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Freshly Brewed Smears

WorldNetDaily columnist and Faith2Action chief Janet Folger is all too willing to mislead and lie -- and even quote a neo-Nazi racist -- in order to promote her anti-gay agenda.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/9/2007
Updated 9/16/2007

You'd think someone who considers herself a Christian would not want to make claims easily proven to be misleading or false, or to refuse to tell the entire truth.

Yet that's exactly what we get from Janet Folger. In addition to being a WorldNetDaily columnist, she also heads a group called Faith2Action, which proclaims its mission to be "Turning people of faith into people of action to win the cultural war together for life, liberty, and the family"; it is, in essence, anti-gay and anti-abortion rights.

ConWebWatch has previously documented Folger's and Faith2Action's misrepresentation of two anti-abortion protesters, claiming they are mere grandmothers proclaiming their faith when, in fact, they are longtime activists in thrall to a bullhorn-wielding street preacher with an agenda of disrupting gay events and provoking confrontations. Indeed, Folger has continued to demonstrate her eagerness to smear and lie about gays in order to advance her anti-gay agenda.

In her July 17 WorldNetDaily column, Folger purported to detail the "cliff notes of what so called 'hate crime' legislation has already done in America." Let's go through her bullet-point claims one at a time, which she purports to be "the facts":

  • 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.

Elshinnawy and Beckman are the two women Folger painted as innocent grandmothers. As ConWebWatch documented, "sharing their faith on the public sidewalk" is a misleadingly benign description of what they were doing; in fact, they were doing the bidding of street preacher Michael Marcavage of the group Repent America, who used a bullhorn to try an interrupt a stage performance at a gay street festival in Philadelphia, and were arrested only after they refused to go to an area on the edge of the event.

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

Another misleadingly benign statement. 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. The flyers apparently stemmed from a recent dispute between one of the girls who was arrested and one of the boys who was pictured. Classmates said the flier showed a picture of two boys kissing along with the words, "God hates fags." The prosecuting attorney said the students targeted a specific person and his sexual orientation; others have called it merely a prank that went too far.

Folger performed a similar whitewash in a May 28 column, claiming that all the girls did was "say an unkind word about homosexuals and pass out a few flyers to their classmates." By her misleading descriptions of the case, it appears that Folger believes calling people "fags" is perfectly acceptable behavior. (That puts her in league with Ann Coulter, not to mention Fred Phelps.)

  • 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 left out an 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 also failed to mention, as the Star-Gazette detailed, that the protesters were quickly released and returned to the event, though not in the park.

A June 27 Star-Gazette article described 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 added:

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 -- and Folger's -- kind of guy.

  • 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.

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

  • Madison, Wis. David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a "hate crime" for sharing his testimony with a homosexual at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin conducted by a lesbian.

Folger didn't state that the incident is not a recent one; it dates to 1997. And as the court's summary of the case shows, Ott was not "arrested for a 'hate crime' "; he was charged with disorderly conduct with a "hate crime" modifier -- not the same thing.

Ott's case has apparently been a anti-gay rallying point for some time. From the June 28, 1999, issue of of the Moonie-run conservative Insight magazine:

Meet David Ott, a former homosexual who approached a practicing homosexual and engaged in conversation. David, holding his toddler at the time, was making no threats but merely disagreeing. A few months later he got a knock on the door and a court summons. He was charged and convicted of a "hate crime" and sentenced to a reeducation class led by a lesbian whose opening premise was, "Homosexuality is normal." It cost Ott more than $7,000 in legal fees to fight the alleged "hate crime" of disagreeing. Seven thousand dollars for disagreeing? So much for freedom of speech.

There is no easily available independent information about the Ott incident -- the Wisconsin court system's online summary of the case includes few details -- but we can safely assume that, as in the other cases, Folger is misrepresenting what happened and leaving out important details.

