When I moved to Charlotte in 2007, I knew I was moving to a bigger city. Compared to my hometown, Charlotte really is a metropolis. Towering buildings Uptown, mammoth-sized suburbs, highways and traffic galore. What I didn’t expect, however, was just how conservative Charlotte is. No, this isn’t a rant about city leaders or government. Not this time. What I’m talking about now is the surprisingly well-organized religious right in the Queen City. In my mind, “big city” had always been synonymous with “progressive.” One look around the religious-political landscape here and one quickly learns Charlotte breaks that mold.

My interactions with Charlotte’s right-wing fringe have been numerous enough. I know several of the area’s anti-gay activists and leaders and they know me. In particular, Operation Save America’s Flip Benham and Coalition of Conscience’s Dr. Michael Brown have been among my chief contacts.

I used to think Benham and Brown were of the same mold. I thought both were hateful, deranged and dangerous anti-gay militants. That’s mostly true about Benham. His “Wanted” posters of a local abortion provider eventually got him convicted recently of stalking the doctor. Benham’s tactics are in your face and confrontational. Brown, on the other hand, is a little more reserved. I might even dare say he’s a little bit more respectful and polite. That doesn’t make him right, of course. He’s still wrong, still preaching exclusion and hate and pushing people away from Christ rather than pulling them in.

Chief among the many social justice lessons I’ve ever learned is the importance of seeing the humanity in all people, even in your adversaries. Many of the LGBT community’s greatest opponents actually do believe they are doing good. Deep down somewhere in their hardened heart, they sincerely believe what they do is beneficial and divinely-inspired. And, after years of interactions with Brown, I’ve finally come to see more and more of his own humanity, particularly a more private and sincere side of him I’d never seen before. I’m now convinced that Brown honestly does believe everything that comes out of his mouth.

Of course, it takes truly honest belief to make the sorts of outlandish and ridiculous statements Brown airs publicly in debates, in commentary and on his radio show. Comparing homosexuality to child rape, for example, takes some sort of deeply-rooted dislocation from reality.

In a recent commentary on his blog, “Voice of Revolution,” Brown digs into recent reports from the respected Southern Poverty Law Center’s naming of several anti-gay religious organizations as hate groups. His words provide more than ample evidence of a journey into delusion.

“There was a time when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was highly respected for its exposure of hate groups, such as those of the neo-Nazi and KKK brand,” Brown writes. “Today, however, it’s almost a badge of honor to get a place on the SPLC listing, be it as an official ‘hate’ group or merely as an ‘anti-gay’ group. After all, now that the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Family Research Council, Liberty Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Traditional Values Coalition qualify, it’s actually a little disconcerting to be left off the ‘anti-gay’ list.”

This worldview that allows Brown to paint gay people in the same light as child rapists also allows him, somehow, to think of being named a hate group as some kind of honor. It’s this kind of thinking that truly defines Brown’s unique brand of lunacy.

I’ve struggled immensely with my thoughts, opinions and feelings toward Brown, especially in recent weeks. Since his debate on homosexuality with Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in early November, I’ve often sat alone thinking about my interactions with Brown. I’ve gone back and read many of his writings, my writings and our interactions. It’s hard to despise a man when pity starts to take over.

Brown tells us that it’s his goal to see gay and lesbian people’s lives transformed and brought to Christ. I think he honestly has faith in the power of Christ to transform. So do I. In this instance, however, I’m afraid it is Brown, not LGBT people, who really needs the transformation. He’ll never recognize or admit his words are hateful or hurtful because he’s blind to the truth, the kind of truth that really sets people free and brings them into a radically inclusive communion with each other, the world around them and the Divine. That is a truer, more Christ-like Gospel message I hope Brown one day hears and receives. : :

Note: Dr. Brown has related to qnotes his disagreement with how his position on homosexuality and pedophilia is portrayed in this editorial. qnotes can neither control nor change how Dr. Brown might perceive and interpret this writer’s opinion, just as he can neither control nor change how LGBT people perceive and interpret his words and actions. However, we are happy and feel very blessed to live in a nation where the words and actions of public figures can be debated, criticized and interpreted freely through one’s own opinion and thought. In that spirit of freedom of speech, open discussion and debate, qnotes has extended to Dr. Brown the opportunity to voice his disagreement to this editorial in a guest commentary.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

15 replies on “A prayer for Michael Brown”

  1. Excellent article Matt. Since Dr. Brown employs different tactics, most members of our LGBT community are not as familiar with him. But if you were in Marshall Park for Charlotte Pride 2005 you are familiar with his followers. They were the red-shirted invaders of the festival who made everyone so miserable.

