Awww, a conflicted conscience:

He gained international attention after he was accused of stoking violence against gays in Uganda. One of his books, “Pink Swastika,’’ argues that Hitler and other Nazi leaders were gay. Another provides seven steps to “recruit-proof’’ your child from gay activists.

But Scott Lively says he is toning down his antigay rhetoric and shifting his focus to helping the downtrodden. And he’s found a home and a receptive audience in this struggling city where many, but not all, have embraced his mission to “re-Christianize Springfield.’’

Every day, patrons stream to the Christian folk shows and Bible classes at Holy Grounds Coffee House, the café he opened about two months ago on a block not far from downtown. A thousand people turned out for the March for Jesus he led from the café to the steps of City Hall on the day before Easter. And dozens of children and parents flocked to a city park for his annual Family Day celebration, featuring a water slide, face painting, and grilled food. Even the mayor stopped by that event.

“You can’t walk down the street without being greeted by somebody saying, ‘Hey, Rev. Scott!’ ’’ said Lively, an evangelical pastor who moved to Springfield from California in January 2008. “It’s very satisfying.’’

But some in the city are wary. Gay rights and civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have labeled Lively’s longtime organization, Abiding Truth Ministries, a hate group.

I’m sure it’s satisfying, since he’s such a pariah to anyone who knows the first thing about him. Don’t worry, though, he still hates him some gay people. This is the crux of the issue, according to Zambian priest Kapya Kaoma, who witnessed Lively’s activity in Uganda firsthand:

“When they are in Africa, they preach hatred; when they come to America, because they know Americans are going to hold them accountable, they become moderates,’’ he said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t believe a thing from Scott Lively. I don’t even think he’s capable of toning down his antigay rhetoric.’’

This is exactly what I’ve been saying about extremist Christians: they will get away with whatever they can get away with, depending on their audience. A man like Scott Lively garners very little respect in the United States, especially in New England. So of course, in order to maintain some sense of relevancy, he’s Doing Something Nice In His Hometown.

Dear Springfield’s poor and downtrodden: take whatever food he gives you, but be wary of every word that comes out of the man’s mouth. Until he stands up and says “Ya know? That book I wrote blaming gays for the Holocaust? That was complete BS, and I was lying the whole time, as everyone with Google can easily tell, and I feel very guilty for that,” he’s still the same old Scott Lively.

[h/t Kyle]