Holding homemade cardboard signs and posters, about 20 local residents handed out information packets and cautioned students about Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, before her speech last Tuesday.
The protesters reflected all age groups, and most were members of the Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Dresden. They scattered themselves around the main entrance of the Elam Center, where Strossen made her speech.
Strossen came to UTM as part of the Academic Speaker Series.
The ACLU is a non-profit organization founded in 1920 that lobbies for increases in civil liberties through judicial advocacy and legislative lobbying.
Group members held signs with slogans protesting the ACLU, such as “We want you to stand against the ACLU,” “Anti-Christian Liberals Union” and “The ACLU has embraced what God has condemned.”
Members of the group distributed a 30-page packet of news stories printed from the Internet, mainly from the Alliance Defense Fund’s Web site.
The ADF is a religious-based organization with the mission to “spread of the Gospel through the legal defense and advocacy of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values.”
Edmond Alley, a UTM alumnus, was one of the spokesmen for the group. Alley said the group found out that morning that Strossen would be speaking in Martin, and they thought that he should get a group together to speak out against her message.
“We’re concerned citizens, concerned Christian citizens,” Alley said.
“I just despise (the ACLU’s) support of the queer agenda in this country. They have misinterpreted the constitution completely,” Alley said.
Alley said the ACLU started as a socialist and communist organization and that the organization is anti-Christian. Alley and a number of protesters blame the ACLU for keeping the Ten Commandments and prayer out of schools, supporting legal abortion and helping sponsor some states’ legislation legalizing same-sex marriage.
“(The ACLU) is trying to procreate a state to where the rights we have from God are gone. They’re letting international law interfere with what this country was founded on.”
Alley said that the United States is “on a very wrong path” when it comes to morality.
“The country’s taken a sharp turn to the left,” he said. “President Bush is doing everything he can to keep it on the right path, but the ACLU is one of our biggest problems. That’s why we’re here.”
Mitzi Doster said that removing the Ten Commandments from schools is one of the biggest problems facing the country, and Doster said the ACLU supports removing the commandments.
“The Ten Commandments teach us that moral issues like killing, adultery, stealing and even telling a lie are not good,” Doster said.
“If (the ACLU’S) focus is to fight for rights,” Doster said, “then is the ACLU just in the business of making money for its huge corporation at the taxpayers’ expense?”
Doster attended with her husband, Dennis Doster, who made an unsuccessful run for State Senate. Doster ran on the Republican ticket.
Another protester said Student Government Association President James Orr thanked the protesters for their dedication.
“He went to each individual and spoke to us and said he appreciated it,” Joyce Kyle said, who brought his entire family to the protest.
Protesters said Strossen came outside to greet the protesters before her speech to a packed Elam Center. Alley said Strossen told protesters that she appreciates what they were doing as far as exercising their civil liberties.
Alley also said that Strossen told them she would be willing to represent the protesters if their rights were ever violated.