Gay activists barred from Patrick Henry

Sheriff Simpson is now trying to justify the massive show of armed force with a statement about “internet chat” suggesting that “more confrontational groups” might suddenly appear. We breathlessly await details, as he certainly can’t be referencing PFLAG. At least the statement implies knowledge that the Equality Riders posed no threat of disruption whatsoever.

Loudoun Times-Mirror
April 18, 2007
By Shannon Sollinger

A new idea might have infiltrated Patrick Henry College in Purcellville April 12, but a small army of state and local law enforcement made sure no one from the Soulforce Equality Ride got on campus…

…Patrick Henry was the 12th stop on the Soulforce eastern tour. The purple and orange bus, emblazoned with the message “Social Justice for Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People,” arrived at Patrick Henry shortly after 10 a.m., and left the next day for Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. Messiah, like Patrick Henry, has a written policy condemning homosexual behavior. Unlike Patrick Henry, it invited the young activists on campus for breakfast, to attend class and to participate in a discussion led by the college’s pastor.

“It is important for our students to see us modeling gracious Christianity,” said Beth Lorow, Messiah College’s assistant director of public relations. “At the end of the day, we affirm our understanding of scripture on this issue, but the students learn how to interact with people they disagree with respectfully and with dignity.”

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28 Responses to Gay activists barred from Patrick Henry

  1. David says:

    What’s funny is that Mike Farris was saying all along how they were going to ignore the visit, and “nobody would remember it in a week.” If you are going to “ignore” somebody, it’s probably better not to issue long, histrionic letters and press releases all about how and why you are “ignoring” them.

    The best thing Simpson could do for himself and PHC at this point is to admit that they got taken for a ride and overreacted, say they’re sorry, and move on.

    Now can we expect the Commonwealth’s Attorney to get in on the act, too? Some of the usual mouthpieces have been all over the blogs, screaming for the heads of the two young men who engaged in civil disobedience, that they should get a year in jail, etc., for literally walking across the property line with invitations in their hands, and standing there. Look at the pictures. They do not contest the facts; they were willing to plead guilty and pay their fines on the spot that day.

    Is the CA going to dig the hole even deeper, and spend yet more public funds on a show trial that will keep this story in the local headlines for months? One has to wonder whether the right hand knows what the other right hand is doing.

  2. Jack says:

    Isn’t the whole point of civil disobedience to be thrown in jail? If they just have to pay a fine, everyone knows it will just be paid by their supporters.

  3. David says:

    So fiscal conservative Jack is on record as supporting the use of our tax dollars for a show trial. Fabulous.

  4. Jack says:

    I just thought YOU would be happy about it. This is a media stunt after all. The more media the better. Why are you complaining?

  5. Scott Smith says:

    It has been the statement of all groups (including PHC and the police agencies) from the beginning, that Soulforce and Equality Loudoun themselves were not considered to be a public safety issue whatsoever. Please stop assuming the worst and harrassing the police agencies for showing up to do their jobs as extraordinarily well as they did.

    So they showed up with some more officers than necessary. Is it really that big a deal? If other groups had shown up, both in agreement with Soulforce (if not in agreement with their peaceful tactics), and agreement with the college (ditto on the peacefulness again), and those outside groups had caused a problem, everyone would be asking why in the world the police weren’t there with enough officers.

    We already saw what under-reacting can do in a situation from the extra deaths caused by not cancelling classes in Blacksburg on Monday. Thank goodness that wasn’t going to be a problem in Purcellville.

  6. David says:

    No one is contesting the exemplary performance of the officers who showed up to do their jobs. However, the decision to deploy a force of 112 officers in this situation does not comport with the transparent nature of Soulforce and previous Equality Ride visits. Further compounding the error was the failure to contact Equality Loudoun, which could have been invaluable in accurately assessing the risk of disruption by “other groups.”

    This overreaction wouldn’t be such a big deal were it not for the appearance of political motivation. No credible information that would predict disruption by other groups has been presented, and if there were such information, the failure to inform and work cooperatively with Equality Loudoun as a citizen’s group raises even more troubling questions.

    Perhaps you could provide answers to these questions: What, specifically, led the Sheriff’s Department to the conclusion that there was a credible threat to public safety? What is the normal procedure, in terms of utilizing community resources, when assessing a potential disruption of public order?

    Some have suggested that the threat may have come from anti-gay protesters. What is the normal procedure for dealing with such threats to a community? If, for instance, you received a credible threat that a religious service or other event would potentially be disrupted by the Klan, would it be normal procedure to inform and work with the target of the threat, or is it normal procedure to just show up?

    Please understand that, as a community organization with an equal stake in public safety, we have valid reasons for these questions in light of what appears to have transpired. I am not, as you say, assuming the worst, but I am also not willing to accept what appears to be a failure to perform due diligence when the safety of my community is at stake.

  7. Jack says:

    David, would you rather have too few police there, and have some violence break out? Is that what you want? Why would the police contact you, when you are not even a registered non-profit organization? As far as the government is concerned, you are not a legally recognized group.

