The Truth Behind Bethel’s Gay Panic

Bethel Chuch senior associate leader Kris Valloton on Palm Sunday. Bethel TV screen-grab.

Danger, Shasta County, danger. The gays are coming. They’re building a freeway through your house. While you’re putting out the fire in the barn, they’re torching the bank. There’s no telling what these inherently immoral gay people will get up to next.

That’s the near verbatim message Bethel Chuch senior associate leader Kris Valloton delivered to the gathered faithful on March 25, Palm Sunday, to kick off Holy Week. You can watch it yourself on Bethel TV, one of the charismatic evangelical mega church’s many internet platforms. You get the first week for free.

Here’s another preview: “If the truth of who I am is who I am attracted to, there is no bottom to that cesspool,” the pastor stated during the sermon.

The sermon was titled, “What Would Jesus Do In A PC World?” In it, Valloton urged the church’s membership — claimed to be 10,000 local souls — to contact their state legislator in opposition to a trio of bills designed to halt conversion therapy, the scientifically unsubstantiated practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight, also known as sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE.

Virtually every professional mental health association in the United States now recognizes that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is part of the natural spectrum of human identity and is not a disease, disorder or illness. According to the American Psychological Association, there’s a paucity of hard data on sexual orientation change efforts, which are often conducted within a religious setting, and no conclusive evidence that they work. There are anecdotal ex-gay success stories, counter-balanced by conversion therapy survivor horror stories. The overall professional consensus is that SOCE is counter-productive and potentially harmful.

In 2012, California became the first state to ban practitioners in the healing arts, including physicians, surgeons, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, educational psychologists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional clinical counselors from performing sexual orientation change efforts on minors. The legislation falls under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, which protects consumers from deceptive business practices, and has survived a legal challenge from religious groups.

The three bills Bethel is now quite publicly opposing, AB 1779, AB 2119 and AB 2943, would further protect LGBT individuals from SOCE. AB 1779 prohibits performing sexual orientation change efforts on adults who are in conservatorships or guardianships. AB 2119 specifies that all minors and non-minors in foster care have the right to have access to gender-affirming health care and gender-affirming behavioral health care.

AB 2943 appears to be Bethel’s primary concern. If passed, it would prohibit licensed mental health providers from advertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with adults, the same protection LGBT minors have had since 2012. According to Bethel’s reading of the law, any “conferences, counseling, teaching, books, or publications, where money is exchanged for the resource” that it currently provides or produces pertaining to sexual orientation change efforts may be prohibited if it passes.

During his Palm Sunday sermon, Valloton suggested his book —  “Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity” — could be banned under AB 2943. Presumably that might apply to the book’s accompanying website, or Bethel’s “Equipped To Love” website, both of which also promote sexual orientation change efforts using the Bethel method, which reportedly includes drudging up your past childhood traumas to discover what made you gay. “Let’s Talk About Sexuality,” a six-week DVD course co-authored by Vallotin that retails for $79 for the “leader’s kit,” looks like a definite candidate for the ban list, presuming Bethel’s interpretation of the new law is correct.

Valloton began his sermon by mentioning that he’d recently been in Washington, D.C., meeting with people behind the scenes who would “surprise you.” (Who? Conversion therapy proponent Vice President Mike Pence? No surprise there.) He apologized in advance for the spectacle he was about to make, noting that Bethel hasn’t been known for what it’s against. Then, in the name of “our children” he proceeded for the next hour or so to tell the world exactly what Bethel is against: The very existence of the LGBT community.

Valloton suggested that members of the LGBT community are not legitimate members of a protected class because there is “no scientific proof that homosexuality is genetic” and homosexuals are not an “ethnic group.” He cited an anecdotal case of a woman whom Bethel had ministered who’d been sexually abused by men as a child and became a lesbian as a result. Once she’d healed from the past trauma, she was no longer a lesbian.

He suggested that all such women need is a good therapist from Bethel’s Sozo ministry, billed on its own website as “a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry aimed to get to the root of things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Could that be added to the ban list?

Valloton repeatedly compared homosexuality with addiction to alcohol and pornography, blurring the distinction between desire and abuse. He cited Romans Chapter 1, one of the few “clobber passages” in the New Testament, as they are known to some former members of Bethel’s LGBT community. There’s a score of such passages in the Old Testament, and they’re frequently used to pound the idea that being gay or lesbian or transgender is a willful sin literally “worthy of death” into the minds of anyone who thinks differently.

“It’s the love of God convicting you for something that’s killing you,” Valloton explained. One begins to gain an understanding of why such theology might be harmful in a therapeutic setting.

After all that gay sex—all that willful sinning—you wind up with a “seared conscience,” Valloton said, which presumably resembles an overcooked slab of ahi. Bethel can help with that, he claimed, citing another anecdotal example, a woman who had responded to one of his Facebook posts who claimed she’d been cured of gender dysphoria after believers laid hands upon her. This is apparently Bethel’s way of conducting scientific research. Valloton’s No. 1 reason for opposing the three conversion therapy bills?

“Jesus has changed therapy!” he proclaimed. “When you receive Jesus Christ you are changed!”

“This is my life!” he exclaimed a few second later, and it’s easy to believe him. He’s totally panicked that “children are being taught homosexuality from the youngest age,” which he compared to someone “building a freeway through your house.”

He called the three bills “anti-religious, anti-free speech and anti-God.” For any potential secular listeners, he noted that homosexuality, in addition to being an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, is also “inherently immoral.”

“If the truth of who I am is who I am attracted to, then there is no bottom to that cesspool,” he said. It’s that old slippery slope sliding down to pedophilia and bestiality.

As Valloton himself noted, it’s unusual for Bethel to take such a public stand on a highly-charged political topic. Which begs the question, why do it now? Is Redding being overrun by gaydom? Has all that glitter dropped during worship services at Bethel created an internal LGBT problem for the church? Did Vice President Mike Pence whisper sweet nothings in Valloton’s ear?

“Do you really want people who are godless running this country?” Valloton asked during his sermon. “We’re just being responsible citizens.”

Bethel Chuch senior associate leader Chris Valloton urged congregates to call their legislator to oppose three “pro-gay” bills.

Valloton also said, “Jesus loves us enough to tell us the truth.”

He’s right about that. In fact, right now, Jesus is revealing the truth, through me.

And the truth is, here in Shasta County, we know firsthand where this type of religious persecution of gay people can lead, don’t we? What can happen when you preach the clobber passages in the Bible, which state homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death, over and over to young boys as if it were literal truth?

In the case of local brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams, who formerly attended services with their parents at Bethel back when it was still affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination in the 1980s, the answer is murder.

On the night of June 30, 1999, the Williams brothers, then 31 and 29, armed with a .22 pistol and heads full of clobber passages, drove their father’s Toyota Corolla to the Happy Valley home of Gary Matson, 50, and Winfield Mowder, 40, a prominent local gay couple known for their civic activism, and shot them dead in bed.

While living in Idaho in his 20s, Benjamin Williams had become immersed in Christian Identity, a racist, anti-Semitic sect associated with the American neo-Nazi movement. After the brothers were arrested on July 7, it was revealed that they had also torched three synagogues in Sacramento in the weeks before they murdered Matson and Mowder, causing millions of dollars in damage.

For three years, the prosecutions against the Williams brothers, first for the arsons in Sacramento, then for the murders here, placed Redding in an uncomfortable national spotlight. Benjamin Williams, who boasted to the press that he was simply carrying out God’s law by executing a gay couple, garnered much of the attention. He shaved his head and sprouted a Hitler mustache. He complained that local ministers who’d been preaching God’s law to him his entire life didn’t openly support his cause. He committed suicide in his jail cell Nov. 17, 2002, just before he and his brother were to face the death penalty at trial.

Shortly after his brother’s death, James Tyler Williams pleaded guilty to murdering Matson and Mowder. Media reports cast James as the quiet brother, the follower, and it’s not clear how wrapped up he was in the exceedingly bizarre Christian Identity sect. At any rate, at his sentencing hearing, he fell back on the old standard clobber passages to explain the motivation for his murderous behavior.

“I acted with my brother because, until just recently, I was still operating in the sincere belief in Christ’s call to obedience as set forth in John 14:15 and John 2:3-5, the punishment in Leviticus 20:13, and the saint’s right to judge in Psalms 139 and Psalms 149,” he stated. “I was convinced that scripture mandated our acts.”

Williams informed the judge that after extensive pastoral counseling in jail, he’d come to realize the error of his ways. His mistake was not waiting for God’s return to earth, when God himself would smite the gays dead for their wickedness, and instead taking matters into his own blood-soaked hands. He’s currently doing consecutive sentences for murder and arson in Mule Creek State Prison south of Sacramento, where he will probably spend the rest of his life.

I realize I’m bringing up old memories that may be painful to survivors of the Williams’ brothers crimes. But the fact of the matter is, there’s still evangelical preachers in Shasta County who profess to love the sinner but hate the sin when it comes to members of the LGBT community. I suggest that’s a distinction without a difference. Now Bethel would have us believe that the very same passages from the Bible that teach that homosexuals are an abomination worthy of death can somehow cure them of an affliction virtually no medical authority recognizes.

If Bethel persists in launching this cultural war, the city of Redding should re-think its relationship with the church. Redding has turned over the Civic Auditorium to Bethel. It has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the police department. It has permitted the church to dramatically expand its geographical footprint. For better or worse, Redding is wedded to Bethel, what Bethel does reflects on Redding. Its attack on the LGBT community casts an extremely ugly reflection, indeed.

Maybe it’s time Redding got a divorce?

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

237 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon Miller says:

    I can’t wait until the MLM scheme that is Bethel Church comes tumbling down; I have 50 pound bags of popcorn kernels stockpiled waiting for that glorious day.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      They sure have a lot of layers in that MLM. It could take some time. And a lot of popcorn.

      • Avatar Mike Powell says:

        I think the Lgbtq community and supporters should hold a peaceful protest at the Civic Auditorium against the Hateful Speech from Kris Volloton and Bethel, while the BSSM students are showing up for their classes. It would send a message to the students as well as the Bethel leaders.

  2. Avatar conservative says:

    If Anewscafe wants to sell advertising, the topic of religion is high risk, low reward. A Facebook group might be better.

    • We allow our journalists and contributors the freedom to cover what they wish, without suppressing or minimizing, even at the risk of lost advertising.

      That format is the cornerstone of an ethical, open media.

      Our hope is that readers who appreciate that philosophy will become voluntary subscribers to help mitigate any advertising losses, and provide the security for future coverage of controversial topics.

      • Avatar Anita L Brady says:


        • Avatar Darbie says:

          Awesome article. Thank you for informing me about this. This incident at Bethel is one of the many reasons loving and accepting people do not attend church.
          I hope the people who attend Bethel speak out but I doubt they will. I am so happy about the many responses here.

        • Avatar Kendra says:

          Your support of your writers is commendable in an era of news that bows to advertisers.

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        “We allow our journalists and contributors the freedom to cover what they wish, without suppressing or minimizing, even at the risk of lost advertising.”

        And yet, you squashed my article about the “Vegans for Hunting Rights” movement.

        Kidding, kidding. (Maybe I’ve had too much coffee this morning.)

      • Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

        Amen to that. And thank you!

