Monday, November 19, 2012

Anti-gay pastor's charges of racism ignites a verbal feud with religious right

What was once a war of words between anti-gay Washington state pastor Ken Hutcherson, the National Organization for Marriage, and Focus on the Family has now developed into a full-scale ugly feud complete with charges of racism.

 On election day two weeks ago, NOM lost four ballot initiatives. In Minnesota, voters turned back efforts to add an anti-gay marriage amendment to that state's constitution. In Maryland, Maine, and Washington state, voters approved ballot initiatives which would legalize gay marriage.

NOM faced criticism over what was called "moderate" tactics in opposing marriage equality. Ken Hutcherson, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, WA and an extremely vocal opponent of gay equality in general,  said groups like NOM and Focus on the Family practically handed the victories their opponent:

"Their intention was to be moderate, non-controversial," Hutcherson told OneNewsNow in an exclusive interview, pointing out that the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family and Family Policy Institute's unbiblical strategy was a severe departure from the state's churches' aggressive campaign to stop same-sex marriage using the weight of family values and Scripture. He notes that the groups essentially told him and other local Christian leaders' that their message on marriage and social issues was too offensive. "They did not want me involved basically in the top leadership, so I took a back seat and let them run with it," Hutcherson shared. "And that really hurt our unity out here." 

Hutcherson later turned the criticism up a notch in an interview with The Christian Post by accusing the organizations of racism. He said he was excluded from the fight because he is an African-American:

"When I knew my involvement was going to generate controversy, I offered to step back and suggested others who were on the frontlines do so as well for the sake of unity. They refused, leaving me as the odd man out. If you look at them, they were all the same color with the same moderate views. It just didn't make sense why they would not include a person of color who was willing to fight." "I believe there are conservatives of all colors, but the leadership from NOM, Focus and Mission Public Affairs, wanted to run being a moderate campaign where everyone felt warm and fuzzy. But we know that sin is never satisfied and always wants more. These guys just looked and acted too much like the GOP – old and white."

Brian Brown, president of NOM, told The Christian Post that Hutcherson's charges were reckless:

Brown . . . called Hutcherson's comment "absurd and reckless," and that he never heard any complaints from the Washington pastor. He also pointed to others such as Maryland's Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. who is also black and was out front in his state's effort to overturn a new state law. "In the body of Christ I think if we have differences they need to be aired out between us and not in the public arena." 

Of course Brown omitted the fact that NOM has been paying Jackson for his efforts.  According to Mother Jones, Jackson has received $20,000 from the National Organization for Marriage's "education fund" for his efforts to exploit the opinions of those in the black community who do not agree with marriage equality. In addition, in 2010, Jackson attempted to get a measure on the ballot opposing marriage equality in D.C. In pursuit of that effort, he led the group Stand for Marriage DC. According to documents attained by Mother Jones, NOM gave $60,000 for that effort.

In the same Christian Post article, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family also voiced a disagreement with Hutcherson's claim of racism. Both he and Brown expressed the wish that Hutcherson should have come to them with his complaints.

Though Hutcherson has a point when it comes to the small number or lack of African-American in leadership positions in these organizations, those familiar with the pastor's past antics - myself included - should probably chalk up his accusations of racism to sour grapes that he wasn't given a larger role in the fight against marriage equality.

Still, the fact that Minnery and Brown made a point to tell Hutcherson to keep disagreements "in house" definitely proves that he struck a nerve.

And I think that's what Hutcherson wanted. Don't be surprised if he attempts to strike more nerves.
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JT said...

You know it's going to be interesting when two Christian groups argue over who was more anti-gay.

Unknown said...

Hopefully, all of the fighting will cause so many problems that NOM will have to disband.

RainbowPhoenix said...

Stopped clocks and all that.

Erica Cook said...

so is he expecting us to be hurt and shocked that a group of bigots acted like bigots.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Republican voter suppression efforts succeeded in suppressing the Republican African American vote.

Now I'm to understand that that NOM has successfully driven a wedge between African American anti-gays and White anti-gays?