Bethel and North State Republicans Have Queer Obsession

The way I like to count it, there are roughly 1 million people in our little corner of northern California. Statistically speaking, about 5 percent of those people, 50,000 or so—friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, students, etc.—identify as LGBTQ.

I’m what the kids these days call a cisgender straight white male, so my only gauge on the level of acceptance shown to our 50,000 LGBTQ fellow citizens is what I see around me in society.

What I’ve witnessed is a higher level of acceptance than one might expect given our region’s conservative reputation.

This has been particularly true with my stints substitute-teaching in local public high schools. It’s not unusual to encounter one or two openly gay students on each gig, and they’re unconditionally accepted by their peers, as far as I can tell from outside appearances. It has been heartening to see.

This is called progress. LGBTQ youth coming of age today in California arguably enjoy more acceptance and endure less bullying than in the past. The benefits to their physical and mental well-being are obvious.

But for the north state’s right-wing Christian evangelicals and the Republican candidates they’ve helped put into federal, state and local government office, this progress is an abomination, as the Bible literally says. Blurring the line separating church and state, they’ve become fixated on turning back the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

Call it a queer obsession.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, confirmed anti-LGBTQ politician.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa is a case in point. Our 1st Congressional District representative has opposed any civil rights for LGBTQ individuals since his days as a state assemblyman. Earlier this year, he voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act, after Democrats added LGBTQ individuals to the list of domestic violence victims protected by the legislation.

Last month, LaMalfa joined 52 right-wing Republican representatives and senators who signed on to a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief that argues LGBTQ employees aren’t protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII provisions against discrimination by “sex.”

The amicus brief concerns three cases the court will hear in early October in which LGBTQ employees claim they were fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Co-authored by Ken Starr, the infamous inquisitor of President Bill Clinton, the amicus brief argues that employers who have a sincerely held religious beliefs that LGBTQ people are immoral abominations in the eyes of god have a 1st Amendment right, via the free-exercise clause, to fire LGBTQ employees.

If the court decides against the plaintiffs, firing people because they’re gay could become a constitutionally protected activity.

Redding Mayor Julie Winter, conversion therapy proponent.

Then there’s Redding Mayor Julie Winter. The degreed nurse practitioner is also a Bethel Church elder but was wearing her mayor’s hat when she endorsed a petition condemning Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99 last month.

ACR-99 is a non-binding resolution passed by the Assembly in June that promotes community-wide acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and warns about the harm caused by conversion therapy. The resolution reads:

“This measure would call upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance, upon religious leaders to counsel on LGBTQ matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy, and upon the people of California and the institutions of California with great moral influence to model equitable treatment of all people of the state.”

Apparently, this modest proposal—not an enforceable law, but a suggestion—that the state’s religious leaders acknowledge the evidence-based consensus of every major medical and mental health association in the country was so over-the-top, members of the faith-based conversion therapy industry felt compelled to respond en masse.

According to David Cary Hart at the Slowly Boiled Frog website, the author of the petition condemning ACR 99 is Russell Willingham of Fresno New Creation Ministries, which offers conversion therapy services to adults. In California, it has been illegal to practice conversion therapy on youth under 18 since 2012.

Some 1500 individuals endorsed the petition. Winter was joined by her fellow Bethel Church elder Dr. Andre Van Mol, who belongs to the American College of Pediatricians, a group of anti-LGBTQ doctors who’ve been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Also signing the petition from Redding were Robert Baker, executive pastor of Trinity Alliance Church; Barry Byrne, executive director of Nothing Hidden Ministries; and the Rev. James Howe from the First Presbyterian.

The petition begins:

“People should have the freedom to pursue what brings them true happiness and joy. ACR 99 is trying to cut people off from their own pathway to happiness.”

For evidence that praying the gay away is the equivalent to the pursuit of happiness, the petition provides a link to Bethel’s “Changed Movement” website, the church’s effort to rebrand the discredited “ex-gay” movement as the new, improved “once-gay” movement.

Read their stories of alleged transformation here, but be forewarned: none of them can be described as cheerful.

The petition continues:

“This resolution tells Californians of many religions that their faith is unacceptable to the state. Politicians are telling California churches, synagogues, and mosques what they should and should not teach, and claiming Californians of traditional faiths cause health disparities.”

Actually, ACR 99 does none of that. The non-binding resolution is politely asking religious leaders to acknowledge the scientific evidence, but never mind.

The petition endorsed by Winter, Dr. Van Mol and other Redding faith leaders shares many similarities with the Supreme Court amicus brief LaMalfa and noted white nationalist Rep. Steve King signed off on.

Both documents deny the vast body of evidence-based medical research that has established sexual orientation and gender identity are for most people involuntary, whether you’re straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or whatever.

In fact, both documents deny that LGBTQ people exist at all. There is no “gay identity.” It’s all just bad behavior. Mental illness. A lifestyle. Sin.

Religious dogma—gays are fallen individuals in need of fixing—trumps the abundance of scientific evidence that demonstrates sexual orientation and gender identity in humans exist as a spectrum, and that LGBTQ individuals are a normal, to-be-expected result of this variation.

Finally, both the amicus brief and the petition conspiratorially allege every major medical and mental health association in the United States has been corrupted by anti-Christian progressive values. They provide their own pseudo-scientific rationales to support these claims.

Then Assemblyman Brian Dahle praying in Sacramento last year.

Do all north state Christians and Republicans share these beliefs? Most likely not. But there’s no question 1st District state Sen. Brian Dahle has exactly the same anti-LGBTQ sentiments as LaMalfa and Winter.