      • Avatar Sierra says:

        That’s what journalism is all about and democracy. We must be able to share our different views even if we are offended. This is what makes our nation great. Love can reach and cover the gaps. Thanks for sharing both sides.

      • Avatar John Whittenberger says:

        This is not Sinclair owned media apparently.

      • Avatar Olhipie says:

        This article was necessary so that we not forget. I’ve seen the other side of Bethels processes, such as beating the mental illness out of someone with brooms while convincing the poor chap that he didn’t need medications. BTW: the other side was an untimely death. Money also seems to be at the root of a lot of this. Remembering Win and Gary was bittersweet. I suspect they would approve.

      • Avatar Karen Hafenstein says:

        Love that, Doni!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      It is a high-risk topic, Conservative. In fact, I’d prefer to leave Bethel alone. But they’re crossing a line here, and someone needs to point that out.

      • Avatar Ann Webber says:

        Thank you so much for taking the risk and bringing this issue to the attention of our community! I’ve been aware of the recruitment of gay youth into Bethel for some time. Many were skeptical when I warned of this. They need to be exposed and confronted and I applaud you for doing so. Extremely well thought out and written as well!

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          I can imagine young LGBTs in Redding being quite attracted to Bethel. It’s a stereotype, but gay people are in fact often very creative, and Bethel’s music and media programs are a great place to get some training in those fields. It’s a big, big, business, Christian media and music. I’m sure some folks overlook the clobber passages because of these artistic opportunities. Perhaps there are enough people inside Bethel to change the leadership’s minds.

  3. Hopefully, in our torn society there still exists a difference between thoughts, words, belief and illegal activity. It’s a reach to presume that the Williams brothers were rightfully following orders just as “happy” people drive innocent family over a cliff to escape investigation.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Why is it a reach to say the Williams brothers were driven by religious belief? It’s exactly what they said they were doing. It’s well documented. Do you think they don’t believe what their pastors tell them?

      • Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

        Judgement at Nuremberg held the individual was responsible for actions. This ancient line of reasoning is passé now in Entitlement Nation, but still offers a different view from the “rights” dominated discussions of today where “responsibility” plays almost no role.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          So I guess the Nazi ideology had nothing to do with their actions? Speaking of the Nazis, who were the first people they went after? The Jews and the gays. The people carrying out the orders were following an ideology. In fact, that ideology melded quite well with German Christianity. That fact does not absolve any of them from responsibility.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I don’t believe I’ve ever been a party to a conversation about “rights” in which discussing “rights” and “responsibilities” don’t go hand-in-hand. That even includes discussions about guns, where a certain cohort seem to believe that “rights” trump “responsibilities” across the board, so long as the gun owners are “law-abiding citizens” (which they all are, until they aren’t).

          Bill Clinton signed into law “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,” a comprehensive bipartisan welfare reform plan that dramatically changed the nation’s welfare system into one that requires work in exchange for time-limited assistance. The law contains strong work requirements, a performance bonus to reward states for moving welfare recipients into jobs, state maintenance of effort requirements, comprehensive child support enforcement, and supports for families moving from welfare to work—including increased funding for child care and guaranteed medical coverage.

          Gun owners would freak if the permanent right to own a gun carried as many legal responsibilities and limitations as does the temporary right to not starve to death.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I must have skipped the passage in the Constitution that established the government’s responsibility to provide for the day to day needs of its citizens.

            You seem to conflate personal responsibility with group responsibility. But religious affiliation (or gun ownership) is a protected right — surely you would not advocate holding a protected class of people responsible for the actions of a small minority of its members?

          • Here’s where the responsibility lies: in the individual. I’ve always liked George Carlin’s reduction of the 10 Commandments to 2: Don’t lie, and don’t kill anybody. It’s up to the individual no matter what class they’re in to recognize when those laws are being transgressed.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Tim, I think you’re purposefully refusing to take my point, which was–broadly speaking–that rights come with responsibilities. I only used the welfare example to refute the notion that our “Entitlement Nation” has exempted itself from the responsibilities side of the equation. That’s nonsense.

            At no point did I argue that gun ownership isn’t a protected right. My argument was that some gun owners are so over the top in their belief that gun ownership is an inaliable right that personal responsibilities don’t apply.

            I once shared a car ride with a NorCal government official who opined, incredulously, that anti-gun laws were so out of control that you had to keep all your guns in gun safes, because if a kid got ahold of one of then and killed himself or someone else, you could lose all of your guns, even though it was an accident. He seriously believed that losing your right to own guns in the face of grotesque personal irresponsibility was a violation of your 2nd Amendment rights.

            I have on numerous occasions told the story of the local woman who rolled her vehicle while fumbling for her cell phone, resulting in the death of her 12-yr-old daughter. She went to prison for vehicular manslaughter. Contrast that with the local cop who left his service revolver where his 2-yr-old toddler could get it. The toddler shot himself dead. Legal consequences for the cop? Nothing–he even got to keep his job. The difference in those two stories reflects our bizarre shielding of gun owners from personal responsibility and accountability.

            As for the distinction you’re trying to make between holding groups vs individuals responsible, I don’t get it. The 1st Amendment protects free speech, but falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater isn’t protected. It’s against the law for everyone, not just those who get caught breaking the law. Libel and slander have legal ramifications as well. Why you think gun owners as a group should be exempt from legal responsibilities until they break the law as individuals is beyond me. You simply aren’t that special.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            If someone yells “fire” in a crowded theater, only that individual is held responsible (they don’t gag all future movie goers).

            As for your toddler example, I can point to examples where gun owners were held legally responsible as well as other examples where cell-phone users were not. That comes down more to the arbitrary nature of prosecutorial discretion.

            That cop violated the law, he just wasn’t charged. Let’s not take that as a reason to make more laws which may or may not be enforced…

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            Tim — The law gags everyone from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater—nobody is free to do so. We are all regulated by such laws prohibiting reckless speech. Only those who violate those laws are punished…unless you regard the regulation itself as punishment. Is that your argument regarding gun regulations? That reasonable regulations unfairly punish all gun owners? Boo hoo.

            As for the toddler, California law specifically instructs prosecutors to file charges against parents in the negligent gun-related deaths of offspring only if the death results from gross negligence. It states: “It is the Legislature’s intent that a parent or guardian of a child who is injured or who dies as the result of an accidental shooting shall be prosecuted only in those instances in which the parent or guardian behaved in a grossly negligent manner or where similarly egregious circumstances exist.” (Penal Code Section 12035(e))

            In the case of the local cop, leaving his service handgun loaded in a place the toddler was known to access didn’t rise to “gross negligence” according to then-DA Gerald Benito’s report. The legal theory behind the law is that a gun-owning parent has been punished enough by their own child’s death—you’re not off the hook, according to the law, if your negligence results in the death of someone else’s kid.

            A mom who answers her cell phones while driving gets zero such slack. A dad who forgets to buckle his kid into the car seat gets zero such slack. A mom who lets her kid ride his skateboard without a bike helmet gets zero such slack. Oh, your kid died? Too bad….you’re under arrest. By law, the “you’ve suffered enough” legal slack is reserved for gun-humpers, even here in California.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            The key difference is whether an entire group is preemptively punished in hopes of decreasing the possibility of a *real* crime. Speech restrictions limit only victim-producing crime: you cannot say something falsely to cause a stampede, but that is the only limit. You aren’t prevented from saying things someone considers precursors to the actual ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater’ (e.g. “do you smell smoke?”). You aren’t required to literally wear a gag while attending the theater so you are physically unable to yell “fire!”

            In contrast, “controls” are laws that have no victims – their purpose in being law is to try and make it less likely for the *real* crime to be committed. They do not affect only the perpetrators of real crime, they restrict the entire population and are inherently unfair.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I’m struggling to follow your logic. Do speed limits unfairly punish people who would voluntarily drive less than 70 mph on I-5? Are zoning laws that prohibit me from establishing a medical waste incinerator on my Redding property inherently unfair because I have no plans to do so? Why can’t I purchase a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile at Sportsman’s Warehouse? It’s not fair! I’m not gonna shoot down a commercial airliner. Why punish me?

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Aside from not violating the constitution, speed limits and zoning laws regulate behavior which directly affects others. Preaching a message with which you disagree (or buying/selling arms) does not, in itself, directly affect anyone else.

            To find a closer example to your speed limit analogy, we have to go back to 1979 when President “Put on a Sweater” Carter grew frustrated with Americans’ widespread disdain for the 1974 national 55mph speed limit. In order to better control that behavior (driving fast and burning excess fuel), he forbid auto manufacturers from selling cars with a speedometer displaying more than 85 mph. In Carter’s version of reality, it was as if you could prevent overtime by having clocks stop displaying time after 7pm.

            Deregulating Ronnie Reagan repealed the speedometer regulation in 1981, but the supply chain was already full of 85mph instrument clusters so they were a common sight in new cars throughout the 80’s.

    • Avatar Red says:

      When people are being brainwashed by ideology and a person admits that it was the rhetoric of the church, blame the church. The rhetoric of that pastor from Bethel makes it easy to call his ideological beliefs nothing but BS. It’s man telling man how to think and act. The person speaking to you in your head may just be your inner demons for those that claim Jesus is speaking to them. You just don’t know and nobody will know until they pass on through to the other side.

  4. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    Does Valloton have a license to practice any mental health services? I don’t think so. Yeah, I know, God gave him one right? Conservatives will make threats but News Caffe and R.V. both need to be commended for taking a First Amendment right of expression, done so in a well written manner. My personal view is that Bethel is a political and culture far right spearhead for the conservative movement that is happy to see church and state boundaries dissolve and attack anyone that doesn’t fall in-line labeling them as socialists and anti God. When we mix highly charged emotional extremism with theater, call it religion and use it politically and, the potential for danger is high risk and the reward for a Constitutional and equitable social structure is low, as pointed out above by the behaviors of the Williams brothers and many, many others that twist religion into justification of discrimination, hate and violence, in the name of Jesus for God’s sake. If one reads the political statements of Bill Johnson and his family and church leaders, you will see clearly that this fanning the flames, to the delight of the hard-right if not alt-right, has no place in or government and public schools or their institutions. Yet, openly and with pride, that is exactly what Bethel is trying to do… and to some degree thanks to lots of money, doing so. Freedom of religion, yes. But Bethel is a huge profit (no pun) machine of mega millions of dollars world-wide business. Freedom from religion, yes. Read your Constitution! No more Kool-Aid please and leave people that aren’t straight, white, alt right religious conservative alone!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I do not believe Valloton has a license to provide mental health services. However, some of Bethel’s various ministries do employ credentialed counselors. It is unclear how much conversion therapy on their own flock that they’re performing. I would imagine it’s not that much. Which again raises the question, why are they breaking their pick on this rock?

