Friday Sept. 14, 2007
Our reporter Todd Heywood reports first hand on the receipt of written threat to him and second Lansing LGBT leader also receives same letter.
“Dear Sodomite,” the letter began. It arrived in the mail on 9-11. It was mailed in Lansing on 9-10. The letter went on to tell me I had been found “GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!” (capital letters in the original).
After introducing me to scripture I have read and heard numerous times from right wing zealots and white supremacy leaders, the letter closes as follows:
“REPENT IN THE NAME OF JESUS FROM YOUR FILTHY LIFESTYLE OF SATAN, ORIN THE ETERNAL LAKE OF FIRE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE AGONIES THAT MAKE AUSCHWITZ SEEM LIKE PARADISE!”
It is signed “THE ARMY OF GOD.”
The AoG is well known as a loosely affiliated group of extremists who target abortion providers and clinics. The most famous of their adherents is a fellow named Eric Rudolph. Rudolph is famous for his bombs which were set off in the Olympic Park, abortion clinics and two gay bars. He is now serving four consecutive life sentences in federal prison from those attacks, which included murders.
AoG sends a letter similar to the one I received, then targets the person who received the letter. The goal is to enforce God’s law, as they read it.
And while nothing in the letter was illegal per se, we do after all live in a country where free speech is a sacred tradition, and religious speech even more so, the act itself is one of terrorism.
I have contacted law enforcement and there is now an investigation.
“This was not sent to some relatively anonymous queer person,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Triangle Foundation, a statewide group that monitors hate crimes in Michigan. “This is someone who has a record of working against this sort of thing. The more visible the target of the message is, the more it is meant to suppress and scare those who have less visibility into being silent.”
The target of course is me. Now I have dealt with all kinds of harassment as a writer and an activist. Young Americans for Freedom took great glee in referring to me as Homo-Heywood on their blog. They enjoy slandering me by accusing me of having sex in public rest rooms. But those are nuisances of a group that is afraid of the discourse of democracy – which includes the institution of the press.
But this is different. This is a threat from a known terrorist organization using its regular terror tactic. They hope their terror tactic will force me to undergo a Charlemagne baptism (he used to line European tribes up in rivers and shoot arrows over their heads and have them baptized in Christ). Guess what? It’s not going to happen.
God is not something one group owns and another is excluded from. God loves us all, gay or straight, black or white. What righteous man, as the writer claimed to be, violates the principle Jesus laid out in his famous ‘judge not lest you be judged’ commandment?
The goal is to silence a viewpoint, and instead of being silent, the writer has only accomplished one thing. I am more dedicated to who I am, more dedicated to expose the vile lies and rhetoric of the bigots around us. The answer to hate speech is not less speech, but more speech.
In fact, the letter has failed in all its purposes. To quote Montgomery, who spent two years on a hit list for a neo Nazi group, “They end up serving us more than their perverted purpose.”
The following is the letter I received at my home. It was post marked Sept. 10, mailed from a Lansing zip code and was hand addressed. The same hand appears to have written the date, 9/11/07, at the top of the enclosed letter, as well as the scripture line quoted in the letter. The letter and envelope are in the possession of law enforcement.
DEAR SODOMITE, A SPIRITUAL MAN JUDGETH ALL THINGS AND YOU HAVE BEEN FOUND GUILTY,GUILTY, GUILTY!!! GOD SENT YOU A PLAGUE, BUT YOU DID NOT TAKE WARNING. AMERICA, LIKE ROME, HAS FALLEN BECAUSE OF YOU. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD AND THIS IS HIS LAW: “IF A MAN ALSO LIE WITH MANKIND, AS HE LIETH WITH A WOMAN, BOTH OF THEM HAVE COMMITTED AN ABOMINATION. THEY SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH. THEIR BLOOD SHALL BE UPON THEM.” ___ LEV (HANDWRITTEN) 20:13 REPENT IN THE NAME OF JESUS FROM YOUR FILTHY LIFESTYLE OF SATAN, OR IN THE ETERNAL LAKE OF FIRE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE AGONIES THAT MAKE AUSCHWITZ SEEM LIKE PARADISE! THE ARMY OF GOD
Editor’s Note: Between The Lines has verified that at least one other LBGT leader in Lansing received this letter on September 11. Law enforcement continues to investigate this matter.