This past Tuesday, PFOX posted some disturbing news. While innocently offering “materials on same-sex attraction and tolerance for the ex-gay community to a hungry public” at the Arlington County Fair, Arlington Va (Aug 15-19), they claim their representatives were viciously attacked, both verbally and physically, by “gay activists” who had also set up a booth at the fair.
As happens every year, gay activists disrupted our booth activities. They screamed obscenities, threw our materials from the exhibit table to the ground, insisted we recognize their same-sex “spouses,” demanded that PFOX leave, and hit a PFOX volunteer because he is ex-gay.
Clearly, this sounds like utter mayhem at the Arlington County Fair. One can only envision these helpless, innocent ex-gay volunteers, persecuted as they have been through the ages, standing in their booth with a message new to the world – that gay people should be straight – while an ugly mob of “the gays” shout them down with intolerance. It’s madness, but there is more!
The gays became infuriated when our ex-gay volunteers testified about leaving homosexuality. They adamantly refused to accept the ex-gays’ sexual orientation. One gay man went so far as to hit our ex-gay volunteer because he refused to recant his ex-gay testimony. We summoned a police officer, who ejected the gay man off of the fairgrounds. Our ex-gay volunteer decided not to press assault charges against the gay man because he wanted to turn the other check as Jesus had done.
Surely this is unacceptable; the gays have taken to physical violence against these poor volunteers, these ex-gays. If true, we simply have to speak out against such heinous acts against our ex-gay brothers and sisters. Of course, this is XGW so we trust but verify. And that’s where it became interesting.
We made a few calls and found that the only gay organization with a booth at the fair, the “local gay group [which] also exhibits there and distributes materials on gay rights” that PFOX mentioned, was Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA). According to AGLA President-elect Daniel L. Hays, there was no incident of any kind between his organization and PFOX:
I worked several evening shifts at the Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance booth. I did hear one, what I would call “heated” discussion, but never saw any thing beyond raised voices. Our organization purposefully did not do anything to even interact with them, but I cannot speak to what individual fairgoers may or may not have said or done when I was not there.
Next we checked with Denise Marshall Roller, Event Manager for the fair. She told us that our call was the first she had heard of any problems of this kind associated with the fair barely two weeks prior, and she was there for much of it herself, most of the time near the officer in charge. We are waiting for her to reply with any additional information she can find.
Since PFOX stated that the police were “summoned” and that they “ejected the gay man off the fairgrounds” we decided to check with the Arlington County Police Department. Focus on the Family reports through CitizenLink that “Officers kicked the gay activists out of the fair and encouraged the PFOX volunteer to press charges, but he chose not to.” So depending on the account, we have one or more officers responding to a complaint of assault, recommending that the victim file charges, and then ejecting one or more “gay activists” from the fairgrounds. Surely the ACPD would know if one or more of their officers participated in such an action. What good would it do to eject them if others in charge were not also made aware so they could make sure they didn’t come back?
We contacted the ACPD and ended up speaking with John Lisle of the Media Relations/Legislative Affairs Office. He had no initial knowledge of such an incident. After checking briefly, he again said that no one was aware of such an incident. So we sent a copy of the PFOX statement to him at which time he agreed to check more thoroughly. After over two days of research, there was nothing he could add to his statement; no report exists and no one recalls such an incident.
So what are we left to conclude? PFOX claims to have been attacked verbally and physically on public fairgrounds by one or more unnamed attackers, yet no one we can find who is in a position to know about such an attack has any idea what PFOX is talking about. And though we tried to contact them, PFOX representatives have offered no evidence at all to support their own claims.
In spite of this, Focus on the Family has reported this story as fact through CitizenLink as has the Christian news site LifeSite. In addition, Exodus president Alan Chambers appeared on the August 29 edition of Family News in Focus (from Focus on the Family) to express his disappointment at hearing of the attack.
The full version from the FNIF site referenced above also has audio of PFOX president Regina Griggs describing the alleged attack and we recommend you listen to the entire thing.
Unless PFOX can offer hard evidence that such an incident occurred, one is hard pressed to conclude that it did, or at least that it happened the way they describe. One could speculate that a heated discussion with a fairgoer took place, as Daniel Hays seems to remember, and perhaps some literature was thrown away, but this is a long way from an attack. We challenge Regina Griggs to provide evidence to support her story. Certainly, it is in PFOX’s best interest that such evidence – if it exists – be made public.
Until such time, we must remain skeptical of this report. And we also have to ask why Focus on the Family and other Christian news organizations would report such an important story without some basic fact checking. If XGW can do this, why can’t they?
And what if it turns out this incident did not happen? Will PFOX make amends with the fair organizers, the “gay group” in the other booth, the ACPD, and even the public? Will Focus on the Family, LifeSite and Alan Chambers issue retractions and apologies? And what will it say about the veracity of such reports from PFOX in the past?