The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Anti-Gay Christian Group Uses Deception to Raise Funds — Again

By Evelyn Schlatter on February 2, 2011 - 3:54 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

The anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) once again is turning to a highly valued traditional device to raise funds: fear and falsehoods.

The Christian Seniors Association (CSA), a front group of the TVC, recently sent out a fundraising letter claiming that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 2009, which added sexual orientation to the classes protected by federal hate crime legislation, “makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature.’” The letter further claims that “under this law, criticism of homosexuality is deemed discrimination — just like racism,” and ultimately, the intent of the law is to “outlaw Christianity.”

Scary stuff. Except that none of it is true.

The HCPA, signed into law by President Obama on Oct. 28, 2009, applies to deliberate acts (or attempted acts) of bodily injury or death through the use of “fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device” because of an actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Contrary to the CSA’s claims, the law does not apply to constitutionally protected speech, which includes religious beliefs. The HCPA, in its effort to address the concerns of religious leaders, couldn’t have stated it more clearly: “Nothing … in the law shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech – including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment.” The HCPA actually protects religion and religious speech, and includes religion as a protected status – a far cry from the CSA’s fear-mongering assertions.

But the TVC, designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its dissemination of false, demonizing propaganda, continues to peddle these and other falsehoods.

In fact, the CSA — which bills itself as “America’s Christian alternative to the far-Left AARP” (the former American Association of Retired Persons, a 40 million-member organization that now uses its acronym alone) — has a history of fundraising letters that prey on unfounded fears and, in some cases, even mimic government documents. In 2006, the CSA mailed out bogus “U.S. Taxpayer Census” forms. The packet included a survey about Social Security and dark warnings about politicians raiding the program for personal gain. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the mailing did not explicitly point out that money donated to the CSA would go directly to the TVC.

Jim Lafferty, the executive director of CSA, explained to the Chronicle in 2006 that with only 40,000 members, the organization couldn’t independently support its lobbying activities. He claimed that yes, all money sent to the CSA went to the TVC, but that the groups have “separate accounts.” When Lafferty was questioned by the Chronicle about whether the CSA could have been a little clearer about the financial relationship between the TVC and the CSA, he replied that it was clear to people who read the CSA newsletters and other letters.

Lafferty is married to Andrea Lafferty, the current executive director of TVC. She is the daughter of Lou Sheldon, the TVC’s founder.

The website Right Wing Watch in January 2008 noted another CSA fundraising attempt through the sneaky “Taxpayer Census Form,” which many seniors took to be an official government document. Also, in April 2010, the CSA sent out a survey with a letter to raise donations to fight the AARP and President Obama’s “socialist” agenda. The blog Firedoglake noted that the letter also claimed Obama was going to create millions of new voters by legalizing undocumented immigrants.

Far-right Christian fundamentalist groups have made the claim that gay rights legislation would lead to persecution of Christians a mainstay of their propaganda arsenal in recent years. In 2007, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLECHPA), a precursor of the HCPA that never became law, was opposed by the American Family Association and Janet Folger’s Faith2Action, who claimed it would criminalize preaching and Sunday school lessons against homosexuality. That bill, as with the HCPA, had specific language stating that its provisions would not apply to constitutionally protected speech.

  • http://www.JoanWheelerLaGrone.com Joan La Grone

    James Lafferty is nothing more than another biggot and political activist for the Republican party right wing bent on stirring up fear among seniors to help the party get their people elected. He is married to activist Andrea Lafferty Ex. Dir. of TVC (Traditionl Values Coalition) who is the daughter of Lou Sheldon, the founder. They are part of the website Right Wing Watch. Their latest political “Hate” letter to seniors states the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (which simply added “sexual orientation” to the list of of protected classes) is trying to “outlaw Christianity and the Bible.” NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

  • jgt2598

    Above comment was @Danny

  • Jordan

    If this is a “morality organization” than the KKK must be a knitting group.

  • Ellen Myers

    Mike,
    Have you never heard of Steven Anderson, an Arizona preacher that wants gays and Obama to die?
    And back in the 1970′s, the KKK said that they weren’t emabarrased to admit that they sought the death penalty for gays. I doubt very seriously if they have changed their minds about that.
    There are lots of others who claim to be Christians whi would like to see all gay people put to death and they validate it by quoting Leviticus 20:13. Preacher Tim LaHaye said that God is going to send His judgement on this country if homosexualitiy is “tolerated”. Do you think he’d object if homosexuality was punishable by death? I bet not.

