“The use of violent threats and criminal behavior to make a political point should never be acceptable in America,” said ADF attorney Gary McCaleb. “Bash Back! revealed how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our First Liberty, religious freedom. We filed this suit to stop Bash Back! and other activist groups from invading churches, disrupting worship, silencing pastors, and terrifying adults and children who attend religious services.”
The Bash Back! Web site, which features a banner photo of members dressed in terrorist-like garb and wielding various objects as weapons, states on one page of the site that the group’s activities include “Riots, Sex Work, Crime, Insurrection, you know the fun stuff we do.” The Lansing chapter of the group targeted Mount Hope Church because of the church’s well-known Christian views on marriage and homosexual behavior. Through another page of its Web site, the group covertly recruited participants for its plans on Nov. 9, seeking some who would be willing to maintain “a more ‘militant’-looking presence out side [sic] of the building.”
“I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment,” the page said. “However, we cant [sic] give you really any detailed information due to the cop who’s [sic] ridiculous job it is to do surveillance over this blog.... ‘ONLY ONE DIRECTION! TRANS AND QUEER INSURRECTION!’ - Bash Back! Lansing”
On Nov. 9, members of the group dressed in militant garb staged a protest outside the church during a worship service to distract security personnel, blocking access to the building and parking lot at various times. Other members of the group dressed in plain clothes then deceptively entered the building. At a coordinated time, they sprang up to disrupt the service, terrifying many attendees. The group shouted religious slurs, unfurled a sign, and threw fliers around the sanctuary while two women began kissing near the podium. The group pulled fire alarms as they ran out of the building. After the incident, the group bragged about its activities on its Web site and, on a separate page, explained its choice of Mount Hope: “This church is nothing short of a disease in the community, and in the minds of those who attend.”
Federal law imposes penalties upon anyone who “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.”
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.