Vandals Threaten Anti-Gay-Rights Group

Last year, I sent spies to an anti-gay-rights “academy” run by Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, a SPLC-certified hate group. Tonight, they’re having a banquet at the same location, the Christian Liberty Academy.

Early this morning, someone threw concrete bricks through the school’s windows in an effort to stop them from holding the event. The vandals have stayed anonymous, but they made a post taking credit for what they did on a random website. They also said they would continue the attacks tonight if the event went on as scheduled.

These chunks of concrete were thrown through these windows and doors for two reasons: to show that there is a consequence for hatred and homophobia in our community and to directly cause this event to be shut down. If this event is not shut down, and the homophobic day trainings do not end, the Christian liberty academy will continue to be under constant attack.

AFTAH president Peter LaBarbera issued a statement condemning the gay “domestic terrorists.”

I don’t know who did this, but here are a few reasons it’s a profoundly stupid idea to have done this:

1) It won’t stop the gathering.

Not only will the anti-gay-rights Christians still gather, they’re now emboldened. more importantly, you’ll make casual observers more sympathetic to their cause. And that’s the last thing they need. They ought to be protested and ridiculed — they don’t deserve anyone’s sympathy.

2) They’ll use the vandalism to portray themselves as the victims.

This incident — with pictures and screenshots — will be used in every fundraising email/letter/blog post AFTAH sends out in the conceivable future. Hate groups are experts at turning the actions of the opposition into fundraising tools.

3) It sends a message that threats are the only way to stop their message.

You can’t shut them up, but you don’t have to. They have a right to meet and opponents have a right to protest outside the event. In fact, get Christians to speak out against what the hate group is promoting. They’re already losing the battle of public opinion — threats won’t make things better.

I realize there’s always a possibility that the whole thing was staged by Labarbera in an effort to bring more attention to himself and his bigotry, but I honestly don’t think he’d stoop that low.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Trina

    Whoever did this, it wasn’t wise.  I don’t know how low the people involved with the academy would or wouldn’t stoop; don’t know enough about them.  I guess it’s back to the web to see what they’ve said in the past.

  • Renshia

    Well, I don’t know if I can strongly disagree with this. Sure, In a perfect world stuff like this would not be necessary. We don’t live in a perfect world. They can spew bigotry and hate, we just have to sit back and let them? How many people suffer and end up dead because of them? Let them feel a little fear for what they have done.  One thing I have learned, if you stand up to bullies, they will back down. Sometimes, it does take pounding the piss out of them. Maybe putting a little fear into them will give them a moment of pause. Not likely but just maybe.

    Violence isn’t a good answer, but neither is being a victim. 

    • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

      Skulking about, tossing bricks through windows and then posting threats anonymously is standing up to bullies?
      No, a lot more fun could be had with jerks like these, but we should use only that force which is necessary and reasonable and stay within the law. I see nothing that these bigots did that justify criminal mischief.
      To get back to my initial point, petty vandalism performed by frustrated and frightened children doesn’t qualify “pounding the piss” out of anything.

      • Michael Appleman

        Its like the saying goes: “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”. They don’t want to ‘sulk around’ but they are forced to. Push someone hard enough, back him into a corner, and you only have your self to blame for what happens.

        • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

          You don’t get either of my points, do you?
          A) Throwing bricks is pussified*
          B) Throwing bricks is criminal
          *Another (unspoken but definitely IMPLIED) point is that if you are going to break the law to make a point with bullies, you may as well do something that requires a little backbone and is a bit more entertaining.Hell, if you are going to risk jail time, might as well get it for kicking someone’s ass.
          Oooooooo, someone threw a brick, how heroic !!! :-)
          I get a kick out of how so may on these threads are so dramatic over alleged adults doing the same silly, gutless shit I used to do when I was a bored 10 year old.
          Some of you folks seriously need to get out more.

        • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

          P.S. It was SKULK…not sulk.
          skulk/skəlk/
          Verb:Keep out of sight, typically with a sinister or cowardly motive.

