Sunday, August 26, 2012


As I mentioned in the last post, a few days ago, an online announcement ran in Q-Notes, the gay newspaper of the Carolinas, calling for a peaceful protest at FIRE Church this Sunday. In part, it read, "Remember we will be peaceful and respectful, something they don't understand. We are going to STAND TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY to show that our love is stronger than their hate."

When Scott Volk, one of the pastors at FIRE Church, saw this announcement, he immediately posted this comment on the Q-Notes site:

"As the pastor of FIRE Church, I just want you to know that you'll be greeted with the same love and compassion as we always endeavor to show anyone - you are more-than-welcome! You make mention of the 'hate' that we show. Yet, in all our years here we've only desired to reach out with love to everyone in the local community here whether they are labeled as gay or straight. Hopefully, you'll see that love demonstrated on Sunday as you protest."

In response, Matthew wrote:

"Do you protest other religions and their gatherings? If not then you are cherry picking the bible. Commandment number one "thou shall have no other Gods before me" Why are you not going after the Buddhists, and the Hindus? You say love is your guiding principle I ask you is it love to impose your religious beliefs upon others? The Muslims in many parts of the world believe they are showing love by imposing sharia law upon their citizens. We can all live together in peace if you begin to view and treat gay people and our gatherings as you view other religions and their gatherings. If you can not do this then there will not be peace because we will not be treated as second class citizens and have your christian sharia imposed upon us."

Apparently Matthew failed to realize that the gay community was protesting our service; we were not protesting their service. But his comment gives us into insight into a mentality that is widespread in the LGBT community today: If we say that marriage should remain the union of a man and woman, then we want to advocate "Christian Sharia" law! (For more on this, see HERE.)

The other responses to Scott's post were also very enlightening (and so sad to read):

David: "Love is the most disfigured mask that hate wears."

Sue: "if what you think is reaching out in love is perceived as hateful attack, perhaps you should reconsider your actions"

David: "You can fool yourself, Mr. Volk. You can fool your parishioners. But you can't fool God. He knows what's in your heart, and it isn't love. It's hate."

Scott's reply: "Lord bless you David - Yes, I'm glad God does know what's in my heart. My only question to you would be, 'How do you know what's in my heart.' You've never met me or spoken to me???"

Tom: "What these fire church people probably don't understand is that spending an eternity ANYWHERE with them is what I would consider a true HELL. They should concern themselves with their own pathetic lives and leave other alone to theirs..."

Scott's reply: "Ouch, Tom!!! Actually, the protestors ended up leaving early today because they said we were nice, loving, and didn't deserve a protest. So, I'm thankful that our love did win out. And, it amazes me that the ONLY people that have ever called me 'hateful' were those from the GLBT community who have NEVER MET ME!So, here is an open invitation to those that wrote a response to my initial not that was posted here: Come and join me and my family for dinner at my home. Spend an evening together with us! And, if you feel that I'm hateful after that time, post whatever you'd like. But, to call someone hateful without ever meeting them, seeing them, or hearing them speak, is an indication of a heart that needs love. I make myself available."

I sincerely hope that folks in the community will take Scott up on his offer!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


According to an announcement posted in Q-Notes, the LGBT newspaper of the Carolinas, there will be a peaceful protest outside of our FIRE Church services this Sunday morning, August 26th. I am presently in Canada and will not be there to greet them, but this is my personal word of welcome on behalf of our entire leadership team and congregation.

On behalf of FIRE Church, I want to extend to you the warmest welcome and let you know that we are thrilled that you are here with us on Sunday. We have been praying for you for a long time!

As always, you will only meet with love, kindness, and respect from the FIRE leadership and congregants, and we proclaim to you once again the amazing grace of God. Jesus died to save us from our sins, heterosexual and homosexual alike, and only in Him can we find forgiveness, redemption, and transformation. Jesus alone is the Healer, Savior, Deliverer, and Transformer.

It has been my personal joy to have shared meals together with the last two editors of Q-Notes as well as to have given an open mic to the past editor of Q-Notes so he could share his own story in our church building. Our doors are open to you, our hearts are open to you, and as Jesus gave Himself for your salvation and wellbeing, we are committed to following in His footsteps. 