      • Avatar christian gardinier says:

        R.V. It’s about the cultural war, the alt-conservitive-religious movement against the rest of us. Mixing religion with political is not new and has affect all religions. That way the framers put separation of church and state into the Constitution. They, like many extremists are into the power of it, and yeah, the money too! Power=religion=power. The extremists consummate economics, culture, class, and politics into one expression. Danger Will Robinson, Danger! In fact, I knew Matson and Mowder and I was fully aware of some of the wacko thinking of the hard-right-christian posse comitatus folk around here at the time… Kind of like some, not all, of the SOJ folk of which also, some, not all, Bethel folk (thinking Johnson Jr) intermix with. A buy in to the concept that a total manifestation of personal power can only be done under an organized structure is always a possibility for danger, asks Jim Jones. BTW, the ‘conversion treatment’ as described is a violation of the code of ethics for LCSWs and I think that holds true for MFTs and I know it’s a violation of American Psychiatric Association ethics.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        That’s the question that baffles me as well. Bethel—from my outside-looking-in perspective—seems to be a youth-oriented church. (By “youth” I include everyone under 40, because I’m older than dirt.) Among most young people today, sexual orientation as an issue is a big huge “who cares?”

        I was equally baffled when Bethel leader Bill Johnson endorsed Donald Trump for POTUS. Not just in the broad sense that I’m amazed by the hoards of Christian leaders who continue to support this selfish, callous, amoral, simian, porn-star-naked-dogging megalomaniac. But more narrowly, as the leader of what appears to be a youth-oriented church with a lot of seemingly progressive members……why go there?

        This recent article in The Atlantic—written by an evangelical former speechwriter for George W. Bush—is a deep and critical examination Trump’s evangelical support:

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Bill Johnson’s endorsement of Trump does indeed offer insights into his peculiar brand of Christianity, which is anti-poor, pro-rich and un-Biblical in almost every way. I urge readers to check his endorsement out. Here it is.

        • Avatar DBC says:

          Here we go deleting/censoring comments again! Towers throws his offending words about none other than the president of the United States while I get my single word reply, “ditto” made to a comment above about how a commentator was glad he had moved away and wouldn’t recognize Redding anymore? Pay for reading aNewsCafe? HA! You have got to be kidding, censorship alive and well in Redding Ca.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Not sure what you are talking about, but your “ditto” comment is standing where you made it.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Two observations.

            First: I posted my offending words about the POTUS under my real name, and DBC criticizes it from behind a veil of anonymity.

            Second: DBC is braying like a whipped mule about an offense that didn’t even occur.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            In the interest of equal-opportunity offending, I have removed some parts of Steve Towers’s comment that were directly pointed at another person.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Thanks for the adult supervision, Barbara.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Thanks. I believe that people know very well when they’re misbehaving online and choose to do it anyway. Once that becomes the norm, the nice people back away and won’t step up.
            I also believe that if our names were Dave and Frank, we wouldn’t get half the nonsense we have to deal with.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            I met Steve in person once, and he struck me as a likable guy. I agree with what he writes more often than not, and enjoy most of what he writes.

            But yeah, sometimes he’s a bit quick to blast people. During those times, he comes across as kind of a poo poo head.

            Wait: Barbara, is suggesting that someone comes across as a “poo poo head” crossing the line? I’m asking for one of my split personalities.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Baaaaarbraaaaa! Hal called me a poo poo head!

            I feel like I generally don’t throw the first dart when I take pokes at people, but “Towers throws his offending words about none other than the president of the United States” was an opinion about my post, not a personal attack. I definitely screwed up.

            I’d probably be a lot less grumpy if my damned back wasn’t so sore all the time.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Okay, you two. If you don’t stop your squabbling you’re both going to be grounded until you’re 21. With no beer.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            “If you don’t stop your squabbling you’re both going to be grounded until you’re 21. With no beer.”

            Gulp. No beer?


            Steve, I take it all back. Pinky swear.

    • Avatar Sierra says:

      Bethel has the right to preach their views, just as gay people have the right to be heard and treated respectfully and given equal rights. You can’t just tell one side to be quiet and accuse them when most likely their intentions are good. It is not either or. We can have both sides speak out and respect both because free speech is a protected right.

      • I don’t see an either/or with Bethel’s reasoning on this issue. They do not recognize that gay people exist. That’s what is so troubling about this. They don’t have good intentions.

      • Avatar Amanda says:

        I would agree Sierra, if what they were saying have the LGBTQ community a platform to share their perspective and allowed people in the congregation to have “freedom” of choice. However, the cowardice in saying your opinion without giving another person the ability to oppose you and allowing people to make their own decisions is not only disgraceful but a disgusting abuse of power.

  5. Avatar Ed Heffelfinger says:

    I am soooo glad I left Redding. I don’t know the place anymore…

    • Avatar Anita L Brady says:

      Bethel is expanding around the world as they work on Redding Takeover. Watch your community carefully. They will be there with their 7 Mountains of Domionism mandate and have extended their tentacles before you realize. That is what happened here.

      • Avatar Marc Carter says:

        The only city in CA to find it perfectly alright to embrace and support such nonsense.

      • Avatar Sierra says:

        Hmm.. Bethel is our best hope for positively transforming Redding… Otherwise, we have a mental health, crime, and drug crisis going on. Not to mention poverty levels rising.

        • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

          I don’t agree that Bethel is our best hope. But even if it was, can we afford that kind of help? They’re showing us how they think, they’re showing us what they plan to do. That money is tainted and we are better off without it.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Our best hope would have been the 10th UC campus, but that went to Merced when the good-old-boy yahoos who ran things around here back then expressed opinions ranging from tepid enthusiasm to overt hostility. That opportunity will never return.

        • Avatar Jessica F says:

          You’ve got to be kidding me. Did you forget we’ve “had” Bethel for what? 30 years? You don’t think we already have mental health, crime and drug issues? Take a stroll on Bethel FB groups, post after post of “I just left everything I have to move to Redding with nothing because God said so…does someone have somewhere I can live? Food I can eat? Any jobs open?” Bethel did an excellent job of pretending to be hope for our city, but really they’re just hoping for themselves. This citizen is DONE pretending like Bethel is just an innocent church trying to help.

  6. Avatar Anita L Brady says:

    If only the heterosexual couples would stop giving birth to people with gender “issues” then Bethel and Alliance Defending Freedom could relax. (sarcasm with only one cup of coffee in me)

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      “Buy houses, plant vineyards, have children”–Kris Vallotol

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Whether you like Bethel’s long-term goals or not, you have to admit that they’re better at taking the optimistic long view on investing in the future (especially Redding’s future) than the average non-Bethelite–myself included–which is what this quote speaks to.

  7. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I was aware of the best-known “clobber passages” in the Old Testament, but I was ignorant of those in the New Testament. But then, I don’t claim to be a Bible scholar.

    Still, I’ve read the four gospels, which most directly address the teachings of Jesus, more than a few times throughout my life. Not once in the four gospels does Jesus condemn homosexuals.

    Not once.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      You’re correct, Hal, Romans Chapter 1 is one of the few clobber passages in the New Testament. I believe Valloton’s use of it is strategic, it doesn’t draw the instant reaction that say, quoting Leviticus does. Jesus also said in the New Testament that the old laws no longer apply. They never quote those passages.

    • Avatar Janis says:

      Hal Johnson…Right One!

      To be called a Christian One must hold to what Christ said. I also can’t find anywhere where Jesus condemned a homosexual, prostitute or thief, we are all Sinners. If one would read and hold dear the red letter type of the Bible we would live in a world where people are less maligned.
      ‘Go and Sin no more’ relies on a very personal interpretation so how dare anyone tell another how and what to believe.

      • Avatar Joe Banker says:

        “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’ve always wanted to get my hands on a copy of Thomas Jefferson’s ” The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” (a.k.a., “The Jefferson Bible”), as much to better understand where Jefferson and John Adams were coming from as anything else. I’ve never seen it in a bookstore—maybe it’s time to use that Amazon Prime membership.

  8. Avatar The Old Pretender says:

    OK, this one just forced me to get out my wallet and contribute. Curses, RV Scheide!!!

  9. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I was in Redding for 10-15 years while it was the most threadbare, sour, mean-ass place I’d ever lived, and I hated it. It started to turn the corner in part because of improvements spearheaded and paid for by the McConnell Foundation, even in the face of some fairly cranky opposition, and the “good old boys network” losing their iron-fisted grip on the City. But it can’t be denied—many of the cultural and economic leaps and bounds that Redding has made since then were driven by Bethel, and that continues to be true. I—a devout secular humanist, rational empiricist, lapsed Christian and lousy (secular) Zen Buddhist—long ago made my peace with “The Bethel Effect” (largely in a series of Yelp reviews that the Bethelites seem to enjoy).

    More recently, through shared recreation interests, I’ve become friends with quite a few Bethelites. (I say that we’re friends while harboring a nagging feeling that I may be more of an acquaintance in their eyes, given that I’m not part of the Bethel tribe……but enough about my deep insecurities.) In keeping with what I had previously thought of the Bethel crowd from hanging out in their numerous businesses around town, these friends are exceedingly nice people (except for that one penis with limbs—dude, you know you are).

    I find it exceedingly difficult—nearly impossible—to square the views expressed by Chris Valloton with the Bethelites I’ve come to know, and even with those who I observe casually at places like Theory, the downtown coffeehouse. I tend to be both curious and ornery, so I’m tempted to broach the subject. Maybe this this is just the same generational divide within Bethel that exists outside the church. Maybe the younger Bethelites are like: “Yeah, whatevah, old-man Chris. We don’t care—it’s all about the love.”

    Maybe I don’t want to know.

    As for the narrower issue of AB 1779, I’m against it. It’s pretty clear that sexual orientation is on a continuum (a Cartesian grid, if we want to get fancy). Anyone who claims to know why individuals land where they land on the sexual identity landscape is either a charlatan or highly delusional. But if adults want to undergo religious counseling, cognitive therapy, or even “A Clockwork Orange” aversion therapy to nudge their sexuality in one direction or another, that should be their choice, so long as there’s no heavy-handed coercion involved. I say that even to those who insist that such therapy is damaging. Maybe it is, but we’re talking about adults. Whatever the potential downsides, it should be their choice. It’s not my business, or yours, to protect them from themselves.

    • Avatar christian gardinier says:

      Steve, aversion therapy counseling via cognitive therapy or any other means is unethical by the ethical standards of mental health professionals. The ‘disorder’ was ditched out of the DSM many years ago. However, Clockwork Orange therapy I’ll have to look into that one 😉 I know a few Redding Bethelites, all very nice, bright, shinny, very white innocents. But, I guess some, not all, of the “DJ” or “DJV” types were the nicest kids you could ever meet as well. Like lemmings in migration, we the sheep can be so easily led… I think those good ol rich white slave owners we call the ‘Framers’ even knew that and tried to warn us in the good ol US Constitution… Ah, but I digress… Hummm, maybe not eh?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Steve I think you mean AB 2943, which would prohibit the sale of conversion therapy to all adults. AB 1779 addresses adults in a guardianship from being coerced by their guardians into therapy.

      It’s important to note that AB 2943 is consumer protection legislation designed to protect individuals from expensive therapies that, according to almost every study, do not work for the vast majority of people who’ve participated in them. Often, these people want their money back. I agree that the evidence that these therapies are harmful is anecdotal, just as the evidence that they work is anecdotal and confined to relatively few people. If Bethel wants to offer conversion therapy for free, I don’t think the new law would prohibit that. It’s the fact that they’re charging money for it that has caught the state’s attention.

