Common Ground cult leaflets neighborhood with rabidly anti-gay pamphlets

Dorchester Community News
Sean Cahill
May 10, 1996
The Bible-based cult which runs the popular Common Ground restaurant in Lower Mills has in recent weeks leafletted several Dorchester neighborhoods with virulently anti-gay literature, which could easily be construed as encouraging violence against lesbians, gays and transgender residents.  The cult, whose members dress in old fashioned clothes and wear their hair long, owns the restaurant and three large houses in Dorchester, on Melville Ave., Alban St. and Tremlett St.  A member of the cult named Chris denied any intention to incite violence against gays.
Calling homosexuality “one of the highest affronts to God that could possibly be conceived” and “the beginning of the breakdown of society at large,” the tract quotes Leviticus’ warning that homosexuals “shall surely be put to death” to warn: “The Old Testament death penalty for homosexuals in Israel was a clear indication of the seriousness and the consequence of practicing homosexuality.  It is the evidence that God utterly condemns it.  This awareness should make everyone who practices homosexuality fear and desire with all their heart to utterly turn away from it ….It is clear that anyone who continues to practice homosexuality faces a death far, far more severe than any death penalty ever known to man – the death penalty of the Sea of Fire surely awaits anyone who continues to engage in abominable acts, immorality, sorcery, and habitual lying.”
The Community in Boston based at 92 Melville Ave. distributed the collection of several tracts.  The house on Melville Ave is one of the 12 sites of the cult listed on the front page of the leaflets.  Denouncing gays as “the most abominable and loathsome people on the face of the earth,” the tract repeats slurs made for centuries about gays – that they are child molesters with “an insatiable appetite for new (young) flesh” and that they are promiscuous and unhappy.  Gay sex is also likened to sex with animals.
AIDS is also depicted as a sign of God’s wrath against homosexuals, even though most people with AIDS worldwide are heterosexual.  One story compares gays with AIDS to snake charmers, describing a friend named “Bob” who contracts HIV through gay sex.  “But who pities the snake charmer when he is bitten?  Bob played with snakes, ate with snakes, and even slept with snakes.”
Another passage claims that not only transvestitism (cross-dressing), but transvestites as individuals, are disgusting in the sight of God.  Citing Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear men’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God,” the tract stresses that, “It does not just say that the act of transvestitism is loathsome and disgusting.  It says that the person who does the act is loathsome and disgusting in the sight of God.”
The literature also denounces gay rights legislation as ‘gay wrongs’ and increased tolerance of homosexuality as part of the licentiousness that, along with divorce and feminism, is allegedly destroying America.
The Community of Boston TEACHES THAT women are inferior to men and should therefore be subservient to them.  It is also believed to practice corporal punishment of children, which caused the Vermont Dept.  of Social Services to raid the Island Pond, Vermont site of the cult in the early 1980’s investigating charges of child abuse.
Many if not most members are former Deadheads – fans of the Grateful Dead who have renounced drug use, premarital sex and other “sinful behaviors” and embraced Yahshua (Jesus).  The anti-gay literature has been left in the bushes and inside the screen doors of gay and straight residents of several Dorchester neighborhoods, including the Melville Ave area.  C-11 police have been notified.  Although the tracts are probably protected by First Amendment free speech rights, one member of Dorchester GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance) said cult members have asked him if he was gay.  He also said neighborhood kids had taken to calling him “faggot” recently, perhaps in reaction to the anti-gay literature.
Chris, a member of the Community working at the Common Ground restaurant, denied that the pamphlets had been disturbed throughout the neighborhood, saying the group preferred to give them to people one on one in person.  He denied any intention to incite violence against gays, even though he said he thought gay people were as bad as murderers.  “How people would interpret that is for their own understanding.  I would never go out and condone gay-bashing ….. This is more an appeal to man’s inner being instead of their violent instincts.”  He did say, however, that gays would be judged harshly and that God would punish them.
Asked about the thousands of gay and lesbian people who call Dorchester home, Chris said, “I wouldn’t want a gay person to babysit my children, but I wouldn’t let that happen anyway.  If they want to live in Melville or Dorchester, that’s fine with me.”
“This kind of intolerance is not acceptable in Dorchester,” said Davida Andelman, a Dorchester resident and organizer at the Bowdoin Street Health Center.  “It’s pure and simple bigotry and I think people in Dorchester should give them a loud message and not patronize their business.”
“If they want to hold these views, fine.  But if they go about publicly publicizing these views I think we as a community should send them a message.”
Although anti-gay speech may be protected by the First Amendment, anti-gay harassment and violence is not.  It is criminal.  Report any harassing behavior with complete anonymity to the Fenway Community Health Center’s Victim Recovery Program at 267-0900, or call the police.

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