International House of Hate?


Forgive the sloppy writing, not much time, but I wanted to make sure I touched on this today. I might post some more thoughts another time, but I think it’s important we have this conversation. 


I remember her. I had known her for perhaps five minutes the day before she left to go dedicate her life to ministry. She would set up camp at a building dedicated to prayer and would join thousands of others in crying out to God on high. For justice, for peace, for the love of Jesus to wrap around our world. And I remember being so deeply moved by it. This nonviolent approach to changing the world. No, she isn’t out there feeding babies and passing out mosquito nets, but she is putting all of her time into communicating with God. Begging him on behalf of world collapsing in pain. Like the way saints used to. And that’s a beautiful kind of work.


And I thought of this smart, passionate girl chasing God, changing the world, when I discovered that the place she was going to was involved with the Uganda kill the gays bill.


International House of Prayer.


After I watched the trailer for “God Loves Uganda” I began combing the internet for all the possible answers, all the maybe-it’s-not-trues. Based on what i’ve gathered, IHOP has in fact done a lot of good. Fed the poor. Clothed the naked. Fought sex trafficking. Prayed to God for justice and peace and love to flood the earth. For Kingdom Come.


But I also found the seedy underbelly of  a group that unabashedly seeks to institute Biblical Law in vulnerable countries. Invading villages, twisting a filthy finger in the old wounds of imperialism, telling folks of the recent LGBT victories in the US,  the signs of the end times and how Americans would begin enforcing their laws on Africa once again. Best solution?: Figure out how to stop it. We’ll look this way, you go about your business.


Last week, the head of National Organization for Marriage was exposed for traveling to Russia and assisting the Kremlin in passing their extreme anti-lgbt laws- imprisoning gay people and barring adoptions for gay couples, and now, heartbreakingly, potentially taking away children of LGBT couples that were conceived biologically.


I never felt the coldness of the heart of the right wing extremist. But I always sensed that there was something still beating there, deep beneath the dogma and delusion, something redemptive. Something human.


But now, I see them bringing about this darkness. this evil. this direction toward a new Dark Ages. And I’m reminded of how Jesus warned us:


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.


Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.” – Matthew 7:15-23


I used to think that this current schism occurring in the church would allow for a kind of live and let live Christian culture. Fundies could do their thing as it eventually withers out into the past. Since their influence in American politics has now reached a point of utter irrelevancy that we needn’t pay them any mind. I thought these culture wars didn’t really matter anymore.


Turns out. I’m wrong. They’ve simply set their sights on the developing world.


And I’m beginning to think that instead of having a conversation, a culture war truce, with Fundamentalists and right wing Evangelicals, our work would be better focused on protecting the world from the wrath of these people. Despite the lament from many progressive evangelicals, the right wing is hardly fighting here anymore. They’ve moved on. They’re going after the rest of the world. 


How do we stop this?

  • Wayne

    Thanks RR for not pretending there’s a truce. The stakes in the culture wars have indeed been raised. It’s time for the lgbti community to reluctantly begin naming and remembering and counting their dead. Maybe that we we’ll get angry enough to speak and to fight.

  • “instead of having a conversation”: I still think this is vital – not as in a broad conversation but in the sitting down with another person and talking things through and doing the work of listening and sharing and nudging and confronting. But now I am rethinking things like where I sit Sunday mornings, what organizations I send my money too (what exactly are they teaching that sponsored child), and what the companies behind the products I buy do with their profits. I no longer go by the label “christian” or “biblical” to determine my support and involvement. I am looking at things now in a personal way (always talking and sharing) AND public way (getting involved in organizations I trust like Marin, GCN and HRC). I would love to hear others thoughts about how we can go about speaking the peace and love and grace of Christ into these personal, national and as we see now, global situations.

    • registeredrunaway

      I agree with you Kate, and perhaps, I shouldn’t have written that so hastily.

      I am thinking of writing a post about HOW we go about speaking peace and love and grace on a global level, that is exactly the conversation I think we need.

