In a recent post to his blog, Stephen Black, director of Exodus charter member First Stone Ministries, added more of his own spin to the Sally Kern issue, and with it some new facts. He again expresses support, not shame, focusing on how he thinks Kern was the victim and her words, if taken in context, would be understood as loving:

They edited down the comments to what they considered the most inflammatory sound bites. Their cunning plan was to upload the edited comments to YouTube in hopes of enraging gay people and their supporters. This plan, they thought, would further the “Victory Fund” gay political cause and bring in funds for their political machine. Over and over they emphasize that Rep. Kern’s speech demonstrated hatred towards gays. What they failed to mention – or include in the sound bites – is the truth, that Rep. Sally Kern said we must love the homosexual.

For the record, the entire speech was released shortly after the original clip surfaced. There was no editing, but a 2:45 clip of her main remarks about gays was taken in it’s entirety. The remaining portion dealing with the subject hardly helps to change the tone in a positive direction — quite the contrary. But many of the articles written in favor of her words add the claim about editing in an apparent attempt to further illustrate how the writer believes Kern has been wronged.

We must “love the homosexual,” a phrase I have always found repugnant and sterile. In this case, as with Exodus, is seems that we must love the homosexual, but only truly accept them if and when they hate the fact that they are homosexual (if indeed we accept that there is such a thing). If one is content and gay, well we might love them like we would a savage in need of a missionary. But then Black can’t resist going further in a comment which misstates, lightly renounces and then supports Kern’s terrorism remarks all in the same breath.

In her remarks during the January speech, Rep. Kern mentioned the parallel of the gay political movement in the United States – not individual gays. She said the agenda of the gay political movement is, in her opinion, as dangerous as terrorism. While I personally would not have used this parallel, the irony of this story is impossible to ignore. That irony is demonstrated very visibly in the hate emails numbering over 26,000, death threats, and the meanspirited and orchestrated campaign calling for her resignation. These very tactics are akin to terroristic tactics, therefore point directly back to Sally’s original parallel. Truly this is ironic!

Black claims, as many Kern supporters have, that she was talking only about a political movement when she made the terrorism comparison. It’s not individual gay people that are more dangerous than terrorists, it’s their attempt at representation in the political system that is so dangerous (“gays are infiltrating city councils”). And even though local investigators determined that none of the “death threats” were really threats, this is used by Black to again compare the outrage of gay people to terrorism. In order to illustrate how absurd his first claim is, here is the section of Kern’s speech where she made the terrorism remark:

… according to God’s word that is not the right kind of lifestyle. It has deadly consequences for those people involved in it. They have more suicides and they’re more discouraged, there’s more illness, their life spans are shorter. You know, it’s not a lifestyle that is good for this nation. Matter of fact, studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell for this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat even, that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat, okay. [emphasis added]

Ignoring the Cameronesque junk science quotes, it is obvious that Kern was not referring to a political movement, but to homosexuals and “their lifestyle” as a bigger threat to this country than people who fly planes into buildings. What Black says next may provide a clue as to one of the reasons Exodus has not made any official statement on Kern’s speech:

The untold part of this story – which I delight to tell you now – is that behind the scenes, Rep. Sally Kern and her husband, Dr. Stephen Kern have supported First Stone Ministries for many years. Dr. Stephen Kern is the senior pastor at Olivet Baptist Church, which actually hosts some of First Stone Ministries’ support groups. The Kern’s have a special place in their hearts for our ministry to those who struggle with same-sex attractions and homosexuality.

First Stone Ministries has been a part of Exodus since the beginning in 1976. They are, no doubt, an old and trusted part of the network. Kern and her husband support First Stone Ministries, perhaps financially, but certainly by hosting them in their own church. First Stone is even listed as a ministry on the website of Olivet Baptist. Apparently there is no problem at all with having an ex-gay point of view in office, but representing gay interests is terrorism territory.

Chris Morrison, development coordinator with First Stone Ministries writes in the same post about his “struggle with homosexuality” and describes his choices as “continuing to seek the Lord in my weakness or just give up and live as a gay man.” In his recollection from 2004, he illustrates the depth of the near worship Kern has garnered from the oddest places:

In 2004 I had the privilege of supporting Sally Kern as she ran for State Representative. I attended her watch party on Election Day and remembered her saying she knew that God was calling her to run for State Representative, but didn’t know all the reasons. That statement resounded in my head as I stood and watch Sally Kern at the Freedom of Speech Rally – “Rally for Sally” on April 2, 2008. I remembered the words from the Bible, “For such a time as this.” Sally Kern, is a representative “for such a time as this.”

Read that quote above from Kern’s speech, and then contemplate the mindset that would cast her as some sort of anti-gay patron saint in this way. The events surrounding Kern’s bizarre little talk have both angered and saddened me. I’m beginning to realize that, in at least some cases, what I thought was a more civil, sincere change in the hearts and minds of those who have opposed gay rights and equality in this society, perhaps was only a thin veneer which they feel has been imposed upon them.

There are those who feel put out by having to temper their prejudice, tone down their rhetoric, curb their hate — essentially act more like decent human beings. And somehow, Kern has given these people a twisted sense of deliverance, a battle cry, and a line in the sand. To be sure there are plenty who have never moderated their venom, but I wonder now how much room there is between an Exodus and a Peter LaBarbera. The latter regularly uses fear as a tool to motivate people to hate. Stephen Black and First Stone Ministries are doing essentially the same thing through Sally Kern. At least LaBarbera is up front about it.

When Jim Phelan said things Exodus considered out of line, he was dropped from their membership. Stephen Black was part of the rally for Kern, and he not only supports her position entirely, but has made many of the same statements himself. Perhaps Exodus owes Phelan an apology, and a restoration of his membership.

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