The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group targeting Minnesota as a battleground over same-sex marriage this summer and fall, is hosting an anti-gay marriage rally at Granite City Baptist Church in St. Cloud on July 29. The church and its pastor, Dennis Campbell, were at the center of controversy earlier this year over an ad it placed in the St. Cloud Times that claimed “Moslems [sic]… will destroy the constitution.”
“What happens when Moslems take over a nation?” asked Campbell in the ad. “They will destroy the constitution and force the Moslem religion on the society, take freedom of religion away, and they will persecute all other religions.”
The ad continued, “How do Moslems seek to take control of a nation? “Moslems seek to influence a nation by immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs and by supporting the gay agenda.” (Campbell later said the ad wasn’t racist, but showed his desire to convert Muslims to Christianity.)
Campbell and Granite City are bringing in the National Organization for Marriage to fight that “gay agenda.” NOM says the tour aims to protect “the institution of marriage” which “has been under attack by radical activists who want to redefine its very meaning.”
And the strategist behind the 20-stop tour, Louis Marinelli, says that gays are seeking “prostitution, pedophilia, and polygamy.”
NOM did not respond to repeated requests for comment by the Minnesota Independent about the tour stop at Campbell’s church.
Campbell’s ad this spring prompted members of Minnesota’s Muslim community to respond with their own ad. The Council on American-Islamic Relation of Minnesota bought an ad in the St. Cloud Times.
“Fear mongering only furthers the anti-Muslim hysteria we are seeing in St. Cloud and nationwide,” said Lori Saroya, president of CAIR-MN. Saroya says her group first heard of Campbell’s ad when Christian groups called her office saying they were appalled by it.
OutFront Minnesota staff attorney Phil Duran said it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that NOM would be in partnership with a pastor that espouses anti-Muslim views.
“It would not seem particularly astute of NOM to ally itself with an institution currently infamous for targeting Muslims, but I do seem to recall that it is said that those who openly espouse one form of bigotry often espouse various others,” he said. “It speaks volumes about the agenda that motivates NOM and its supporters.”
“Today, that agenda openly targets GLBT people,” he added. “But who will it be tomorrow?”