      Valloton’s beliefs certainly don’t mesh very well with my image of the Bethel community, and I believe there is quite of bit of internal strife going on over this issue, reading the websites of former Bethelites. One of the most interesting aspects of this issue to me is that pastor Bill Johnson is infamous in evangelical Christian circles for “going off the map,” “drawing outside the lines,” and not literally following vast tracts of the Bible. Yet for some reason, they’ve chosen to follow all the clobber passages.

      They’ve already got the glitter. Why not except the gays, they go so well together?

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Accept, not except.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        C.G. — My tongue was planted in my cheek when I mentioned aversion therapy, but I do think that a church should have pretty much free rein when it comes to religious-based counseling of adults. Also, the Bethel community is one of the few contexts in Redding where I see people of color routinely hanging out with “nice, bright, shinny, very white innocents.” I would argue that Bethel does pretty well on the diversity front compared with, say, the local Unitarian Church, or Riverview Golf and Country Club.

        R.V. — Yeah, I named the wrong bill. I used to think that the appeal of Bethel was with the spiritual experience of the type associated with altered states of consciousness. I don’t find fault with that—I’ve often wondered why people would be attracted to a religion that *didn’t* emphasize that aspect of religiosity. (If I’d been born in an Islamic land, I’d probably be thinking that Sufis have it best, with their emphasis on ecstatic experience.) So yeah, we’re both baffled by the right-turns into reactionary politics and Old Testament brow-furrowing.

        (Oh, and in defense of the Old Testament: Ecclesiastes remains my favorite reading material in the Bible. I totally get my boy The Ecclesiast—he knew what was up.)

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          The altered state of consciousness thing is my favorite part of Bethel. The twists Johnson puts on scripture to make that “biblical” is why other evangelicals, even charismatic evangelicals, despise Bethel. Websites on this topic are numerous. These folks are of course even more on board with the clobber passages. They follow the Old Testament. According to several prominent theologians, Bethel uses techniques taken directly from kundalini yoga, and very similar to Rajneesh, without the sex, as far as we know.

        • On the Bible. I just started reading it for the fourth time from beginning to end a month ago. The King James version, I can’t stand the new translations. Reading it on my stupid kindle, it’s taken about a month to get through Genesis. I had some fascinating conversations with my girlfriend, who’s a Waldorf kid and knows all about this stuff, regarding the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. One pattern I noticed is that anytime some old codger is about to kick the bucket, he starts having hallucinations that everyone around him takes seriously. It’s a laugh-riot. Lots of sex, incest, rape. It’s quite awesome.

    • Avatar CalicoAnn says:

      I’m curious. During what period did you live in Redding?

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        That’s a good question. I moved here four years ago. I first became interested in the Williams brothers in 1999, when I lived in Sacramento. I was married to a Jewish woman at the time, and one of the synagogues they bombed was the one we went to. I followed the case from Sacramento. After I moved here, I became interested in it again, and have been doing research on the topic. I’ve read just about every report on the case, including all the coverage in the Bee and the RS.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      I agree Steve. What consenting adults do amongst themselves is nobody’s business – whether sodomy or conversation therapy. Thankfully, it is unlikely to withstand judicial scrutiny (recently both sides of the SCOTUS aisle expressed skepticism of anti-religious progressivism in NIFLA v Becerra – a lawsuit challenging California’s law requiring Christian pregnancy crisis centers to give out information on abortions).

      As for Bethel itself, I’m more concerned with how eagerly folks seem to be to sharpening their pitchforks. While I’ve also heard Redding knuckledraggers throw around the “c” word to in reference to 7th Day Adventists or Mormons, there is something eerily viscous about the way folks say it about Bethelites. I’ll never understand it — I mean if I believed in half gods, simulated cannibalism every Sunday, or practiced in the ritualized male genital mutilation of infants – I certainly wouldn’t be so eager to call other religions cults. But that’s just me…

      Netflix has a documentary out about Rajneeshpuram — perhaps a good warning for what happens when a misunderstood religious group suddenly gains a lot of local power and tensions escalate with locals.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Bethel is a huge success. With success comes power and influence. Power and influence aren’t necessarily a zero-sum game, but it’s perceived that way around here. There are plenty of dudes in Redding’s conservative good-old-boys network who were already butt-hurt that they no longer had five of their own on City Council and five more on the Planning Commission—then along came Bethel, with it’s overt plans to be an effective agent of change. The reaction is predictable.

        As for the carping over purity on theological issues, I’m with you: You gotta be kidding. Bethel could up and move to Timbuktu tomorrow, and the diversity of religious beliefs and practices in Redding would still be dizzying.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Tim, I just watched the documentary on the Rajneesh and I agree there are some interesting parallels to draw with Bethel,, beginning with the similar geography. Bethel uses some of the same kundalini yoga techniques to achieve that “bliss”. If I was 16, 17, 18 I might be a sucker for Bethel’s spiel. I find their break with orthodoxy fairly fascinating, as well as this seemingly uncharacteristic break going public with their anti-gay stance.

        I also agree about the usage of the word “cult” which does not appear in my article. It’s become a meaningless word. All religions, to a certain degree, are cults. It’s a word that’s designed to stop the conversation, and not explore the theology that’s at work. I could never debate anyone from Bethel on theology, but I’d love to seem them up against some real theologians.

      • Avatar Anita L Brady says:

        Having lived my life in Shasta County, I can tell you that I have never been concerned about Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists were on a path to take over the community. The stated goals of Seven Mountains of Domionism is to literally control the culture by controlling the seven aspects of society. They so nice, and their goals are complete control of the community. I suggest, Steve, that you do a bit of reading concerning the seven mandates, including Johnson’s own book, and the New Apostolic Reformation. Then come back and call me a knuckledragger because of my vocalized concerns.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Don’t blame Steve (this time) – I made the knuggledragger comment in reference to those calling non mainstream Christian religions “cults.”

          As for the Seven Mountains – it seems like the same ol’ same ol’… We are talking about an empire that went from “a (Christian) city on a hill” to Manifest Destiny. Lili?uokalani would surely dispute the notion that mainstream Christians aren’t out to control communities… Heck, to this day our government still uses phrases like “in god we trust” “so help me god” and “one nation under god.”

    • Avatar Sierra says:


    • Avatar Sierra says:


  10. Avatar KF says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m a 26 year old gay man from Redding, now living in the bay area. Winfield was a friend of my mother’s, and his murder still haunts me even though it happened when I was very young. I grew up surrounded by incredibly supportive family and friends in Redding, but it is so important to remember that viewpoints and sermons like these being taught at Bethel are themselves a slippery slope to violence, harm, and trauma towards our LGBT brothers and sisters. Conversion therapy has been proven inaffective over and over again. Bethel can pray for my ass all they want – I’ll be praying for them too to open their minds and hearts.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      You will be happy to know that many people in Shasta County still remember Gary and Winfield fondly. I’m quite certain that Mr. Vallotol does not speak for the majority of Shasta County. I sure miss the Bay Area, especially after writing this story.

      • Avatar Peggy says:

        I remember Winfield fondly.. and sadly. I shopped at Gary and Winfield’s nursery often..Winfield called me a plant junkie..true..and teased me saying I was not a real gardener because I had loam soil! So fun! I think of Gary and Winfield every time I go to the North Valley Art League where a Native plant memorial garden is maintained in their honor and memory. Let’s hope Bethel rethinks their anti gay message before history repeats itself.

  11. Avatar Matthew Meyer says:

    Winfield was a colleague in the anthropology department at Chico State.

    It’s tempting to think CI and Bethel ideas about this subject are apples and oranges.

    The RS article about this did a nice job dressing it up, leaving out the sermon quotes you feature here and emphasizing Bethel’s concern that every option be available for those experiencing “gender dysphoria.”

    That co-opting of therapeutic language makes them sound well-meaning. The way the subject is discussed for internal consumption, on the other hand, does not.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      RIP Gary and Winfield. It’s heartening to know how many people they touched, and how may people still remember them.

      I have been studying CI in relation to the Williams bros. case. The theology goes to great extremes to portray Jews as the literal spawn of Satan, and depends on outside texts to prove its validity. It had to go to no such extremes to condemn gays, because that’s literally already in the Bible.

      This dressing things up with therapeutic language is one of the things these three bills is aimed at. I believe that’s one reason all of the medical professionals are on board. They want to differentiate western medicine from faith-based “therapies.” If your just “ministering” why are you charging for it?

      I became aware of Bethel’s internal presentation via Facebook. Some members were pretty stunned. At any rate, their an open book, if you subscribe to Bethel TV.

      • Avatar Ron C. says:

        yes we do as i’m reminded almost daily as I have a plot at the community garden baring their name and also meeting Gary and his family back in the day when I used to make wine and help a friend run his brew making supply store.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I met Gary and got to know him from working on projects together. Gary could be a prickly dude. I knew Winfield via his work at the Arboretum—he was a sweet guy. I liked both of them, but they were definitely of different personality types.

        To understand how those Williams boys went so wrong, you don’t have to look beyond their parents. Couple of sick units.

        • The parents, actually, were not sick units. Unless your saying devout bible worship makes you sick. I have not been able to pin down their exact denomination. They came here from Yuba City, and may have belonged to a Christian Identity church that existed there in the 1990s, but I haven’t confirmed that. They church-hopped when they moved to Redding, going to North Valley Baptist and Bethel Assembley of God among others. They home-schooled the boys till high school, where they earned high marks. The one constant feature in their life was the evangelical interpretation of the Bible.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            “They’re saying they killed a couple of fags.” — The Williams’ mother, in a phone conversation to the father, upon the arrest of the brothers.

            All due respect, Mr. Scheide (and I mean that with the upmost sincerity), I think I’ll just go ahead and continue to assume that the parents were the original source of the murderous hatred and intolerance exhibited by the boys.

          • Like it or not Steve, that’s the language many evangelicals use when they talk about gay to this day. It’s not out of the ordinary. That particular remark was recorded when she was talking to Benjamin Williams in jail. I’ve read most of the press coverage of this case, and the Williams’ parents were consistently cast as religious freaks–which is probably why they refused to talk to the press.

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            You’re right—it was more like: “They say you killed a couple of fags.” Thanks for correcting my dim recollection. I stand by my “sick units” characterization. Maybe I’m wrong, but I make them out to be a pair of hate farmers.

      • Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

        Gary and Winfield were neighbors. Wonderful neighbors. I think about them every time I walk or ride my bike by the house they shared.

  12. Avatar Ron C. says:

    I myself am not a big fan of Bethel but this bill AB 2943 concerns me. In no way am I bashing Gays but more concerned of the censorship of freedom to write whatever you want. If I’m understanding this right if someone writes a book for profit on sexual purity and against gay transitioning then that is illegal?

    What about a subscription based blog? News article?

    If this goes through does that me banning other books or topics will follow? because as we know once you give an inch…..

    Or do I have it wrong and can someone enlighten me? I’m just worrying about freedom to write what you want regardless of the topic and now possibly be censored.

    • Avatar Nisa says:

      I do not see how it could negate the first amendment.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        The bill says selling “goods” and services which promote changing sexual orientation is illegal — a broad definition which would include books.