Like LaMalfa, Dahle reliably voted against any pro-LGBTQ legislation during his three terms in the Assembly, including AB-2943 last year. That bill would have banned charging adults money for conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice under state consumer protection law.

Fraudulent, because no scientific study has proven that conversion therapy, changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to align with preconceived norms, actually works.

AB 2943 easily passed both houses, but it’s author, 28th District Assemblyman Evan Low, ultimately pulled the bill after conservative evangelicals across the state, including Bethel Church, deluged the capitol with phone calls and emails in protest.

Sen. Dahle credited the bill for waking the “sleeping church” at the Faith and Values Town Hall hosted by Winter that was held in Redding earlier this year.

“God is on the move,” he said, pointing to the election of President Donald Trump as living proof.

Low introduced ACR 99, which does not have the force of law, as a kinder, gentler version of AB 2943. By calling on religious leaders to counsel LGBTQ people from a place of love and compassion, he was merely asking them to do what they already claim they’re doing.

But asking religious leaders to acknowledge the scientific evidence that conversion therapy causes harm was a bridge too far for some right-wing evangelicals.

One can’t help thinking that they protesteth just a little bit too much.

The actions of our anti-LGBTQ Republican politicians and faith leaders stand out to me because I believe most of the 950,000 straight citizens in our region, including many Republicans and Christians, accept their 50,000 LGBTQ fellow citizens for who they are.

But clearly, this is not the view of Bethel Church’s leadership, which is heavily promoting its Changed Movement, comprised of various individuals claiming to be “once gay” but gay no more thanks to immersion in Christianity. Two of them are survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting who were scared straight.

Bethel doesn’t claim to practice conversion therapy per se. That requires a medical license. It does offer counseling to “same-sex-attracted” individuals on its Equipped To Love website. Currently, the only counselor available is Ken Williams, one of the leaders of the Changed Movement.

In addition to claiming to be “once-gay,” Williams says he’s a licensed pastoral counselor. I contacted Williams through Bethel and asked for more details about the counseling provided by Equipped To Love, including the number of clients who’ve successfully changed their sexual orientation or gender identity. I haven’t heard back from him.

It’s hard to believe Equipped To Love makes much money, but nevertheless Bethel has made praying the gay away its cause célèbre … or perhaps its bête noire. Bethel apparently triggered every LGBTQ member of its congregation last month with an Instagram post asking, “Can a person leave homosexuality behind?”

The post sparked a social media mini-scandal, especially among LGBTQ Christians struggling to gain acceptance from their faith communities. Bethel was accused of promoting conversion therapy, so it disabled commenting on its post, then it deleted all the negative comments. Eventually it issued a series of clarifications, one of which was “God loves you and so do we.”

That didn’t go over so well either.

But don’t expect public backlash to shame Bethel, LaMalfa, Dahle or Winter into backing down from their anti-LGBTQ positions. LaMalfa and Dahle in particular have formed a covenant with their right-wing Christian evangelical voters, and LGBTQ people are just the canary in the coal mine.

Bethel lead pastor Bill Johnson has a plan.

Bethel lead pastor Bill Johnson revealed the details of this covenant, allegedly taken from the Bible but possibly cribbed from Sean Hannity’s radio show, after the last presidential election, when in a since-deleted Facebook post he compared Trump to a Christ-like figure who had been chosen by God.

If Johnson’s covenant, sometimes called the Seven Mountain Mandate, should somehow become law of the land, here’s what it might look like.

Abortion will be criminalized, even in the case of rape, incest or saving the life of the mother. Rapists will have more rights than their victims.

There will be no open borders, so forget about those hard-working migrants sneaking across the Rio Grande. All undocumented immigrants will be deported.

You can also forget about welfare for the poor, including food stamps. Let them eat glitter.

Socialism will be outlawed. That means no social security, Medicare, MediCal or any kind of meaningful government response to any crisis, including homelessness, opioid addiction, income inequality and anthropogenic climate change.

Globalization will be abolished. (An odd tenet, considering Bethel’s global reach.)

Complete subservience to Israel will become mandatory, no matter how abhorrently it treats Palestinians.

Of course there will be absolutely no civil rights for LGBTQ people. Sodomy will be re-criminalized.

It’s hard to see how this austere vision serves the citizens of the north state in any way, shape or form, yet if you check LaMalfa and Dahle’s track record, you’ll see they’ve faithfully ticked off all of those boxes throughout their careers.

Famously, both have decried welfare for the poor while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies—in LaMalfa’s case, millions of dollars.

LaMalfa, Dahle and Winter are up for reelection in 2020. Dahle’s wife, Megan Dahle, is running for her husband’s former 1st District Assembly seat against Democrat Elizabeth Betancourt in this November’s special election.

Via email, I invited all the above candidates to comment on their views regarding LGBTQ issues. LaMalfa’s office did not respond. Sen. Dahle’s office said the senator would not comment, but his anti-LGBTQ voting record speaks for itself, which it does.

Megan Dahle and Julie Winter, who share the same campaign spokeswoman, Tenessa Audette, a student of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, did not reply to the email.

However, Betancourt replied at length, and I offer here an excerpt from her answer to my first question, regarding the current medical science on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Science is the pursuit of truth through continued questions, and is limited solely by our ability to ask questions and the technology available for answering those questions; we undoubtedly will understand more as the future unfolds,” she answered.

“However, what we know now–and what humanity has really known for eons if we go back to the Greeks, Romans, the first people on the American continent, and many, many other cultures–is that sexuality is not binary, but is very much gradations along a continuum.

“The question isn’t my neighbor’s sexual preference, but what my neighbor needs to live a full, fulfilling, respected and respectful life,” she concluded.

