More Hatred

March 8, 2007

From Soulforce…

Soulforce Equality Ride Faces Vandalism, Intimidation in the Heartland – East Bus is Defaced with Anti-gay Slurs in Iowa; Students Face Repercussions at Notre Dame

On the opening day of Equality Ride 2007, the 50 young Riders faced grim reminders of why they are on 2 buses, headed for 32 Christian colleges with policies that silence or exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Last night the eastbound bus made its first stop in Sioux Center, Iowa, where Riders were harassed at their hotel. This morning they awoke to find their bus defaced by graphic anti-gay graffiti.

For the whole story, read here.

For the photos of the bus after defacement, click here (the pictures contain offensive words and images).

Another fine example of the fruit of the radical religious right.



35 Responses to “More Hatred”

  1. FrMichael Says:

    “Man kidnaps two children for years until they escape–

    another fine example of the fruit of the radical religious left.”

    That makes about as much sense as your statement. What religious conservative would approve of obscene words and symbols?

  2. Jeff Says:

    The Rev. Fred Phelps, for one.

    Any time discrimination is tolerated in religion, it explicitly promotes the idea that it is ok to treat gays differently; the dehumanization that results with violence and defamation is not a giant leap of logic.

    Your example, on the other hand, shows no connection of the groups and is a complete red herring.


  3. D Hamilton Says:

    No damage to the bus that a razor scraper couldn’t quickly clean up.

    We have a case of considerate bigots or we have an inside job!

    Either way, the tour continues, but now with more publicity. ; )


  4. Jeff Says:

    Well, D,

    That’s not my idea of Christian ethics; no compassion for the marginalized, and even when we are down you still continue to kick us with your words.

    Perhaps we do have two separate religions. I would never treat my enemies in such a way– that is not how I understand the ministry of Christ.

    Yes, two very different religions indeed.


  5. D Hamilton Says:

    I’d agree with you if I’d never heard of Kerri Dunn, Floyd Elliott, Sarah Kaspereit, Rayan Malik, Tawana Brawley, or Susan Smith. But I have and so my outlook is a bit jaundice

    However, you have a crime and because you don’t know who did it, you have to ask, “Who benefits?” At least, the police would ask. If the bigots wanted to stop the tour, why does that bus have air in its tires? It would certainly be quicker to slash the tires and tag the bus than to reach above the painted side panels to carefully paint the windows.

    Objectively, no one gets the benefit of the doubt, and the reality of this story doesn’t pass the smell test.

    The Advocate had something to say tangential to this subject:

  6. Mark Says:

    Wow. That’s some of the most incredible rationalization of abuse I’ve ever heard, D.

    God and your parents must be really proud.

  7. FrMichael Says:


    As for my example, it has skewed logic akin to the skewed logic of the original post. The straights are constantly told that we aren’t sympathetic to the GLBT agenda because we don’t have their experience of sexuality. Likewise, the kidnapper had his own subjective experience of sexuality that necessitated the taking of 2 boys and molesting them.

    Disgusting and grossly twisting a tenet of the religious left– the priority of satisfying sexual feelings over traditional Christian teaching– yes. But no more than your original comment smearing the “radical religious right.”

  8. Jeff Says:

    Fr Michael –

    How exactly does the radical left imply a connection to a warped experience of needing to satisfy ones sexual desires through pedophilia? There are no leftists that imply tolerance of pedophilia nor of pederasty in general.

    Again, you are focusing on sex. GLBT relationships are not focused on sex. They are focused on relationships. You are focused on sex. Did you check out the Rev. Fred Phelps site in my link above? He has certainly filled in between the dotted lines where you are resistant.

    If your blindness prevents you from seeing it because you don’t want to, then don’t. But don’t come into my church nor force our government to come in through your religious lens and say that your religious values should take precedence over mine.


  9. Jeff Says:

    D –

    Your post is a complete red herring. There is no mention of this incident at all. You again rely on the conservative argument that if one element of an argument can be disproved than the whole argument fails. That doesn’t work. Just because somewhere, at some point in time, some person may report a crime as a hate crime and it may not be– it does not logically follow that all hate crimes are faked.