Should you ever want to have an open forum for the purpose of mutually respectful discussion on the issues that divide us, we would gladly host that event in our church building or participate in one of yours. Let us know what we can do to help make that happen.

If you are looking for Rev. Flip Benham, as per your announcement, he has an independent ministry in the city and is not affiliated with FIRE. I trust he will be happy to meet you face to face as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012



August 21, 2012

Dear Mr. Potok,

Because your organization has not responded to my previous attempts to interact and because the SPLC is coming under increasing public scrutiny, I am writing this open letter with the hope that you will respond. You should be familiar with my name, since I am on your list of “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right” and since I was profiled in the Spring 2012 Intelligence Report (more on that shortly).

My desire in writing to you is not to be contentious, nor is it to embarrass you. Rather, it is to pursue peace, to expose falsehood, to confront hateful misinformation, and to call on you and the SPLC to do what is right.
To be sure, I am hardly the only one questioning the credibility of the SPLC today. You have, no doubt, read the editorial in the Washington Post by columnist Dana Millbank, who stated, “I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.” And Millbank is just one of an increasing number of Americans from diverse backgrounds who are pointing out the absurdity of your recent “hate group” listings.

Do you realize, Mr. Potok, that by placing mainstream, conservative Christian ministries like the American Family Association and the FRC side by side with legitimate hate groups that you call your whole work into question? Do you realize that millions of Americans, hearing about the SPLC for the first time in the wake of the FRC shooting, will now question the veracity of all your listings, thereby empowering genuine, dangerous hate groups?

You placed my name, along with that of a number of other conservative Christian leaders, on your list of “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right.” This list included men like Malik Zulu Shabazz, leader of the New Black Panther Party. One of their recent radio shows featured this audio clip: “We give them [i.e., whites] 24 hours in South Africa to get out of town by sundown. I say, if they don’t get out of town, we kill the men, we kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies, we kill the blind, we kill the cripple, we kill the crazy, we kill the fa**ots, we kill the lesbians, I say god da**it we kill them all.”

Contrast those words with my statement in May 2006, addressing the gay and lesbian community of Charlotte: “We recognize that we have sometimes failed to reach out to you with grace and compassion, that we have often been insensitive to your struggles, that we have driven some of you away rather than drawn you in, that we have added to your sense of rejection. For these failings of ours, we ask you to forgive us. By God’s grace, we intend to be models of His love.

“We understand, of course, that in your eyes, our biblical convictions constitute hate, and it is hurtful to us that you feel that way. The fact is that we really do love you – more than you realize or understand – and because we love you, we will continue to speak the truth, convinced that it is the truth that sets us free. Love does what is right, even when it is scorned and mocked and ridiculed.”

Does this constitute hate in your book? Is this comparable to the language of the KKK? Neo-Nazis? New Black Panther Party? Yet it is in this spirit that we have carried out our work for the last 8 years, all to find a place on one of your lists.

The SPLC actually acknowledges in the “30 New Activists” article that, “Unlike many other voices on the religious right, Brown generally has avoided the kind of slashing rhetoric that often devolves into rank defamation. His work is heavily footnoted and avoids the blanket pronouncements that have gotten others in trouble.” Yet I am listed side by side with Shabbaz, whom the SPLC cites as saying, “Kill every god**mn Zionist in Israel! God**mn little babies, god**mn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!” Surely listing me (and other Christian leaders) alongside of him discredits the SPLC, not me (and the other Christian leaders).

You define a hate group as one which knowingly disseminates false information and demonizing propaganda about other people and groups, yet I have noted where the SPLC is guilty of this very thing. (You will claim that you never do so knowingly; certainly, the Christian groups you are attacking would say the very same thing about themselves.)

Mr. Potok, does it trouble you that your Intelligence Report focusing on NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) was so riddled with errors that anyone in possession of a program to the conference would recognize that the report was utterly unreliable, not to mention patently biased? What hope does the average reader have of accurately separating fact from fiction in reports like this?