        Additionally, it legislates medical/mental health based on the politically correct – a dangerous precedent perhaps first set when congress declared that Marijuana had no medicinal value. Keep the legislature out of the doctor’s office, please…

    • I do not know how accurate Bethel’s interpretation of the law is. They seem to think it’s quite expansive. But the way I read it, it only applies to licensed clinicians. I’m guessing that means you can’t use a Bethel book if you’re a licensed clinician. But I don’t see how it totally bans the book’s sale, only its use in a licensed clinical practice. Bethel seems to be implying that they are engaging in this therapy quite a bit. But are they really? Also, the easy work-around for Bethel is to not claim their materials can change your sexuality. They have no proof of that. That’s why this law is under the commerce act. To protect people from false advertising.

  13. Here’s an interesting read: “Dear Bethel: Open Letter From An LGBT Graduate Of Your Ministry School” written last year.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      That was not only fascinating, but it enlightened me on the earlier origin of “clobber passages,” a term that I had assumed had been coined by R.V. up above.

      I especially liked this point:

      “As in all the congregations of the saints, women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church.”— 1 Corinthians 34-35

      The letter-writer asks why Kris Valloton isn’t running that dictate up the flagpole and instructing Bethelites to salute: “Pretty clearly stated….women shouldn’t talk in church.” If Valloton gets to cherry-pick what’s clear and binding Biblical mandate versus what’s ambiguous and arguable, that strikes me as squishy theological reasoning that perhaps says more about personal bias than anything else.

      • I linked to this in the story to give them credit for the “clobber passages” thing. I asked for their comment, but they declined because they have left Bethel and didn’t want to guess what’s going on their now. They are quite interesting people, still very devout.

        • Oh, yes you did link to it. Thanks!

          • Yeah, I found that right after they wrote it, because I’ve been following this LGBT issue in town since I got here. I still don’t understand how various institutions, such as Simpson University, can make you sign a contract saying you’re not gay to attend classes. I will never take a class there for that reason, and I’m straight.

    • Avatar Marc Carter says:

      As a former (one year) Bethelite commentator concluded in his bottom line:
      “Scapegoats ensure the MONEY continues to flow…so sorry to say that but you want the truth, there it is in its hard cold glory.”

    • Avatar Kristen says:

      Thank you for sharing this link. It is beautifully written and I applaud her choice to speak up so eloquently.

  14. Hocus Pocus !! You are no longer gay?? WHATEVER ! Just stop using your collection plate to buy my city and county government. Sure we need the money but what about the ole rule, NO MONEY TO OR FROM RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.

    You see it everyday at all levels of government where money buys policy. When it is church money buying policy I get really nervous. The whole fundamental religious movement can’t seem to keep their hands off of my life. They take the strict fundamental reading from the bible (sometimes bent a little to their wishes) and try to force it on the rest of us. From banning abortion, to having wives be subservient to a husband. Depending on what religion you subscribe to you want to apply them to the rest of us,


    Religion , a topic not many will approach, good job son.

  15. Avatar Barbara Streuber says:

    I have for some time said that the city accepting money from Bethel was wrong. Separation of church and state is a fundamental bedrock of our country. Money always comes with strings attached and Bethel will be no exception.

  16. Avatar Carla says:

    This is why I objected to the City of Redding accepting $500,000 from Bethel for the police station. They can believe whatever they want, but I do not want their beliefs in the public sphere.

  17. Avatar Carla says:

    Whoops I meant police department. Whatever, the size of the donation makes for a dangerous mix of church and state.

  18. Avatar Ingrid says:

    I love Bethel and I think Kris Vallotton’s message was fantastic.

    • You’re entitled to that opinion. But don’t forget love is blind.

    • I really appreciate the people I’ve met from Bethel. However, the message Kris has delivered is based solely on his personal bias, which is most often rooted in ignorance and/or fear of being gay himself. In my professional opinion, his message is not only wrong, but also irresponsible, dangerous and inhumane.

      • Avatar Barb says:

        There is literally no theory that can conclude that it was one man off the rails. That’s simply not how it works. Bethel is a corporate machine. Branding, social media and reputation are huge issues cfot them tightly controlled by the close knit leadership team. Going public on such a topic would have absolutely been approved\designed by senior leadership, of which there are few higher than Valloton. His acknowledgement of it being outside general practice policy says it was calculated, not heat of the moment.

  19. Avatar Clea Matson says:

    Thanks to R.V. for writing this and Doni for publishing it! The connections R.V. made to the kind of hate and bigotry that resulted in my parents’ deaths in 1999 are pretty much the same thoughts I had when I heard about this public statement from Bethel and listened to Kris Valloton’s sermon. It’s disappointing – to say the least – to observe and hear about the influence of Bethel growing and extending throughout my hometown. At the very least the people who have power in Redding should stop pretending that this growing organization that they are closely aligning themselves with is harmless. I hope that ANC can keep paying attention to this because it seems really important. Thank you.

    And I appreciate those commenters above who took this opportunity to support ANC financially. Same here!

    • Clea, it’s an honor to have you comment here. You had three incredible parents, and the stellar person you are today is testimony to that.

      I will never forget them, and it is my pleasure to publish R.V.’s column that reminds us all of the potential dangers of endorsing hate and prejudice.

      Love to you, sweetie. xo

      • Avatar Clea Matson says:

        That’s really kind, thank you! I’ve been thinking about this from time to time so it’s nice to see a dialogue about it.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Clea your parents were wonderful as were Oscar and Stella! Wish I would have kept a bottle of my Stellar Red Port!

  20. Avatar Jenny Young says:

    There are actual Christians out there, or here, that fully support the LGBTQ community and believe that the Bible affirms and celebrates them! My husband and I are mental health providers who love Jesus and stand for the rights of our LGBTQ friends. We are willing to teach anyone who wants to know about those “clobber verses” and the truth of the Bible’s “YES” to same-sex relationships.

    • One of the most disturbing things about Bethel’s anti-gay stance is that it denies any connection between the Holy Spirit (as Bethel conceives it) and LGBTQ people. They are literally cut off from God. It’s an incredibly cruel thing to do to someone who believes.

  21. Avatar Danielle Severson says:

    Yes be them has the right to say and do as they wish same as I do . I say all church’s like bethal are trying to protect procreation and man’s control over women . their interpretation in scripture is to that effect over looking the history and context it was written . like Sodom and Gomorrah story . when Ezeicial 16-49 tells them what the sin of Sodom was .but refuse to use it. and the new testament was about idols. In context of the other verse they use.

  22. Avatar Troy Hawkins says:

    Comments and beliefs like Bethel’s aren’t only based in a lack of knowledge. They show a lack of moral fiber and a absence of Christianity’s main tenet of love they neighbor but are also deadly. This man, his words and the organization he represents and all if its followers world wide have blood on their hands. The rise in assaults, and other violent acts on the LGBTQ+ community are due to words, ideas and ignorance like this.
    I have multiple clients from Bethel and I have donating the money I make from the to LGBTQ+ organizations and the ACLU for years.

  23. Avatar Kevin Moty says:

    In the for what it’s worth column : It has been well documented that King James was gay.

  24. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Excellent article R.V. I would broaden those laws to prohibit any certified therapist from dispensing help based on the following illogical, but often used fallacies: mental illness and depression are a message of displeasure from God. Miscarriage is a sign of God’s displeasure.
    I’m still haunted by the horror of the Williams brother’s rampage. The thing is, Benjamin Williams is dead and his brother is off the street, but those same passages are in the Bible waiting to be dusted off and used to stir up hatred and divisiveness.

    • Thank you. Yes, those passages are still in there. So are the ones about pork and shellfish. Selective literalism, choosing to follow some laws but not the others, is the problem here.

  25. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    Growing up as a missionary son in the bush of Africa many years ago I wonder what happened to God is all about love! Eerily reminiscent of Jim Jones and Guyana!

  26. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    I was able to see the Bethel video before it was tucked away from the prying eyes of the public. I’ve always viewed the church with a kind of bemused indifference to their quirky brand of faith, but their money and influence in this city has always troubled me.

    As a gay man living in this community, the Bethel video chilled me to the core. To hear how they truly feel about someone like me has me pretty rattled. I have many friends and coworkers who attend that church, but I didn’t truly understand how deep of a divide there is between us. It’s not just a difference of opinion or politics or faith, it’s a difference of how I am seen as a human.

    I was born in this town. I went to school here, I have a home here, I work here and I vote here. I have to wonder if my feeling of community is based on a false assumption of acceptance and if I’m kidding myself that Bethel is as indifferent to me as I’ve been to them. Clearly they aren’t indifferent if they see someone like me as a threat to their homes and children.

    Their money gives them influence and power, and Redding seems perfectly content to cozy right up to those dollars, regardless of Bethel’s intent towards gay people like me. It makes me angry and it breaks my heart.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      And your post broke my heart. What’s with these cults like Bethel and Scientology that draws followers and their money when they are so out of sync with normal thinking? Before she was elected to the City Council (and why would she not be with the numbers of voting Bethel-ites in Redding?), I posted a comment here on ANC that the doctor she worked for was not only anti-choice but also did not accept Medicare patients, and I wondered how she would vote on any issue that involved seniors. So now I wonder how she would vote on any gay rights issues.

      It has been stated that Redding would collapse without Bethel. Perhaps so. But perhaps Redding should make a clean breast of it instead of relying on Bethel $$: get its spending under control, clear out the illegal homeless camps, issue parking tickets in the neighborhoods where Bethel students’ cars take up the parking spaces that keep homeowners from parking in front of their homes (from the complaints posted on ANC, that would bring in a good amount of income). Yeah, I’m talking through my hat, but it’s downright scary to be so dependent on an organization with such hateful ideas.

      • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

        If we are dependent on their money, how long before we are beholden to them? It’s not much of a stretch to imagine our elected officials needing to bend the knee and kiss the ring for an endorsement and a contribution from Bethel. We’re in trouble here.

        And frankly, if this is Bethel’s PUBLIC opinion on gay people, what words do they speak privately? This is ugly and dangerous and I’m greatly bothered by the lack of a public outcry.

    • Avatar Peggy says:

      Matt, it breaks my heart that you are having to hear this Bethel hate speech are beloved by every person who knows you..please remember that. You do so much good in this town and let’s believe the power of good will outweigh all the Bethel anti gay speak. And Redding needs to quit taking money from Bethel or any other can that be legal??? Surely it tremendously influences decisions by the City Council.

    • Avatar Ginny says:

      This is something I wrote in my monthly “From Ginny’s Heart” in January. It seems to go with the Bethel “problem”. Maybe it will help someone, Matt, besides you to read what I wrote:

      Sometimes life gives us surprises. One of my UA (unofficially adopted) kids, in a way. I had a feeling so it was not a surprise when I learned. Yet, I never voiced it to my “child”. It just kind of sprang up over the years. My “girl” is transgendering (I seem to have developed a new word for my own dictionary!) to a “boy”.

      It really isn’t a surprise for me, though. The main thing for everyone is not to judge others doing so. The Bible says we should not judge. So we need to do as we are told! All I want is for my young “man” is to have a happy life.

      You, see, he has had a long and hard row to hoe from an early age. Having surgery for cancerous brain surgery is not an easy thing to have happen anytime in life, but to do it as a high school student is more difficult because they haven’t experienced that much of what we call, “Life”.

      So my concern is not about the gender, but about giving him a much longer and happier life. For him I just want him to feel his worth, a physical wellness, and contentment for as long as he will live on this earth. God never makes junk! We must not forget that. And, my “son” will never be junk!

