Watchmen on the Walls
Watchmen on the Walls is an international evangelical ministry based in Riga, Latvia. It describes itself as "the international Christian movement that unites Christian leaders, Christian and social organizations and aims to protect Christian morals and values in society." According to a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Intelligence report the group's name derives from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, in which the "watchmen" guard the reconstruction of Jerusalem. "The cities they guard over today, say the contemporary Watchmen, are being destroyed by homosexuality."
The group was founded by former California American Family Association director Scott Douglas Lively and New Generation Church preacher Alexey Ledyaev. Lively is a co-author of The Pink Swastika, a controversial book that posits homosexuality found in the Nazi Party contributed to the extreme militarism of Nazi Germany. Leaders of the Watchmen support conversion therapy, a controversial practice discouraged by mainstream mental health organizations as detrimental to individuals and society,[note 1] that attempts to change sexual orientation and suppress lesbian, gay and bisexual behaviors. Watchmen leaders have told audiences at ex-gay events "one of the most important things you can do is start an ex-gay movement here." A Watchmen member was a featured keynote speaker at Focus on the Family's travelling ex-gay ministry Love Won Out in 2007.
Watchmen on the Walls is listed as a hate group by the SPLC, which considers it "a virulently anti-gay group". Being listed on SPLC's website "does not necessarily imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity." Leaders of the Watchmen on the Walls movement insist "they do not hate gays — or anyone else." The SPLC states, "In Latvia, the Watchmen are popular among Christian fundamentalists and ethnic Russians, and are known for presiding over anti-gay rallies where gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement." According to the SPLC the Watchmen have a following among Russian-speaking evangelicals in the Western U.S. among immigrants from the former Soviet Union and members are increasingly active in several cities "long known as gay-friendly enclaves", including Sacramento, Seattle, and Portland.
- Conversion therapy is discouraged by mainstream mental health organizations as not only causing harm to LGBT individuals, but also causing social harm by disseminating inaccurate views about sexual orientation and the ability of gay and bisexual people to lead happy, healthy lives.("Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel". American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-28.)
- "What is WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS Christian Movement". Watchmen on the Walls website. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
- Sanchez, Casey. "The Latvian Connection: West Coast Anti-Gay Movement on the March". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
- News Update: Fire, Feces and Freeways Casey Sanchez; SPLC Hatewatch January 31, 2008.
- "No clashes between protesters, Watchmen on the Walls", by Bob Young and Janet I. Tu, The Seattle Times, 21 October 2007.
- 'Gays' in the Military: A Revival of The Pink Swastika? Media release, Scott Lively]
- Straight Like Me: 'Ex-Gay' Movement Making Strides Casey Sanchez, Intelligence Report, Winter 2007.
- "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel". American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, The Interfaith Alliance, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association. 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- H., K. (1999-01-15). "APA Maintains Reparative Therapy Not Effective". Psychiatric News (news division of the American Psychiatric Association). Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- Luo, Michael (2007-02-12). "Some Tormented by Homosexuality Look to a Controversial Therapy". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
- SPLC: Active U.S. Hate Groups