You claim that the FRC knowingly disseminates false and defamatory information about LGBT people. Why, then, have you refused to have a public dialog with FRC head Tony Perkins in order to demonstrate your points? What if there is support for the statements the FRC has made, or what if their statements have been taken out of context?

My attempts to engage in public dialog with the SPLC have also been met with deafening silence. What is it, sir, that you fear? Why are you so unwilling to bring the issues to light in the public square? To this day, it would be my delight to have civil, constructive, public dialog regarding your “anti-gay” hate group listing. Are you willing?

On December 2, 2011, you partnered with Truth Wins Out, running an ad in a local DC paper that asked, “HAS ANYONE TRIED TO ‘CURE’ YOU OF BEING GAY? SHARE YOUR STORY. Help expose the lies behind the ‘conversion therapy and help other LGBT people who have undergone or are considering ‘therapy’ to ‘cure’ themselves.”

Is this now part of what the SPLC does? And in the interest of fairness and accuracy, have you put out similar ads in other cities asking for the stories of those who have been helped by such therapy? And are you aware of detailed, scientifically sound studies documenting that some are indeed helped and now gladly identify as “ex-gay”? (One of these recent studies has received the highest praise from respected academicians and psychologists.)

And how is it that the SPLC has partnered with Truth Wins Out (TWO), an organization known for vicious, ugly, and mendacious attacks on individuals and groups? In one short article, Wayne Besen, founding executive director of TWO, referred to me as a pathological monster, a slick, sick, cynical, diabolical madman with a messiah complex, also accusing me of trying to incite a bunch of “unstable thugs . . . to engage in a violent physical clash with LGBT people.”

Mr. Potok, is not this defamatory hate speech? Do you approve of a close colleague of the SPLC calling fine Christian moms, dads, kids, and grandparents a bunch of “unstable thugs”? Do you approve of his dangerous and utterly false accusation that I am trying to incite these fine people to violence?

And what do you make of the comments of Dan Savage, perhaps America’s best-known gay activist, with regard to the FRC? He said, “These people won’t be satisfied until they are standing on top of a pile of dead, gay children.” Perhaps the SPLC has contributed to this inflammatory, toxic environment? And perhaps it is no coincidence that the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has confirmed that the FRC shooter was also targeting the Traditional Values Coalition, another “anti-gay” Christian organization on your “hate group” list? Would it trouble you if, in fact, you and the SPLC were part of the potential mass-murderer’s inspiration?

I want to say clearly that I am not writing this letter out of concern for my own safety, nor am I afraid to suffer the consequences of my beliefs. Following Jesus is not meant to be easy or popular, and I have friends and colleagues who were tortured for their faith (have you heard of the late Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, celebrated author of Tortured for Christ?), stoned for preaching the gospel, and even killed. (Recently a young man close to my organization was murdered by Islamic terrorists while doing Christian, humanitarian work in a Muslim country.)

The purpose of this letter is to expose error and to pursue truth, and I am lovingly challenging you and your colleagues to sit down in a room together with the Christian leaders whose names and organizations you have defamed so each side can present their case. (I would also welcome this in a public forum, if preferable. On a personal level, I reaffirm my commitment to have public dialog on the relevant issues with any qualified representative from the SPLC or approved by the SPLC.)

In powerful and concise language, the apostle Paul wrote, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor 13:8). And it was Jesus who said that, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).

The highest and best thing you could do is recognize the error of your recent listings and remove the leaders and organizations in question, thereby restoring a modicum of credibility. But if you are convinced that your listings are right, then let us have the private convocation of which I speak, and let the truth come forth for all to see.

I ask again: Have you anything to hide or fear? I appeal to you not to respond with a press release but to contact me directly. I am accessible to you and will take your call whenever possible.

Will you move forward and come into the open or will you retrench and retreat? The future of the SPLC could be at stake.


Michael L. Brown, Ph.D.