I suspect that’s a response our region’s 50,000 or so LGBTQ residents and their numerous allies have been longing to hear from a politician for quite some time. It may even sound pleasing to some Republican and Christian ears.

For those who don’t care about LGBTQ issues one way or the other, remember that’s just one facet of the covenant north state Republicans—not to mention Trump—have formed with the evangelical right.

They’ve boxed themselves in so that they’re totally incapable of doing anything positive for the north state.

This is why we can’t have nice things. Vote accordingly.

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 RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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96 Responses

  1. Avatar Cecelia Miller says:

    Well said.

  2. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    The thing that has always bugged me the most about politicians actively working against the LGBTQ+ community is the fact that we are required to pay the same taxes as everyone else but they want to strip us of the rights granted to every other citizen. Okay, that’s not the only thing that’s bugged me, but that’s a pretty big one.

    I certainly don’t expect anyone elected to office to give up their religious beliefs, nor do I expect them to put their faith aside when making decisions. Lord knows I’ve certainly said a prayer or two before I cast my ballots. Believe whatever you like, I don’t care. But when your version of your faith overrides my right to pursue happiness (which doesn’t keep anyone from pursuing their own happiness), there’s a problem. You called it the canary in the coal mine, and that’s spot on. Whose rights comes next? What’s the natural progression of policies like this?

    Conversion therapy is an abomination. Supporting it is cruel, illogical and immoral. I don’t know a single one of my very conservative, very religious friends who would want me to be any other version of Matt than the one they already know. I’ve got my flaws but my orientation isn’t one of them, and the same goes for everyone else and their orientation. It can’t be changed.

    These are frightening times for any minority in this country. Straight white Christians hold all the cards, as we can clearly see above.

    Excellent work RV. Thanks for shining a light.

    • Matt, I cannot imagine any version of Matt except the wonderful one I love and adore. Don’t go changin’.

      Well written, as always.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It was my pleasure, Matt. One reason I found the stories on Bethel’s Changed Movement less than cheerful is they aren’t stories of ac. For the most part, they are people on the wobbly side of the sexual orientation or gender identity spectrum who are attempting to fit into a community that doesn’t recognize their existence. For some people, it’s relatively easy, like Ken Williams. In fact, one of the questions I asked Williams was does he have any proof that he was actually gay? Other people, they have to pray the gay away every single day. It doesn’t sound like the pursuit of happiness.

      I actually do believe that many local Republicans and Christians have a much more accepting viewpoint than these politicians and their right-wing evangelical base.

    • Avatar Patricia Bay says:

      Well said, Matt.

  3. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Fascinating and informative article.

    However, I think the fact that Trump, LaMalfa, and Dahle were elected by north state voters by such wide margins tells us that there is far less acceptance for the rights of LGBTQ individuals, women, non-Christians etc. (at least among adults) than many people will openly admit. They may do nothing to overtly attack those groups in their daily lives, but of course voting for backward politicians who are basically owned by the hate-filled “Christian” right is an assault of the first order.

    People who vote for Trump and his poltical ilk simply because they promise to deprive groups right-wing “Christians” feel superior to of hard-won civil rights – and to provide them the “legal” ability to discriminate against those groups to their heart’s content – are (in my opinion) humanity’s lowest common denominator. There is no excuse.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I have rarely encountered much that would lead me to believe that my local conservative and/or religious (including Bethel) friends and acquaintances care a whit about what other adults do for sexual gratification. I know the homophobes are out there, but I think they’re increasingly scarce, even ‘round here.

      As with most matters, you can find something to justify just about any position you hold if you squint hard enough at holy texts. I don’t know too many young Christians who are focused on Old Testament prohibitions, and some even give Paul’s “Yeah, but..” additions to Jesus’s teachings some good side-eye.

      And yeah, the shift toward tolerance is to a large degree generational. That’s why I’m not too surprised if the two theological lightweight feedstore prophets at the local über-church are reluctantly following the flock on this issue. I think they’re getting dragged into the current zeitgeist, and they’re going along with the young ‘uns because it’s good for bidness.

      As for the local politicians…the GOP made a covenant with the extreme religious right long ago, and regressive voting on LGBTQ issues is part of the pact. It’s the 2A-jerbs-‘n’-Jesus-in-that-order crowd that gave rise to Trump. I’ve voted for Dahle in the past, but as his ambitions grow and he more eagerly positions himself with the Coalition of Yahoos, he’s lost me.

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

        Steve I do agree somewhat that Dahle has been dragged into the anti-LGBTQ position, I don’t think he cares too much one way or the other. LaMalfa on the other has been anti-gay and anti-Mexican from the get-go in the 1990s. You’re dead on that the pact was formed decades ago, northern California’s Benjamin J. Rushdooney was one of the original architects of the dominionism that afflicts us now on the national level. The project began in the 1950s. Trump is either their savior or their last gasp.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Patrecia, I’m trying to be optimistic. Not all our local Christians support the anti-scientific right-wing evangelical point of view, as Doug Craig recently pointed out with his article on local faith communities who accept the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. I’d wager they feel the same way about the anti-scientific attack on the LGBTQ community. I’ve been told by a reliable source that a good number of the younger people in Bethel, including high school age children of Bethelites, are righteously pissed about their church’s activities.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        My point was that it doesn’t matter how many of the 70 percent or so of north staters who voted for Trump, LaMalfa, and Dahle believe in climate science, LGBTQ rights, etc. A vote for any of those people makes them every bit as harmful and destructive as the people they’re voting for.

