The man shown above is pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. Though he is not a resident of the city of Memphis, Gaines really wants to make sure his church members know which candidates to support in the city’s upcoming city council elections. Of course, like most wingnut church-state separation deniers, he knows how to play cute with language in order to avoid those nasty laws against endorsing candidates outright. He walks right up to the line that shall not be crossed, drops his pants and whizzes all over the democratic process, essentially. Gaines sent this e-mail to church members the other day:


Gaines and his flying wingnuts have been heavily involved in the past several years in local Memphis politics, working tirelessly to make sure the city can’t pass a simple nondiscrimination ordinance to protect all citizens from losing their jobs over something as trivial as their sexuality. Indeed, it’s quite a sight to see when Gaines and his busloads o’ Baptists show up at City Hall, go in through the back door and spend the next several hours in City Council chambers spreading hate all over the place like trans fats at, well, a Baptist church picnic…

I digress.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee that Gaines references is a farm team for the Family Research Council, an SPLC-designated hate group. You might remember the head of FACTn, the fey David Fowler, as the man who recently soiled his proverbial wingnut adult diaper by floating a bizarre conspiracy theory involving insurance companies and hordes of homosexuals secretly teaming up for the purpose of making people like David unhappy. Before that, he wore a pink shirt and made a creepy video in a playground gloating about how successful his organization was in hurting gay families.

It’s also quite interesting that Steve Gaines has the balls to use the word “pro-family” in any sentence that doesn’t start with, “You’re quite a fool if you actually think I’m…,” as Gaines’ most notable act as Bellevue’s pastor, his greatest accomplishment, was when he decided to protect an admitted child molester for six months, keeping him on Bellevue’s staff and allowing him to counsel child sexual abuse victims. This is not a man who is motivated by concern for anyone’s children or families. Far from it, Gaines simply seems to have a weird fixation with homosexuality, even moreso than garden variety anti-gay wingnuts.

So let’s see. We have a state organization with a constant, unhinged need to hurt gay families, and a pedophile-protecting pastor who claims to want to protect children and families, and who really, really thinks he has the right to control the city council of a place that is embarrassed to have him as a suburban parasite. And on the other side, we have an organization which simply fights to protect the rights of the people the aforementioned men work tirelessly to hurt every day. Who’s “pro-family” again, please?

The Tennessee Equality Project is having a bit of fun with this. As an actual political organization which has the right to endorse candidates [i.e., not a church], TEP has endorsed candidates who will support equality for all citizens in Memphis, and who, yes, will replace the puppets pictured above. Here’s Jonathan Cole of TEP:

Truly pro-family voters will be voting for candidates who support the right of all people to earn a living, provide for their families and contribute to their communities without fear of unfair workplace discrimination. Voters can be proud to cast their vote in District 1, District 2, and Superdistrict 9-1 for pro-equality and pro-family candidates endorsed by TEP PAC: Kendrick Sneed, Sylvia Cox and Paul Schaffer. They aren’t likely to succumb to a false prophet like Steve Gaines.

Indeed! Early voting is already underway in Memphis, and Bellevue Baptist Church is an early voting location! Therefore, TEP is asking all equality-minded citizens of Memphis to go vote at Bellevue this Saturday at noon and wear purple to show the bigots of Bellevue what actual pro-family people look like. Who knows if Steve Gaines will be there or not — there might be a pedophile that needs protecting, you know — but TEP will be out in full force.

All three men pictured above are of the sort of caliber I would never trust to mow my lawn or walk my dog, but they unfortunately have seats of power, and are a primary reason Memphis has failed to achieve its goals of becoming a world class city. When the world looks at your city council and the first phrase that comes to mind is, “behind every good conservative Christian man is an extremely nervous sheep,” it’s hard to get ahead, you know? If you’re a Memphian, get out and replace them.