          • Michael Appleman

            Its called a typo. Do I need to cut and paste its definition for you?

    • The Captain

      I also love to fight bullies, and frankly this make YOU nothing but the bully. 

      As far as I can tell, this group has done nothing but argue against gay rights verbally. I have seen no references to them using force to intimidate, or cause fear in anyone. It is YOU who has advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from speaking an idea you dislike. You are the one who is trying to intimidate someone with force, it is you who is the bully and a threat to everyones freedom.

      As much as I disagree with everything these people stand for, they have a right to speak their opinion, and I just as I will argue against everything these people try to do, I will fight against bullies like you! 

      • Anonymous

        They are doing far more than just talk or have an “opinion”. They aren’t as active as some other groups, but they also engage in political activism. What they do ultimately hurts people mentally, physically and legally. Just because they hurt people indirectly doesn’t make it ok. So, no, they don’t have a right to do what they do.

        You are falling into the equivalency trap and it’s disgusting. Even if I could grant that it’s just about a difference in opinion, not every opinion is equally valid

        • The Captain

          So for you, physical intimidation is fine against political opponents? 

          And who the bloody hell are YOU to decide what opinions are “valid”.

          FU! Free people have every right to form groups and attempt to advance their agendas though peaceful democratic means. You are nothing but a thug!

          • Anonymous

            And you’re nothing but a moron. Also considering your reply below

            Your concern for the well-being of people is severely lacking

      • Renshia

        Yes, but there teachings go into homes and schools and cause irreparable damage. You think, these kids that are committing suicide are just having a bad day. Theses worms are propagating fear and hatred, but only in collateral damage, so it’s okay then. Who gives a shit. It’s not like there taking the gun themselves and pulling the trigger.

        I don’t agree with the method, nor do I condone the action. I do think that if they perceive a cost to themselves maybe they won’t find it worth it. I doubt it, but maybe.

        I also believe they have a right to their opinion, unfortunately I also believe in there right to speak it. Just because you have an opinion does that give you a right to teach it? Does it give you a right to perpetuate with no consequences?

        I did not advocate advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from speaking an idea I dislike. I advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from teaching and spreading it.  I didn’t even do that I just didn’t strongly disagree with it.

        I won’t fight you but, I will give you a hug, If don’t have kooties.

      • Renshia

        Yes, but there teachings go into homes and schools and cause irreparable damage. You think, these kids that are committing suicide are just having a bad day. Theses worms are propagating fear and hatred, but only in collateral damage, so it’s okay then. Who gives a shit. It’s not like there taking the gun themselves and pulling the trigger.

        I don’t agree with the method, nor do I condone the action. I do think that if they perceive a cost to themselves maybe they won’t find it worth it. I doubt it, but maybe.

        I also believe they have a right to their opinion, unfortunately I also believe in there right to speak it. Just because you have an opinion does that give you a right to teach it? Does it give you a right to perpetuate with no consequences?

        I did not advocate advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from speaking an idea I dislike. I advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from teaching and spreading it.  I didn’t even do that I just didn’t strongly disagree with it.

        I won’t fight you but, I will give you a hug, If don’t have kooties.

        • The Captain

          Unless you have direct evidence of this group harassing any teen who committed suicide, then all you are doing is the same crap that xtians do when they blame atheist for stuff like Columbine. 

          The second sentence of your second paragraph contradicts the first one and shows you really will come down on the side of intimidation.

          ” unfortunately I also believe in there right to speak it” Well I PROUDLY believe they have a right to speak it! I am grateful I live in a country where a person can speak the opinions even when those opinions are not popular. Too bad you don’t seem to share that outlook. Perhaps you would really like countries where people do not have that freedom like Pakistan, though I suspect you would only like it as long a YOU got to say what opinions are valid.

