Commentary

Dan Forest: Making nice with frightening religious extremists

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

In case you missed it, Raleigh’s News & Observer has yet another extremely troubling story about North Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Dan Forest.

This is from “Leader of church at center of scandal attends fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Forest” by reporter Paul A. Specht:

“A photo provided to The News & Observer shows Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at a fundraiser with a leader of a western North Carolina church that’s being sued by a former member who says church leaders tried to beat the ‘homosexual demons’ out of him.

Forest, who was elected to a second term last year, is a socially conservative Republican who’s expected to run for governor in 2020.

The photo shows Forest standing in a living room with Robin Webster, a leader of Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale in Rutherford County, about 70 miles west of Charlotte. Word of Faith has come under scrutiny in recent months after 43 former members told the Associated Press that church members try to expel demons using ‘blasting’ prayers where congregants were smacked, choked, punched and thrown to the floor.

A former member is suing the church, saying that five church leaders blasted him for two hours to try to expel his ‘homosexual demons.’ The AP also reported the church has brought people from Brazil who say they were forced to work at the church or at senior church leaders’ businesses.”

The story goes on to say that it’s unclear if Forest has received any money (or, if so, how much) from church leaders. His spokesperson declined to say. It seems worth noting, however, that Forest is — despite his friendly and media-savvy demeanor — one of the state’s most outspoken and passionate late mongers when it comes to LGBTQ equality. Most recently, he attacked Gov. Cooper’s pro-equality executive order to help secure privacy and access to public facilities for transgender individuals by rehashing absurd religious right talking points from the HB2 fight, saying:
“his order creates a legal loophole that will be exploited by non-transgender pedophiles, stalkers and perverts. All bathrooms at state rest areas, parks and museums will now be fertile ground for sexual deviants who will falsely claim to be transgender to gain protected access to our women and children.”
And this Friday, Forest will appear on the same stage in Raleigh with one of the nation’s most notorious gay-bashing religious figures, the Rev. Patrick Wooden.

Bottom line: If Forest is quietly accepting support from and hanging out with the troubled souls at the Word of Faith Fellowship, it would not be at all surprising.

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