  • Ian

    Mike,

    There is a segment of the Christian religious right called the Dominionist movement, or Christian Reconstruction, which advocates a theocratic government governed by a literal interpretation of Biblical law. Most in the movement do support capital punishment for the act of two men having sex and cite a passage in Leviticus to that effect. American Vision and the Chalcedon Foundation are the major hate groups in this movement, but it has also influenced the mainstream (for lack of a better term) anti-gay movement. The first article linked to on this post (under the words “Traditional Values Coalition”) has more info on anti-gay groups, including the two just mentioned.

    As far as I know, no acts of violence in this country have been linked to Dominionism. The only directly religiously-inspired attacks in the United States that I have heard of come from Christian Identicists (sic?) or radical Muslims, but I am fully prepared to be wrong on that.

  • MrsCaptJack

    Just looking at the legalities here, if senior’s were deceived by a form that they took as an official government form why isn’t this group being charged with fraud and elder abuse? They targeted seniors and defrauded them. It’s that simple. I knew a guy who had a business. He copied a government logo and changed it slightly in order to collect money. He did 16 months in prison. I should think someone, somewhere would be looking into this aspect.

    At Mike: There are certainly some little old ladies out were I live who would bash gay men in the head with crosses. Yes, it happened and when she was knocked over by someone trying to stop her from hitting him again, the fact that she had attacked these men was completely played down even though it was on our local news.. Don’t try toell me folks among the Christian right don’t want to kill gays. The “Christian” right is terrfied it’s something their children will catch because they’re too stupid to realize it’s not a choice.

  • R Lavigueur

    Mike,

    How is this diverting? The groups in question here, and the groups that are usually at issue when gay rights are mentioned in the USA, generally frame their opposition to gays and lesbians in terms of evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity. In other countries, such as Israel, this is not the case, but while some Orthodox Jews do oppose civil rights for LGBT people in the US, there simply aren’t enough of them to pass damaging legislation or form popular homophobic movements. In the USA, these groups overwhelmingly identify with the Christian right. Whether the Christian right identifies with them is another question entirely.

    If you don’t believe that Evangelical Christians are capable of murdering gays, I suggest you pay attention to the situation in Uganda. True, these are not American Christians, but the infamous “kill the gays” legislation was proposed after American evangelicals travelled to Uganda to spread and teach their hatred.

    I applaud you for opposing homophobic violence and adopting a live and let live position, I honestly do, which is why I think it’s important to explain why the LGBT types and their supporters still make a big deal out of the Christian right even where violence against gays is reviled.

    First, the “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” stance grows tiresome to most LGBT people. For one thing, it’s based on the idea that even if being gay is not a choice, expressing homosexual love is immoral. Even tempered by a respect for civil rights, it comes across as homophobic, in the same way that a man who believes that women should be submissive to their husbands will be accused by women of sexism regardless of whether or not he actively tries to make those women submit.

    Second, in so many cases those who profess that their goals are to live and let live fail to prove their words with actions. I am not accusing you of this, I have no idea what your positions on LGBT civil rights are, but I’ve met several Christians who used similar words while actively opposing same sex marriage or other civil rights.

    In short, I support your right to hold the view that homosexual behaviour is immoral, but I don’t support anyone in their efforts to legislate against groups based on religious or personal beliefs; nor should anyone condone the use of lies or misinformation to spread their political ideologies.

  • Mike

    Ruslan said:

    “There are many among the Christian right who would kill gays if they could”

    How do you know that Ruslan? Or does it even matter to you whether you’re accurate or not? If someone made a similar remark about Jews, you’d be all over it with your usual defense (anti-Semitism). Why don’t you go visit the next gay pride parade in Jerusalem and observe how the Haredi sect treats gays before you try diverting the blame to the “Christian right”.

    I think many evangelical Christians are coming to terms with homosexuality like Orthodox Jews recently. We don’t agree with it for Biblical reasons, but desire to live and let live and support civil rights, and let God handle the judgment.

    BTW, I wonder if Orthodox Jews get that same argument about mixed garments and shellfish, etc. thrown at them like Christians do?

    Orthodox Jews Issue Statement In Support Of Gays

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....67969.html

    Excerpt:
    “The document makes a clear distinction between homosexual behavior, which is prohibited by the Torah, and the respect due to people with a homosexual orientation.”

  • Danny

    They are NOT a hate group. They are for morality and I’m donating to them once my new job starts.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    There are many among the Christian right who would kill gays if they could. The reason why they can’t be compared with the Taliban is that the Taliban actually know how to fight, insteaded of getting busted by police within minutes of hatching a plan.

  • Ian

    Larry,

    First, I’m not sure if Afghanistan or Pakistan qualify as the Middle East. Second, the Taliban routinely murdered gay men by, among other methods, collapsing walls on top of them. To compare them with the TVC and other far less violent bigots is offensive to the many gay men and lesbians who fear for their lives every day because of groups like the Taliban and their allies along with those refugees who flee such violence.

