained Christian minister, "but I think there's one biblical
admonition he overlooked: ‘Thou shall not bear false witness.'"
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Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.