    The “non-gay” press of the incident can be found here.

    You have to register to view that story so I did not put it up before.

    But it doesn’t matter.

    What matters is that we work towards the kingdom of God, that we take the Gospel of Jesus Christ and work to bring about the peaceable kingdom, the heavenly banquet, where all may sit side by side without threat, without intimidation, in equality but not in uniformity, at the right hand of God– a wonderful celebration of the full diversity of Creation.

    I still wonder what it is that you think you have to gain by trying to prevent that. It is truly a different religion.


  10. Fitz Says:

    Not really police dogs & firehoses, but it will have to do.

    I’m going to start a group of Christians that ride to every-other campus and get them to stop encouraging young people from acting on their same-sex attraction.

    How do you think that would go over?

    P.S. It bends twoard Justice -MLK

  11. J Smart Says:

    Hurrah for cheap publicity! The stuff you pay for doesn’t get this much attention.

    Whose idea was it to misspell “feary” at the end? Brilliant! Really, that was a masterstroke. Makes it look like Homophobes did it. Very clever.

  12. Jeffersonian Says:

    The Rev. Fred Phelps, for one.

    Not to burst this bubble you live in, but Fred Phelps is a Democrat, and always has been. He was a big-time civil rights attorney in Kansas.

    As for blaming this on the “radical religious right,” can you tell us all who did this? And how do you know their motivation?

  13. The Pilgrim Says:

    D is right. There is no damage to the bus. Awfully considerate of those homophobes, don’t you think?

  14. The Pilgrim Says:

    Sorry, should have added:

    The epithets are applied with the same markers that used car dealers use to write on the windshields of their vehicles. It washes off with soap and water. I recognize the colors.

  15. Fitz Says:

    “Any time discrimination is tolerated in religion, it explicitly promotes the idea that it is ok to treat gays differently; the dehumanization that results with violence and defamation is not a giant leap of logic.”
    You are using the word discrimination in a very broad way. To be discriminating in and of itself is not a bad thing. It depends on what is the basis for discrimination. I understand that you may feel that discrimination against sexual orientation is wrong. However, it does not follow that “dehumanization” somehow necessarily follows merely through Christ’s teachings on human sexuality. A proper understanding of a balanced Christian ethic includes non-violence, respect for human dignity, and inclusion: all of which make violence and defamation against homosexuals a very giant leap indeed.
    “That’s not my idea of Christian ethics; no compassion for the marginalized, and even when we are down you still continue to kick us with your words.”
    When words become violence, violence becomes that much easier to exercise. (not a very giant leap either) You’ll want to be careful about characterizing peoples opinions as tantamount to violence for this and other reasons.
    “Perhaps we do have two separate religions. I would never treat my enemies in such a way– that is not how I understand the ministry of Christ.”
    I think we probably do have to different Religions operating here. Only one of them can be considered authentically Christian. Loving ones enemies is a difficult job, it often requires standing firmly for the very principles that caused the animosity to begin with. Never the less, proper Christian witness requires both empathy and moral firmness.

  16. Jeff Says:

    It certainly looks as if we’ve found a sore spot.

    The place where conservative theology pays off in action against those it preaches against seems to be a place of friction for you guys.

    Unfortunately, for those of us who are your targets your words mean more than just a Sunday morning at the table with friends.

    When your words substantiate hatred and violence against us instead of the Gospel, when you worship a false god of rules which separate and break relationships down instead of the loving God who brings people together, it is difficult for you to find a path towards compassion and empathy.

    Moral firmness is not something to be imposed. It is something that one discovers in the journey with God and within the Christian community through humility. Gay and lesbian relationships of mutual fidelity, monogamy, and affection have nothing to do with “moral firmness.”

    If you want to focus on our bedrooms, do it knowing that your standards cannot be imposed as “THE Christian way” for all. You do not have exclusive claim on the truth.


  17. Jeffersonian Says:

    Indeed, it does seem there is a sore spot here, but it’s entirely that of the revisionists.

