Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Battle Cry Revisited

In last week's post about the Battle Cry event in San Francisco, I described Ron Luce as a 'stealth wingnut' who hides his political agenda in order to broaden his program's appeal.

This worked on at least one reporter for the Chronicle, and it appears to have worked on the editorial board as well. (I missed this when it first appeared last Tuesday, but I think it's still worth writing about.) They proceeded to attack the big old meanies on the Board of Supervisors for condemning a harmless rally of nice clean-cut Christian kids:

The supervisors' reaction to the evangelical Christians was so boorishly over the top that only one word could describe it:


Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was quoted telling counterprotesters Friday that the gathering Christians were "loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." On Monday, however, Leno struck a more reasoned tone, acknowledging that his rally cry was "not one of my prouder moments." He said the youth group was "welcome in San Francisco," even though he does worry that its religious rhetoric could "under a cloak of love" feed a "fearful world's appetite for hate."

In fact, concern about heterosexual sex by unmarried youth gets equal treatment from the Battle Cry campaign. Its goal is to spread Christianity and to help young people recognize and resist the cultural influences of a "stealthy enemy" that includes "corporations, media conglomerates and purveyors of popular culture." Its Web site (www.battlecry.com) speaks of "casualties of war" that include drinking, drug use, teen sex, pornography, abortion, suicide and violence.

We may disagree with certain aspects of the Battle Cry agenda -- on issues such as abortion rights, religion in schools or acceptance of an individual's sexual orientation -- but the attempt by counterprotesters and some of the city's elected officials to call them "fascist" and "hateful" was totally at odds with the tone of the ballpark event and the approach of the Web site.

The gathering was not an "act of provocation," as the supervisors claimed. It was a get-together of young evangelicals whose lifestyles and religious views just happen to be in the minority here -- apparently making them open season for politicians to chastise. [emphasis added]
Not an 'act of provocation'? Tell that to Ron Luce. From the Bay Area Reporter:
"Please prayerfully consider coming early and gathering for this pre-event Battlecry rally at San Francisco's City Hall and have your teens participate as we pray for the northwest region, our nation, and this generation," an announcement from Battlecry founder Ron Luce said. "These are the very city hall steps where several months ago ***gay marriages*** [sic] were celebrated for the entire world to see."

Battlecry publicity materials also state...."Try to imagine a society that mocks the fact that 'under God' was ever even in our Pledge of Allegiance. Try to imagine the motto 'In God we trust' taken off our money. Imagine all references to Christ and His cross removed from all emblems and city logos. Try to imagine a world where a pastor can go to jail for saying homosexuality is wrong. Current news stories confirm that these unfortunate events are already happening here and in other nations around the world."
And of course, the ultimate irony of this editorial is that the day before it appeared Luce had spoken at the wingnut War on Christians conference. (More about Luce's political agenda and affilications here.)

But the Chronicle editorial board can't be expected to know all this. After all, it wasn't on the website.

Just to be clear, if they had been right about the nature of the rally--if it really had been just a religious thing, and not a deliberate political provocation--then it would have been wrong of the Supervisors to condemn it. As it is, I think the resolution and counter-demonstration were exactly what Luce was aiming for when he came here. (I fully expect this picture to be featured prominently in Vision America's future publicity materials.) The wisdom of the thing isn't what's at issue here, though. The editorial was about intolerance--and it was based on an incomplete and erroneous understanding of the group in question.

This is why people like Luce are dangerous. Too many people who should know better are way too easy to fool.

[That's all, folks]