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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Folger, WND Still Mislead About Anti-Gay Protesters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Janet Folger just bring herself to tell the real story about anti-gay protesters.

In her July 16 WorldNetDaily column, Folger purported to detail the "cliff notes of what so called 'hate crime' legislation has already done in America." She cited the following as "the facts":

Crystal Lake, Illinois. Two 16 year old girls are facing felony "hate crime" charges for the content of their flyers.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Linda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk.

But as we've detailed, Folger's not big on "the facts" when telling the story of anti-gay protesters:

  • The girls in Crystal Lake, in fact, faced charges after allegedly plastering their high school’s halls and distributing anti-gay fliers directed towards a fellow student in the school’s parking lot.
  • Elshinnawy and Beckman not the meek, ordinary grandmothers that Folger portrays -- they are anti-gay, anti-abortion activists in thrall to bullhorn-wielding street preachers.

Given that Folger is hiding the truth about the Crystal Lake and Philadelphia cases, she's likely doing the same about the other two cases she cites:

Elmira, N.Y. The Elmira police arrested seven Christians for praying in a public park where a homosexual festival was getting started. A female officer told the group, "You're not going to enter the park, and you're not going to share your religion with anybody in this park." The group of seven didn't say anything, but got down on their faces and silently prayed. They were promptly placed in handcuffs.

Folger (and Bob Unruh, in the July 7 WND article from which Folger apparently got her information) leaves out one important detail: According to a June 24 Elmira Star-Gazette article on the incident, the group did their silent praying in front of the stage, thus disrupting the event. Folger and Unruh also fail to mention, as the Star-Gazette detailed, that the protesters were quickly released and returned to the event, but not in the park.

A June 27 Star-Gazette article describes the leader of the protesters, Julian Raven, as "a born-again Christian street preacher" and quoted an Elmira pastor as describing Raven's preaching style as "zealous and militant." The article adds: "

Julian preaches loudly and with a passion that borders on anger. He holds a Bible in one hand and waves his other in the air as punctuation, while he wails of woes and bellows about schools removing the Ten Commandments, television shows "full of filth" and violence spreading across the city and the nation.

Sounds like Elshinnawy and Beckman's kind of guy. How about Folger's other example?

St. Petersburg, Fla. Five Christians, including two pastors, were arrested at a homosexual rally for stepping onto the public sidewalk instead of staying caged in their officially designated "free speech zone." Their signs were also "illegal" because they were slightly "bigger than their torsos." Apparently, large people are entitled to more speech than those with smaller frames.

Yep, the leader of the protests, Rev. Billy Ball, is another bullhorn-wielding street preacher. And it turns out that one of his protesters frightened an 8-year-old child by walking up to her and her mother with a sign that said, "You're Going To Hell."

Unruh, for his part, uncritically repeats Folger's claims in a July 17 article on attempts to add a federal hate-crime law into a defense spending bill. Unruh quotes several opponents of the law, but nowhere does he allow supporters of the law to rebut their claims. Further, nowhere does Unruh note that a clause of the bill states: "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution." 

By painting these people as victims and Christian martyrs, Folger and Unruh clearly want to hide the true -- some might say obnoxious -- nature of these aggressive, boundary-pushing, bullhorn-wielding preachers and their followers.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:29 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 7:43 PM EDT

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