Two months ago, I posted that Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was holding a “Truth Academy” in order to train the next generation of anti-gay-rights activists. Attendees needed to pay a registration fee and get a “recommendation” from a pastor. I wrote that I would gladly pay the fee for anyone who wanted to go.
Ultimately, two people — Maria Pahl and “Perry D’Olia” (a pseudonym) — were accepted into the Academy. They did this using their real names and providing the requested documents. Both were present for the entirety of the academy, with any exceptions listed below.
The opinions expressed are entirely their own. Since there was a lot of overlap in their experience, I’ve used Maria’s writing as the basis for their perceptions of the day itself while Perry’s writing is the basis for the specific lectures.
I hadn’t been able to stay for the evening presentation on Thursday (Day 1) because I was taking public transportation and, since I’m new in Chicago, I was nervous about taking the bus at night (I know, I know, I’m a baby). As a result, I had missed the protest that the Gay Liberation Network had put on the night before. When I arrived in the morning, everyone was talking about it.
One woman told me she found it ironic that someone at the protest had a sign reading, “Teaching hate and lies to kids is the real abomination.” My mind was blown when I heard her say this. It was both incredibly weird and very interesting that while we agreed on the truth of the statement, we completely disagreed on what the “lies” referred to.
A few minutes into the conversation, someone else piped in, “It’s not a Christian thing to disapprove of homosexuality. Even atheists and agnostics find homosexual acts unnatural and wrong.” As an atheist, I couldn’t disagree more, and I fought back the urge to whimper, cringe, or sigh in exasperation. Maybe all three at once.
The day went by much the same as the previous until around 5 pm, when Rena Lindevaldsen‘s lecture on Prop 8 had just finished. Peter LaBarbera came up to where I was typing my notes on my laptop.
“Are you recording?” he asked me.
“No,” I said. “I’m just typing notes.”
“Are you reporting on this?”
I think this is where a little miscommunication occurred: as I found out later, when he said “reporting” he meant reporting as in live-blogging. I thought he just meant to ask if I was going to be writing an article on the conference.
“Yeah,” I answered. “I’m blogging about it.”
“What blog?” he asked.
“My blog,” I said.
“Are you with us or against us?”
I fumbled for a bit; I didn’t want him to think I was doing anything devious because I don’t think I was, really. I had never straight-up lied to them throughout the whole process about my intentions for being there. My application letter was something to the extent of, “I’m really interested in what the speakers have to say, and I think I would learn a lot.” I just hadn’t explicitly stated I wasn’t anti-gay, nor did I think it was in any way illegal or wrong of me to want to write about my experience. But Peter LaBarbera was obviously distressed and a little angry (most likely because he had just dealt with a person who had straight-up lied to them, I later found out), and I didn’t want to agitate him further.
“Uhh… against. But I just want to understand—” I started to explain.
“Are you a lesbian?”
“Well, we just caught a young man recording on his computer. I’m going to have to ask you to leave for this next portion. We’ll be strategizing about what to do about this whole Prop 8 thing, and I just don’t want—”
“No, I completely understand,” I said. “That’s fine.”
“You can come back after; just take an early dinner,” he said.
I couldn’t come back for the evening presentation, but I did want to come back the next day.
“Oh, okay. That’s totally fine. Can I come back tomorrow as well?”
That’s how I remember the conversation. It may not be 100% accurate, but that’s the best recollection I have.
I packed up my things and left.
When telling us that the lunch break was beginning, LaBarbera indicated that they knew that there were two pro-gay supporters there. I thought that they might have somehow figured out why I was there, but this turned out to be unfounded. Maria, however, was found out and was not allowed to stay for the final panel meeting.
Cliff’s second talk dealt mainly with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the problems that repealing this would cause to the military. We were told repeal would undermine the hyper-masculine culture that makes our military the best in the world. According to him, 19,000 soldiers are gay.
He showed pictures of gay pride events, namely sadomasochistic individuals — this got exclamatory negative reactions from the audience. He also indicated that there was a large amount of public fornication at these events.
Kincaid noted that one consequence of repealing DADT would be increased presence of HIV in the military, and because of the numbers, the VA is the largest treater of HIV in the country. He then looked at a few cases of sexual abuse by homosexuals in the military. This was mostly an appeal to emotion, as these were isolated cases and do not represent the gay community as a whole. He said that the military must raise its standards, not lower them.
