Dr Michael Brown Tough-talking Pentecostal Dr Michael Brown is the latest Christian leader to be added to Love Won Out’s roster of conference speakers. In this article, we profile Dr Brown, and ask whether the ex-gay movement’s newest friend might only drag it deeper into “culture wars”.

Who is Brown?

Brown is an Old Testament scholar, a revivalist, a Pentecostal apologist, an evangelist to Jews and an unabashed moral crusader.

He is President of the FIRE School of Ministry, a non-denominational Charismatic Christian training college that grew out of the controversial “Brownsville Revival” (also known as the “Pensacola Outpouring”) of the 1990s. After a split between Brown and John Kilpatrick, then Pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God, FIRE eventually relocated to Concord, North Carolina.

Since then, Brown has founded the Coalition of Conscience, a Charlotte-based network of conservative Christians working together for “moral and cultural change through the gospel,” and who want to “make an impact for righteousness” in the city. Chief among their activities has been opposing the Charlotte Gay Pride Parade.

Brown is a noted apologist for charismatic revival, particularly that which came out of Toronto in the early 1990s – a revival that divided evangelicals and became known for the exotic behaviour of its participants, including hysterical laughter, fainting (being “slain in the Spirit”), “spiritual drunkenness,” shaking and animal noises. He is also a Messianic Jew, and has an apologetic and evangelistic ministry dedicated to persuading Jews of “the Messianic credentials of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth.”

Dem’s fightin’ words

A cursory glance at Brown’s vast output reveals the strong, aggressive language in which he wraps his message. Revolution! The Call to Holy War is the title of one of his books, for example. His writings are peppered with militaristic rhetoric:

[We] are in a life and death struggle … We really are in a war! … We live in a battle between two kingdoms … [1]

It will be a Jesus revolution, an intense clash between two spiritual kingdoms, a heavenly attack on the enemy’s strongholds, a no-compromise stand for morality and truth. [2]

Yes, the battle lines have been drawn, the enemy is taking ground, and many of us hardly realize that the war is on. The devil is moving forward with energy and aggression. What in the world are we doing? [3]

Brown’s disclaimer is that it is “a non-violent revolution based on purity, compassion, and sacrifice rather than one based on anger, intimidation, rebellion, and force,” but these are hardly comforting words to the targets of Brown’s crusade. Even when such language is clearly not meant in a physical sense, how is one supposed to receive it – especially when used to deny others their rights – if not as angry, intimidating, rebellious and forceful?

Brown and gays

Brown has a forthcoming book: A Queer Thing Happened to America: How a Stealth Agenda Is Changing Our Nation. For Brown, the growth of gay rights is just one more sign that Satan is targetting America. In a long discussion on Warren Throckmorton’s blog recently (a thread that took three nights for this writer to wade through!), Brown characterized gay rights as an infringement on his rights to practice his Christian faith:

[There] are activists who do have specific goals in mind, and some of those goals include the removal of my right to practice my faith before God — at least as it affects homosexual issues. [4]

Challenged on how gay rights violate his rights, Brown gives a lengthy explanation in which he complains that he would be required to “recognize” gay marriage, which would be “a fundamental denial of my moral and religious convictions.” One might ask whether allowing interracial marriage violates the rights of those whose religious faith is offended by the mixing of races? How would Brown would have responded to Kenneth Hagin, Jr, the charismatic preacher who taught his students this very thing? By Brown’s logic, how could the US allow interracial marriage without violating (the late) Hagin’s rights? And of course, Hagin’s children would be taught respect for interracial marriage in schools, and his tax dollars would support interracial marriage, to a degree – all objections that Brown levels against permitting gay marriage. The absurdity of the arguments becomes clear.

Does the ex-gay movement need Brown right now?

We have seen an increasing politicization of the ex-gay movement over the past few years. Ex-Gay Watch has regularly documented how the leaders of Exodus and other ex-gay groups have consistently subjugated pastoral ministry to the pursuit of political goals, chiefly opposing gay rights. This has already cost them in Europe, where the organization’s increasingly political agenda led to several ex-gay ministries withdrawing their membership. Does Love Won Out, of which Exodus is an affiliate, need to bring on board such a bombastic personality who will lead them only deeper into the culture wars?

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