Area native takes anti-gay crusade to gov’s race
Six years after bringing his controversial anti-gay crusade back home to western Massachusetts, Shelburne Falls native Scott Lively has launched an independent campaign for governor, but admits it would take a “miracle” to get elected governor of “the bluest of the bluest states.”
The Springfield-based evangelical pastor best known for preaching globally against “the homosexual movement” and advocating anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Russia, says he doesn’t even want the job, for which there are two other independent hopefuls in addition to seven presumed party candidates. But he’d accept the post if God makes it happen.
The 56-year-old Lively is a defendant in a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit charging that he incited persecution of homosexuals in Uganda with 2002 and 2009 speeches. It alleges they led to legislation that would deprive citizens of the east African nation of their rights. Lively denies any wrongdoing and says the suit — filed in 2012 in U.S. District Court in Springfield by the human rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda and New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights — will not affect his gubernatorial run.
The case, now in its pretrial phase, will almost certainly give him added name recognition, however.
Lively drew a “Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition” protest last year in front of Lively’s Holy Grounds Coffee House, the center of his Redemption Gate Mission Society in Springfield.
The co-founder of “Watchmen on the Walls,” a Latvia-based international evangelical ministry that’s listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “virulently anti-gay” hate group, Lively denies he ever called for 2009 Ugandan legislation providing the death penalty for a “serial offender” of the “offense of homosexuality.” A somewhat more lenient bill, largely aimed at banning promotion of homosexuality, was substituted and approved late last year.
“I never, ever, ever supported violence against homosexuals,” says Lively. “I never advocated that they be jailed for homosexuality, let alone suffer capital punishment. That’s the propaganda of my opponents, and the lawsuit is a frivolous case being driven by a culturally Marxist law firm out of New York. They’re simply using it to try to shut me up.”
Lively professes to be tolerant toward the kind of hidden homosexual subculture that existed before the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York, widely considered the single most important event leading to the U.S. gay liberation movement.
“People have the right to choose wrong, but they shouldn’t have the power to force the mainstream to accommodate their subculture and transform the mainstream,” says the gray-bearded minister. He rails against the “radical gay agenda” he says is “intent of remaking the entire society in their image, in which they have control of all of the seats of power — they or their surrogates …. so that everyone adopts the idea that unfettered sexual expression is the norm for everyone and you can do whatever you want.”
Franklin County past
Lively recalls growing up at 9 South Maple St. in Shelburne Falls, sledding down the hill behind the Buckland-Shelburne Regional School he attended, and also hanging out with friends in the Glacial Potholes. There were visits to his grandfather’s farm on Heath’s Number Nine Road, and he recalls helping his family tap the maple trees on their 50-acre “sugar lot.” The Lively family included a recent Heath selectman and recent Greenfield fire chief as uncles.
But the oldest of six children of Maurice (pronounced Morris) and Judith Lively, he watched as his father’s “severe form of mental illness” grew progressively worse from the time he was 9 or 10. At 12, to cope with his family troubles, he began drinking beer behind Ashfield Lake House with a friend, and began smoking marijuana and experimenting with other drugs. He was already an alcoholic, he says.
At 16, “I watched my father, in a state of extreme psychosis, engage in an armed standoff with the state police in my childhood home over an incident involving my dropping out of school,” Lively wrote in an autobiographical statement. “He eventually surrendered and was driven away in the back of a police cruiser, never to return. He spent the rest of his life in the state mental hospital.”
After graduating from King Phillip Project alternative school in Greenfield in 1976, Lively drifted out West, “often homeless, sometimes sleeping under bridges and begging for spare change on street corners,” all while drinking and using various drugs.
In 1986, after “hitting bottom” and experimenting with various self-help books, substance-abuse treatment programs, counseling and the occult, Lively took part in a hospital-based 12-step program, west of Portland, Ore., where he “got to the crisis point and got down on my knees and surrendered my life to Christ.”
Lively earned a law degree from Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, Calif. and a religion degree from the School of Bible Theology.
