Associated Press, 31 October 1990
Copyright, 1990. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By LAURA MYERS
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Two ministers and 7,500 "prayer warriors" hoped to exorcise San Francisco of its "evil immorality" on Halloween, but militant gays and pagans in the city said they were ready for spiritual warfare.
"They'll end up in the hell they deserve with their narrow-minded views," said Sister Missionary DeLight, founder of the 11-year-old Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco. "I think it's scary that they think we're a real threat to society."
DeLight -- who is a man -- was dressed in a nun's habit and curled fairy shoes and held a wand during a pagan ceremony Tuesday across from Brooks Hall where the prayer warriors will meet.
Texas evangelist Larry Lea and San Jose minister Dick Bernal planned to lead a "Prayer Breakthrough" for the city they say is plagued by immoral homosexuals, crime, witchcraft and general sin.
"We're praying to God for people, all people, and against the powers of darkness," Bernal said. "The ultimate goal is to save the fallen angels of the city from Satan, from evil immorality."
Lea, who distributes "prayer Army dog tags" and has donned military fatigues in previous crusades, said Halloween night was selected to launch his three-day assault on evil and sin because, according to legend, demons are strongest at that time.
"This is not just kids having fun," Lea said. "There is actual worship of the devil."
On Halloween, police close off the primarily gay Castro District, where a street party continues into the night -- a New Year's Eve-like celebration for the homosexual community.
This year, gay-rights groups planned to protest outside Brooks Hall against the praying masses inside and then march several blocks to the Castro District. A group called Grand Homosexual Outrage at Sickening Televangelists -- GHOST -- was formed to engage in the spiritual warfare with Lea and Bernal.
"Lea's characterization of the city as being ruled by spirits of perversity and witchcraft is nothing but thinly veiled homophobia and fear-mongering," said GHOST member Mark Pritchard. "We intend to show that San Francisco is a diverse community of people who love peace and freedom."
Tim Lavender, vice president of the Larry Lea Ministries, denied the Christians hate homosexuals and others with different lifestyles.
"We're not here to pray against the gays or any group of people," Lavender said. "We are here to pray for a return to traditional values. ... This is an opportunity for all Christians to come together."
Lavender said the "so-called peace-loving" people in San Francisco who oppose the religious right have been calling Lea and Bernal with death threats since the prayer event was announced in September.
"We're not trying to provoke any type of violence," he said.
On Tuesday, city workers washed sidewalks in front of Brooks Hall to erase at least one dozen red, spray-painted threats that said: "Kill The Christian."
Last summer, Lea turned out 6,000 exorcists in Anaheim for a three-day "Prayer Breakthrough" to "inflict serious damage" on forces of darkness in southern California. Nearly 7,000 believers showed up to help him "clobber the devil" in Chicago where they brandished imaginary swords and spoke in tongues.