    Why would right-wing troglodytes seething with animalistic raqe against homosexuals take care to use washable crayons, on easily-cleaned glass no less? Were they concerned for the gays’ deposit on the rented buses? Why not use the tried-and-true, readily-available spray paint on the painted surfaces for maximum effect?

    In short, what evidence do you have that this was done by a right-wing maniac at all? Or is the Holy Spirit doing another new thing and opening the door to allow false witness by port-side, would-be clerics?

  18. Fitz Says:

    “If you want to focus on our bedrooms,

    Your refering to the Christian sexual ethic I assume?

    “do it knowing that your standards cannot be imposed as “THE Christian way” for all. You do not have exclusive claim on the truth.”

    There not my standards, there His. Do you think his standard are easy or free for anyone?

  19. Jeff Says:


    Exactly how does what you are doing measure up to “judge not lest ye be judged” or “love your neighbor as yourself”?

    No, you do not have an exclusive claim to God’s truth. You have an interpretation of it. I do not think that God’s standards are free nor easy for anyone, and that includes myself.

    However it is my duty and obligation to know where my ethical journey is difficult, not yours.

    Deontological rules are intended as a framework for a means to support a system of virtues. If we examine the virtues behind those rules we are closer to the true meaning of the religion.

    I would kindly suggest that you focus on your own journey, the virtues behind your rules, looking more at how your life applies to those virtues and less to how my life and others like me fits the rules you have selected as most important.

    Jeffersonian posts a great example of what happens when rules go too far. He shows a great need not to not love his neighbor, but to show so little empathy for the neighbor that he actually has disdain for his neighbor. That’s just not the truth I find in the Gospel. I’m not suggesting his beliefs are not something he is free to follow, but as Fitz suggests, being Christian is not free and not easy. Jeffersonian has taken the easy and free way out by giving way to anger and fear.

    Making difficult choices is the Christian journey. Rules only take you so far towards Christ. Love is the foundation which anchors us in Christ. Love is what allows us to find the virtues and standards which allow us to make the difficult choices which prevent us from harming others. Those virtues cannot be enforced by another human. They can be taught in love, not in force. They are found by us in our journey with Christ. If you already think you know the answers, you will likely be unable to find any other answers. You can only find new truth where you are open in humility to God to work with you as you seek to deepen and broaden your journey, something clearly of little value to you here.


  20. Jeffersonian Says:

    You smear, not just a particular person, but an entire class of people and you have the gall to suggest that I am filled with “anger and fear” for asking you to back up your slanders?? That’s bloody rich, mate. Don’t point the bony finger of accusation at me if you’re going to whimper about push-back.

    Since the revisionists have wiped their feet on Scripture and jettisoned Tradition, I’m asking you to rely on the one, jittery leg remaining, use what meagre powers of Reason you may have left and tell us all why you think these so-called gay-hating Nazis (as goes the implication over at Susan Russell’s…you may expound on the love and grace it takes to make that smear, too) were so polite as to make their vandalism so very reversible and benign?

  21. Jeff Says:


    I am not an apologist. I do not see any need to rationalize my theology against yours, nor to justify my point of view to your point of view simply because you are straight and accept orthodoxy in a different manner than me.

    Suffice it to say that I see tradition and scripture very differently than you do.

    I think the burden is on the other side. If a crime is reported, why do you have such a need to prove that the crime did not occur? In fact, what do you have to benefit from trying to prove that the crime was staged? Only that you may remain comfortable in your exclusionary beliefs and actions.

    I have no reason to doubt the folks at Soulforce, nor have you given any. The fact that you wish the crime was more serious than it was is not a reason to doubt the reality of the crime. It is only an indication of your wish to deny the crime, and of the lengths that you will go to in order to deny it.

    This was not benign; the damage was real. If you think the damage done here was physical and material, you are a very troubled soul indeed. This was a crime done to the soul; to the spirit of those working for the Gospel. The victims know that, we in the GLBT community know it, and the perpetrators knew it. It didn’t matter what physical damage they did because it was inconsequential. It is this very discussion that is the real damage– the fact that people like you would even question that the physical damage is more important than the damage to the people involved.