    During my tenure with Pride Charlotte I had the opportunity to interact with Dr. Brown and Flip Benham. Each year I personally welcomed them both to the festival and offered to answer any questions they might have. Brown always treated me with respect and was extremely polite almost to the point of being charming. Benham on the other hand was not so gracious.

  2. Couple of funny facts about “the respected Southern Poverty Law Center.”

    The Boy Scouts of America have said for decades that gay men “are not moral enough to be Scoutmasters” and will not hire them as such.

    Despite this blatant discrimination, despite the fact that the BSA accepts public monies AND despite the fact that the BSA’s entire raison d’être is to mold the minds and characters of millions of American boys, you won’t find one single word about this on the SPLC’s web site.


    Because many of the SPLC’s donors were Scouts or the parents/grandparents of Scouts and linking the almighty donors to a “hate group” is bad for business.

    “Fighting hate” is all well and good until it cuts into the profits.


    The most ironic (read: “hypocritical”) thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.


    In fact, according to the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

    Some “experts”

  3. I admire the fact that you are able to read write your very nieve point of view. I wish that people with real moral values would sit you down and be kind to you.You obviously have a lot of pain to write such hate about someone who is helping restore moral values. I don’t really support this man either way but writing this crap makes you look like a dumb writer with I am sure your not. This column is so stupid and reveals how someone who hasn’t experienced a real relationship with the person he is writing about. You just cook up a bunch of crap hoping everyone else shares your view which they don’t. Your values are obviously different and will eventually lead you to your own personal hell. Congratulations!

  4. Thank you for voicing your views. Unfortunately their are many assumptions in this editorial that simply misrepresent the message of Dr. Michael Brown and the message of Christian believers who hold to the faith passed down from the twelve Apostles. I must say that Matthew Comer is not supporting the Jesus of the bible but simply taking its message to and manipulating it in order to serve the views and agendas of the gay community. The simple statement of Jesus, “No one can come to the Father except through Me” totally puts down any idea that it’s okay to be gay and Christian. The first message Jesus preached was ‘repent’- all of us, not just homosexuals, but liars, rapists, thieves and adulterers are to turn away from those things things in submission to the message of God. I do not appreciate the misrepresentation of God’s message just as a Jew or Muslim would not appreciate it if you were to misrepresent their belief.

  5. Simply because someone says something is hateful doesn’t mean it is true. Dr. Micheal Brown disagrees with homosexuality. That alone does not make him hateful. To be fair, Matt Cormer at one point does say it is the words of Dr. Brown that are hurtful. But isn’t the only thing Matt Cormer saying is it hurts gay’s feelings when someone speaks out against their lifestyle? Mr. Cormer then tells us he has read Dr. Browns writings and he does not have hate for him, but pity. Mr. Cormer, does not, however, tell us what in Dr. Browns writings are worthy of pity. But the civility ceases when, Mr. Cormer accuses Dr. Brown of a “that allows Brown to paint gay people in the same light as child rapists”. Now we are getting some where! Notice Mr. Cormer doesn’t actually say Dr. Brown said homosexuality equals child rape. Mr. simply accuses Dr. Brown of having this world view. This is nothing but a smear. Mr. Cormer is not concerned with debating the facts. Mr. Cormer is engaged in character assassination. Mr. Cormer is polite until he shoots his poison dart. But lets put the facts straight. Really this issue is not so much about Dr. Brown as it is who supports and who does not support homosexuality. But Mr. Cormer must know his words will incite some to think Dr. Brown is a hate monger (even though all along Mr. Cormer expresses his pity). By implication, anybody who supports Dr. Brown will now be linked to the world view smear that homosexuality equals child rape. But shouldn’t the real question be whether those who support Mr. Cormer come under suspicion for cheap editorial tactics of the worst kind?

  6. Dr. Brown has been completely misrepresented in this article. I have never once heard Dr. Brown preach hate. Not once. Exclusion? Dr. Brown is simply reaching out in LOVE for homosexual individuals to repent from their sin. He does the same for individuals who continually practice any type of sin. The fact that homosexual sin has been so widely accepted, along with the myth that you can be a true Christian in God’s eyes while remaining a practicing homosexual is the reason he’s taken on this cause. I commend and respect him for doing so. It’s so tiring to hear people like Dr. Brown be accused of hate when they simply takes a stance against homosexuality. It’s truly ridiculous.

  7. Matt, Let’s do a left brain exercise ok? Let’s think about the definition of hate. Do people hate you because they disagree with your lifestyle and tell you it’s sinful? If you answered yes to that question you’re not really thinking about it.