  4. Avatar Lisa says:

    If everyone who cares about human rights and the future of the planet registered, voted, and worked on Elizabeth’s campaign, we could send those who would force their dogma upon us back to their churches where they belong!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      That’s the plan, Lisa. The week after Labor Day is the official kick-off for the 2020 election, and we have the 1st District Assembly special election in November as a warm-up match. The north state can’t afford yet another Republican politician who believes in the bible more than they believe science. Elizabeth Betancourt not only believes in science, she’s an expert watershed scientist, the exact qualifications needed for the battle against climate change that must come. Here in the north state, the Green New Deal means jobs, jobs, jobs. We’re actually perfectly positioned to take advantage of this. We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  5. Avatar Linda Schreiber says:

    Growing up in Cottonwood, we saw the effects of pollutants from the paper mill, dioxin into the air, an endocrine disruptor. Salmon were coming upstream with both male and female organs, a young neighbor with both male and female organs, cancer clusters. This had nothing to do with religion. We were poisoned!
    The mill was closed down but we all bear the long-term effects of the toxins. It is still in the soil.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I didn’t live here back then Linda, but I’ve researched the topic of the mills that used to run up and down Shasta County. At one point, there were 22 teepee burners in the valley. You had to clean the dust of your car windows every morning. On the positive side, the mills provided thousands of good paying unionized blue collar jobs. Shasta County was Democratic back then! One interesting facet of the Green New Deal is that the remaining toxic waste clean-up that needs to be done will be done. We can do this!

  6. Avatar Candace C says:

    In my opinion if you’re “nice” and “supportive” to LGBTQ friends and family up front and then vote behind closed doors to support politicians who would take away the same rights and protections that we non-LGBTQ folks enjoy you’re neither “nice to” nor supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Spot-on Candace! This is a right-wing evangelical trope. Brian Dahle used it at the Faith and Values Town Hall. Glenn Beck uses it all the time on the radio. It goes something like this: “Despite the fact that we believe all gay people should be stoned to death according to Leviticus, when we debate our LGBTQ colleagues, they can’t believe how nice we are, especially compared to those crazy people riding the rainbow unicorn.”

      • Avatar Candace C says:

        R.V. Yep. It’s what “love the sinner, hate the sin” stuff is made of. How ‘bout this, what if homosexuality is/was/(whatever) a choice? SO WHAT?! How and why does that change how you accept someone? Parts is parts. Get over it for cryin’ out loud and do something, anything, constructive and loving.

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

          Well, that’s always been my favored argument: Consenting adults should be free to have sex with whoever they want, as long as no one gets hurt. That used to be a conservative libertarian position!

    • Adrienne Adrienne says:

      AMEN!!! To the article, to Matt’s response. I wish I could say it louder!!!!

  7. Avatar Seymour Garcon says:

    I have to say this article comes at the perfect time….In the modern world we live in, we need to understand that choices were made by people a long time ago, and those individuals in positions to better our ways of living, and pursuing our own liberties, made those choices that seem to have boxed into this idea that to be human. you have to be ONE way…..and I am here to tell you, that just isn’t the case! We have segregated, and isolated many groups of individuals for many different reasons! If the world had started out with Adam n Eve, and they had both had down syndrome, where do you think the world would be? Every single individual I have met with Down Syndrome is about love, compassion, giving, supporting, companionship and the list goes on! However: u and I wouldn’t be here…..so the world started out with individuals that were created differently, and with the ability to procreate!….Now, here we are typing on a stoopid keyboard….I am of the mindset the world isn’t fair…..that inclusion and equitable considerations for what people need in life should be the mindset rather then is life fair….because we all know it isn’t….So people of the LGBTQ community need to feel loved, and need to feel like they fit in, and are accepted for who they are….and for me, the sexuality of person doesn’t make them….Look at Epstien….his kind of sexual perversion isn’t between consenting adults…rather he took advantage of poor young woman to the worst degree….and no one stopped him for years and that man was a millionaire….could have been buddies with some of the people mentioned above…who knows….all I am saying is behind closed doors, I don’t care who you show your love too….just as long as it isn’t forced or coerced or manipulated upon another! So like the happy valley lady, I support for everyone to live life on their terms……….

  8. Avatar Rachel Freemon Sowers says:

    Just one of the reasons I voted for Elizabeth Batencourt. It is time for change. As an entrepreneur, woman, lesbian and human I am ready for us to honor humanity.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Rachel, at this point in time, people who argue that some of us are more equal than others, after we declared all of us are equal 243 years ago, should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

      • Avatar Seymour Garcon says:

        R.V. Scheide, I love how your mind works…however I would declare that 243 years ago was the start of the fight for our Independence rather than Equality…With our Independence we found our voice. The purveyor of that voice was my man Mr. Lincoln. He set forth a proclamation that stated We are all Free, with our own individual rights to each pursue our liberties to just B! If my man Mr. Lincoln didn’t come up with the proclamation to make the world a little more equal, he would have been in the dustbin of history….but because he was a fighter…..He rose to the ranks that very few will ever rise…..And for that I love him………..so this will be the next emancipation of people to live life as they see fit, if it doesn’t affect another to pursue their own life and liberty and their own happiness……my happiness is to fight…for another person’s liberty! Just an opinion is all……….have a glorious day~

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

          Totally agree Seymour. The best thing about the Constitution is Article V: The Founders knew the Constitution was an imperfect document and provided a means for amending it. Despite the fact that many of the founders were slave owners, they believed in progress, and understood that slaves, women, etc. would one day have the same freedoms as white male property owners. We’re still working on it today, because they provided us the means to progress.

  9. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    Thank you! Thank you!

