Idaho Statesman video screencap
The Idaho Statesman has been repeatedly skeptical of the Southern Poverty Law Center's claims that the Coeur d'Alene-based Lordship Church is a hate group. But the Inlander dug deeper into what the church's pastor has actually been preaching.
Why in the world would the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a national civil rights organization, put a small, relatively unknown Idaho church on its "Hatewatch" list?
That's the question asked by two recent Idaho Statesman
articles and an Idaho Statesman video
. The newspaper
suggests that, perhaps, the Lordship Church in Coeur d'Alene was being unfairly maligned.
"According to the SPLC, most of Idaho’s hate groups proclaim racist or anti-Semitic views," the Statesman
proclaims. "Lordship Church is different."
But that isn't exactly true.
First, a quick primer: Lordship is a proud member of the Idaho Redoubt
"The American Redoubt is a stronghold, it's the last bastion for
God, country, liberty, Constitution, Second Amendment and
homeschooling," Pastor Warren Mark Campbell told CBC News
only pastors Lordship, he started a military surplus
store nearby called Redoubt Surplus and Tactical. He literally wrote a theme song
for the American Redoubt, celebrating a "place where God, guns and
Lordship considers itself a "free church
," a church that declines to seek the sort of nonprofit status that can limit making political endorsements from the pulpit.
The SPLC, the organization, which helped take down the Aryan Nation's complex in Kootenai County, wrote up a lengthy narrative
about Campbell's previous church in 2012, accusing the church of "paramilitary activities and forging alliances with an array of figures revered on the radical right."
But the Statesman
quotes Campbell as saying the SPLC's account was inaccurate, driven by an anti-Christian agenda.
In recent years, there has been a lot
of articulate, reasonable objections
to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch list, which can lump far-right groups, like the Family Research Council and the Center for Immigration Studies, with the KKK and actual terrorist organizations.
quotes Campbell extensively, who notes that ethnic minorities attend his church, and argues that neither he nor anyone in his congregation is racist or a white extremist.
It also cites Puerto Rican Lordship Church member Ed Reillo
, who lamented that his church had been lumped in with “all these crazy right-wing extremists” and said he'd never seen hate preached from the pulpit.
But we don't have to decide whether we trust the Southern Poverty Law Center account or Campbell's account. We can see for ourselves. Lordship Church has uploaded more than 100 Campbell sermons online
And when the Inlander
began poring through the sermons, we found a lot more than just the sort of anti-gay or anti-Muslim rhetoric that the Statesman
Campbell has repeatedly preached that the Bible condones forms of slavery. That the South were the heroes of the Civil War and the North were the villains. That whites are victims and blacks are whiners. That the death toll of the Holocaust was exaggerated.
So does that
the Lordship Church to be considered a hate group?
What follows is just a sampling of the things that Campbell preaches:
It's hardly unusual for a far-right Christian church to preach against same-sex relationships from the pulpit. What is
unusual is the glee that Campbell takes in discussing it.
He describes the pro-gay children's book Heather has Two Mommies,
for example, as “vomit into the mouths
and the eyes of the American people.”
And Campbell doesn't just say "gay." Or "homosexual." He says "sodomites." In one sermon, he waxes rhapsodic
about the King James Version of the Bible's use of the term.
“When you’re preaching on the streets, and you’re surrounded by thousands of homosexual sodomites, and there’s only about 10 or 15 of us, and when you use the word sodomite, it has an effect,” Campbell says. “It doesn’t have nearly the sting, the power” — he slaps his hand to punctuate the words — "of 'You sodomites, repent before the Lord, judgment is at hand!'”
Campbell doesn't just use this sort of rhetoric in church. He, for example, stood out in front of Target
with a megaphone to condemn the store's transgender bathroom policy.
In sermon after sermon, he regales his congregation with tales of standing on the street condemning homosexuals. He revels in the furious reaction.
“They come out with seething anger," Campbell says in a sermon
praising God's providence in allowing then-Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to win the Republican primary. "If they thought you could get away with it, they’d bite you.”
While protesting with a group in California, he claims, he says that a gay man spit
in one of their faces.
“Of course, the person probably had AIDS. So the spit would get in the guy’s eye and give him some AIDS, see!” Campbell says. "
The anger, the malice that can come out — Satan working through demonic forces — is just unbelievable."
(FYI: No, you can't
get AIDS from being spit on
He condemns other Christians for not joining him and his allies to
, say, protest a gay pride cruise at Lake Coeur d’Alene.
“There was three of us there against several hundred Sodomites,” Campbell says, in one of his personal favorite sermons. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. We could shut that thing down. We could shut down the homosexual-sodomite parade in Spokane,
if the Christians would just simply turn out and stop that nonsense.”
In one sermon, he said he agreed with the Spokane Street Preachers that standing
on the street and preaching against homosexuality was the most loving thing a person could do — he, after all, was trying to save them from hell and God's wrath.
But in another? He downright celebrated the accusation
of being a hate group. Discussing preaching against "sodomites at the parade," he says a woman came up to him and said, “You guys are nothing but haters. Stop the hate!"
"And I said, 'Hate is a good thing!'" Campbell says. "She didn't know what to do with that!... It's a scriptural thing. The Lord says his soul hates these things."