Last week, he actually spent two days observing The Awakening, a religious right conference in Lynchburg, VA.
Besen, who is also the founder and Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, issued a full report which sounds like something from an ecclesiastical version of the Twilight Zone.
First the good news. Apparently the attendees were in a foul mood because their words were no longer resonating with the public :
The symposium revealed that anti-gay rhetoric was on the decline and no longer the far right's number one priority.
"While the sheer number of anti-gay attacks had decreased from past conferences, the remaining rhetoric was vicious and vile, as our desperate opponents see they are losing the battle of public opinion," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out.
The sullen mood over losing ground was best summarized by Lou Engle of "The Call". During a breakout session on the "LGBT Agenda", he acknowledged that when he preaches against LGBT issues, Christian youth often "rage against him." Engle said that the far right has lost on this issue barring a miracle. One idea floated by Engle to turn the tide was creating an intercession by holding a 500,000 strong youth rally.
"If Lou Engle is wondering how his movement lost the current generation of youth, it is because the hatred and hyperbole spewed by anti-gay activists is incongruous with reality," said TWO's Wayne Besen in the report. "Many teenagers, including evangelicals, have friends who come out of the closet at early ages. They listen to the slurs and the slander at such conferences and know, based on real life experience, that they are hearing lies. Such cognitive dissonance is costing evangelical leaders enormous credibility."
Now comes the strange part:
Another breakout session, "Pastors and Political Activity", urged fundamentalist Christians to use stealth tactics to infiltrate public schools. A man in his 20's spoke up during the Q&A period and claimed that the panelists were not trying hard enough to get into classrooms. He alleged that through his youth ministry, "we've been to 330 schools and only two asked us to leave."
Upon hearing this, Dr. Rick Scarborough, Vision America, cheered these youth and said, "We need more special forces like yourself", and then spoke of the importance of engaging in "guerilla warfare". Rev. Rick Joyner, Morningstar Ministries, chimed in that fundamentalists should "come in undercover." For example, a fundamentalist could go in to speak "as an athlete", but really be in the schools to push a sectarian message.
Forgetting for a second just how ethical that type of behavior is, I have to ask something. Guerilla warfare and Christians? Is it just me or do those two terms not mix?
Like the terms Sarah Palin and President of the United States.
Or Michelle Bachman and sanity.
Or Glenn Beck and intellectual restraint.
Or Rush Limbaugh and . . . never mind. It's no fun when it's too easy.
Yet again it seems that the religious right have forgone the usual Bible and now take direction from the secret one which only they have access to - the one in which Jesus said "take up your cross and smite the hell out of unbelievers with it until they believe the correct way."
For Besen's full reports, go to:
TWO Special Report: Inside 'The Awakening' Conference In Lynchburg
TWO Special Report: A View Inside The Right Wing Awakening Conference In Lynchburg