Whenever something remotely gay or ex-gay hits the headlines, Stephen Bennett is there pandering with a press release. He so desperately wants to be relevant, and yet he just isn’t. At times I actually feel sorry for him.
Responding to media questions about presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s 1992 statement on isolating those with HIV/AIDS, one can almost see Bennett jumping up and down like an attention-starved puppy as he issues yet another press release. This time he bills himself as “a worldwide Christian support community for parents with children who are homosexual, HIV positive or children who have died from complications due to HIV/AIDS.” When did he add the HIV/AIDS part? Apparently just yesterday, but then it does mesh nicely with the Huckabee issue.
It’s a coincidence that Stephen left his homosexual lifestyle in 1992 — the same year now presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made his statements on HIV/AIDS and reference to homosexuality as being “sinful.”
Smooth Stephen, real smooth.
Bennett has done a lot of things. He used to draw the portraits of celebrities (not half bad), then send them in as a fan and have them signed. Some might even think the work was commissioned by the celebrities themselves, though we are sure not intentionally. This was before his sign business, but on to the interesting stuff.
When he started a podcast, he called it a “nationwide radio program.” Apparently charging to listen wasn’t working out, so he started a church — a “virtual” church. Originally you could get sermons sent to you for $50 a month, but the material has become so stale it’s free now. It was creepy to hear him ask for everyone to gather round in a circle and hold hands, knowing he was probably sitting at his computer recording it all by himself.
It seems the church is closed now, and in 2007 he was supposed to criss-cross the nation to preach and give out a bunch of neat stuff. We know because he was asking for thousands in donations about this time last year to buy a new SUV for the task. No word on how that went, though he did get a writeup in One News Now because he ditched Ford due to the AFA boycott (they wouldn’t promise to stop advertising in GLBT publications). He always finds a way to get some ink.
Yes, at the end of each year Bennett always places panicked pleas on his website, asking for more and more money (details) ostensibly to tell the world how “NO ONE is born gay” and that he is a “FORMER homosexual” (he loves capital letters). Last year he even threatened to quit if he didn’t get $100K, a less drastic version of Oral Roberts 1980s plea. One can join Bennett’s ministry with any of a dazzling array of special packages; bronze, silver, gold, platinum, inner circle, lifetime – you name it. But you won’t get much from Bennett unless you give first, and if history is any indication, not much after either.
Bennett’s latest project (new ones come up about once a year) is something called The Parents Group (of which he is “executive director and founder, no less). Basically, it’s a forum hosted on his brother Bo’s web service and again, you can’t get in unless you pay. In a secular version of his usual over-hype, he claims “We HAVE the LATEST and GREATEST Web 2.0 technology, developed by “iGrOOps.” There isn’t a spec of the nebulous “web 2.0” in it as far as I can tell, but it does sound good.
If all this seems more tongue and cheek than usual, well it’s just hard to describe Stephen Bennett any other way. When you realize that all the “international this” and “world wide that” is really the proverbial desk in his garage, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking him too seriously. Then again, he did show up to ask a question on the get-it-online-only Value Voters Presidential Debate earlier this year. Does that count?
The big question we would like to ask of Bennett is this: Do you live off this ministry income? Is this your only means of support? If so, that might explain why you seem so desperate to profit off situations like the one above. We only wish you hadn’t gotten your ideas from a book entitled “Marketing Your Way to Ministry for Fun and Profit.”
If you would like to set the record STRAIGHT (oops, sorry) on this Stephen, feel free to do so in the comments.