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Saturday, October 20, 2007

“We Are the Watchmen on the Walls”

posted by on October 20 at 9:07 AM

I drove up to the opening of the Watchmen on the Walls convention in Lynnwood last night. I’ll be writing more about it for next week’s Stranger, but for now, here’s part of a statement that co-founder Scott Lively read to the group in response to all the media attention:

We are the Watchmen on the Walls.

We are a global coalition of men and women of every race, color and nationality who believe in the superiority of the natural family and marriage between one man and one woman.

We are against cohabitation, divorce, abortion, adultery and other behaviors that weaken the marriage-based society on which civilization depends. But we are especially focused against homosexuality, because those who practice this self-destructive vice, and have organized themselves into a political movement, are the chief enemies of the natural family.

We do not promote or condone violence.

We do not apologize for opposing homosexuality because it is morally, physically, psychologically and socially wrong, unnatural and harmful. This is self-evident to the vast majority of the citizens of the world, whom we represent.

Notice how the statement against violence is sandwiched between statements describing homosexuals as “enemies of the natural family” and as people who are “morally, physically, psychologically and socially wrong, unnatural and harmful.”

This reminded me of something I noticed when writing about a gay-bashing that occurred in Seattle in 2004. In that attack three young Russian-speaking evangelicals from Bellingham assautled a gay man near Capitol Hill on gay pride weekend, taunting him, kicking him, and stabbing him with a broken vodka bottle. They were later convicted of a hate crime. I spent a long time exploring how the messages these three young men received from their community and church had affected their behavior.

For my story, God Was With Them, I talked to a Russian-community religious leader in Bellingham:

Walter Ilyan, a respected religious leader in Bellingham’s Russian and Ukrainian community… [told me] that their community believes in a literal reading of the Bible: “The church says God destroyed Sodom because of them.” Could a person taught this in church then come to think it was fine, even God’s will, to harm gay people? “No,” says Ilyan, because the same Bible “tells us to love our enemies and to preach the gospel.”

This idea, commonly expressed as hating the sin and loving (as a means of hopefully converting) the sinner, was echoed by the member of Slavic Baptist who asked not to be named: “It’s in the Bible, and it says they beat gays or lesbians or something with rocks. But it also says somewhere that we’re not supposed to take matters into our own hands.”

The line between intolerance and incitement is approached, but not overtly crossed.

“According to the Bible,” Ilyan told me, “[being gay is] an abomination—That person is going to be damned forever.”

“But,” he added, “we teach our children no fighting.”

I also talked to Thomas Olmstead, the evangelical lawyer who represented the young men during their trial in King County Superior Court:

One day during the trial, I pulled Olmstead aside after court and asked whether his client’s religion had anything to do with the attack. With all three defendants choosing not to testify, their beliefs weren’t getting much airtime in court. Olmstead told me he’d never talked to Samusenko about that, which seemed hard to believe. We kept talking about Evangelicals, homosexuality, and the Bible, and at one point Olmstead took my notepad and began drawing a bell curve to demonstrate to me that gay people aren’t normal. It wasn’t much of a point; everyone knows that gay people are not, statistically speaking, normal.

But I sensed an opportunity. I suggested to Olmstead that we let the bell curve instead represent all Evangelicals who, like him, believe that homosexuality is an abhorrent sin. Given that Evangelicals are such a large group, I wondered, isn’t it inevitable that a certain percentage of them, however small, will focus more on hating the sin than on loving the sinner, and will find themselves inclined toward violence against homosexuals?

He conceded that yes, this was probably inevitable.

I asked whether that might not then be a cause for reevaluating parts of the Evangelical belief system.

“No,” he said. “Not at all. The belief system is fine.”

This morning the Everett Herald notes that even Scott Lively, the Watchmen co-founder who sandwiched that anti-violence message into his statement last night, has apparently had trouble restraining himself from violence:

A court in 1991 ordered Lively to pay $20,000 to a lesbian photojournalist he was accused of dragging by the hair through the halls of a Portland church, according to the [Southern Poverty Law Center].

Later this morning Redmond Pastor Ken Hutcherson addresses the group. I’ll be there to hear what he says.