      We must not judge. It isn’t our job!

      • Avatar Ginny says:

        P.S. Matt: I love your photos. Do put out the Coffee Table Book soon. I’m putting my order in for one now! ;o)

  27. Avatar Katie says:

    Can we also talk about Kris Vallotton’s comments about the Metoo movement and sexual assault survivors? I watched the sermon from March 24th where he spoke about the 3 bills. Among being disgusted about how he talks about the LGBTQ community, I was shocked how he victim shamed and mocked those that have been assaulted. Some comments from that part are: “If you’re promoting immorality, than why are you surprised people would proposition you?” “If you fish with shark bait, you’re going to catch sharks” (referring to women in bars and in “hollywood”). “If you’re walking around like this..(unbuttons his shirt, sticks his butt and chest out and speaks in a female tone)..I don’t know why men are.. (Bill Johnson get up and takes a photo while everyone laughs and claps)..I’m just saying, if you live with immorality don’t be surprised if you become a victim”.

    I know many people in my community that go to Bethel or work for Bethel. I know them to be kind and good people. I’m having a seriously hard time wrapping my head around the fact that no one got up and said that his message about and to the LGBTQ community was wrong or that his victim shaming and mocking was wrong. In fact, it seemed completely funny and acceptable to the senior leadership there. How are people still attending this church? How are their members not up in arms about what was said as part of a sermon?

    • Avatar Colleen Adams says:

      I was also shocked and offended about how he mocked the Metoo movement and how he blames women for a “culture of immorality.” It is really hard to believe that every woman in there just sat there and listened to that garbage. He also felt completely comfortable trashing people who work on cars as well… I can’t remember his exact words, but they were something like, “Did you ever notice that people who work on cars aren’t exactly high on the social ladder?” and then proceeded to tell a story about a car mechanic who was clearly morally inferior to the likes of Kris and Bill who was in awe of Bill Johnson’s obvious moral superiority. I just couldn’t believe my ears for pretty much his whole sermon.

  28. Great article exposing a very bad situation at Bethel as well as many other churches. As someone who was a Pastor of a church that saw homosexuals as perfectly and wonderfully made by God no differently than any other child of God, I understand how the “clobber passages” are taken out of context in order to condemn gay people. The Romans 1 passage is all about idol worship and activities associated with it. I find it interesting that the list also includes issues such as pride, gossiping, boasting, being disobedient to parents, etc. Why not condemn all of that? Because too often preachers pick and choose what they want in order to prove their point. If he would continue into the next chapter he’d find immediately where it says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” The moment we begin to judge others, we in fact condemn ourselves. As a Christian, I believe the words of Christ who simply told me to love God and love others.

  29. Avatar Common Sense says:

    Well Put there Tim Scarbrough! Any Religion that Discriminates or teaches Anything other than to Love God and Love Others is not a True Authentic Word!

    It always amazes me how people change things around to make God Fit “Their” version of the way it should be.

    If you are supposed to hate anyone….you need a new Religion!

    God did not say we should love everyone except, the Gays/Transgenders etc etc…. That is Man and Mans Ego trying to fit God into “their” box when they start preaching that!

  30. Avatar John says:

    Just donated to anewscafe to support articles like this.

  31. If your Religion is teaching you to hate or treat anyone as less than, perhaps you need a new Religion!

    • I’ve never been able to understand how a religion that preaches God’s Love – and that we are all created by God – and in God’s image – how that wouldn’t be 100% inclusive of ALL BEINGS, including all gender identification’s and sexual orientations?

      All the research in this field points to the fear these people feel about their own sexuality and the inner turmoil and self hate they have been taught – they are just hoping they will be “cured” so they can stop loathing themselves.

      If only they knew the honest to God truth – that no one cares a bit about whom they choose to love (yes that means you Kris Vallotton) or have sex with! Really – no one. So why do they care so much about how another lives their private life? Fear.

      So sad really.

      And yes… how about just open your heart and mind to the amazing spirituality of knowing we are not alone and all here to learn the same things… love, compassion, acceptance, etc. Most “Man made religions” are designed to control, not free, humans. We are meant to live FREE. Yes?

      • Avatar Tim says:

        There is no logical contradiction in saying “God may have given you a predisposition to certain impulses/feelings, but our church does not condone acting on those impulses/feelings.” Otherwise all religion could be distilled to hedonism…

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          So if we were to found a religion based entirely on the practical and redemptive value of following the Golden Rule–or a Christian denomination based on the idea that the Golden Rule was Jesus’s true central message and the heart of Christian doctrine–that would constitute a descent into hedonism?


          • Avatar Tim says:

            Not at all. The golden rule, which is as close to a universally held religious belief, still restricts behaviors associated with some genetically predisposed impulses – like serial killing (unless, I guess, your counterparties wanted to be killed).

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        This may be too light-hearted for this excellent article, but here goes. My cousin and her five-year-old granddaughter were walking, and there was a gay couple also walking holding hands. Granddaughter asked why two men were holding hands, and her grandmother answered that they loved each other. Granddaughter asked if they were going to be married, and grandmother answered that they might. The very fashion conscious granddaughter mused about that a bit, then asked, “Which one will wear the gown?”

        I hope that doesn’t offend.

  32. Because of this article and the fact that ANC allowed this and other controversial and perhaps triggering content here, I have joined with a monthly paid subscription.


    Truth telling – Reality Revealing – Honesty Provoking. I love it! Thank you Doni!

  33. Avatar Delilah says:

    This is such an amazing article from beginning to end with so many quote worthy points. I want to know what I can do as a community member to help Redding and Bethel get “divorced”.

  34. Avatar Reilly says:

    Both Jesus and Paul were above having sex… most gurus are. Love is beyond the needs of the physical body, and so it is more impacting on our spirit. Sex is bound to this reality; not eternity. Christians and non-Christians alike, need to take sex and sexuality off their pedestals.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Since I’m not a bible reader, I’ve often wondered where it is written that celibacy is part of religion. Why are Catholic priests and nuns celibate, and why can they not marry? Why was Ghandi, though married, celibate in later life? What is supposed to be so wrong with engaging in sexual intercourse?

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        I had an interesting conversation on an airline flight with a man who had been a priest in the Catholic church, but who had left the fold ten years earlier. He told me that Catholic priests weren’t forbidden to marry until the twelfth century.

        Until that day, I never knew that there were exceptions to that rule. For example, Episcopalian priests who converted to Catholicism were (and are, I presume) allowed to remain married.

  35. Avatar James Santos says:

    Oh, this brings me so much sadness for the young and old people who deserve the right to live as God has made them, without guilt and secrecy. I am hurt by the thought of what this kind of hate and separation will bring to the community of Redding, and even though I am not living there I believe at this time you need as many people as possible, working together, with one vision to bring back the beautiful of Redding.

    I will say the the one thing God has taught me is to be forgiving, and as hard as it is to swallow such hatred and hurtful words it is exactly what we should try and do.

    • Well put. (You guys are missed here, James. 🙁 )

    • Avatar Rachel says:

      Thank you James. You are right. It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you are on. If you are arguing, the devil has already won. Divide and conquer is his game and we are falling for it as blind sheep.

  36. Avatar Joe H says:

    Apparently, Bethel is northern California’s “madrassa” for the Christian Taliban.
    Love is the answer, not misguided and arguably malevolent, fear and injustice, hiding behind the cloak of Mr. Valloton’s new age Republican Jesus…

  37. Avatar Wickerbill says:

    I thought Bethel was a Gay Church? Most of the younger people are gay there.

  38. Avatar Phyllis Clark-Kirkman says:

    Nicely written. I would dearly love to see Bethel Church hoisted with its own petard. Shenanigans in the name of God has always boiled my blood. What we need is a little less talk and a lot more action. So…what are we going to DO about this??

  39. Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

    This court case tried by the Southern Poverty Law Center might be of interest to the discussion:

  40. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    A friend taught at Simpson for a time. But prior to being hired, she was asked if she was a Christian. I have yet to understand how that question had anything to do with the subject she taught. Had she been applying to a public university, she could have sued over being asked that. So between Simpson and Bethel, Redding seems to have a corner on intolerance.

    To my friend Phyllis Clark-Kirkman above, let’s plan dinner at Armando’s. Businesses like his need our support. It’s a start.

  41. Avatar Amanda S says:

    I have never read something so disgusting. This level of ignorance and intolorance has no place in this community. And if there is any truth to 3 bethel members running for city council, that needs to worry everyone. Redding should have never accepted the “donation” for the PD. 🙁

  42. OMG ! over 7,000 comments on this subject ! Why is the LGBT+ community the subject of disdain ? How long will this last ? I’ve been through the North Valley Baptist era and they’ve faded away, despite their pastors homophobia. Bethel will have it’s version of Armageddon, I’m just too old to wait around to see how it shakes out. If you want to make change, vote, give money; ask Julie Winter to dis-associate herself from Bethel, she’s actually a very smart educated person, very kind, very politically astute and has recused herself when ever any religious agenda items come up, however, this fascination with a church and its staff are baffling to me. And more baffling is her association with Dr. Van Mol, Bethel elder, who’s written his share of gay-hating letters to the local paper. All I know is that my grand kids love me, regardless of who I am, and that’s the most important thing in my life at this moment. They are the positive future. I can’t stop crying for my sisters and brothers who are hurt over this insensitive degradation.

    • This line in your comment made ME cry, Frank: “All I know is that my grand kids love me, regardless of who I am, and that’s the most important thing in my life at this moment. They are the positive future.”

      Amen to that. xo

      (btw, one tiny point of correction: that’s more than 7,000 views — not comments – which is still awesome. )

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Beautifully expressed, Frank.

  43. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Wow, in my move from Cheyenne to Phoenix, no internet during move, a firestorm hits Redding.
    My two cents worth is that I lived in Shasta County for forty years and while I knew and was friends with many gay people, some were my own relatives, I had never heard of Bethel Church.
    On the counter side I grew up, a non Mormon, in Salt Lake City. To say the Mormon religion owns Utah is an understatement. They founded the town, after being run out of the East, and built their religion up from there. Bethel seems to have looked for a town to take over.
    The Mormon church I grew up with has changed over the years, visions from God is what they say, that has changed the churches view on many things. Though still restrictive they have shown more tolerance to others different from them. Salt Lake City had a gay major.
    I have business friends in Redding who, like others on here, have told me they have good relations and customers who are Bethel involved. But, I would be concerned with the way the city turned over the Civic Center and kicked out the caterer service, that was a for profit business that paid taxes, and installed their own non profit caterer.
    I would be leery at what Bethel’s true mission statement is.

    • Avatar Rachel says:

      Did you know that the city was contemplating closing the Civic due to a lack of funds and although at first they were not crazy about Bethel leasing it (not taking it over), now that the lease will be expiring soon, the city is hoping Bethel will lease it for another term?

    • Avatar Kallie says:

      Hi Cheyenne – I think you might have been fed some misinformation. The current caterer is Premiere Catering, owned by J&A Foods, which is the same company that owns Applebee’s, Marie Callender’s, View 202, and I believe a few others. J&A Foods (aka Joe Wong) also holds the liquor license for the Civic. The distributor is Foothill Distributing. I’m not sure which non-profit caterer you’re referring to, but I believe J&A is very much a for-profit, tax-paying entity.

