Eye on the Opposition: Salt Lake City Conferences Outline Anti-LGBT Animus

By Megan Clayton • October 28, 2015 • 12:42 pm
Salt Lake City, Utah is a busy town this week. Conservative evangelical activists from across the country and around the world are meeting in Utah this week at the World Congress of Families conference. The four-day event features dozens of panels and discussion sessions, including speeches from the governors of Utah and Kansas.

The conference planning committee includes the largest religious right groups in the country: Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM). Organizers insist the intent is to promote the “natural family,” but the anti-LGBT animus behind the WCF’s policies and positions has been well-documented, as it has for the organizations behind it.

Read just a sampling of the statements and policies of the individual organizations here:

The World Congress of Families isn’t the only anti-LGBT event in Salt Lake City this week. Some of the attendees arrived a day early for another conference: “#Stand4Truth: Understanding Homosexuality – The Politically Incorrect Truth.”

While the World Congress of Families makes at least some attempt to moderate their event’s appearance, the #Stand4Truth organizers made no such effort. In addition to national speakers from Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage, several leaders of state organizations spoke. Brian Camenker of Massachusetts-based MassResistance was particularly blunt when rejecting his colleague’s argument that one should be respectful when speaking to or about LGBT people. He said:

I’m going to disagree. I think there is a place for being insulting and degrading, and I think I can back that up by scripture. I think we have to look at this as a war, not as, you know, a church service. – Brian Camenker, Anti-LGBT group MassResistance

This statement isn’t particularly surprising coming from Camenker, who has reveled in the  extreme fringe of anti-LGBT activism for years. At least one other participant though, presented a more discriminatory tone in Salt Lake City than he has in his home state of Texas.

Joining Camenker on the panel was pastor Dave Welch from Houston, one of the lead opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, which will be voted on this Tuesday, November 3. Welch’s usual talking points focus on the First Amendment and Houston families – yet he has repeatedly made it clear that his opposition is rooted in his anti-LGBT beliefs. His speech on Monday did the same before veering into even more extreme language, invoking the Nazis with “Peace for our Time” language. Watch:

Transcript: “Frankly, we allowed a lesbian mayor to be elected because most of the churches were asleep and just didn’t care. They didn’t understand the consequences of putting somebody in political power with the authority of the sword, who has literally rejected every element of the created order of God and his word and his moral truths. Why would we expect someone to act lawfully when they are living lawlessly? So here’s the issue for us: We got what we paid for. So the reality is then, it’s like the old “peace in our time” catastrophe – that when you didn’t stop the evil when it was cheap, when it would have been fairly easy to say, ‘No, not on our watch, you get those tanks back over the border,’ when we don’t step up and engage and speak truth and build the foundations – what should have happened is when that activist lesbian ran for office, with thousands of churches in that city, there should have been a rising up saying, ‘We don’t hate anybody, we’re not against that lifestyle or saying we’re going to disenfranchise you from being a citizen, but we understand because you have an agenda to take what you believe and govern accordingly and we understand that those consequences will be bad and harmful for the city. We will not allow that.”

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