LOS ANGELES — Refusing to be intimidated by a rare winter thunderstorm, twenty-six Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis waded through the flooded streets of West Los Angeles on their cold, wet march to the international headquarters of the Fox Family Channel.
“We’re seeking justice for God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered children,” said a smiling Frank Wulf, the United Methodist Chaplain at UCLA who hosted a pre-march luncheon at the University Religious Conference. “A little rain won’t stop us.”
With police and curious spectators looking on, uniformed security guards blocked all entrances to the high rise glass and marble headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Family Channel and its partner, Saban Entertainment at 10960 Wilshire Boulevard.
“For eighteen months we’ve tried to get an appointment with Fox Family executives to discuss our serious concerns about Pat Robertson’s anti-homosexual rhetoric on their channel,” explained Ed Bacon, the Rector of All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, California. “Now they would rather close down the entire business than meet with us to work out a solution that would satisfy everyone including Mr. Robertson.”
With guards blocking all entrances to the public lobby there was no way for the clergy protestors to access the elevators that would carry them to their uninvited meeting with Richard Cronin, the President and CEO of the Fox Family Channel, in his offices on the eighth floor.
“If they want to close down their business, then let’s help them,” said Dr. Mel White, a Co-Chair of the Clergy Committee to Bring Truth to Fox and the founder of Soulforce, a network of people of faith seeking justice for sexual minorities.
Immediately, the clergy formed two groups, locked arms at both entrances to the building, and began to sing “We shall overcome” led by Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami. Security guards, surprised and enraged by the turn of events, unlocked the doors and began to shove and curse the clergy.
“We were stunned by their violent response to our nonviolent protest. They were thugs,” said the Rev. Nancy Wilson, an elder in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and pastor of MCCLA. “We are only asking two things of Fox,” she explained. “We want a meeting with Mr. Robertson (which he refuses) and we want TV time on Fox Family to respond to Mr. Robertson’s misinformation campaign.”
Carrying “Beware the Fox” signs and singing songs of the civil rights movement, the clergy closed down the Fox Family headquarters for more than one hour. Police were in place to arrest the demonstrators. Police vans arrived to carry them away. But Fox Family officials decided to leave the building closed rather than suffer the negative publicity that would follow the arrest of two dozen respected pastors, priests, and rabbis protesting Pat Robertson’s anti-family rhetoric on their “family” channel.
“They’re hoping that we’ll just go away,” Mel White said quietly to a Canadian reporter. “But Gandhi and King teach us that our ‘soul force’ search for justice must be relentless. On Friday, March 24, we shall return and we’re inviting our friends and allies to join us. We’re going to train hundreds of nonviolent demonstrators to close down the Fox Family Channel once a month until they take us seriously. Pat Robertson’s anti-homosexual misinformation campaign leads to terrible suffering for families all across the nation. We must help cut off that suffering at its source.”