Six months ago, the antigay militant group Repent America raided a Philadelphia autumn pride festival. According to witnesses, they shouted down the stage performers and berated the crowd with religious-right rhetoric. The militants’ leader, Michael Marcavage, has cited the Bible to rationalize the execution of homosexuals and has commandeered several public events over the years. (Previous XGW coverage.)

The festival’s volunteer security team averted further disruption, and police eventually arrested several members of the group. Charges against the group were trumped up by police and by festival organizers, and a court (quite reasonably) dismissed the worst of the charges.

Since then, across 59 pages of its media blog Exodus has joined in religious-right boasting that “Christians” were being persecuted by “homosexual activists” for a “peaceful” protest.

I was reminded of this insincere media circus, after reading about Focus on the Family’s arrest of the Reitan family — a mother, father, and gay son.

Concluding two days of rallying and praying with Soulforce outside Focus headquarters in Colorado Springs, the Reitan family sought to peacefully deliver a letter to James Dobson about the pain and suffering that his diatribes have caused to their family and others. Focus/Family responded by locking down its campus, canceling tours, and arresting the Reitan family for trespassing. (Soulforce photos.)

Soulforce is known for media events that promote nonviolence and inclusive faith. Only once (at a Southern Baptist Convention meeting several years ago) has Soulforce’s form of protest nearly approached the disruptiveness that is commonplace with groups like Repent America and Westboro Baptist Church. The protest at Focus on the Family strikes me as typically low-key for Soulforce — perhaps too low-key.

The staffers of Exodus and PFOX frequently protest in defense of their own free-speech rights — and PFOX claims in its recent press releases to support tolerance for all.

If they are sincere in their defenses of free speech, then Exodus and PFOX will publicly protest Focus on the Family’s arrest of a peaceful mother, father and son — on a technicality — for delivering a faith-based letter to the ostensibly Christian leader of the Focus empire.

I will be waiting for signs of true tolerance and freedom of speech from Exodus and PFOX… waiting for PFOX to stand by its claims.

But I hope that readers will understand when I don’t hold my breath.

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Addendum: Focus on the Family offers its side of the story: Half-truths.

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