RSS icon Comments


Maybe someone should show him the stats about how young people are getting turned off Christianity altogether because of assholes like him.

Posted by Gitai | October 20, 2007 9:21 AM

yes, but that doesn't excuse his hatefulness.

Posted by spock | October 20, 2007 9:27 AM

Yikes. Thanks for following this, Eli. It seems like these folks are becoming more militant as it gradually dawns on them that they're losing and will soon be left behind. But that doesn't give me any comfort. How many people will be hurt or killed by these violent, hate-crazed loons?

And it's too rich that they're preaching hate and how people like me are actively seeking to destroy families and society while at the same time saying that their followers shouldn't use violence against me. Give me a god-damned break.

It's no good to be a scapegoat. And I, for one, am tired of these fuckers making me a scapegoat for what they see as the sorry state of society.

Posted by Michigan Matt | October 20, 2007 9:27 AM

Please keep your eye out for Aaron Haskins, the pastor husband of a woman running for Renton City Council. Her campaign is essentially being funded by his church members, and she herself is an established opponent to GLBT equality. See my site,, for details.

You can find out what Aaron & Cheryl Haskins look like by Googling their names for images. If anyone's able to snap photos of either of them at the conference, please email me at I hope to be in Lynnwood later today with some leaflets.

Posted by Renton Citizen | October 20, 2007 9:33 AM

Why give these retards any attention? They love the press attention that's getting stirred up and we're playing right into their hands. By ignoring them, they will get frustrated and dissipate away. This has happened time and time again with these groups. Five years from now, will we remember this? I highly doubt it.

Posted by raindrop | October 20, 2007 9:58 AM

For those of us who cannnot be in Lynwood, Washington today to protest these creeps- can we have some slogging from there?

Posted by Heather | October 20, 2007 10:09 AM


If only that were true. Ignoring people like this will NOT make them go away, unfortunately. Those groups that have supposedly "dissapated" over time (think the militias or Aryan Nations or whatever) may fall off the media's radar-screens, and the organizations themselves may even disband, but the PEOPLE who were a part of them are still out there, biding their time, waiting for an opportunity to grab the media spotlight once again.

And although I'm sure this latest incarnation of organized bigotry does get off on all the publicity, focusing attention on them also makes OTHER people aware of their existence, and their agenda, and that's what's vital here.

Posted by COMTE | October 20, 2007 10:12 AM

I support violence against really tall people, because they're not normal. Let me draw you a bell curve.

Posted by Fnarf | October 20, 2007 10:18 AM

For those of us who cannnot be in Lynwood, Washington today to protest these creeps- can we have some slogging from there?

I second the notion!

Hey Eli, the design on your personal website is excellent!
Pass on to Josh, if he chooses not to accept my peace offering, that Ticketsheister has successfully raped me via ticket fees, no worries. I'll take his silence as "vi er en generation med kvaestede tolelser."

@min 2:23

Posted by June Bee | October 20, 2007 10:26 AM

How was attendance? That's the real story.

Posted by I'm a Nuclear Bomb | October 20, 2007 10:45 AM

At first I thought all this Watchmen business was I am beginning to see why you have been covering it.

Thanks Eli.

Posted by Lake | October 20, 2007 10:59 AM

Eli, excellent post. Keep up the good work.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 20, 2007 11:02 AM

Oh and Raindrop- ignoring can be alot like enabling.
They are not going away.
And about that bit about dragging someone by their hair?
So is normal to mean Neanderthal now?
Oh, I guess so.

Posted by orangekrush | October 20, 2007 11:12 AM

I was at the protest early on but had to leave (house emergency, hot water tank blew up) But I was there around 9:30 and the crowd was modestly sized. I was curious why there were not more protesters at the entrance that the Watchman were going to use? I was told that they did not want to block the entrance but I was not talking about blocking the entrance. I was talking about being clearly visable as they walked in....

That may have changed after I left though.

Posted by Just Me | October 20, 2007 11:16 AM

I slept in. See, Greg, I told you I needed an accountabilibuddy.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 20, 2007 12:03 PM

Good job revealing Lively's hypocrisy for what it is.

