Last month, the Plano City Council passed a non-discrimination ordinance that extended protection to its LGBT citizens. As we reported then, the measure has drawn the ire of many conservative Christians angry that the law doesn’t protect their right to be bigoted. Since the ordinance passed, they have been organizing in an effort to repeal the ordinance.
Opponents of the ordinance have launched a website to gather signatures for repeal, www.planoequalrights.com/, with the banner “Plano Citizens United: Equal Rights For All/Special Rights For None.” The site is home to lots of reactionary, discriminatory gems such as these:
- “Under Plano’s new ordinance (2014-12-7) anything any business owner or employee says or does to another person regarding the person’s gender, sexuality, or “identity” may be a CRIME. Plano now CRIMINALIZES Christians’, Jews’, Muslims’, and others’ beliefs about men and women. City bureaucrats will determine whether citizens’ statements and actions are “unjust”. This policy subjects citizens to CRIMINAL SANCTIONS for our beliefs on topics affecting much of human interaction and is a direct threat to our freedoms of both speech and religion!”
As Towelroad reported, opponents of the ordinance will need 3,822 signatures by January 20 to qualify their repeal effort for the ballot. The efforts are being led by the Houston-based Texas Pastor Council, the same organization whose petition to repeal a similar ordinance was rejected due to invalid signatures, leading to a lawsuit.
They’ve also been leaving bigoted flyers on residents’ doors, decrying the LGBT “militant agenda” like the following (via Towelroad):
The anti-gay pastors met last month at a Plano megachurch, the Prestonwood Baptist Church–a church that is routinely referred to as “Six Flags Over Jesus.” Their meeting was opened by Dr. Jack Graham, Senior Pastor of Prestonwood, who was followed by speakers from the Texas Pastor Council and the Liberty Institute.
The use of Prestonwood Baptist Church as a home base is troubling, because back in 2008, a Prestonwood minister was arrested for soliciting sex with a minor. As the AP originally reported (emphasis added):
- “[Rev. Joe] Barron was charged … with online solicitation of a minor. Undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old girl communicated with the 52-year-old minister for about two weeks. The online conversations were sexual in nature, police said.
On May 6, Barron suggested meeting the girl in person. He drove nearly 200 miles on Thursday to meet her in Bryan, where he was arrested. Police said they found a web-cam and condoms in the minister’s car.
According to reports, Barron had borrowed his wife’s car to meet the girl, and had brought condoms hidden in a golf ball box. Police found evidence of sexually explicit chats with more than 25 women on Barron’s phone.
Barron’s arrest came after Prestonwood’s senior founding minister stepped down after an affair. He had been serving as the “minister of married adults” at Prestonwood prior to the incident. After being caught, Barron resigned, and all information about his tenure was scrubbed from the megachurch’s website. Perhaps that’s why Prestonwood thought it could get away with housing a bigoted anti-gay movement without a second look.
It’s clear that before trying to police others’ behavior, church members should take a long hard look at their own. A church that was once home to an attempted child molestor has no business trying to declare its moral superiority over others. Prestonwood Baptist Church should focus on making sure its own clergy aren’t getting caught in undercover sex stings instead of trying to force its bigoted beliefs on Plano residents.