Two months ago we took a look at Stephen Bennett Ministry’s (SBM’s) fundraising efforts for an evangelism trip to Provincetown MA.

At that point, the $50K fundraising target looked like it could support a ten-fold increase in participants (from 50 to 500) as well as in Bible gift bags (from 600 to 6,000) compared to a similar effort last year.

Some time between then and now, things shifted a bit:

  • The $50K target is now $25K.
  • References to busing folks “from all over New England,” which we noted in May, and as mentioned in a press release a few days later, appear to have faded; the suggestion that “EVERY church in Massachusetts needs to be part of this outreach!” remains.
  • An Official SBM Pledge form can now be downloaded for folks to raise funds “FROM YOUR OWN CHURCH, ANYWHERE IN THE U.S.,” which can be printed so “your entire church” can participate.
  • The top individual fundraiser, and the top church fundraiser, will each win “an entire SBM Library of … books, CDs, videos, tracts … on … homosexuality valued at over $850.00.”
  • According to SBM’s schedule, August is now “Massachusetts Month” and the Provincetown event on August 7 is a kick-off event for SBM’s “national evangelistic outreach” to the gay community, including (from its fundraising page) “6 MAJOR evangelistic outreache[s] to the homosexual in the state of Massachusetts” which SBM says “we will be holding”.

So, perhaps the original $50K national fundraising campaign didn’t get off the starting block as vigorously as had been hoped. The goal has been halved, incentives have been added, geographic reach has been broadened, and justification has been beefed up.

A couple of the details caught my eye, though.

The 6 MAJOR outreaches in August are used as part of the justification of need for the $25K. However, the only events on the calendar (apart from Provincetown on the 7th) are rallies for which I could find no other publicity, sponsored by an “Alliance for Faith, Family & Freedom”, which I could find mentioned by no one other than SBM, with Rev. Michael Carl, an opponent of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Massachusetts listed as the contact person. So, what is the major outreach?

The $850+ SBM Library is infomercial-speak. The only way I could get the numbers to add up was to assign almost $350 of the purported library value to tracts and newsletters. Another $180 consists of books, nine of ’em at $20 each. Undiscounted retail list prices ranged from $13 to $15 on all of them, though, for a total of $125 (or, easily half the $180 with typical discounts).

I saw a TV ad for the Batter Pro the other day. It’s a pretty simple plastic two-bowl unit for shaking a breaded coating over meat. Handy, I’m guessing, but not revolutionary. The sellers have every right to say that it’s an $80 value even though they “only” want $19.95 for it, but it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize that we’ll see the same item on store shelves for $10 or less before too long.

Like the BatterPro folks, SBM is free to try to convince its target market donors that the “library” could be worth $850. Those donors don’t have to look far to figure out that SBM is happy to part with the library for $500 and adjust the credibility and esteem of the organization accordingly.

The people of Provincetown will do the same when Bennett’s busloads of Christian soldiers roll into town. The evangelists can talk of the love and compassion they feel towards gays and lesbians, but townfolk are sure to recognize that they are being seen as sad, evil, and sinful.

The Batter Pro may be useful, but not $80 useful. Stephen Bennett may feel genuinely concerned for glbt folks, but to those who know he defames their families as “an abomination to [God] and a putrid stench in His nostrils” his concern will not be credible.

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