    I would love to see you delve into Megan Dahle’s concerns about our education system! She is illusive as to her reasons for supporting the parental rights. When I questioned her about her parental rights being threatened, this was her response. “There are bills coming up which will take away charter schools. I believe parents should have the right to choice which schools their children attend. Curriculum is also being adopted to expose children as young as 3rd to sex education. There is a parental group Informed Parents of Rocklin who have done research and have a website. Informedparentsrocklin.org
    I’m happy to talk about it with you. Facebook is hard to have long discussions on. ?”
    The biggest problem seems to be the inclusion of the existence of non binary acceptance being taught.

    I appreciate your commitment to exposing them for who they are and what they think!

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Ann, Senator Dahle spoke at his faith based town hall in Redding about his concern regarding non-binary curriculum being taught in public schools. He encouraged others to speak up and oppose such curriculum whether it be individually, collectively or from the pulpit of a school board position. I think it’s fairly safe to assume his wife agrees with him.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Ann, I’ve written a little bit about both topics you’re discussing. As you note, when Megan Dahle says she supports “parental choice,” she signaling two things: One, there are some bills pending in the Legislature that will prevent charters schools from siphoning off public education money. These bills are long overdue. Two, she’s referring to the soon to be released updated sex education curriculum for public K-12 schools. Now, Brian “God is on the Move” Dahle no doubt believes “abstinence” is the only thing that should be taught in public schools at any level, and I imaging his wife concurs. They’re reading this story, they’re free to chime in anytime they want.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        I just looked over Republican Megan Dahle’s campaign website. While it doesn’t go into any useful detail, I think there are a few things we can safely surmise based on what information IS available:

        1. She supports maintaining Proposition 13 in its current form (and is against the proposal that would close corporate loopholes, while leaving individual homeowner protections in place), which will continue to deprive the State of California of billions of dollars a year in revenue.

        2. She supports robbing public schools to fund what will primarily be fundamentalist church schools, which have little or no public oversight.

        3. She basically supports the elimination of sex education in public schools – except perhaps for failed abstinence-only classes for older children.

        4. She believes that homelessness and crime are synonymous (in other words, that the homeless are the perpetrators of all crime), which means she will promote NO practical solutions to alleviate homelessness.

        The only candidate worth voting for in the upcoming run-off is Elizabeth Betancourt.

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

          Patrecia, Megan Dahle changed her stance on Prop. 13 on her website after I contacted them because originally it said she supported the split tax roll between home owners and corporations. I do believe her actual stance on sex education in public schools is “abstinence only,” just like her stance on abortion is no abortions, even in the case of rape or incest. The Dahle campaign has refused to answer my questions on LGBTQ issues and no other news outlet is calling her out on these issues. She is an extreme right-wing candidate. Funny how the public safety unions support both Dahles, yet the homeless and crime problems have only gotten worse on the Dahles’ watch. Why any union would support these anti-union wingnuts is beyond me.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            That’s especially surprising in view of Brian Dahle’s bashing of public unions last year. However, he redeemed himself in their eyes by advocating more pay for members of the California Correctional Officers Union.

            Megan Dahle is a hard-line law and order candidate, who it appears even promotes forced incarceration of the mentally ill homeless. No doubt there’s been some public safety union-pandering going on behind the scenes.

  10. Avatar Kathryn Holleran says:

    Thank you!!

  11. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    The photo of Brain Dahl praying in Sacramento was priceless. For me, it felt like, if one can squeeze hard enough…
    Just chiming in with my thanks as well for another great article.

  12. Thank you, R.V., for another investigative piece that pulls back the curtain and sheds light on some dark and scary places.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It was my pleasure Doni, and besides I owe you for keeping A News Cafe alive in an environment that has become hostile to local journalism.The only real dark and scary places in this story are in the minds of these anti-LGBTQ people. It’s very telling that they don’t respond to my questions. It’s very telling that they have to support their arguments with pseudo-scientific propaganda. They are uncivilized, and so open about it, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. I know A News Cafe makes a difference! That’s why I write for you.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        No one at the Record Searchlight has the courage to print articles like these. ANC has become the watchdog of the community (with R.V. as its main advocate for truth), which the RS should have been.

        I admit to having – somewhat gleefully – sent links to some of R.V.’s articles to Silas Lyons (although I know he had undoubtedly already seen them), with the statement “This is what REAL journalism looks like”.

      • Well, to continue the lovefest, I give thanks every day that you chose to write for ANC. You could go anywhere, but you’re here, and I appreciate you so much. Thank you!

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

        To continue the love fest even further, I ran into Robert Burke, A News Cafe’s phenomenal teenage movie reviewer at Shasta High School today. LOL, he bleached his hair totally blond. He looked pretty damn cool. I asked him if he’d reviewed “Once upon a time … in Hollywood,” then remembered I’d written a comment about his review of the film. Like I tell people all the time, we’re not just a watch-dog, we’ve got variety!

  13. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    Hate is what they do. Wish that was all they do, but they have resurfaced racists any color will do if you’re not white your on their list. I have never seen such a collection of hate groups, Nazis, Nationalists, White Seperatives, Homophobes all driven by religion. They say the Nation is in trouble because we have abandoned God. More likely there God w us. . has abandoned . It time to put religion back in the box they took it out of and bury it deep.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Speaking of racists, Dad, LaMalfa and Brian and Megan Dahle apparently believe Shasta County is being invaded by Mexican rapists and murderers, completely support Trump’s border wall and Latino concentration camps. Who the hell in Redding thinks Latinos are a problem? The right-wingers are unhinged, and will soon expire after swallowing their own tail.

