Tea Party Threatens Public Library and Attacks Christian Pastor Over Screening of PBS Documentary Film In Rural Pennsylvania Community
For Immediate Release: July 27, 2010
In a scene reminiscent of the recent racist smear campaign against public servant Shirley Sherrod, the Potter County Tea Party in rural northern Pennsylvania has launched an attack on a local public library simply for being the site of a screening of the award-winning PBS documentary film OUT IN THE SILENCE, and is attempting to vilify a conservative Christian pastor who appears in the film.
Produced in association with Penn State Public Broadcasting, OUT IN THE SILENCE is about the difficulties that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often face in small towns and rural communities and the search for common ground on these issues that have divided our communities for too long. The film has been broadcast on PBS stations in Pennsylvania and across the country.
In the film, Pastor Mark Micklos of Fern Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church befriends filmmakers Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, whose same-sex wedding announcement in Wilson's small hometown newspaper, The Derrick of Oil City, PA, was the target of a firestorm of criticism led by the American Family Association of Pennsylvania.
“To see the Tea Party, and so-called 'family values' activists attack a public library for hosting the screening of a PBS film and attempt to shut down the free flow of information and exchange of ideas in a community is shameful,” said Wilson.
“Their efforts are about exclusion, not inclusion,” continued Wilson, “and that's not the kind of country most Americans want to live in. It's also not helpful to economically depressed communities like Coudersport, where the Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and others are working hard to attract new business, residents and tourists by shining a positive light on the area, and overcome the perception that small towns are places where certain people and ideas are not welcome.”
“What's worse,” added Hamer, “is to see a good man like Pastor Micklos, who demonstrates true Christian values in the film, maligned by people who clearly haven't seen the film or even bothered to read the synopsis. If they had they would know the Pastor never compromises his biblical beliefs; he's simply trying to demonstrate what Christianity really means through a Christlike response.”
Despite efforts by the Potter County Tea Party and Free Methodist Church to shut down the screening of the film, the program will go on as scheduled at the Coudersport Public Library at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, July 28.
Those who would like to show support for the public library for the important role that it plays in a free and democratic society are encouraged to contact the Coudersport Public Library Board President, Jane Metzger, at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or the library at email@example.com, or 814-274-9382.
People can also share their viewpoints with local elected officials and with letters-to-the-editor in the local paper and online news sites.
Most importantly, the public is invited and encouraged to attend the screening so that people can come to their own conclusions about the issues involved.
For more information about the film, please visit: OutintheSilence.com
Review of OITS in Christianity Today: Coming Out In Small Town USA
Review of OITS by American Library Association: Love, Hate and a Quest for Change
American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights
Joe Wilson & Dean Hamer
OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign
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