    I get what you are trying to say and I do not doubt your intentions, but please consider the vast differences between the two groups before making those comments.

  • Larry

    The American Taliban is getting worse than the Middle Eastern one to me.

  • SAMDAMNIT

    Why does “CSA” sound so familiar?

  • Michael

    I read all the comments, and it is a fact that the Traditional Values Coalition exemplifies the irrational fear stated. It is also true that they are grasping at desperate measures(lies) to validate how they feel. They are being marginalized, and they can’t comprehend it. As holders of the truth, we can afford to be understanding. We can pray for our sworn enemies and denounce acts of violence and retribution against them. Even in our comments, if we all remind them that their rights will always be protected, we remind ourselves that they are human beings worthy of being protected.

  • Keith Douglas

    Have these people never heard the phrase “Thou shalt bear no false witness against thy neighbor?”

  • Paen

    The wingnuts love to call progressives Nazis but fear mongering of scapegoats like this is straight out of Mein Kampf.

  • Heidi Dietrich

    One thing I have learned is that religious leaders will do anything and say anything to line their pockets. During Y2K, I attended “prophecy meetings” at the rest of one of my friends. I got up and walked in the middle of the meeting. They twisted the scriptures, got people fearful and passed the collection plate. They made predictions that never came true. Such as in the summer of 2000, there would be martial law enacted. They didn’t inform themselves about updating the computer systems or they just disregarded the truth about installing updates on a disc. Religion is about money and that’s it. I left a church that had been using contributions to buy luxuries all the while they were asking us to forego those things. I don’t trust religion anymore at all. It almost destroyed my faith in God and I had to really work to separate the two.

  • Mike

    “America’s Christian alternative to the far-Left AARP…”

    The “far Left” AARP ??

    Oh, give me a break.

  • William Rogers RN (Ret.)

    Writing this from a Christianfundamentalist viewpoint, I’d have to say these groups do not 1) know their Bible very well, or they would know that hatred and violence was not the way Jesus’ treated people. 2) If they DO know their Bible, they are not, (as we are told to do IN THAT BIBLE), rightly dividing the Scriptures, meaning instead of using the WHOLE Bible as their guide, thay pick and choose only certain passages on which to obsess. 3) They are most certainly blind to the fact that the one group Jesus exhibted anger at was the religious establishment of His day-but then even back then Jesus told them they were blind guides, and hard-hearted- evidently those folks are still around today in the persona of “christian” hate groups. 4) they surely do NOT know the American Bill of Rights which talks about mixing church and stae, IE: the church is supposed to stay out of the business of running the sate, and the state is to keep their nose out of religion’s business- since we are a nation of many religious beliefs, and non-beliefs, to establish so called “evangelical norms” as law is a patent violation of the First Amendment because it establishes one sect of Christianity as law to the exclusion of non-evenagelical Christians, atheist and agnostics, muslim, hindu, and jew, wiccan etc. THAT is setting up a stae church, and it is against the law! We all of us need to start living with respect for those with whom we disagree, and peacefully coexist if this Union is to stand!

  • George A. Wojtowycz

    Didn’t you know David? All those “undesirable” preachers are wearing pajamas in those “FEMA camps,” breaking rocks for the new GULAG roads we’ll be needing!

  • Snorlax

    Isn’t LYING a sin? One of the Commandments, iirc.

  • David Hart

    I keep asking; Where are all those locked up preachers.?

    After all, TVC and much of the Christianist tin foil helmet set virtually guaranteed us that implementation of the Matthew Shepard amendment was designed to silence and jail pastors, Surely we are prosecuting ministers who claim that homosexuality is a sin. Did we silently ship them all to Gitmo?

    Maybe we just processed them all into Soylent Green.

  • Ian

    So if I am understanding the religious right correctly; their position is that refusing to allow mosques to be built is in no way a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and yet punishing a criminal more based on their motivation is.

    I have my own concerns about hate crime laws (prison is not exactly a place where one goes to become less racist), these arguments are just silly.

  • Difluoroethane

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, Jim Lafferty.

  • Patrick

    Wouldn’t you think that *real* Christians wouldn’t have to *lie* to make their point? I always thought it was the devil who was “the father of lies”.

  • http://wakingupnow.com Rob Tisinai

    Here you go. The three things you need to know about hate crime laws. The first is that they don’t make anything illegal.

    http://wakingupnow.com/blog/3-.....crime-laws

  • Brian

    I think the Justice Dept. might have a problem with this propaganda. They are trying to frighten seniors and pick their pockets. Real Christians should be outraged.

  • Agnes Lech

    Great article! (I wish there was a “Share to Facebook” button on the mobile version of your site.)