right! In Charlotte, North Carolina everybody can come out of the closet!
You can be a bold Muslim, a militant homosexual, an avid pro-abortionist,
and even a pseudo-Christian in Charlotte! However, when genuine, gentle,
Bible-believing Christians come out of the four walls of the church building,
everyone thinks that the sky is falling down, including Charlotte's finest,
the police department! In the name of tolerance, those that would oppose
the Gospel of Jesus Christ have decided to show prejudice to Operation
Save America by not inviting us to their coalition dinner! Below is an
article from the Charlotte Observer that explains what we mean!
July 10, 2003
Members of local Islamic mosques, some churches and abortion-rights organizations are banding together in anticipation of a weeklong visit from hundreds of members of a controversial anti-abortion group that denounces abortion, Islam and homosexuality.
About 300 supporters of Operation Save America will gather in the Charlotte area starting Saturday for eight days of prayer services and rallies in front of abortion clinics, churches, mosques and other city landmarks.
The group's director, the Rev. Philip "Flip" Benham, moved the organization from Dallas to Concord in the past year, and has planned dozens of events from Kannapolis to Charlotte.
They include a demonstration July 18 with nine caskets for each of the nine Supreme Court justices to protest the court's ruling overturning Texas sodomy law.
Benham denounces violence, but his confrontational platform and rhetoric concern enough churches and other groups that they have been meeting with police and forming alliances to plan their responses to this week's events.
Benham dismisses their concerns.
"That's all silliness," he said. "What they're worried about is that the word of God is going to expose the lie that they are under. That's called love."
In May, Benham attended Charlotte's annual gay pride festival and screamed throughout a mass commitment ceremony for about a dozen gay couples.
He was arrested Saturday for trespassing in front of a southwest Charlotte abortion clinic, when he stepped over a line that marked where protesters were allowed to stand. He had the option of posting $500 bond but decided to stay in jail until his Tuesday court date.His weekly protests in front of Family Reproductive Health have become more heated in recent weeks, said Sgt. Brian Decker, who made the arrest.
Mecklenburg Ministries, an interfaith coalition of 60 congregations, is organizing emergency-response teams in case the planned protests outside mosques get out of hand.
Leaders of the Islamic Center of Charlotte say while Operation Save America members denounce the Muslim faith, they will likely offer drinks to those who show up to demonstrate.
And the Islamic center is hosting an interfaith dinner Friday night to improve their relationships with other communities -- an event that had been germinating for months but materialized when leaders heard about Benham's plans. Operation Save America members are not invited to the dinner.
"Our intention at this point is to be as humane as possible, and to show them some kindness," said Jibril Hough, one of the center's leaders. "Showing people kindness and courtesy can often times have an effect on their heart."
Representatives of national abortion-rights groups will be in Charlotte next week to keep watch over the city's three abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood office. And the local Coalition for Peace and Justice is organizing supporters to stand in front of clinics with T-shirts bearing the word "Guard."
A dozen years ago, Operation Save America went by the name Operation Rescue, and thousands attended the group's annual events. In 1991, the group rallied for 45 days in Wichita, Kan., and 2,700 people were arrested.
A decade later, hundreds attend the national meetings. More than 600 gathered in 2001 in Wichita, and another several hundred met last year in Dallas.
The Pro-Choice Coalition, a Charlotte group, has been meeting regularly with police during the past month to talk about Benham's upcoming events. The coalition will hold a panel discussion July 17 at the uptown public library on Tryon Street to discuss the anti-abortion movement and clinic safety.
Benham said he hopes the week ends with more people energized to fight against abortion.
"We're going to tell the truth that there's no way that Mohammed is going to save you. There's no way you can practice homosexuality and claim Christianity. If you do that, you're going to split hell wide open and we don't want that for you." -- RELIGION EDITOR KEN GARFIELD CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE.
-- CRISTINA BREEN: (704) 358-5697; CBREEN@CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.COM.