  14. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    Real (not fake as found in many groups like Bethel) therapists oppose the Bethel’s – Alt-Right Christian unethical treatment of LGBTQ Americans. The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) reaffirms its respect of human diversity, including gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

    Approved March 19, 2016

    The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) reaffirms its respect of human diversity, including gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.i

    CAMFT reaffirms that same-sex sexual attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity.ii

    CAMFT reaffirms that being transgender or gender nonconforming (TGNC) are normal and positive variations of gender identities and gender expressions.iii

    CAMFT affirms the legislative intent of Senate Bill 1172 (2012), a law designed to protect the physical and psychological well-being of minors and to protect minors from exposure to serious harms caused by conversion therapy.iv

    Accordingly, the CAMFT Board of Directors states the following:

    CAMFT recognizes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming, and queer individuals, couples and families continue to experience discrimination and prejudice by some psychotherapists for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

    CAMFT opposes the use of psychological interventions to change any person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, based on a priori assumption that same-sex attraction and/or gender nonconformity is a mental disorder or deficiency or based on a priori treatment goal that clients should alter their sexual orientation or gender identity.v

    CAMFT supports psychological interventions that provide assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition, or that provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such efforts do not seek to change sexual orientation or gender identity.”
    NASWTo help guide practice, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has issued a Position Statement entitled, Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) and Conversion Therapy with Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons. The updated Position Statement was adopted by the NASW Board of Directors in May, and is now available on the NASW website.

    The Position Statement also highlights policy positions included in Social Work Speaks (10th Edition), including:

    NASW reaffirms its stance against reparative therapy and other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) designed to change sexual orientation or to refer clients to practi­tioners or programs that claim to do so.
    NASW condemns the use of SOCE or so-called Reparative Therapies by any person identifying as a social worker or any agency that identifies as providing social work services. Public dollars should not be utilized for programs that support SOCE.

  15. Avatar Michael Kuker says:

    “Nothing Hidden Ministries”

    A little on the nose, no?

  16. Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

    I hear talk about the separation of church and state. ACR 99 is literally the Legislature telling pastors what to do and believe. Maybe the Legislature should stay the heck out of that field, eh?

    Low’s bill last year would have, literally, banned books. Y’all are down with the constitutionality of that? Have you considered the precedent? Are there people.posing as journalists on this site? What else do you think should be banned because a few dozen politicians have so decided.

    More broadly, whether you think pastoral counseling about homosexuality is a worthwhile effort or misguided and damaging — is there any reason for the state to get between consenting adults here?

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      No, it would not have “banned books”. It would simply have prevented certain people from charging exorbitant sums of money for provably harmful, ineffective gay conversion therapy under consumer protection fraud laws.

      And that bill was not about what “a few dozen politicians” think. It was based on the findings of every legitimate medical and psychiatric association world-wide.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Low’s bill would have banned religious organizations from profiting from a fraudulent practice, conversion therapy, on adults. No one knows if it would have banned certain books, because the bill was pulled. That was the religious argument against the bill, but no one knows how it would have been enforced.

      ACR 99 doesn’t order anyone to do anything. It’s a suggestion not a law.

      • Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

        What business is it of any Legislature to tell any church leader what to do or believe?

        • Avatar Anita Brady says:

          There are laws that tell church leaders what to do or believe: No on polygamy, No on child marriage, No on blood sacrifice, No on exorcism, etc. All perfectly legitimate “tells”.

        • Avatar Candace C says:

          AH – What business is it of any church leader to actively endorse and promote politicians and legislation with the intention of curbing others rights with which they morally disagree? God in government is nothing new. Can’t have it both ways whenever the agenda suits. Church and State are a bad mix for a reason. Your morals are not my morals are not your morals.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          AH – Bethel leaders and their ilk are about as political as they can get. They endorse candidates (in violation of the Johnson Amendment), and urge their followers to become politically active in support of Bethel’s religious agenda. Laws are being passed on both the national and state (red states, that is) level based on nothing but these fanatic’s interpretation of their primitive, brutal religious text. Decent people – including politicians – have every right to fight back.

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

          AH (which stands for numerous things): What they said.

  17. Avatar Candace C says:

    Agree or disagree, consenting adults or not, these Pastors placed themselves purposefully and directly in the limelight. Typically that sort of behavior relating to such a hot button topic invites scrutiny; especially from the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters. One’s personal opinion (jab) regarding the credentials of a journalist seems fairly telling that perhaps one is not as incensed at the subject matter as one is at the telling? Bait and switch criticism from an “Anonymous Heckler” comes across as exactly that; heckling.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Also, perhaps the question “Is their any reason for state to get between consenting adults here?” sure opens a Pandora’s Box regarding which things Bethel Church condones as far as when the state should or shouldn’t intervene when it comes to the rights of consenting adults. Seems to be a self-righteous moral smorgasbord of pick and choose.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I probably should update my profile since I’ve been a journalist for 31 years now, not 20. I should probably put all my awards on there too. And a better picture, I’m really quite handsome. I’ll get around to it someday.

  18. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    What a strange world we live in that the Bible and Gods Word has become “hate speech”

    “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [i]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [j]men, leaving the natural use of the [k]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [l]sexual immorality, wickedness, [m]covetousness, [n]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [o]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [p]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

    Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    So just what are you trying to say RV ?…

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I think Richard Dawkins said it best: God is the most unpleasant character in all fiction. The Bible is genocide manual for murderous cults.

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      Chris Solberg, from some of your many past posts I took you to be a fairly reasonable guy and tireless advocate for the local homeless population. Maybe you are both of those things, but I’ve gotta tell ya that after reading your current posts aimed at R.V., homosexuality (and all atheists in general
      – “a Cabal” ), you instead come across as intolerant, vitriolic, vindictive and well, just plain mean. I’m not convinced that’s who we need representing the less fortunate among us; they get enough meanness directed at them as it stands. Perhaps I misunderstand your intent towards others on this site with whom you disagree. I hope so.

