Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not a dime of public money should go to Life Changers

I've been absentmindedly following the controversy about KCMO giving $5000 to subsidize the recently concluded Life Changers Conference here in town. The LGBT community made some noise about one of the speakers being a big ol homophobe. I assumed the speaker was one of those "pray away the gay" types, shared the objection to sponsoring his appearance and didn't give it much more thought. Casting about for something to write about today, I did a little more digging and now I feel the need to share what a loathsome individual "Prophet" Todd Hall really is. He's not your standard "pray away the gay" type at all. He is a "the homos are demons among us who have no souls and are trying to infect us with their evil so that we will all be condemned to eternal damnation and I'm the only preacher brave enough to say this because the rest of you like cashing their homo donation checks." Seriously.

This is probably going to seem like splitting hairs to many people, not the least those who stand accused of being demons, but I believe that it is possible to distinguish between "homosexual acts are sinful and should be avoided" and "homosexuality is a demonic force that challenges the salvation of us all." I disagree with both statements, but I can at least appreciate the attempt to mitigate the damnation in the former. Maybe Hall really is the standard for christian homophobia, but I don't think so. Watching him at this appearance made in California prior to November election, I was struck by many things.

He's really frank about money. Around the 3:30 mark he says something along the lines of "write me a check for a half million dollars so I can say what I feel." Of course, it doesn't cost $500,000.00 USD to say what you really believe. You can say it for free. And look, there he is with a microphone in front of a big appreciative crowd of people waiting to hear what he wants to say. But first, the plea to the Holy Spirit that someone in that crowd be touched to write him a nice big check. This didn't seem like the normal fundraising plea. He presents it very much as that he will face economic consequences for speaking the Truth about homosexuality... to that well known group of homo-promoters -- black pentacostal christians.

He goes over the top crediting himself with bravery. Again, as far as I can tell, he's speaking to a religious group that separated from the freakin Assemblies of God back in the day over racial issues and has recently made efforts to reconcile with the John Ashcrofts of the world. I know he's speaking in Northern California, but still. He's not preaching it in the streets of San Francisco. I'll give Hall credit for bravery when he delivers this sermon to Bill Hicks in heaven. *

He assumes that the only motivation a person could have for not running homosexuals out of the church is a desire to keep their donations coming. (I didn't write that as pun intended, but it's too whimsical to disclaim). This was one of those, you seem to have failed to grasp basic points about Christianity, moments for me. Either he thinks sinners don't belong in church, or he thinks homosexuals have no soul to save. Either way he's a shame to the message of Jesus Christ.

And then he gets into scripture. Genesis. The story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, to be precise. My summary of his re-telling of this story:

God saw that Sodom was full of homosexuals and decides to destroy it. Abraham works a deal out with God where if He can find ten heterosexual men in Sodom, He'll spare the city. Angels show up to hang out with Lot. The absence of heterosexuals is demonstrated by a bunch of men showing up at Lot's house demanding to have homo-sex with the angels. We know this crowd was full of unrepentant homosexuals because when Lot offered up his two virgin daughters for sexual consumption instead of the angels, the crowd turned him down. So Hall breaks it down like this-- if you were given a choice between being killed or having God-approved (but non-consensual) sex with Halle and/or Jada and you didn't bang the hellfire out of those fresh virgins then you are evil. As an aside, note to self: email Todd Hall the information that the internet is quite certain Jada is a lesbian.

Now, the story of Lot is plenty messed up without Hall's imagination getting involved. You've got a father offering up his daughters for rape out of a sense of hostly obligation. You've got daughters getting their dad drunk and then having sex with him in the hopes of getting pregnant and repopulating the world. I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't think the offer of virgins was a God approved test of the heterosexuality of the populace. And there's no reason to believe that the crowd had any idea that they were facing a "pussy or death" choice. So Hall's version is pretty stupid even if you accept the premise that Sodom was destroyed as punishment for teh gay sex.

But it's even dumber when you don't accept that premise. Those nice boys at the Vatican, real life biblical scholars, were kind enough to annotate Genesis 18:20 of my bible with the following:

Isrealite tradition was unanimous in ascribing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to the wickedness of these cities, but tradition varied in regard to the nature of this wickedness. According to the present account of the Yawhist, the sin of Sodom was homosexuality (Gn, 4), which is therefore also known as sodomy; but according to Isaiah (1,9; 3,9) it was lack of social justice; Ezekial (16, 46-51) described it as a disregard for the poor; whereas Jeremiah (23,14) saw it as general immorality.

Seems like a pretty weak basis from which to argue that homosexual members will result in the destruction of the church.

Life Changers might have had plenty of admirable things on the agenda. But Preacher Todd Hall understands that there are financial consequences for being an idiot bigot. And Life Changers needs to understand that there are financial consequences for inviting idiot bigots to speak at your conference. Even if you agree that the funding doesn't amount to funding religion (I don't agree), at a practical level, it seems like the least we can do is deny money to a group that is sponsoring a guy who thinks our LGBT neighbors are demons. It's not like the entire event was depending on city money and without our funds there would be no health screenings. Even if you think homosexuality is wrong, can you at least grant that homosexuals have souls?

* If heaven were a physical space, I'm convinced it would have a bar where the likes of George Carlin, Hunter S. Thompson and Bill Hicks could hang out for all eternity cracking each other up and God would drop in every once in a while and say "you guys thought you were so smart, but you didn't expect this, did ya?"


  1. I have no clue why IE won't let process requests to post comments here. Sorry.

  2. Apparently, IE HATES FAGS.

  3. God won. Gays Lost.