On the anniversary of my 1995 arrest at Pat Robertson's world headquarters, Gary and I returned to Virginia Beach to launch stage two of our efforts to confront Pat's anti-homosexual campaign. We had promised our local friends and allies in Bearing Witness, (the wonderful coalition of activist and faith groups that organized to support our efforts in 1995) that we would come back to Virginia in one year if Pat continued his false and inflammatory rhetoric.
After my 23 day fast in 1995, Pat did visit me in jail and on a 700 Club broadcast shortly after the visit, he did condemn anti-homosexual violence. We had hoped that he would also see how his irresponsible and inflammatory charges contribute to that violence. But after monitoring Pat's telecasts every day for the past year, it was obvious that his rhetoric against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals continues unabated.
Worse, during the past year Pat's Christian Coalition (1.7 million activists working in local election precincts, school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and the Congress) has increased its anti-gay and lesbian political campaign that feeds on the false charges and unjust claims Pat makes on television, in print, and in his fund-raising letters.
We can't just sit by while Pat's toxic rhetoric flows out of Virginia Beach polluting the nation's moral environment. Too many innocent lesbians and gays are suffering in the hostile climate produced in part by the untrue words and intolerant political actions of Pat and his people.
The 'soul force' principles of Gandhi and King make it perfectly clear: truth must go on confronting untruth relentlessly. But how we are to confront the half-truth, hyperbole, and lies is less clear.
Last year, we wrote, petitioned, marched, and were arrested trying to get Pat to see us and to discuss with us the consequences of his anti-homosexual words and political actions. Apparently, like other cultic gurus in the nation's recent past, Robertson has cut himself off from any kind of face-to-face confrontations with his critics. So, in 1996, we are trying another strategy altogether.
Although we still seek a serious, open dialogue with Pat, this time we are taking our case to the nation. At the heart of our campaign against his dangerous rhetoric is a 35 minute video tape with dozens of examples of his more recent outlandish comments about us: Pat Robertson's Anti-Homosexual Campaign: A Case Study in the Rhetoric of Intolerance.
Besides showing examples of others who are regular victims of Pat's intolerance, we illustrate the following tactics of his anti-gay campaign: misuse of the Biblical texts; dis-information about sexual orientation; dangerous misinformation about HIV and AIDS; regular use of scare tactics and the imaginary "homosexual threat" to raise funds; misleading testimonials of "ex-gays" who have been "cured through prayer"; regular use of CBN "news" to demean and demonize; melodramatic re-enactments of gays who abuse children; regular use of biased and ill-informed authority figures; regular association of lesbians and gays with demons, the 'end times,' and the decline of civilization.
"If the world adopts homosexuality as its norm," Pat said on September 6, 1995, "...the whole world is then going to be sitting like Sodom and Gomorra before a holy God and when the wrath of God comes on this earth, we will all be guilty and we will all suffer for it."
On Feb. 5, in a hotel conference room near Pat's CBN headquarters in Virginia Beach, we showed the inflammatory tape to reporters before an invited audience of local lesbian, gay, bisexual leaders and our allies from P-FLAG and Bearing Witness. After discussing the video we announced a nation wide campaign to condemn Robertson's false words and intolerant actions against God's gay, lesbian, and bisexual children.
That campaign will include a presentation of the Robertson tape and its transcript to the Federal Communications Commission, to local TV stations and cable systems that carry the 700 Club, to newspaper columnists, radio and TV commentators, and other opinion makers, to the National Council of Churches, to the American Catholic Council of Bishops, and to local organizations that would like to view and discuss Robertson's tragic misinformation campaign.
We are also asking concerned people everywhere to sign a petition that condemns Pat Robertson's anti-homosexual campaign. Hopefully, on Pride Sunday, June, 1996, we will have a hundred thousand signatures to present to Pat and the nation's media notifying him officially that his spirit of intolerance (that goes far beyond condemning homosexuals) does not represent the spirit of Jesus nor the spirit of this great nation.
Anyone interested in receiving a free copy of the tape or petitions to sign and circulate should contact us by mail at RevMel@aol.com.
Also, if you know the local station or cable system that airs the 700 Club, will you send us their call letters, a phone number, and even an address if possible?
PS: By the way, although Pat ignored our invitations to view and discuss our case against him in private, he must know by now the full details of our national campaign to censure his irresponsible rhetoric.
At our meeting, Feb. 5, a mysterious television crew arrived to set up with the others. Gary recognized the CBN producer. When he denied representing CBN, a cameraman from German Public Broadcasting pointed to the words on his tripod: Property of CBN.
We laughed and welcomed CBN to our press conference. Unlike so many Christian Coalition candidates whose stealth campaigns have only led to their embarrassment and loss, we have nothing whatsoever to hide.
If you'd like to sign Dr. White's petition, just use our online form.