Director, Coalition of Conscience
President, FIRE School of Ministry
Host, Line of Fire radio broadcast

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Earlier today, I received an email at our AskDrBrown Facebook page from a man we'll call Sandy, and I replied immediately to him. Here's the exchange, which I believe will speak to many of you:

From Sandy:

Hello Dr. Brown,

As I write this, it is past one in the morning and I cannot sleep because of such a deep burden from the Lord. I feel profoundly called to speak out publicly (on Facebook, etc.) on the issue of gay activism, and feel equipped by the Lord to do so powerfully, compassionately, and effectively, but (I'm ashamed to admit) am fearful that, as a public school teacher and public figure in my community, such boldness would cost me my job and possibly career in education, and possibly compromise my ability to financially provide for my family (I have a wife and three very young children).

I understand that in light of God's providence and protection, my fear is irrational and that I must trust Him for provision and do His work regardless. I still, however, am questioning the wisdom of putting myself and my family at such risk, considering my role as a public school teacher. I have contemplated speaking out in an anonymous blog so as to publish my concerns about gay activism without public repercussion. Even this, I am ashamed to admit as someone who passionately loves Jesus and have been following Him for 17 years.

So to summarize, I think I know the right answer, but I'm humbly requesting of you, my brother in Christ, some encouragement that will help me as I step past my fears and empower me to boldly endure even devastating persecution for the name of Jesus. I suspect that you once wrestled with similar issues before you decided to reach out with compassion and resist with courage. I feel as though once I speak out, my life will never be the same, and there will be no going back. Thank you for listening, and please pray for me as I wrestle through this enormous step.

Your brother in Christ,


My reply:

Bless you, Sandy, and I am absolutely standing with you. 

First, you have no choice in the matter: You either step out and obey or live your life in shame and retreat. You have too much of Jesus inside of you to do that! 

Second, I believe you should operate with real wisdom, as if every comment you make will be read around the world -- in other words, careful and compassionate and clear in your communication -- and then be ready to be used as a test case by the Lord in the event that your school district comes against you. They would have no legal right to do so, and there are Christian attorneys who will stand with you in a heartbeat. Are you willing to take that stand? 

Third, remember that one day you will meet common men, women, and children who were tortured and martyred rather than deny Jesus. What will you say to them? 

Fourth, listen to this radio program with your wife: "Washing the Feet of  a Martyr's Widow" -- then write back to me.

Forward in Jesus' name! 

Dr. Brown

Sunday, July 15, 2012


In his book Pure Grace, Pastor Clark Whitten makes a number of strong statements against what he calls “behavior modification,” and I find much important truth in what he has to say:

Christians are way too conscious of sin and way too unconscious of God’s grace. Listen, Jesus did not die to modify your behavior! He could have achieved behavior modification in any number of ways that wouldn’t have cost Him His life. Jesus went to the cross taking the sins of the world upon Himself 
Religion— not real Christianity— is and always has been in the behavior modification and sin management business. It is so lucrative and so firmly entrenched in the Church that it will take a second Great Reformation and a revelation of no less importance than Luther’s to correct this great and spiritually murderous lie.
This Good News reveals the “excellencies” of Christ and is much more attractive than the gospel of behavior modification that legalists proclaim.
If behavior modification is the goal, and it is with all legalists, then repentance is viewed as the primary method of accomplishing it.
I am convinced most pastors and leaders do not have evil intentions nor impure motives toward their people; however, they are deceived and have believed the lie of the enemy that behavior modification is the goal God has set before them in ministry.
The legalistic behavior modification gurus say to those who have failed to keep the rules, “go and sin no more and we won’t condemn you.” Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more.” He knew the power of love and its ability to transform a human heart!
Without a doubt, many of God’s people live their whole lives with very little understanding of the Father’s incredible love, very little understanding of the message of grace, very little understanding of the power of the blood of Jesus, and very little understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they live under a cloud of condemnation and frustration, always feeling that they are falling short and never feeling fully accepted by God. How they need a life-transforming revelation of the love and grace and goodness of the Lord! How they need to take hold of their standing as sons and daughters of God!

Unfortunately, there are some statements that Pastor Whitten has made that are easily misunderstood (or, worse still, actually overstated or even wrong),* and now many believers are throwing out whole portions of New Testament Scripture because of the so-called new grace reformation. It has gotten to the point that the moment you share a biblical exhortation with them, they cry out, “I’m not into behavior modification!” I’m encountering this more and more every day, and the tone of the “grace” people is becoming more shrill and harsh by the hour.