EAST LANSING, Mich. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit in federal court Wednesday against a radical anarchist group that openly advocates the use of riots and crime to further its views in favor of homosexual behavior. ADF attorneys filed the suit on behalf of Delta Township’s Mount Hope Church against the group “Bash Back!,” which invaded the church’s building during a worship service on Nov. 9 of last year.
“The use of violent threats and criminal behavior to make a political point should never be acceptable in America,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. “Bash Back! revealed how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our First Liberty, religious freedom. ADF filed this suit to stop Bash Back! and other activist groups from invading churches, disrupting worship, silencing pastors, and terrifying adults and children who attend religious services.”
The Bash Back! Web site, which features a banner photo of members dressed in terrorist-like garb and wielding various objects as weapons, states on one page of the site that the group’s activities include “Riots, Sex Work, Crime, Insurrection, you know the fun stuff we do.” The Lansing chapter of the group targeted Mount Hope Church because of the church’s well-known Christian views on marriage and homosexual behavior. Through another page of its Web site, the group covertly recruited participants for its plans on Nov. 9, seeking some who would be willing to maintain “a more ‘militant’-looking presence out side [sic] of the building.”
“I can tell you that we are targeting a well-known anti-queer, anti-choice radical right wing establishment,” the page said. “However, we cant [sic] give you really any detailed information due to the cop who’s [sic] ridiculous job it is to do surveillance over this blog…. ‘ONLY ONE DIRECTION! TRANS AND QUEER INSURRECTION!’ - Bash Back! Lansing”
On Nov. 9, members of the group dressed in militant garb staged a protest outside the church during a worship service to distract security personnel, blocking access to the building and parking lot at various times. Other members of the group dressed in plain clothes then deceptively entered the building. At a coordinated time, they sprang up to disrupt the service, terrifying many attendees. The group shouted religious slurs, unfurled a sign, and threw fliers around the sanctuary while two women began kissing near the podium. The group pulled fire alarms as they ran out of the building. After the incident, the group bragged about its activities on its Web site and, on a separate page, explained its choice of Mount Hope: “This church is nothing short of a disease in the community, and in the minds of those who attend.”
Federal law imposes penalties upon anyone who “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.”
- Sample of images from Bash Back! (WARNING: Content may be considered highly offensive)
- Complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Mount Hope Church v. Bash Back!
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.