Special Righteousness Committee
The Special Righteousness Committee (PAC 001135), is a tongue-in-cheek but legal political-action committee registered with the Oregon Secretary of State, was formed on March 26, 1992, in response to the "No Special Rights" Committee of the religious-right Oregon Citizens Alliance.
When the OCA filed the initiative that became Oregon's first Measure 9 in 1992, M. Dennis Moore read it and noticed that it was an amendment to Article I in the Oregon constitution. When he read the state constitution, he was appalled to discover that Article I is the state Bill of Rights. Not only was the OCA's Lon Mabon attempting to legislate his own personal morality as public policy, but adding insult to injury, he was using the Bill of Rights not to protect rights but to eliminate them! And nobody was pointing out this irony.
Furthermore, the OCA had been quoting 2/10 of 1 percent of the biblical book of Leviticus to condemn gays and lesbians, but they were ignoring the historical context of the other 99.8 percent of Leviticus, which says that eating oysters, shaving a beard, wearing mixed fibers, and numerous other "sins" are every bit as "immoral" as homosexuality. And again, nobody was calling them on their hypocrisy.
All it takes is filing twenty-five (25) valid signatures with the Oregon secretary of state and anyone can start a hate campaign just like the OCA's to tamper with the state Bill of Rights. So for the sake of consistency in legislating morality, M. Dennis Moore, chair of the committee, filed an initiative petition modeled after the OCA's—with the simple substitution of the parts of Leviticus prohibiting eating oysters, shaving a beard, and wearing mixed fibers.
"Either we put all of Leviticus into the state constitution or none of it," Moore self-righteously intoned at a press conference on April 30, 1992.
And so the Special Righteousness Committee (SRC) began a tongue-in-cheek hate campaign against oyster-eating, beard shaving, and cotton/polyester blends, proving that a hate campaign is just a formula that holds no truth in and of itself: "Adam and Eve wore fig leaves—100 percent fig leaves—and this is divine proof that those disgustingly unnatural cotton/polyester blends are sinful." Hitler had perfected this formula against the Jews, and all the religious right has done is plug homosexuals into the formula in place of Jews.
The SRC initiative illustrated these points: (1) Measure 9 would establish a dangerous precedent for anyone and everyone to legislate their personal moral opinions as public policy, destroying the protections of the freedom of religion and allowing anyone who disagrees with your moral and religious beliefs to fire you and evict you; (2) a hate campaign is just a formula; (3) it is hypocritical blasphemy to abuse the Bible as an excuse for discrimination by picking and choosing passages to quote out of historical context; and (4) it is absurd to use the Bill of Rights to eliminate rights.
We signed up 344 card-carrying, dues-paying charter members for our parent group, the Family Alliance of God (FAG); the OCA had begun with only a couple dozen.
We received a ballot title from the state attorney general remarkably similar to the OCA's, produced a petition form, and collected signatures for our "Abnormal Behaviors Initiative" at the phenomenal rate of one per minute (but fell short of the 89,028 required). We were surprised by how many people were eager to sign their name to this wacko thing once they figured out it was a parody of the OCA.
We sent OCA chairman Lon Mabon a letter asking him to clarify if he was for all of Leviticus, none of Leviticus, or only some of Leviticus. He failed to answer. Instead, he accused the SRC of "dirty politics," "anti-Christian bigotry," and "picking and choosing from Leviticus," prompting one reporter to comment, "I thought that's what you [the SRC] were saying about him."
Protest Against the Sin of Oyster-Eating
We staged a protest against the "government promotion" of oyster-eating on the sidewalk alongside Jake's seafood restaurant on May 6, 1992. "Oyster-eating and homosexuality both violate the 3,000-year-old laws of ritual holiness in the book of Leviticus in the Bible. It's a simple matter of consistency with the OCA that we must protest and demonstrate against the state government using our tax dollars to condone this abnormal behavior by licensing restaurants that serve 'unclean' seafoods," we said. Jake's was a good sport and bought some of our "No Special Rights for Oyster-Eaters" and "Surrender, Oyster-Eaters" buttons. At a counter-protest across the street, the militant Oyster-Eater Nation flaunted their filthy foods right out in public ("When Oysters Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Oysters").
Pure Fiber Fashion Parade
When the OCA demanded that Portland police chief Tom Potter resign for "promoting" homosexuality by having a lesbian daughter, we investigated and learned that the official police uniforms mingle fibers. So we sent Potter a letter demanding that he resign for promoting the immorality of mixed fibers. We held a "Pure Fibers Fashion Parade" outside of Nordstrom on June 5, 1992, chanting "Polyester-free by '93" and "Whadaya want? 3,000-year-old morality! Whendaya want it? Now!"
For fund-raising, we sold indulgences to our supporters who were worried about their sins of oyster-eating, wearing mixed fibers, shaving a beard, and so on. $50 bought total absolution, but if you had only $35, you got just "a stench and singe of eternal hellfire." $25 limited you to one year in the lake of fire, and $10 got you "four more years."
