Then, we well remember the efforts (by conference organizers and hosts) immediately after the conference to downplay the shocking "demonstration", the efforts to "SHUT IT DOWN!" -- to disrupt the conference, and perhaps storm the church.
We suspect that the organizers and their hosts didn't appreciate the significance of the near-riot at first. So we are happy to see they apparently have come to a clearer understanding. Two reports have just surfaced from Focus on the Family with details on what actually happened that day.
First, Focus on the Family's magazine, Citizen Link -- which uses our photo -- reports on the "vitriol" of the demonstrators: "Hate meets hope in Boston" (Jan. 2006):
Their shouts echoed up the canyon-like walls of the buildings on either side: Many made obscene gestures at people watching from inside. A row of shoulder-to-shoulder police officers guarded the church doors from the threatening mob.
Allison Silva, a member of MassEquality, stood near an upright coffin bearing a sign that equated the conference with death.
“What they’re doing is causing suicides,” she said. “It’s causing people (to have) severe mental illness after they’ve gone through treatment that is not successful. Being gay is natural. Homosexuality is natural. It’s just a part of everyone’s life.”
Ashlee Reed, director of Project 10 East, said the conference was “not acceptable.”
“Groups such as these that have programs where they attempt to change people and attempt to make people into something they’re not—it’s a form of bullying,” she said.
Our report included a photo of a poster from the demonstration, which read:
The Citizen Link column explains the absurdity of this poster. Besides equating racism with opposition to special "rights" for homosexuals, this poster shows an ignorance of the history of the special church, Boston's Tremont Temple, which hosted the conference.
The church is no stranger to controversy. Though one sign tagged the conference as “racist,” Tremont Temple was the first racially integrated church in America. It was part of the Underground Railroad. It’s where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read in New England. All of that in the face of great opposition.
Pendleton [pastor of the church] said taking a stand for truth ultimately brings people together, including teaching a biblical view of homosexuality.
“I think having such a strong, positive, loving, redemptive message is something that unites a church,” he said. “And that’s what I’m about.”
Second, Dr. James Dobson's radio broadcast interviewed Mike Haley, one of the main ex-gay speakers of the conference, on his radio show on December 27. Haley described the demonstration:
Dobson: You were just in Boston, and there was an unbelievable protest there. Tell us how that happened.
Haley: Well, absolutely. The same day that we had planned our Love Won Out conference, there was also a protest – an anti-war protest with Cindy Sheehan. Well, they had joined sides. We had two thousand protesters in front of our event. About 10-12 policemen shoulder-to-shoulder blocking the entrance of the church. It was just an incredible episode. One of the things that we realized as we looked out on the protesters was the amount of venom that they had for the message…
Dobson: Were they screaming?
Haley: Screaming: “Shut it down! Shut Focus down! Shut it down! Shut this church down!
Dobson: You told us even the police were shaken.
Haley: Absolutely. Dan Patterson, who comes with us on all of our events said that after he was able to talk with some of the policemen that were there -- He said they were visibly shaken and said that absolutely, if they had not been there, they would have stormed the church.
Dobson: How many people were inside?
Haley: We had 900 people in attendance, and that was in Boston....