Family Impact Summit: A Re-Cap

After an excruciating musical introduction, Clint Cline of Design4, which has created advertisements attacking gay marriage across the country, introduced Focus on the Family’s government and public policy director, Tom Minnery. In Minnery’s first five minutes on stage, he managed to cram Larry Craig, Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, terrorism, immigration and welfare into a diatribe condemning “the Left.”

“General freedom is not the freedom to do what you want — that’s anarchy,” he told an audience of about 100. “It’s doing what you ought to do.”

He also seemed to enjoy listing the names of many Jews who feel the same way he does.

Afterward, I asked Freincle what he thought.

“I think I was more creeped out about my Jewish aspect than my gay aspect,” he said that night.

When I caught up with Freincle today he said the summit was "... interesting."

“They are very good with their wording,” he said, describing how speakers attempted to spread their views more as helpful Christians than angry zealots.

“[The summit] really illustrated their commitment to this particular cause. They are very, very, very committed to eradicating homosexuality.”

Freincle wasn’t the only infiltrator at the summit. So was a prominent gay rights blogger and reps from Right Wing Watch. Catch their reports here and here.

So the religious zealots have, we hope, left town by now. From Thursday to Saturday, speakers from across the religious right spectrum descended upon Brandon’s Bell Shoals Baptist Church for the Family Impact Summit with workshops like “the homosexual agenda,” “Global Warming or Global Whining” and various other topics to a captive audience of pastors and proselytizers. They also had some neat schwag, like the t-shirt below.

(Watch for my upcoming Urban Explorer covering an Equality Florida protest held before the conference).

I attended the first night of the summit and met Michael Freincle, a young man from Equality Florida who had paid to go through the full three days of the conference.

“I want information,” said Freincle, 20, who has the fortune of being both Jewish and gay. “Their words don’t end at the church doors.”

He knows — Freincle has lived his whole life three minutes from Bell Shoals, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest and most politically active congregations.

“Growing up, this is what I had to hear,” he said.

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