  44. Avatar Daniel says:

    I love this article really exposing them
    For the truth. I have gone through bethel’s conversion therapy and I’ll tell ya all it did was make me hate myself and destroy my self confidence it has taken a lot of work and a few years to come out of that mindset it puts you under. They tell you they can help and they can fix you but truly all they do is lead you into a life of self-hatred and repressed emotions. Not cool bethel not cool. Also I think I’m going to rally up some LGBT members of Redding and hold a protest outside of the civic center like one commenter said.

  45. Avatar Common Sense says:

    In August 2017, a group of 150 prominent evangelicals released the “Nashville Statement,” a document that condemned (among other things) Christians who support L.B.G.T.Q. issues. “Such approval,” they asserted, “constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.” Their calculation is very simple: If you support gay rights and affirm the idea of gay Christians, then you aren’t really Christian.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      150 evangelicals, questionable to begin with, out of how many in the country, thousands? That shows the depths some people go to find dirty laundry. In Cheyenne 22 out of 23 churches, all white evangelical and including the Muslim church, have supported gay rights with marches and protests. This in Wyoming where more gay friendly laws have been passed than any other state it’s size. I have found that everywhere, including Redding, that the views some dig up are limited to a few. But it is not news when a church helps the poor or gay, it is only news when the few bad ones do or speak terrible things. I, and others, could fill the ANews pages with the good that churches do, but that is not news.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Ten or twelve years ago, I was sitting in the gate area at the Denver airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Sacramento. Two forty-something guys in the row of seats across from me had struck up a conversation about Christianity and faith. I tend to find those kinds of conversations interesting, but I found myself nodding off.

      My nap was interrupted by raised voices. The two Christians were getting into heated territory, and yes, the subject was gay rights. One fellow said, “If you believe that that homosexuality is acceptable, then you’re not a real Christian.”

      The tolerant Christian got red in the face. I thought he might take a poke at Mr. Real Christian, but instead, he gathered himself.

      Mr. Tolerant asked, “Does your denomination believe that it’s okay to have sex with pastry?”
      Mr. Real didn’t seem ready for that. “What does that mean?”
      Mr. Tolerant said, “I asked because I think you should take a flying f*ck at a rolling donut.”

      I don’t think I’d heard that suggestion since getting out of the Army. It cracked me up. Soon, I was laughing so hard that I had trouble staying in my seat.

      When I could see through my tears again, both of the guys were staring at me. They looked pissed. They looked like they wanted to kick my ass.

      I really hadn’t intended to offend the guys, so I tried to gather the words to apologize. Instead, I started laughing again. Hard. This did not endear me to the fellows, but rather than kick my ass, they walked off together, perhaps to settle their differences over a cup of coffee.

      Yep, nothing brings people together faster than a common enemy.

  46. Avatar LetsBeOpenMinded says:

    I find Kris Vallatons prejudiced comments scary enough, but what is so disturbing is the quantity of individuals that seemingly agree with him and the other “pastors” at Bethel, why else would they continue to listen to him and read his books, etc.? Truly bizarre is that Bethel has an application for voluntary membership, and by signing this “commitment”, the member applying agrees to many things including avoiding homosexuality. So where is the line between a healthy religious community and an unhealthy one? One major difference is the cost of disagreeing. I agree with R.V., it’s time for Redding to consider a divorce.

    Also, what is Kris/Bethel so afraid of anyway? It’s pretty twisted to develop a whole sermon telling people how they should vote, to be so critical of Bills designed to protect people from begin taken advantage of, and to be that concerned about others sexual orientation. Pretty manipulative. I hope the medical community can review that video they played in Kris’s sermon.

    • Avatar Rachel says:

      You say people are being protected. It is quite the contrary. The gay/transgender population is a fraction of the Christian population in California and in the country. These bills if they become law could easily silence Christians from speaking what they feel is truth being taught from the Bible. They would essentially be stripped of their first amendment rights on the subject. Does that sound fair LetsBeOpenMinded? Watch this for a deeper look into the bills.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        Rachel writes:

        “…silence Christians from speaking…”

        It would appear that Christians can still speak, but just cannot charge.

  47. Avatar Marilyn says:

    I think a divorce is appropriate here. Good suggestion. Afterwards some conversion therapy for the Bethel member and leaders to become one with the rest of society again. We will find it necessary though, to go through their closets to find what skeletons they have been hiding and put them prominetly on display, but we can help them as much as they have helped us.

  48. Avatar Marilyn says:

    To be clear, this is a human issue. This is about deamonizing human beings. Who is next? How far can people who basically own our community go? Hoardes of people attend this church and their reach is global with their “school” as well. The community that is targeted here should be considered a part of the rest of everyone else and we should stand together, not segragated on this. How creepy and discusting can one organization get before people stand up?

  49. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    The website “” lists over 50 Christain churches in Redding.

    From the Old Testament: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” — Leviticus 20:13

    From the New Testament: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” —1 Corinthians 6:9-10

    That’s unambiguous language. Right?

    I don’t agree with Kris Valloton’s worldview—it’s his kind of selectively fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible that drove me to leave the church when I was 13. (Note all of the other “misbehavers” that Paul didn’t approve of in his letter to the Corinthians, none of which seem to raise to the level of homosexuality in Valloton’s mind.)

    I have to wonder……how much of an outlier on the position of homosexuality as a sin to be avoided do people think Bethel represents? Are the other 50-something churches in town saying that it’s a trivial matter these days? The Baptists? The Catholics? The Lutherans? The Presbyterians? The Mormons? The other Pentecostals?

    I can think of a handful of local liberal churches whose pastors might say, “Yeah, what Paul said in his letters isn’t the Gospel of Jesus……it’s just what Paul said. Focus on Jesus’s message.” But I’ll bet money and give odds that Bethel’s position on homosexuality is the majority theological position in these parts, by a long-shot. So why the outrage aimed at Bethel, specifically, about this particular issue?

    • Avatar Tim says:

      …because bethel is *different* and growing in power/influence and that scares people…

      Just because the leader says something, doesn’t mean the congregation is in agreement. The pope is very much pro-life, yet 49% of US Catholics are pro choice — virtually identical to the general population (51% according to a 2015 poll by CNN).

      Despite Democrats’ weaker support for Israel, Jews support Democrats 2:1 over Republicans (Trivia: Despite comprising just 2% of the population, Jews contributed over 50% of Clinton’s campaign war chest — a stat that may have contributed to alt-right antisemitism).

      But people are so much more than their religious/political/sexual/whatever orientation.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        PS: There is some debate regarding the translation of your Corinthians passage. The King James version does not say “gay” or “homosexual” – it says “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind.”

        “Effeminate” was translated from the Greek word “malakoi” which has a range of meanings/connotations, but from the context probably meant something between “soft” and “vain.”

        The other Greek word in that passage was “arsenokoitai” which has almost no other recorded uses in history. It has been translated as prostitution, fornication (especially with servants), gay sex, maturbation, pederasty, and/or rape. But the theme of most translations is of a man having sex with someone having less power (boy, slave, rape victim, prostitute, etc)

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          I’m aware of those debates. What I know for damned sure is that I lack the expertise in ancient languages and context (social mores of the times) to judge if one side or the other is bending the meaning of the original Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew to its liking.

          The notion that there are issues with the translations of the ancient text translations into English is a whole ‘nuther controversy. It’s plainly obvious to many that there were transcription and translation errors, not to mention varying decisions in which books to leave in and which to throw overboard. (There are large denominations of Christianity that decided: “Revelations? You’re kidding, right? That madman’s hallucination? Just…”) In the Baptist church of my Mom’s side of the family, those translations from the ancient texts were guided by the hand of God, and the King James Bible was meant to be taken literally, word for word.

          But the King James Version goes with “effeminate,” instead of “homosexual” in 1 Corinthians 9 so next time I’m in Colorado, I get to tell my effeminate but straight-married cousin that he’s not off the hook. Not to mention, he’s a “reveler.”

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I find it fascinating, anthropologically speaking. Christians combine a series of language translations with ~100-200 years of oral history that was passed down while their ancestors were living in hiding amongst (and undoubtedly influenced by) Roman “pagans.”

            For example, the original text to describe Mary said she was a good (or pure) young woman. Later Christians translated this as “virgin” despite the fact there was another word for “virgin” in Hebrew that the original authors could have used if that truly was their intent. If married, which Mary was, a good/pure young woman did not have to be a virgin!

            But from this translation embellishment we get this whole immaculate conception which then implies a half-man half-god — a departure from other holy men in the bible and remarkably like some of the “pagan” stories floating around the Roman Empire in the 1st century.

            Likewise, the story of the resurrection appears hundreds of years after listening to accounts of people in Roman religions dying and returning as ghosts to interact with the living before passing on to heaven.

            And the earliest recorded descriptions of the Eucharist contain no allusions to cannibalism. Instead, they have baptized church members praying and breaking bread & sharing wine in thanksgiving. But hundreds of years after being exposed to pagan cannibalism in Roman Egypt, this thanksgiving meal is transformed into a reinactment of the last supper where bread and wine are turned to body & blood.

            Jews and Muslims, who contemporaneously recognized Jesus as an important & holy man, did not record him as born of a virgin, as having risen from the dead, or as having anything to do with cannibalism. They were not in hiding – why would they leave that out of their histories?

            Christmas itself was set by Constantine to coincide with existing pagan celebrations of the winter solstice (we don’t know when Jesus was born, but late December is the least likely time to make citizens travel for a census and for shepherds to tend flocks).

            So isn’t the most likely explanation that people from different religions were sitting around a campfire telling stories and gradually trying to have their gods outdo each other? Youngsters not exposed to the original tale gradually learned new stories until many generations later those altered stories were written down. Just look at Christianity in Louisiana and the Caribbean — they way it sometimes gets blended with voodoo.

            So from all of that uncertainty, the idea that a church can be so sure that “god hates fags” seems, well, a bit presumptuous. And isn’t pride one of the 7 deadly sins (a list which, incidentally, did not exist for centuries after Christ’s death)?

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            “So from all of that uncertainty, the idea that a church can be so sure that “god hates fags” seems, well, a bit presumptuous.”


            As an aside, Tim, I have a bone to pick with you and Steve T. I mean, you two often disagree with each other, yet you don’t often get snarky.

            What the hell is wrong with you guys? This is America, dammit, and we’re not here for thoughtful exchanges; we’re here for the snark. Don’t you dare try to blame it all on Barbara’s adult supervision.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Ha! Well I greatly appreciate having a place to converse openly about edgy topics in a civilized manner.

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        Indeed Tim! People are So much more. But they have not learned that yet. So they stick to you against me, my party against yours.

        We are All One! Quantum Physics has Scientifically Proven that Everything is Nothing but Energy. If Everything is the same, at the smallest minute level, what is it?

        Until the Majority of the population understands this, we have division. The media feeds on Division ( Not TNC) but Corporate media. Its what sells newspapers and makes people turn on their T.V!

        The Answer is LOVE… the Beatles song tried to communicate in a song. Love is the Answer. Not Division!

        Remember Woodstock?

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      It’s unfortunate that comments don’t allow for pictures because I have an image of a “smite” keyboard key that would be handy now and then.

