Friday morning, July 24th, 2009, a jury in Arkansas found evangelist Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher who built a multi-million dollar ministry, guilty of 10 federal counts of taking minors across state lines for sex, beginning in 1994. In addition to selling designer jackets to famous people, The Tony Alamo Christian Ministries had been "saving souls" all over the country and on the streets of Hollywood since the 60's. Superstar Tony Alamo gave himself permission to choose which of his followers to "marry," including an 8-year old and a 14-year old. After the woman he married at age 8 escaped, Alamo began keeping other wives who (he believed) had betrayed him in a special "House of Scorn" with boarded windows, located on Alamo's 15-acre compound (which included swimming pools, ponies, the works). They were unable to leave or eat without his permission. Last year, 32 children were seized from compounds associated with the Tony Alamo Children Ministries over allegations of beatings and sexual abuse.
BTW, Alamo's position on homosexuality? It's "caused by demon possession." Right! We're the ones possessed by demons! And this comes on the heels of the revelation of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford's three-year affair with an Argentinian woman. You don't even need a hyperlink to guess where Sanford stood on "Family Values."
At this point it's impossible to ignore the direct correlation between conservative Christianity, Evangelicals, right-wing conservative politicians and an inability to keep it in one's pants. I'm not suggesting that these people are inherently evil, but actively repressing sexual desire to that degree (as the "bible dictates," according to them) is an emotional time bomb. The way it plays out is sickening. At this point anyone who still proudly affiliates themselves with the Religious Right is either Stupid, Trapped, or (Secretly) Gay.
You don't hear about this stuff happening to anyone raised with a healthy perspective towards their own sexuality -- homo or hetero. Joe Solmonese doesn't make these headlines. Hell, Ron Jeremy doesn't make these headlines.
See, we marvel at their resplendent douchebaggery and we ask, "Why? Why do they care so much about what homosexuals do with their lives? How can any (relatively) sane human being consciously direct so much public hatred towards a peace-seeking group? How could anyone look at the facts and claim homosexuality or sex education is killing "traditional marriage" or the very fabric of American society itself?"
Where do they get it from? All that self-satisfied passionate ignorance of modern science, socioeconomic reality, biology, diversity and cultural norms? Well it comes down to the most powerful human emotion of all: self-hatred. They hate their own sexual urges, or they hate their own homosexuality, and this is the force that drives the Evangelical Movement. Don't underestimate the force of self-loathing. It's everything, it's so easily everything.
How many gay rights leaders or activists have been arrested for anything besides civil disobedience? Although many of the religious right's leaders likely suffer from dual identity disorder or sociopathy and we'll never know which came first, the chicken or the egg, we do know one thing for sure: something really sketchy is going on.
Autostraddle Presents :
A Timeline of the Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice,
Anti-Sex Education's Resplendent History
of Sexual Douchebaggery
1970s: Billy James Hargis, a fundamentalist Protestant Christian Evangelist, host of the wildly popular Christian Crusade Ministry radio and teevee show and one of the founding fathers of the Christian Right; supported racial segregation, opposed sex education and believed everyone was a Commie, including JFK, MLK Jr and The Beatles. He founded the American Christian College in 1971, and then proceeded to have sex with male and female students there. A scandal erupted, at which point members of the "All American Kids" youth choir accused Hargis of sexual misconduct as well. The American Christian College was forced to close its doors.
1970s - 1980s : Lonnie Frisbee, an American Pentecostal evangelist and a key figure in the "Jesus Movement," socialized privately as a gay man but preached and said in interviews that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God. When his church found out about his gay activities, they kicked him out and fired him. He died of AIDS in 1993.
1986: Televangelist pioneer Jimmy Swaggart was making $150 million annually for the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries when he decided to start a shitstorm by slamming fellow televangelists Marvin Gorman and Jim Bakker. Swaggart revealed Gorman's affair with a member of his congregation as well as Jim Bakker's infidelity. Bakker, the husband of Tammy Faye and the head of the Hertiage USA amusement park and The "Praise The Lord" TV Show, drugged & raped Jessica Hahn, 21, a virgin and former church secretary who saw Bakker as a "rock star."
