Dereliction of duty?

There is much to say about the Soulforce Equality Ride visit to Patrick Henry College, and it will all be said in time. One thing, however, merits some immediate and thoughtful questioning.

It was impossible for anyone to miss the massive show of police force that was assembled on campus, apparently to “defend” it from perhaps 40 people standing quietly in a line, occasionally breaking into song or the reading of a Bible verse. Two individuals engaged in a fully anticipated, symbolic act of civil disobedience, ostensibly to deliver invitations that everyone knew would never reach their intended audience.

This almost comically outsized police presence (Soulforce hasn’t seen anything like this elsewhere) is generating quite a bit of outrage from the community: Who authorized this? Who’s paying for it? According to the Leesburg Today, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell is going to provide an estimate of what this cost.

When asked about it at the scene, Sheriff Steve Simpson became a bit defensive, claiming that he had “heard things” about groups other than Soulforce coming to Purcellville; there have been insinuations elsewhere that “other groups” were being “bused in,” and that law enforcement couldn’t be sure of what might happen.

Soulforce has visited many campuses. There is a readily accessible, transparent record of what those visits look like. Soulforce is deeply committed to non-violence, a commitment that is readily apparent in all of their communications and actions.

Here is my question, and on behalf of the taxpayers of Loudoun County, I would really like an answer. Clearly, Equality Loudoun was in close contact with the Soulforce Equality Ride as they planned their visit here. If there was any hint of a planned disruption of the Equality Ride vigil by some outside groups, doesn’t the Sheriff’s Department think that we would have heard about it? And if it turned out that we hadn’t, don’t they think that our community should have been told about it?

My understanding is that our Sheriff’s Department practices “community policing.” If they were hearing rumors about other groups planning to disrupt the Soulforce visit in some way, why would they fail to pick up the phone and call Equality Loudoun to see if we knew anything?

If they had any reason to fear for the safety of anyone participating in this event, why would they fail to call the one civic organization in the county that represents the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community? It simply defies reason.

The failure to utilize Equality Loudoun as a community resource in this context is extremely troubling. The massive police presence for a non-violent prayer vigil was indeed an unneccesary waste of resources, and this is what most people care about. But what should be even more disturbing is the failure to effectively engage community organizations and accurately assess this policing situation. If they don’t talk to us, who else might they be neglecting to talk to?

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47 Responses to Dereliction of duty?

  1. Jack says:

    Were you in contact with the police. It’s possible that they never heard of you.

  2. C. says:

    I have to admit, I found my attention riveted to the photograph w/this post. Just one more instance of a picture being worth a thousand words. (or, in this case, 490 words and then some.)

  3. David says:

    Jack, this is a serious issue. It’s not the time for cute comments. I counted something like 50 state troopers in addition to the personnel from the Sheriff’s Department, and they were talking about getting overtime. In reality, two deputies and a squad car could have done the job.

    PHC has said that they did not request this deployment, that the decision was made by the Sheriff’s Department. Equality Loudoun had no reason to contact them, but if what they are giving as the reason for this decision is true, they had every reason to contact us. If there was in fact some other reason, people have the right to know what they are being billed for.

    Think about it: They “heard things” about “other groups”? What was the source of the “things” they heard? Did the PHC administration perhaps plant a fake “tip” because they wanted to create an impression? Due diligence would have required the Sheriff’s Department to do independent investigation, and if that investigation didn’t include talking to local civic organizations like ours, I would have to say that there was no due diligence in this case. It looks very, very sketchy at this point.

    I also want to point out that all of the law enforcement officers were professional, and everyone treated the two young men who were arrested very well. This is not about them, but about the decisions made at the top.

  4. Ron Weisse says:

    Adolf Hitler would be proud of this photo. But then again, religion too, stops a thinking mind. If a gay person wants to believe in “religion” he/she should not be surprised by this type of regimental treatment. Equal treatment for gay people is very important. But using the bible and it’s hypocrisy as justification for our cause is irrelevant. I commend Soulforce’s intentions but this picture only demonstrates that ‘religious blind faith’ only begets ‘religious blind faith.’ Standing on the steps of City Hall would get more of my support for this group. Going to hateful religious campuses gets no sympathy from me. Intentions are commendable, just poorly executed. 🙁

  5. David says:

    Ron, I think you’re right about the picture. It makes Patrick Henry College, and unfortunately Loudoun County, look stupid. It’s just another in a series of events that will draw national attention and make our county a laughingstock once again.

