Media Response To Manzella Religious Liberty Speech Shows LGBTQ Victimization A Potent Tool To Silence Dissent
A lot of ink has been spilled surrounding a speech State Senator Theresa Manzella delivered at a rally to support a Clinton-area man in November. The story surrounds a Pastor and real estate agent named Brandon Huber who is facing a $5,000 fine and the loss of professional membership in the National Association of Realtors for his religious beliefs regarding “LGBTQ” activism.
An ethics complaint was brought against Huber with the Missoula Organization of Realtors (MOR) after a partnership to serve summertime lunches between his church and Missoula Food Bank soured.
Toward the end of June, the food bank began including “Pride” inserts in food bags distributed to children. The inserts included messages like “love always wins” and “love is love.” On July 2nd, after conversations with Missoula Food Bank, Huber decided to opt-out of continued participation and instead to support the Clinton School lunch program by using more of his church’s resources.
“Clinton Community Church wants our community to know that we love and support each and every one of you, no matter your background or where you are in life,” he said in a letter to his congregation. “As a church, we strive to show the love of Jesus in all we do throughout this community while standing up for biblical principles, biblical truths and our beliefs.”
A few weeks later on July 29th, an ethics complaint was filed against Huber with the Missoula Organization of Realtors’ “Grievance Committee.” The complaint included allegations that Huber discriminated and posted hate speech against LGBTQ people. MOR is deciding whether the ethics complaint is valid and whether or not to issue a fine and bar him from the organization under hate speech policies enacted by the National Association of Realtors last year.
A rally to support Huber on November 17th, became part a statewide revival tour called “God, Country, Family” led by Jordan Hall, Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney and Publisher of the Montana Daily Gazette.
At the rally, Senator Manzella gave a speech about her faith and how Huber’s personal hardships were a reflection of the larger culture war waged by the LGBTQ movement. She shared her thoughts about her faith in Jesus Christ and how she came to her faith late in life. She also shared how the tenants of her faith describe every human being as a sinner and that all sinners, and therefore all people, should be approached in love. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Manzella quoted from Romans 3:23.
“As we consider these complicated issues and the people currently participating in the alternative LGBTQ lifestyles, we must never forget their individual intrinsic worth to Christ and that He loves them just as much as He loves you or me,” Manzella said. “And we must never forget that He laid His life down for everyone of them just like He laid down His life for me and you.”
“We must be practiced and prepared to speak truth in love,” Manzella stated.
After sharing how Christians should approach willing LGBTQ people, Manzella distinguished her thoughts regarding individual people and focused on the issues she had with the larger “movement”.
“That’s one of the biggest problems that I have with the ‘movement’ is the recruiting,” Manzella said. “I don’t want them recruiting our children in public schools.”
News stories and videos of teachers defiant against parents regarding this issue have become popular on YouTube and TikTok.
Journalist Abigail Shrier reported in November leaked documents and audio from a teachers association conference held in California revealing how K-12 teachers actively monitor students and select them for introduction to school LGBTQ clubs.
“Speakers went so far as to tout their surveillance of students’ Google searches, internet activity, and hallway conversations in order to target sixth graders for personal invitations to LGBTQ clubs, while actively concealing these clubs’ membership rolls from participants’ parents,” Shrier reported.
Towards the end of her speech, Manzella shared that LGBTQ people are not stopped from doing what they want in American society today and, according to her beliefs, their feelings of fear and persecution are more likely the result of their internal insecurities which stem from defiant separation from God.
“Now, they like to play the protected-class card, and they are the minority, and they are discriminated against, and they are scared to walk down the street hand-in-hand,” Manzella said. “I gotta to tell you, I think those are normal consequences associated with the choices they’re making. We don’t prevent them from doing that.”
Missoulian writer Skylar Rispens was at the rally and wrote a story about the event centered around Manzella’s final comments. In a clumsily-formed paragraph, Rispens suggested that Manzella said “violence” is a normal consequence of LGBTQ people’s choices.
The full video of Manzella’s speech shows that Manzella does not suggest violence is or should be a “normal consequence” of LGBTQ people’s choices.
Rispen’s took Manzella’s words out of context, stripped them apart, and capped off Manzella’s original thought with a mischaracterization of her statement. Rispens suggested that Manzella was shrugging off violence against LGBTQ people as a “normal consequence” when Manzella specifically said that, according to her beliefs, all people should be approached “in love.”
The media and activist engine kicked in to gear after Rispens’ report and the ensuing Twitter outrage. Calls for Manzella to be removed from interim committee duties were made by Montana Democrat minority leaders in the House and Senate. LGBT blogs and other media outlets breathlessly repeated Rispens’ mischaracterization about violent consequences for LGBTQ people.
Manzella and the Montana Daily Gazette pushed back saying that Manzella’s words were taken out of context. Missoulian Publisher Jim Strauss shared an editorial on November 28th, titled Manzella’s comments foster hate, where he defended his paper’s reporting. “The comments are on tape, and we stand by our reporting. We would give Manzella’s ‘out of context’ claim more credence were it not for the context of the meeting,” Strauss wrote.
Strauss’ editorial and calls for Manzella’s censuring, however, just further proved the purpose of the “God, Country, Family” tour which, in part, was to show the power of using LGBTQ victimization, even by those who are not LGBTQ identifying, to discipline, marginalize, and expel political enemies.
Those disgruntled with Huber’s actions to respectively assert his religious beliefs used LGBTQ victimization to fan a culture war and discipline, marginalize, and expel him. The same LGBTQ victimization machine is now being deployed against Senator Manzella.
Since the media frenzy, Manzella has received dozens of voicemails, emails, and private messages from disgruntled people claiming to be allies of LGBTQ people. Many of the messages are violent and dehumanizing. Manzella is archiving all of the “love mail” as she referred to it.
One person named Julie Sor sent Manzella a message saying that she was a “fucking tranny” and that Manzella’s husband was a “faggot.” Two epithets the left have accused Christians of secretly harboring in their hearts against LGBTQ people, yet activists are free to use the terms pejoratively to dehumanize their perceived opposition.
Another LGBTQ “ally” left a voicemail on Manzella’s phone calling her a hypocrite and “baby killer” despite Manzella’s opposition to abortion. Another voicemail warned Manzella that her address was posted online and that “people would find that information” and “do awful shit to you.”
Rispens and the Missoulian’s mischaracterization of Manzella’s words as condoning violence against LGBTQ people have led to several voicemails on Manzella’s phone claiming that LGBTQ people would be killed as a result and other voicemails requested an explanation for why the Senator said violence was justified, despite the Senator saying no such thing.
It may appear more likely that, in the end, it is Rispens’ own words that would be the likely culprit for any violence that stems from this fabricated media firestorm.
The media and its shock troop journalists are arguably more responsible for division between conservatives like Manzella and LGBTQ people when they cannot honestly or in good faith quote or interpret for readers what nuanced messages Christians like Manzella have to share.
Media activists like Rispens and Strauss are largely to blame for fanning these culture war flames and their actions prove the point of the “God, Country, Family” tour’s focus on LGBTQ activism. The media fabrications and mischaracterizations demonstrate the need for conservatives to learn that the outrage is not genuine, but a media spectacle and activist fabrication meant to discipline, marginalize, and expel dissenters.