From Russia, With Hate: Intolerant ‘Watchmen’ Focus On U.S.

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From Russia, With Hate: Intolerant ‘Watchmen’ Focus On U.S.

From Russia, With Hate: Intolerant ‘Watchmen’ Focus On U.S.

By Rob Boston

A new Religious Right movement with roots in Russia that mixes
fundamentalist religious views, extreme anti-gay rhetoric and outrageous
forms of confrontational tactics may be gaining a foothold in America.

The spread of the “Watchmen on the Walls” is disturbing, to say the least.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported recently that the movement,
based in Latvia, Ukraine, Russia and other countries in that region, blends
fundamentalist Christianity with virulent hatred of gays. The group has
already surfaced on the West Coast in the Sacramento area, and is being
exported to other cities. Last month, it held a conference in Lynwood,
Wash., not far from Seattle.

SPLC reported that the Watchmen revel in deliberately provocative actions,
purposely targeting some large American cities that have reputations as gay
friendly. (This movement should not be confused with several other Christian
groups that use the same name but do not share its extreme views. The name
comes from a passage in the Book of Nehemiah that refers to “watchmen”
standing on the walls of Jerusalem to guard against danger.)

Reported the SPLC, “In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian
fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over
anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement.
In the Western U.S., the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking
evangelicals from the former Soviet Union. Members are increasingly active
in several cities long known as gay-friendly enclaves, including Sacramento,
Seattle and Portland, Ore.”

The Watchmen even have a guidebook of sorts – The Pink Swastika by an
anti-gay activist named Scott Lively. The Pink Swastika argues that Adolf
Hitler was gay and makes other outlandish claims.

Even more disturbingly, SPLC reports that Lively “occasionally writes” for
Chalcedon Report. This journal is published by the Chalcedon Foundation, the
leading Christian Reconstructionist organization in the country.

Americans United has monitored the Reconstructionists for years. Their views
are extremely harsh. Reconstructionists are the farthest fringe of the
Religious Right and forthrightly espouse theocracy. They call for imposing
the legal codes of the Old Testament on modern-day America. Under their
model government, gays would be executed but so would many others. The Old
Testament, after all, calls for imposing the death penalty on blasphemers,
adulterers, incorrigible teenagers, practitioners of witchcraft and anyone
deemed guilty of “unchastity.”

The Reconstructionists are often dismissed as a lunatic fringe. But many
Religious Right leaders look to their ideas to provide a philosophical
justification for mixing religion and government. Their possible alliance
with the Watchmen is troubling.

The two movements have at least on thing in common: a yearning for
theocracy. The SPLC reports that one Watchmen Web site states that the group’s
goal is “to bring the laws of our nations in[to] full compliance with the
law of God.”

In a recent public statement, the Watchmen wrote, “We reject the suggestion
that our view is hateful. While we know that some people hate homosexuals,
we don’t. We view homosexuals like we view alcoholics: unfortunate people
trapped in a bad lifestyle. Like alcoholics, they should have the right, if
they reject therapy, to enjoy privacy in their own homes. But they should
not be allowed to publicly recruit others to their lifestyle. Public
advocacy of homosexuality should be, like public drunkenness, culturally
discouraged to minimize its impact on society.”

In the statement, the group also said, “We do not promote or condone
violence.” It sounds nice, but it may not mean much at the end of the day.
The problem with groups like the Watchmen and the Reconstructionists is that
they see themselves as instruments of a wrathful God. They believe they have
the right to judge others according to ancient theological codes they have
taken it upon themselves to interpret for modern people. Furthermore, they
are convinced that they have the right to mete out God’s justice – which
just happens to coincide with their prejudices and views.

We’d be in quite a fix should such people ever gain political power. As
history shows, they have a peculiar talent for making the streets run red.