    I am a person who tries my hardest not to hate anyone or hold hate in my heart, this is because I am a Christian and do agree with Dr. Brown on many issues, including this one. Now as such I have to take issuse with the Idea that people who disagree with you or are unaccepting of your chosen lifestyle and thus speak out against it (due to the fact that some people of your persausion do in fact wish for people to experiment, which could possibly lead down a road of confusion and unfulfillment in a young person’s life). [Please excuse my grammer, I was not an english major]

    I personally speak out against many things, Kim Jong IL, Obamacare, the flat earth socitiy (and the list goes on) But I hold no hatred in my heart for the people behind these ideals, or (in the Case of Kimmy) for people in general. I Dislike and disagree what they stand for and hope that change will occur to set them on track.

    This as I see it is the proper Christian response to any sin, Not just Homosexuality, as I am just as guilty of sin as a homosexual is. My sins are not any less “evil” than your yours, nor are they any greater. See Matt, Love dictactes that when I see someone who is about to fall though the Ice into a freezing pond and drown or die of Hypothermia, that I do what I can to help them, And so Matt my worldview which comes from the Bible and which I have confirmed through studying humanity and human nature, tell me that Homosexuality is in fact detrmental to your well being just as lust is detramental to mine. Therefore, I hope to point out to you that as Dr. Brown says: “God has a Better way.”

  8. The easiest thing in the world for someone who pretends to be a Christian is to follow a leader immersed in hate. It is the lazy Christian who has not truly studied the words of Christ to realize that homosexuality is never condemned by him. Only those who mock Christ will condemn homosexuals. Unfortunately it is easier to simply and blindly follow the ignorance and hate of a dark pastor than it is to take the time and effort to seek the truth. Homosexuality is no more a sin than motherhood. But I don’t expect any ignorant spiteful pew warmers to understand that!

  9. @Kit

    Hi Kit, you had said, “It is the lazy Christian who has not truly studied the words of Christ to realize that homosexuality is never condemned by him”.. I’d be curious to know if you have memorized the twenty-seven books of the new testament- if you have memorized even one book of the bible like many who have rightfully concluded that homosexuality is a serious ‘turning away’ from God. If I were to ask you out of curiosity, the answer would probably sound like, “No I have not”, based on my experience in talking to those who take your position. There is only one valid interpretation of the bible, and that interpretation isn’t, “Whatever ‘I’ feel the bible means”. The interpreatation belongs to the God of the bible, the God of the twelve Apostles and that interpretation which the Apostles passed on was ‘not’ that homosexuality is “normal/okay”, but that homosexuality is to be avoided at all costs just like we are to avoid and loathe all forms of evil.

  10. John said: “I’d be curious to know if you have memorized the twenty-seven books of the new testament- if you have memorized even one book of the bible like many who have rightfully concluded that homosexuality is a serious ‘turning away’ from God. If I were to ask you out of curiosity, the answer would probably sound like, “No I have not”, based on my experience in talking to those who take your position.”

    Oh puh-lease! How childish and immature can we get? That’s a horrible argument… that just because someone has memorized the names of the books of the New Testament they somehow have more knowledge of or the ability to see the “only one valid interpretation” of Scripture.

    Just because I’ve memorized the alphabet doesn’t mean I know all the ins and outs of hte Engish language does it?

    Further, whichever dumbass thinks there is “only one valid interpretation” of Scripture really really really needs to get a does of reality.

  11. John honey, you are so frightened of the world and it’s beauty that you are mentally and emotionally paralyzed. I bet Christ would give you a big ol’ gold star on your achievement chart for memorizing all those words. Unfortunately the rest of us who have to endure your hate and ignorance would only be moved by your practice of the ways of Christ. I bet you ten angel feathers and a suppository that Christ couldn’t give a fuck about words. Only loving actions, mercy, forgiveness and Glee. I won’t waste my time on you any further.

  12. And for those of you irrational and Fundamentalist terrorists out there, if you care so much about sin…Why do you allow the sales of pornography, alcohol, tobacco? Which of your cults is still allowing medicine? Don’t many of you think that is a SIN? Which on of your cults is correct on this? Where is your outrage for divorce? Where is your stoning of the adulterous? Where is the enforcement of the Levitical Laws?

  13. Here, Here Kit. And those are the same people that have turned people like myself against organized religion. So much for “Love thy neighbor”.

  14. KJ, despite my hate ramblings I belong to an incredible church that this gays are simply the bees knees. Of course we are such a blend of young and old, black, white, hispanic, Asian and African that is would be hard to find a racial majority anywhere. It is unique, unbelieveably progressive and so freakin cool!

    They do exist. And when you see one in action without all the claptrap guilt and self glorification it really is a beautiful thing!

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