          Your last paragraph, well… shows you still are nothing but a bully yourself. “I advocated the use of fear to prevent someone from teaching and spreading it” FU! They can teach and spread what they want, just as I can teach evolution in Kentucky, and spread my opinion that these people suck. If they are so wring (and they are) then people should be able to teach and spread the word against them. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    They could have just organized a big picket. I bet it would’ve been easy to get a lot of people out for that.  A nice loud picket with banners and lots of people. It wouldn’t have to involve making anyone into a legitimate victim. 

  • PJB863

    I’m just curious:  was this reported to the police?

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      I would like to know this too. If it was staged would they be stupid enough to report their own fraudulent actions?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569623697 Vikki Jaskolka Cerbin

        Yes, it was reported to the Arlington Heights Police.

  • PJB863

    I’m just curious:  was this reported to the police?

  • Anonymous

    They already think they are victims. If they don’t have a real incident to refer to, they’ll distort something or outright lie. The truth really doesn’t matter to their supporters. So this doesn’t really make much of a difference

  • Dale

    Honestly, Hemant, I do believe he would stoop that low.

    • PJB863

      Me too.  Why would someone supposedly commit a crime and then claim credit for it on a website?  URL’s are traceable.  That’s why I asked if police had been notified elsewhere on this post.  If the cops were not notified, why not?  If you need to file an insurance claim, there needs to be a police report.  If it’s an inside job, the last thing you want to do is involve the cops.

      Something here doesn’t pass the smell test.

      • Anonymous

        i’m very glad these are the first two comments. Hemant, you’re young. perhaps you don’t understand how the right uses tactics like these whey they are desperate. of course Lababa is worried and scared; gay marriage and equality are coming, which means the end of his revenue stream. the only way he can continue to avoid real, actual work is to drum up more donations with a “terrorist” attack. please, don’t be so giving to people like him. he has and will stoop to *anything* to keep his little scam going. that’s why we call them “scam artists.” 

        • PJB863

          Let’s not forget too - AFTAH recently lost its 501C3 status, so donations are no longer tax-deductible.  That likely meant a drop in donations.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

            And that, right there, is motive.

  • Lyvvie

    Seems more like something the Xtians would do to themselves to embolden their own dumbass selves. The John Lennon quote spreading through FB “When it gets down to having to use violence then you are playing the
    systems game. The establishment irritates you, pull your beard and
    flick your face to make you fight, because once they have you violent
    then they know how to handle you” Only there wasn’t any violent reactions towards the anti-gay jerks. So they created it. 

  • Greisha

    Hemant, I am surprised that you did not put as the number one reason that it is just plain wrong.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I figured that was implied by the rest of it.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past LaBarbera or his cronies/followers to do this and then point the finger at “those evil communist hippie atheist fags”.*

    *I use the word “fag” simply to illustrate my example, it’s not meant as a slur.

    • The Captain

      So then was “communist”, “hippy”, and “atheist” meant as a slur? :)

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        LOL no, I was just throwing out a handful of the common “X are Evil and Anti-Christian” targets, kind of hyperbole on my part. Totally meant as snark, not as slurs.

  • Concerned, but not convinced

    Unfortunately, all I see here is a bunch of bashing. The majority of comments on this board are, in essence, exactly what you are accusing Christians of. You accuse them of hate speach and deserving of being stopped (or at least not perpetuated), yet the majority of the comments from people on this board are doing just that, pushing YOUR personal agenda.

    Chiristians are not pushing hate. What they are doing is sharing their personal conviction that a certain behavior is wrong. So, I guess much of this discussion comes down to defining what is right and wrong. If you take spiritual or metaphysical facets out of consideration, there is no right or wrong. Unfortunately if there is no right or wrong, you end up with chaos, or at best, you have nothing but Cultural Relativism. Cultural Relativism does not define right or wrong, it merely seeks to control what is allowable based on what the culture deems correct or acceptable. If that is what we are looking at here (if we are defining right and wrong based on Cultural Relativism), we should conclude that homosexuality is wrong because, like it or not, the majority of Americans (and other world-wide) consider it so.

