Cheerios Protester Dies of a Heart Attack

Remember Michael Leisner, the Cheerios protest dude who was mad because of General Mills’ pro-gay-marriage stance?

He is no more:

Leisner died Saturday while waiting in his car for his sons to finish playing tennis, said the Rev. Dwight Denyes, senior pastor at Emmanuel Christian Center in Spring Lake Park.

The family said in a statement that the two sons found Leisner in his car and not breathing. He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and died “of a massive heart attack,” the statement said.

Denyes said that while he didn’t know Leisner well, what the nation saw in the protest video “doesn’t accurately reflect who he was as an individual. He was a very loving and caring father of his four children, a loving husband and he seemed to get along with other people.”

I don’t doubt that last paragraph is true. These anti-gay people tend to be really nice and decent… until they start talking about social issues, at which point their bigotry overtakes all their other emotions.

What’s sad is that this guy’s life will be measured (by everyone outside his family, anyway) by the act of hate displayed in the video. What an awful legacy to leave behind.

(Thanks to Randy for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    To be fair, it is a video with him in it doing what he is doing, so it is an accurate reflection of him in some way. 

    • PurpleThinker

      True, but still sad for the family. It reminds me of that old joke: “you build 100 bridges, but do they call you Hamish the Bridgebuilder? You make 100 barrels of ale, but do they call you Hamish the Brewmaster? You **** one sheep, though…..” I’m hoping his kids are not of the same mind on LGBT issues as he was, but at the moment, I’m hoping they are finding comfort in each other and the positive memories of their father. Losing a parent is tough, moreso when it’s in the public sphere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1456367828 Russell Wronski

    Hopefully General Mills will send a bouquet of rainbow-colored flowers for his funeral.

    • 3lemenope

      Hopefully General Mills will do nothing of the sort, since it would serve to do nothing other than make a political punchline (and a lame one at that) out of someone’s death.

      • Good and Godless

        His family could not possibly be offended. To them there is no loss in the transition from the moral world to the heavenly realms. 

        The only way to take offense is to grasp the truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=541055353 Mark Whatman

    Sounds like he could have used some more cheerios in his diet.

    • Icaarus

      Beat me to it. Didn’t they have a ‘Heart Healthy’ advert campaign a while back. 

      • Jeanine Mardis

        Cheerios are not healthy and will not protect you against heart problems. Wheat, in general, is not good for human consumption unless fermented. Soy is also a terrible food to ingest, as it disrupts hormone production and leads to an excess of estrogen in males and females. 

        Just thought I’d let you all know in case there was someone out there who is trying to avoid heart problems.
        General Mills has a lot of advertising dollars to convince people that a cheaply manufactured food is good for them.
        If you want real health, eat real, minimally processed food that doesn’t come from a box or plastic bag. Nourishing Traditions is a good book on this subject.  

        • Kelley Meyer

          Know what the “O” in Cheerios stands for? Oats, not wheat.

        • amycas

          Can you define what you mean by “processed food?” I hear a lot of people rail against, but they never seem to have a good definition for it.

  • Inferno

    How long before someone makes a Cheerios-heart attack joke?

    • PurpleThinker

      Roughly 30 seconds, apparently.

  • PurpleThinker

    A horrible thing for his kids to find him like that. :( I hope he left behind good memories for those around him: dying as the Fire Cheerios Guy is probably painful for his family.

    3…2…1…until someone makes a snarky “cheerios lower cholesterol” comment. Can we just skip all that, guys? I know it’s the internet, but seriously. I already saw it elsewhere.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    Wow. Wonder how you deal with that if you’re religious – short of a bolt of lightening you can’t get much more striking down-ey.

    • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

       You have to understand that when it happens to a perceived enemy, then it’s the wrath of the Lawwwwd smitey smitey; when it happens to someone they agree with, it’s “God works in mysterious ways.” / “It was his time.” / “God wanted him by His side.”

  • LesterBallard

    I seriously wonder how much he would have loved his children if one of them was GLBT.

  • Michael

    I can’t help but wonder if he was already unwell when he made the video. It would explain a lot.

    • Guest

      People with heart conditions can, especially near time of a heart attack, begin acting in ways not typical.  That should probably be thought on by folks who are rushing with the digs and jabs – this was a human being after all, who from the looks of things, didn’t do anything to hurt anyone. And given the closeness of his condition, what he did may have been the result of other elements going on within his body.

      • 3lemenope

        This is true. A beloved and rather awesome administrator at the university I attended got into a screaming match with a cop at a routine traffic stop–totally out of character for the guy–and twenty-four hours later went in for a quadruple bypass surgery. 

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

        Maybe the cereal killing was out of character. Maybe it was a symptom of an illness.

        BIG FUCKING DEAL

        No-one cared that he burnt some cheerios. People’s problem is that he was a homophobic bigot, and that wasn’t some last minute symptom, that was long-standing behaviour.

        • Guest

          You’re everything I’ve come to expect from the modern secular Left.

          • 3lemenope

            You’re apparently no better, since you immediately jumped to (attempting to) score political points by assuming Ewan’s secular and on the Left, as though a religious person on the Right couldn’t possibly have a problem with homophobia or bigotry.

            Could it just be possible for once for folks to not use a terrible event as a springboard for airing all of their bile about the things and people they personally hate? If you want to criticize Ewan for what he said, does it have to be using what you imagine in your wildest guesses his metaphysical or political opinions must be?

    • Edmond

      So what’s the excuse for the OTHER giggling idiots in the video?

      • Michael

        Even we thought the video was kinda funny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dharmaworks David Benjamin Patton

    An act pushed on by ignorance and (for a moment laughable) stupidity sure, but hate? Not so much.

  • Tom

    Death should not exempt one from criticism of one’s bigoted actions.  But please, people, don’t mock or make light of the actual fact that he died.  We’re not the WBC.

  • The Rabid God

    Plot twist; one of the sons turns out to be gay. 

  • A3Kr0n

    So to be clear, God had nothing to do with his death, right? Or was God acting in mysterious ways again?

  • Pollracker

    So chick fila guy dies of heartatack now this guy. If god does exsist its pretty obvious which side of gay rights he’s on

  • Tainda

    Very sad for his family.

  • veganheathen

    Massive heart attack? Not surprising, with all the hate he was storing there.


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