They didn't know that Tony Perkins and his Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) have built their anti-gay platform largely on claims that homosexuals are to blame for most cases of pedophilia in America. An FRC pamphlet, titled Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys, put it this way:
"One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets of a new sexual order.'"
Perkins himself, in a 2010 article on the FRC's Web site, summed up his claims that homosexuality and child sex abuse were linked like this:
"While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem."
And last week, days before the Grace Covenant rally, FRC attempted to use the turn of a phrase to make its point about same-sex matrimony.
"Undermining Marriage? All in a Gays Work," proclaimed a headline on FRC's Web site.
Grace Covenant, though, says it just didn't know.
"There was no knowledge of that organization," John Edwards, spokesman for Grace Covenant, says of the SPLC and its hate-group classification of FLC and Perkins.
Perhaps not when the church — which draws about 2,600 people for worship each week — extended its invitation to Perkins to speak in favor of the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment, which goes before voters May 8. But church leaders were aware of the controversial stances of Perkins and FRC days before Perkins arrived in Cornelius.
Several Lake Norman-area members of other churches contacted Grace Covenant after reading about the rally in the Lake Norman Citizen's March 2 issue.