    The attitude that this is about physical damage to the bus is like to those, who when African Americans faced vandalism, violence, and discrimination in the civil rights movement, faced responses such as “just get over it – there was no real damage done.” Similarly during the arguments during slavery about whether or not to give the Gospel to African slaves, the “dilemma” of whether or not to let them have it because many believed they did not have souls. Ridiculous now, of course, as it was then. As ridiculous as the belief that this is about damage done to a bus. This is not about physical damage. This is about the peaceable kingdom of God, and the human sin of resistance to accept that forward movement.


  22. Jeffersonian Says:

    Since it has escaped your gimlet-eyed powers of observation, I am not questioning your theology but your slander of those that do not hold your politico-religious viewpoint as, if not the actual perpetrators of this act, then the inspiration for it. I’ll put it starkly so the chances of the issue getting lost in another cloud of kultursmog will be reduced:

    1. Do you have the name of the perpetrator(s) of this act?

    2. If so, has his/her motivation been revealed?

    3. If so, how?

    If a police report of this incident was filed, then there definitely has been a crime committed. The only question is: By whom? The evidence is ambiguous, no? Gays have a history of being assaulted, true, but they also have a track record of manipulating these events (see the Advocate link above) to smear political foes.

    FWIW, it’s quite possible that the perpetrators are withing SF, but unknown to those that reported the crime.

    The benefit I get? Of living in a civil society where slander and libel are occasions for opprobium, if not legal sanction.

  23. Jeff Says:


    I assumed you had read the full thread. According to the report in the Sioux City Journal, linked above in a comment, police responded and took a report.

    As of yet, no perpetrator has been found. I do not follow your leap of logic that a crime must be solved in order to be proven a hate crime.

    The Advocate article is interesting, however it speaks not so much to the Soulforce incident as to incidents such as this. A sad woman obviously in a psychologically traumatized state, who committed this act of desparation hoping it would provide the attention she desired. That is no excuse, but so it is with many straight and psychologically disturbed similar crimes. Even for straight advocacy groups to commit similar offenses is not unheard of. But to compare secular acts discussed in the Advocate to Christian acts taken by those who voluntarily give themselves over to Christian ethics is unwarranted.

    Who has been slandered here? I have not accused anyone of committing this crime. What I have said is that the theology of the radical religious right contributes to this kind of violence. If you have misunderstood then please re-read my comments. It is certainly not my belief that religious people committed these crimes. It is, however, my firm belief that the theology and rhetoric of the radical religious right emboldens such behavior and does nothing to prevent it.

    If you want to discuss slander, talk to the Christians– the victims whose crimes have been tossed out by other Christians simply because they are afraid of the implications of accepting them at face value.


  24. Jeffersonian Says:

    But to compare secular acts discussed in the Advocate to Christian acts taken by those who voluntarily give themselves over to Christian ethics is unwarranted.

    As opposed to attributing the inspiration of said acts to others who have given themselves over to Christian ethics?

    Face it, Jeff, even the most cursory examination of the Soul Force website will inform one that SF is an organization devoted to provocation, confrontation, civil disobedience and street theater, not the quiet contemplation of Holy Scripture. Ginning up an incident like this is entirely within its weltanschauung, and the outward appearance of the incident is entirely consistent with that.

    Would it still be a hate crime if the perp was found within the SF group itself?

  25. Jeff Says:


    Just because you see religion as dedicating yourself to “quiet contemplation of Holy Scripture” does not mean it is the only path to God.

    Martin Luther King Jr. worked through civil disobedience. Are you saying, then, that his actions too were un-Christian simply because they were illegal? At what point do Christian ethics to work for justice and make a difference take precendence over the need to conform to unjust laws and traditions? Put aside for a moment the fact that you disagree with me on homosexuality; are you seriously saying that you believe Christians cannot participate in civil disobedience but rather owe their first allegience to the nation-state?

    No, of course if the event was staged it would not be a hate crime. And if it was staged I would not use this as an example of a hate crime– although I stand by my position that the theology and rhetoric of the religious right contributes and emboldens hate crimes.


