The Religious Right has muscle 

It is a measure of how much Arkansas has changed — progressed, some would say — that Jerry Cox may be the most hated person in the state, and if he's not, he's close.

Cox provokes the sort of deep loathing formerly directed only at civil-rights activists, labor leaders, ACLU members — that ilk. Cox is determinedly not one of them. He is instead a former high school history teacher, soft of speech and mild of manner, who has become the foremost spokesman for the Religious Right in Arkansas. To a number of contemporary Arkansans, especially the younger set, this equates to being the foremost spokesman for prejudice and ignorance. People loudly opposed to homosexuality, abortion, and cohabitation without marriage once were above criticism. Cox is well within its reach. He himself says that “bigoted” and “hateful” are the adjectives most often applied to him by critics. He denies being either. “My religious faith won't allow that luxury.”

Still, some remain unconvinced.



“Dear Mr. Cox: Take your false values, your fake Christianity out of the lives of others. Jesus would chase you out of the temple for your actions and for the way you hide behind His religion to pursue an inhuman, anti-child, phony agenda that only serves to keep more children out of loving families.” …

“Will your organization make it clear to your supporters that they have a responsibility to sign up to foster and adopt children? How many foster children do you have? How many children have you adopted? I will be interested to see in days to come whether you and your group ‘put your money where your mouth is.' Because right now you seem to me to be a hate group, and hate is not a family value.” …

“You [Cox and the Family Council] claim to have children in mind when in reality you are nothing but a bunch of homophobic freaks bent on HIDING BEHIND your so called ‘family values' … You make me ashamed to be a citizen of this state, and I am considering moving my family so they won't have to be exposed to your bigotry and hatred.” …

“[Y]ou don't want to listen to anyone that disagrees with your homophobic message. You will all burn in hell. Christ will spit on you.” …

“You have just denied many children a loving family. Are you really so dumb that you think you can ‘catch' gayness?” …

“I am a Christian and your prejudice, lack of compassion, lack of kindness and lack of knowledge and understanding are obvious.” …

“You are spreading lies, it's disgusting and God will judge you in the end. Who knows, you may end up standing next to a ‘gay' person in the judgment line.” …

“I can hardly imagine that there are people in this world today that would make a judgment against someone based on their sexual preference. There is too much prejudice causing hate and war because someone is different.” …

“Here is to hoping that your offices get struck by a natural disaster. Here is to hoping that Jerry Cox gets killed in an auto accident this morning on his way to work.” …

“Dear Jerry Cox — Is it true that the only sound you hear during sex is ‘Daddy, please don't'?”




It surprises some that the executive director of the Arkansas Family Council, the face of Arkansas's Religious Right, is not a preacher by trade, though he fills a pulpit on occasion. Nor was he reared in the Baptist church, or any other of the conservative evangelical denominations that the Family Council relies on. “All my ancestors were Methodists quite a ways back,” Cox says, and he grew up in the mainline United Methodist Church. He left Methodism years ago — he and his family now attend the nondenominational New Life Church in northern Pulaski County — but he seems to take pleasure in noting that Methodist churches were strong allies in one of his political campaigns last fall. That was in opposition to a proposed lottery amendment. The lottery was approved by voters anyway. The Methodists didn't have an official position on Act 1, the Family Council's proposal to prohibit unmarried cohabiting couples from adopting or fostering children, but Cox knows that many Methodists were opposed. Act 1 was approved too.



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