Postcards From the Edge: Crackpot Anti-Gay Crusader Goes Global

Civil rights watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) keeps a list of hate groups. Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries has made the list for a couple of years running, and he’s furious.

Who is Scott Lively? He’s an attorney and a pastor, good with words. He wrote a book a while back called The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party.

Yes. In Lively’s view the Nazi party was gay. And this is because, well, the Germans actually invented homosexuality. Only it wasn’t an effeminate, easy-to-spot kind of gayness, it was a “butch” homosexuality. Lively is no Fred Phelps, notorious for the crudeness of his hate speech. His tone is measured and he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. But the whole thing reads a bit like something out of The Onion. In any case, his point is that the gay use of the pink triangle as a symbol of persecution is not justified—in fact, the whole war was their fault. Because the Nazis were all butch homosexuals.

The thing about Lively, and Phelps, for that matter, is that they are so personally strange as to make their ministries almost unclassifiable. Is this the religious right? It’s not clear that even those who appreciate the label would want this guy.

Although tired of “being smeared” and “defamed” on the internet by “gay apologists,” as he puts it, Lively, who is a lawyer, has decided not to sue. Instead he is embarking on a campaign “to give them a taste of their own medicine and expose the SPLC as the blindly partisan, anti-Christian hate group which it has become.”

In a post titled “Help Expose the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Lively protests that he is “not the violent hatemonger they [the SPLC] portray me as.” Apparently, Lively has tried to get himself off the hate group list. But as he’s not willing to repudiate his theories about “the homosexual roots of the Nazi regime,” he’s going to be on the list for a while.

Mark Potok, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, told me in a phone interview that he had “replied directly to him about how he could get off the list.” Potok pointed out that the main reason Lively is included on the list is because “in our view he consciously lies about, and defames, gay people. His theory of the Holocaust is equivalent to the flat Earth theory. It’s obvious to us that he has to know his allegations are completely false.” Potok also pointed out that the SPLC does not “associate Lively with violent activities.”

“In fact,” Potok added, “we don’t ordinarily list groups that say homosexuality is wrong or see it as a sin; we list very few anti-gay groups. They have to be very extreme in their views. We see Lively the same way we see Paul Cameron; the two of them in our view consciously promote easily provable false defamations. They don’t seem to care at all what the truth is.”

Lively is also the co-founder and spokesperson of Watchmen on the Walls (WOW)—another hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Talk2Action has referred to Watchmen as “a quasi-religious anti-gay hate group which calls homosexuality ‘inherently evil.’”) Lively’s “collaborators” include Alexey Ledyaev, leader of the Latvia-based international New Generation Church, and Ken Hutcherson, a former NFL player turned preacher who founded Antioch Bible Church, an anti-gay church located near Seattle, Washington.

The Latvia connection is particularly interesting, and makes perfect sense if you think about it. A particular kind of Russian audience might be susceptible to a crackpot theory linking German culture to homosexuality, and blaming gays for World War II. Why not? Lively has toured in Russia, proselytizing, and has a bit of a following among Latvian immigrants in this country.

Alexey Ledyaev was in the news two years ago when members of his church in California murdered Satender Singh, a 26-year-old Fijian of Indian descent. At the time, Lively called the murder “unfortunate,” and Watchmen on the Walls released a statement that refused to apologize for the murder. The statement insisted that the group is a “world association of men and women of all races, colors, and nationalities who believe in the superiority of the natural family and marriage of one man and one woman.”

The statement noted that while the organization is “against cohabitation, divorce, abortion, adultery and other acts that undermine society on which civilization is based,” it is especially opposed to “homosexuality because this destructive practice in the evils of organized political movement and became the principal enemies of the natural family.”

Watchmen on the Walls maintained that it did not “support violence and did not condone violence.” However, it stated that it would “not apologize for the fight against homosexuality because it is an inappropriate and harmful unnatural phenomenon, in both moral and physical, and psychological relationships.” The organization claimed that while “some hate homosexuals,” their group is not among them. “We see homosexuals similar to alcoholics, that is, as the unfortunate people who have been held hostage by their harmful lifestyles.”

The task of WOW is to “merge with associates around the world and assist them in the approval of the natural family and traditional marriage, as well as the healing of homosexuals… We will help those who share our beliefs, to take key positions in education, business, government, and the media around the world,” the statement read. The group pledged not to be cowed by critics that “believe homosexuality is normal and useful, especially journalists in Europe and America, many of whom are themselves homosexual or their active supporters.”

Well. Yes. Journalists are clearly all homosexuals.

In any case, Scott Lively is intent on global reach, and is traveling to Uganda this year to fight against the gay menace in Africa.

An international tour of hate.