We went to Eugene to meet with Average Citizens of Oregon to try to work out some of our differences. Also responding to the OCA, the ACO had filed an initiative petition to create a King of Normality to ensure that all Oregonians fall within the norm. We are for morality; they are for normality. But we agreed on the greater principle of running other people's lives.
We produced a cartoon salvation tract, "Righteous 'X' Goes to Hell," which sold several thousand copies; a videotape version aired on cable television.
Agree With Us or Burn in Hell!
And we caused a sensation by sneaking around behind enemy lines to file a satirical, tongue-in-cheek "Argument in Favor" of the OCA's Measure 9 in the state Voters' Pamphlet, ending up on the same page as Lon Mabon. (Politics makes for strange bedfellows!) It became probably the most-read and most-talked-about argument in the history of the Voters' Pamphlet. The argument noted that if the religious right can make their personal morality into public policy, then anyone else should be able to do the same thing: "My friends, do you want the public schools teaching your children that shaving is a legitimate and equal alternative style to a normal and healthy beard? Would you want to be forced to hire an oyster-eater to direct your church choir?" it said. And it concluded with the most succinct summary of the religious-right belief system ever written: "Agree with us or burn in hell!"
Even though Lon Mabon accused us of "mockery of the system," mail in response to the argument was overwhelmingly favorable. But although the voters defeated Measure 9, the OCA wouldn't take no for an answer. They filed another initiative, so we did too—actually, two of them.
Putting All of Leviticus Into the State Constitution
The first initiative would have attached the entire book of Leviticus to the state Bill of Rights, not just the 2/10 of 1 percent of Leviticus that the OCA loves to quote to condemn people they don't like, but also the other 99.8 percent of Leviticus, with emphasis on the sins that are just as immoral as homosexuality. Because the OCA had stolen the name of the No on Hate Committee to use as the title for an OCA initiative describing homosexuality in hateful terms, we followed their moral example and stole the name of the OCA, calling the initiative "The Oregon Citizens Alliance Initiative." The state government would have been prohibited from condoning and promoting oyster-eating; the crossbreeding of cattle; the shaving of a beard; the wearing of clothing made from more than one kind of material, such as those disgustingly unnatural cotton/polyester blends and such as a wool jacket with a cotton shirt; adultery without the punishment of death for both parties; and cursing one's parents without the punishment of death. The public schools would have been required to teach children that the other abominations, including eagles, owls, swans, and pelicans, "are every bit as immoral and disgusting as homosexuality, because the Bible condemns them all equally," and it would have required the removal from libraries of "all books that treat eagles, owls, swans, and pelicans in a positive or neutral manner."
Promoting Old Testament Family Values
The second initiative, "The Old Testament Family Values Initiative," would have required the schools to teach that all of the 3,000-year-old family values from the Old Testament are the only acceptable lifestyle for twentieth-century American society. We said that if the OCA is going to force the public schools to indoctrinate children with one of the Old Testament family values that condemns homosexuality in opposition to the facts of modern psychology, it's a simple matter of respect for the word of God to teach all of the other Old Testament family values as well, including polygamy, a man's responsiblity to impregnate his brother's widow, the abomination of women wearing pants, stoning a rebellious son to death, selling one's children into slavery, offering one's virgin daughters to horny men, and the fact that women's breasts "are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies," among others.
In 1994, we wrote another satiric "Argument in Favor" of the OCA's Measure 13 telling the truth about what the measure would really do, and by filing before Lon Mabon, we scored first place in the Voters' Pamphlet.
Writing in the /Eugene Register-Guard/ (November 11, 1994), Don Bishoff said, "Using humor and irony where you'd least expect to find them—in the Oregon Voters' Pamphlet—M. Dennis Moore of Portland has twice twitted the Oregon Citizens Alliance from within.... The group's Voters' Pamphlet forays were strictly legal. Anyone buying space can designate whether the arguments go into the "in favor" or "in opposition" category. So with admiration for finding a way to subvert both the OCA and the state's election guidebook, I hereby give Moore and his Levitican legions a 1994 Horatio Seymour Award."
A License to Discriminate Against OCA Members
The OCA threatened to put measures on the 1996 and 1998 ballots, although they failed to collect enough signatures. But anticipating the possibility that they might, we raised funds by selling an ornate "License to Discriminate." The text reads, "This license certifies that [name] has hereby been granted the special right to discriminate against OCA members on the basis of his/her sincere and deeply held moral belief that these people are repugnant hypocrites. If Lon Mabon can pervert the state Bill of Rights with his initiative declaring that religious freedom means the special right to discriminate against persons whose moral standards and values he disagrees with rather than the right to practice one's personal convictions and to be protected from religious discrimination, then anyone else should be able to fire and evict those with whom they differ, especially OCA members. Tit for tat. File constitutional amendments unto others as you would have them file constitutional amendments unto you."
