By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
After a prayer on May 25, six speakers and approximately 60 attendees at the latest "God and Governance" conference in Newport Beach turned to business: Confronting the "evil"—abortion, homosexuality, contraception and godlessness—thriving in the United States during Barack Obama's presidency.
Christian conservative activist Bill Dunlap, founder of the group and president of Slater Builders Inc. in Costa Mesa, set the tone for the overwhelmingly Caucasian crowd that included people using walkers, canes and hearing aids; the median age topped 70.
While hundreds of scantily clad people in their 20s, 30s and 40s noisily enjoyed Bloody Marys, beer and wine at nearby establishments, Dunlap mourned the nation's "slide to secularism" from "wholesome" days. "It's pretty bad right now," he opined.
Well, not bad enough for Dunlap to resist an infantile Barney Frank wisecrack, but the Reverend Lou Sheldon, owner of the Traditional Values Coalition direct-mail fund-raising operation and a panelist, interrupted an informative presentation by Father Robert Spitzer on the "Big Brother" aspects of Obamacare to ask: "Do you see the anti-Christ in this?"
Spitzer—a Jesuit priest, past president of Gonzaga University, current boss at the Magis Institute in Irvine and a successful author who used to appear on CNN's Larry King Live—confirmed Sheldon's worry. "Absolutely," said Spitzer, who'd been content to call Obamacare merely "a radical departure from custom" until Sheldon's prodding. "There's a strong presence of evil."
That lurking, malevolent, supernatural force may have tangible impacts. For example, according to Spitzer, Obama is eroding religious freedom and on course to shred the Declaration of Independence's call for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Said Spitzer, "It could become a duty to die."
Nobody snorted, laughed or rolled their eyes.
Angst inside St. James Anglican Church (which made national headlines in 2004 when congregants decided to leave the Episcopal Church after the ordination of a gay bishop) didn't dissipate when Paul Jensen—a Costa Mesa personal-injury lawyer who specializes in bus accidents, dog bites, premises liability and defective products, as well as slip, trip and fall cases—wept through the delivery of his prepared speech. But Jensen isn't just a talker. The onetime staffer for two Republican U.S. Senators is a soldier in a battle against "unrepentant" gays that he says he'll fight to his last gasp.  What "God calls sin," American "culture now celebrates," he said.
Jensen first took the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) oath in 1969 at the age of 11 in Laguna Beach and thought he could count on the organization as a bastion of Biblical and conservative ideals for eternity. To his horror, May 23 proved he had been mistaken. That's the day when the Scouts' National Council voted in Texas to end its discrimination against gay members.
In Jensen's mind, the move was an unforgiveable betrayal. Though the BSA still refuses to allow openly gay adult leaders, he predicts it will soon cave on that ban, too. As a result, according to Jensen, the BSA is set to go from family-values group to de facto sex club for gays and child molesters, terms he uses interchangeably.
The plaintiff's lawyer began his remarks by raising his right hand and uttering the Scouts' oath—dramatically repeating the words "morally straight" for emphasis. "That oath has lost its meaning," said a teary-eyed Jensen, who, given he's at least 100 pounds overweight, must have decided he could ignore the oath's requirement to keep oneself physically fit. "Today marks the last time I will take it."
Declaring he was tired of being victimized for his proud, Abe Lincoln-approved "inflexibility" to gay rights, he advised attendees not to be "too concerned about what the world will think." He bolstered his argument by quoting 12 Bible passages. "Blessed are they which have been persecuted for righteousness' sake," he said, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!"
Jensen also used his speech to quit the BSA after more than four decades. "Wherever they go, it will be without me," he said, noting he quit St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach several years ago. In his opinion, "They feared the consequences" of Biblical obedience.
As he approached the end of his remarks, Jensen strayed into misinformation territory. He claimed that Newport Beach taxpayers have been forced to pay $1.2 million to a homosexual police officer. In reality, police management brazenly sabotaged Sergeant Neil Harvey's stellar career because they assumed he might be gay. However, Harvey is heterosexual, and a jury in conservative Orange County concluded that the juvenile homophobia violated California employment law and entitled the cop, who had been cheated out of promotions, to monetary damages.
Given that Jensen's tale prompted a half-dozen attendees to shake their heads in disgust, apparently, nobody knew they had been duped. Indeed, this crowd loved him. He was the only speaker to repeatedly win generous applause by his call to action.
"Don't capitulate to the culture!" he thundered. "The BSA got tired of being persecuted. Here at St. James, you are not tired. . . . We will serve the Lord. . . . One man with God is in the majority!"
Usually at such gatherings, Sheldon serves as the flamethrower, but Jensen's passionate performance seemed to throw the reverend off his game. He was also scheduled to discuss the Boy Scouts' decision. Instead, he focused on describing the hidden "plan" of homosexuals: "Smashing to smithereens Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 and God's creative order."