      Conservatives that are in the middle, the ones that are willing to have fruitful conversations and not assume that their interpretation of scripture is THE interpretation of scripture, I want those right there in the conversation. I don’t necessarily consider them Culture Warriors. When it comes to groups like IHOP, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, THE GOP, those are the groups that I think are refusing to come to the table. The faith affiliated groups have essentially surrendered to the inevitable change in the US and now they’re fighting for ground globally.

      Side note, it’s interesting to see other conservatives have criticized IHOP. Not for the same reasons, but I have to agree with them to an extent on the spiritual experiences being brought about as Truth.

      • I agree with almost everything in that link…. my family has been heavily involved with IHOP since before it was IHOP, and I gotta tell you, even without the things in your post today, which I did not know and is making me sick to my stomach right now, but even without that, it’s pretty horrifying. That place makes my skin crawl. Most of my siblings have gone through one of their internship/discipleship/brainwashing programs, and I just. I can’t. It all makes me so sad, but I’m the only one in my family who’s left the church and fundamentalism, so they’d never listen to anything I said about it. I’m the gay liberal feminist black sheep who nearly left faith altogether, in no small part because of this place and the way it all went off the deep end.

  • I think that the people in my life who support groups like Focus, NOM, FRC etc. don’t understand what their support means. First of all, they don’t understand the extent of the damage that these groups can do. Second, they fail to understand that not every Christian supports/agrees with these groups. I often find myself in the awkward situation of being the only one in the room who isn’t all rah-rah when one of these groups is mentioned. And third, they don’t understand how their support of these groups hurts me because it hurts people I love. Not that it is all about me but I find it disheartening that there is a lack of understanding that this is even an issue unless I bring it up. The thought that these groups could be wrong isn’t even a thought. This is what I come up against all. the. time. I don’t know how to sway this except to keep talking. To keep pointing out other viewpoints. To encourage others to take a second look at the scriptures they cite. To bring it back to the basic things like Love and Grace. I don’t know how to combat this on a global level. Awareness seems trite, but that is part of it, right?

    Like I said, I would love to hear others thoughts (even though I have written way too many of mine here!).

    And side note, well, I have too many thoughts about that carm link to put into this discussion (I am a big proponent of contemplative prayer practices).

  • Hey RR
    You know I tend to be assertive in this conversation. I’m always walking the tightrope. How do we insist on Christian justice without marginalizing others? It’s not ok to condone the maltreatment of gay people, we must insist on change. The traditional doctrine is toxic and has born bitter, bitter fruit. It’s out moral obligation to fight for change in the Church.

    At the same time, we need to treat those we disagree with in a way that honors Christ.

    I think part of the answer lies in engaging productively with each other and being mutually transformed.

    I’m interested to know your thoughts.

    • registeredrunaway

      I totally hear you and agree with you 150% Ford.

      I guess, when I think Culture Warriors, I am thinking of groups like IHOP. I am thinking of those that are recklessly throwing Bible verses in the faces of new Christians in a developing country where, due to no separation of Church and State, they are able to implement their dream of a theocracy.

      And what they aren’t doing, at least anymore, is paying attention to the US. It’s pretty clear that LGBTQ rights are inevitable and so they’ve set their sights on the third world.

      At our church, back in MN, we host really civil, honoring conversations with those that disagree. I don’t consider any of the parties there culture warriors. But when it comes to right wing extremism, I think there is a need to prioritize protection of people from hateful, violent dogma.

  • Have you heard of Shawn Ahmed? I love his vision. He’s on twitter:

    • registeredrunaway

      Great find! And, no! Checking him out now. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Aibird

    I’d say we have a two pronged effort here. One part of this is the battle to fight the hate within the Church, the lions in sheep’s clothing that have left bitter fruit that has begun to rot. This hate will only cause our Church to hurt more, so yes, we need to fight that battle.

    But as for the developing countries? That side of the battle we don’t have to fight alone. Human Rights Commissions, UN, Amnesty, and so forth are fighting this right now. Those organizations need our help. Yes, not all of them are Christian based (if at all), but anyone who fights to end marginalization, end discrimination, end hate is on our side, and promote peace and love is on our side. We may not always agree, but at least in this area we do, and we need one another’s resources.