  26. Jeffersonian Says:

    This is hardly a pack of would-be MLK’s, Jeff. King was protesting, justifiably, the denial of equal treatment from a government that extracted, by force, taxes from black citizens.

    Soul Force is protesting the beliefs and practices of private entities to which the members of SF are not required to pay money, render obedience or even acknowledge that they exist. That they may do so is obvious, that they may trespass to do so is not. They’re not martyrs to righteousness, but simple scofflaws.

    And I am certain my views on homosexuality would surprise you.

  27. Jeff Says:


    Would you mind sharing those views on homosexuality?

    Granted, the methods of Soulforce are radical. Jesus, when overthrowing the tables in the temple, was not protesting a government that was oppressive, but a “private” religious establishment separate from the Roman state.

    Ultimately, that was the crime for which he was arrested, tried, and crucified.

    I guess Jesus was pretty radical too.

    To follow your logic, private institutions are free from justice so long as the government does not act. Enron comes to mind, or a number of other corporate scandals where the government acts in response to the outcry of the people. Halliburton is a great example– the private institution is still benefitting because the government has failed to act, and one might say that justice can only be done if the “common people” bring attention to the injustice of the corruption of the bidding process outside the governmental process.

    Again, are you suggesting that one’s attention to the law of the nation-state should be primary and take precedence over one’s attention to the prophetic voice of justice, whether in a private institution or not? Your ethics are confusing to me.


  28. Jeffersonian Says:

    I’m not saying that SF has no right to protest Notre Dame’s policies, theology or anything else. But they don’t have the right to do it on Notre Dame’s property any more than Fred Phelps has to come into your seminary and spout his rubbish. Be careful of the rule you make…you may have to follow it one day. I’m not quite ready to jettison freedom of religion, speech and property just yet in the name of justice.

    My views on homosexuals are bifurcated between the civil and private realms. Civilly, I think that gays should be free to marry, enter into contracts, get survivor benefits from Social Security and the rest of the panopoly of rights and benefits that accrue to married heterosexual couples. The state has no interest that I can discern in not recognizing gay unions.

    Privately, I think people should be able to make up their own minds and act accordingly. I think gays will fair quite well, given the fact that gay incomes are generally well above the national median already.

    As for the church, I think gays should be as welcome as any other sinner…no one seems to be able to escape that classification to date, so I see no reason that that particular sin should be seen as beyond the pale.

  29. Jeff Says:

    I see.

    In my experience, most public and private universities have designated “free speech areas.” Most genuine higher learning institutions understand that the foundation of democracy rests on the freedom of speech. The freedom of religion rests on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

    I personally don’t mind if Fred Phelps wants to come and demonstrate at my seminary. He has demonstrated at my parish several times. All it does is show what a fool he is and give my side a positive opportunity for media coverage. There is nothing to be feared from free speech unless you yourself have something to fear. In each incident where the Soulforce riders were arrested, the campus had something to fear– namely that the anti-gay establishment would be undermined and that another perspective would be shown.

    If their perspective is so “true,” why fear dialogue? In places where conversation has been welcomed– even if the university is anti-gay– there has been no incident.

    No, free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. Usurping that right shows what our struggle is really about– power, and the fear of some that by accepting us they will lose power in some way; it is no different from racism or misogyny in that way.

    Would I participate personally in one of these demonstrations? I don’t know. I’m not sure I agree that universities and religious institutions are wholly private to the extent that you hold them out to be. Particularly religious institutions that advocate for the return of theocracy. I find them dangerous breeding grounds for hatred and intolerance, and I think someone needs to speak truth to the power they hold. Does it have to be done confrontationally? Probably not– at least that is not my style.

    But again, Jesus used many techniques. One of them was confrontation– again in the temple with the tables. I can’t say for sure that I’m willing to say that it is unethical. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be arrested. I’m just saying I don’t think it is unethical, from a Christian perspective.

    And of course we’re all sinners. But simply existing as a gay person or in an intimate gay relationship of fidelity and monogamy is not sinful. That’s a whole different Oprah, though.