Looks like the media attention has put the Watchmen on their best behaviour. If this reduces the chance of future violent attacks, then it has served its purpose.

Posted by Irena | October 20, 2007 12:38 PM

I was there this morning, and was talking to a person who said that she had counted about 150 of us. She also said that the Watchmen had only 150 people show up, and they were expecting 700. That is a lot fewer people hearing their message of hate.

I took some pictues but I don't know how to post them, sorry.

Posted by duncan | October 20, 2007 12:51 PM

I was there from about 9:45 until 12:30, and there were about as many protesters in his audience as there were legitimate attendees. The camera expo and the cruise show (both going on at the same time) dwarfed the Watchmen convention in terms of attendance.

I tried to greet every VIP who entered the building, but neither Ken Hutchison nor the co-founder and his entourage would so much as shake my hand. The two people following hot on his heels, however, did shake my hand, though with a noticeable curl of their lips while they did it.

Inside the convention, a couple dozen surly, Slavic looking men in patent leather shoes huddled together near the front of the room. There were cameras everywhere -- official ones, since taking pictures or videotaping the conference was forbidden. I walked into the show with a young woman wearing fairy wings, who insisted I hold her hand until we were seated. When we tried to sit down in the front row (about half full) three security guards descended on us and demanded that we move, since those seats were reserved for the speakers.

The co-founder (whose name I didn't catch, sadly; I'd check the program, but the ushers weren't distributing them for some reason. One of the other protesters asked for a program, and the usher growled, "We're busy.") delivered a speech assuring us that, no, the Watchmen didn't hate anybody, they were just misunderstood. He then went on to compare the media treatment of the death of a Sacramento man with the Nazi manipulation of the Reichstag fire. I laughed, and ten blond heads snapped towards me, heavy brows puckered over strong noses.

Just as I left, he encouraged all the protesters lingering outside the doors to come in and give a high five to the other attendees. "We don't hate anyone!" he said. "Come in! Sit down!"

I got a reluctant high five from a massive guy with the most piercingly blue eyes I've ever seen. He didn't look happy about it.

Posted by Horace | October 20, 2007 1:07 PM

Eli as a Jew you are the perfect reporter for this assignment. Israel is a gay heaven compared to the racist United States. There simply are not any anti-gay religious hate groups in Judaism.

However Christianity is for hateful ignorant inbreeds.

Posted by Issur | October 20, 2007 1:15 PM

Fnarf @8. I am very tall for a woman. I will have to watch out for you...

I love it when they equate "not normal" with "not the norm". Tall people, midgets, geniuses, etc. All are not normal and should be opposed.

The other thing that really cuaght my eye here was "this is self-evident to the vast majority of the citizens"... "Self-evident" just screams to me "it's wrong because we just know it's wrong". We don't have to have a logical or rational reason for it. It just is.

Posted by Julie | October 20, 2007 1:15 PM

I was there for about 2 hours this morning.

A respectable small crowd of protesters: at least 100 or so at its peak. Chanting things like "2, 4, 6, 8, teach love, not hate". Many straight people among the protesters too, not just a bunch of angry homos.

I took pictures of Ken Hutchersen when he arrived (in a totally pimped out Lincoln Navigator, surrounded by security thugs). He had a big grin plastered firmly to his face. He greeted the TV camera, and steadfastly ignored the protesters with the bullhorns who completely drowned out anything he might have been saying.

I doubt the protesters changed the minds of anyone attending, of course, but they did cause a bit of a media focus. King 5 and one other TV camera (didn't catch which station), were on hand. I think this is where the actual value of the protest is. If we can show the general public that we oppose this kind of hate message, that this kind of message is wrong and will not be ignored, that there are people in large numbers who don't buy the Watchman's hate message, then it takes some of the power away from their message. They claim to speak for everyone, and this kind of protest clearly shows that they don't.

