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May 6, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 18

Thu, Aug 21, 2014

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GLBT visitors to Antioch Bible Church say they achieved goal
GLBT visitors to Antioch Bible Church say they achieved goal
by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer



Reminiscent of scenes straight out of the segregated south in the 1960’s, a group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender folks and its allies were stopped at the doors of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland on Sunday, May 1. Standing in the doorway was Rev. Ken Hutcherson, a staunch opponent of LGBT equality.

Hutcherson is best known as the organizer of the “Mayday for Marriage” rally that drew conservative Christians from across the state to Safeco Field a year ago to denounce efforts to secure marriage equality for same-sex couples. He organized a similar rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., five months later. Hutcherson told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently, “When you’re in the battle, it’s not time for ‘nice’ – it’s time to win.”

His words are in keeping with his actions on Sunday.

After negotiations with the police and media, the dozens of peaceful protesters where allowed entry into the church, which meets weekly in the gym at Lake Washington High School. However, they were told to sit in the back – on the uncomfortable bleachers. The action’s organizer, Felicia Mueller, described the area as the “Gay section.”

“The church officials did a lot of fear mongering ahead of time. They had told the police that we were there to protest and be disruptive, tried to portray LGBT people as hostile, aggressive, and irresponsible. But none of that worked,” said Mueller. “Instead, the LGBT members and supporters that participated in this event formed strong working alliances with the police and with some of the church members. It was about building bridges, which we did despite Hutcherson’s best efforts to portray us negatively.”

The protest was meant to bring attention to Hutcherson’s actions, which include an effort to lobby Microsoft to pull its support of anti-discrimination legislation, the Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination Bill (House Bill 1515). The legislation would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Washington State.

“We wanted the chance to have one-to-one human contact with the members of this church. Just because they’ve got a bigoted pastor doesn’t mean the whole flock of them is hateful and contemptuous toward us,” said Mueller. “If there is any message here, it is about the need for individual citizens to be involved in community actions, large and small, in support of rights for LGBT people. Society is always going to have its bullies who project hatred and contempt on certain groups of people. When that happens, it’s important not to just stand by and do nothing. “

Microsoft pulled its support for the legislation, but denies claims from Hutcherson and State Rep. Ed Murray, the bills primary sponsor, that Hutcherson’s threat to launch a nationwide boycott of Microsoft products played any role in its decision.

“We absolutely had a meeting with Rev. Hutcherson in February,” Microsoft Spokeswoman Tami Bagasse told the Seattle Gay News last week. “Our decision on this bill was not influenced by any external factors. It was driven by our desire to focus on a smaller number of issues that we defined before the legislative session began… Examples of this would include computer privacy advocation, competitiveness and transportation.”

However, Murray said that DeLee Shoemakder, a state-level government affairs representative at Microsoft, told him that the company had intended to support the HB 1515, just as it had the year before. “They indicated that they would be supporting the bill again and that a letter would be forthcoming,” he said last week.

Statements from Hutcherson and Microsoft employees support Murray’s claim. Hutcherson called the company’s recent denial of his influence on their decision “an outright lie,” during a segment ABC’s World News Tonight last week. However, Bagasse refused to speculate about their perceptions of events, but admitted that the company “could have done a better job in communicating around this.”

Mueller believes her group achieved its goals. “One of the faces that the public got to see as a result of Sunday’s event was the even-keeled, calm, stable, sane presence that the LGBT community is able to maintain in the face of one pastor’s bigotry,” she said. “Some in the larger community may see images of the event in the news and make the connection that the hatred and discrimination that goes on in places like Antioch Bible Church is a lot like the hatred and discrimination that was perpetrated against Blacks before the civil rights movement.”

Hutcherson, a 52-year-old African American, grew up in Alabama and witnessed racism. During his sermon, he said he grew to hate “white people.” Mueller described Hutcherson as “a troubled man,” judging from comments he made during his sermon.

“During the service last Sunday he admitted that he ‘used to hate white people’ until he ‘found Jesus’,” she said. “It’s great that he doesn’t hate white people any more, but too bad that this doesn’t yet extend to Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual people. That’s okay, we know that getting over being victimized sometimes takes a long time, and in the process some simply go on to try to oppress others.”

Hutcherson told a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter that he became a Christian in 1969 and credited God for his recovery after suffering from a debilitating motorcycle accident in high school. He played professional football during three year career that ended in 1977. He played the game for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers and the Seattle Seahawks. He also served as youth pastor for Westminster Chapel in Bellevue before founding his own church in 1984. Antioch Bible Church purports to have more than 3,500 members.

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