What about donating blood? Kincaid said that this would endanger anyone who receives blood products by exposing them to known and yet-to-be-discovered diseases. He showed pictures of AIDS patients to drive home the emotion involved with having the disease. He explicitly said that repealing DADT would equal death. The only way the policy on blood donation should change is by showing that disease rates are the same in homosexuals as in heterosexuals. Rejecting gay blood donations is not special discrimination, he added, because there are other people who cannot donate as well, such as people who have lived in Europe at specific times.
He indicated that safe-sex practices fail and that disease rates in gays are on the rise. He used another slippery slope argument to say that repeal of DADT would eventually allow for sex offenders and transvestites in the military.
Maria: According to Kincaid, you can see what gay culture is like by looking at cruising, bathhouses, circuit parties, Internet hookups, and prostitution.
One of the stories of sexual abuse committed by homosexuals was that of Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, who pleaded guilty to knowingly infecting a 17-year-old boy with HIV. This case supposedly illustrated the dangers of having homosexual soldiers in the ranks even if they were restricted. However, he failed to mention that Dalton was married and had a 4-year-old daughter at the time. It’s also possible he didn’t self-identify as gay.
This line stood out: “Do you and your loved ones want to die in order to advance the pro-gay agenda?… In order to satisfy their demand for full acceptance, they want to sacrifice people, maybe even people in this room, on the altar of their self-importance.”
Rena Lindevaldsen, Liberty University School of Law: “The Zero-Sum Game: Homosexuality-based ‘Rights’ vs. Religious and First Amendment Freedoms“Perry:
Rena said that there is only winning or losing this issue on both sides. She urged her side not to give up the Bible; it is their best weapon. Religious people are keeping their worldview consistent. Everyone has an opinion which they base their moral on, even atheists, which she refers to as a faith-based position.
She stated that a worldview leads to a logical conclusion and, because of this, gays don’t want to admit the logical conclusion of their beliefs. She never explicitly indicated what this was. We were told gays want to make homosexuality moral in society and they support same-sex marriage so they can destroy the marriage concept altogether. Religious freedom would come second to these freedoms.
She then pointed to a few cases where people were prevented from expressing their religious convictions in professional environments, and this caused them either financial loss or loss of a job. If gay rights are passed, she warned us, this will lead to business owners not being able to discriminate (true) and schools openly endorsing homosexuality.
There was mention of some radical gay groups who wanted to eliminate gender identity altogether. She said that laws will someday say that teaching your child family values is illegal. Finally, she explained that for a class to be protected under law, certain conditions must exist, one being a history of discrimination — and no history of discrimination against gays exists in America.
Maria‘s commentary on these and future talks will resume in the Day 3 posting.
Laurie Higgins, Illinois Family Institute: “Corrupting Children, Politicizing Schools: The Homosexual Youth Agenda“
Laurie explained how schools are pushing the gay agenda — gays-only high schools exist and a middle school will soon be opened. She explained how the transsexual agenda is being pushed by using terminology like, “Most men have penises.” This got a surprisingly loud response from the audience. By affirming this in schools, conservativism is becoming hated.
She said that if discomfort is not allowed, teachers cannot deride smoking or plagiarism either. She said that anti-bullying rules are promoting gay acceptance — these rules specifically mention gays but leave out other groups that are bullied, such as promiscuous students, overweight ones, and those poor at sports.
It was noted that schools are pointing out people who have achieved a lot and are also homosexual. But positive character traits do not make bad traits good, Laurie explained. In order for critical thinking to occur, all views must be presented and not doing this qualifies as indoctrination. There should be equal time for opposing views.
She then read some emails from her former colleagues which indicated how much they disliked her views.
Arthur Goldberg, Jews Offering Healthy Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH): “The Gender Confusion Agenda: ‘Transgender rights’“
Arthur pointed out Biblical prohibitions against cross-dressing and castration. He interpreted this as a prohibition of sex changes. He said that in some schools, children as young as five are encouraged to come out as “gender nonconformist.” He derided Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey for portraying gays positively on their shows.
He said that as few as 39% of people who get sex changes are satisfied with it, adding that we need to fix these people’s minds, not their genitalia. There was no study, we were told, showing the efficacy of the surgeries. In fact, deaths from the surgeries are five times that of the expected suicide rate in these individuals. He compares people who want sex changes to those who want to be amputees. We were also shown the profitability of the sexual reassignment industry. Goldberg said that these surgeries would probably be covered in “Obamacare.”
He explained that those who want the surgery are displaying a cry for help, using examples of individuals who prayed for a sign that they should not go through with it and had their prayers answered.