    I take issue with your characterization of people of faith, though. The sweeping statements you make here add more fuel to the mutual distrust and misunderstanding that Soulforce is trying to break down. The students inside that school are just human beings who have some ideas that are wrong. Calling them names and ridiculing their faith isn’t going to produce anything positive.

    You may not be a person of faith yourself, but that doesn’t define “our cause” for everyone. Equality for all and inclusion of people of all sexual orientations is a deeply religious issue for many of us and our straight allies. They stand with us because of their devout faith, not in spite of it.

  6. Katie Neville says:

    On Thursday, I passed by PHC on my way between 2 workplaces. I wished I could have stopped and stood with the Equality Riders, but had to settle for coming home, checking out their website and making a donation. As a Loudoun County taxpayer, I was appalled at the number of law enforcement personnel who were assigned to “protect” the students of PHC . . . I assume Mr. Farris needed to protect them from actually thinking.

  7. Jack says:

    I was not intending to be flippant. Is it not possible that the police did not know about you? And even if they did, why should they trust a group that is supporting the group they are worried about? It may have been PHC sending in a false tip, and it may have been the Riders.

    Did the Riders have a permit for their protest?

  8. Katie Neville says:

    I know our local law enforcement personnel are able to use the internet. I assume that they checked our the video from every previous stop. Having read the press releases from Patrick Henry, I assume the massive presence was a response to the false statements from PHC.
    Law enforcement conducted themselves admirably. They were just doing their job. On the other hand, PHC came off looking foolish.

  9. Jack says:

    That depends on one’s perspective:

    “A wise man fears and departs from evil,
    “But a fool rages and is self-confident.” (Prov 14:16)

    “If a wise man contends with a foolish man,
    “Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.” (Prov 29:9)

  10. David says:

    It sounds like Jack doesn’t think the Soulforce youth should waste their time with PHC. I disagree. I don’t believe that anyone is beyond redemption, and the way that the Equality Riders conducted themselves in the face of foolishness – the false statements, the intimidation of students – will stand as an example of wisdom beyond their years.

    A passerby in a car stopped at one point in the afternoon and started chastising the PHC officials hanging around the gate, saying that they should invite the Riders in, etc. She was pretty upset, and voices were escalating. It was the Equality Riders who stepped in and spoke with her about their commitment to non-violence, and defused the situation. I think that the PHC officials would probably have been happier if something like that had escalated; that would have given them some excuse for the police presence.

    As it was, there was no “protest,” there was no “demonstration,” there were only 24 young people, plus a few local supporters, standing in a prayer vigil, with the message that you can be both Christian and gay. That was it; that was the big threat.

  11. Jack says:

    Quite the contrary, David. To the PHC administration, homosexual acts are sins, and those who advocate sin are evil, or at least have been seduced by evil. Proverbs tell us to fear and flee from evil.

    Yes, one can be gay and Christian. As I have said before, BEING homosexual is not a sin — homosexual ACTS are sins.

    Considering the history of some left-wing protests, such as the Seattle WTO protests, it is quite reasonable to be prepared for trouble. It is far better to be prepared for trouble and get none, then to be unprepared and get it. The police were there to prevent confrontations. It sounds like they succeeded.

  12. David says:

    Yes, we understand what the PHC administration thinks. Because it so clearly deviates from reality, they had to create an impression.

    As Katie points out, surely our local law enforcement decision-makers are able to use the internet, and could familiarize themselves with previous Soulforce visits. The massive police deployment was nothing but a media stunt.

  13. Jack says:

    Where have the Riders gone before that they have been refused access to the campus?

  14. David says:

    You can read all about previous visits from both 2007 and 2006 at

  15. Jack says:

    I read some. There is a lot there, and I do not feel the need to read it all. If the Riders have not been refused entry to another campus, then it would be necessary to read the entire site, as well as several others, to have sufficient evidence to validate that assertion. So I will ask again:

    Where have the Riders gone before that they have been refused access to the campus?