  19. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    R.V. Said a bad word Bab’s

  20. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Cry about Christians and what they believe yet will not allow any of Gods Word to be posted to defend their beliefs…..? Carry on Anti Christ Carry on…..

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Sorry, Nietzsche was right.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Yeah, I almost went with Neitzsche. He’s certainly the more famous user of the phrase. But Hagel went there first.

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

          I think it was Schopenhauer who said “God is dead” first. Nietzsche’s addition was “and it’s man who’s killed him.”

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Wow. That was godawful. With one notable exception, the whole video was built on a series of false assertions about what scientists hold to be true.

      The notion that the nature of the first cause of the universe (a.k.a., “God”) can be addressed by science—and that scientists assert falsification of the existence of such an entity—is ridiculous. Scientists like Richard Dawkins have tackled the subject of what human attributes lend to people people being religious—as well as religious beliefs that defy hard evidence—but those are critiques of humans and human beliefs.

      Even Hagel’s phrase “God is dead” is misunderstood in this video—taken literally. Don’t like that idea? Don’t want to look into what Hagel really meant? Just swipe your screen to the right for a bland affirmation! (…the video suggests.)

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          LOL

          I attended a renowned public university and took quite a bit of philosophy coursework—mostly out of interest. I never had a philosophy prof even bring up the “God is dead” topic.

          But even if one had, I’m pretty sure a “WHY DO YOU HATE GOD?!!!” furrowed-brow pulpit rant wouldn’t have been viewed as a compelling defense of the antithesis.

          But yeah, thanks for the laugh.

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

            It’s kind of weird that this renowned local homeless advocate apparently has a mean streak for the LGBTQ community, being since a disproportionate amount of that community often winds up on the streets after being rejected by their families who espouse these very same fucked up beliefs.

  21. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    Bethel should help build homeless villages to get the children of god off the streets and out of the bushes..

  22. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Evangelical Militant Atheism

    “See asshole”

    An evangelical atheist is one who not only believes there is no god or other supreme being, but is obsessed with convincing everyone around them to become an atheist too, usually through hard-line intolerance (the kind they accuse other religions of). When cornered they usually try to put down their opponent’s religion and bash them for ‘blind faith’, not realizing that their belief that there is no god is no more or less valid or provable than the other guy’s belief that there is one.

    Not to be confused with normal atheists/agnostics, who for the most part just dont talk about religion and accept the beliefs of those around them as their perogative. Evangelical atheists are particularly common on the Internet, as organized religion is generally accepted as part of ‘the system’ of global human society, and lately it’s become cool on the Internet to hate ‘the system’. Mostly teen angst if you ask me…”

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Evangelical%20Atheist

    • Avatar Colleen Adams says:

      Chris: Who cares? Who cares about your Bible verses? Who cares what “God” said? Who cares about your Urban Dictionary references or opinions about atheists? The way I see it, nobody would even give a toss about the (in my opinion) completely insane, irrational, and illogical beliefs of ANY religion if it was kept out of politics. Keep your tedious beliefs to yourselves! But politicians influence my life, so I don’t want any of their religious beliefs influencing my life or the lives of my children. And clearly we are seeing more and more that Christians in America are attempting to edge their beliefs into policy, and I just can’t understand why. Are they really so worried about the salvation of my soul that they feel they need to make policies to save me from myself? Can they just continue going door to door for that purpose and keep it out of the law of the land?

    • Avatar Candace C says:

      CS, You mean sort of like your militant evangelical rant describing a militant atheist as an Ass…e? Like that? Yikes.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        The anger is weird, isn’t it?

        Last time I was exposed to something similar, it was at the funeral service of a young cousin who had died suddenly. The greased-back-hair, red-faced, scowling, Bible-thumping preacher seemed like he wanted to punch someone. “If you can’t accept Vonnie’s Jesus,” he thundered, “I guess you didn’t really love her!”

        That’s when I said to my cousin sitting next to me, “WTF? Who picked this asshole?” And then I walked out. I’d known Vonnie for all of her 25 years. I’d never heard her once mention Jesus, or known her to attend church.

        Turned out the guy who picked Rev. Madspittle was an in-law, the husband of Vonnie’s older sister. It was his (then their) preacher.

        The two of them also decided that Vonnie be interned in a big communal crypt that resembled the drawers in a morgue, but with black marble facades and engraved names and dates. Hideous. Vonnie was definitely a cremate-me-and-scatter-my-ashes-in-the-mountains girl—the antithesis of her sister.

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          A bit away from your piece but somewhat akin to it. I’ve never understood religious missions. Why does it seem necessary to convert others to a certain belief when they are perfectly happy with their own religions or non-religions. The LDS boys who came to our area for a few months helped immensely at our little library, but as far as I know, they didn’t approach anyone to “sell” their beliefs. For years out here in the sticks, we were free of Jehovah Witnesses, but they eventually found us on occasion.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            All “evangelicals” believe they need to push their religious beliefs on everyone else in the world. However, Bethel and its ilk are a little different – and a lot scarier. They claim to believe that Jesus won’t return until Christians (their version, or course) completely control the ‘”7 Mountains” (government, education, business, media, entertainment, other religions, and family life) world-wide.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I know many atheists.

      Nearly all are atheistic with regard to belief in the three great Middle Eastern Abrahamic religions.

