Anti-Gay Evangelist Scott Lively Hires a Convicted Sex Offender
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 12:31:40 PM EST
Notorious anti-gay political activist Rev. Scott Lively recently opened a coffee shop called "Holy Grounds" across the street from a high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. The shop requests a "donation" for coffee and tea, which basically meant it was free to the kids. The purpose was, after all, low key evangelization. But the Springfield Republican newspaper reports on its front page today that the shop manager has been arrested for failing to register as a convicted sex offender.
In fairness, Lively says he didn't know that Michael J. Frediani had served three years in prison in the late 90s for having "deviate sexual intercourse" with an 11 year old girl in Canandaigua, New York. Nor did he know that his coffee shop manager had been listed in New York as a class 3 offender, considered at high risk of committing new offenses. In Massachusetts, he is listed as a class 2 moderate risk of repeating his crime. On the other hand, Lively didn't run a criminal background check before making him responsible for the care of children. For his part, Frediani says he is a changed man, and a "minister of Jesus."  But when approached by the Republican, he gave a false name, calling himself "Michael Free." (He also gave this alias to The Boston Globe when the paper recently profiled Lively.) He pleaded innocent to the charge of failure to register as sex offender.

For his part, Scott Lively told The Boston Globe that he too has changed and is now engaged in other things. But he has a long and ugly record to put behind him. Political Research Associates compiled selected quotes from a presentation "exposing the homosexuals' agenda" Lively gave to members the Ugandan Parliament in 2009.  These include:

"The gay movement is an evil institution that's goal is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity in which there's no restrictions on sexual conduct except the principle of mutual choice."

"...That is the gay is the recreation of society on a different moral foundation and the problem with that is that moral foundation will lead to social chaos and destruction."

The Globe reported:

Lively also wrote on his blog that a respected observer of Ugandan society had said his presentation was "like a nuclear bomb against the `gay' agenda in Uganda.''

"I pray that this, and the predictions, are true,'' Lively wrote.

A week after the conference, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament that would allow gays to be executed under certain circumstances. Gay rights and human rights activists said Lively's presentation helped set the stage for the bill, which was condemned by the United States and other governments.

Lively told the Globe that he is toning down the anti-gay rhetoric and doing other "stuff."   This, if true, is nice as far as it goes.  But one thing we do not hear from Lively and the many others who have spewed hateful words and ideas for a very long time, is any apology for the harm they have done to so many people.

(This is something we need to bear in mind as we enter a national period of reflection about the culture and consequences of violent rhetoric, primarily from the political and Religious Right. Even if people back off from their most incendiary rhetoric, that does not mean that their views have changed much if at all.)

Lively claims that he was surprised by and does not support the death penalty provision of proposed antigay legislation in Uganda.  But what has he done about it?  Indeed, while there are grounds for skepticism about his claim not to support the bill it is worth noting that he has not returned to Uganda to apologize or to try to undo the damage he has done. He currently claims, as has been the fashion among conservative evangelical for years, to hate the sin but love the sinner. OK, fine.  But where, exactly, is the love?

I think this would be a good thing, although the only places I've heard of it is in the news.  I do strongly hope that people realize that the violent rhetoric is almost completely coming from the right, but I think that doubtful.  The fact that the right is trying to duck responsibility and blame others makes me concerned that they will succeed with the majority in shifting the blame to "Libruls", and it will just be more of the same.

As far as the hiring of a convicted sex offender, that doesn't surprise me in the least.  I regularly hear or read of "Good Christians" being caught doing things like Frediani did, such as this report from the local paper ( S00?Title=Former-Youth-Leader-Accused-of-Kidnapping-Boy-From-Sout h-Florida-Walmart&tc=ar ) and this report ( le=2-Charged-with-Raping-Teens-Inside-Jacksonville-Church&tc= ar ).  It has been my observation over the years that the more fundamentalist a church/person is, the more likely they will by hypocritical and the more likely they will be doing the very things that they preach against.  In fact, I think it would be an interesting research project to analyze all of the reports of sexual misconduct (such as pedophilia) connected to churches, and compare those to their political/religious persuasion if it can be determined.

My hypothesis is that we would find a strong relationship between conservatism/Religious Right and sexual abuse/sexual crimes/misconduct.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 03:02:54 PM EST

I already see a lot of reflection going on. But as the usual people hold prayer vigils and issue carefully worded statements that have no clear effect on anyone -- the people who need some reflection the most are probably the ones least likely to participate.


by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 03:30:44 PM EST

whether as self-analysis or merely empathy for others, and those tools are not in the bucket.

by trog69 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 at 12:51:00 AM EST

Frediani has resigned as coffee house manager. Lively is apparently seeking to put scandal behind him.  

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jan 15, 2011 at 11:25:59 AM EST

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