    I really don’t see the Riders as anything more than “a media stunt.” What “injustice” are they trying to combat? Can homosexuals not go to college in the United States? That would explain why the Riders do not know that “alumni” is a plural noun.

  16. Jack says:

    (Please excuse me if this turns out to be a duplicate comment, but it’s been four hours since I posted, and my comment is not here.)

    I have gone to the website, and there is a lot there. It would require going through the entire website, plus several others, to determine whether the Riders had ever been denied access to a campus before, and what happened in that case. So spare me the boredom and answer my question, just as you would have answered the Loudoun police had they called you:

    Where have the Riders gone before that they have been refused access to the campus?

    Now, having slogged my way through some of their website, I am compelled to ask: What “injustice” are they trying to correct? Are homosexuals not allowed to go to college in the United States? That would explain why the Riders do not know that “alumni” is a plural noun.

  17. David says:

    Well, you are not the “Loudoun police,” so you shouldn’t be expecting to be treated as if you are. Yes, there is a lot there, so that people who want to know what is happening can read it. It is not our job to relieve your boredom or do your research for you.

    Off the top of my head, other colleges that have recently refused the East bus Riders access to campus are Bob Jones and Central Bible College; last year they were refused by Liberty and Regent, among others. I think that out of the 12 schools visited so far this year, only four have invited the Riders onto campus for some sort of dialogue. None have matched the ridiculous overreaction of PHC.

    The first visit, to Dordt College, set the bar for what should happen. See this video, and posts here and here.

  18. Jack says:

    Thank you. Was that so hard?

    In my own research, I have found that the Riders staged a sit-in at North Central University, blocking numerous campus entrances. Thus, they have a history of tresspassing and disturbing the academic function of a college. So why do you have a problem with the police enforcing private property rights?

    I’d still like to know know what “injustice” they are trying to correct.

  19. David says:

    Jack, I don’t have a problem with the police doing their job. Neither we nor Soulforce has ever said anything to suggest that. The civil disobedience they enact is embedded in the history of our nation. The willingness to put their bodies in the path of state power in the service of a higher law is the point, which, if you uphold the actions of groups like Operation Rescue, you understand.

  20. Jack says:

    David, as you point out, they were intending civil disobedience. So the county was right to send in the police! The point of civil disobedience is to get arrested, which is difficult to do if there are no policeman. So the Riders should be happy the police were there.

    Doug, there is evil in this world. In our baptismal vows, we vow to renounce “the evil forces that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.” Perhaps God did not make you gay, but your homosexuality is a corruption of His creation. Have you ever thought of that? We ALL have sinful desires. Did God create us with sinful desires? Of course not. Those sinful desires are a corruption of His creation.

    “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” That means we hate alcoholism, and do not tell our alcoholic friend, “It’s OK, have another drink. God made you that way, so it must be OK.” It means we hate adultery, and do not tell our adulterous friend, “It’s OK, go get another hooker. God may you that way, so it must be OK.”

    I have read many arguments from homosexual activists trying to explain away the Bible. I disagree with them, but grant the possibility that they may be right. You agree with them, but you must also grant the possibility that they are wrong, and that the thousands of biblical scholars that came before them are right.

    You are betting your soul.

  21. David says:

    At the risk of repeating myself again, the objection is not to the police doing their job, which we all expect them to do. The objection is to the apparent taxpayer-funded media stunt that the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department created for the political benefit of Patrick Henry College – one that was likened by this writer to a scene from the days of Massive Resistance.

    You are wasting your time here with false analogies about adultery, etc. I don’t doubt the sincerity of your beliefs, but sometimes the things you say to us just come across as rude. Certainly they come across as clumsy, as if you think we can’t tell the difference between our core identities and some dumb, selfish behavior.

  22. Jack says:

    C’mon, David, the whole Equality Riders thing is a media stunt. You’re just trying to blow this up to get them MORE media attention.

    If you cannot distinguish between what you ARE and what you DO, then you truly are a slave to sin.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Jack, since there are many more “straight” people than GLBTQ people, you will probably save more souls if you cast a wider net. Please post a “sexual morality classifier” piece on NoVA Town Hall. The purpose of the piece is to give your readers the knowledge they need to gauge the morality of their sexual behavior. Thanks in advance.

