Wednesday, January 04, 2006

God wants you on your knees

Rev. Lonnie Latham is a leading light in the Christian Taliban. He is a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that bastion of fundamentalism. The Southern Baptist Convention split from northern Baptists because the “liberal” northerners refused to recognize the divine sanction for slavery. The Baptist convention at the time said that one could not be a Baptist missionary and own other human beings as property. The God-fearing, Bible-Believers from the South said they would have no place with such devilish doctrines and split off to found a church justified primarily on it’s endorsement of slavery. The hallmark of being a Southern Baptist is a requirement of being at least 50 years behind the times.

Latham is the pastor of the 700 member South Tulsa Baptist Church. And he is one of the typical antigay pastors that inflict that demented denomination. He has stated that homosexuals can become heterosexual if “they accept Jesus Christ as their saviour and reject their sinful, destructive lifestyle.”

Hmmm? One problem is that the good Reverend was just arrested in Oklahoma outside the Habana Inn. The good men in blue had an undercover officer hanging around in an area supposedly known as a location for male prostitutes seeking clients. Rev. Latham says he was in the area “ministering”. The police say that Latham approached the officer and asked him to join the minister in his hotel room where at least one of them would be on his knees but apparently not for prayer. Rev. Latham says he was “set up” which must be disappointing if he wanted to merely hook up.

Now as much one may dislike Ayatollah Latham and his fanatical fundie friends in the Southern Baptist Convention you have to damn the cops in Oklahoma. First, it should not be a crime to ask someone if they want a blow job. But in Latham is being charged with offering to engage in an act of lewdness. I am sure Rev. Latham is frequently lewd, at least as i see it, but that is probably when he’s behind his pulpit pretending he speaks for the creator of the universe.

And Latham’s case shows the vile state of US law. Not only was he arrested but his care was “impounded” by a criminal gang called the police. Impounded means stolen. Under authoritarian asset forfeit laws because Latham was in his car when he asked the no doubt appropriately dressed police officer to join him for some oral hygiene the car is now considered a part of his criminal conspiracy and the police can steal it. Typical this organized crime gang in uniform later sell the stolen goods and use it to pad their budgets. One can never get enough doughnuts.

It is hard to feel sorry for Latham. I would be surprised if he was not a supporter of the very laws under which he was arrested. That doesn’t mean that the local police did not act in a despicable manner first, by sending out young cops pretending to be available for sexual favors and then arresting anyone tempted by their actions and secondly for the flagrant theft of the Reverend’s car. No doubt that cost his church a pretty sum. But theft is theft and if cop’s are dressed up as male prostitutes then they only thing they have a right to complain about is whether they were offered enough for their services. Despicable cops and equally despicable and hypocritical fundamentalist preacher.

The lovely photo of Rev. Latham is provided by the local police just because they are nice guys.

What news reports have missed is that the Haban Inn in Oklahoma City is a well known place for men seeking sex with other men. One art gallery in New York City put on an exhibition by photographer Art Miller which he called the “Habana Series”. The gallery said the photos were all taken at the Habana Inn over a period of 17 months. A gallery description of the photos said: ”In smaller towns where “gay” life is not as visible as in larger cities, men are forced to improvise. Most of these men would not identify as gay but their sexuality is understood among them. Many are married, church-going, red-state taxpayers who have found other men who express their sexuality in the same way.” It said the men at the Habana Inn “are the neighbors, co-workers, and fathers in George W. Bush’s America.” Apparently it could have added “Southern Baptist leaders” to the list.

In addition the more one digs into the issue the more apparent it is that the police were not out there trying to prevent prostitution but trying to entrap gay men. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “prostitution” rap is entirely bogus and Latham just thought he was picking up another man with no promise of cash involved. The Habana has several gay bars on the premises. One gay guide said: “Don’t plan on going to the Habana and getting some shut eye!”

The hotel prides itself on being a gay venue. It advertises on the web as being in the heart of Oklahoma City’s “gay district”. The gay resort has 175 rooms, 2 pool, 2 clubs, a piano bar, a restaurant and an adult shop called Jungle Red that caters to gay clientele. If Rev. Latham had a room in this hotel it was no honest mistake on his part.

So it would strike me that Latham is lying about his presence at the hotel. He couldn’t miss what this place was about. And it’s hard to believe that the police were in the parking lot “protecting” people from male prostitutes. If the prostitutes were there the clientele of the hotel were unlikely to find that a problem. Far more likely is that the cops were out harassing gays—something which is a tradition in the places like Oklahoma. Neither our Southern Baptist minister nor the police appear to be honest about things. But that’s par for the course.


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