    I do not know what information the police had. But the Riders apparently had no permit to protest. Those permits are supposed to provide information about the numbers expected, so appropriate security can be made available.

  8. David says:

    Jack, as usual you are demonstrating an inability to hear what others are saying. None of what you just wrote is relevant to the situation at hand, and you clearly have no information to offer that sheds any light. Unless you are authorized to speak for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department on matters of policy and procedure, my questions were not addressed to you.

  9. Jack says:

    Neither do you.

    Answer the question: “Would you rather have too few police there, and have some violence break out?”

  10. Scott Smith says:

    As I haven’t seen the Sheriff’s Office share the specifics on the information they had, I won’t do so either. I don’t know why they haven’t, but I’m not going to act contradictory to what more specialized and smarter people than I have decided.

    I will repeat what they have said in that there were other groups. Perhaps these groups were not based or ever had a presence before in Loudoun County, which is why they didn’t bother contacting EL.

    On the topic of protests, I would assume that they would just show up and not communicate with either group more than another unless they had a good reason for it. The college was not included in *decisions* on the amount of officers, types, or such. I don’t believe the school was told much more per se than EL or SF, except for what was necessary since this was all happening on school land, so as to not disrupt normal operations too much.

    I’m sorry to disagree with Jack, but I don’t believe permits were necessary, nor do I think they would have helped in this situation if the outside groups involved had showed up, since they obviously didn’t tell EL or SF they were coming, and if they have, neither group is admitting to knowing about it.

    And again, no danger was percieved from SF and EL. Even the college must not have thought so, considering it’s been reported that they only requested one officer. I think all groups acted the best they could considering their circumstances. I’m not saying I agree with any or disagree with any group, but coming from an objective viewpoint… (devoid of a viewpoint, I guess) all groups acted relatively well considering their goals/tactics, even the large police force and supposedly limited communication. I don’t think this can really be contested.

  11. David says:

    Thank you, Scott. I appreciate this response.

    Again, I’ve heard no complaints at all about the conduct of the officers, who were perfectly professional. The questions and outrage arise entirely from what was visible to the observer: a peaceful vigil facing an armed force that outnumbered them by 3:1. It just looks bad, and the vague statements feed into the perception that it was bad.

    I hope that the Sheriff’s Office will release the information and the source of it. I don’t know how else the public can know whether or not it was credible. I would also hope that if there was information about a specific threat to a community, it would be shared with that community.

  12. Jack says:

    Are you unable to answer a simple question, David? Would you rather have too many police or too few?

  13. David says:

    I could if I thought it was the right question to ask. I’ll answer this one instead.

    I just thought YOU would be happy about it. This is a media stunt after all. The more media the better. Why are you complaining?

    I initially dismissed this as too dumb to respond to, but Scott’s gracious response, although he couldn’t answer all of my questions, suggested a need to point out why it’s so clueless.

    You really don’t get it, Jack. I wouldn’t be happy about it at all. I live here. This is my home, not some anonymous base for political activism. Why would I be happy about the community where I live being perceived as run by a corrupt “courthouse gang” that puts on show trials at the behest of a “private” college?

    That’s what you don’t understand, a bias that your comments consistently reveal: We care about this community. We have a stake in it. We want to make it better, not revel in its failures.

    That’s why.

  14. Jack says:

    Basically, you CANNOT answer the question, and so decline to do so.

    The “private” college pays property taxes, and it’s employees pay income taxes. As such, the college has as much right to protection as does any private company. An overestimation of the security need does not imply the county is “run by a corrupt ‘courthouse gang.'”

    Seeing it as such makes you look like a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

    So I ask again, would you rather have too many police present, or too few?

  15. David says:

    Obviously, you need to go back and re-read the thread so you understand what I was responding to.

  16. Jonathan says:


    You’re tone is angry and belligerent. You may do your health some good by ignoring this blog.

    If you are truly interested in listening, I’ll tell you a story. I was just heating up my lunch and this nice gentleman said to me, “mmmm…, that smells good”. I was about to respond with “Thank you, my husband made it for me”, but I caught myself and just said “Thank you”. I censored myself because I did not know this person, and did not want to start a marriage equality discussion. This is just one of those little ways that society grants special rights to heterosexual people who would not balk at saying “Thank you, my husband/wife made it for me”.

    This self-censorship is a form of “spiritual violence”. It takes energy to live a closeted life and it takes energy to always be out. In this lunchtime case, the outcome at worst would have been a discussion. It’s not always that easy. There are hostile people out there such as the Leesburg Today commenter who wrote the following:

    …The Bible says this about sexually active Christians who aren’t married: Do not keep company with them. Don’t even eat with them. Shune them because they are sinners who put the cross of Christ to shame. God says this to all believers: “And this is My will for you, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Soul Force is misguided and they are a tool of the devil…

    I see you in the same category as the above commenter. You worked to deny us marriage rights and then you claim we are “tools of the devil” for being unmarried. What should society do with a “tool of the devil”, after all? I know what some people do with that “revelation”. They threaten violence. While doing political work, I’ve been chased and threatened. Last night, a man threatened to shoot me. The police can’t be there to protect me wherever I go. Do I wish there were more police? No. I wish that people like Mike Farris and yourself would listen to God and receive the message that we are not “tools of the devil”. Please pray about this and after you receive the Word, spread the Good Word to all you know.


