Scott Lively Wants to Bring Down the City

On Saturday November 24th an enormous gas explosion ripped through downtown Springfield, MA, damaging numerous buildings, injuring 18 people, and leveling a strip club. The Boston Globe reported:

The explosion happened at 5:25 p.m., leveling Scores Gentlemen’s Club, punching a large hole in the street, and blowing shards of glass and other debris through downtown streets…The area is a bustling entertainment and residential district.

Most residents of Springfield, regardless of their feelings about strip joints, recognize that the potential for loss of life was enormous, and mourn the harm caused to their fellow residents and to their homes and livelihoods. Scott Lively, notorious gay-hating pastor and enthusiastic sponsor of the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill (and perhaps would-be Republican candidate for governor of Massachusetts), is ecstatic. In the “big and orange mushroom cloud” Lively sees the hand of his benevolent God, responding to his prayers to “cleanse” Springfield of spiritual sin. His froth-mouthed blog post is below, in full – I don’t want any accusations of quote-mining to dull my point:

For about two years I have been including imprecatory prayers in our church services and Bible studies at Holy Grounds Coffee House.  Imprecatory prayers are Old Testament prayers for the defeat and destruction of the enemies of God and his people.  A New Testament variation on these prayers is to ask God to save the people but destroy the institutions. Our prayers, part of our seven year campaign to re-Christianize the City of Springfield, have included an appeal to God to destroy the works of Satan in this city.  We have specifically included the strip clubs in these prayers.

Yesterday the three story Scores strip club on Worthington Street was completely obliterated in a gas explosion, right down to the ground.  See link.

I believe this was the hand of God at work in answer to our prayers.  We are giving Him all the glory and praise for this occurrence, since it is only by His power that any of our prayers can have any effect.  We also thank God that no one was seriously injured in this blast, though it was enormous.

I am sending this email to ask you to join me in the following prayer for the further cleansing of Springfield.

Father in Heaven, in the name of Jesus we beseech you to claim our city for your own, to be Lord of Springfield in the hearts and minds of its people, and to establish goodness and morality among us.  We pray that you would motivate every local believer to awaken to their duty to live and preach the Gospel of Christ in both word and action, in meekness and humility.  We pray that you would bring every community leader, at every level in government, business, media and education, under grateful submission to your will and values.  We pray that your presence would shine in this city so profoundly that it would illuminate the entire region.  Finally Lord, we pray that you would destroy the works of Satan in this city and ask you demolish them in such a way that it is clearly by your hand alone and not the works of men, saving the people but destroying the institutions that have set themselves against your truth.  We pray this with full awareness that we ourselves are just sinners saved by grace, asking you to cleanse us from sin as well, and to increase our faith that you are still the God of miracles.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

I urge you to add this or something similar to your daily prayers, and to forward this to your Christian friends.

In Him,

Pastor Scott Lively

Scott Lively has long been campaigning in  way which to me seems far from civil. He is a fantasist and historical revisionist who will do or say almost anything to demean and smear gay people. Now he seems far from sane. Here Lively literally claims that the intercessionary prayer of he and his congregants caused God to show his displeasure at the residents of Springfield by destroying a commercial building, damaging a number of homes, and injuring “nine city firefighters, two police officers, and four gas workers”. And he wants it to continue, exhorting his followers to pray for “the further cleansing of Springfield”.

“Cleansing”. Let’s be very clear what he means by “cleansing” in this case. He means explosions wracking the air and shards of glass ripping through faces and fire and fear and mayhem. Who does he want to be “cleansing”? The gays, the strippers, the non-religious: anyone who doesn’t prostrate themselves “under grateful submission to [God's] will and values” will be cleansed by the righteous fires of a gas explosion. Do not mistake Lively’s ambition: he seeks nothing less than to turn Springfield into a fully-ledged Christian theocracy, complete with “In God We Trust” on the City Hall.

If any further proof were needed that Lively is a dangerous demagogue, the post above provides it. He is praying for the destruction of the property, livelihood, and health of his fellow citizens. He is encouraging others to do so. If anyone took his claims seriously (and here’s a striking demonstration of the potential hypocrisy of the religious mind), and believed that intercessionary prayer could indeed result in gas explosions, then they would be seeking to bring charges of terrorism against him, for what else is someone who plots to bring about wanton destruction with complete disregard for human life but a terrorist?

