On October 10, 2004, a group of eleven Christians who were demonstrating at Philadelphia OutFest were arrested on a variety of charges, including most notoriously “ethinic intimidation.” All charges were eventually dropped, but the story nonetheless has had a powerful impact in Christian circles with its foreboding suggestions of what could happen in the future if hate crimes laws are allowed. Since the event, the “Philadelphia 11” have been treated as heroic defenders of the faith in conservative Christian circles.
I want to set aside the issue of hate speech and hate crimes laws, the legality of the actions of the “Philadelphia 11”, and the question of whether they were treated worse or better than they deserved by the gay event attenders and law enforcement. My concern here though isn’t so much with the events of that day themselves, but with the adoption of the “Philadelphia 11” as conservative Christian poster children (literally–see the smaller picture on the bottom left) and defenders of the faith.
Michael Marcavage and his organization Repent America, which was behind the demonstration, profess to be acting out of love. But wouldn’t love pay heed to the efficacy of a method of evangelism? If he really wants to see men and women turn from their sin to Christ, would he show up at gay pride events with a bullhorn? I can’t help but wonder if this is more about making disturbances, getting attention, making enemies, and trying to get persecuted than it is about presenting the gospel in love to people who need to hear it. In this post I will demonstrate how Repent America’s love falls short, judging them by their own words and by resources they link to from their own site–not by what their enemies have to say about them.
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