Anti-gay organizations in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Several anti-gay religious organizations continue to pose threats to LGBT civil, social and religious equality inside Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the surrounding area.
Those who are most outspoken include Operation Save America and the Coalition of Conscience, both based in Concord. In addition to the information below, learn more about both groups and their fringe leaders at GodHasABetterWayCharlotte.com.
Operation Save America – Operated by the Rev. Flip Benham, Operation Save America is a street preaching protest group that regularly attends LGBT events and visits area abortion clinics. By far, their biggest focus remains on anti-LGBT action and anti-choice activity. Operation Save America has appeared at Pride Charlotte, N.C. Pride, the HRC Carolinas Gala and Soulforce’s 2007 Equality Ride. Individuals have many times reported that they felt harassed by Operation Save America members. Benham preaches that telling “the truth” about homosexuality, from his own fundamentalist biblical theology, is an act of love. Benham and members of his organization have been known to lie (openly or by omission) about who they are when attending pro-LGBT events. In April 2007, Benham and a few members of his organization attempted joining Soulforce Equality Riders in their visit to Bob Jones University. He told organizers that he was interested in what they were doing and had been sent by staff at the South Carolina Equality Coalition. Additionally, Benham was recently convicted of stalking a doctor who performs women’s reproductive health procedures; Benham is currently on probation.
Coalition of Conscience – Led by fundamentalist theologian and scholar Dr. Michael Brown, the Coalition of Conscience is a network of area churches and other religious organizations. According to their website, the Coalition works “for moral and cultural change through the gospel.” For several years, Brown has held competing forums, debates or “dialogues” from the anti-gay perspective during the week of the HRC Carolinas Gala dinner in Charlotte. Brown is a regular, featured speaker at the Exodus International conferences, Love Won Out.
Connections between OSA and CoC – Contrary to common belief, the Coalition of Conscience and Operation Save America are in no way officially affiliated, although some in the public perceive their actions as complementing each other. Flip Benham’s eldest son, David Benham, is a co-founder of the Coalition and serves as its strategic coordinator.
In a September 2007 interview with Matt Comer and InterstateQ.com, Brown stated, “Operation Save America is not a part of the Coalition of Conscience. We are two separate organizations. Flip Benham is a friend. I respect him. His approach is very different than mine, but I respect him and I respect his motivation, even though our approach is totally different and even though we’re on record saying that Operation Save America is not a part of the Coalition of Conscience. So I don’t speak for him. He doesn’t speak for me. I respect him as a friend and as a servant of the Lord.”
Anti-gay forums and discussions
Dr. Michael Brown has held several anti-gay forums and discussions. One in September 2007 took place at FIRE Church in Concord, N.C. The video below includes highlights from the forum.
Last updated: May 14, 2012.