Hutcherson photo art via Mike Tidmus.
David Neiwert at Orcinus has an update on the activities of the Seattle-area's answer to Fred Phelps, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church.
You might recall that back in March, Pastor Hutch made headlines because of his claim that the Bush White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives named him "Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief," and he represented himself as such in Latvia. The White House denied this, and Hutch threatened to prove his status by producing video of him being given the "power." (He has yet to produce his evidence.)
Orcinus points to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Casey Sanchez that Latvian-based fundamentalist extremists are fomenting anti-gay thuggery on the West Coast, specifically among Russian and Ukrainian immigrants in the Sacramento Valley. The group calls itself the Watchmen on the Walls.
In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. In the Western U.S., the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking evangelicals from the former Soviet Union. Members are increasingly active in several cities long known as gay-friendly enclaves, including Sacramento, Seattle and Portland, Ore.
Vlad Kusakin, the host of a Russian-language anti-gay radio show in Sacramento and the publisher of a Russian-language newspaper in Seattle, told The Seattle Times in January that God has "made an injection" of high numbers of anti-gay Slavic evangelicals into traditionally liberal West Coast cities. "In those places where the disease is progressing, God made a divine penicillin," Kusakin said.
Read about some of the people befriending Hutcherson who plan to gather at the Lynnwood Convention Center in Washington after the jump.
One of the characters sucking up to Hutcherson is Latvian megachurch preacher Alexey Ledyaev, who was at the Seattle homobigot's side at the 2006 conference of the Watchmen on the Walls, along with Scott Lively, former director of the California tentacle of the American Family Association and the anti-gay Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA).
Lively identifies "the enemy" as not only homosexuals, but also what he terms "homosexualists," a category that includes anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, who "actively promotes homosexuality as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality as a basis for social policy."
...During the past year, the Watchmen have met twice in the United States, first in Sacramento, then in Bellevue, Wash. They gathered to strategize against same-sex marriage and build a political organization to fight "gay-straight alliances" in public schools and push for the boycott of textbooks that mention homosexuality in any context other than total condemnation.
The group has also convened outside America. In the summer of 2006, the Watchmen and their supporters gathered in Riga, Latvia, to "protect the city from a homosexual invasion." Gay rights activists in Europe counter that it's gays who need protection from the Latvian capital, not the other way around.
...One of Ledyaev's nephews saw Hutcherson speak in Seattle at a March 2006 debate on gay rights and arranged a meeting with the Latvian pastor. By the end of the year, Hutcherson, Ledyaev and Lively had teamed up with Vlad Kusakin, the editor of The Speaker, to form an international alliance to oppose what Hutcherson characterizes as "the homosexual movement saying they're a minority and that they need their equal rights."
Did I mention that Ledyaev, a good friend of Crazy Pat Robertson, was also invited to the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast hosted by Dear Leader? And he has a flair for anti-gay theatrics:
At 56, Ledyaev is still youth-oriented enough to promote his vision of global theocracy through elaborate, large-scale Christian rock operas that Ledyaev writes, directs and stars in, and which are replete with lasers, smoke machines, and spandex-clad actors in ghoulish makeup. One of the rock operas, which young Russian-speaking anti-gay activists promote on video-sharing websites, features a hero character wearing a tuxedo battling men in black tights armed with tiki torches. Over heavy-metal guitar riffs, a military-like chorus sings of "victory over the gays."
OK. Is it me or do I sense a tad of homoeroticism there?
David Schmader at SLOG (which has action item info up), aptly notes this about the conference, which is slated for October 19-21 at the Lynnwood Convention Center:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but foreigners coming to America with the purpose of doing harm to Americans are traditionally called terrorists, and the Watchmen conference seems like the last thing the City of Lynnwood would want to align itself with.
Hat tip oddjob and Shakesville.