Scott Lively has made a ministry career that spans two decades and three continents, in part by preaching that the Nazi Third Reich was helmed and orchestrated by gay men. That’s the central thesis of his book The Pink Swastika, and it played a pivotal role in Lively’s co-founding of the international anti-gay hate group Watchmen on the Walls. For years now, historians, watchdog and gay civil rights groups have called Lively out on his slander. But now, the anti-gay crusader faces a formidable new critic on his own home turf. Warren Throckmorton, a well-respected conservative Christian psychology professor, has been exposing Lively’s false claims in evangelical Christian magazines and blogs.
What set Throckmorton off was Lively’s March appearance at an anti-gay rights conference in Uganda, where homosexuality is already a crime punishable by life in prison. In the capital city of Kampala, Lively rehashed his gay Nazi stump speech and called for Ugandan gays and lesbians to be forced into so-called “conversion therapy.” Since then, as Throckmorton notes, “lists of people suspected to be gay have been included in tabloids, various ministers have accused other ministers of being homosexual, and Christian groups are calling for the government to create a commission to eliminate homosexuality — all supported by American Christian ministries.”
“[T]here is a disturbing parallel with the Nazis, but it is not with the homosexuals,” Throckmorton writes in the Christian web magazine Crosswalk. “In Uganda among Christian groups and government leaders, and encouraged by Mr. Lively, homosexuality is considered the root of society’s evils.” In response, Throckmorton has launched an ambitious project to discredit Lively’s books and analyze how the anti-gay rights leader came to formulate his idea that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.”
Throckmorton says Lively’s obsession with linking gay men to Nazi fascism began in 1992 with Oregon’s Ballot Measure 9, which would have mandated that public schools teach that homosexuality is “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse.” The ballot measure was drafted and supported by the Oregon Citizens Alliance, whose communications director was Scott Lively. As gay rights activists drew comparisons between Measure 9 and the Nazi treatment of homosexuals, Lively and his Pink Swastika co-author Scott Abrams sought to make, in Throckmorton’s words, the “massive leaps of logic and fact required to make National Socialism an invention of a cohesive homosexual plot.”
Engaging Lively in his own shaky logic, Throckmorton posed this question to Lively: “If homosexuality was so associated with National Socialist ideals and aims, then shouldn’t the current Nazis be dominated by homosexuals?” Throckmorton then digs up several websites from the National Socialist Movement, the largest and most high-profile neo-Nazi group in the U.S. He finds that all NSM chapters ban non-white and non-heterosexual members; one of the chapters, in fact, puts it explicitly: “Homosexuality is a social degeneracy that must be expunged from our society.”
Taking it a further step, Throckmorton invited Grove City College history professor Jon David Wyneken to analyze the claims of The Pink Swastika. Wyneken, a scholar of German history between 1933 and 1955, picks apart Lively’s distorted and cherry-picked quotes to conclude that “Lively’s book is simply not good history and is, in fact, not really history at all.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum notes that between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were forced into Nazi concentration camps where they were beaten, castrated and killed.
Throckmorton may seem like an unlikely person to confront Lively’s ideas. In 2004, he produced the video “I Do Exist,” profiling teens and young adults who claim to have become “ex-gay” — a “conversion” idea that is also embraced by Lively. (Most medical and psychological professional associations say that homosexuality is not a pathology and cannot, in any event, be “cured.”) But Throckmorton has also been a vocal critic of several therapies pushed by the ex-gay movement and has an audience among conservative and evangelical Christians. He has also called on schools to prevent bullying of gay students. Throckmorton cautions that his video should not be purchased by anyone “looking for a way to express to gay people that they should change their sexual feelings to be acceptable to God.”
As for Lively and those who believe his revisionist allegations, Throckmorton warns fellow believers: “When Christians make spurious comparisons to the Nazis, they should not be surprised when the targets of those comparisons lash back and consider them hateful. There should be little wonder why they don’t feel the Love.”