Besen: Coral Ridge Gang Trying to ‘Reclaim the Dark Ages’
Express Gay News, Oct. 10

At an Oct. 10 rally hosted by a South Florida church, author and gay activist Wayne Besen protested the Rev. D. James Kennedy’s “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference, scheduled for Oct. 25 at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. Kennedy’s conference was to include two speakers who, Besen said, have advocated executing people for homosexuality.

Besen cautioned that groups such as Coral Ridge Ministries ignore science as they cling to backward, extreme ideologies. “Thanks to Coral Ridge Ministries, there are people in our community who reject our basic humanity,” Besen said. “They do so without knowing us as individuals and without giving us a fair chance. The ‘Reclaiming America for Christ’ conference offers a dangerous vision that seeks to divide America and destroy certain Americans.”

Besen noted that Kennedy has been intimately associated with a group of “religious fanatics” known as the Reconstructionist movement. “The Reconstructionists want to replace American law with Old Testament law,” Besen said.

Besen pointed out that one of the speakers at the “Reclaiming America” conference is Gary DeMar, whom Besen described as a recognized leader in the Reconstructionist movement. “DeMar once said of homosexuality: ‘The Bible doesn’t say that homosexuals should be executed. What it says is this: If two men lie together like a man and a woman lie together, they are to be put to death.’”

Besen then quoted from Judge Roy Moore, another speaker at the Coral Ridge conference, who recently made national news after he defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from state property in Alabama. In a court opinion in February 20002, Moore wrote: “Homosexuality is an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it. The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution.”

“Leaders of ‘Reclaiming America for Christ’ want to be portrayed in the media simply as religious conservatives,” Besen said. “But there is nothing conservative, in the traditional sense, about their agenda. A true conservative might want to go so far as to repeal New Deal entitlements. But this crowd is so radical they want to repeal the Enlightenment—and return us to the Dark Ages…. They want to reclaim a religious monopoly in America and defeat religious pluralism. And they want to reclaim a horrible world where gay people were executed—sometimes burned to death.”

Besen then took aim at Coral Ridge’s support of the “ex-gay” movement, which he says manipulates vulnerable people for political purposes. “The ex-gay issue has never been about helping people. It’s all about pushing a right-wing, anti-gay political agenda,” Besen said. “To lie and manipulate vulnerable people is not faith healing, as conference leaders suggest, but faith hurting of the most diabolical kind.”

Oct. 6 article about the rally and Coral Ridge Ministries.

Aug. 18 article about Coral Ridge’s connection to ex-gay activist Michael Johnston.

In 1998, the ex-gay movement accepted national ad sponsorship and primetime news appearances via Coral Ridge and its political wing, the Center for Reclaiming America. Tolerance advocates at Bridges Across the Divide blasted the affiliation. Exodus board member Tom Cole asked them why. Chris Purdom of the Interfaith Working Group detailed Coral Ridge’s alleged connections to Christian Reconstruction and the homosexual death penalty. Mr. Cole did not respond to Mr. Purdom.

Also in 1998, a little-known ex-gay speaker named Randy Thomas wrote a letter to Janet Folger, head of Reclaiming America. Mr. Thomas accused Coral Ridge of misusing ex-gay video to promote bigotry. However, in early 2002, the pro-ex-gay web site Justice and Respect withdrew Mr. Thomas’ criticism of Coral Ridge from circulation, and today Mr. Thomas — now the media and outreach of Exodus International — writes press releases sounding much like those of Coral Ridge.

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