Measure 9, Déjå Vu
The OCA put another anti-gay measure on the Oregon ballot in 2000. Out of 99 possible numbers, God made sure that the OCA got the number 9 again to prove that the measure was just the same old hateful discriminatory thing that Oregonians had rejected twice before. To raise additional funds for our Voters' Pamphlet arguments and to ridicule the OCA hypocrisy, we sold Lon Mabon Cut-Out Dolls for $10 each. (See "How to Contact the SRC or Make a Donation" for information about the dolls.)
Because the "official" explanation of Measure 9 in the Voters' Pamphlet is largely controlled by the OCA to represent their twisted perspective—they get two votes on the committee of five and also get to approve the third "impartial" member—we filed promptly so that our "Arguments in Favor" could immediately follow the "official" explanation with a truthful explanation of what the measure would really do. These were followed with a thoughtful analysis of what the Bible really says about homosexuality and what Jesus said about it—all before the OCA could even begin to spout off their hateful rhetoric. And in order to get in the last word as well, we went to the state Capitol in Salem and stepped into line 90 seconds before the deadline with our two final satires, "No Special Rights for Lefts!" and "Lon Is Too Liberal!" By divine coincidence, the language in our tongue-in-cheek "hate" rhetoric against left-handed persons was remarkably parallel with Lon Mabon's anti-gay language in the column preceding—with the exception that we failed to anticipate his perverted obsession with the "Sphincter."
So we created the Lon Mabon Buzzword Doll. You just poke it in the belly and it says, "No special rights," "Protect the children," "Anti-Christian bigotry," "God doesn't send two messages; I get the message," "Sodomy! Sexual sin! Sphincter, Sphincter, Sphincter!" and so on and so forth ad nauseam.
Writing in the Salem Statesman Journal (October 18, 2000), Dan Hays offered a "book review" criticizing the Voters' Pamphlet for its meaningless generalities and emotionally laden language. Then he commented, "It is a bit disturbing when the best-reasoned arguments in such a book are intended to be satirical. Someone called M. Dennis Moore has published six arguments in volume one, all of them supposedly in favor of Measure 9.
"…All six are really in opposition to Measure 9, of course.
"Whatever the reader may think of Measure 9, it remains true that Moore's six arguments are more honestly presented than most. He provides sources for his claims, for one thing. And his writing has already been proven effective; the sponsors of Measure 9 have criticized him in print for not taking things seriously."
As might be expected, Lon Mabon had a cow about these satirical arguments, but to no avail, because this is a perfectly legal use of the freedom of speech. After losing yet another election, Lon tried to get the Elections Division to pass a rule requiring a sworn affidavit that one is really "for" or "against" a measure, and he wanted them to institute a lottery for the order in which the arguments appear. But they brushed him off, so he got Charles Starr, a right-wing kook in the Legislature, to submit Senate Bill 969, which was aimed entirely at stopping M. Dennis Moore. Lon wrote his supporters that passing this bill was "critical" to defeating "the homosexual agenda." But the Legislature had better things to do, and Starr's bill didn't even get a hearing and went nowhere fast.
The Culture War Drags On
The religious right's Lon Mabon has since gone off the deep end of the lunatic fringe. (See "Are Oregon Judges Impostors?" and "Jesus Christ Promotes Lon Mabon from God's Only Messenger to First International Presiding Patriarch.") And now in 2004 we're faced with the "Christian" Coalition taking over the anti-gay Culture War from Lon Mabon with their so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." And M. Dennis Moore has again filed promptly to get first-place position in the official Oregon Voters' Pamphlet for his four satirical "Arguments in Favor" featured also on this website.
Who is M. Dennis Moore?
A fifth-generation Oregonian born in Astoria, Moore grew up in Estacada and discovered his satirical perspective on hypocrisy at an early age. He works as a freelance editor for nonfiction book publishers and has been a professional church organist in mainline denominations since age 16. "So I know the difference between genuine spirituality and obnoxious hypocritical religious discrimination," he says. He was elected and served four years on the Estacada City Council before moving to Portland.
He collects unusual authentic personal names (Hoople Hoopenpoofer, Delma Turkeytrot, Head Lynch, and Phelps Phelps—who was, by the way, the first civilian governor of Pago Pago), and he's assembled what's perhaps one of the world's greatest collections of European toilet-paper specimens. He's a genealogist descended from Lady Godiva as well as from Rebecca Nurse, who was executed in Salem in 1692 for "witchcraft." He's built a harpsichord from a kit, and he's restoring an 1890 reed organ and an 1815 fortepiano. He's also a volunteer usher for numerous performing-arts groups as well as a bicyclist, traveller, vegetarian, chocolate lover, Burning Man devotee, and eclectic free soul. And he's the author of the often-quoted pangram (sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet) "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz."