Thursday, October 29, 2009
One News Now resurrects old hate crimes lie
But leave it to the American Family Association's One News Now to bring up an old inaccurate story of persecution:
A Christian evangelist who was once arrested, jailed, and charged under Pennsylvania's hate crimes law says the federal hate crimes bill signed into law by President Obama is one of the most dangerous laws in the history of the United States.
. . . Michael Marcavage, director of Philadelphia-based Repent America, was one of 11 Christians who were jailed and charged with a hate crime for carrying Bible verse banners and preaching at a 2004 homosexual pride event in Philadelphia. The charges were later dismissed -- and in 2008, the state's Supreme Court ruled the law had been passed illegally by the Pennsylvania legislature.
Of course One News Now omitted some details about this case.
Marcavage's group (Editor's note - Marcavage is in the picture above) wasn't merely carrying banners and preaching at the Philadelphia pride event. Repent America members allegedly harassed attendants. Supposedly, they began shouting in order to drown out events happening on stage at the events.
When the police attempted to get them to move to an area at the edge of the festival, they not only went deeper into the crowd of gays but also began using a bullhorn to condemn festival-goers.
That was when the group was arrested.
And their behavior at the Philadelphia event was business as usual for Repent America.
Regardless of One News Now's biased tone, we aren't exactly talking about "innocent Christians" here.
One time, according to the organization Philly Pride, in 2003, Repent America members were part of a group of protestors who entered a parade carrying signs that said “God Abhors You” and “AIDS: Judgment or Cure?” Allegedly, they called several people “fags” and told them that they were “going to hell.”
(Editor's note: The above paragraph was changed. The original paragraph contained an error claiming that 11 Repent America members entered the 2003 parade. However this is an error. It is not known just how many protestors entered the 2003 parade or if all of them were Repent America members. Michael Marcavage of Repent America sent me a letter which said in part:
Repent America members never carried such signs nor ever called people fags as you have cited. In fact, we wholeheartedly oppose such messages and behavior. Philly Pride has been made aware of this and perhaps their website misled you . . .
It is believed that you utilized an article on Philly Pride's website where they strategically placed photographs of "previous demonstrations" to mislead people into believing that it was Repent America . . .
I should also mention that Marcavage said the following in 2005:
The signs mentioned belonged to a group called the "Street Preachers' Fellowship" . . . The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, etc. have already printed retractions in regards to similar comments.)
But as I said before, we are not dealing with "innocent Christians." In August 2004, Repent America members were kicked out of a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game because they raised a banner that told spectators that they were going to hell unless they became Christians.
And while hate crimes charges against Marcavage and his group for their behavior in at the Philadelphia pride event were dismissed, there is another component to this story which One News Now omitted.
When Repent America members tried to sue the city of Philadelphia for violating their rights, they were turned back.
In 2007, a federal judge ruled that the city of Philadelphia did not violate the rights of Repent America members by placing them under arrest. Specifically, U.S. Judge Lawrence Stengel said:
“There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person.”
This decision was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2008.
Picture taken from http://wildhunt.org/blog/2008/03/even-intolerant-fools-deserve-free.html
The arrest of 11 Demonstrators at Outfest 2004, www.phillypride.org/news.
Michael Marcavage: Bible tells us to execute homosexuals, www.exgaywatch.com, February 11, 2005
Charges Over Gay Festival Disruption Dismissed, 365Gay.com, February 17, 2005
Judge Dismisses Lawsuit over Protest at Gay Festival, Southern Voice, January 25, 2007
3rd Circuit Upholds Removal of Christian Protesters at Gay Pride Event, The Legal Intelligencer, July 17, 2008