    Now, if you want to take the spiritual facets into account, it is also wrong because the majority of religious literature I am aware of speaks against homosexuality.

    So, where does that leave us?

    What needs to be addressed here is wether or not society is helped or hurt by the activities of the various groups involved. All I have seen so far is a few bricks thrown through windows. That is a cowardly act that is, at the very least, against the law. So, as far as the legal system and, therefore, our government is concerned, those who threw the bricks are in thte wrong, not those hosting the conference……..

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      “Chiristians are not pushing hate.”

      The SPLC disagrees with you.

      “What they are doing is sharing their personal conviction that a certain behavior is wrong.”

      They’re welcome to think that this behavior or that behavior is wrong, they are welcome to not indulge in the wrong behavior, but the problem comes when they try to enforce their ideas of right and wrong on to others — sometimes with words, but far too often with bloodshed.

      Plus, uh, 95% of the time a Christian is “sharing their conviction”, it’s UNINVITED SHARING.

    • Anonymous

      And yet another Christian who cares more about what’s written in ancient books and what “the majority of people” thinks than what actually affects, hurts  or benefits real people.

      Being gay hurts no one in of itself. Legally recognizing same-sex relationships hurts no one. Therefor it’s not wrong. Homophobia hurts people, therefor it’s wrong. The Golden Rule is really a good basic guideline for morality, but it’s hardly exclusive to Christianity

    • Thomas Farrell

      “Chiristians are not pushing hate. What they are doing is sharing their personal conviction that a certain behavior is wrong.”

      The group in question is certified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. We’re not talking about a religious group of nice old ladies who just have a mistaken belief that gay people are bad because the bible says so, we’re talking about a group that publishes vicious hateful lies (known, proven lies) on a regular basis in a cynical attempt to whip up hatred against gay people and take away our civil rights.

      We are saying that the accusations the group is making that gay people are terrorizing them seem like lies BECAUSE THE GROUP ARE A BUNCH OF KNOWN DEDICATED LIARS, and because (in my case) as a gay person I know that even the more radical gay activist groups don’t tend to get involved with terrorism because they’re too busy arguing with each other over whether or not it’s morally acceptable to glue a protest sign to a public lamp post and if so which kind of glue is most biodegradable and has the smallest carbon footprint.

  • John Morris

    Dear Hemant, are you planning on a fundraiser to replace their windows? :|

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Nope.

  • Trace

    You and your “spies” :)

  • Thomas Farrell

    Hemant, you wrote:
    “I realize there’s always a possibility that the whole thing was staged
    by Labarbera in an effort to bring more attention to himself and his
    bigotry, but I honestly don’t think he’d stoop that low.”

    That’s… appallingly naive. Labarbera claims that homosexuality shortens the lifespan by 20 years and describes homosexuality as “lethal”, publishes the (very thoroughly) discredited research of Paul Cameron (whose “research” on gay people is based on the work of the nazis), claims that gay men tend to be pedophiles, claims that the nazi party was run by gay men, claims that gay people are trying to take 1st amendment rights away from christians, that we’re trying to force kindergardners to be homosexual and have sex change operations… check the SPLC web site if you want more details.

    Bluntly, what the heck gives you the idea that the man who would tell all those whopping lies wouldn’t stoop to throwing a brick through his own window and alling the cops to claim he’s being terrorized by gay people? HE MAKES HIS LIVING BY CLAIMING THE FAGGOTS(*) ARE AFTER HIM. How is this any different?

    (*) I’m allowed to use that word, I’m gay and I’m using it to define the attitude of his remarks, not to make any kind of statement about gay people.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy2q

    “I realize there’s always a possibility that the whole thing was staged
    by Labarbera in an effort to bring more attention to himself and his
    bigotry, but I honestly don’t think he’d stoop that low.”

    I have no doubt he would stoop that low.   His group, AFTAH, is certified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a Hate Group.   Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is a certified Hate Group as well.   I’d put nothing past either one of them. 


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