Michael Brown is a Charlotte, North Carolina preacher with the Coalition of Conscience. He cavorts with Lou Engle, an extremist linked to the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda. It appears that Brown’s game is to try inciting followers to possible violence against LGBT people, while innocently maintaining that he loves homosexuals and simply wants them to meet his militant and perverted version of God.
In August, Brown tried to ruin LGBT Pride in Charlotte. He rounded up a large group of “Red Shirts” (aka hundreds of fundamentalists wearing red T-shirts) and marched on the festival under the smug and self-righteous banner of “God Has a Better Way.” Truth be told, Brown’s core message is misleading. He and his army of aggressors are not offering a “better way,” just the intolerant, arrogant, and elitist message that their spiteful rendering of God is the only way.
Brown is a slick dude. He fully understands that he is imposing on what should be a day of affirmation for LGBT people in North Carolina. He also knows that many of the people attending Pride in this southern state are victims of anti-gay prejudice, and religion-based bigotry. They come to this annual get together to feel good about themselves and heal old childhood wounds – such as getting bullied, rejection by family, or condemnation for their sexual orientation.
Instead of being able to enjoy the weekend, Brown inundates already suffering people with heaping doses of spiritual violence, that I’m quite sure will one day lead to actual violence. I do strongly believe to my core that Brown’s ultimate goal is to create the conditions for a nasty physical clash – in which he will play the victim in the mainstream media, while claiming to be a crusading holy warrior with his incited base. Indeed, the sick and cynical Brown will likely spin such a brouhaha as a fundamentalist version of Stonewall, where Christians began to fight back in the name of “religious freedom.”
Q-Notes editor Matt Comer has followed Brown’s antics for years and has documented his vile speech which seems, in my view, designed to encourage martyrdom. Here is the typical language Brown uses when he addresses his flock:
After being fired as director of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry, Brown wrote he was founding the new FIRE School of Ministry and vowed to “continue to pursue the vision that has burned in my heart for many years: to raise up a holy army of uncompromising, Spirit-filled radicals who will shake an entire generation with the gospel of Jesus-by life or by death.”
This type of rhetoric and the bullying actions of Brown’s Red Shirts is despicable when one considers the brutal facts: The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that gay people are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos.
It doesn’t take long to find evidence of such horrifying hate crimes. Last week, for instance, a group attacked a young gay man, Dane Hall, after he left Club Sound in Salt Lake City. The hooligans screamed anti-gay epithets as they beat him, leaving Hall with a fractured jaw in three places, six lost teeth, and a shattered cheekbone. Given this dire reality, why is Brown, an alleged Christian inflaming society through angry rhetoric and invasive actions?
I’ve met Brown on two occasions. It is my view that he has a messiah complex and is a diabolical individual who aims to manipulate impressionable followers to launch some sort of holy war. Of course, he’s too much of a coward to start the war himself – so he stirs the boiling pot by creating divisive events that just might lead to violence on the part of his followers or a violent response by an LGBT individual – which will offer the opportunity for his Red Shirts to retaliate in the name of “self defense.”
Of course, I’m not claiming that every person in a red shirt at Pride or involved with Brown wants to harm LGBT people. No doubt, there were well meaning, yet deceived, individuals that were part of his rude and intolerant invasion squad. However, Brown is a smart man who knows how violence works. He fully understands that he only has to create a hostile climate to inflame the most unstable of his thugs and they will eventually provoke the type of confrontation that this pathological monster deeply desires.
When Brown’s dream of a brutal clash finally occurs, the blood will be on his hands no matter who throws the first punch or pulls the trigger. After all, Brown is the instigator and is doing everything in his power to bring his twisted dreams to fruition.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”