    Sometimes I think us Christians become so wrapped up in our Christian culture that we lose sight of all the organizations and people who are right outside that bubble, and who have the experience, the willingness, and the energy to fight alongside us. I discovered this myself when I had to leave the Christian ‘bubble’ and ended up right smack in the middle of a toxic war at my campus. The people who fought on my side to end the discrimination and hate-mongering was mainly atheists, agnostics, pagans, Hindi, ect. ect. A few Christians joined as well, but they were just part of a larger group that all fought for the same thing: to end hate and to foster peace and love.

    We have friends in many places, and yes not all of them are Christian, but they are there, and as long as we make it clear to them that we are here to help them fight this hateful laws and crimes against our LGBT brethren, then we’ll grow and actually have a fighting chance.

    That I think is what we need to do more than anything. Stop the bickering between us and non-Christians. Find our common ground, and reconcile our differences. We need each other if we want to fight against the lions in sheep’s clothing. To do that we need to reach out to those who are trying to do the same thing we are and combine our resources. That I think is one way of fighting against this spread of hate.

    • registeredrunaway

      This Aibird. Well said, as always.

  • Hey RR

    I don’t think I got my point across. Let me try again.

    The traditional, conservative theology pathologizes gay people and insists that our suffering is necessary for the flourishing of humanity. It uses language like “grave depravity”, and “contrary to Gods design for human sexuality” and “sinful and immoral”. It sets us up as a threat to society. It’s toxic.

    There are some that say it’s ok for people to hold that traditional belief – that we must coexist. That’s bull crap. People who hold the traditional belief do not get a moral pass – they do not get to avert their eyes from the wreckage this belief has caused, nor do they get to deny their culpability in continuing to hold it.

    The culture warriors are a natural and inevitable extension of this toxic way of believing. If being gay is immoral, then it must be discouraged by society (at home and abroad).

    The oxygen these anti-gay zealots like Lively, Fischer, and IHOP breath is the fear of “the normalization of homosexuality”. The fear of the spread of “immorality” urges the marginalization of gay people. We need to cut off that oxygen. There are at least three important ways we can do that.

    Working within our own sphere of influence, we must work to change hearts and minds through prayer, relationship and advocacy.

    Change starts with me and making sure I’m in the right place. My spiritual life is important in the effort. Prayer is my starting point.

    Knowing and being known is also important. The sea change in attitudes about homosexuality has happened at lightening speed; that’s a direct result of personal relationships. It’s much easier to fear those you don’t know. The more relationships I enter, the more I combat fear. It starts at home and goes from there. The internet gives us amazing reach in our ability to enter relationship (as you are well aware). For my part, I put myself in spaces where it’s possible to engage in fruitful dialog with those who believe differently than I do. The power of IHOP is grounded in the personal beliefs of conservative Christians. Change hearts, reduce IHOP’s influence. [this was the point I was trying to make in my earlier comment]

    As for advocacy, we need to SPEAK THE HELL UP. We need to insist on a different way of believing. We need to show people what that belief looks like in practice. When the Church doesn’t hold brother Anyabwile accountable for his praise of Uganda and Russia, then the Church approves of their actions too. When traditionalist voices like Tony Perkins and Timothy Dolan are peddling their brand of “God hates gay love” on national TV, they are the Church – they enable the likes of Lively and IHOP by giving them moral cover and perpetuating a belief that being gay is immoral (and therefore should be combatted). We need to rebuke our own and give counterpoint to their anti-gay pontificating.

    Borrowing from Gandhi- we need to model a Church we want to see in the world. We need to show other nations that it’s possible to believe in a way that doesn’t cause harm.

    So keep praying. Keep writing blogs like this one. Keep reaching out to people in the offline and online world. Make a NALT video. Insist the Church abandons toxic theologies for ones that don’t cause harm.

    These are the things we can do that, ultimately, will make the world safer for people who are gay.

    Does that make more sense?

  • Hilary

    What you said about looking outside the Christian bubble for allies at doing good, here is an interfaith religious organization in Uganda that openly opposses the kill the gays bill. They also have trees bearing bitter fruit, but at least theirs is caffinated.

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  • Jeff Nash

    Wow. … paint with a broad hateful brush much.