Robert Gagnon, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: “From Abomination to ‘Gay’: Answering ‘Queer Theology’ — Old Testament“
Robert’s talks all dealt with interpretations of the Bible that forbid homosexuality. He was a generally good speaker and was extremely knowledgeable, but the subject matter was of little interest to me. I took very few notes as a result.
His first talk here, though, could be summed up as follows: A man is incomplete without a woman and vice-versa. This cannot be achieved in homosexual relationships.
Rena Lindevaldsen, Liberty University School of Law: “The Legal Strategy to Stop Homosexual ‘Marriage’: Triumphs and Pitfalls“
Rena indicated that we have redefined marriage as a society to eliminate the value of procreation. Gays are using victimization to win arguments. One interesting thing she said was that she never read the Constitution in law school; instead, she and her peers just listened to the interpretations of it from their teachers. She said that this was bad and that it was easy to get very far away from the truth if you did not consider the source document.
I immediately thought about the fact that none of the Biblical accounts are firsthand accounts.
She then discussed the future minority status of gays, saying that she saw this litigation as a ministry opportunity. Then, she began talking about Prop 8’s overturning. She went into some of the reasons why the defense failed — among them, that there were only two witnesses for the defense (to ban same-sex marriage) and seventeen on the opposition (to repeal the ban). The judge was given no information that gays could change. The defense had no expert witnesses and even admitted that gays could forms healthy relationships and that they were discriminated against in history.
The judge was later discovered to be gay, something that she believed should have prevented him from taking the case.
Maria was asked to leave at this point. She returned the next day with AFTAH’s permission.
Panel Discussion, featuring Rena Lindevaldsen, Matt Barber, Laurie Higgins, Ryan Sorba, Arthur Goldberg, Cliff Kincaid, Robert Knight, Robert Gagnon, and Greg Quinlan: “Returning the Debate to Behavior — Getting off the ‘GLBT’ Playing Field“
This is what they termed their “strategic” discussion. All recording devices were turned off, and those who were known gay sympathizers (including Maria) were asked to leave. This makes me wish that I had a recording device, but I guess it is enough that I was there. In all honesty, there was not very much strategy being talked about. Instead, they focused on the problems occurring within their own movement.
The Alliance Defense Fund (the group that lost the recent Prop 8 case in California) was brought up as having possible serious corruption within its ranks. Someone indicated that we needed to default to God’s truth and could not deviate from that.
The defense in the Prop 8 case went into the proceedings saying that gays are okay. This got a big response of outrage from the audience. They said that if the decision to be anti-gay were bigotry, rates of problems within the communities would be the same. They are not, so they said that this discrimination was justified. I guess the differences within the racial communities justify discrimination, too.
They also spoke about how they were being too soft. They were trying to defend only the word “marriage” when they should have been defending a lot more. Lindevaldsen talked about a conversation she had with an ADF representative where she asked if they could be included in the litigation. She said that they told her that they wanted this “fundraising opportunity.” This prompted gasps from the audience.
Mitt Romney was called out as being pro-gay. This ruling marks the first time that gays are a protected class. The only real plans they made were to possibly create a manifesto that organizations could sign onto to support their values.
Robert Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries: “From Destroying DOMA to Homosexualizing the Military: Obama’s Radical Homosexual/Transsexual Agenda for America“
A side note: Knight was introduced by Sandy Rios, a FOX News contributor.
Knight’s talk focused on the Obama administration. He started by saying that Obama is a hypocrite by saying that he is a Christian while rejecting their morals, adding that he was a socialist with Muslim sympathies. He said that Obama voted to the left of everyone else in the senate, even avowed socialists; that, in fact, Obama used the recession to push through his socialist agenda.
Obama was so successful at this, Knight pointed out, that a third of the evangelical Christian community voted for him. Yet, Congress has an 11% approval rating. He said that the Democrats are controlled by billionaire gays and Obama had been appointing gays to high offices. The civil rights act had been improperly applied to include gays. Also, (new Supreme Court Justice) Elena Kagan was very pro-gay and she should have been filibustered.
Knight stated that hate crime laws were becoming hate speech laws, and this would cause them to be silenced. People were re-examining what makes America great and discovering its Judeo-Christian roots.
Finally, he said that Obama is closed minded. He talked about the media having a pro-gay bias, so people are going to other news sources. He made the analogy that gays are like people running off a tall building. We would have to attack them to save their lives.
Tomorrow: When Maria doesn’t show up in the morning, Peter LaBarbera (wrongly) calls her out as someone who lied and cheated her way to get in. But he doesn’t know Maria only missed her early train…