I ventured inside, partly because I was cold and had to pee. There I found that there was a camera show and cruise show inside, as well as the Watchman event. There looked like there were more people in the camera show than the Watchman show. I was quite surprised how empty the Watchman event was. The large hall was clearly intended for a much larger audience. It was maybe 1/4 full, if that. So maybe all our blathering, and bad press they were getting, caused some of their audience to stay home. Such a shame. ;-)

Posted by SDA in SEA | October 20, 2007 1:32 PM

My comments seem naive now, but over time they’re accurate. The percentage of bigoted idiots remains constant (save some peaks and dips), but the level of gay acceptance worldwide continues unabated.

Posted by raindrop | October 20, 2007 1:39 PM

SDA, I'm so glad not a lot of people attended the Watchman event. It tells me that people are not behind what these guys are preaching!
A 100 protesters will have some impact, I hope. I think that is a pretty good turnout.
The best thing is that you said the bull horns drowned out Hutcherson! To me that made the whole protest worth it!
It had to be irritating to him and I'm glad it was... : )

Posted by mj | October 20, 2007 1:51 PM

Yes - was at the rally and while attendance was fortunately low for the Watchmen, but what I did notice was quite a few young people in their teens and twenties with them (mostly white, suburban, well dressed). If they accuse us of recruiting, what are they doing exactly?

Posted by yerbamatty | October 20, 2007 2:15 PM

These ignorant Christians had their event ruined by The Stranger. That is good news indeed.

Does anyone know when the next large pro-Israel event will happen in the Seattle area? I'm new to town and looking for a him Temple, and would like to work with Hillel or some other pro-Israel Seattle organization. I'd encourage all Jews in Seattle to do the same. Israel was given to us by God and we need to keep our nation close to our hearts.

Posted by Issur | October 20, 2007 3:18 PM
26 unfortunate freudian slip in their manifesto. Did anyone else catch this?
(emphasis added)

"Pubic advocacy of homosexuality should be, like public drunkenness, culturally discouraged to minimize its impact on society. "

Posted by eastcoaster | October 20, 2007 5:50 PM


Give me a break, Issur. Israel is just as diverse and conflicted over homosexuality as the US.

Posted by Polka Party | October 20, 2007 8:06 PM

man fuck these cheap vodka drinking potato eating white trash of europe motherfuckers. If they don't like the way shit is here then they can go back to Russia with their shit. they should shut the fuck up and be happy that they live somewhere where they don't have to wait in line for 2 days to get a damn loaf of bread. How the hell do russians tell who is gay. I mean their women all have mustaches and look like men. Shit, I heard a story about a guy name Vladimir who went out one night to gay bash and beat this dude up....turned out that the dude was actually his grandmother who was standing in a dark street waiting for a bus. Shit a russian man and his wife LOOK like a gay couple. I can't tell which one is the man and which is the woman. So they need to shut the fuck up and leave the gays alone.

Posted by the troll | October 20, 2007 9:19 PM

I am Russian Vladimir. this you say is true. EVERY russian man has at one time or another hit on another russian man by mistake because he thinks he is a russian woman. this is why russians hate gays so much. We are very insecure about the fact that so many of us have mistakenly hit on other men. We tell our women to shave and hide their giant adam apples but they refuse.

Posted by vladimir | October 20, 2007 9:25 PM

Thanks, Eli, for being on to this. Scary stuff indeed. Curiously I looked 'them' up, and one of the chief 'spokesmen' does live in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada - which is kind of interesting - when clearly their net (both web-reach and other capturing devices) is US groomed and decidedly global. Hmmm. 'Holy' right. 'Watch-out' for them. Yikes!!!

Posted by Chelsea Hoffman | October 21, 2007 9:26 AM

You are racial preverks. My comunity is loving the seeds of CHRIST in the bible saying it wrong to for a man to seed another MAN. I travel many contrys to come to america and always do GODS will to make seed in only woman. I now vote to make my freinds in school borda and other officers to make CHRIST to all children and change the bad ways of homos and make you come to our meetings and properly change your ways to CHRIST and the proper BIBLE. And thank you to all our normal leaders for leading us to spread the SEED properly and watching us.

