Watchmen Not a Hate Group|
from the 'Pro-Family Advocacy' topic
Source: In House
Author: Dr. Scott Lively
Letter by Watchmen on the Walls founding member, Attorney Scott Lively, to the Southern Poverty Law Center in response to its announced intention to list Watchmen as a 'hate" group.
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LAW OFFICE OF SCOTT DOUGLAS LIVELY
PO BOX 891023, TEMECULA, CA 92589
November 1, 2007
Attorney Morris Dees
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36104
Dear Mr. Dees,
I have long held a favorable opinion of your organization for its work against racism and violent extremist groups. We differ on issues related to sexual morality because my opinions conform to the long-standing conclusions of Christianity, based on the Bible. Nevertheless, I respect your right to disagree, and to advocate your opinions, as you do so eloquently and so zealously.
When a respected organization such as yours ventures into the business of evaluating the behavior and motives of others (called “judging“ when Christians do it), the organization bears a special responsibility to be accurate and fair-minded. An erroneous representation of a person or a group as “hateful” can destroy a reputation and cause great harm. Indeed, given the current extreme Left/Right polarization of our society, identifying someone as “hateful,” in the manner in which your organization uses the term, exposes that person to potential violence at the hands of people who perceive themselves, or other members of their group, as potential victims of his or her “hate.” Such people, relying on your characterization, may feel justified in striking preemptively against the “hater.“
I believe this is similar to the logic that you use in suggesting that public disapproval of homosexuality leads to violence against homosexuals. However, Christian disapproval, if it is legitimately rooted in the teachings of Jesus, forbids violence and in fact requires Christians to “love their enemies.” This is a doctrine I cite continually, though I have never seen the corollary on the Left.
I was more than a little dismayed, therefore, when I found myself the subject of your recent reporting in association with Watchmen on the Walls, for which I am a consultant and founding member. The following was published by a leading local newspaper in the Seattle media market prior to our recent WOW conference.
[Watchmen on the Walls] is building a reputation for being an "unbelievably virulent anti-gay organization," said Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala. The center is known for promoting tolerance, tracking hate groups and fighting legal battles against white supremacists, including the Klan and Aryan Nations.
This led me to a search of your own website, where I found myself mentioned in several articles, primarily in connection with my book The Pink Swastika. I also found an outrageously irresponsible and inflammatory article by Casey Sanchez linking Watchmen on the Walls to the murder of Satender Singh in Sacramento, without the least shred of evidence to support the association except that the alleged perpetrator is Russian, as is the founder of Watchmen on the Walls. I believe you once called that type of rhetoric racism.
Another article by Sanchez, posted on October 19th, 2007, accused me of stating that “gays orchestrated the Holocaust.” I refer you to your own website where previously your writer Bob Moser quoted my Orthodox Jewish co-author and I accurately as stating “we cannot say that homosexuals caused the Holocaust.” I respectfully request a retraction of that falsehood.
I‘d also like the opportunity to correspond with whomever in your organization reviewed my book and concluded it’s assertions were baseless. I’d be interested to know how your researcher evaluated the specific facts I cited from my nearly 200 mainstream and “gay” sources. Perhaps this person, or anyone you care to designate, would also consent to debate these assertions publicly with Kevin Abrams and me.
The same Sanchez article also featured an excerpt from my recent speech in Novosibirsk, Siberia in which several local men cheered during my recounting of how the death of Singh was used by the Sacramento media to tarnish all Russians. These men did not represent the spirit of the conference, nor the beliefs and goals of the Watchmen on the Walls. The meeting was open to the public and in Russia there are, unfortunately, some people who do hate homosexuals.
Most disappointing, however, especially given your stated mission to promote tolerance, was that your article failed to mention that I spent most of the remainder of my speech articulating the genuine Christian approach to homosexuality as one of compassion for self-identified homosexual people even while we oppose their lifestyle and political goals. I believe that my speech helped change the attitude of those men who had previously held only hatred for homosexuals, and allowed them to see homosexuals as people who need and deserve the love of Jesus, just as much as they do. This is, after all, what my religion teaches: love, not hate. The article therefore casts me in a false light and damages your claim to be an arbiter of civil rights conflicts.
This brings me to the issue of “hate.” I found it very surprising that on your website, which is dominated by the theme of hatred, I couldn’t find a definition of the term, as you use it, anywhere. This is especially odd, since I know you are a law center, and clear definition of terms is indispensable in the practice of law. If I am mistaken, please advise me where I can find this information on your site, because I do not want make the same mistake toward you that you have made toward me.
I will not impugn your motives, but I know that others on the Left refuse to define hatred because that would establish a standard by which they, and the organizations that share their views, could be measured. For example, if one uses the dictionary.com definition “intense dislike; extreme aversion or hostility,” then much of the content of your own website, as it relates to groups on your list could reasonably to be considered “hate.“ I don’t have a problem with that. Frankly, I hate what most of those groups do also. I hate racism, extremism that leads to violence, and irrational bigotry as much as I disapprove of homosexuality. But I don‘t hate racists, bigots or homosexuals: they all need and deserve the love of Jesus just as much as I do.
I urge you to take leadership on this question and clearly set forth the definitions and criteria that you believe we should all use to judge these matters. Frankly, I don’t know how you can offer to teach law enforcement about “hate” groups without such objective standards. Perhaps they are included in your teaching materials not accessible on the website. If so, please extend me the courtesy of sending me a copy of the relevant passages or telling me where I can find them.
Your website has one additional deficiency in that it does not include any references whatsoever to hate-based attacks on Christians. I searched “attacks against Christians,” “against Christians,“ “Christian victim,” “victim was a Christian,” “church-burnings,” and a number of other intuitive phrases. I didn’t find a single item in which a Christian was identified as a victims of hate or discrimination. However, these search terms pulled up numerous items in which hate-groups and individual perpetrators were identified as Christian. Surely you are not ignorant of the many hate-motivated incidents in recent years in which Christians were the targets?
Once again, if I’m wrong, and this information is published on your website, please direct me to it. Assuming I’m right, however, this begs the question “why is it omitted?”.
I decline to draw any conclusions here, and give you the benefit of the doubt that the concerns I’ve raised are simple errors and/or oversights on the part of your staff. However, I would hope that, as a leading, indeed legendary, figure in the field of civil rights, you would take immediate action to correct these mistakes.
This is not a demand letter and I have no desire or intention to file suit against you. I am relying on your reputation as a man of integrity to set these matters straight simply because its the right thing to do.
I agree with you that there are some hate-filled people who operate under the name “Christian.” This does nearly as much damage to the community of genuine Christians as it does to the victims of these misguided men and women. I urge you reach out to leaders of my community to find common ground against racism and violence, so that you do not make the mistake, even unintentionally, of painting all Bible-believing Christians as hateful bigots. We will probably not agree on matters of sexual morality, but surely there is room for civil dialogue even on these issues. I stand ready to cooperate with you personally toward this goal if you are willing.
Finally, I ask you to take a second look at Watchmen on the Walls. You will find that it is as racially and culturally diverse as any organization in America, and does not advocate or condone violence. Yes, it is strongly against homosexuality, but that alone shouldn’t qualify anyone as “hateful.” I am sending for your perusal a copy of the “Watchmen on the Walls Statement of Beliefs and Goals,” and a copy of WOW’s first public document, the “Riga Declaration on Religious Freedom, Family Values and Human Rights.” I am also sending a copy of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, and my recent essay “Is Hating ‘Haters’ Hateful?” I ask you to give each of these a fair reading before commenting upon them.
Hoping to reach a place of mutual respect, I am
Scott Douglas Lively, J.D., Th.D.