(CNSNews.com) - Public officials have the right to bring their religious convictions into the public square, but that right is under assault when Christians mention their deeply held beliefs about homosexuality, according to former homosexual Stephen Black.
"If you hold to strong Judeo-Christian values and you do not believe that homosexuality is God's intention for sexuality, (that is) going to be labeled as 'intolerant,' and 'hate speech,' and you yourself will be labeled as a 'bigot' and 'uncaring' and...'hateful,' with some of the most vulgar and vigorous communication," Black told Cybercast News Service.
Black was among a handful of speakers at a rally in Oklahoma City last Wednesday organized by supporters of state Rep. Sally Kern. The Republican lawmaker and committed evangelical Christian is the target of protesters who are furious about her comments on homosexual activism.
The rally drew about 2,000 people to the Capitol rotunda, where the message was one of defiance.
"We cannot submit to being bullied or manipulated by people with a pro-gay agenda," said Black, who is executive director of First Stone Ministries, an "ex-gay" organization based in Oklahoma City.
"We have to stand strong in our traditional family values . . . and we have to become pro-active instead of passive in terms of what's happening in our culture."
Kern told Cybercast News Service last week that she has become the target of a homosexual activist hate campaign for comments she made at a political meeting last month.
In her comments, which were secretly taped and edited and posted on YouTube, Kern can be heard calling the homosexual political agenda "a bigger threat to the nation" than cancer or terrorism.
Last week's rally was organized by conservative and Christian groups, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH).
"It was tremendous to see the support and people coming out just to say they resent this awful thing that was unleashed against her," said AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera.
"She made the point that she ran for office as a very devout and open Christian. She wants to bring Christian values back to this country -- that's what she is all about," LaBarbera said. "It seems to me that the gay activists targeted the wrong person. She is not somebody who will back down easily."
The wife of a Baptist pastor, Kern told the crowd that the real issue is whether Christians have the right to bring their faith into politics.
"It's about the Church having the right to speak out about the redeeming love of Jesus Christ who died to set us all free from our sins," she said in her 10-minute remarks.
Jody Huckaby, executive director of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), said many homosexual activists are no longer calling on Kern to resign, but they are hoping she will "consider the impact" of her words.
"I think that it's important that an elected official pay close attention to the people they represent and to understand them, but not to choose one group of people over the other," Huckaby told Cybercast News Service. "They are there to represent all the people that live in that district - even those that did not vote for them."
Do politicians have a right to bring their religious convictions into politics?
"Absolutely, politicians are like anybody else -- they don't lose their First Amendment freedoms just because they get elected to office," LaBarbera said.
Theologian Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, publisher of the journal "First Things," agreed that everybody brings their moral beliefs to bear -- or should bring their moral beliefs and arguments to bear -- on public policy
"For the great majority of Americans, those moral beliefs are virtually shaped and articulated in religious terms," Neuhaus said. "It's not only legitimate, it's necessary. The alternative is what I call the 'Naked Public Square,' where you have to check your moral beliefs in the cloakroom before you enter the political arena. Obviously, that is a flagrant and dangerous notion that if carried out consistently, means the end of democracy."
Kern, meanwhile, has received thousands of e-mails and phone calls since her comments first appeared in early March - including death threats.
See Earlier Story:
Lawmaker's Comments on Homosexuality Spark Hate Campaign (March 28, 2008)
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