Ashley Mark, interim director of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Coalition of western Massachusetts, issued a statement about Lively that said he “has created, in his mind, this idea of the LGBT community and the gay movement as a massive and dangerous threat to his culture ... heterosexual, marriage-based and patriarchal. But Lively has created this idea of the predator homosexual through wild assumptions, skewed inspections of history, and the mass criminalization of a subculture. ... When we start talking about his idea of a marriage-based culture being the only right way to live in society, we are talking about the oppression of women and their forced reproductive and homemaking roles, children as property and the political force of subordination. Lively’s idea of culture flies in the face of any and all social and political progress we’ve made in the last 60 years: the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement, the labor movement, and the LGBT rights movement. ... The gay rights movement is just another step toward social liberation that would benefit all of society, in the same way that the Civil Rights movement and the women’s rights movements benefited mainstream society. ... If we teach our kids in school that bullying is wrong, how can we as a society stand to allow Lively’s belligerence to influence political policy, international rights campaigns, and dictate socially acceptable norms?”
In Sacramento, Calif., Lively became state director of the American Family Association and co-wrote “The Pink Triangle,” (1995) which alleges that homosexuality in the Nazi party contributed to Germany’s extreme militarism during World War II. His 1997 book, “The Poisoned Stream,” goes even further, alleging homosexual influences on the Spanish Inquisition, the French Reign of Terror, South African apartheid and American slavery.
“We’ve come to a place in the United States where the homosexuals have achieved very high power,” Lively told a Watchmen on the Walls conference in Russia six years ago. “They have begun to cause the political powers to punish anybody who says that homosexuality is wrong.”
When he and his family arrived in Springfield in 2008, he says, “We moved into the worst neighborhood in the city and the most broken down house in that neighborhood.”
In March 2009, Lively and two other American evangelicals traveled to Uganda, where he addressed members of Parliament at a seminar on “Exposing the Truth behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda,” conflating homosexuality with pedophilia.
Lively has spoken to groups in nearly 40 countries warning “the gay movement is an evil institution that’s (sic) goal is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity in which there’s no restrictions on sexual conduct except the principle of mutual choice.”
One week after his 2009 talk, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament that would impose harsh penalties for homosexuality, including in some cases death.
Pam Spees, an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, has said, “He works extensively with people in other countries to steer and consult their political processes in order to enact legislation criminalizing even advocacy, so you would just silence sexual minorities altogether.”
Judge Michael Ponsor ruled last August against Lively’s motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit, which alleges that Lively helped “coordinate, implement and justify ‘strategies to demonize, silence and further criminalize the LGBTI community’ in Uganda.” In December, Ponsor also denied Lively’s motion for a stay in the case.
Lively traveled to Russia in 2006 and 2007 to urge people to protect their children from “the gay agenda,” and wrote an open, online letter to the Russian people in 2007 calling for them to “criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality.”
He also visited Russia last fall after the government there issued its tough, new anti-gay propaganda.
Lively’s Springfield-based Abiding Truth Ministries has also been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center for “subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification.”
As an independent hopeful for governor, who seeks to collect and file 10,000 voter signatures by Aug. 26 to get his name on the November ballot, Lively says he is running as a candidate “who can clearly and unapologetically articulate biblical values without fear or compromise ... the simple truth that abortion is murder, and homosexuality is condemned by God.”
Lively says that as the state that was the first to adopt “socialized medicine” and same-sex marriage, Massachusetts represents “the perfect ‘before’ picture: the most morally corrupt state in the union,” as a reflection of voters constantly having to choose between a Republican party “solidly controlled by moderate to liberal ‘progressives’ and the Democrats (who) are virtual communists.”
In Lively’s view, the universities and mainstream media outlets are run by “atheists and others that set out to reject the Christian foundation and put themselves in its place ... They promote their ideology and censor the biblical perspective.”
He says he’s running for governor “for just one reason — to bring biblical values back into the political arena here.”
Lively’s campaign material warns that “socialism is slavery and humanism breeds corruption.” It states that as someone who gave up a “lucrative and growing law career for a non-materialistic missionary lifestyle, I cannot be corrupted by money or big-money lobbyists.”
His first priority, he says, would be to end abortion “through every available means within the bounds of the law.”
He also favors ending all public finding of “abortion, homosexuality and other harmful conduct,” and rejects “Marxist Common Core” curriculum as part of education reform.
Lively says he recognizes “freedom in personal liberties but no public funding or assistance. In every way that the church is kept separate from the state, the homosexual and abortion movements should be separated from the state.”
That said, the candidacy of Lively, who wants to “remind people that Massachusetts was founded upon Jesus Christ and the Bible,” challenges the very notion of separation of church and state.
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You can reach Richie Davis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 269