The New Holy War
Bill Moyers Journal
Produced and Directed by Gail Pellett
Writers: Bill Moyers and Gail Pellett
Production Company: Public Affairs Television Inc.
Presented by: Thirteen/WNET, New York
Aired on: PBS     Date: 1993

In 1992 a majority of Colorado voters passed Amendment 2 denying gays and lesbians in that state the right to claim discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations. Gay rights activists challenged the Amendment in the courts and called for a national boycott of Colorado businesses.  This documentary focuses on the leaders and shakers behind Amendment 2 in Colorado Springs —  just an hours drive south of Denver — ground zero for the battle between the religious right and the gay rights movement.  Epicenter of a new holy war. Moyers interviews the movers and shakers in the effort to pass Amendment Two — pastors, a car dealer, a newspaper editor.  He also interviews a pastor who has welcomed gays into his congregation and citizen activists who have organized to challenge the legality of the amendment and motivations of its promoters.

James Dobson, Focus on the Family

Colorado Springs has a church on almost every corner and 5 Christian radio stations, then during the 1980s several dozen Christian ministries set up shop in this community.  The most powerful, Focus on the Family, makes some $90 million annually selling books and magazines and their leader,  James Dobson, hosts a daily radio show focusing on parenting advice and political analysis.  Focus on the Family  played a key role in promoting the opposition to gay rights.

The local newspaper,   The Gazette Telegraph, took a conservative position on its editorial pages and their cartoonist, Chuck Lacey,  lampooned the gay rights movement frequently.

“I’m kind of drawing a line for myself and other people  to tolerate, but not accept (homosexual) behavior.”

Dan Griswold, Gazette Telegraph

Dan Griswold, the editorial page editor , wrote 20 editorials in favor of Amendment Two.  “Christian people oppose a government that forces them to accept this lifestyle.”  Reporters at the paper, who continue to cover the conflict,  speak with Moyers in a more balanced manne

 Ted Haggard,  a charismatic preacher of New Life Church, which boasts of 4,000 congregants leads what he calls “a family ministry.” He tells Moyers:  “Demonic forcesare bent on taking over.  Human beings love to be sexual.  But it’s not God’s best to be homosexual, or to be a slave to alcohol, greed or anger.  Those things  keep us from being God’s best.   The issue is morality vs. immorality and homosexuality is immoral.”

Will Perkins with Bill Moyers

 Will Perkins, a local car dealer, was chairman of Colorado for Family Values, a public action committee to promote Amendment 2.  He also launched a 1 million fund drive to promote similar efforts around the country.  His team distributed an inflammatory video tape called “The Gay Agenda” to churches.  By 1994 a dozen other states had similar amendments on the ballot.

Will Perkins:  “They’re saying, ‘because of what we do in the bedroom, we want rights in all these other areas.’”

Another founder of Colorado for Family Values is Reverend Bernie Kyper of Village 7 Presbyterian Church.  He believes the bible is God’s inerrant word. He tells Moyers:  “The scriptures teach us that homosexual lifestyle is unacceptable.”

Amy Devine who founded The Citizens Project to respond to the Amendment 2 effort tells Moyers  “Amendment 2 is about the authority of God vs. the authority of man.   We have recorded speeches  by Kevin Tebedo who works with Will Perkins at Colorado for Family Values.  Tebedo talks about Jesus as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords  as if  Biblical law should become America’s law.  They’re a dangerous group.”

Amy Devine, Citizens Project

Bruce Leffler, a board member of the Citizens Project, feels less safe after  the passing of Amendment 2.    “We’re being victimized by that behavior.  Hate crimes and anti-homosexual violence and murder are up.”

Betty Lynn McAffey, electrician and activist, also warns of the dangers behind the effort to pass the amendment.   “The soul purpose of distributing the video, The Gay Agenda, is to fan the flames of hate.”  Betty Lynn and her partner, Lynn Boudreau – a former nun – are members of First Congregational Church where Jim White is pastor.  White embraced their membership in the church and their desire to honor their union and  lost members and money as a response.  Says White: “The great principles of the Bible are for forgiveness and acceptance.”

Moyers asks McAffey:   Why join the church that seems to want to vilify you?

Bruce Leffler

McAffey:  One thing I was uncomfortable with about Christianity was the notion that it was the only way.  But as I look at it I find it is a window to God, a mirror to humanity, it’s very exciting to read the Bible and discover this.

In a final scene we listen in as a small group of people of faith — brought together by The Citizens Project — tries to  discuss their differences, their prejudices and the road to resolution of this conflict.  It is a very long and tenuous project.

Pastor Ted Haggard

Breaking News

In 1996 Amendment 2 was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In 2008, a male prostitute revealed that Ted Haggard had been paying him for sex for several years and buying and using crystal methamphetamine. Haggard immediately left his leadership positions in the mega church he had built to undergo therapy. In 2010, Haggard was once again starting a church in Colorado Springs. An HBO documentary looked at his fall from grace: The Trials of Ted Haggard

In its treatment of the battle between the Christian right and gay rights, television often resorts to pictures of fire-and-brimstone preachings on one side and parade-float exhibitionism on the other. Both parties are made to seem over the edge. Although those images are used as scene-setters "The New Holy War" avoids such simplifications...this unpolemical hour allows viewers in search of accommodation a glimmer of hope: with a lowering of the political heat and the decibel level, and with less showboating on float and pulpit, there are people on both sides who seem ready to live peaceably in the same town, without much love, but also without hate.

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