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04/05/2011

By 'The Hispanic Church,' NOM really means The Hispanic Ministerial Association of Rhode Island

by Jeremy Hooper

We all know that the National Organization For Marriage loves to concoct false realities that explode the supposedly monolithic support of any one community, so as to divisively pit groups against one another. We've talked about this in length: It's all part of a strategy to get just enough of any one group together for soundbites, protests, and photo/video ops, so as cultivate the impression that they want to exploit for their own gain. Most often, it's the "African-American church™" that they broad-brush in this way.

In Rhode Island, however, it's the "Hispanic Church™" that is supposedly united as a block against gay people's unions, at least according to NOM's own press. But if one looks beyond NOM's meme department and and considers the facts, one will realize that the Hispanic churchgoing coalition that's been showing up for the requisite media impressions is really just the work of one specific group: The Hispanic Ministerial Association of Rhode Island, an evangelical conservative organization. A group whose director frames the need to show up and represent in a pretty commanding way:

Screen Shot 2011-04-05 At 9.02.09 Am
(loose) Spanish to English translation:

Attention people of God in RHODE ISLAND:
A few minutes ago the fraternity of pastors gave more than 5,000 signatures against gay marriage. Rev. Santos Escobar is in the Capitol right now with other representatives.

Today you and your family must make a presence in the State House at 2:30 PM - Come dressed in white or any other color, but not red or pink, this is very important. Our presence is peaceful course, as children of God showing the true love of others and respect!

I repeat today at 2:30 PM (Spot) in the State House fighting a spiritual war. All Pastor, Intercessor or Christian who loves God's justice must be present, to say "NO" to gay marriage. Do not miss, hope to see you, amen!!
Mynor Vargas' Public Wall [Facebook]

It's not difficult to see how or why this alliance of conservative evangelicals is able to get 5,000 signatures or to rally a hundred or so people to show up at the state capitol to hold a sign. Look how it's framed: Your family *MUST* make a presence. If you "love God's justice" you must show up. Forget choice. Forget crucial constitutional questions to which any minority population should be sensitive. This Hispanic Ministerial Association of Rhode Island is a non-profit corporation that most certainly hopes to increase its influence in conservative politics. What better way to do so in this current climate than to tell pastors to tell their congregants that they must show up and stand against their gay neighbors, lest they piss off El Hombre Grande en el Cielo.

But this is *NOT* Rhode Island's Hispanic population, writ large (around 130,655 in the latest census). It's not even the Hispanic church as a whole. This is the demanded outreach of this one specific group motivated around certain special interests. And this is true, regardless of NOM's reliably disturbing, always-hamfisted attempts to divide us rather than unite.

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