Monday, August 20, 2007

The Christian Civic League: domestic terrorists?

(cross-posted at Turn Maine Blue)

An interesting tale to relate:

Today I was grabbing some breakfast at Java Joe's, and there was some discussion involving a store in downtown Augusta called Arch Enemys (yes, it's misspelled, don't ask me why). For those of you who don't know, they have- or at least used to have- live models in their store windows, wearing outfits sold in the store. The discussion, of course, turned to our other former store with live models, which used to be right across the street- the lingerie store, Spellbound.

The person I spoke with related a tale of the hell the owner went through to keep that store open as long as she did. She, too, faced off against the Christian Civic League- and lost. I, admittedly, didn't know the depths to which they went, including to call a 15 year old girl a "slut" for being related to the owner and associated with the store.

The CCL began protesting outside the storefront of Spellbound shortly before its closure. Their online postings, designed to incite the rabble as they were when they declared Rita and I Pagans (duh!), were much more successful against Spellbound than us. The owner endured harassing phone calls, death threats, and what sounds like videotaping of her patrons before she finally gave in and closed her doors- a mere four months after the Kennebec Journal lauded her business as "bringing a piece of New York to Maine".

We in this country are fighting a "war on terror". How you can fight a noun still eludes me, but okay. Next it will be the war on Twinkies. The excuses of "9/11", "fighting them there so we don't fight them here", and "terrorism" fall on my deaf ears.

On September 11th, 2001, planes flew into buildings and killed thousands. They scared people away from flying. Airline companies went bankrupt, some being bailed out by the Fed (and this time, with good reason). People walked the streets, looked at Arabs with headgear and beards, and assumed they too must be terrorists!

The Christian Civic League promotes the kind of terrorism that scares me most- the kind that walks into our small towns and frightens us. I have long held the belief that the scariest terrorist act would be to butcher a small town of 100 to the last man- small death toll, but no one would feel safe anymore.

When we allow the Christian Civic League to shutter the doors of local businesses practicing their legal right to free speech, we fail the citizens of our state, and we fail as Democrats. This is the true war on terror- fighting off groups such as these who promote hatred among the citizenry, and turn neighbor against neighbor.

Never again should we allow this group to close a business. I don't care if you thought the Spellbound displays were too risque- tough. They were practicing their right to free speech. The Christian Civic League, meanwhile, declared their victory over the "liberal establishment". We must not let these acts continue.

The County Committee is their current target. We will not be cowed. We will not surrender. And, Democrats, you must not surrender. The true "war on terror" is fought right in our own towns, against groups like this who promote wrong-headed ideology and attempt to make everyone else bend knee to it. We must not permit domestic terrorism to continue to rear its ugly head.

And if you think I'm being overly zealous, review the definition for "terrorism":

"the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

And of "terror":

1 : "a state of intense fear"

And tell me that the owner of this store wasn't terrified.


Rita Moran said...

Well said.

Michael Moore raised our consciousness about the politics of fear perpetrated by the radical right. Fear is how ordinary German citizens became tools of a fascist government, and fear is how that could happen here as well.

To quote Sinclair Lewis, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Rita Moran said...

And, for the sake of clarity, these fear-mongers may claim to be doing this in the name of Christ, but tell me where in the New Testament does He tell us to spread fear and hatred.

The message of Jesus is to love and respect each other, not to attack those who are different.

The cross of fear is counterfeit, and demeans the beliefs of true Christians.

Dale said...

Actually, the Christian Civic League didn't shut down Spellbound, Miss Bickford did. Not only that, but the Christian Civic League wasn't the group being represented at the time. There's nothing wrong with advocating public decency. People who protect smut peddlers are the first to ban Christian demonstrations, which really are protected under the Constitution.

P.S. Interesting to note Rita Moran's love of Michael Moore, one wonders if she ever read Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, which exposes him for the fraud he truly is.

Was Jesus showing respect when he overturned tables in the church or showing love when he told the woman at the well to go and sin no more? Of course he was, just not the kind of love you want to see. Sin is sin and Jesus preached against it, why shouldn't we do the same?

Edward Lachowicz said...

Dale, I have zero issue with protests. I do, however, take issue with Christian Civic League methods.

For instance, I willingly posted your comment, even though I disagree with most of it. The CCL, by contrast, posted contact information for commenters on their website, even when their comment submission form said that it would not be posted. Now their forum is gone entirely- why? Because they can't handle the heat, they can't handle protest of what they believe, they can't handle dissent.

You speak of public decency, but the CCL supports anti-abortion protests that include waving around pictures of aborted fetuses. That is not "decent". Kids see that stuff. It makes them cry. You may use that as a "well abortion should be illegal!" defense, but the long and the short of it is that seeing dead anything- be it fetus, adult, or animal isn't exactly heart-warming.

The line for protest is acceptable when it is "protest", and not "harassment". Standing on Water Street with a sign is a right that I would fight WITH the CCL to defend. But at the same time, I also would fight for the right of the clothed enough to be legal women standing inside that storefront.

The fact of the matter is that the Christian Civic League violates their own policies regarding religious tolerance (blog post forthcoming). Honestly, it was people like that in my own church that pushed me to leave the Christian faith in the first place.

Jesus loved everyone. He didn't burn books, burn music. The Bible teaches that he came to Earth to save mankind. Jesus Christ was a liberal. He advocated free will, and hoped that people would see the "error of their ways" and turn to God for salvation. I don't believe I'm in error, you do of course, and that's perfectly fine- we see things differently.

Jesus Christ hung out with society's dregs. Tax collectors. Winos. Prostitutes. Why? To save them. He didn't spend all his time waving signs at them and threatening burning torment- he loved them, hoping that through time, they would come to see his way of thinking.

The Christian Right (and the CCL IS a part of this, if they call us the Democrat Party and not the Democratic Party) believes that to convert people, you need to threaten them. Scare them. Wave dead babies on sticks at them. Whatever happened to "love your neighbor"? "Love your enemy"? "Hate the sin, not the sinner"?

The Christian Civic League attacked two Democrats on the basis of their faith. I will gladly debate Mike Heath or Hein on the merits of their argument anyday. All I need to do is pull out a list of CCL policies and show how they are being violated.

KayInMaine said...

Right on Edward! The irony of the reich wingers in our nation is they live everyday thinking they're being "good Christians", but end up being what they truly are, "Satan's Legwork". It's disgusting but not surprising when it's exposed.

Hi Rita! Keep up the fight my friend! We, who have an open mind and who understand what the 1st Amendment means, are on your side! We respect your beliefs and when I compare your beliefs to the beliefs of the CCL, I'll take Paganism anyday....and I'm an Atheist!

Thanks Edward for your post on this. The more the merrier. On my post today I posted a link to the Kennebec County Dems for people to make a contribution to you all. This could be a good strategy against CCL if everytime they resort to their reich wing madness, the Kennebec Dems get some money even if the CCL is protesting something that has nothing to do with you guys! That would be hysterical and good for your chapter. :-)

KayInMaine said...

In my post about the CCL today I point out that I don't feel bad for the CCL being kicked out from reporting on the Pagan Pride Parade...and yet...Michael Hein thinks I should feel bad for the CCL because they were kicked out! Now see, had they been good Christians all their lives I would have felt bad for them, but since their Satan's Tools, well, fat chance of that happening. ;-)