Some very scary shit is going down in Texas. Scarier than usual. "Repent Amarillo" is a rabid group of religious nuts—homegrown religious extremists of the conservative Christian variety—and they're not just going after the gays.
At first, the swinger community was mystified by the attention. On the 60-some hours of surveillance footage the Meads have, a swinger can be heard telling a Repent member that the swingers haven’t done anything to bother them.“You’re going to hell, and it bothers me,” Grisham responds. “What bothers me is you’re going to hell.”
Perhaps the most insidious tactic Repent uses is trying to destroy the reputation of the swingers. In Amarillo, people can be ostracized over a whiff of impropriety. On one tape, Grisham directs followers to get the license-plate numbers in the Route 66 parking lot. “A new couple can be here three or four hours,” says Mac. “Whenever they leave, the Repent Amarillo group will call them by first and last name, know where they live, know where they work, just within a very few hours.”
Randall Sammons says he was fired from his job of 13 years in August after his boss learned Sammons was a swinger from another employee, a Repent member. He believes he’s now as good as blacklisted in Amarillo. “I’m screwed at finding a job,” Sammons says. Russell Grisham, David’s 20-year-old son who has a conviction on his record for hacking the computer system at his high school, has posted the names, photos and workplaces of swingers on the Internet, including one man whose wife works for a school district. (“Family-wise, it will kill both of us,” the man says.) In at least two instances, Repent members called swingers’ employers.
Having successfully harassed a local and very discreet group for heterosexual swingers out of existence, Repent Amarillo's "warriors" are now planning to go after...
1. Gay pride events.
2. Earth worship events such as “Earth Day”
3. Pro-abortion events or places such as Planned Parenthood
4. Breast cancer events such as “Race for the Cure” to illuminate the link between abortion and breast cancer.
5. Opening day of public schools to reach out to students.
6. Spring break events.
7. Demonically based concerts.
8. Halloween events.
9. Other events that may arise that the ministry feels called to confront.
They're also going after churches they believe to be insufficiently Christian (Episcopalians, Christian Scientists, Unitarians), palm readers, people who practice witchcraft, and anything and everything that might create a "demonic stronghold" in Amarillo. And they're not just threatening to pray for people: Repent Amarillo's "actions" include prayer, according to Repent Amarillo's website, "but [also] may involve more aggressive use of soldiers and prayer warriors." Check out the group's locked-and-loaded website. (Please note: Repent Amarillo's website "is not designed for non-Christians," or the wrong kinds of Christians, so don't look long lest you defile the group's website with your eyes and turn into a pillar of salt.)
Hello? Moderate and liberal Christians? In Texas and elsewhere? Now might be a good time to speak the fuck up. Maybe you could spit out a few press releases, organize a massive, anti-Phelps-style counter-protest, and come to the defense of the people and churches and artists and businesses being menaced by your co-religionists. This calls for something above and beyond mewling in comments threads on liberal blogs about how "we're not all like that." Don't tell us, tell them.