      They are agnostic with regard to the nature of the entity that put created the universe—most hold that knowledge of this entity is beyond our capabilities, and relation is the filling in of that gap with myth-making. That doesn’t deny the existence of a First Cause or Unmoved Mover or whatever. It just denies that we can understand the nature of that First Cause.

      I avoid calling myself an atheist, mainly because Christians like Chris instantly assume that it’s a rejection of Christianity in particular. It’s not. It isn’t even a rejection of a higher being, per se.

      It’s a rejection of human arrogance—our belief that we’re entitled to know, and that the one true path to knowing lies in accepting as truth the musings of ancient Middle Eastern goat herders—and anyone who fails to do so is bound for Hades where they will remain for eternity.

      I still make a point of reading Ecclesiastes every year. Beautifully written, and it mostly squares with my beliefs about how you should live your life

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Solberg, I keep wanting to write a column that could be titled “Am I still a Christian,” or to copy-cat Betrand Russell, “Why I’m not a Christian.” I used to generally accept the idea that we’re all Christians to a certain extent because we’re a Christian culture. But we’re not just a Christian culture, we’re much more than that. Folks who literally believe the Bible is the written word of God are liars, hypocrites and pretty damned ungrateful for everything the secular world has accomplished. These people are uncivilized, including you apparently. I’m sad Chris.

  23. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    If God is dead do you accept the challenge my Atheist friends ???

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7QVbJnSPQE

  24. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    I planned to stay out of this, but I feel so strongly about this issue that I’m going to chime in.

    I couldn’t care less what beliefs other people practice in their church, their homes, or in private venues to which they are invited. However, I don’t want to live under brutal, primitive Old Testament law, which is the ultimate goal of Bethel leaders, and all the like-minded Dominionists who are now in charge of our federal government, and many state governments.

    Laws are being passed by these malignant fanatics that deprive women, gay people, non-Christians, etc. of hard-won civil and human rights. In fact, some of these laws can potentially KILL people (as they killed my grandmother via a back-alley abortion), and will cause incredible suffering.

    Thanks to Trump and his “Christian” supporters, children are being forced into existence in war-torn countries where rape is epidemic, only to suffer a long, excruciatingly painful death of starvation, or to be killed or maimed by the violence in those countries. Children in this country are being forced into hideous lives filled with abuse and neglect (whose mothers might have terminated the pregnancy in the early stages – as 99 percent of abortions are – if so called “Christian” politicians hadn’t shut down so many women’s clinics). Many more children will be born with drug or alcohol fetal syndrome, which is serious life-long disability.

    Of the half-million children languishing in the foster-care system, black and disabled children are over-represented (Christians aren’t rushing to adopt those children – they want perfect white infants). So the Trump/Dominionist response is to reward Christian adoption agencies with federal funding that discriminate against perfectly qualified lesbian and gay couples who want to adopt. Christian employers and landlords will soon also be “legally” allowed to fire and evict their employees and tenants who are gay.

    This is nothing short of criminal. Yet millions of people continue to pour money into malignant POLITICAL churches like Bethel, so they can continue to ruin lives and cause suffering.

  25. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Just as a point of interest: The article below is from Bethel Elder Andre Van Mol’s social media pages. It’s a sleazy attempt to destroy the reputations of the many Christian gay conversion counselors who now admit there is no “cure”, and that conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective.

    This hit piece claims that the man featured was “let go” because he is “emotionally unhealthy”, is “addicted to porn”, and has had several nervous break-downs (if any part of this is true, could it be because he was guilted and pressured into marrying a woman and living a lie?). The aritcle goes on to basically state that the author hopes he can overcome his illness, and stay in his normal (although not for him) straight marriage.

    This mean-spirited attack is just more proof that these people will stop at nothing to further their hate-filled Old Testament agenda, no matter how much harm they cause:

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/mckrae-game-is-misguided-in-renouncing-gay-therapy-ministry-ex-gay-counselor-says.html

  26. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Homeless suffering in the streets this upcoming winter and DYING is far more important than you throwing pebbles at the giant called Bethel which you seem to write about continuously ad nauseam hiding your disdain for Christianity in general and your evangelical atheist beliefs in a not so clever writing style.

    I get it, its an Atheist cabal and your the leader. Which part of the Holy Scriptures do you find offensive when taken taken literally ?

    Lets face it RV, I believe the same spirit that did this some 2000 years ago is the same spirit that dwells in you…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V4jxkoXp2U

    Literally…….

  27. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    I left a little love note on your Facebook page RV 🙂

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Chris,

      Bethel is a significant force in exacerbating local homelessness. What drew my attention to Bethel in the first place was its leader’s frequent unfair demonization of the homeless, their attempts to eliminate already-negligible local services for the poor of all stripes (including the elderly and disabled), and the lies they used to promote busing mainly local homeless people out of the area.

      Bethel is also a major contributor to local homelessness through its self-entitled monopoly of local housing.

      R.V. is clearly on the side of right. He expended considerable effort to prove that Shasta County’s only homeless shelter, the Mission, lied about its capacity and services, and far over-stated its ability to provide an alternative to the streets for the vast majority of the local homeless population. It shouldn’t matter what motivates people to address the injustices and right the wrongs, or whether they are Christians, athiests, or subscribe to some other belief entirely. I personally don’t believe in Bethel’s brutal, primitive Old Testament “god”, and have no use for its hate-mongering. A countless number of decent, caring people who work to make the world a better place feel the same way.

      It would be impossible to effectively address local homelessness without also trying to limit Bethel’s ever-growing presence and influence. If not for the fact that Bethel’s gullible scam victims keep flooding the area (and taking over so much lower-end housing), there would be far fewer people suffering and dying on local streets. Therefore, anything that can be done to bring Bethel down is well worth the effort.

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