Meanwhile, WND's Bob Unruh compounded Folger's smears by uncritically repeating them in a July 17 article on attempts to add a federal hate-crime law into a defense spending bill, including her false assertion that what she was saying was "the facts." (In his article, Unruh quoted several opponents of the law, but nowhere does he allow supporters of the law to rebut their claims. Nowhere did 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.") Unruh uncritically regurgitated Folger's "facts" again in a July 25 article.

Folger got even more misleading in her July 24 column. In praising Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mayor Jim Naugle as a "Protector of the Family" because he "voted against pornography in the public libraries" and "sticking up for children who, after playing a game of soccer, may wander 50 feet into the library" and encounter open pornography.

Again, Folger misled her readers. As blogger Ed Brayton reports, the controversy to which Folger is alluding involves locating the Stonewall Library -- a large private collection of books, magazines and other material by and about gays and lesbians -- inside a Fort Lauderdale library building. In fact, according to the Library Journal, not only will children not have access to Stonewall Library materials, there's no pornography available for checkout:

The Stonewall Library will not be a part of the public library, which occupies nearly a quarter of the 40,000-square foot building. Instead, it will become one of several tenants of ArtServe, a county-run arts agency.


Critical coverage in some conservative news outlets alleged that pornographic materials are part of the library, but Katzen said they're not found in the 18,000-volume lending library, which is visited by most of the library's 9000 annual patrons, all of whom must be 18 or older. "Almost everything that is in our lending library is available at Barnes & Noble or Borders," he said. It is the 40,000-item archive that holds the materials, such as Arab Slave Boys, that Naugle has targeted. "It's not an open archive," Katzen noted. Researchers must make appointments, and an archivist must be present during the research. The library also requires researchers to sign an archives patron agreement that says they are aware the collections are "not censored" and may contain content that is "sexually explicit, racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise personally offensive."

Folger further asserted that "Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Cindi Hutchinson, Charlotte E. Rodstrom, and Carlton B. Moore voted to take out the books that everybody can read and replace them with homosexual pornography." Folger offers no evidence to back up that claim; Brayton called it "as bold and ridiculous a lie as you're likely to see today." Folger also claimed that gay advocacy groups "have joined together to fight what they describe as 'archaic' laws prohibiting public sex in restrooms and parks"; in fact, Brayton notes, the groups are merely studying sex laws around the country.

Finally the original version of Folger's column stated:

The problem [of gay sex in public restrooms] is worse than they are willing to admit, and it's not just in Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. E. Fields, in his book "Is Homosexual Activity Normal?", reveals "41 percent of homosexuals say they have had sex with strangers in public restrooms."

As Brayton pointed out, Folger's source for the statistic, Edward Fields, is a chiropractor (without an apparent medical degree) who has spent the last 55 years involved with various neo-Nazi organizations in the United States.

After bringing Fields' background to Folger's attention, she had a note appended to her column (and posted at the Faith2Action website):

Special note: In the original version of this column, there was a sentence where I referred to some research conducted by a Dr. E. Fields.

It has come to our attention that Dr. Fields subscribes to a number of racist views of which our Faith2Action ministry was unaware. The research had been previously cited by some seemingly unchallenged sources, which I'm sure were also unaware of his racist views and writings.

We sincerely apologize for this mistake. As Christians, we disavow all racism as sinful and would never knowingly promote an advocate of racism.

Faith2Action maintains that the problem of sex in public restrooms is a very serious one that Fort Lauderdale and other cities have every right and duty to confront. In the future, however, we will not refer to any research by Dr. Fields.

We will continue to alert the nation to this reckless, immoral behavior that puts families, children and unknowing spouses at risk.

While Fields' "research" was deleted, Folger offered no other evidence that "the problem of sex in public restrooms is a very serious one." And, as Brayton noted, Folger did not address, much less correct, her false and misleading statements about the Stonewall Library and Fort Lauderdale.

Is this any way for a Christian woman to behave? Or does Folger believe the ends -- ridding the world of abortion and homosexuals -- justify the means of lying and misleading about those she opposes?

(9/16/2007 update adds information about David Ott incident.)

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