  24. Jack says:

    I can just post a link to it if you like:

    Everything you need to know is there.

  25. David says:

    Inadequate. It seems that there is considerable difference of opinion as to the meaning of this document.

  26. Jack says:

    It contains all that is necessary for salvation.

  27. Jonathan says:

    Yes, and if you interpret the Bible correctly, you know that Salvation will not be granted to the unrepentantly anti-gay who have received the Word.

  28. Jack says:

    You are right. It goes back to hating the sin, not the sinner.

  29. Jonathan says:

    I’m reposting related comments from Dean Settle at Too Conservative because he was in communication with a police officer who had knowledge of pre-event intelligence.

    April 13th, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    The large show was because the college expected a much larger contingent. Just as enviro-hippies and PETA are recruited to fill out numbers of anti-war significance, so do these gay groups have other protesters of other causes to join their numbers for a more “impressive” show. PHC was expecting a crownd in the thousands. What showed up was a hundred.
    “”Dean Settle

    April 14th, 2007 at 9:17 am

    AWCheney’s daughter isn’t being kept in an intellectual straightjacket. The comments were addressing SECURITY in a college. How does that lock her mind up? Security is the act of keeping ALL unsavory individuals off of Campus premises, whether they are rapists or ideological representatives, silly person. How does this equate to locking her in a straighjacket without the 1000 mile long bridge that everyone in this converstaion would be required to use just to reach your point?
    “”Dean Settle

    April 16th, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Mr. Settle has also presented outlandishly inaccurate information, with the notion that there was a so-called “protest” of 100 people, with 1000 “expected.” As is typical of Soulforce visits, the vigil consisted of the 26 Riders joined by a few local community members – a total of perhaps 30-35 people standing silently, singing, or reading from their Bibles. I was there; Mr. Settle was not. This peaceful prayer vigil was met with 112 law enforcement officers, apparently on the public dime.


    April 16th, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    My numbers were related to me by an officer who attended.
    35 folks kind of got rounded up to 100 in an attempt to generalize that there were not near one thousands in attendance that were expected in a worst-case-scenario..
    THAT was the reason for the large presence. Anything else you want to twist around because it wasn’t specific enough?
    I notice that generally, when specifics ARE discussed, you and yours are the first to go offensive.

    “”Dean Settle

  30. Jack says:

    I prefer that the police were there and not needed, rather than needed and not there.

  31. David says:

    I sure am looking forward to the source of this “information” being revealed. That ought to be entertaining, if nothing else.

    The apologists for PHC and/or Sheriff Simpson are shifting into full damage-control mode now, and I’m particularly disappointed to see Mr. Settle jumping on board that train. The absolutely horrible irony is that those 112 officers could have actually been helpful if they had been deployed to Blacksburg yesterday. The misdirected police attention to an imaginary threat from “thousands” of (PFLAG moms? Anarchists from Seattle? Vegans?) is especially poignant in light of the fact that there were probably clear signs that the VT shooter was a threat, but no one did anything. The two things are obviously unrelated, but it’s impossible not to compare and contrast.

    Face it, this was a bad decision, due either to terrible police work or to political pandering.

  32. Jack says:

    Doug, you truly have me confused. If your love does not include sex, then there is no sin. I, too, have male friends that make me feel that way. Love between males is not sinful. Sex between males IS.

    Your second post is what really confuses me: “So, no, I don’t even hate the sin. But I sure as ever don’t accept it or allow it to go unchallenged.”

    What sin are you referring to here?

  33. Jonathan says:


    You can’t be anti-gay and Christian. All members of the Anti-Gay Industry (AGI) will burn forever in the fiery depths of Hell.

  34. Jack says:

    ALL unrepentant sinners will suffer that fate. All who advocate that others sin will share their fate as well.

  35. Jack says:

    I still haven’t been told what “injustices” the Riders are trying to correct.

  36. Russell says:


    “So, no, I don’t even hate the sin. But I sure as ever don’t accept it or allow it to go unchallenged.” … Jack.

    I am curious as to what other sins you are challenging.

  37. Jack says:


    I was quoting the post from Doug just above mine. I don’t know what he’s talking about, either.


  38. Jack says:

    I do not condemn love — I condemn extramarital sex.

  39. Jack says:

    You don’t.