The anti-LGBT stance of some speakers lined up for next month’s Breaking the Silence conference in Colorado Springs may have proved too much for one Republican congressman.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck was slated to speak at the conference but withdrew yesterday after he learned that one of the other speakers is Ugandan bishop Joshua Lwere, who oversees a network of Pentecostal churches in his home country. Lwere lobbied for the infamous anti-LGBT bill in Uganda that was signed into law in early 2014. The original 2009 bill called for the execution of LGBT people in some circumstances, but the 2014 version changed that to life in prison. In August of last year, a Ugandan court annulled it on a technicality.
Buck has claimed in the past that homosexuality is a choice but that birth might have something to do with it, the same way birth might have something to do with alcoholism. However, Lwere’s views are apparently too extreme for Buck, who told the Denver Post, “I can’t share the stage with someone like that.”
Lwere’s views apparently don’t bother the conference’s host Mark Cowart, the senior pastor of Church for All Nations in Colorado Springs, or El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton. Then again, Littleton has supported the right-wing conspiracy theory that President Obama is secretly fueling Islam in America. Her first act as a commissioner was to call for prayer at all meetings.
Cowart has participated in the so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an initiative started by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), in which pastors are encouraged to speak in support of, or opposition to, candidates for political office from the pulpit. ADF claims it’s a “strategic litigation plan” to bring lawsuits against the IRS if a church loses its tax-exempt status for endorsing political candidates or initiatives. Indeed, Michael J. Norton is also a listed speaker at Breaking the Silence. He’s senior counsel at ADF and former U.S. attorney in Colorado.
Other speakers at the Breaking the Silence conference include people associated with the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC). Retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin is executive vice president at FRC. He is perhaps best known for his anti-Muslim statements, including his belief that Islam should not be protected under the First Amendment and that it’s “evil.” Randy Wilson, FRC’s national field director, is also a listed speaker. Debbie Chaves of Colorado Family Action (CFA) has spoken at other FRC events, and Randy Wilson is part of the CFA team, according to the group’s website.
Another speaker is Bill Federer, a former pastor and anti-Islam activist who also peddles pseudo-history claiming a “Christian past” for America. Federer, who writes extensively at the conspiracist, anti-LGBT site WND (formerly World Net Daily), claimed in May that the expansion of LGBT equality will lead to Islamic domination.
Kamal Saleem is listed as a “former jihadist” as well as a speaker and author. He paints himself as someone who once recruited Islamists in America before he converted to Christianity. Now he spends his days pushing conspiracy theories about an Islamic cabal taking over America. Many of his claims about his past can’t be verified.
Alex McFarland, a religious-right pundit who, among other things, blogs for the anti-LGBT hate group American Family Association, bills himself as a Christian apologist. McFarland has referred to homosexuality as spiritually, physically, and psychologically destructive.
The conference is noticeably vague about its purpose on its website, but from the images and quotes provided (including one by Martin Luther King Jr.), it seems that the primary theme is “taking back of America” and instilling a Christian worldview in the country. And indeed, the blog link on the conference website takes viewers to a site that promotes “7 Mountains.” Those are government, education, arts and entertainment, media, family and business. The blog provides no information other than naming the “mountains,” but in the ideology of Christian dominionism, 7 Mountains theology is the plan to take over each of those aspects of society and create God’s kingdom on Earth.
Apparently, they’ll have to do that without Congressman Buck.