This week, I spoke to several people at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. about the increase in hate incidents during the month following the November election in preparing this week’s cover story, See You in Church.
Ryan Lenz, spokesperson for the SPLC, said, “Advances in LGBT rights is a trope used for a long time” by the Christian right.
He said those advances by the LGBT community are seen as a direct affront to Christian values. He explained the “War on Christianity” that Gateway Church will be discussing this weekend this way:
Advances in equality “doesn’t respect Christianity’s condemnation of LGBT people,” he said. Although what he said wasn’t anything new, I thought the way he put it was the clearest and most concise explanation of it I had ever heard.
SPLC reports a sharp increase in hate incidents (not necessarily hate crimes) in the month following the election. Of the 1,094 reports they received, 109 were LGBT-related. Of those, 4 occurred in Texas. Add to that the Gateway Church incident. (Preaching a hateful sermon in church isn’t necessarily an incident. Sending a postcard to the entire town announcing the War on Christianity is).
Then, as I was talking back and forth with the SPLC, Cathedral of Hope was hit with graffiti. Anti-LGBT incident No. 2 in North Texas this week. We reported on the incident yesterday morning. Here’s some additional information:
What upset CoH’s Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas more than anything is that a wedding is planned in the chapel this weekend and he hopes to have it removed before the ceremony. As usual, his concern was more for others.
Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Although the attack might have been random, it was obviously an attack on a church, so it can be classified as anti-Christian. What’s not as apparent is whether the attack is anti-LGBT. There’s a reference to “kitty porn.” Did the tagger mean “kiddie porn” and was he referring to a discussion Cazares-Thomas had on a KHVN talk show the day before explaining the difference between a healthy relationship between two adult men or women and pedophilia?
Or was the church’s attacker referring to a Jonathan Kimbrough? The rest of the graffiti includes Kimbrough’s phone number and, presumably, a description of his car.
The phone number is a northern Louisiana number that belongs to a Charles J. (Jonathan?) Kimbrough who is has been an Acadia Parish Jail inmate since last April. The car is referred to as a “Chivy Suburbin,” presumably as Chevy Suburban. Even the name was written as “Johntion Kimbrou” or “Kimbrow” and he wrote “Louisia” for Louisiana.
Was this simply someone who has something out for Kimbrough or was it an attack on a church or specifically a predominantly LGBT church? Police are still investigating. And thank you Cliff Pearson for some crack investigative research.