Campus NOW protests church's "Hell House"
Campus NOW's Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action Team members Nicole Hardin, Jasmine Elliott, Lori Tinney & Candi Churchill.
Chanting "2-4-6-8, Teach Your Children Love Not Hate," a Campus National Organization for Women-organized protest drew more than 50 people October 29 to picket the First Assembly of God's "Hell House", a haunted house the church hosted for Halloween.
First Assembly, which is on NW 39th Avenue, paid $10,000 to bring the Hell House to Gainesville, but Campus NOW saw the haunted house's content as an attempt to propagandize youngsters who walked through it in anti-woman and anti-gay views.
What follows is Campus NOW's statement about the event:
"The First Assembly of God is presenting their first Hell House, which depicts abortion as a gory and involuntary procedure and lesbians, gays and bisexuals as hell- bound sinners. The University of Florida/Santa Fe Community College Campus National Organization for Women is protesting their blatant attempts to use scare tactics, hatred, and lies to push their intolerant agenda. We are protesting this event to expose anti- choice and hate groups that use fear and guilt in order to prevent us from exercising our fundamental rights as women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
"One of the reasons we are here tonight is because of Hell Houses false depiction of abortion--a depiction that according to Pastor Jeff Robinson is not anti-abortion, but merely represents reality, and "just puts the facts out there." But abortion is not a forced, bloody affair performed by demons as depicted at this event. The scary reality is not that women have legal abortions, but that the Hell House, and the anti-choice movement, would prefer to drag us back to a time when millions of women died from illegal abortions. That was the bloody reality when the men governing the law denied women the fundamental right to control our own bodies.
"Hell House's portrayal of abortion is nothing more than an attempt to make young women feel frightened and guilty through misinformation and outright lies. These scare tactics are part of the larger anti-choice, anti-woman movement which is constantly attempting to chip away at women's rights. It is a movement that threatens our abortion and reproductive rights by endorsing, financially supporting and running candidates such as Jeb Bush. Candidates and men like Jeb Bush want women to return to a time when abortion was not an option. It is a movement that very nearly succeeded in lobbying Congress in preventing third trimester abortions and [nearly blocked] federal insurance from paying for the contraceptives that could prevent the need for abortion. And they promise to push this legislation again next session.
"It is a movement that is responsible for young women committing suicide in this country rather than seeking parental consent to control their own bodies. It is a movement that leads to clinics that provide women with reproductive health care--which yes, includes abortion as well--being bombed just as the clinic in Ocala was bombed 10 years ago. It is the same movement which has caused us to mourn the death of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was murdered in his own home because he performed legal medical procedures. He was an obstetrician and a father, not a demon.
"The First Assembly of God does not want to expose the Gainesville community to reality. The real reality is that birth control is not 100% effective--condoms break, the pill fails, and men often resist taking any responsibility; abortion is too expensive; there are not clinics in every town. The threat of murder, bombings, and protesters cause many clinics to close their doors--or never even open them. If we are under 18 years old we face additional sexist restrictions. The reality is that women need to have the right to control when and if we will have a child. We should be able to have sex without risking pregnancy, childbirth, and 18 years of childrearing. We do not have full freedom and control over our own bodies and this movement that the Hell House is a part of wants to chip away at the few rights that we do have.
"Another reason we are here tonight is to protest this event's depiction of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals as AIDS-ridden and burning in hell for the supposed sin of their sexuality. People in our community (black, white, gay, straight, rich, poor) are dying from this epidemic. It is real. It is serious. And they are not dirty or bad, rather they are in need of our support and compassion, not judgment.
"Events like the Hell House, which spread hate and lies across the country promote negative stereotypes and prejudice, and encourage hate crimes like the brutal slaying of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. It is wrong to hate people because of who they love. Whether this movement promotes violence, forced conversion, or the view of AIDS as a punishment for a person's sexual orientation, their message is clear--they would rather we did not exist. They back their hatred up with religion, a religion that is supposed to be about love, acceptance and justice.
"Campus NOW refuses to accept their propaganda and lies. We have come this far fighting against their hatred, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. We won't go back! And we will continue to fight for our liberation until freedom is won."
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