Any Springfield resident who attends his church should now search their soul. Can you genuinely stomach the leadership of a man who revels in the harm caused to other human beings, and ascribes that harm to the Lord? Is the God you worship so clumsy and cruel that, in His attempt to snuff out a strip joint, he smashes homes and bodies too? Do you have so little love for your neighbors that you are willing to put them to harm to show your displeasure against pornography? You have the power to stop this dangerous man in his tracks: pick up your bibles and your children and find another church. Stop giving him your time, your money, and your allegiance. He is unworthy of it.

And to those Springfield residents who are not members of Lively’s church, to those who are sickened to their stomach by his evil gibberings, to you I say this: now is the time to stand up. Go picket his church. Leaflet his congregants. Interrupt his sermons. Educate your friends. Run the man out of town. No one has the right to call for the destruction of your city.

With chilling lack of irony, Lively intones to God: “We pray that your presence would shine in this city so profoundly that it would illuminate the entire region”. That the “illumination” he seeks comes from the orange mushroom cloud of a gas explosion troubles him not a whit. He wants to bring down the city. Don’t let him.

About James Croft

James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently writing his Doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

  • http://www.cautionchurchahead.com Steve Ahlquist

    A church was recently gutted by fire here in Rhode Island, because some ceremonial incense was still smoldering after services and after the church was locked up for the night. No one was hurt. Those involved with the church have vowed to rebuild. How is Scott Lively going to feel when the strip club’s insurance money kicks in and the club reopens bigger and better than ever before? Also, why is God responsible for the strip club explosion but not the church fire?

    • TrickQuestion

      They weren’t the right kind of prayers.

  • smrnda

    Meekness and humility my ass. Once somebody has the gall to approach me with their religious propaganda, as if I’d never possibly heard it before living in the States, they’ve already displayed pretty adequate arrogance. The other deal is ‘no, we’re just humble sinners, not people so arrogant to believe we have all the answers and that if ridiculous proof of absurd beliefs is good enough for us, it had better be good enough for you.’

    The other thing is, using language like ‘works of Satan’ is a bit rash, I mean, somebody could probably make a legitimate critique of the sex work industry, but that would require using some objectivity and being willing to listen to arguments from both sides and take a nuanced view of the impact of these types of businesses, along with why people go to them, and why people end up working them (mostly since it pays a little better than some other shit jobs.)

  • Baal

    “Do not mistake Lively’s ambition: he seeks nothing less than to turn Springfield into a fully-ledged Christian theocracy, complete with “In God We Trust” on the City Hall.”
    Yes that little bit. If having “in god we trust” on everything is just ceremonial deism that we should overlook and isn’t really government endorsement of religion, why would someone like Scott Lively want it?

    To ye olde liberal and moderate christians, please ask your pastors, priests and equivalents to read this blog post and Lively’s down right chortle over the real people being hurt including police and firefighters. Then ask them to tell Lively whether or not his views are in line with christianity as they practice it.

    • Kodie

      Good call.

      I never heard of this guy because I, I don’t know, I get all the preachers’ names mushed up and don’t recognize one crazy from another. This guy is bonkers. I would love for people other than atheists to get outraged of his fanaticism, instead of the usual – hey we’re not all delusional, and cross their arms and shrug like this is nothing important and nothing we can do or say. The emotional appeal: you don’t just talk this stuff when firefighters and police are involved. A lot of people might be glad about the strip club getting destroyed, and glory to god no one died, but then go about their business, especially if they don’t live in Springfield but only heard about it on the news. Then it’s a couple days later and it’s not on the news anymore. They need to know what a dangerous and despicable man of their “god” is still at large in Springfield, taking the safety of its rescue workers way too lightly. Since the place was near a daycare, maybe find a way to bring up children, moms, and pregnant women to get them motivated.

      This was not an intentional bombing like Oklahoma City, and it’s not likely to happen again as an accident so large and destructive. It’s hard for me to guess the lengths he might go to in order to help god, but merely wishing – these are thoughts that can’t harm anyone – and encourage others to join him in these wishes – needs to be brought to people’s attention and not be seen as some atheist cause to wipe out religion and make “too much” out of something. This is “too much” and people should be alarmed enough not to just let him be.

      If they believe in the power of prayer, how sure are they that the nice loving god they believe in won’t answer it? Oh, because they can clearly tell the difference between an answered prayer and a gas leak.


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