Aw! All that self-righteousness, Jimmy! Why was Swaggart himself so sure he wouldn't get caught himself? See eventually Gorman retaliated by uncovering and then releasing the information that Swaggart had been seeing a prostitute. Swaggart had to step down from his ministry, apologized a lot to God on television like a douchebag and then was caught in 1991 with another prostitute. When the prostiute was asked what she was doing with Swaggart, she responded:
"He asked me for sex. I mean, that's why he stopped me. That's what I do. I'm a prostitute." (Best Prostitute Quote Ever)
2000: Frank Houston, considered the father of Sydney's Pentecostal churches and a pastor of Assemblies of God in New Zeland and Australia, spent 22 years building a movement that became the Hillsong church. He was fired by his son when he admitted to sexually abusing Peter Laughton, a 23-year old man that Houston had decided to "cure" of his homosexuality two decades prior:
"My counselling sessions by the senior minister were nothing more than sexual abuse disguised in the form of the need of a father's love and discipline. Through my naivety, I endured the naked beatings, the eternal bum caresses and masturbating into bottles, among other things." (Peter Laughton, Houston's victim)
2000: John Paulk (pictured on Newsweek cover, left)! Not only did John major in music/voice in college and later own a San Francisco patisserie (!!!!), but he also worked as a male escort and drag queen before becoming the face of the ex-gay movement, a board member of our BFF organization Exodus International and the manager of the Homosexuality and Gender Division of Focus on the Family.
And then. While on a speaking tour in 2000, Paulk was recognized at a D.C. gay bar by a patron who immediately contacted Wayne Besen of the Human Rights Campaign. When Wayne arrived at the bar 40 minutes later and confronted Paulk, Paulk denied that he was Paulk. Paulk's photo was taken as he left the bar, therefore confirming his prescencse. Later Paulk admitted to being there but said he didn't know it was a gay bar and just wanted to use the bathroom. Witnesses reported that Paulk hung out all night and had been hitting on dudes and identifying as gay. Backed into a corner, Paulk finally confessed. James Dobson removed him from his Exodus International position and Paulk went back to his chaste life with his ex-gay wife. Paulk currently lives in Oregon and is a chef with a very cute little website.
2004: Paul Franklin Crouch, the co-founder, chairman and president of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world's largest Christian Television network, paid a $425,000 formal settlement to end a sexual harassment lawsuit from a man who claimed to have been involved in a homosexual tryst with Crouch in 1996.
November 2006: Ted Haggard, head preacher of New Life Ministries in Colorado Springs, was president of the influential National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing more than 45,000 churches with 30 million members, when it was revealed that Haggard had been paying a Denver man named Mike Jones for sex for the past three years until Jones took one for the team and turned Haggard in, also revealing that Haggard had done meth with him.
"For someone who is up there preaching that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and he's going behind his wife's back and seeing a gay man for sex -- I felt like I owed it to the gay community to expose the hypocrisy." (Mike Jones)
Ted Haggard's hypocrisy is most glaring in the fantastic doumentary Jesus Camp, which you should watch RIGHTNOW. (Here's some highlights from the film). Sidenote: Haggard spoke with George W. Bush every Monday during his presidency.
Here's a video of Haggard talking crazy about sex:
Earlier this year Haggard appeared on Oprah with his wife to discuss how his life got fucked up when he fucked up, as documented in the film "The Trials of Ted Haggard." Unfortunately I could not find it in my heart to feel sympathy for someone responsible for so much hate. And P.S., Jesus is soooo not into shit like Haggard's sprawling home, six-figure salary, bonuses and hearty severence package. In January 2009, he confessed that he'd actually more than one gay affair but is straight now and happy with his wife.
Also from Ted Haggard's church: The leader of the Youth Leadership program gets in trouble for "sexual misconduct" with a minor:
2006: The Reverend Dr. Lonnie Latham, senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church and a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, is arrested for lewdness when he propositions a male plainclothes police officer for oral sex in an area notorious for cruising and male prostitution. Latham had received a prior traffic violation in the same area a year before.
2006: Republican congressman Mark Foley, an advocate of abstinence and stricter child pornography laws, resigns from the U.S. Congress after getting caught sending sexy e-mails to a male congressional pages. It was later revealed that as a child, Foley had been engaged in sexual activities with Reverand Anthony Mercieca, who claimed "it was not what you call intercourse ... there was no rape or anything" and that Foley, who was 12 at the time, had consented to sexual activities with Mercieca.