  30. Jeffersonian Says:

    If your seminary welcomes Fred Phelps onto its property, well bully for the seminary. It is, of course, not required to allow him to vent his disgusting views there, nor should it be. I daresay that my view of free speech would make yours seem repressive, but free speech also includes the right not to say certain things or be associated with those those that do. I doubt that Soul Force would welcome members of the Westboro Baptist Church along on its rides to provide both sides of the argument, no matter how well-funded they may be.

    And yes, even universities and religious institutions that advocate that which you disagree with are entirely private.

  31. Jeff Says:

    Again, I’m sure Soulforce wouldn’t enjoy having anti-gay protesters along for the ride, but enjoying it is different from whether or not it is ethical.

    If they have nothing to fear, and I don’t think they do, they will not prevent such dialogue. Whether or not they should share resources is a different issue.

    Sharing resources for universities is different. A quick perusal of our local university in Austin– the largest in the country, the University of Texas, provides the following statement: “The freedoms of speech and assembly are basic and essential to intellectual development.”

    Again I would assert that bona fide higher education institutions subject themselves to freedom of speech because it is in the interest of academia and student development. The only reason they would not allow such assembly is if they have something to fear.


  32. Jeffersonian Says:

    You beg the question, Jeff. If the whole point of allowing dissent is to continue the conversation, why is the view of Fred Phelps and his disciples to be considered “unethical?” Don’t they have the same right to attempt to persuade others to their point of view, however loathsome? And, if Soul Force is so keen on others providing access to their property, I think it only just that they provide access to their buses to Westboro members. Unless they’re afraid of something, that is.

    Of course, I disagree with this. I think that Soul Force has the right not to associate with those that disagree with them, nor to promote their message by allowing their property to be used to that end. I believe that, say, the University of Notre Dame has that equal right, but perhaps Soul Force is more equal than others.

  33. Jeff Says:

    Did I ever say that Fred Phelps protesting was unethical?

    I don’t think so. Acting out of conviction isn’t in itself unethical. It is his conviction that homosexuality is wrong that is unethical, and his willingness to impose that position on others that is unethical.

    Acting out of conviction is completely ethical, and that is the point.

    Again, free speech for Phelps is nothing for me to fear.

    I won’t be put in a position where anyone should be silenced, no matter how much hatred and bigotry they espouse.


  34. Jeffersonian Says:

    I’m not sure if you’re this obtuse or just trying to avoid the subject, but either way this discussion is becoming pointless.

    God be with you, Jeff.

  35. Jeff Says:

    I agree the discussion has become stale. I am making the same point repeatedly without any further productive response, and apparently you feel you are doing the same, although in re-reading the dialogue I still do not see what that point is (which is, I suppose, the problem).

    To summarize my points:

    1) I believe vehemently in the freedom of speech and assembly.

    2) As such, both Soulforce and Fred Phelps should have the right to demonstrate and express their positions.

    3) Soulforce and Fred Phelps are not equal in expression of their views. Phelps uses shock and graphic language to express his point of view; Soulforce uses Civil Disobedience.

    4) I believe that to act in civil disobedience but in accordance with one’s principles is ethical behavior. But to act with vitriol and hatred is not. Phelps behavior always comes from a place of hatred. Soulforce, one could argue, comes from a place of hatred. I believe, rather, that it comes from a motivation of justice. As such it is ethical.

    5) Both Phelps and Soulforce, when not allowed to demonstrate, have the right to participate in civil disobedience and be arrested.

    6) I do not have an ethical problem with either Phelps nor Soulforce participating in civil disobedience and being arrested for it. Again, the airing of Phelps views does nothing to “hurt” the truth– in fact airing his biggotry only shows that the truth of justice and inclusion is the only way forward. Airing of Soulforce’s situation only shows that there are still many who would rather shut their doors than open themselves to honest dialogue about their positions.

    Which brings me back to the original point of the post.

    The radical religious right, of which Phelps is the fringe right, contributes to violence. I never accused religious people of perpetrating this crime against Soulforce. But the theology expressed therein certainly enables and contributes to the discrimination against GLBT people– and therefore emboldens those who are inclined to perpetrate such crimes.


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