  17. Jack says:

    And peace to you, Jonathan. Truly.

    Perhaps you should consider using the term “spouse.”

    I do agree with the assertion that the Riders are “mislead” and “tools of the devil.” However, one does not try to destroy the tool, but to remove the tool from the hand that wields it. Violence is not acceptable. As you have seen, in your own experience and Monday at my alma mater, the police cannot protect us. It is not their job. That is why I am a proponent of concealed carry, even on college campuses.

    I have indeed prayed, and have read the Bible, which is quite clear on the subject. I wish you would listen to it.

  18. Jonathan says:


    Please stay away from this blog. This community doesn’t need to be subjected to your spiritual violence. You and your peers can continue to inflict spiritual violence from your NoVA Town Hall blog, and we can choose to ignore you.

  19. Jack says:

    In what way do I do you “spiritual violence,” by asking simple questions such as, “Would you prefer that there are too many police present, or too few?” Do I do spiritual violence by asking what other churches were desecrated, when only one was mentioned in the article cited, but David claimed that multiple churches were?

    YOU raised this “spiritual violence” canard in a comment addressed directly to me. Am I not to be allowed to respond to it? Is disagreeing with you now “spiritual violence”? Do we do the Mormons “spiritual violence” when we say that polygamy is a sin? (At least there is clear Biblical support for the belief that homosexual acts are sins. It is not so with polygamy. In fact, it was clearly permitted, as the Bible prohibits one from being married to a woman and her daughter, or to two sisters.)

    If any “spiritual violence” is committed, our wounds are self inflicted. God gave us our spirits. By violating His commands, one does violence to his own spirit.

  20. Jonathan says:


    You did respond. You said:

    … I do agree with the assertion that the Riders are “mislead” and “tools of the devil.” However, one does not try to destroy the tool, but to remove the tool from the hand that wields it….

    I have indeed prayed, and have read the Bible, which is quite clear on the subject. I wish you would listen to it.

    I do listen. Your motivations are quite clear. Your want to “repair” us. I respectfully asked you to go away. You can harass us from your own venue. I will ignore all future communications from you, and urge all of our participants to do the same.

  21. Jack says:

    I respectfully invite you to come over to NoVaTownHall, where we engage those who disagree with us, rather than ignore them.

  22. David says:

    There are other commenters here, like Whackette, who disagree but engage in conversation with us. For there to be engagement and conversation, there has to be new insight or new information to assimilate – in other words, something to talk about. We don’t seem to have anything to talk about. Repeating the same thing over and over with no new insight (“the Bible is quite clear on the subject”) is not conversation. Demanding that I fetch information for you, because to look it up yourself would be “boring,” is also not conversation.

    This is in no way intended to be mean. I am more than happy to engage in principled dialogue, but there has to be some point to it. Incidentally, this is also a good illustration of why debate and dialogue are not the same thing, and why PHC’s offer to debate federal legislation was not a valid alternative.

  23. Jack says:

    OK, I’d like to get away from Jonathan’s “spiritual violence” side-track. I had no intention of bringing up the Bible until he started in on it. I would love to get back to our discussion, but how can we have a discussion if you will not answer simple questions?

    I have asked whether you would prefer that there were too many police or too few. You refused to answer.

    You posted a claim that “churches” (plural) were desecrated, but only gave a link showing that ONE church was desecrated. I asked you what other church was desecrated. I should not have to do research to back up your assertions. You should have already done that, and be able to direct people to it quite easily.

    I have asked what injustices the Riders are trying to correct. I read their website — it’s not there. You either cannot or will not answer.

    I would love to have a principled dialogue with you, but you refuse.

  24. Frank says:

    Jack –

    I am deeply disburbed at the fact that you compare the Freedom Riders to the shootings that happened at Virginia Tech. What on earth does one have to do with the other? I think the point trying to be made here is that these people are completely non-violent and simply want to engage in dialogue. Therefore, what is the need for having ANY police force present? You need to look a little deeper into your soul and ask yourself just what it is that you are so afraid of. Gay people? How are they a thrreat to you or your beliefs? And please don’t tell me that it is because the bible says so.


  25. Jack says:

    I certainly did not compare the Riders to the murderer at Tech. I was responding to Jonathan’s comment, in which he spoke of people that “threaten violence,” and one man who threatened to shoot him. I was comparing THEM, not the Riders, to the VT murderer.

  26. Jack says:

    Quite a fuss over a few too many police officers. Would you, like David, prefer that there had been too few?