Sunday, May 25, 2008

What is the AFA All About?

Submitted by Contributor #3

What is the AFA all about? The “AFA agenda” is extraordinary – meaning somewhere beyond ordinary. They are morality vigilantes and have targeted a most amazing array of corporations, groups, children’s toys and movies. These include:

7-Eleven, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Airlines, American Girl, Blockbuster Video, Burger King, Calvin Klein, Carl's Jr., Clorox, Crest, Ford, Kmart, Kraft Foods, S. C. Johnson & Son, McDonalds, Movie Gallery, Microsoft, MTV, Mary Kay, NutriSystem, Old Navy, IKEA, Sears, Pampers, Procter & Gamble, Target, Tide, and Walt Disney Company.

They have opposed the Girl Scouts, attempted to legislate the use of the Bible in swearing in ceremonies, opposed a Hindu leading a prayer in Congress, have repeatedly made anti-semetic statements and on and on.

The AFA is a Religious extremist group. Like other Religious extremists, the KKK, Skin Heads, and the Taliban, they believe they have a god given right to impose their brand of moral code throughout society. They have attempted to censor our libraries, our movies, television and our businesses. They have petitioned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts.

This is a short summary of the workings of the National AFA. While they are most loudly noted for their anti-gay stance, do not mistake these people for anything other than religious extremists. If they could eliminate all gays, they would continue to spread their form of moral code. They do not believe in free thinking. There is only their way of thinking. Anyone who believes otherwise is not worthy of freedom in their wake. No Jews, no Hindus, no Muslims, no unmarried couples, no government free of their religious influence, no uncensored culture of any form, It would be a dark age for education and art.

How do they operate this menace? It’s a well organized grass roots effort and in Venango County – now across PA – it’s been headed by Diane Gramley. Sadly, they have sold a bill of goods to generally decent Christian churches convincing them that there are threats around every corner. The biggest farce is the “Marriage Protection Act”. What married couple or future married couple will be protected by this legislation? It is about preventing marriage and preventing rights for people the AFA has deemed unworthy of equal rights under the law – specifically same sex couples and heterosexual couples living out of “wedlock”.

How do they operate this menance? In Venango County they make politicians and churches seem un-Christian if they refuse to support the AFA agenda. They publicize openly gay business owners and accuse them of having a “gay agenda” (whatever that is?) They email and call people whom they believe to be supporters to encourage non-support of business and activities in the community that they don’t want to thrive. They place banners on their website promoting a hateful DVD targeted to twart the Arts Revitalization efforts in the community. They prepare youth to protest against diversity efforts in the school. Most of all, they work to create an atmosphere of fear and mistrust throughout the community and within the churches.

Any Christian faced with the AFA should ask, “Is this what Jesus would do?”

What is the Cost of Bigotry & Intolerance to Venango County?

Submitted by Contributor #2

Imagine you're a painter, a musician, an engineer, a nurse, a bus driver.

You live in Erie, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Philadelphia.

You love the city, but the traffic, the smog, and the cost of living are beginning to get to you.

You and your spouse fantasize about finding a place where you might be able to afford a studio, a slightly bigger house, a place where the kids can play outside without worries, where weekend recreation in the great outdoors is just a stones' throw away ... Or a place where you might start that small business you always wanted to give a shot.

And you stumble on a brochure about the Arts Revitalization Movement in Oil City or an advertisement by the Oil Region Alliance about the great tourism and economic development opportunities in Venango County.

So, you plan a visit. You pile in the car and make the drive down the highway, marveling at the beauty of the Allegheny River as it winds through the forested mountains surrounding Oil City and Franklin, the gorgeous Victorian houses lining quiet residential streets, and the charming shops and cafes located in the quaint business districts.

You begin to think that your dream may not be so far-fetched after all ...

Then, you tune the car radio to 89.5 FM, the local "Christian" radio station. A voice introduces Diane Gramley and you begin to hear her rant about what she calls "the homosexual agenda." You hear her and the guests on her talk show make ugly comments about people you may consider friends or even a part of your family. You are shocked and disgusted.

Then, you pick up the local paper, maybe The Derrick or The News-Herald.

You see an article about racist and anti-gay harassment and discrimination at Franklin High School. The article mentions Diane Gramley's efforts to use local churches to drive a wedge between people in the community. You see that the Vice Principal at the high school who was implicated in the problems received a promotion. He's now the Principal, with even more authority.

You see another article about about anti-gay harassment at Oil City High School on the National Day of Silence, horrified to learn that students in Venango County would wear tee-shirts to school that say "I Hate Fags." You hear that Diane Gramley and her American Family Association of Pennsylvania, based right there in Venango County, stirred up hatred and fear in the community about the Day of Silence by posting incendiary "action alerts" on their web site and in local church bulletins.

You begin to wonder if this is the kind of place you had in mind for yourself, your spouse, and your kids.

You pile everyone back in the car and move on down the highway to the next quaint little town.

And you think, what a shame. It seemed like such a nice place with such great potential. But ...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who Will Lead the Way?

Submitted by Contributor #1

“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.”
- Win Borden -

Who in Venango County will show leadershihp on issues of fairness and equality?

It probably won't be State Rep. Scott Hutchinson or State Sen. Mary Jo White. They are both co-sponsors of the discriminatory anti-family legislation known as the Pennsylvania Marriage Amendment.

The proposed legislation would ban marriages for same-sex couples, civil unions and possibly more for all unmarried couples.

To overcome a stigma of small town intolerance brought about by the very visible works of the Hutchinsons, Whites, and Gramleys of the area, other leaders in Venango County are going to have to step forward to show the world a different face ... one that welcomes all who want to invest in making the area a dynamic and creative place to be.

Who will it be?

Where are the Mayors of Oil City and Franklin? The County Commissioners? School Officials? Social Service Agency Executives? Clergy? Community and Civic Leaders?

The Silence is Deafening.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Purpose of Site and Invitation to Contribute

While many visionary people in Oil City, Franklin and other communities in Venango County are making valiant efforts to attract new businesses, working artists, and tourists to the historic and stunningly beautiful Oil Region of Northwestern Pennsylvania as a way to stimulate the local economy and improve the quality of life for all in the area, others are using bigoted and mean-spirited attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other marginalized people to promote an extremist agenda disguised as religious values.

The major proponent of this shameful campaign is Diane Gramley, head of the so-called American Family Association of Pennsylvania.

Gramley is the local pawn of the Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association, a national hate-group that uses its multi-million dollar annual budget to promote an agenda of bigotry and intolerance in communities around the country.

But Diane Gramley is hardly alone as the voice of the AFA in Venango County. Her voice and other voices of intolerance are heard daily on the AFA’s American Family Radio, broadcast locally on WAWN 89.5 FM. And many churches in the area echo the same messages from their pulpits and in their church bulletins.

Is this the Venango County we want and that we want the world to see?

The purpose of this blog site is to expose and challenge bigotry and discrimination in Venango County in order to make the beautiful communities of northwestern Pennsylvania a welcoming place for all.

And Your Help Is Needed.

If you want to shine a light on bigotry and discrimination in the area, send your comment(s) to be posted here.

Because Speaking Out Against the Grain in This Area is So Difficult and Could Literally Put One’s Job, Relationships with Family and Friends, and One’s Very Life At Risk, All Requests for Confidentiality and Anonymity Will Be Respected.

Thank You for Your Interest and Support.