Federal Court Rules Against Lansing Gay Activist Group

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

It's November 9, 2008 and Sunday service at Delta Township's Mount Hope Church appears to be proceeding as usual.

But then several protestors disguised as members of the congregation suddenly stand up and start chanting "It's okay to be gay!". They then throw fliers into the crowd while two women in the group kiss just in front of the pastor's stage. A giant banner is unfurled from the balcony and one of the demonstrators pulls a fire alarm before leaving.

It was the work of gay activist group "Bash Back! Lansing". An internet post from the group days later says they targeted Mount Hope Church because of its use of "hell houses" around Halloween that featured anti-gay portrayals.

Mount Hope Church sued "Bash Back!" in federal court and two and a half years later it won the case.

Under the ruling which came down Monday, "Bash Back! Lansing" and its associated national group "Bash Back!" cannot protest inside of Mount Hope Church or any other place of worship in the country.

If the group violates the court's order, it is subject to fines of $10,000 and likely would be held in contempt of court.

Dale Schowengerdt with the Alliance Defense Fund, who represented Mount Hope Church in this case, told WILX the church was pleased with the ruling and expected it would deter similar protests in the future.

WILX attempted to contact "Bash Back! Lansing", "Bash Back!" and individual defendants listed in court documents, but some could not be reached for comment while others did not respond to requests for comment.

The WordPress blog page associated with "Bash Back!" appears to have been taken down sometime since the incident.

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