2006: Warren Steed Jeffs, one of the most evil men to ever live and the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is arrested in Las Vegas after a year on the lam. He is charged with conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, sexual conduct with a minor, incest and two counts of rape as an accomplice. For more information watch Banking of Heaven: The Inside Story of the Largest Polygamous Enclave in the United States.
2007: The Rev. Roy Mace Honeycutt II, 63, is charged with two counts of first-degree sex offense with a boy younger than 13. He is also charged with six counts of taking indecent liberties with two other boys who were younger than 16, warrants said. According to the warrants, Honeycutt committed the offenses in 1968, 1974 and 1986.
2007: Coy Privette, a member of the Board of Directors of the Baptist State Convetion of North Carolina and its Executive Committee, is charged with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution.
January 2008: Dogged for 20 years by dozens of allegations of extramarital sex with parishioners, Darrell Gilyard, 45, resigns from his position as pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, a 7,000-member megachurch in Florida for sexual text messages he sent to teenage girls. It is the fifth church position that Gilyard has been forced to resign from over charges of sexual misconduct.
July 2008: North Carolina Pastor Scott Murray is caught breaking into a woman's home, stealing a sex toy and personal lubricant and subsequently charged with three felonies. (?) This is so ridiculous it's totally gone past ridiculous into redonkulous and then into really depressing.
May 2008: Joe Barron, 52, a minister from a Dallas-area Baptist megachurch, is caught in an Internet sex sting and charged with online solicitation of a minor.
September 2008: Police arrest 60-year-old Lawrence Webber, a preacher at the Reeder Memorial Baptist Church, on charges of sex crimes against children under 13 years old.
Jan 5th, 2009: James Howard Bell, the pastor of the Refuge Temple Church of God in Christ in Kentucky, is arrested for sexually abusing a 16-year-old child. Bell is later found to be HIV positive.
April 6th, 2009: Focus on the Family Spanish-language broadcaster Juan Alberto Ovalle, 42, faces felony charges after being caught using the Internet to try and lure a 15-year-old girl for sex.
June 2009: "Ex-gay" evangelist Matthew C. Manning was "rescued" from being a homo in '89 and then allegedly CURED OF HIV in 1994. There's actually no evidence he ever had HIV, but he does make a lot of teevee appearances and hosts a site called Lighthouse World Evangelism, where he sells a $30 DVD about his complete "recovery" from his gayness and AIDS. Oh! And he's been busted for public sex at least three times since 1998. The most recent incident, in 2005, appears to have resulted in Manning being banned from his gym, the 24 Hour Fitness in Santa Rosa, CA.
July 24th, 2009: And here we are again, back to good ol' Tony Alamo, the evangelist guilty of taking minors across state lines for sex. In September 2008, FBI agents raided Alamo's Christian Ministries headquarters and the investigation involved allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, polygamy, child abuse and underage marriage. He's in jail now.
At his compounds in Arkansas, students learned Alamo-approved curriculums, with ninth-grade biology tossed aside because the course material discussed sex, one witness said. At a special green house on his 15-acre compound called the "House of Scorn," Alamo kept wives who had crossed him and after the girl Alamo had married at age 8 ran away, Alamo boarded the windows.
Anndddd ... anyone who's read all of those fancy books about Jesus knows that his number one feeling was often "do not turn my father's temple into a marketplace." (John 2:13-16)
Yannow, don't like, worship wealth and gluttony and stuff? Well, in 2007, a Senate Probe was launched to investigate tax-exempt megachurches and ministries where leaders were flying private jets, driving Rolls Royces and holding meetings at $30,000 conference tables. Here's a video about just one of the ministries under investigation:
Why is the ball still in their court, then? I was raised Jewish, I believe in G-d, and I was never told to hate myself like this. Well, the other kids in Hebrew School made fun of me a lot so I ended up hating myself anyhow, but that has nothing to do with the Torah and is neither here nor there. The point is, whether you believe or not, the G-d I know as well as the humans I know are really sick of this bullshit hypocrisy and are ready for change.
Further Reading & Viewing:
Truth Wins Out: a non-profit organization that defends the GLBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns, counters the ex-gay industry and educates America about gay life.
Jesus Camp: The Movie follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire Summer Camp," where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ.
Deliver Us from Evil is a documentary which tells the true story of Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, who sexually abused around twenty five children between the late 1970s and early 1990s.