A federal law implemented against pro-life advocates is being cited in a lawsuit that is bashing back at “Bash Back!,” a pro-homosexual anarchist organization that infiltrated and disrupted a worship service at a Michigan church last fall.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday by The Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Mount Hope Church in Michigan’s Delta Township.
It cites violations of the First Amendment rights of worshippers who were under siege during the attack by the anarchists, the complaint says. It cites the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, originally set up to ward off pro-life protesters who approached abortion business entrances, for its protections of “the exercise of the First Amendment right to religious freedom.”
“The use of violent threats and criminal behavior to make a political point should never be acceptable in America,” said Gary McCaleb, ADF senior counsel. “Bash Back! revealed how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our first liberty, religious freedom. ADF filed this suit to stop Bash Back! and other activist groups from invading churches, disrupting worship, silencing pastors, and terrifying adults and children who attend religious services.”
The lawsuit said the anarchist organization has posted on its website a banner photo of “members dressed in terrorist-like garb and wielding various objects as weapons.”
“The Lansing chapter of the group targeted Mount Hope Church because of the church’s well-known Christian views on marriage and homosexual behavior,” the ADF said.
The complaint described how several members of the anarchist group planned and then staged a protest outside the church’s doors to draw away security and police.
“I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment,” the lawsuit said the organization boasted on its website. “However, we cant [sic] give you really any detailed information due to the cop who’s [sic] ridiculous job it is to do surveillance over this blog…. ‘ONLY ONE DIRECTION! TRANS AND QUEER INSURRECTION!’ – Bash Back! Lansing”
Photo by Bash Back of its own members, who disrupted a Michigan church service by flinging condoms around the sanctuary
Then anarchists had volunteers who “dressed in plain clothes then deceptively entered the [church] building.”
“At a coordinated time, they sprang up to disrupt the service, terrifying many attendees. The group shouted religious slurs, unfurled a sign, and threw fliers around the sanctuary while two women began kissing near the podium. The group pulled fire alarms as they ran out of the building,” the ADF said.
The anarchists later boasted, “This church is nothing short of a disease in the community, and in the minds of those who attend.”
But the lawsuit said federal law imposes penalties on anyone who “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.”
The complaint cites the obstruction, intimidation and trespass of the anarchists.
The church seeks permanent injunctive relief and both compensatory and punitive damages, “all of which it is authorized to receive under FACE,” the complaint said.
“Defendant Amy ‘Andy’ Field, in a radio interview, when asked whether she and the other defendants’ conduct violated the church’s civil rights, stated, ‘I’m not concerned with their civil rights,’” the complaint reported.
As WND reported, Bash Back! members interrupted the service to fling propaganda and condoms around the sanctuary, drape a profane banner from the balcony and feature two lesbians making out at the pulpit.
According to a blog posting by Nick De Leeuw on Right Michigan, the Bash Back! organization orchestrated a protest in front of Mount Hope Church to draw the church’s security staff away from the sanctuary. Then Bash Backers who had dressed up and mixed in with church worshippers took action.
According to De Leeuw, “Prayer had just finished when men and women stood up in pockets across the congregation, on the main floor and in the balcony.”
“‘Jesus was gay,’ they shouted among other profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss,” he wrote.
He cited the Bash Back! organization’s own announcement of other items members brought into the church, including “a megaphone, noise makers, condoms, glitter by the bucket load, confetti, pink fabric. …”
“Mount Hope churchgoers were unclear as to what the purpose of the demonstration was,” said a statement at the time from David Williams, a spokesman for the church.
“The leadership of Mount Hope Church does not attempt to identify the church as anti-homosexual, anti-choice, or right wing. The church does take the Bible at face value and believes what the Bible says to be the truth,” Williams’ statement continued.
“According to the Bible, Mount Hope Church believes homosexuality to be a sin, just as fornication, stealing, drunkenness, and lying are sins. No sin greater than the next. Mount Hope Church strives to follow Jesus’ example of loving the sinner but not the sin while helping people change their lives for God’s glory and their improved quality of life. Mount Hope Church also recognizes that to each person God grants freewill.”