  50. Avatar Rachel says:

    Go learn the truth. You owe it to yourself to see both sides of the issue.

  51. I will be talking about this on my radio show Saturday if you would like to comment. 11a-12noon – The Conscious Living Show.

    The video he showed by a pediatrician has been addressed here:

    She is the president of a group started as an anti gay and LGBTQ organization.

  52. Avatar Jim says:

    Thank you for this article. We have forgotten the hate-filled violence of the Wiliams brothers. Bethel’s act are irresponsible.

    This is not a second amendment issue. Let Bethel share their true thoughts. Our reaction to this truth about Bethel should be swift and loud in response. Ask your elected officials to make their stand clear. If they don’t want to oppose hate and violence, vote them out.

    Encourage Bethel to police their own. Bethel leadership should stand up against any representative/leader that uses scripture to incite hate in our community, especially where previous insanity led to murder. Yes Bethel has done some good for our community, yet nothing they have done justifies this prejudicial, hate-filled, dangerous speech. Let’s all ask them to leave Redding. Cancel the contract to the Redding Auditorium, protest their Sunday services, take actions to let them know there is a consequence for their hate-filled stance. Do it legally, do it respectfully, do it now.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      I had not forgotten about the Matson and Mowder murders when I moved to Wyoming. What struck me was how Laramie and Wyoming reacted to the murder of Mathew Shepard, within a year of the Matson and Mowder murders. One can not go anywhere in Wyoming without reading or hearing about Mathew Shepard through plays, songs, media. I tried to show the difference in my letter A Tale of Two Cities, but I did it poorly, of how Redding seemed to forget about Matson and Mowder while Laramie made sure no one forgot Mathew Shepard. Perhaps if I had done a better job of writing and submitted it now it would be better received.
      Regardless, if Redding had reacted to the Matson and Mowder murders like Laramie reacted to the Mathew Shepard murder twenty years ago, would Bethel’s anti gay rhetoric even come out today. I can guarantee that if Bethel raised their anti-gay message in Laramie it would be met by overwhelming opposition from other churches, the city, UW and the media.

      • Avatar Jim Nelson says:

        Yes, I was struck hard by the cowboy violence done to Mathew Sheppard so long ago. The Matson Mowder murders were every bit as shoking and should have changed our attitude here in Redding. I remain appalled at the lack of meaningful action by Bethel to undo the hate they openly share with a veneer of Christian values. Let’s ask loudly for Bethel to leave Redding.

  53. Avatar KM says:

    Mr. Schiede: By all means, hold this organization accountable for its bigotry and misogyny. I watched the sermon in anger and grief and have no disagreement with your sentiments. I would like to point out, though, that your line, “Redding has turned over the Civic Auditorium to Bethel”, is misleading and threatens the success of those of us who work there. Its erroneousness also threatens to delegitimize other Bethel-related concerns.

    There is a lot of misinformation about the organizational structure around the Civic, and the myths are fueled by oversimplification and error on the part of the Record Searchlight, a business that benefits from perpetuating Bethel conspiracies. I would encourage A News Cafe to differentiate itself, and I hope I can help clear things up: The city of Redding still owns the Civic. Advance Redding, a public benefit non-profit, is contracted to manage it. Bethel School rents the facility, as do Kool April Nites, Redding Dance Centre, Redding Beer Week, the Sportsman’s Expo, and many others. When the city was managing the Civic at a huge deficit and allowing it to fall into disrepair, they considered shuttering it, which would have left many locals without a place to graduate, fundraise, dance, exhibit, etc. Advance Redding was created – legally and financially *independent* of Bethel School and Bethel Church – and has upgraded the Civic with over a million dollars, put it back in the black, and took its industry reputation from ‘Extreme Midget Wrestling’ (under the city’s management) to ‘sold out Bonnie Raitt/sold out Korn/sold out Jim Gaffigan/sold out Old Dominion’ etc. Does Bethel School benefit by having a place to rent? Yes. So do Redding Beer Week, Crown Motors, Dance Depot, the Shasta Library Foundation…etc. There are no legal, financial, or otherwise official ties to Bethel. The church does not decide who takes the stage. They do not receive a portion of your ticket purchase or other monies. They did not hire me, they do not sign my paychecks, they do not censor our work. Many of us who work at the Civic are wholly unaffiliated with the church, and are simply trying to bring excellent entertainment and community services to Redding. To falsely align the Civic with Bethel church invites undue aggression and boycott. Advance Redding should be allowed, like any business or non-profit, to fail or succeed on its own merits, not as collateral damage of a rumor. Time spent dealing with damage control like this is time better spent trying to book Tony Bennett and getting more people in the building to enjoy a Peter Frampton show, but I figured if any Redding audience might be open to thoughtful consideration, it would be this one.

    Feel free to link the 7-yr old Record Searchlight article that calls Advance Redding ‘a subsidiary of Bethel’, (someone always does) but know that we’ve contacted them multiple times for a correction, unheeded. (They’ve also spelled my name wrong multiple times and changed the title of an editorial I wrote to one that was sensational and combative – they can’t be a perfect journalistic resource just because they’re telling you what you want to hear.) Also, know that the state of CA has rules against a public benefit non-profit being a subsidiary of a religious non-profit.

    Again: by all means hold Bethel accountable for the harm it brings, and there is certainly much to discuss about the church, but as engaging as the “Civic = Bethel!!!” story is, it’s not true. If, like a tiny but vocal minority, you feel Extreme Midget Wrestling WAS the heyday of the venue, you’re welcome to pony up the promotional funds and bring them back yourself. 🙂 Thanks for your time.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Advance Redding principal officer: Charlie Harper (also a member of senior leadership at Bethel)

      Advance Redding board member: Cory McCandliss (Bethel member and on board of Bethel Media)

      Advance Redding board member: Julie Winter (Bethel elder)

      Advance Redding board member: April Lafrance (Bethel associate leader)

      Advance Redding board member: Mimi Moseley (apparently not a Bethel member, but publicly advocated for Bethel’s expansion to a new campus)

      2015-2016 Half of its income came from Bethel and over half of its expenses went to personnel (who seem to be disproportionately Bethel members).

      Quote from Advance Redding’s 2016 strategic plan: “In 2012 a partnership was established between the City of Redding and Bethel Church to keep the Civic Auditorium open. Advance Redding (public benefit non profit 501c3) was formed to manage the facility and fulfill the contract with the City.”
      Advance Redding may be “legally and financially independent” of Bethel, but it is obviously quite intertwined.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        For clarification, I think Advance Redding is doing a good job bringing more and better events to the Civic. I just don’t think “independent” is an accurate characterization of its relationship to Bethel.

  54. Avatar Patrick says:

    @Tim…good background work! Absolutely Civic center has ties to Bethel through Advance Redding. Not sure who KM is trying to kid but it wasn’t ME!.. my question is “who” kicked out senior nutrition from doing the food distrabution in the Civic center parking lot?? Who appears to be Bethelites! KM chime in pls! Thx

  55. Avatar Colleen Adams says:

    What is so offensive to me as I watch this video, is how at about two hours and five minutes in, Chris has, at this point, said that WOMEN have created a culture of immorality. He says that he “protects” women, but let’s be clear, they are the ones parading around with their butts sticking out and their shirts unbuttoned (and he does a little dance here as he unbuttons his shirt), and they have created a culture of immorality, so why are they so surprised when men act offensively? He also seems to be interchanging homosexuality with transgender at certain points.

  56. Avatar Greg says:

    Bethel is not against the gay community. They just want the freedom to be able to continue praying for people for healing who are struggling with these issues and want to be prayed for. The government shouldn’t be able to stop consenting adults receiving prayer. Nor should the government be allowed to stop their freedom of speech in telling people that Jesus can heal them.

    • Avatar Colleen Adams says:

      Greg, the government is not trying to stop Bethel from praying for anyone (and if you heard the sermon in question here, you will learn that they are not only suggesting that homosexuals need praying for, but also transgenders, women, and people who work on cars). The government is using actual data that indicates that trying to change someone’s gender or sexual identity is harmful. It even lists the exact ways in which it has been proven to be harmful. The government is protecting people from proven harm. It is protecting consumers from purchasing a service that has not only been proving ineffectual, but HARMFUL. It is similar to a drug that has been proven, through studies, to be harmful, and we can’t go to Walgreen’s to go buy it. All of the Bethel people can pray and twitch and rock and hoot and holler about whatever they want to… they just can’t swindle people for money about a service that has been proven to be detrimental to the mental health of an individual.

      • Avatar Greg says:

        Colleen, for a start everyone needs prayer. We all have things in life we struggle with. But I’m not sure from that sermon where you got that Bethel is saying women and people who work on cars in particular need prayer. That is a bizarre allegation to make. Bethel believes nothing of the sort. If there is any reference to such things in the sermon (which I have seen) you have misinterpreted it.

        Secondly, you are wrong that it wouldn’t be against the proposed law for people to receive prayer at Bethel in the area of homosexual related issues (regardless of whether any money changes hands) – if the person wanted to be free of them.

        Thirdly, there is no proof that trying to change someone’s sexual identity is ineffectual and harmful. It may not work every time, just like with medical treatments for any issue you can think of (which usually not 100% effective and without the risk of side effects). But it it a lie to say that it never works and can’t work. Bethel has got multiple examples of people who in the past have identified as gay but through prayer ministry and counselling have transitioned to being straight and are not happily married. The proposed changes to the law would make such ministry illegal.

        The bottom line is that consenting adults should not be prevented from receiving prayer and counselling to remove homosexual desires if they want to. It is their choice.

    • Avatar Jim Nelson says:

      Nor should Redding violate the separation of church and state by sanctioning Bethel’s use of public facilities. This has gone on too long especially with the link between this “Church” and messages that have resulted in violence against other groups. This is not a free speach or free prayer issue. This is an issue of what is acceptable practice for our government to sanction by sweetheart contracts.

      • Avatar Greg says:

        I suppose by “Bethel’s use of public facilities” you mean the Civic Auditorium. Well in case you don’t know, Bethel actually saved that facility from being demolished. It was uneconomical for the City of Redding to continue to maintain. Bethel Church stepped in and invested a significant amount of money in the building. They basically lease it during the week for their school and make it available to the community for things like concerts and Kool April Nites etc. If Bethel Church did not exist then there would now no longer be a Civic Auditorium.

  57. Avatar Brandon says:

    Nothing makes Christianity feel more disgusting than the anti-gay agenda. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a gay person. The only thing wrong here is the hateful message of that big-box mega church on the hill.

  58. Avatar TheDude says:

    Anyone have a mirror to the video sermon? Seems blocked or taken down.

  59. Avatar Joe Banker says:

    “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

  60. Avatar Blake Dorsey says:

    Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi Party) in Germany, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazis and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, (such as those from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, run by Jewish gay rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld) were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

    Kris called the three bills “anti-religious, anti-free speech and anti-God.” For any potential secular listeners, he noted that homosexuality, in addition to being an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, is also “inherently immoral.”

    He went on to say..
    “If the truth of who I am is who I am attracted to, then there is no bottom to that cesspool,” he said. It’s that old slippery slope sliding down to pedophilia and bestiality.

    Wake up everyone… doesn’t START with the gas ovens

  61. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    I’m beginning to feel the same way about Joe Banker’s comments as I do about conservative’s.