Posted by Ivan | October 21, 2007 10:57 AM

You are racial preverks. My comunity is loving the seeds of CHRIST in the bible saying it wrong to for a man to seed another MAN. I travel many contrys to come to america and always do GODS will to make seed in only woman. I now vote to make my freinds in school borda and other officers to make CHRIST to all children and change the bad ways of homos and make you come to our meetings and properly change your ways to CHRIST and the proper BIBLE. And thank you to all our normal leaders for leading us to spread the SEED properly and watching us.

Posted by Ivan | October 21, 2007 10:57 AM

So you are saying all is well as long as we pull out or use a condom? The seed is the thing?

Posted by jamesb | October 21, 2007 11:20 AM

You make a joke jamesb but CHRIST will stik you and make you see the right way. I am not a potato drinker. It is about seed. I am green person and we want seeds to be planted in place were they will growin CHRIST name and no seed will grow in MAN like homos want. It not green. And pull out what you mean? CHRIST never pull out and said it an abonimashion and man dont fit in MAN. It is shalow ground for homos who will be punished so come to our meetings all you bad people who say bad things here and lern the CHRIST BIBLE way and here it from the teachers and officers we are elecing in the schools each time an election in CHRIST righ way.

Posted by Ivan | October 21, 2007 11:31 AM

Greatest fakepost ever.

Posted by laterite | October 21, 2007 1:47 PM


Posted by Lee | October 21, 2007 6:49 PM

I was there on Friday night attending in the audience.

Along with the man and cow comments, the man and chicken comments and the vitriol from Fuiten, Lively and the others, I found it very sad that a group of people that have come here from other countries because they felt persecuted now have decided to persecute a segment of the population here in the US.

As to the comments above about many of them being young men in their teens and 20's- yes I noticed this as well. I do think from watching the news coverage on Saturday and Sunday (I wold have attended more but have been home sick with the flu) that the biggest crowd was Friday night... the hall was fairly full with families and others in attendance. It's also sad that another generation of youngsters are being taught how to hate others. I do think it should be of extreme concern to the community.

I'm particularly interested that the person "running" the show stated at one point that they were interested in voter registration and that if people needed help figuring out who to vote for that the needed to call their pastor and their pastor would "tell" them who to vote for. I have it recorded so I'll have to get the exact language but if my recollection is right they would be in violation of IRS rules doing that.

Like usual, they don't think things through before opening their mouths.

Posted by Dave Coffman | October 21, 2007 11:44 PM


Posted by CC | October 22, 2007 8:29 AM

Eli, check to see whether Hutch or Fuiten peforms second marriages. To a fundamentalist, marrying a divorcee should be the equivalent of adultery (see Matthew 5:32). So are these churches promoting adultery? There were only ten commandments, and that would violate the seventh (Exodus 20:14). Obviously, nothing in the commandments about being gay. Nor did Jesus say anything about it. But for some reason the Christianists get to divorce and remarry as often as they want, because, umm, there are more of them (maybe 40% of the population compared to 3% who are gay)? When are they going to get serious about a Constitutional amendment banning second marriages? Wouldn't that "strengthen" families a lot more than going after gays?

Posted by kk | October 22, 2007 9:58 AM

I was one of around 150 protesters at the convention center Saturday morning. Around 10:30 someone came around to some people on the street and told us we should go up to the entrance and show some support for a lone woman standing there protesting with a sign that said "I'm Straight but I don't hate". We now know from an Everett Herald article she is Barbara Troha of Stanwood.

Several of us joined here and were present to see Ken Hutcherson arrive (in his or someone else's pimped out Lincoln Navigator) with bodyguards in on each side.

Then Barbara began chanting, shame, shame, shame Mr Hutcherson, shame on you, shame on you while the hutch spoke with the media. Barbara, you are my hero!

My partner heard Hutch appologizing to the media people for the behavior of the protesters and having to endure the the protesting. Speaking of the protesters, he is quoted in the Herald as saying "God has given us America. America is not perfect, it's just the best." Apparently Hutch feels that America is not perfect because gays are out protesting. Or maybe he means American is not perfect because we have gays. Either way, he is a bigot.

Oh, did I mention that Barbara of Stanwood is my hero? We should be showering her with gay love, you know, the accepting kind of love that the Hutch can't seem to muster.

Posted by re:spect | October 22, 2007 10:26 AM

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