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Fatigues-Wearing Church Deacon Backs Mayor Naugle with Spiritual Warfare

Bizarre scenes in Florida, where a mayor decided to show that the community supported his anti-gay policies by inviting a representative of a religious group dressed in military fatigues to address the press at city hall:

A group of Christian clergymen flocked to the side of [Fort Lauderdale] Mayor Jim Naugle on Tuesday, saying the depth of sexual sin in Broward County necessitates an old-fashioned spiritual revival.

The African-American church representatives said the gay community misunderstands Naugle’s stance toward them. He is here to help, they said.

…Elder Mathes Guice of the Koinonia Worship Center in Pembroke Park said the county tourist council’s marketing targeted to gay visitors “led the spiritual community on a collision course with Satan.”

Naugle has been the subject of considerable derisory comment for several weeks, since he unveiled plans for an expensive toilet:

While trying to make a case for spending what would turn into $500,000 for a single seater toilet, Jim argued that there needed to be a private single toilet at the beach so two gays could not fit in it and have sex. Jim called it a crisis.

What he didn’t count on was that a reporter would track down his claims that this had become a serious problem in our community, and report that it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, the police, after an exhaustive search, could only come up with eight cases since 2005. Instead of drawing attention to serious problems, the mayor has now had multiple press conferences to talk about toilet sex. How sad!

But what about Mathes Guice and those uniforms? Pam Spaulding notes he’s an elder at the Koinonia Worship Center & Village, which has a web presence on My Space. An audio message there uses a lot of the “spiritual warfare” language typical of the conservative Christian “men’s movement” (see this essay by Jeff Sharlet for an overview), but aimed specifically at African-Americans (there are a number of US churches that cater to the needs of black Americans; Barack Obama is associated with one, to the outrage of conservatives). The senior pastor of Koinonia is Eric H. Jones, who is himself a Broward County mayor, of the City of West Park:

Mayor Jones currently serves as Senior Pastor at Koinonia Worship Center & Village which he founded in 1979. Prior to that position, he was General Manager of Continental Blood Components from 1984 to 1987 and Quality Control Supervisor of North American Biological from 1974 to 1985.

Guice and other members of the church apparently patrol the neighbourhood in their military outfits, as reported in the Broward Times in June:

The men’s ministry of the Carver Ranches-based Koinonia Worship Center will begin canvassing the drug-infested neighborhoods and crime-riddled streets of Deerfield Beach, starting this weekend. Dressed in camouflaged military fatigues, Deacon Mathes Guice, and other members of the ministry, will join the Rev. Nathaniel Knowles and other pastors there to begin the process to address crime and violence in the city.

According to a note from one of Naugle’s opponents, published by Spaulding, they also appear to have branched out into security:

I’ve never heard to this group before, the ones in military dress. They concern me a great deal. When I entered City Hall yesterday evening to observe the press conference the Mayor had called with them. Two of them escorted me from the front doors on the north side of the building to the elevators and then stood and took up ‘posts’ in the elevator lobby.

A commentator to Spaulding’s website notes some further details about Guice:

Yahoo people search turned up one Mathes Guice in FL, age 61. A Mathes Guice received an acknowledgment of 15 years service to the Broward Co. Sheriff’s Office in 2004 (pdf). Someone by this name was also VP of the Ft Lauderdale NAACP and apparently has also been active in working to re-integrate ex-convicts back into society via a tax-exempt organization

The commentator also found this announcement:

If you have a felony criminal record, you cannot get a job, or even obtain a license to cut hair, until you have had your rights restored. Rev. Eric Jones is collaborating with the Broward Public Defender’s Office, State Rep. Perry E. Thurston, Jr., the Broward State Attorneys Office, and a number of other organizations to hold the Broward Redemption Workshop. The workshop will assist those who need their rights restored. It will take place at Jones’ church, Koinonia Worship Center…

Public Christian statements against homosexuality are the in thing just now; I blogged on a rally in Uganda a couple of weeks ago, while Protestant Christians in Ukraine are currently planning a march supporting “criminal penalties for homosexual propaganda and popularization”.

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Name variation: Mathis Guice

3 Responses

  1. […] Contra Bartholomeum Posted on September 30, 2007 by Richard Bartholomew A few weeks ago I blogged on Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle’s religious ally the Koinonia Worship Center, members of […]

  2. […] for by CAIR, which he claims has links with Hamas. Naugle, meanwhile, has featured on this blog before – his efforts as mayor have famously included unveiling an anti-gay public toilet and inviting […]

  3. […] of bus adverts offering Muslim literature; Fort Lauderdale’s Christian fundamentalist mayor Jim Naugle had called for these to banned (a demand Spencer implicitly […]

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