Repent Amarillo Web site offers a chilling look into the militaristic — and threatening — world of conservative so-called Christians waging a holy war in the Panhandle
If you are like most Americans, myself included, you would figure a group styling itself as the "Army of God" would be somewhere in the Middle East. After all, the name "Hezbollah" means just that.
Welcome to Amarillo, Texas, where the radical fundamentalists are not Muslim, but alleged Christians. That’s right, Good Ole’ Boys on a Jesus Jihad have set up shop in Amarillo and are using the Internet to lay their plans.
And believe me, their plans are worth noting!
Repent Amarillo, (RepentAmarillo.com) as the group’s Web site is titled, is filled with pictures of soldiers carrying guns and lots of firepower. Their mission statement should send chills down the spine of just about any Texan who doesn’t fit their rigid mold — and that means LGBT folks in Amarillo, especially.
"We are the Special Forces of spiritual warfare, we’re looking for a few good warriors," it says.
Equally disturbing is this little warning note: "Notice: This site is not designed for non-christians [sic], It is designed as a recruitment tool to call certain Christians to spiritual warfare. If you are not a Christian and you want to know more about becoming a Christian consider the following Links as resources. While some of them support our efforts, and some may not, it is not about us and it is not about them. It is about Jesus Christ."
Bad punctuation aside, these folks scare the hell of me. They even have an interactive "Warefare Map" on the site that pinpoints everything from gay bars that they refer to as "Sexually Oriented Businesses" to Unitarian Churches which the site calls "Idol Worship Sites."
Christian Scientists are not exempt either. Their church is shown with a push pin noting that it is a "man centered" religion, not "Christ-centered." Mary Baker Eddy would not be amused.
This group was in the news recently when they staked out a very discrete and private swinger’s club. They hid in the parking lot and took photos of people entering and exiting the club, then used license plates to find names and addresses.
They then proceeded to distribute photos and videotape to neighbors and co-workers with devastating results.
Luckily, the Texas Observer has already done one investigative report on the group.
However, they still are terrorizing folks in Amarillo, and until and unless they are stopped, I suspect it could get very ugly.
On the LGBT front, Repent Amarillo has had other chilling effects. A local theater group attempted to perform the play "Bent."
The story is sympathetic to the plight of gays during the Third Reich and thus, a perfect target for these self-righteous jihadists. The day before opening night they called in numerous complaints to the fire marshal and shut the theater down.
Even the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center has become a target for this group.
Inside the 600-acre nature preserve, Wal-Mart has sponsored what is called an "Earth Circle." It’s a location used for lectures and presentations.
But Repent Amarillo sees it as a locus for "witches and pagans" and other non-Christ centered religions. Thus, it is a target on their Warfare Map.
So do I really believe these folks are dangerous? Yes, I really do.
The militaristic imagery and rhetoric sprinkled throughout the site is just the kind of stuff that motivates people to fly planes into IRS buildings and worse.
It’s time we called these folks exactly what they are: a hate group.
I would lay money that if they wore the traditional Arab garment, a "dishdashah," instead of black hoodies and Army surplus camouflage they would be labeled as "terrorists" in a heartbeat. Just because they wear crosses around their necks doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.
Why Homeland Security hasn’t shut these people down is a mystery to me. For now, they continue their harassment of the Panhandle unabated.
Is it any wonder I used to explain to folks when they ask about my religion that I was a "follower of Jesus" instead of Christian?
People like Repent Amarillo have hijacked the term "Christian," and it is time liberal Christians like myself took it back. These modern day Pharisees are just the kind of people Jesus railed against in his ministry; I believe he called them "hypocrites?"
Me? I am still working on granting them that much grace, I prefer to call them just plain terrorists.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 12, 2010.